Written By: Jeannette Anne Blanchard
She quietly walks through the dark halls. Eyes darting around, there's no one here. All is silent. All foxes, save this one, be at rest in their beds, deep in slumber and dreams.
They stand upon a small cloud, facing the Impirial Palace. Beneath the new moon, hardly anything is visible. Barely visible is the outline of a thin, elderly, long bearded man in robe. He is at head of a group of large warriors.
She slips behind a corner, apparently another was awake after all. A maid. The portly fox wife passes by, and she watches as she does. The path cleared, Hamika steps back out into the needed hall.
The little cloud now level with the external wall of the palace, the bearded man and his guard step off onto it. The warriors jump down, and quickly position to lower their leader. He hesitates, gazing at the twisted forms of the glass and mirror exterior of the palace. In the pitch dark, even with one's eyes well-adjusted, what can be made out looks terrifying rather than splendid. Horrific as a cliche villain's lair. The man is shaking as he is lowered to the grass.
She reaches a large, seemingly magnificent double-door. The two guards, one on each side, are asleep on the job, snoring away. They seem small for Impirial guards. After a pause, she reaches into her kimono and pulls out a jagged dagger. Slowly, she takes it to one guard's throat... And, quickly slits it. After side-stepping to the other, she dispatches him as well.
Hamika presses her right hand against a smooth spot on the right door. The smoother piece gives a green glow momentarily, and after a series of mechanical noises, the doors open. As the hand lowers... She realizes it's fingers are spindly, artist's hands. Walking forward, the newly entered room alights.
In the mirror before her, the vessel is not her own. Seireikitsu no Kimi's dark hair, emerald eyes, porcelain flesh, and black with gold detailed honor mask stares back. He takes a brief deepened breath, and quickly exhales. He is preparing himself for something.
He walks around the mirror, and before him now is the empress. She is sleeping in a chair in what appears to be a lounge. One of her handmaidens are nearby, asleep on a sofa.
His fist tightens on the dagger's hilt.
The old man enters the lounge of the empress. She looks up to him from a book. "Greetings."
Hamika wakes in a panic, having difficulty breathing. Her eyes shift to door of her quarters, because someone is on the other side. The handle stops turning, and quickly resets after apparently being released.
After rising from the bed, whoever it is bolts. Despite her quiet, they knew she was coming.
She locates a pair of hakama pants and quickly dresses, then rushes after them. They are noisy, how clumsy, making it easy to pursue.
Hall after hall, she remains hot on the person's trail. Until suddenly, the footsteps go down one hall, but then go around a hall surrounded room and stop in the one to Hamika's left. This strange movement stops her dead in her tracks. They did it so quickly, until now they were intentionally leading her. She looks into this side hall and awaits their revealing.
"Grandfather?" She looks in confusion at Seireikitsu.
He meanders into range of sight, in a daze. "Hm?"
'Why is Grandfather...?"
"We are working. Why is Mika-chan running around in middle of the night?"
Taken aback, she blinks, then winces as Seireikitsu swiftly shoots a ribbon of fire about, lighting lamps upon the walls.
"In the dark no less. Who are you playing with? It better not be Eigo-chan. Mark our words, if Eigo-chan bothers Mika-chan we will make Eigo-chan's next life a miserable one."
"Eigokitsu no Kimi? Why would it be Eigokitsu no Kimi? No. Someone was entering our room, and after we had a strange dream. A dreamwalker."
"A dreamwalker? That's alright then." He runs his right hand through his hair, atop his head. "Get to bed, Mika-chan has a long journey tomorrow."
"Yes." She walks back whence she came. But, stops. The jagged dagger's on the tatami matted floor, with fresh fox blood on it. After a moment staring at this suspicious thing, she continues back towards her quarters.
Behind her, Seireikitsu walks up to the dagger. "How did you get here?" After she is passed earshot, "Why are you bloody?"
The bearded man sits in a chair opposite the empress, "Kitsuhana no Kimi called?"
She replies, "Yes. We have some things we must discuss."
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Next: Kitsuhana: Fall In October - IV: Interrupted
In this universe, a fox comes of age for battle at one-hundred-years-old. And, they come of age for marriage at one-thousand-years-old; by which time, any fox would be fully matured, with nine tails. Obviously, the less purely yokai and/or kami one is, the earlier they mature, so most are actually fully matured some time before they are considered of age for marriage, and before their ninth tail is fully grown.
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