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“Ughhhh, this is too harrrrrrd,” Hanabi whined dejectedly.
“You can stop anytime you want,” said Kamio, unaffected by his daughter’s misery. He was sitting on a chair he’d brought out of the house and set on their lawn, making his way through one of his favorite books. Though it was early in the day, the lunch Nobu had prepared for him was already on his lap and half finished. Kamio selected another piece of jerky and turned the page without bothering to glance up at Hanabi.
“And you’re just going to sit there?” she accused. “You’re supposed to be teaching me, right? Don’t you have, like, some wax on wax off stuff to impart?”
Kamio cocked his head. “If my daughter wants to spend some time cleaning up the house, I’m certainly not going to complain, but I thought you wanted to do training today, didn’t you?”
Hanabi sighed. “Sorry, I forgot that you only get references when they’re from books older than I am.”
After more than a week, the white fox still wasn’t convinced that Nobu’s training regimen wasn’t just an elaborate prank. Life without the use of her hands was hard. She’d already known that would be the case, but… life without the use of her hands was hard. She couldn’t do anything at all without being reminded of their loss. Even sleep was no escape; the ropes her father had replaced the duct tape with were soft and left her limbs feeling comfortable even after hours in the same configuration, but it was still too awkward to try and sleep on her side or back. She’d had to quickly get used to sleeping on her stomach. Her only moments of freedom now were the few minutes each evening where she was allowed to remove the ropes, and that was hardly relaxing since she had to spend the entire time exercising her limbs to prevent atrophy.
If her other circumstances were different, maybe it wouldn’t have been so difficult. There were enough kitsune preparing for this year’s harvest that she didn’t need to assist like she usually did in the fall. Hanabi could have just curled up somewhere with a good book, much like Kamio was doing right now, and have no greater task for her tails than turning pages. But Nobu wasn’t her only teacher right now, nor her most difficult.
“Explain it to me again,” the white haired girl requested.
“I can try, Flower, but there is no special trick to generating heat with your foxfire. You just sort of…” Kamio thrust one arm out. “Put some oomph into it.” She gave him a bemused look, and he returned it with a sheepish and slightly defensive one. “Let the record show I never claimed to be a good teacher. There was more than one reason I hadn’t tried giving anyone lessons before.”
Hanabi raised one of her tails. Goddess, they were sore. Her overworked muscles ached more every morning. But she ignored the pain and concentrated on calling her foxfire. It appeared as a small flame on the tip of her tail, barely large enough to be visible. During her first attempts she’d made great big bonfires, but thanks to failure after failure she’d grown more economical with her use of the power.
Kamio had told her to start with using her foxfire to create real fire. The two of them were similar enough that it was supposed to be the easiest thing to create, except that after ten days of trying and dozens of attempts she was still getting nowhere with it. The tiny flame danced like the real thing, but she could already tell that it lacked substance. Hanabi focused her attention on it, trying to will it into existence. Just needed to put some oomph into it. How hard could that be? She was focused, she was determined, she was ready to jump in and master this thing if it would just… would just…
“Hey Beebee, wanna take a walk with us down to the fields?” Sakura called out. The young kitsune and her friend Rei were walking by the house, pushing a cart laden with water, food, and other supplies that would be distributed to everyone working out there right now.
“Yespleasethankyou!” Hanabi blurted. She glanced guiltily at her father. “I mean, if that’s okay with you, right?”
“You sure?” Kamio asked mildly, turning to the next page of his book without even glancing up at her. “I feel like I’m really finding my groove as a teacher.” She stuck her tongue out at him and hurried away to join the two girls.
“How much longer do you have to wear that stuff anyway?” Sakura asked after Hanabi caught up to her. The girl was a couple decades younger than Hanabi, just shy of her centennial and barely into adulthood. Her short, curly hair was brown originally, but she’d dyed it a bright bubblegum pink to match her name. She was one of the most fashion and beauty conscious kitsune in the village, and already owned more clothes than many women several times her age. Even now, on a nondescript day in the village, Hanabi was certain that her entire outfit – a blue and white ensemble that covered barely more skin than a bathing suit – was brand new, and half of it would probably never be worn again. Sakura’s gray tails bobbed happily behind her as she hummed random snatches of music.
“Months at least. And Dad says it can take years to really get anywhere.” By now, the entire village was aware of Nobu’s dexterity lessons. Hanabi had endured a lot of good natured and occasionally crude jokes for the first few days, but most people seemed to have gotten it out of their systems by now. Most.
“I think it looks very beautiful,” Rei said softly. “It’s impressive artistry.” Sakura’s bright colors made her friend’s hair look even darker as it fell to her lower back in a straight wave. She was the same age as Sakura, but carried herself with a maturity of a kitsune centuries older. Her mother Kaede had cared for the town as its mayor for nearly a quarter of a millennium now, and before that had been her grandmother, making her family the closest the village had to anything like nobility. Hanabi had never seen any kind of snobbery from the girl though. It was more like she held herself to a higher standard than those around her, already possessing a sense of responsibility for the role she might someday inherit. Hanabi could have used a little of that dedication herself.
“I mean, I don’t not like the lessons,” Hanabi admitted. “Especially after I broke enough stuff that I stopped worrying about it.” It helped that Nobu was genuinely engaged in helping her learn, unlike her other father. For the first few lessons, she’d thought that Kamio’s attitude was just a way of testing her, seeing if she was truly determined to learn. But no, that was just how he was. He’d agreed to teach her, even claimed he wanted to, but he clearly didn’t enjoy it. Whatever. She was going to learn it all anyway, even if she had to pry every nugget of wisdom out one at at time.
“Maybe you should go see if her dad will tie you up too,” Sakura teased Rei. “He might even teach you some tail tricks while he’s at it.”
The dark haired girl blushed slightly. “That is inappropriate,” she scolded, though she wore a smile. “Even if he wasn’t a married man, and Hanabi’s father, I’m far too young for him. And as I’ve told you many times now, my interest in Nobu is nothing romantic. I just think he’s…”
“The greatest writer of his generation!” Sakura declared melodramatically, flinging her arm over her eyes. “A true genius of the page, a maestro of ink and parchment!” Rei put her hands over her ears and frowned while the pink haired girl continued expounding the virtues of her friend’s favorite author, but soon Sakura broke down into laughter and the other two quickly followed suit.
The three girls continued happily chatting as they made their way to the fields. Hanabi felt much more comfortable around girls like Sakura and Rei than she did the older foxes. They’d grown up associating white fur with the slightly older girl who’d played with them for years, not with the wicked white fox Yuki. Things weren’t perfect, but Hanabi felt like she could consider them friends alongside Tomo.
It wasn’t a long walk, but each step made Hanabi more grateful that her trip to the fields was only going to be a quick visit. The heat right now was more appropriate for mid summer than early fall, and the cloudless sky meant that the sun was merciless as it baked the village. Maybe she’d done enough training for one day, she decided. This was a good day to sit back with a cold drink and be grateful that the humans had invented air conditioning.
Dozens of foxes were hard at work when Hanabi and the others arrived. The autumn harvest was always one of the most important tasks of the year. Hanei didn’t have much use for currency and tended more towards a barter system, when they didn’t just share things freely, but they imported things frequently from the outside world, where money was king. The village’s main export was the autumn crops that they sent out to groceries across Japan under Gen’s supervision, and those paid for nearly everything. Hanei had enough food and money stockpiled that they’d survive if disaster struck the harvest, but it would mean a year without new books, sewing material, confectionery supplies, and the various other luxury items that made village life more than just tolerable. Hanabi had lived through a handful of years like that, and she was in no hurry to experience another.
