The Ninetails Saga, part 1 - A Soul Reborn
Chapter 1, the forests near Piltover
The young female kit dashed out far ahead of her mother, eyes narrowed in concentration, intent on tracking down and killing her prey. Her mother let her wander off, watching her happily chase after the mouse into the forest. She had been born only months before, blind, deaf, and vulnerable. The babe had been dependent on her for everything the first few weeks until her little amber eyes finally opened and saw the world for the first time. Now the kit thought nothing of leaving her mother's side and chasing after the first thing that moved.
The kit chased the terrified mouse through the forest, dodging under logs and leaping over small creeks with child-like nimbleness, until the fleeing mouse came up against a natural barrier made of stacked boulders and entangled trees.
Finally, the kit saw that she had her prey cornered, and she eyed the mouse hungrily and bared her tiny little baby teeth at it. She watched as the mouse trembled in fear, and dug itself into the rocks behind him. The young kit readied to pounce, but a loud sound distracted her momentarily, and she turned her head in the sound's direction.
When she looked back at her prey, she saw that it had run off in the direction of the noise. She heard a worried yelp off in the distance, and knew it was her mother calling for her to come back, but the young kit thought only of securing her new little prize, and swiftly chased after the mouse, running through the forest at a furious pace.
The mouse ran under and disappeared into a thick growth of bushes, and the kit followed and burst through it, not wanting to lose track of her prey. She landed upon a large clearing in the forest. The kit sniffed the air expectantly, but there was no trace of the mouse. She scanned the forest floor, but was greeted with only the scene of what had been a ferocious battle. The mouse was nowhere in sight.
Looking around, the kit spied a number of strange bodies lying on the floor. One in particular laid in a pool of it's own black blood, and a magical vortex whirled and pulsated above it. The young kit felt an arcane force that seemed to call to her, begging her to come closer to the vortex. She approached it slowly, wondering innocently what secrets it held.
Without warning, the pulsating vortex suddenly erupted, and countless tendrils of energy appeared and engulfed the young kit, wrapping itself with whip-like force around the creature until it formed an ethereal cocoon-like structure. For what seemed like an eternity the cocoon seemed content to simply exist, pulsating and glowing with an unearthly purple light, but then it shuddered and untangled itself, and from within a human-like girl with two fox ears and nine beautiful tails burst forth and fell onto the earth, unconscious.
Upon waking up, the young fox-girl looked around at her surroundings, trying to remember what she had been doing.
The girl attempted to scramble up on all fours, wanting to continue the pursuit of her prey, but was unable to – everything felt so strange! - and instead tumbled back towards the ground. Bewildered, she tried to get up again, and was met with the exact same result, this time slipping sideways and landing on her shoulder painfully as her limbs splayed out awkwardly. She cried out, but the voice that came out was not one that she recognized. Again she tried to crawl back towards the safety of the forest – her mother would surely be waiting there for her! – and this time managed to lurch forward clumsily a few feet before tumbling wildly back onto the ground. She did not try to get up again this time. Instead she sat there on all fours, panting heavily, and as her initial shock and confusion began to give way to rational thought she began to realize that something was horribly wrong. Her body was entirely unrecognizable to herself, and her paws had turned into long, skinny limbs with exposed skin that had a foreign hue of milky white cream. She looked at the bodies strewn about on the ground, and realized that her body now resembled those strange looking dead creatures.
The young fox-girl began to feel a stirring panic rise from within herself. Her childlike naivety and innocent curiosity succumbed to the creeping fear of the unknown and unfamiliar, and she felt desperately lonely. Her heart ached for the knowing touch and safety of a mother's embrace.
As the girl sat there and stared longingly towards a forest which now seemed impossibly far away, she saw a bush towards the far side rustle, and from it a fully grown vixen emerged. The girl tried to focus on this newcomer with eyes that felt unfamiliar to her, and in an instant her eyes widened in recognition and she instinctively kicked her legs and hands forward in a desperate effort to draw herself closer to the fox.
