Chiyoko had bribed Kitsune, the trickster fox, with his favorite food, a freshly caught kunimasu salmon that was ready to spawn. A rice ball, expertly made, sealed the pact. Chiyoko gained her familiar: Kitsune’s magical prowess was hers, as she had wished for. Spirit Fox hissed his displeasure, but still licked his whiskers clean.
“What do you wish of me, Kitsune-mochi? You have fed me well, and must now continue to do so, if you want my services. Tell me your story, and we shall dream together such cruel delights.”
Chiyoko told him, as she prepared another fish…
Nobou had not lived up to his name. He took what woman or girl he wanted, all the time professing his deepest love for me. I accepted, at first, the shame he brought upon me, for I truly believed in the love he professed. I did believe his lies, until he ruined Fumiko, my younger sister. Nobou crushed her delicate beauty in an afternoon by the still waters of Saiko lake, near Mount Fuji.
Fumiko tried to fight his advances off, to the regret of all. She was found unconscious, bloodied from head to delicate toe, naked and feverish from infected wounds. Fumiko drifted in and out of delirium for close to a week, uttering only “iie Nobu…iie!” once, before she drifted away into the shadow lands of Yomi.
What little law was practiced was of no use to my family. Nobou had been seen leaving the village the morning after Fumiko was found, in “quite a haste”, or so it appeared to the farmer who passed him by just as the sun was rising for the day.
“Masanori-san,” I said, gaze averted and bowing to the farmer. “Did you talk to Nabou? Please, did he say where he was off to?” Masanori the farmer only shook his head and continued working in his field. Four days later Fumiko was dead, and I approached the farmer again, with the same result.
Two weeks after the funeral ceremony, my mother passed away into Yomi as well. Father took off after Nabou a day later, in a rage like I had never seen before in so gentle a man. Weeks passed, then a month, then two…and my father has never returned. I decided that to have the justice that was deserving it must be mine to deal out. I returned to this spot off of Saiko Lake, where we found Fumiko. It is March, when the kunimasu salmon would spawn, and I set this plan in motion. Great Fox, you are that plan.
As a child I had sat at the feet of my grandmother and aunts, listening to the tales of the Kitsune-Mochi, the solitary witch who plied the trickster fox with food. Thus, fox became their thrall, and the evil and vengeance that would ensue from such a pairing. Instead of frightening me, as it did Fumiko, I had dreamt of having that power myself, and woe to any who would hurt me or those I loved.
Chiyoko’s tears of the telling mixed into the preparation of the second salmon, and this doubly satisfied Kitsune as he gobbled up this treat. “Chiyoko, your wish is mine now. Come, let us find this Nobou.”
For two years, two months, two weeks and three days, Nobou escaped Chiyoko’s wrath. The story of the fox witch reached him no matter where he went, his name attached in waves of threats and horrors to be visited upon “The Man Who So Deserved His Fate!” Changing names did not deter their coming, nor clothing nor disguise nor distance. Always coming closer, always leaving others whose evils were as great crushed beneath the power of the Kitsune-mochi! Those stories grew in those two years plus, each one driving more fear into Nabou’s dwindling soul.
It was on that third night that Chiyoko and Fox caught up to Nobou. Fox, as directed, disguised himself as a woman of such exquisite beauty that none were immune to her lure. Nobou was easily entrapped, and set to have this delicacy as his own. But, Fox played his part well. Fox pushed and pulled, flirted and flared, delicately balanced demure and distance with demand and desire. Enjoying the dance, Fox led Nobou through the illusions of love like one never experienced before.
As Nobou slept, Chiyoko, with Fox’s powers at her command, drew to her Tora Baku, the dream-devouring Tiger spirit. “What is your wish, Kitsune-mochi? What pleasures can I assist you with?”
Smiling, Chiyoko brought Tora Baku to the sleeping world that Nobou floated through. “Take his dreams of wanton pleasures, O great Tora, O great one, and eat to your own pleasure. Leave him the horror of his deeds, leave him the blood and fear and shattered lives, leave him the gaping raw edges of despair and pain and suffering. It is his want, his needs, his blessings upon himself.”
So Tora Baku ate the dream life of Nobou, and was more than pleasantly sated. Nightmare upon nightmare visited Nobou in his sleep, and even upon waking the nightmares did not cease. No matter where he turned, no matter where he ran, no matter where he sought help, the nightmare of his life descended upon him.
Nobou took his life, what living shell that was left, and was mourned by none. His broken body, upon the rocks at the bottom of the cliff, fed the animals and birds, and it was just. No one found his bones for many, many years, and then only a few, for the rest were scattered by those who had fed well. Nobou’s slim spirit remained beside that cliff, and every now and then Fox would return to laugh at him and urinate on the spot where Nobou’s body had first landed.
Chiyoko, Kitsune-mochi, and Fox traveled together for a long, long time. They created their own legends as they lived them.
Those stories are for another time.
Watch your sleep, for Tora Baku still prowls, and is hungry.