Chapter Six: Amorph:

Ever since Sen made a deal with the Mother kitsune, each member of the Eda-Kimoto clan has had their own kitsune that they control. All of them, including the Mother herself, all live in their tsukai’s souls. Every forty generations, the Mother is reborn through a girl. The other thirty-nine generations in each cycle are copies of the original parent and die out easily. When the copy died, the tsukai died as well. Naturally, they didn’t want that to happen so soon.

For ages, they tried to come up with ways to live the normal life span. At first, nothing worked. The copies broke down even though they were given human remedies. They even went to other shamans for help. When those failed, they decided to take in orphans and runaways as children in an attempt to keep the bloodline going. Ironically, the clan was considered the strongest of the villages that they lived in. Everyone came to them when they needed their loved ones healed or had disputes that needed to be settled. The clan took pride in their work, of course, but they couldn’t let the people that relied on them know that they were dying. They did everything in their power to hide the truth and look for a way to live longer.

In the Meiji Era, the clan started to dip their hands in blood to stay alive. It all began with an accidental murder.

Their ancestor, Touya, fell in love with this young woman named Arisu when they were thirteen years old. He wanted to go out with her so badly; however, he was a shy boy and really didn’t know how to deal with people so well. He couldn't gather up the courage to even introduce himself to her. In the end, Touya decided to watch over Arisu from afar. For years, he watched his infatuation grow up into a beautiful young woman. He even did nice things for her in secret. She could never guess who would give her extra sweets, find her lost things, or keep her safe at nights. Arisu had grown so beautiful that it caught the attention of other men in Kyoto, much to Touya's displeasure. However, he still loved Arisu and he wanted her to be happy.

“Why don’t you step up and try to ask her out?” his kitsune, Konni, offered in August 1879. Touya waved him off.

“I can’t do that,” he said. “I don’t have it in me!”

“Then let me do it,” the kitsune offered. The master gave him a harsh glare.

“No!” he snapped.

“Okay, okay,” Konni said quickly. “I was only joking!”

“It wasn’t funny!” Touya said back.

“Fine,” the kitsune said pouting. Unfortunately, the days of watching his love from afar would come to a crashing end in violence.

One evening in November 1880, Arisu was going home from a friend’s gathering. Touya watched her walk up to her front door from the shadows. It looked like a normal night once more. She would just go inside, take a bath, and go to bed. However, tonight would derail everything for all parties involved.

Suddenly, a strange man wandered over to the young woman from the garden where he had been hiding. He had an empty bottle of sake in his hand and his face looked just as red. Arisu gave him a strange look as she started to back towards her front door.

“Hello?” she asked, “Uh… Can I help?” This drunken man lunged forward and tried to put his arms around the small woman’s waist. Touya watched with horror at the scene that was unfolding before him. This sleazy man tried to seduce Arisu by kissing her on the cheek, but she refused because she was to marry a nobleman in three nights and wanted to stay a virgin until then.

“Come on, honey,” he muttered, “I just want to give you the pleasure you deserve.”

“Please get off,” she pleaded as she struggled to get away, “I already am getting married to another and he wouldn’t like it if I slept with another man behind his back.” This other man then got angry and tried to rape Arisu.

“Bitch!” he shouted. The man smacked her across the face and shoved her to the ground. He ripped her kimono wide open to the cool November air. She fought back in vain.

“No!” she screamed as he held her down on the ground. “Please don’t do this to me! You’ll bring shame to us both! Stop!” The drunken man smacked her across the face again with much heavier force to quiet her. Touya couldn't stomach the thought that his object of desire was about to be violated. He had to do something before his beloved died.

Arisu-chan’s in trouble, he thought. I have to help her! He drew in a deep breath and made his first move for her. Touya closed his eyes, held out his hand, and summoned his kitsune to the rescue. The silver pet appeared before him when he opened his eyes, Touya toughed his resolve to rescue his beloved.

“Konni!” he commanded. “I offer my blood in exchange for your services! Please save her!” He drew out a small knife from his obi and cut his hand and offered it up to his kitsune. Konni leaned down and licked up the blood. Touya breathed in as he felt his life slipping further away than it already was. Once Konni had finished receiving his payment, he floated back with a smile on his face.

“Yes, master,” he said. Touya watched as his kitsune sailed over to the man as he was untying his pants. He paused and looked up to see a white cloud darting towards him.

“What the--?!” he asked in a shout. The kitsune went straight for his throat with a wide-open mouth. The blood came pouring out onto the ground. Arisu looked up in confusion and horror as this cloud was tearing away at her would-be rapist. Konni did the job too well; he killed both the would-be rapist and Arisu herself when she jumped in to break up the fray. When he had returned to its master, Touya raced over in terror to Arisu's dead body now coated in blood. He mourned in horror at what he had done.

“What have you done?!” he screamed at his kitsune. Konni bowed his head at him.

“I am so sorry,” he said. “Please forgive me!”

“Return at once!” the tsukai commanded.

“Yes, master,” the kitsune said before vanishing into thin air back into the young man’s soul. Touya held Arisu’s body in his arms and broke down into heavy tears. He didn't mean to kill her, but then something strange happened. His kitsune had come back out on his own and started eating Arisu and the attacker's souls. Touya was appalled at first.

“Konni, don't!” he yelled. “You know that is taboo among all kitsune-tsukai. Do you want to bring dishonor among us all?” The kitsune didn't listen; he just kept eating.

“I can’t help it,” Konni replied as he finished up the would-be rapist’s soul. “They’ve drawn me to them.” His master was about to protest when his heart started to pound hard against his chest as if he had been running for miles. He clenched his shirt and began panting as the dizzying air came closing in around him.

What’s… happening… to… me? The young man thought that he was going to pass out.

Suddenly, an ecstatic feeling came over young Touya. You see, he was close to dying in three weeks. He could feel it all over his body in his heart and lungs. Each time a member of the clan in the thirty-nine generations used their power, it drained at little bit of their life away. Yet, they didn’t know how to stop. Their power was their life and without them they would die unless the kitsune found a way to feed. Any later than this would’ve brought Touya’s expiration date closer to six more days. He hadn’t even married nor had any children.

However, Touya was healthy as a normal twenty-year-old as his kitsune kept eating the two souls trying to float away to Meifu for judgment. The man’s heart and lungs became much better on his body. I can breathe better, Touya thought. And my chest doesn’t hurt anymore. He couldn't grasp the situation at the time; it wasn’t possible that he ever could. He looked over at his kitsune.

“Konni,” he said. “Do you feel that?” The kitsune chased and kept Arisu’s soul and began devouring it.

“Uh-huh,” he said.

“What is it?” his master asked.

“Don’t know,” the kitsune replied. “But I feel great; better than my body has ever been.” Touya began to smile as he began to connect the dots. He leaned down and kissed Arisu’s body on the lips.

“I’m sorry, my love,” he whispered, “And I thank you for giving me new life.” By the time the kitsune had finished eating; Touya's health went back to normal. It was then the clan all resorted to human souls for survival.

At first, the family would eat the souls of the people in the villages that had just died. The tsukai tried to keep the growing to a minimal so as not to be noticed. As a result, the tsukai found themselves getting healthier, stronger, and living the normal lifespan as the rest of Japan. To the clan, this arrangement was good enough. Soon, that wasn’t enough for the kitsune. They wanted more and fresher souls. Within ten years, the clan began to drip their hands in blood with murder all to keep their precious pets happy. The whole county couldn’t understand what happened to the once proud stone of their villages. No one even knew how to stop them.

In the 1970’s, Haruka began to teach her boys the way of their clan; all much to her displeasure.