“Well, look who it is,” said one of the workers as she straightened up. “My favorite niece in the whole wide world! Just the person I’ve been wanting to talk to.” Hanabi gulped at the sight of Captain Ichika, and seriously considered the merits of turning around and running in the other direction, but she knew the woman would just chase after her and catch her. She always did.
At nearly seven feet, Ichika towered over all three girls, and she had the strapping physique to match. She looked like she could pick up a car without breaking a sweat. She probably would if she owned one. It wouldn’t be any more ridiculous than the rest of her exercise routine, which she’d followed religiously for centuries now. The blonde had her hair tied back in a ponytail and wore a beaming smile beneath the dirt and sweat, though her pleasant expression didn’t mask the fire in her eyes when she looked at Hanabi.
“Hello, um, Aunt Ichika,” Hanabi squeaked. “I, uh, didn’t realize you’d be here.” She’d avoided going anywhere near the police station or Ichika’s home for the last week, to try and prevent exactly this.
“The fields could always use more hands,” Ichika said easily, “and work was slow today.” She brushed some of the dirt off her hands. “So, it’s been a while since we last had ourselves a good chat and caught up with each other. How have you been, Hanabi? Any interesting field trips lately that I should know about?”
Hanabi looked at her friends for help, but they were already stepping away from her. At least Rei had the decency to keep a straight face. Sakura was practically giggling. “I was going to come and tell you about those men-”
“Those troops,” Ichika corrected, her smile openly predatory by now. “Those armed troops that a young woman with no field training has no business being around. Especially a young woman who promised to go straight to her aunt the next time she found any large groups of humans wandering the woods.”
“I was going to come and tell you,” the white fox repeated, “but we promised I would tell you about anyone I found within five miles of the village, right? And they were never closer than seven. So I had to keep a close eye on them to, y’know, see if they ever approached close enough to warrant telling you about it.”
“Hanabi,” the captain said flatly. “It’s been over a week. Is that really the best excuse you were able to think up?”
“I’ve been really busy,” Hanabi complained. “I can come up with a better one later, honest.” This time Sakura couldn’t hold back the giggle.
“Do yourself a favor and save it for the next time you need one,” her aunt said dryly. “In the meantime, why don’t you lend us a hand with the fields today? You can work right next to me, and we can spend the time discussing exactly what you should and should not be doing when you’re outside of Hanei. Assuming that I ever allow you to leave the village again, that is.”
“I, I’d love to,” Hanabi said, backing away slowly, “but I, I really need to get back to my training. My dad, he, he didn’t want to let me leave at all, and he’ll want me back as soon as possible…”
“Leave Kamio to me,” Ichika said, her eyes sparkling. “I’ll walk you home tonight and explain the whole thing to him myself. I’m sure my brother will understand; like I said, the fields always need more hands.”
“But I, I don’t even have hands right now,” Hanabi protested weakly.
“Don’t be silly! There’s plenty you’ll be able to do with your tails. It’ll be good exercise and good practice. Now come on.” She knelt back down and patted the ground next to her. “I won’t take no for an answer.”
Yeah, Hanabi reflected as she sighed and resigned herself to a long, sweltering, and lecture filled afternoon, Captain Ichika never did.
This was going to be the day, Hanabi told herself. This was it. She was gonna summon actual fire or… or… or she was gonna explode.
“I’ll bet you all of next week’s chores that she doesn’t manage it,” Kamio told his husband. The two of them were snuggling on the couch as they watched their daughter make what had to be her two thousandth attempt by now.
“You are a rat,” Hanabi accused. “You’re betting against your own student?!”
“Yes, I’m shameless,” Kamio agreed. “Won’t it feel wonderful when you finally succeed and put me in my place? Ow!” His last comment was directed at his husband. “Why you are poking me?”
“Because you keep poking her, dear,” Nobu said. “If making her lose her temper was all it took, she’d have burned the house down weeks ago.”
“You’re not helping either,” Hanabi snapped. “I’m sure this would be way easier if I was using my hands, instead of being dressed up like a fly in a spider web.”
It had been a month and a half since Hanabi’s lessons began. She’d hoped that her father’s words about making her go without her legs had been a joke, but sure enough, after two weeks, just when she was starting not to mind the arm restraints so much, he’d presented her with fresh rope. He’d bound her legs together from ankle to hip, leaving her enough mobility to stand, sit, lay down, and absolutely nothing else. It had taken her an entire week before she’d managed to even leave the house.
At least Nobu had stopped wearing restraints of his own. She knew he’d meant it as a show of solidarity, but watching him effortlessly go about his day as though his arms and legs were mere conveniences only made her feel even clumsier. Her mood had gotten so bad for a while that Kamio had even stopped making fun of her.
That was almost a month ago, and she’d gotten much better, but even the simplest acts still took her full concentration. Right now, she was standing in one of the positions Nobu recommended for practice: a standing position with eight of her tails down and pushing against the ground to lift her a few inches up in the air. It was intended to train both her strength and her balance, and she’d gotten good enough that she could regularly adopt it with just three tails these days, and sometimes manage with two alone, but right now her attention was needed elsewhere. On this stupid foxfire that refused to behave.
She held her ninth tail up and let her fire gather at the tip, barely larger than a candle flame. She was certain that she was close – she could get it to look and move almost exactly like real fire now – but it was still just an empty heatless illusion, no matter how hard she tried.
“It’s not about making it like fire,” Kamio told her. “It’s about making it be fire.”
“It’s about making it be fire,” Hanabi mocked. “Maybe I should try torching your rare book collection. I bet that’s exactly the motivation I need.”
“Flower,” Nobu said tiredly. “Your father really is trying to help, I promise. Teaching is as new to him as these lessons are to you, and you know how he is with new things.”
Kamio shrugged his shoulders. “He’s right. Beneath this flawless, youthful, vibrant exterior lies a decrepit old man with a decrepit old man brain. Some mornings I find myself awed that I managed to get out of bed alive. Ow!” He rubbed his side. “Alright, alright. Your father is correct, as usual. You haven’t been doing anything wrong, Flower, I’m just a lousy teacher. I’m not the only one in the village who knows these things, and any of the others would do a better job passing it on than I would. Why don’t I arrange something with one of them tomorrow morning?”
“No,” Hanabi said firmly. “I don’t want to learn from someone else, Dad. I want to learn from you. So I’ll keep trying to make this stupid ball of flame do what I tell it to, and you keep trying to show me what I’m missing, okay?”
“Why don’t we start from the beginning?” Nobu suggested. “You said the trick was to make the foxfire be fire. Can you try to explain what you mean by that, walk us through it step by step?”
“I…” Kamio shrugged again, but this time it was less flippant and more helpless. “I just put some-”
“Some oomph into it,” Hanabi finished. She’d heard the line about a million times by now. “I know.”
“Okay. And what’s the ‘it’? What exactly are you putting it into?” Nobu asked.
“Hmm?” Kamio replied, confused. “Into the fire.”
“Yeah, into the foxfire,” Hanabi said. “I got that much at least.”
“No, not the foxfire,” Kamio corrected. “The fire fire.”
Hanabi gave her father a puzzled look. “What? No. That doesn’t make any sense. How can I put anything into the fire before I have the fire?”
“You put it into the image of the fire,” Kamio said, as though the answer was obvious. “You fill the image and then the foxfire becomes fire.” He stared back at her disbelieving expression. “Don’t give me that look. I told you during our first proper lesson that you had to visualize the fire!” In a hundred and twenty years, Hanabi had never heard him raise his voice that loudly.
