Well, hello there loyal fans! Good to see you, good to see you. It's been a busy summer. I haven't had as much time to write as I'd been hoping. But still, I've managed to crank out a new chapter of The Fox Prince – just for you. Enjoy!
Introducing the fox prince
It was really a rather awkward situation.
At least, that's what Kurama thought, sitting there, stunned, in front of his reflection. Which was… quite different from the face he'd seen in his own mirror this morning. Instead of his smooth, creamy skin, long, flowing red hair, deep viridian eyes, and sensuous smirking mouth, there was smooth, creamy fur, covering a long, pointed muzzle; two ears that seemed to have relocated themselves (along with changing form) to the top of his head – where they swiveled nervously around; and a pair of sharp, penetrating golden eyes.
Yes, he was quite sure that something was definitely different.
"Do you like it?" The hag crooned from behind the mirror. She bent her wrinkled head and studied him critically for a moment, her eyes running the length of his new form before she nodded her head sharply, pleased.
"What," croaked Kurama, who was too shocked to even be relieved that his speech faculties had not been damaged by this transformation, "have you done to me?"
The old witch set the mirror aside and frowned. "It's just a spell, pet. One that causes the recipient to take on the form of the animal that best represents their personality. Quite a fitting punishment, I believe, for your attempted theft."
Kurama gaped (the best he could, anyway, in this new form). "But… what am I supposed to do?!" he wailed, pacing quickly back and forth, his tails lashing. The crone's face softened – she'd always had a spot in her heart for the beautiful ones.
"Why, get the counter spell, naturally," she told him.
"Naturally." Kurama mimicked, giving a short, harsh laugh. "And what, exactly is the counter curse, and how do I go about getting it?"
The woman hesitated. "Well, it would be unfair of me to tell you, pet."
A growl welled up from Kurama's throat – a frightening sound. So frightening in fact, that the crone took a startled step backward. Hunching his shoulders, Kurama crept toward her, his new teeth bared.
"You tell me," he threatened, "or I'll eat you." And he looked serious, if the glinting canines were not enough proof. The witch sized him up – and (considering the boy's new form was still almost as large as she) decided she didn't want to take any chances.
"Very well," she said soothingly, waving her hands in front of her. "The counter spell is True Love."
"What?!" Kurama snapped, his golden eyes darkening. "True love? I don't have time for that! Can't you just whip up some antidote in your little magic lab?!"
"No," she told him quietly. "I can't."
Kurama tossed his head in irritation. "Fine," he said at last, his temper cooling as he attempted to regain his usual calm and rationale. "What are the terms of breaking this curse?"
"Yes, I know! Anything else?"
The woman looked thoughtful. "Well, you can't tell the intended spell breaker that you are under a curse; that would jeopardize the breaking."
"Right… Anything else?"
"Good." Kurama leapt forward toward the little wooden table, which the woman had laid the mirror upon, and set his forepaws upon it, quickly snatching a little kidney-shaped bean up with his teeth before pushing himself off the table and making a break for the door.
"Wait!" the witch screeched, reaching a crooked hand toward him. "I just cursed you for trying to steal that! Give it back this instant or-"
With strength Kurama was sure he hadn't possessed formerly, he rammed the closed door with a shoulder – smashing it to pieces. Not waiting around to blink in astonishment at the wooden chunks lying helter skelter, and afraid of the witch's next move, he dashed through the door and into the dark tree line, disappearing as quickly as a needle in a haystack.
The crone hobbled to the door after him, shaking her fist with fury, her eyes glowing red as coals. "You wretch!" she screamed. "Just you wait! I'll find you!" She raged, however, at nothing but the silent wood that encircled her home. She sagged against her ruined doorway.
"Wonderful," she muttered, examining the damage. "This is worse then when those brats Hansel and Gretel last dropped in. At least then I couldbake a new door."
Kurama ran as if the devil were after him. He'd underestimated the witch once already today – he was still unsure of her potency and decided it was best to put as much distance between himself and her as possible. But at last, after an hour or so of running, he had to rest. Following the sound of running water, he flopped down beside a stream. Leaning forward to drink, he caught his reflection and paused.
A four-tailed fox.
A spell that turned you into whatever animal suited your personality most.
He rather thought the witch was mistaken – he should have been turned into a lion, the animal that represented royalty. He was, after all, the Prince of Thieves.
