The Evasive Fox Shows That Which is Invisible to the Eye
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I’ve never been a fan of strife. As a scribe, I must believe that war and sickness are important for the progress of all stories; a mere pebble for the development of all. In reality, however, that mere pebble is the size of mountains, and carries within the anguish of thousands upon thousands of less fortunate souls, no more than mob characters, meant not to become protagonists of the Grand Chronicle of all History.

In this sense, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed much of what has occurred as of late. Many centuries ago, I remember watching from afar, and documenting the conquests of the Great Khan, Genghis. Entire cities disappeared under the trampling of a million horses, entire populations slaughtered, and left to rot, swamps forming in what was once desert land, Samarkand and Nishapur reduced to nothing.

Libraries were burnt, books thrown into the river, the Tigris turning black with ink and red with blood. Mosques were torn asunder, shrines toppled over, irrigation systems destroyed, crops left to wither. The world shook under what was once the greatest, most technologically advanced military of the world. And I was there to record it all, of course. Thus is the job of the scribe.

Now, I watch another man with similar ambitions: Those of expansion, of reigning over others, of insatiable bloodshed. His name is Hirohito, the Dai-tennō; the Emperor of all Under Heaven. Such a title has existed for millennia, of course, and such ambitions are not new. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make the murder any better. It certainly didn’t make one’s ‘job’ any more palatable.

To bring matters into perspective, as one rests amidst the shadow of a persimmon tree, I look over the horizon, towards what was a busy district in Tokyo. Of what it once was, now only ashes of destruction remained, pulverized by the fires of oblivion that rained from the raid aeroplanes of the Allies of the Western World. Very few buildings remained unscathed, mainly those of refineries and weapon-making, magically protected by the footmen of the Empire, spells and charms fueled by the blood and sinew of a thousand Yōkai; a thousand Yūrei.

As I reminisced on this, I saw one of the buildings collapse into rubble. I thought for an instant to be a mere result of the bombardment, but soon enough, I could see thundershocks and bullets come out of the dust cloud, followed by a woman in modest garments, blood trickling down her arms, down her torso, shooting fireballs behind her as a platoon of soldiers persecuted her, another victim of this senseless war.

I remember that one of the first sentences I was born with, one of the few texts written on this journal when I received it, was to never intervene in a story: It is not the scribe’s job to be part of the chronicle, the Gods of Old had told me.

Since then, I have intervened many a time, never punished for it. Since then, the Gods of Old, those high above me have been replaced, massacred, and have been lost to time.

So I got up, and moved towards the persecuted girl.

She had beautiful silver hair, glistening against the harsh sun, despite the rubble covering it, and two white fluffy ears protruding from her head. She had fangs for teeth, and two dull eyes, one blue, one pink. It was clear she was a kitsune, especially because of the three tails she possessed, one of them half-charred, another with blood spots.

As I approached, she looked at me, and I must say she was a brilliant sharpshooter, almost catching me ablaze with one of her attacks. I moved past it, knowing full well her most logical reaction to seeing me would be to attack and run, and as she did so, I moved towards the platoon.

“Stop this senseless attack, in the name of He who rules the Heavens, and all within Its Reach.” I spoke up. Naturally, a bullet soon found lodging amidst my left shoulder.

“Bear the news, then, to your Arahitogami, the Shōwa-tennō, that you’ve incurred the anger of the Tenjin. Dare tell Him the news that enlightenment will not reach the Three Great Shrines this year. See if He likes such advent, on top of all else that has occurred here.” I tell them, extending my arms towards the horizon, letting them soak in the air, the charred smog formed after the raid. They knew they were in trouble, not only because of the state of the area they were meant to protect, but also because something else was in their way, speaking to them in words they could understand. Words they could fear.

Of course, I was then impacted by a further barrage of bullets. At this point, I do remember I was quite annoyed and, forgive me for this lapse in judgement, but I must have said most terrible things, and done unspeakable acts, for as soon after I yelled at the footsoldiers, they dispersed, leaving the scene in what appeared to be actual fear.

I sighed, then turned towards the fox girl, who had left, of course, but not far enough, peeking from behind a stone wall, unmissable, as everything else around was burnt and would offer no sort of cover.

“Are you alright?” I asked as I approached her. She recoiled, moving away from me. I had not noticed before, distracted by her many injuries, but her eyes depicted fear like no other. To approach so nonchalantly, dear, I must have been out of my mind. Or bleeding profusely, which while not lethal, would cloud my judgement some.

I pulled out a first-aid package from within my robes. “Let me aid you with your injuries.” I replied then, trying not to make eye contact so as to not put pressure on her. I believe she stared at me for a while, before taking the kit from my hands. As she worked on herself, gauzing and stitching, I sat down, allowing for my injuries to heal. I suppose the strongest weapon the Devas ever gave a scribe such as me was the ability to survive nigh everything.