“You didn’t say that was part of the process!” the girl shouted back. “You made it sound like it was just a motivational thing, you know? Like, visualize your success or something! If that’s all I have to do…” She dismissed the foxfire that was trying to mimic the real thing, and instead pictured a real fire at the tip of her tail. She imagined the warmth of it, the way it would dance and cast little flickers of light around the room. Then she began pouring foxfire into it. It was difficult from both sides: the image kept trying to melt away, and the foxfire kept fighting her attempts to force it into solidity. But after weeks of exhausting her foxfire day in and day out, and spending Goddess knew how many hours trying to mimic the perfect flame, she was able to control the foxfire while holding the image together, and suddenly a tiny drop of flame, real flame, appeared. “See?!” she demanded. “If it was that simple, I could’ve been doing this by, like, the end of the first week, instead of spending weeks trying to do it wrong! I…”
She stopped and stared at the fire. “I did it…” she whispered. “I… I did it!”
And then she nearly fell over as Kamio embraced her in a fierce hug. “You did it!” he said, sounding even more proud about it than she did. “You really did it!” Father and daughter were both practically squealing in glee as they hugged each other tight and celebrated. Hanabi was so excited that she almost forgot to extinguish the flame before it caught on something and she really did burn the house down.
“You’re welcome,” Nobu said with more than a little smugness. “I’ll go get started on dinner.”
When Hanabi was still a small child, the village of Hanei did little to celebrate individual birthdays. Like the rest of Japan before the cultural changes following World War II, New Year’s Day marked the moment villagers considered themselves one year older. So while that day was one of the biggest occasions of the year, actual birthdays didn’t see things like parties or cakes.
Hanabi missed those times.
“Happy birthday to you,” everyone sang. “Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear Hanabi… Happy birthday to you!” Her parents, Ichika, Tomo, Tobi, Sakura, and Rei were all gathered in their kitchen while Hanabi was trapped at the table.
The white haired girl cautiously removed her tails from her ears. “Is it o-“
“And many mooooooorrrrrrrrrre!” Kamio and Nobu belted loudly, and she winced and covered her ears again.
“You know you’re supposed to stop doing this after your kid is grown up, right?” she asked her fathers despairingly. “If I’m gonna have to endure hundreds more of these, I might just have to shoot myself.”
“Look at her, pretending she doesn’t love every second of this,” remarked a grinning Kamio. Out of all the modern ideas he could have glommed onto, why did it have to be birthdays? Hanabi scrunched lower in her “seat” at the table. Everyone was crowded together in the kitchen for the party, the others standing while the white haired girl rested on several of her own bent tails. She still wasn’t as good at using them as her father, and she had a feeling that she never would be, but she’d adapted well enough over the last three months that she was barely bothered by her bound arms and legs anymore.
Nobu nodded in agreement. “I remember when she used to wake up practically at the crack of dawn every year because she was so excited about cake and presents. Do you remember how I used to have to hide the cake the night before, because of that one time…”
“When she snuck downstairs while we were asleep and ate half of it!” finished Kamio, laughing. “And we woke up to find her lying on the floor, face covered in frosting and moaning about how she was going to throw up!”
Hanabi’s cheeks felt as hot as any fire as she tried to hide her head in her tails. “It wasn’t half the cake!” she protested. “It was just one piece, and I only got sick because of the milk!” She’d woken up in the middle of the night feeling miserable because of a winter cold, and managed to convince herself that a preemptive slice of birthday cake would be the perfect midnight snack to make her feel better. But she’d been so focused on not waking her parents up that between that and her stuffy nose she hadn’t realized the milk had spoiled until she took a great big awful gulp.
“I’d give up if I were you,” advised Aunt Ichika as Hanabi’s fathers continued to laugh about the past. “Kamio is still upset that he didn’t get to celebrate birthdays as a kit. He won’t be satisfied until you’re old and grey and buried alive in presents.”
“Don’t blame me for knowing a good idea when I see one,” her brother countered. “You get to be the star of a party, eat dessert, and everybody gives you things. What’s not to love?”
“Then why don’t I just give you mine?” Hanabi grumbled. “Then you can have two birthdays a year and I can be free.” Despite her complaining, she couldn’t keep a smile off her face. She didn’t really mind birthdays, she just wished her dad didn’t like hers quite so much. And Nobu was always shamelessly encouraging him, too.
“Aren’t the candles supposed to be lit?” observed Tobi. Tomo’s brother was much shorter than her and could be just as shy in his own way, which in this case meant standing a bit apart from everyone else, who were close enough to be rubbing shoulders in the tiny room. He had a generally serious disposition too, which made him fun to tease.
“Oh, they’re not?” Hanabi said in mock surprise. “Let me fix that!”
Tobi stiffened as he realized what she meant. “I don’t know if that’s a good-“
“Fireball!” the white haired girl shouted as she extended a tail. Everyone except her fathers flinched back as the cake was suddenly engulfed in a sphere of flame nearly big enough to swallow the entire table, its heat washing over the entire room in a wave. The illusion vanished as quickly as it had arrived, leaving behind small flickers of candlelight. “Is that what you were expecting me to do?” she asked Tobi, whose face had gone pale, and stuck her tongue out at him. “I wish.”
She held her tail up in the air, showing the tiny flame that she’d used to light the candles beneath the illusion of the fireball. “I still can’t manage much more than this, sorry,” she said. “But maybe by the time my next birthday rolls around, I’ll be a proper arsonist.”
“Flower, what did I tell you about using your foxfire to scare people like that?” Kamio asked.
“That it’s hilarious, and I should remember to blow some air out around it so it feels more like a real explosion?” Hanabi recalled.
“Yes,” Kamio admitted. “But what about after Nobu scolded the both of us?”
“…That I shouldn’t be using true foxfire for silly pranks.”
“I thought it was spectacular,” Rei said. “Have you ever tried your hand at artwork? With that sort of attention to detail, I think you’d have a real talent for drawing or painting.” Tomo nodded in agreement.
“Nah,” Hanabi said cheerfully. “Putting something down on paper and just leaving it there isn’t really my style. I like stuff while it’s alive, y’know?” She leaned forward and blew out the candles.
“I prefer all sorts of things while they’re alive too,” Nobu said dryly as he began to cut the cake. “Which is why you should-“
“Always be careful with foxfire,” he and Hanabi said at the same time.
With the birthday singing endured and cake parceled out, everyone began to drift apart and spread throughout the first floor, multiple conversations forming at once. “I was thinking a bit of lace here would be perfect,” Sakura said while showing Tomo the fashion designs from her sketch pad, both girls now seated at the kitchen table. “But I can’t decide what color will be best.”
“Are you going to be wearing this yourself?” Tomo asked. “Then forest green might pair well with your pink hair. Or if you wanted a brighter look, you could try a nice sunny yellow.”
“Ooh, yellow sounds perfect,” agreed Sakura. “If I bring some swatches over tomorrow, could you help me choose one?”
Kamio had his arm casually slung around Tobi as the two sat on the couch. “So we make it to the campsite,” he was telling the boy. “And there are thirty men-“
“Ten,” interjected Ichika, who sat on Tobi’s other side.
“Ten men,” Kamio agreed without breaking stride. “And they’re not like most hunters. They’re already dug in and ready for a fight. Tripwires, snares, pit traps, and every single one of them has a shotgun-“
“Handguns, mostly. One came with an old hunting rifle.”