He sighed and lay his head on his front paws. He was a good thief – no, a greatthief – so how, after so many successful heists, had he managed to be bested on this, the only theft that really mattered?
Kurama smiled at himself in the mirror, tossing a smooth lock of red hair over his shoulder. Today was the day. Tying his sash around his waist, he stepped through his door and made his way to the courtyard, where the entire band was gathered to see him off.
A heavy hand fell upon his shoulder, and he turned to see his friend Kuronue smiling down at him.
"The big day, huh?" His dark-haired friend winked. "How are you feeling?"
Kurama paused before breaking into a large grin. "Confident," he replied. Kuronue laughed, his violet eyes crinkling with humor.
"I should have figured," he said, "You always are." His tone became serious, and he stopped his friend, looking him candidly in the eye. "But don't get too cocky. You don't know what you're going to be dealing with-"
Kurama brushed him off, running a hand through his hair. "Please, I appreciate the concern, but I don't need it. I've always pulled off the heists – with finesse, I might add. What's going to be so different about this one?"
Kuronue bit his lip. "It's that attitude that has me worried. You'll be on your own this time – as the custom insists, and –"
"Kuro! What are you worried about?! Have I ever failed the clan?"
"Then why are you getting on my case? This is going to go as smoothly as always – even more smoothly, even, because there's no one to slow me down!" Kurama chuckled as Kuronue shot him a dark look.
"Don't be so sure. There's always a catch on these occasions."
Kurama waved him off, "Maybe for those who have come before me, but my eyes are always open." With that, they were in the courtyard and throngs of people rushed forward, separating the two friends. A slender, dark-haired young woman slid from the crowd and up to Kurama, latching onto his arm.
"Good luck today," she purred to him, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Thank you, Devina." Kurama smiled, his arm encircling the waist of his current lover. "Behave yourself while I'm gone."
"Always, and I wait patiently for your return." She simpered, her lower lip jutting out. "But please be careful."
Nodding distractedly, Kurama disentangled himself from her overbearing embrace and sauntered over to the gates of the keep, which were being opened.
Traditionally, in the clan of the Noble Thieves, before the prince could become king on his twentieth birthday, he had to complete a challenging theft decided upon by the elders of the clan. Today was Kurama's twentieth birthday, and the day of his Noble Challenge.
An old man stepped from the crowd, his long white hair billowing behind him. He eyed the young prince sternly.
"What is my quest, sir?" Kurama called, bowing respectfully. The old mans heavy brows lowered over his eyes.
"You must search out the witch of the wood and where she resides. From her you must steal the magic bean she keeps in her pocket. Are you up to this task?"
"Yes." Kurama answered solemnly.
"Then go." The old man made a gesture of blessing, then watched the youth turn from him, and saunter out of the keep, the people cheering after him.
A magic bean? Kurama scoffed. If that was the only task they could come up with for him, then they either thought him incompetent, or he'd already stolen all the good stuff.
He decided it was probably the latter.
He'd found it.
In the last village he'd passed through, he'd asked a few questions of the town folk. Apparently, there was an old woman who came into the village every other week to do a bit of shopping – but she had an odd aura, and people suspected that she may be a witch. Also, she lived in a hut way out in the middle of the woods. Alone. Obviously, this was enough to convince the people of her unnaturalness, and, in turn, their conviction convinced Kurama. So he rented a room in the only hotel (which was rather plain, and a considerable step below his usual standards), and waited.
He was still waiting, a week later, walking through the market square, an irritated expression on his face, when he saw her. An elderly lady buying a dozen apples, adding them to her bag which already contained sugar, flour, and milk. There was nothing suspicious in this – there were plenty of old women buying apples.
But this woman had the unmistakable aura of one who dabbles in the darker arts – a certain look, the way she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, and a sugary smell that clung to her.
This must be the one.
So, when she had finished making her purchases, Kurama followed her (at a safe and unnoticeable distance, of course) home.
And home was quite a way away.
Deep in the dark forest.
Home was a sturdy little shack made up of bricks, with a handsome wooden door. The crone entered, closing the door behind her with a firm yank.
Kurama approached the residence cautiously, stepping carefully and silently up to one of the windows where he crouched down, preparing to peer inside. His nose wrinkled. Close up, the house smelled strongly of a pigpen…
Inside, the woman set down her sack of goods, then emptied the contents of her pockets onto the table. A few loose coins rolled around a kidney-shaped bean.