The mother fox saw the human struggling to get closer to her, but she held her ground. Her black eyes, which betrayed no emotion, remained fixated on the girl before her. She recognized what this creature was. It was a human child, that savage war-like creature that walked on two legs and who took from nature all they desired, using their frightening weapons and tools to ravage the land and it's inhabitants in their petty conflicts, leaving only destruction in their wake. She hated humans – despised them – and yet she could not turn her eyes away from the human girl in front of her. She felt – no, she knew that the girl before her shared her own blood, had begun her life inside of her as just a tiny unrecognizable being, and over months, had developed and grown in the safety of her own womb, and finally had been forcefully ejected out into a vast and unfamiliar world. She had been a miracle – her sisters and brothers had all been stillborn – and whether or not a mother even needed a reason to love her child, that tragedy had only strengthened her belief that her only daughter was special; that she was destined for something more. It was unfathomable to her that her destiny would be to live her life as one of the humans, and yet the girl was still her only daughter, her only legacy.
And so for all these reasons – or possibly for no reason at all except a mother's love – the mother fox bravely approached the human girl, looked knowingly into her eyes, and gave her a loving nudge, encouraging her daughter to get up, to crawl by her own power back into the safety of the forest. This was not an act unfamiliar to the mother – after all, she had gone through this before. Kits must learn to stand before they can walk, and they must learn to walk before they can run.
Looking at the human girl, the mother felt a pang of regret in her heart as she realized that she would no longer be able to raise and provide for her daughter like a true mother should. She was willing to lay down her own life for her without a second thought, but as she watched her daughter struggling to control her long and awkward human limbs, she wondered if that would be enough.
The fox-girl stared at those trees and shrubs which stood guard over the entrance to the forest, and – thinking more clearly and rationally now – began to carefully test her new longer limbs to see how they could properly hold her weight. Her mother purred softly to let her daughter know that she was there, and slowly the fox-girl began to put one hand forward, past the other, move one knee forward, and then the other, slowly but surely making forward progress along the forest clearing. As she crawled, the movements began to flow naturally to her, and she was able to now consistently coordinate her movements to crawl steadily forward, and in due time she reached the forest boundary. She saw her mother leap ahead of her and into the forest, and the girl cried out in protest, not wanting to be alone again. She shuffled forward into the forest furiously to keep up.
The sticks, rocks, and leaves littering the forest floor scratched and clawed at her soft human skin, especially at her hands and knees, and occasionally pierced it, causing tiny red droplets of blood to stain the forest floor. The girl was in terrible pain, but she struggled onwards in the direction her mother had disappeared into. She caught a glimpse of her mother darting past a tree in the distance, and crawled towards it, but when she reached it there was no sign of her. Panting heavily, she stopped and leaned her shoulder onto the tree to rest. Her knees and palms were half numb with pain from the abuse she had subjected them to. She started hoping that this was all a dream, that she would wake up and find herself sleeping next to her mother, back in her own fox body, and that she would once again be chasing insects and mice carelessly out into new parts of the forest.
There was a slight rustle next to her, and when the girl looked up, she saw her mother standing there, looking at her intently. She barked sharply at her, and the girl sensed that her mother was chastising her for stopping and giving up so quickly on the chase. The girl looked down at her scuffed and bloody hands, and tried to blink back tears that insisted on coming out anyway, the occasional teardrop flowing out from her eyes and down her cheeks, and dripping down onto the forest floor to mix with the bright red blood. The girl looked at her mother with pleading, tear filled eyes. She just wanted her to come and comfort her, tell her everything would be alright.
The girl watched her mother turn her eyes towards the setting sun, then dart back further into the forest, vanishing into a thick overgrowth of foliage. Wincing in pain, the fox-girl took a deep breath, steeled herself, grabbed onto the trunk of the tree she had been leaning on, and hoisted herself up so that she stood on her own two feet. Ignoring the pain emanating from her palms as she struggled to balance the weight of her entire body, she was able to stand upright, swaying precariously back and forth on her two long legs. The girl felt that she would be able to manage if she could only inch along, ever so slowly, putting one foot in front of the other, moving from tree to tree and grabbing onto them with her hands to keep from tumbling back down. Her hands throbbed, but she didn't care – she didn't want to fall behind this time, and so she continued to shuffle from tree to tree like this.
When she had finally made her way over to the thick foliage her mother had disappeared through, she saw that the line of trees had ended, and that she would have to make the rest of the way on her own. She stared at the mass of overgrown vines and shrubs, half hoping that her mother would once again burst out from them and reveal herself. She didn't.