“Sitting right next to them, ready to go. Now, we could’ve just waited them out, let them get bored and go home, but this was right in the middle of tourist season, and there’s a decent chance some regular camper wanders too close and gets accosted by them. So we need to rid of them, right?”
“Right,” Tobi agreed.
“So naturally, Ichika and me decide that the best way is to have ourselves a little contest to see which one of us can trick more into their own traps.” Ichika nodded along.
“Wait,” Tobi interrupted. “Why?”
Kamio and Ichika looked quizzically at each other. “Why… what?” Ichika asked after a moment.
“…Never mind,” said Tobi.
“Sakura was telling me earlier you’ve been looking forward to my next book,” Nobu told Rei while they stood together with Hanabi near his writing desk.
The dark haired girl’s features became stiff and formal. “I… yes. Very much so, sir.”
“She also said something about you being interested in private lessons? I hadn’t known you were thinking of taking up writing, but I’d be happy to schedule some time with you later this week.”
Rei narrowed her eyes slightly while Hanabi fought to keep from laughing. “I’m glad that Sakura was thinking of me. I’ll have to be sure to thank her…”
Some time later, everyone was gathered back in the kitchen. “I wasn’t sure which kind to get, but Tomo said that these were your favorites,” Tobi said as he presented Hanabi with a box of red bean pastries.
“Oooh,” Hanabi said as she accepted them with a pair of tails. “They are! Thank you!” She carefully placed the box next to the brooch she’d received from Sakura and the book Rei had given her.
Tomo shyly stepped up next with a large box. “I just finished modifying this for you yesterday. I ordered it a few months ago, right after you began taking your lessons.” Hanabi opened the box to reveal a thick winter coat. “It’s for you to wear when… when you’re out in the forest,” the brunette explained.
“I love it!” Hanabi exclaimed. She looked at her fathers. “Is it okay if I…?”
The two men exchanged a look, and Nobu smiled. “As a matter of fact, Flower, that was going to be my present for you. I think you’ve officially graduated beyond the restraints by now.”
“Oh thank Goddess,” the girl exclaimed. She had plenty of experience taking the ropes off by now, and was able to wriggle free of them in seconds and enjoy a nice long stretch. “This is soooooo much better,” she breathed, and then put on the coat. “And it’s a perfect fit too! Tomo, you’re amazing!” She embraced her best friend with her blessedly free arms.
“It… it wasn’t that big a deal,” she heard Tomo say in an awkward stutter, but her friend hugged her back.
“So, if that was Nobu’s present,” Hanabi asked Kamio once she’d let go of Tomo, “then yours would be…”
The blond man nodded. “Even I have to admit that you’ve jumped through all the hoops. As long as you’re careful… we’re okay with you going back out into the forest.”
“Yessss!” Hanabi exulted, and then gave her aunt a guilty look. “I mean, I’ll definitely be super duper careful, and safe, and stuff.”
“Mmm hmm,” Ichika said skeptically, but she was smiling. “Don’t make me regret my present to you, Hanabi. The twins scented a couple new visitors to our neck of Shirakami Sanchi this morning. You feel like paying them a little visit tomorrow morning?”
The winter morning air was bitter, but to Hanabi it was only a pleasant crispness. She loped across the forest, enjoying the speed and grace of her true fox form even more now that she was finally free of those ridiculous restraints for good.
Small groups like the pair she was after today were far more common than the military outfit three months ago. There were a few like them every year: people who’d heard rumors of mysterious things happening in Shirakami Sanchi, and decided to explore its depths. Most of them didn’t even associate the stories with kitsune. Generally they’d wander around, poke at things at bit, and never get within ten miles of the village, but occasionally some lucky souls would manage to stumble close to it. According to Ichika, the two visitors were a man and a woman, so they were most likely a husband and wife out on a little adventure. Hanabi saw her visits to folks like these as more of a gift to them than anything else. She never hurt any of them, just shook them up a little and gave them a good story to tell when they went back home. She was well aware that it was probably these very stories that were the source of all the rumors, and that if she just left people alone to have a boring walk in the woods they’d stop showing up, but, well, it was much more fun this way for everyone.
It took her longer than expected to locate the pair. The scent of the new winter was still sharp and fresh, and it was hard to smell anything else, but eventually she narrowed in on a scent that was decidedly human. It wasn’t even noon yet, but they already seemed to be stopped for the day. She circled around their position for a good hour, and they didn’t move from that spot, but to her amusement she started picking up the smell of sex coming from them. Definitely a husband and wife pair then.
Hanabi considered just heading back home and letting the two of them boink in peace. That was the polite thing to do, right? But she’d really been looking forward to having some fun with them. For all she knew, this was consolation sex to make up for not finding anything, and as soon as they were done they were going to pack up and leave. Besides, they were out in what was technically a public area, so it wasn’t like she’d be doing anything wrong if she went and took a look. They might even be exhibitionists or something, to be doing it out here, right? Right.
The fox was aware that she was making excuses, and her face felt flushed despite the cold as she moved in closer, careful not to make any noise. The truth was that despite one hundred and twenty years of life, Hanabi still didn’t have any personal experience with… that kind of stuff. Not for lack of interest, Goddess no, but thanks to her white fur she’d never formed an intimate relationship with anyone.
As fun as yesterday’s birthday party had been, it had also underscored how isolated she was from everyone. Out of a village of over five hundred kitsune, there were only seven people she felt comfortable around, and three of them were family, which didn’t really count. But her isolation didn’t matter here. When she was out in the forest, Hanabi didn’t have to worry about what others thought of her, or her place in the village. She could just relax and have fun. And in this case, fun meant doing a little… peeping? Spying? Observing. She was going to observe the two humans and see what they were up to. And if her nose was correct and what they were up to was “going at it like bunnies”, well, Hanabi hadn’t just been not getting any for decades, she’d been living with two foxes whose noses were sharp enough to tell them absolutely everything their daughter got up to in her bedroom. She wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to enjoy a show.
She heard the humans long before she saw them. The woman, anyway. The man was silent, but his partner sounded like she was having the time of her life, moaning and whimpering so frequently and loudly that the whole village could probably hear her. She never spoke an intelligible word, but by the time Hanabi crested a hill and they came into view, she’d very obviously finished three separate times.
She’d expected to find them at their campsite, but there was nothing around them but a pile of discarded clothing and the forest itself, a patch of snow cleared away to give them space. Maybe they really were exhibitionists. The man was on his back while the woman rode him, and from the look of it, she was doing all the work. She furiously ground her crotch against his own, bucking against him with an intensity that made the slapping sound of flesh upon flesh ring out every time her ass met his hips. Her hands were on her breasts, twisting and pinching her own nipples as she continued audibly expressing her joy. By comparison, her partner seemed almost bored, making no sound and watching her with a flat expression. It was only the occasional involuntary bucking of his hips that communicated his own pleasure.
Hanabi’s breath caught as she watched the two of them. The man was nothing special to look at – early forties, blond hair, worn features – but the woman was absolutely gorgeous, with dark hair and green eyes. She looked half his age too, her skin and body flawless in their youth. She was such an amazing sight that Hanabi nearly forgot to cloak herself with foxfire. Her white fur blended well enough in the snow that it wasn’t really necessary, but the fox girl wasn’t going to be careless just because she was horny.
Like Kamio had drilled into her, she masked every trace of her presence. Hiding herself was the easy part; true skill came in using foxfire to manipulate her surroundings. It was strenuous and exacting work to shift the snow beneath her to leave no trace of her passing, to cool the air around her to hide her body heat, shift the wind currents to counter her breath, and more. Watching her father do it for the first time had been like watching a conductor effortlessly lead an entire orchestra. By comparison, she felt like someone trying to play the piano with mittens on. But despite her clumsiness, she’d managed to improve enough that Kamio had – reluctantly- approved her going out.