I closed my eyes and rested, a tranquil slumber accompanying my journey. In olden days, I wouldn’t allow myself to drift away, not wishing to miss a single instant, but now, amidst the rotting flesh and burning grass, a break is a must. A break was thus taken until an hour or two later, I felt a prod on my body. Opening my eyes, I found the vulpine woman closer, returning the kit to me.

“Thanks.” Her voice was quiet, but there was a sliver of royalty to her tone; a distinct mark of days long gone. She was a creature of myth: A qilin, a deity, a dragon of old, the kind of creature I used to record the lives of. The kind that gave me a purpose once. The kind that’s been driven to near extinction.

“Don’t mention it, my dear. They weren’t too rough on you, the footmen of the Emperor?” I asked the girl, genuinely worried about her wellbeing. I had seen what the men of the Empire called the ‘Battalion of the Yōkai” years before. It wasn’t pretty, and I could assure one that, without even knowing, it wasn’t any less terrible today.

She shook her head, bits of debris flying off her silver hair. Her ears twitched in unison. “Of course not. I wouldn’t let those… Those fascist pigs get to me. I’d burn them to a crisp before they could even put a hand on me!” She responded quite abrasively. Judging by the cuts and bruises, the clear bullet wounds now covered in bandage and gauze, there was a certain ‘but’ to these statements, but I wouldn’t dwell on it.

“I’m glad.” I pick up the kit, pocketing it, before stretching. My wounds ached, but it mattered not. “I suppose it’s my time to depart, then. Will you be alright, miss?”

“Wait, you’re leaving? Just like that?” The vulpine girl seemed distraught; perhaps merely confused. I admit, me deciding to leave was a rushed decision.

“… No, I could stay.” I muttered, both to her and to myself. I then remembered I am but a scribe, as well as what it meant to be a scribe. “Oh, pardon my manners, dear. May I ask for your name, now that in peril you are not?”

There was a pause, followed by a step back. The girl did not trust me, which was only natural.

“Um. Houkou. Miss, uh, Miss Houkou.” She muttered in a hushed voice. I tilt my head, making a simple connection as to what ‘houkou’ means for the people of Dainippon.

“Direction? As in… Oh. Miss Direction. I see.”

At my realization, Miss ‘Direction’s ears suddenly perked up. For the first time, I saw a bright clarity in her eyes, an emotion less muted, perhaps even that of cheer. “Yeah! Pretty clever wordplay, eh?”

“I suppose it is, yes.” I admit. She didn’t seem to like that.

“You ‘suppose’? What’s that ‘supposed’ to mean?”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean no offense. You must understand, however, that this land has ten thousand years of wordplay history, and I have lived through them all. Puns are not as impressive as they once were to me, although met with any other individual, I’m sure they would be delighted.”

“… Right.” Miss Direction didn’t seem convinced, staring at my person. “Are you gonna be ok? Those injuries look real nasty…”

“Oh, that. Worry not, Miss: I am not to die anytime soon.” This was a half-lie, of course. I could die at any point, any time, yet I fully believed at the time that I would continue for longer. I still do.

“Right, you being the God Tenjin… That checks out.”

Oh right, that.

“My name is Tianhong, actually. Tenjin and I are not the same, albeit He did bless me with His Wind of Knowledge before passing many winters ago.”

“Oh? You’re not a god then?…” She asked. I shook my head.

“Albeit I have been called one before, I am but a noble servant of the true Devas.” With that, I stretched once more. “Mind if we walk while we talk, Miss Direction? I fear my time at this place is short.”

“Eh?” That took her by surprise. “Didn’t you say you weren’t gonna die?”

“Oh, no, no. I meant this literally. I must continue walking; my raison d'être requires it. Furthermore, staying here with your injuries as it darkens does not appear to me to be a great idea.”

“I don’t know what reason d’etre means, but yeah, being anywhere but here would be nice.” She replied, following after my steps. We left the persimmon trees, and the burnt buildings, and the quarters of the Imperial Army, adventuring into other districts, other places that needed my attention. The silver haired vixen followed me during all this time, us two making small chatter, speech of simpler things, a reminder of what life once was for me.

“I’m not quite sure, being honest. I was fighting Nazis, like, ten thousand kilometers away, and I might have… Died? Before I realized it, I was here, being chased after by those Imperial bastards… God, from one hellhole straight into another… Life really sucks.” Was her answer to me wondering how she had ended up here. It was a fair answer, albeit I was quite shocked by the knowledge that she’d been in Germany. While the Great German Reich and the Empire of Great Japan had connections with one another, they certainly didn’t share a lot geographically.

“I… I wanna get out of this country.” Was her answer to me wondering what she would do after.


She didn’t seem to like my follow-up. “Because this place sucks? You and I got shot, wha-what do you mean ‘why?’”