The girl inched forward, keeping one hand on the tree, her other arm swaying out wildly in an attempt to balance herself. When she had finally reached her limit, with her arm extended fully and fingertips just barely still holding onto the tree, she gently pushed off with her fingers, and started stumbling forward towards the overgrowth, with no crutch to hold onto, balancing on just two skinny little legs. She took small, stilted steps, but made steady forward progress, and she found that this bipedal movement felt oddly natural to her, as if she had a natural talent for it and had been designed to walk like this all along. The girl became aware of her nine tails, which, while still short and undeveloped, served as a counterbalance which helped her keep herself upright.
Upon reaching the soft barrier of overgrowth, the girl lost her patience, and pushed forward with her legs, bursting through the foliage, and tumbled forward, reaching out with her hands to break the fall. A sharp flare of pain shot up from her palms in response, and the girl instantly regretted her rash action, and had to blink back new tears. The girl felt a gentle nudge to her right side, looked that way, and saw her mother there. In her jaws was a freshly killed rabbit, which she laid down next to her daughter. Scattered on the ground were a bunch of random berries. The girl looked at the rabbit, then at her mother doubtfully, and her mother understood and started tearing at the rabbit with her jaws and paw, ripping it's flesh into chunks. She watched as her mother laid out the chunks of flesh in front of her.
The chunks of flesh repulsed her for some reason, but realizing now that she hadn't eaten since that morning, the girl sat up, grabbed some blueberries instead, and stuffed them into her mouth. She had always loved blueberries, but these tasted especially sweet and delicious. She quickly devoured all of the sweet and ripe berries, pressing them delightedly onto the roof of her mouth while chewing to bring out even more of it's tart juice. She wiped away her tears, leaving small smears of blood on her face. She could not help but grin in satisfaction as the emptiness in her stomach abated.
When the girl looked up from her meal, she saw the faint outline of her mother laying in a nearby patch of dirt, asleep. The sunlight was starting to fade rapidly, and the girl found that her eyes had difficulty discerning the gray outlines of the forest, her vision ill adapted to the blackness of the night. The girl crawled slowly next to where she thought her mother was napping, and laid down next to her. The rigors of that day caught up quickly to her young body, and though the girl did not want to, she quickly fell fast asleep, comforted by the presence of her mother beside her.
The girl was jarred awake early at dawn the next morning, forced out of her deep slumber by the pestering nudges and bites of her mother. When the girl finally sat up and composed herself, she saw her mother again dart out further into the forest, disappearing from sight. The girl looked at the wounds on her knees and hands, and found that they had scabbed over, and were healing slowly. The girl did not understand why her mother kept urging her to continue deeper into the forest, but her mind was still in that stage of life where a child would follow her mother's orders without question, and so she slowly picked herself up from her sitting position, and carefully stood up, swinging her arms and tails rapidly in circles to keep her delicate balance.
The girl thus was able to transfer herself after some struggle into a standing position, and she became amazed at how it almost seemed natural to her now to stand so high up on her legs like this, as if some part of her brain had always possessed the knowledge of how to walk upright and she was only now remembering that she knew how to do this all along. Still, the girl continued to nurse some doubts in the back of her mind, and she shuffled forward slowly towards the direction her mother had gone, reaching out an arm and grabbing onto every tree she approached in order to check her balance.
She continued on like this for what seemed like hours, her mother darting in and out of sight every few minutes, leading her child onwards on what seemed like a never-ending wild goose chase. As she walked, the girl slowly began to become surer of every footstep, and she fell into a steady – if somewhat odd feeling – rhythm, so that soon she found herself walking more and more by her own power, and electing not to pause at every tree.
As the day wore on, the girl began to wonder why they were traveling so fast and so far. It was not as if she were too tired to go on – the girl by now found that walking on two legs was taking less and less effort – but she had never remembered seeing her mother act so strangely, not even stopping for rest and food. The girl's ears picked up the sound of rushing water, and after walking a short distance she found herself staring at a creek. Her mother sat kneeling by the creek bed, lapping up water with her tongue, and the girl, realizing now that she was incredibly thirsty, kneeled beside her mother, lowered her head into the stream, and joyously slurped up the water.
It was during this time that her mother suddenly stood up, turned around, and let out a threatening growl. The girl heard a strange-sounding yell behind her, and she turned around to discern the source of the sound. She saw two creatures approaching quickly towards where she and her mother stood, and her eyes widened in fear as she remembered what these creatures were. They were of the same type she had seen in the clearing the other day! The girl noticed that the two men wore a distinctive symbol on them, that of a flaming blue sun.