After a few minutes, and another pair of orgasms from his partner, the man came. When it happened, his only reaction was to clutch at the woman’s hips, pulling her down against him. She responded by finishing a final time herself, throwing her head back and letting out a scream of wild pleasure that dwarfed all her past exclamations. Hanabi didn’t even realize that she’d transformed back into a human until she felt two of her fingers sliding into her own wet crotch. She’d dressed in preparation for the cold, with thick winter clothes and the wonderfully warm coat that Tomo had gifted her, but her hand had easily slipped beneath the layers to find her slit. She humped herself on her digits as she watched the erotic display. The dark haired woman’s entire body was shaking helplessly in the throes of the powerful orgasms, and as her scream faded she collapsed bonelessly onto his chest, held up only by his hands on her hips.
When the man let go of her, she resumed her rhythm, but at a much slower pace now, a gentle rolling meant to encourage him. His load was beginning to seep out of her, and her fingers skillfully caught it as it dribbled down. When her hand was sticky with his seed and no more of it was coming out, she slowly lapped it clean, running her tongue slowly across her palm and over one finger at a time.
It wasn’t until this was done that the dark haired woman finally spoke. “Was that acceptable, Master Levi?” she asked, and the tone of her voice was so jarring that Hanabi winced. It was calm and passionless, at complete odds with her wanton behavior.
Her partner snorted. “Barely, bitch,” he said sourly. He roughly pushed her off of him, leaving her sprawled on her side. “You’re still about as believable as a three dollar bill, but even a stupid fucktoy has its uses, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, Master Levi,” she said, her voice betraying zero emotion about what he’d just said, or the sudden violence.
Hanabi’s fingers had frozen inside her, and she had the sense that she’d gotten in way over her head. She knew about BDSM and stuff like that, but this didn’t feel like some harmless kinkiness. It felt… wrong. She looked into the woman’s eyes and saw a weight behind them that she hadn’t seen before. There was no passion, or joy, or any of the things the fox would’ve expected to see from someone who’d just finished having what had looked like fantastic sex. There was only grim determination there.
Those same eyes flicked in her direction and met her own. Hanabi suppressed a shiver. She was completely and utterly hidden. There was no way she could have- “There is a kitsune watching us, Master Levi,” the woman said calmly.
Hanabi’s jaw dropped. Levi cursed and backhanded her with a causal, all too familiar swing of one arm. “Why the fuck didn’t you say something sooner?” he demanded
“You instructed me to focus all of my attention on pleasing you while you are inside me,” his partner said. “I could not detect her until we were done.”
Panic rose up in Hanabi’s throat as she checked her foxfire. She had to have made a mistake somewhere, forgotten to hide some critical piece. But she didn’t see it. Her crafting seemed as well put together as any she’d ever made, and yet the woman was still looking straight at her. She didn’t have time to redo everything, so she dropped the more complicated parts, leaving just sight, sound and smell hidden, and hastily cobbled together a quick illusion.
An invisible Hanabi rose and ran away from the strangers. Though she couldn’t be seen, she ran at a frantic, haphazard pace that crunched snow and jostled bushes, leaving a clear and audible trail behind her. So it seemed, anyway, the footprints and rustling foliage as fake as everything else. The real Hanabi remained where she was, trying to stay perfectly still. This wasn’t the first time she’d been noticed by a hunter, though it had been years since she’d been so careless. This trick had always thrown them off; the best way to keep your prey from catching you was to give them something else to catch. Her current camouflage was simple but effective, and she double and triple checked that she hadn’t made any mistakes. She just had to wait for them to give chase to the illusion and… the woman’s eyes had never wavered from hers.
The woman could see through her illusions. Hanabi had no idea how, but there was no other possibility. The realization left her feeling horribly exposed. A smooth, pale arm lifted to point a finger directly at her. “She is there, Master Levi,” the woman said. “Shall I retrieve her for you?”
“Damn right you should,” he grumbled. “And be quick about it. My cock is itching for some good fox cunt.”
The white haired girl didn’t bother trying any more illusions. She simply shifted into her natural fox form and bounded away at full speed. The snow rushed beneath her as she fled, moving far faster than any human could. Even in her panic, she made sure not to head towards the village. The last thing she wanted to do was lead these strangers back home. Even the layers and layers of foxfire defenses that had kept it hidden for centuries might not be enough against someone like them.
Her heart pounded in her ears as she ran. This was no longer a game. She had to find a way back and warn the others. She had to- ahead of her, the dark haired woman stepped out from behind a tree, moving with no apparent haste. She raised a delicate hand, and Hanabi cried out as icy cold bit into her, as sharp and shocking as having a bucket of ice water dumped on her head. Shivering, she spun and changed direction, kicking up snow as she raced away.
The chill clung to her, sapping her strength, and making her movements clumsy. It felt like it was getting colder with each passing moment. She glanced behind her, trying to spot her pursuer, but there was no sign of the woman until she appeared in front of her again, as easily as before. Hanabi whimpered in terror and changed direction again, but her limbs didn’t want to obey her. She scrambled away as awkward as a young kit, the cold making her feel like she dragged iron weights behind her.
Even the air around her was so cold now that it hurt to breathe it in, her chest aching. She took a ragged breath, and found that she could take no more. Choking, she lost control of her momentum entirely and tumbled head over heels to land on her side. Her chest heaved as she tried to draw a breath, but something was wrong. Her lungs weren’t working properly, the airway too tight to take a proper breath. Her head pounded as she wheezed helplessly. An icy hand touched her, and the cold grew even worse, crashing down on her like a wave. She screamed breathlessly as it became pure agony, and then all at once, like a balloon popping, Hanabi’s fox form vanished and she found herself in her human shell again.
The cold receded just slightly as a hand grabbed hold of her hair and began dragging her across the ground. Hanabi tried to struggle against it, but she was more exhausted than she’d ever been in her life. Her hands pawed weakly at the person dragging her, as useless as a rabbit trying to fend off a wolf as her limp body scraped painfully over snow and frozen dirt.
She could no longer smell the woman holding her at all, just a gnawing cold that made her nostrils hurt, but she smelled the man as they drew nearer. Hanabi remembered his parting words and renewed her efforts to get away, with no more success than before. All too soon they were back at the bare campsite, and she was hauled forward and dumped face first onto the ground. Before she could even think about standing, a foot pressed on her neck, pinning her down. “Took you long enough,” Levi grumbled.
“My apologies, Master Levi,” the woman said evenly. “It would have been faster if you had eased the restrictions on my abilities.”
“What, and give you the chance to try something, exploit some tiny loophole in my orders?” Levi spat on the ground. “I’m not as stupid as you think I am, Celeste. Fae or no fae, I don’t let animals run around without a leash.” His foot came off of Hanabi’s neck, and then connected sharply with her side, making her grunt in pain as she was forcibly rolled over onto her back. She looked up at the two of them. The woman looked as impassive as before, while Levi looked furious and hungry, hungry in a way that made the pit of her stomach drop.
“Hold her,” Levi ordered, and the white haired girl winced as Celeste stepped on her hands. She didn’t weigh all that much, but pushing against her was like trying to roll a boulder uphill. Hanabi tried to bring her tails up, but they wouldn’t move. A glance showed her that they were splayed on the ground around her, a block of solid ice around the tip of each one. She was so cold that she hadn’t even noticed. Even after all the training she’d done with Nobu, in her current state she was too tired to raise her tails more than a couple inches off the ground.