Kurama smirked. Bingo.
He waited until the cover of night, when he knew the woman would be asleep. He would enter stealthily, grab the bean, and leave. Simple.
He picked the lock and eased the door open, slipping silently inside the still, dark house. Quietly, he crept toward the table, his movements fluid.
Suddenly a fire blazed up in the hearth, while at the same time something hit him in the middle of his chest.
Kurama began to fall, but regained his balance. He sneezed, then fell over onto his back, suddenly very itchy – and something was wrong with his legs…
"Hello, pet!" Said the witch cheerfully from her seat at the table. "I've been waiting for you."
Kurama blinked up at her, distracted by the itchy feeling that seemed to be coming frominside him. And something was definitely wrong with his legs – why couldn't he get up?
"What?" He gasped, suddenly short of breath. "Waiting?"
"Of course." The woman tapped her nose and grinned at him. "There are many people in town who fear the power of a witch and do not wish my enmity. They told me you were looking for me. I could only imagine you were after this." She held up the bean for him to see, then placed it once more on the table.
"But-" He paused, frowning. "I don't feel so good," he muttered.
"Well, dear, let me show you why." The old woman picked up a hand mirror and held it before his face.
And now he was here… Deep in this wood… Alone…
Kurama slapped his forepaw on the ground. It was so unfair! And all this for a stupid bean, too, that didn't even seem to have any magical abilities.
But he was a man of action, and sitting here moping all day wasn't going to do him any good. He rose to his feet (all four of them) and began to trot off toward his home.
It was late by the time he reached the keep.
"It's me! Open the gate!" Kurama called back. Slowly, the doors swung open, revealing a grinning Kuronue.
But as soon as he saw Prince Kurama, the grin dropped. He took a step backward.
Kurama bounded into the courtyard, stopping before his friend.
"Stop shaking, it's me."
Kuronue looked down at the huge fox, his eyebrow twitching.
"Yes," replied the prince, irritated.
"What… um… happened?"
"Isn't it obvious? I was cursed. By that stupid witch." He spat the bean out; it landed next to Kuronue's boot. "But I completed the task, so all that's left to do is break the curse."
"Kuronue!" Man and fox turned to see a scantily clad Devina running toward them. "I heard that my Kurama-chan is back! Where is he?" She panted as she reached them, eyeing the fox curiously. "What's this?"
"This," Kuronue gestured to the fox, "Is your, er, Kurama-chan."
Devina laughed. "This is no times for games. Where is he, really? I've missed him so!" Kuronue frowned.
"I'm right here, Devina." Kurama said. "I'm just under a spell. But it won't last long now that you're here."
Devina blinked. "What? K – Kurama? Oh! What happened?!"
"I just told you," He growled, "I'm under a spell. We have to break it."
"You mentioned that." Kuronue interrupted. "Care to enlighten us?"
"True Love is the counter curse, the witch told me. So, obviously, the spell won't last much longer."
Devina and Kuronue stared at him.
"You love me, don't you, Devina?" Kurama cocked his head to the side.
"Well, um!" Taken by surprise, Devina began to stutter. "I, uh, guess so."
Kurama's golden eyes darkened. "You guess so? You either do or you don't, Devina." He growled.
"I, I don't know!" She squeaked.
Kuronue stepped between the two. "Hold on. Obviously, Devina is confused. And besides, even if she did love you, you don't love her back – don't give me that look, Devina, you know as well as I do that it's true." He knelt in front of his friend. "True Love, Kurama… That means it's shared by both parties. As many women as you have groveling at your feet, there is no love."
"Well, then, what am I supposed to do?" whined the prince.
"You'll have to leave, travel abroad, until you find someone whom you … love."
"I don't believe in love," Kurama said, baring his teeth.
"Then it's time you developed a new attitude," Kuronue told him firmly. "You may have completed your challenge, but we can't have a fox for a king. You leave first thing tomorrow."
AN: End chapter two. Okay, now, before you people get upset – I know Kurama was out of character. He's supposed to be. There is a good reason for this. Much like Beauty's Beast, he has to begin as a whiney, self-absorbed narcissist. Don't worry, he'll change! Also, he'll meet Botan in the next chapter. Yay!