The two men, upon reaching the stream, slowly approached the mother, and the taller one brought up a weird looking tool and pointed it at the fox. The girl saw clearly and vividly what happened next, and the scene would later burn itself into her psyche, becoming a part of her memory and self-identity that would stay with her for the rest of her life.
With a fierce rustling of leaves and foliage, the mother charged with determined speed and quickness at the taller man and, letting out a ferocious bark, leaped up towards the man and clamped her jaws into his arm as he brought it up to defend his body, causing the man to cry out in pain and surprise. In a flash, the man's partner responded by drawing out a long, razor-sharp blade and swiped it horizontally at the fox, cutting a deep, mortal gash across the length of her body that caused blood to gush out uncontrollably.
The vixen yelped pathetically, released her grip on the man's arm, and dropped to the ground, staying motionless. The shorter man raised his sword, then sliced it downwards at the fox's neck. In her last moments, the mother stared at the incoming blade, thought of her daughter who would now be alone against these two humans, and wished desperately that the world would look upon her child with pity and show her mercy.
The fox girl sat there next to the creek bed, and did not move her gaze from her mother. The swordman sheathed his blade, and then the two approached the girl. She did not know what to think, and instead looked up at the two men apathetically. She watched as the swordman drew up next to her, and reached for his blade, as if desiring to finish the job he had started with her mother. The taller man brought a hand up to stop him, and uttered a strange speech to his partner. His partner relented and drew back, and the taller man approached the girl, uttered some more strange speech, spit into her face, then drew his hand back and struck the girl's head violently, causing her to spin and fall backwards into the ground.
The man dragged the the still conscious girl to a tree, and propped her body up next to it's trunk. He kicked at the defenseless girl with his boot several times, then laughed and kneeled down, stared admiringly at the girl's body, and brought his hands up to her breasts and fondled them. He grabbed the girl's head and twisted it upwards, forcing the girl to look the man in the eyes. He brought his hand up to her battered face, and wiped off some of the blood while chuckling contentedly to himself. The innocent girl did not comprehend anything that happened after, and simply waited for death to come, so that she could join her mother once again. Was her mother really dead? She didn't want to think about it, but she already knew the answer to that question. As the man continued to abuse her, she found herself staring past his lustful eyes and into the lush forest canopy above, watching the bits of brilliant blue that burst through where the leaves parted, opening a tiny window into the tranquil skies beyond. She wondered whether she would see anything as beautiful when she was dead and with her mother in the afterlife.
A loud, unfamiliar voice suddenly resounded through the forest, and the tall man released his grip on the girl, stood up, and watched as a new third man approached the pair. He was dressed in a brown cloak that shrouded his face, and he carried a small hammer on his his back. He wore on his chest the same symbol of a flaming blue sun. The cloaked man uttered a few harsh words at the taller man, upon which they began arguing back and forth with each other for several seconds. The cloaked man suddenly yelled in anger, then strode forward and struck the taller man so violently that he lurched back and fell to the ground, half conscious.
The girl stared at the cloaked figure absently as he approached her, kneeled down, and looked at her. The girl thought his eyes looked so sad and regretful. He looked back at the corpse of her dead mother, uttered something incomprehensible to her, then looked down and drew out a long, sharp knife. He pointed the tip at her neck, then began to utter a few more words in a pitying tone. The girl was still in a stupor and stared at the man blankly, not caring what happened to her, but something stirred in the back of the girl's mind, and she thought she could almost understand what he was saying. She heard the word "mother", and her eyes widened as she finally understood what that word meant. She felt her throat tingle, and her mouth open, and heard a strange sound escape her throat.
The girl suddenly felt a fire fill her body from within, and an incredible energy grab control of her body. The cloaked man's eyes widened in fear. He looked past the girl, and saw the taller man standing there, his crossbow aimed at his heart. The girl felt a glow of energy from her hands, and she instinctively reached up and fired a ball of essence energy at the cloaked man. The man drew back and dodged to the side, narrowly avoiding both the ball of energy and the arrow that had been aimed at his heart.