The blond man crouched and began unceremoniously ripping apart her winter coat, destroying Tomo’s gift with his bare hands. “Please,” Hanabi begged weakly. “I-I’m sorry, I won’t, won’t go near you again, so please, please don’t hurt me. If you just let me go, I-mmppph!”
“Shut up, cunt,” Levi said as he shoved part of her torn coat into her mouth to gag her, forcing it down deep enough that she couldn’t spit it out. “I’ll show you some good uses for that mouth soon, but talking my ear off won’t be one of them.” He ripped more of her clothes away, until only her fox skin was left. Wearing it openly had become unfashionable centuries ago, and going anywhere without it was foolish, so like most people in the village, Hanabi’s skin normally took the form of smallclothes that she wore beneath everything else.
The whitehaired girl tried desperately to transform, but her powers wouldn’t obey. She whined softly as he grabbed hold of the neck of the plain white garment that had become her last defense and began to pull. He couldn’t do this to her. There had to be something she could do, some illusion or, or something! Too panicked to think straight, she could only stare hopelessly up at him at the fox skin slowly ripped apart down the middle. All too soon it was over, and he was tossing it to the ground next to him like so much trash. She was naked, powerless, and trapped.
Hanabi squirmed as his hands returned to begin poking and prodding her bare chest. No one but her parents had ever seen her naked, and no one had ever touched her there. “Another little fox slut,” Levi growled, twisting her nipples to make her squeal into her gag. Compared to the overpowering cold filling her body, his hands felt so hot that they were practically burning her. “You’re the one that’s been playing tricks out here, aren’t you? The one who wasted our fucking time.” He wore a hateful expression as he stared into her eyes. “Did you have fun, bitch?”
Something hot brushed against her bare thighs. No, no, no, not like this. She’d imagined her first time in a hundred different ways, but never like this, freezing and terrified and being violated by a stranger. She brought her knees together for protection, but he wrenched them apart easily, exposing her to him. “I bet you did,” he said, rubbing himself over her slit. “I bet you felt powerful and in control. Felt like you were the one in charge around here. Like you could play your stupid little games all you wanted, and fuck with whoever you liked.”
His hips thrust forward, and Hanabi went rigid as his member penetrated her. It tore through her hymen in an instant, stretching her opening far wider than her curious fingers had ever dared. “But this is what you really are, slut,” Levi snarled as she screamed uselessly into her gag, and spat in her face. “You have no power, no control. You’re just another worthless furry fleshlight.” His hands grabbed her sides and he forced himself in deeper. His shaft felt like it was lined with sandpaper as it forced her virgin tunnel open, inch after inch disappearing into her bloody slit. “You’ll never make that mistake again.”
By the time his hips met her own, she felt like she’d been run through, his cock a fat, pulsing intrusion that she was certain would split her in two at any moment. Hanabi’s breath came in short, sharp bursts from out her nose, pain and terror reducing her mind to little more than animal instinct. She was so out of it that when he began to pull back, she actually thought it was over, that he’d gotten what he wanted and was going to let her go. It was when he slammed back into her and she realized the truth, that this nightmare was only beginning, that the tears began to flow.
Her shame doubled when she realized that he was laughing at her. “You were a true virgin, weren’t you?” he mocked as he savaged her insides. “Even with your always tight, always virgin holes, it’s easy to tell when it’s really the first time for one of you fox sluts. It’s that pathetic look on your faces that does it. You could outlive me by a thousand years, slut, and I would still always be your first. Is this everything you thought it would be?”
Hanabi screwed her eyes shut to block out his sneering face. She wished she could do the same for his voice, but she could no more escape his insults than she could his prick. “I’m going to be your second time too,” he promised her. “And your third, and your fourth… this slutty body is going to be working hard to please me from now on.”. He lowered his head to bring his lips close to her ears. “Savor the attention while you can, little cunt. When I get sick of you, I’ll toss what’s left to my men. A week from now you’ll be getting fucked a couple hundred times a day. A month and you won’t even remember that you were ever more than a white furred cumrag.” He bit her ear without warning, the sudden pain making her squeal helplessly and involuntarily clench around him.
Every thrust was as sharp and violent as a punch to the gut. This wasn’t sex. It wasn’t even fucking. He was just torturing her with his cock, using it to maul her pussy and batter the entrance to her womb. And once the brutal reaming was over… there was no risk of conceiving with him, but the thought of this vile man’s seed inside her, defiling her most intimate place, still made her sick to her stomach.
As his orgasm grew closer, Levi seemed to be having similar thoughts. “Your pussy will never be like it was before, slut,” he gloated. “My cum will stay inside you forever. Your womb, your stomach, your guts… you’ll live and die as a sperm soaked, fur lined fuckdoll, starting… now!” He lunged forward a final time to bury himself the hilt, his head pressed up against her cervix, and Hanabi felt warm slime spatter her insides. She twisted, trying to avoid the spray, but his hands kept her firmly impaled on him as he unloaded into her. He held her like that, refusing to let even an inch of his prick leave her tight confines before his entire load had been deposited inside her.
When he finally pulled out of her, she felt like she’d been hollowed out. She tried to draw her legs together, to at least hide the sight of her ravaged, cum-filled hole from him, but her groin hurt too much to move. She remained splayed out instead, unwillingly giving him and the rest of the world the full view.
Celeste knelt behind her head, keeping the fox’s hands pinned with her knees. She brusquely pulled the scrap of coat from her mouth, letting her cough and gasp for breath.
Hanabi whimpered a little when she saw the cock dangling between Levi’s legs for the first time. She’d thought it was only her imagination making it feel so big, but it truly was massive. Seeing its thick shaft and bulbous head, knowing that he had crammed that entire thing into her and pounded her insides with it, made her pussy ache even more. The entire thing was smeared with blood and cum, and the sight and smell of it nearly made her throw up. She’d never witnessed anything more disgusting.
Her reaction must have been plain on her face, because he returned it with a sneer. “See what a filthy cunt you are?” he growled, wagging his cock at her. “Did I give you permission to bleed all over my prick, slut?”
When she said nothing, he reared his foot back and kicked her squarely between the legs. Fireworks exploded in her vision and she screamed. “I asked you a question, animal!” he snapped, and kicked her again. “Did I give you permission to get your filthy, subhuman fox blood on my prick?”
“N-no,” she answered quickly, before he could kick her again, and then howled as he did it anyway.
“That’s right,” he snarled, and dropped onto her chest suddenly, his weight forcing the breath out of her lungs. He grabbed both her ears and twisted them sharply, and it hurt even more than being kicked. She didn’t have the breath to scream anymore, so her pain was voiced by a sad wheeze instead.
Levi yanked back on her ears, forcing her to raise her head up if she wanted to keep them. This brought her face right up to his crotch. From close up, he looked and smelled even worse than before. “Now clean your mess, bitch.”
Hanabi felt soft, cool fingers touch her face, and then Celeste was hooking her index fingers into the white fox’s mouth and pulling, stretching her mouth wide open. Levi yanked her ears back farther, and Hanabi gagged as his dirty cock sank into her mouth. His member was unpleasantly hot against her tongue, and beneath the metallic taste of her blood and the bitter slime of his semen, he tasted of sweat and urine. Nausea hit her like a physical blow, and her stomach churned. Instinct screamed at her to bite down, but the woman’s fingers were stopping her.