Oh, before I thank the reviewers of the last chapter, let me first thank the 102 people who have added me to their list of favorite authors. Wow! I know I've mentioned this before, but when I started writing I thought it'd be achieving something to be on 30 people's favorite authors list – so imagine my surprise when, almost a year after I began writing, I'm on the list of 102 people… It boggles the mind, friends. Thank you again!
And now that my ego is sufficiently inflated, let's thank the reviewers, shall we?
Lady of Roses: Heh, I've always loved Rumpelstiltzkin, and I just had to put him in somewhere! And I thought it'd be amusing to have him as the voice of reason. As for Hiei as a fairy… Well, you'll see won't you?
Sazuka Chan: No, The Chase still has a few chapters to go, but it's on the backburner right now. Don't worry though, you'll be seeing more soon. Glad you liked this story!
Keirin Sama: Glad you liked it!
rkfan246: Okay, here's Kurama!
Ame no Kodomo: It's moved to a more normal style now, I hope you still like it!
Mourning Fox: I can't tell you about Hiei! It's a surprise! Shhhh!
animegirl007: Well, I'm glad you liked it!
Corkycomp: Hee-hee, yes, writing the fairy tale beginning was fun, but I've moved on to a normal style now, it'll stay that way for the rest of the story. And I can't tell you about Hiei! You'll have to stay tuned to find out more about him. And, yes, I have read the story you mentioned. It's on my favorites list, I believe.
Kitsune Kit: Yes, the thought of Hiei as a fairy amuses me too.
Crescent Venus: Yes, tail because of the fox… (That's a good excuse form my spelling inadequacy, right?) And don't worry, Hiei will be amusing…
DeityofRoses: Eh heh… Well, I'm definitely taking a few liberties… But it's all in good fun! I hope you may enjoy this almost as much as the original.
Kookey: Hee-hee. I love Fairy Tales, I have to put spoofs in! And yes, let's go to Tokyo! I want me a hot Japanese guy! Who's, um, tall. Because I'm 6'1, so I need a tall Japanese guy. They exist, right?
Hakusho009: Well, thank you, I'm glad you are enjoying it so far!
cLuMzYaZnGrL106: Glad you like!
Eun-Jung: You flatter me! It's not that great! But still, I'm glad you like it. The style has changed for the rest of the story, but I just had to have a sarcastic beginning.
Sei-san: I'm glad you are enjoying it!
Frith: Yay! If Frith likes it, then it must be good, ne? Heh, I'm definitely going to be taking liberties with this story, though. Hope you'll still enjoy it as much as the original!
Angel-trump: Don't worry, I'm thinking that all the characters from YYH will be appearing (or, all the major ones, anyway!).
Cheeto: ::Blushes Furiously:: Me? Write like Lemony Snicket? Oh, no… But thanks for the compliment! I love his stuff – it cracks me up! It's still fairly light, but the drama will be coming up in later chapters (as will the romance!).
Kitsune-0503: Thank you, I love hearing that!
Botan and Kurama Lover: Heh, yeah, those 'fat arsed fairies' sure were mean not to show up, huh? I don't think they'll be in the story again though. Yes, Hiei as a fairy promises to be amusing!
Aura Black Chan: Thanks! I've always loved Rumpelstiltzkin, and making him the voice of reason was just too much fun! So much, in fact, that I'll probably have him pop in again, later.
TiiniejiRin: You never read The Frog Prince? Oh dear. Look it up on google, I'm sure you can find a condensed version.
Apryl: Hey, don't try to influence me! I'll update what I want, when I want! Nyah! Just for that, I'm going to update The Chase next! HAH!
Anne: Thank you, Anne! And don't think I don't appreciate your opinion. Because I do. I REALLY do.
Furi Iki: Hee! Thanks so much for dedicating that story to me, it made me feel all special and stuff! Now if you would only update the Flower and the Fox… But I won't rush you! Keep up the good work yourself!
DragonGurl15: Glad you like it!
Les: Thank you! I'm sorry that Hiei hasn't shown up yet, though. Be patient, he'll make his appearance!
Yohko Lily: Thank you, I'm glad you like it!
Miyako14: Well, I updated sooner than I had planned. Just for you!
Luci-chan6: Well, I can't help it – I'm a multi-tasker. Anyway, glad you like it so far! And the prize fic is coming out soon too – I'm about halfway done with it. It's a Kuronue/Botan/Youko love triangle thingy…
Ookami Aya: Glad it made you giggle!
And that's all for this round, folks! Hope you liked it, and don't forget to review!