The girl let out a rage-filled scream, then scrambled up with unholy vigor, leaped at the taller man next to her, and forcefully dug her fingers into the man's eye sockets. The tall man screamed in agony. She felt energy coursing through her arm and into her fingers, and the man's eyes began to steam and burn with a brilliant blue glow. The man let out one more hideous scream, then tumbled over backwards. She drew her fingers out from the man's eyes, and his body began to overheat and burst into flames. The man moaned in terror and struggled wildly, screaming and shouting obscenities as his body was consumed by the mysterious blue flames.
The girl whirled around, and leaped with blinding speed towards the sword man who was responsible for killing her mother. She bounced high into the air, looked down at her prey, and dived down, aiming to slice the man's throat open with her bare fingers. The man stared in terror at the fox-girl, then grabbed his scabbard desperately. Having no time to draw his sword out, he braced himself, then swung the scabbard at the girl as she crashed down on him. The impact sent them both tumbling backwards into the ground. The girl placed a hand around the man's neck, and her hand began to emit a dull blue glow. The man, fueled by pure adrenaline, pushed himself back onto his knees, and battered his fists blindly at the girl in an attempt to free himself. The girl let out an angry growl, then pushed the man off her with frightening strength, sending him flying backwards several feet.
The man landed on a patch of soft earth, and, without even looking back at his foe, struggled onto his feet and began stumbling forward into the forest in a desperate attempt at escape. The girl was about to follow, but was cut off by the cloaked man, who had now drawn out his powerful hammer and moved in between the fleeing man and the fox-girl. Their eyes locked for a moment, and then the man grunted and swung his hammer downwards, emitting a thundering shockwave that tore the earth beneath it apart as it traveled towards the girl. With no time to react, the girl watched as the shockwave blew past her, barely missing her and instead hitting a tree behind her, tearing the outer bark of the tree apart and sending shattered shrapnel everywhere.
Terrified by the awesome display of power from the cloaked man, the girl suddenly felt the instinctive urge to call out for her mother, who she knew could no longer help or comfort her. The girl struggled to suppress those feelings, and instead turned and ran back into the forest as fast as she could. She heard the man call out from behind her, as if he wanted her to stop, but she ignored the call and kept running.
The girl leaped and ran through the forest rapidly, ignoring the burn in her muscles, thinking only of getting herself as far away from the three men and the memory of her mother as possible. She did not understand what had happened to her back there, and could only feel that some sort of repressed memory had awakened inside her, and that she now possessed strange new powers.
The girl continued to leap swiftly through the forest, traveling rapidly at an impossible speed, running away from things she did not understand. Wayward limbs and tree leaves slashed at her exposed skin as she dashed past the thick forest of trees, but she did not feel any pain - only terror and the surges of adrenaline that bade her to keep running until she could run no more. After a while, the trees slowly began to thin out and became more sparsely populated until it finally yielded to a plain country field covered with short green grasses that extended far into the horizon. The girl finally began to slow her furious pace. She did not know how long she had been running, but she could feel her body beginning to shut down from exhaustion.
Ahead of her, she spotted atop a gently sloped hill what looked like a large wooden structure with doors and windows, and fences, inside of which contained various strange animals she had never seen before. Standing a ways from the house were two humans, a male and a female, who stood there with their hands clasped together, seemingly staring in shock at the strange fox-girl approaching their home. The girl by now had spent the last remaining reserves of her strength running from whatever it was she was running from, and was covered in bruises, cuts and wounds. She looked at the two humans bitterly, and suddenly felt regretful that she had not stayed with her mother instead and accepted whatever fate awaited her back in the forest. For a moment she considered whether she had the strength left to either fight or flee - then, without warning, the world began to spin slowly, and the girl's knees began to buckle. The memories of all that had happened that day rushed up and and haunted her visions, and as her last reserves of strength drained away and she collapsed onto the earth, the shrill wail of a terrified and broken girl filled the air, followed by a chilling and sudden silence.
Henry and Margaret Walker, husband and wife, both walked up towards the naked and unconscious fox-girl, hands clasped together, unsure of what lay before them. The husband walked up next to the girl and kneeled down. He looked the girl over, then looked up at his wife, who had her hands over her mouth, taking pity on the broken girl that laid there before her. She nodded as if sending a silent communication to her husband of over 20 years, and the man looked out over the Piltover countryside, wondering how this fox-girl had made it to their home in this condition, and just what the heck his wife was thinking to want to bring her in. He bent over and picked the girl up with both hands, walked back to their humble country home on the outskirts of Piltover, and went in. His wife shut the door behind them.
End Ch 1