Her entire body spasmed as his cockhead bounced off the entrance to her throat, setting off her gag reflex. When she realized his intention, she swallowed her pride and lapped the underside of his shaft, desperate to convince him that a blowjob would be sufficient. He was far too big to fit into her throat. It would kill her.
He didn’t care.
Levi tugged on her ears a third time, slamming her face against him. His head hit the entrance to her throat and bounced off again, but he didn’t stop pulling. His cock pushed against the entrance, straining to get inside, refusing to leave her throat unmolested. Something would have to give: her ears, his dick, or her throat.
The struggle lasted for eight seconds, and then something snapped and her throat surrendered, flesh stretching out to allow the intruder entrance. Hanabi gurgled helplessly as his fat mushroom head wedged itself into her gullet and slowly dug deeper. She didn’t need a mirror to know that her neck was bulging around him, her throat stuffed as tightly as a cork in a bottle.
Levi’s cock inched its way down as Hanabi’s face began to turn red. She couldn’t breathe. His dick was a fleshy throatplug that completely sealed her airway. She twitched weakly on the ground, feeling more powerless than she ever had in her life. He was going to murder her like this, and there was nothing she could do to stop him.
“Given the average time you take to ejaculate when using my throat, Master Levi,” Celeste said from above her, “there is a strong chance the kitsune will perish before you are finished.” There was no concern or sympathy in her tone as she confirmed Hanabi’s nightmare. She could have been discussing the weather.
“Who cares?” Levi said contemptuously. “There are hundreds more where she came from, and she won’t be the last nine tailed corpse we leave behind. Besides, an uppity bitch like this isn’t worth the time to train.”
The white haired girl’s bloodshot eyes looked up at his, silently begging for some kind of mercy. She didn’t want to die like this. She would let him fuck her again, if he’d just stop choking her. She would wrap her legs around him and do whatever he wanted and even try to help him put a baby in her if that was his goal, and all he had to do was let her breathe. She wouldn’t be an uppity bitch, she promised.
Levi spat into her pleading eyes and pulled harder on her ears. His cock slipped the rest of the way in, the base rubbing her spread lips. Her entire throat was now stuffed full of his meat, the murder weapon pulsing softly inside her. “Still feel good about making a fool out of humans?” he hissed, not moving. “Still think you’re so much better than us?”
Hanabi’s head twitched from side to side in denial, unable to turn any further with his iron grip on her ears. She’d never thought of herself as above humans, but right now she felt far beneath them. She felt more like pond scum than a person.
Her silent answer must have satisfied him, because he began to slowly pull back. “I could let you die right here,” he taunted, “and nothing of value would be lost. Just another pathetic animal put down. But maybe the winter cunt is right for a change. Is there a reason I should keep you alive, slut? Do you have anything to offer that’s more appealing than leaving your body to rot out here with a load of warm cum in its belly?”
He didn’t leave her throat, but he pulled back far enough that a trickle of air made it through her nostrils, sweeter than anything she’d ever known. Her chest heaved as she frantically sucked in more oxygen, but she didn’t wait until she’d caught her breath to answer his question, terrified that he would grow impatient. “Uhlll… uhlll bee… uh guhh fuhh,” she said, forcing her words out around his shaft. She would be a good fuck. She’d try to be the best he ever had if it meant not choking to death on his cock. “Mahhthtuhh!” she added quickly, remembering the title his companion always gave him. “Uhlll bee uh guhh… guhh fuhh mahhthtuhh!”
“Prove it,” he said, and began to rape her throat.
Ten minutes later, Hanabi’s face was still thumping wetly against his crotch, her features a mess of blood, snot, tears, and cum. Her poor ears were being crushed in his fists, used as handles to bounce her head back and forth. She couldn’t breathe any easier than before, but after every minute or so, he’d back up enough to grant her air for just a fraction of a second. Not enough to sate her body’s demands, but enough to stay alive and conscious.
Her throat had loosened only slightly after the first couple hundred thrusts. His cock was still a poor fit, her gullet stretched tight around him. It was so cramped that she could feel every bristly hair and lumpy vein in him as he sank in and out, even sense his heartbeat from the way blood flowed through the shaft. It was steady and relaxed; he was nowhere close to finishing.
Her lungs screamed for her attention, but she didn’t have time for them. She focused on keeping her gaze trained on his face instead, just the way he wanted. Her tongue danced around, caressing the underside of his pistoning shaft, and her lips pressed tight around him, trying to form a soft and welcoming ring to rub himself on. She was trying her genuine best to be a good cocksucker for him.
She was still terrible at it. Levi had made that clear enough. But for now, she was performing well enough to earn oxygen. Breathing was a privilege that only obedient fox sluts could earn, he’d told her. If she stopped trying her hardest to suck him off, or gave him the impression that she was anything but a repentant and eager to please fucktoy, she would know right away, because she would never draw breath again.
Oxygen deprivation had left her mind hazy and her thoughts disjointed, but she wasn’t too far gone to feel hot shame over her submission. This man had raped her. He had considered murdering her in cold blood, and still might. She’d overheard enough to know that he had terrible intentions for her entire village, and by extension everyone she knew and loved. And what was she doing about it? Trying to tongue the spot just beneath the head, where it met the shaft, because she could tell he liked it there. She was pathetic.
She’d tried lying to herself while she slobbered all over his cock. She’d told herself that she was only trying to lull him into underestimating her. She’d pretended that if her hands or tails were free, she’d be fighting back. She’d insisted that Celeste’s fingers were the only reason she was slurping on him instead of chewing. But deep down she knew the truth. He didn’t need to restrain her or threaten her or take precautions. She was a coward, and she’d already given up.
“From now on, this is all you eat,” he promised her. “You suck the cum out of me and my men, or you starve. Understand, fleshlight?” She nodded, accepting what her life was going to be like from now on. Anything to stay alive.
Hanabi felt his pulse begin to quicken and knew he was getting close. As his orgasm approached, his handling of her grew even rougher. Soon her eyes were swollen half shut, and the taste of blood on his shaft was growing stronger and fresher with each thrust. Something had happened to her right eardrum that made sounds tinny and faraway. She hurt, but they were all temporary. She would heal, if she lived long enough.
Panic crept in when he stopped sparing her breaths. He was entirely focused on his own pleasure now, and if he noticed that she was choking to death, it was only exciting him further. Her only hope was to keep servicing him, and convince her would-be murderer to cum down her throat before he killed her. She felt like the filthiest, most worthless girl in the world as she desperately sucked the cock of a man who didn’t much care if she lived or died.
Her head was pounding and she was so out of it that she could barely remember what was going on when his cock swelled up. Her sensitive tongue felt his load traveling up his shaft, and an instant later warm, sticky goo erupted from the tip. Some of it shot right into her stomach, but most painted the inside of her throat instead, the salty substance like acid to her raw, swollen gullet. It couldn’t have taken more than a few seconds for him to finish squirting his cum into her, but to her oxygen starved lungs it felt like hours.
As he finally began to soften, she greedily breathed around.him. He gave her a look of amused contempt. “You really are nothing but a worthless little throatslut, aren’t you? Just finished and you’re already trying to get me hard again.” His words made her cringe, self disgust tearing through her sense of relief at being done. He was right: even though her oral rape was over, she was still caressing him with her tongue and lips, reluctant to give him a reason to grow angry with her.
He smirked at her, his limp prick still inside her mouth. Her tongue swirled around the head, meekly continuing despite his barb. “I’ve never seen anyone break this fast.” He pulled himself out of her completely, letting his cock hover in front of her tired lips. “Beg me to piss down your throat, fox slut. Show me how easy it was to turn you into a whimpering, cock sucking, piss drinking fucktoy.”