Miss Direction was right, of course, and yet, rather misguided. “I apologize if I deflate your prospect, but any place you could choose to go to from here would certainly be a worse place to be in. All territories controlled by the Dai-tennō have a policy of killing all creatures of myth not under their control.”

“… Oh.”


Miss Direction remained silent afterwards. I hoped I hadn’t made her too saddened by this, albeit I would rather worry someone than to lie to them or diminish the horrors committed outside Great Japan. It wasn’t until after we had walked past the housing and industrial districts, past the soldiers and sellers, past the families and the orphanages, that she opened up again.

We reached a quiet clearing, near an abandoned temple, past a lake where a broken sewerage used to lead to, when Miss Direction spoke.

“What now?…”

“That, I cannot answer. Only you can choose your next step.”

She plopped down on the concrete flooring, deciding to rest. “That isn’t fucking helpful, you know?…”

“I apologize.” I sat down next to her. “But I truly mean it: I can only offer guidance. I cannot tell you what to do.”

“… Great.” She sighed, falling backwards onto her back. Looking up into the darkening sky, a unique flash of orange, only blessing the sky when the natural summer dusk met the smoke of a raid attack.

Once again, we remained in pure silence, only listening to the calm song of the crickets, to the slightly less calm song of the cicadas, and the twinkling of the river’s cattails.

“So what are you gonna do?” Miss Direction asks. “Where are you going? Do you have plans?”

“Tomorrow I will be in Kawasaki. The next day, Yokohama. Then, Kamakura. I should be arriving at Mount Fuji by the end of this lunar month.”

“Why Mount Fuji?”

“I don’t know.”

“… Eh?”

“I am a scribe, Miss Direction. I gather stories, and tell them and retell them. I follow a path invisible to all but me, and collect that which Fate has prepared for me. I get not a say of where I’ll go. I simply go.” I explained to the fox girl. She seems puzzled, or perhaps I simply cannot tell what she thinks of my words. It’s not the first person I have perplexed using them, so I don’t worry much.

“That… That sucks, being unable to choose.” She mutters quietly, as if trying not to offend me.

“To me, it’s perfectly fine, but people like you should find it a terrifying deal. The power to choose is magnificent; it creates the stories I tell.”

“… You’re gonna tell my story, then?”

“Of course I will.”

“That’s… That’s not fair.” She complains, getting up.

“Hm? Whatever do you mean?”

“Are you kidding me? I got attacked by a bunch of government pigs and that’s the story you’re telling?” She gritted her teeth, tails wiggling in what I now understand was either anger or embarrassment. “So much more that I’ve done… Lost to all but me… That’s-That’s so unfair…”

I chuckled. “Ah yes? Well, why don’t you narrate me your stories, Miss Direction? I would be delighted to know more of your adventures.”

Once again, she perked up. I am starting to believe she doesn’t control her emotions very well, albeit such an assumption always comes off as presumptuous. Maybe it is one who manages to think too much about what others feel.

“Really? I can?…” She falls into insecurity again, as if allowing herself to be cheerful is inimical to her.

“Of course. Why don’t you start with this visit to Germany?” I attempt to guide her through her tales. “I have never been there, so I’m quite curious about it.”

“Well, uh. I suppose that’s a bit of a touchy subject, heh.” She spoke almost as if to herself, the insecurity settling in again. “But I can mention some things. First time I visited was in the 16th century. It was called the Holy Roman Empire then, I believe, and it was really, really big. Lot bigger than it is today…”

Needless to say, the night was quite fruitful. It had been a long time since I had heard tales of distant lands. It had been a long time since I’d seen passion in someone else’s eyes.

I missed this.

The following morning, I woke up possessing two new nuggets of knowledge:

The first one is that Miss Direction becomes a small, nine-tailed snow fox as she sleeps. It might be out of line, but it is likely to be one of the most adorables sights I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with as of late.

The second one is that Miss Direction has decided to leave. I cannot remember much, deep in slumber, my eyes closed, but I do remember a short one-word sentence spoken my way as she leapt away under the cover of the night.

A simple ‘thanks’, then Miss Direction was gone.

It is sad, but subjects of the scribe are meant not to be eternal; a story is not but temporary, a chronicle, a mere piece of a life frozen in time, and time should never remain frozen in place. The clock keeps ticking, and people keep on walking.

I got up, dusting off my robes. Despite the abrupt end to our adventure, I smiled.

They say meeting with a fox is a sign of luck, the Goddess Inari smiling upon one from the Heavens. I believe this to be true, especially now.

It might have been a mere mirage, nothing but the illusion of the Kitsune, a fleeting meeting with an injured creature as I walked amidst broken glass and burnt wood, but it lit up a passion I had not felt in long.

We might not meet again, ‘Miss Direction’, but know that I am thankful too. Our paths may not cross again, but if they do, I pray it will be under better circumstances, where a fox can proudly present their tails to the world, instead of hiding them away.

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