Frustration flared inside her as Celeste pulled her fingers out of her mouth to let her speak. She was only doing this because he’d demanded it of her! Why did he have to insult her for doing exactly what he’d pushed her into doing?! But she didn’t dare voice those thoughts. Instead, she mumbled sadly, “please piss down my throat, ma-“
He didn’t even let her finish, hot urine shooting straight down her throat. She gagged at the unexpected and revolting sensation. Hanabi didn’t know which was harder to believe: that a stranger was urinating in her mouth, or that she was just letting him do it. He wasn’t holding her ears anymore to keep her still, and Celeste wasn’t forcing her lips apart. There was nothing stopping her from turning her head or closing her mouth to escape the disgusting stream of filth. Nothing but her own terror and cowardice.
Levi stroked his shaft when it was over, wringing the last few drops out onto her tongue while she waited submissively. “What’s the difference between you and a toilet, slut?” he asked.
“I… don’t know, master,” she said, dreading the answer.
“A toilet doesn’t cry like a little baby when you use it,” he said, and then he spat on her again. “Now suck my cock some more. I want to see if your cunt feels even better now that it’s broken in.”
He leaned back and waited. He didn’t grab her ears again, didn’t threaten her for disobedience or tell Celeste to hold her mouth open again.
He didn’t need to.
Fifteen hours later, Hanabi was still alive. She didn’t know if she deserved to be.
She’d spent the entire day and night obeying her new owner, accepting his insults and abuse as readily as his piss and cum. Levi had raped her mouth and her cunt multiple times, and she had done her best to make it good for him every time. She’d thought that practice might make the experience easier, or that she would grow numb to the humiliation over time. She’d been wrong again, like the idiot she was. Every time he forced himself into one of her half-healed holes, it hurt even worse than the last time. Every new mocking comment made her feel even more like trash.
But nothing made her feel worse than her own submission. Hanabi, who had never so much as kissed someone before today, had been as passionate a lover for him as her exhausted body would let her. She hadn’t waited for him to give orders, she’d just acted, throwing away all her dignity and proving that she was every bit the filthy furry slut he kept calling her. A tiny part of her was glad that she would never return to the village again, because she couldn’t bear her fathers finding out the things she’d done to survive, and how easy it had been to make her do them.
She had half expected that the day would never end, and the cycle of abuse and rape would continue forever. But around midnight, he’d announced his intention to go to sleep. She’d been crouched in front of him at the time, her tongue exploring the now familiar wrinkles of his balls while her fingers worked between her legs, alternating between her cum dripping pussy and her still virgin asshole. The objective wasn’t to provide herself pleasure or make penetration any easier for her; Levi just suspected that her asshole would be so tight that it would be uncomfortable to fuck, so for the last few hours she’d been loosening it for him with her own fingers and cunt juices whenever her position allowed. Tomorrow, he’d promised, he would pound her guts so hard that all the kitsune healing in the world wouldn’t tighten her back up.
The white haired girl had understood her new life well enough by now to know that even though he was finished using her, she wouldn’t be allowed to rest unmolested. She’d still been surprised, though, when she saw what he had planned for her. The winter was old enough for the soil to be hard and frozen, but that had proved no trouble for Celeste. It had been as supple as wet clay for her as she dug a deep pit in the ground. For a few panicked moments, Hanabi thought they were going to bury her alive, and had begged Levi to spare her life, but he’d just laughed and struck her face hard enough to crack a cheekbone. As it turned out, the hole was only deep enough to bury her up to her nose, rendering her immobilized but able to breathe after Celeste filled it in as easily as she’d dug it.
Being out of sight underground didn’t make her body hurt any less. Levi had taken great satisfaction in breaking her arms and legs before dumping her into the pit. “We’ve run plenty of experiments with you animals,” he’d told her while snapping her left leg in two different places. “One time we broke a bitch’s arm and left her in a strait jacket for months, found it still broken when we came back. Turns out this little healing trick of yours only works if your bodies have the mobility to shift the flesh around. You should’ve heard the bitch scream when I shoved her onto her back and fucked her hard enough to give her three more fractures. And the look on her face when she realized we were going to leave her like that for a few more months, still bound and crippled, was priceless.”
His statement had proved true. Hanabi had been trapped in the ground for two hours now, and her broken limbs still radiated pain. He’d even put her in a hogtie formed from her own tails for good measure, and as a final humiliation, shoved some cum soaked scraps of her destroyed clothing in her mouth to gag her again. She was completely helpless until he woke up the next morning and wanted to use her some more.
Almost completely helpless.
Hanabi was almost too terrified to breathe, scared that the tiny sound would somehow be enough for Levi or Celeste to realize something was wrong. They’d gone somewhere out of sight, which should have been a comfort, but it meant that she couldn’t keep an eye on them, couldn’t see if they were actually asleep yet or not. She was so exhausted that she could barely see straight, and it took all her focus to keep going instead of passing out. Her biggest motivation was that this was her one and only opportunity. She’d already drained more than half her remaining foxfire for this, and wouldn’t be able to try again.
Fire was the first thing she’d learned to truly create, and it was still what she was the best at. Beneath the ground, where her captors couldn’t see, warm light filled the cavity she’d been placed in. Her fingers scratched at the dirt encasing them, confirming that it was growing steadily softer as it thawed. But the pace was far slower than she liked. It was going to be a race to see if she could succeed before her foxfire ran dry.
A scared voice in her head whispered that she shouldn’t be doing this at all. Levi was going to discover her. He might already be watching her in secret, holding back laughter at how stupid his new fucktoy was for thinking she could escape him. And it wasn’t him, then it would be that, that thing called Celeste. She’d already hunted down the girl as easily as a limping prey animal, and that was when Hanabi still had all her strength, plenty of foxfire, clothes, and self-respect. And her fox skin. Even if she did get away, Levi had stashed her skin somewhere, and she didn’t dare go searching for it. The quickly vanishing reservoir of foxfire inside of her was the last she’d ever have, and this trembling human body was going to be her only one forever.
But still she continued. It wasn’t bravery motivating her, or the desire to overcome Levi and prove her worth. It was just simple cowardice. As terrified as she was about what Levi was going to do to her for attempting to escape, his attempts to scare her into submission had backfired. If he’d talked about letting her go eventually, or given any indication that obedience would mean eventually he’d stop being so cruel, then she would have meekly accepted her fate. But the future he’d laid out for her was so manifestly horrible and final that she had to try and get away. It was the same instinctive drive towards survival that made her animal brethren chew their own legs off to escape traps.
The foxfire inside of her flickered and died, all of it spent. It was now or never. Hanabi strained, not with her broken limbs, but with her tails, scraping and digging into the dirt around her. It felt like trying to chop logs with a paper fan, and the soil grew less malleable by the second as the winter cold crept back into it, but she was making progress, and her bones began to slowly knit back together as her dirt prison crumbled around her.
Last but not least, the white fox eased her tails out of the knots Levi had tied them in. Even fueled by terror induced adrenaline, it was a slow grueling process that left her panting for breath before the first knot was undone. But it worked. Hours after she’d been buried in the earth, her hands quietly broke through the surface, and she pulled herself out of the hole with all the care of a surgeon. She didn’t spare a moment to look in the direction Levi had gone, or glance around for her fox skin. The thought of striking back never even crossed her mind. Hanabi just padded away into the forest, naked, dirty, and cold, with her assailant’s cum still a nauseating stickiness between her legs and a bitter coating inside her mouth.