Fox Tales chap 1 Revised

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Literature Text

Chapter 1: Smoke

Sakura blossoms
drifting over open fields
beneath the high wall,
caught on a spring breeze that yields
to the castle tall --
The guardians kept their watch.

Once the moonlight watched,
shining brightly in the night
above the high wall
as they gathered by torchlight
in the castle tall
drinking sake unaware.

Cold the wind that blew,
broken-hearted winter wind
over the high wall --
wild geese crying of the end
to the castle tall,
death singing in full moon light.

Shadow did not hide
sword work flashing in moonlight
behind the high wall--
red blood flowing at midnight
in the castle tall,
guardians died unknowing.

Ruins reaching up
forgotten now is the place
where stood the high wall
long forgotten is the face
of the castle tall--
a lost heap of broken dreams.

No breath of grieving
is spoken by the pine trees
where stood the high wall,
curse binds human memories
of the castle tall --
curse echoes through time to kill.

‘The Castle Tall,’ from Stories in Verse by Sachio Hayashi

It was a lovely Idaho afternoon, sunny, and only a little hot.  The two of them sat in a corner of a walled-in garden near the Boise foothills, an older oriental man and a petite red-haired woman relaxing over the remnants of their lunch.

The two of them sat in a sun and shadow dappled garden, amid tall fir swaying in the wind and sun drenched water, sparkling in the sunlight.  Tiger lilies bobbed in interesting drifts, while birds sang from the branches of fruit trees.  Sounds of water tinkling mixed with the sound of wind in the branches. The table they sat at caught the vista of the garden at a particularly good angle, the rocks and vegetation echoing the  mountains beyond.  It was easy, here at the edge of the city, to forget all the traffic and busy movement in the street beyond his garden wall.

He was dressed in beige, a color that blended into the landscape well.  The woman wore a loose skirt of red and blue and simple white peasant blouse and wore her longish hair pulled back into a pony tail.  She nibbled on one last cookie.  “I guess we should get back to work soon,” she said, sighing.

He sat back in his chair, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, ignoring her comment.  “I love this weather.  So much nicer in June here than where I grew up,” he said.  There was a soft gentleness to his voice. “Of course, we didn’t need to have sprinklers to keep the garden green, either.  It rained from June until August.”

“Which is worse, Mr. Hayashi?  Wildfire smoke from July to September or rain from June to August?” she asked him.

He smiled, reaching across the small table as he picked up the teapot.  Although his smile was pleasant, and the merriment touched his black-in-black eyes, there was something about his smile, she thought.  There was something predatory, she decided, a trait she had noticed the first time they had met, and even now, months after their first meeting, she still found it a bit disturbing at times.

“I would rather take the smoke, Sasayuri-san,” he said, knowing full well that was not her name.  “The rain was a sure thing.  The smoke, eh, it’s not a certain thing.” He refilled his own cup, sipped.  “Smoke is so ephemeral, like a veil.  Like fog.  We had a lot of fog where I grew up.  It made the world a strange, sometimes magical place.  It reminded me, over and over, that the world you look at is a more complex place than you think,”he said as he poured her a cup of tea

The young woman picked up and sipped her tea.  “I am beginning to realize that,” she said softly.  

“Ready to get back to work?” he asked.

She nodded, taking her plate, and stood up.


The world indeed is a complex place, and you humans can’t begin to fathom how much.  The full world, the true world, is hidden from your eyes by the gift of Shinkiro, the mirage.  It is a gift from the Kami, to allow your people to grow in safety and wisdom without realizing in full what hides behind the shadows, or what actually shines in the light.  

Sometimes, the world is better that way.  Some of us, though, creatures who walk among you, not quite human, and not always with a good will, are not given that gift, and we see things as they more truly are.

Today, knowing what I know, thinking about the phone call I received before lunch, I watch my secretary move into the kitchen of the house before me.  She does not see the part of me that walks with  nine tails whipping behind me as I move, nor the mask I wear to be the kindly writer she thinks she works for.  She does not hear the kon-kon of my call when I am concentrating, nor seen my reflection in the water.  Shinkiro only shows her my human face, but the fox, running through the woods at night is always there, and can be seen by one who has the eyes for it.  How ironic it is that her family name is that of the trickster fox.  There are times I wonder idly if my secretary is descended from the Kitsune of old Europe.  Although I can feel that she has the talent to see into the veil of the mirage,  none has yet woken the gift.  I pray it will not be me.  I remember the haunted eyes of those humans who break through, untrained and unsupervised, and I know that even for humans trained in the spiritual arts it is a curse.  I like my lily to well to wish that upon her.  I hope she never learns.

The shadows undulate around her as she walks.  I see them, like the faint smoke from distant fires that she was talking about, shadows swirling  around her ankles.  Threads of potential, in red and black move out of haze like the ghosts of spider webs, hovering over her skin.  All of us born on this planet have some.  Those more gifted in the Kami-sight say that there is a smoke of bright light hovering over each of us as well, that there is more to reality than Shinkiro disguises.  It may be so.  I see glimmers of light touching her from time to time, light glowing in the places of natural shadow.  But the light is not my talent.

I watch the smoky shadows dance near her.  They are only potential, not yet reality.  Some days they lay closer to her skin than others. I am not sure what role she has to play, why she was called into my life, but here she is. Her presence is a peaceful calm to my troubled soul, but her nearness sometimes makes me fear for her. This minute, the shadows hover much closer about her  than I like, even though they link us together in some way I have yet to fully discover. I am not yet sure if the light does.  It is hard for me to see, without the help of a spirit fox the chords of bright light that wrap my life as well.  My life is too sullied, and unfinished deeds wrap around my ankles, not shadows, but deeply embedded.  How many years has it been since this thread first pulled into life, sank beneath the surface and anchored to my soul?

Too many to count.

It seems to have been my karma to be tangled up into this since before I was born.  I have heard my mother whisper about portents, my older sister tell tales of star dragons scattering light the moment I was born.  Kitsune-bi, foxfire, glowed around my mother as she struggled to bring me to life in the shadowed halls of our keep.

Because of the omens, because I was eldest son to an ancient line of foxes, first of my generation, my parents flew across the midnight sky to Kyoto to take me to the Fushimi Inari Taisha, the oldest shrine of Inari, chief kami of all the Kitsune.

There are times of the day, where the walls of Shinkiro are raised high to protect the mortal from those who share a world that is not quite theirs.  No priest with his purification wand raised over me when I was presented, but my father took his fox form and  presided as priest, and washed us clean in the Kitsune way.  I am told, he held me in his jaws, clapped his tail to the ground three times catch Inari’s attention.  Somehow, I never quite believed it, but the Kami did come.

There at Fushimi Inari Taisha, the Kami manifests through a mirror.  It is apt channel, for the Kami are good at reflecting back our own foibles and weaknesses, letting us see through the mirror of their brightness what wrongness dwells within our own souls.  In this case, the Kami was as true to her word as always.  Manifesting as a beautiful fox woman, splendent in a kimono of many layers,  she lifted me out of my father’s hands, sniffed me all over, raised me to the heavens to show me off to the August Deities who reside there, and then, turning back to my father, said, “This child is going to be and cause a lot of trouble.  Keep him safe.  I have a job for him to do.”

My father, accepting me back in his arms, looked me in the eyes, licked my nose, and beamed. To a wild kitsune’s ear, that was the best blessing of all. I had a destiny.  My relatives all patted him on the back and wished him many congratulations.   Knowing what I know now, I wish they had bit Inari instead.

After passing out pink rice and mochi cakes to all my aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors, he decided to name me Sachio.  Hayashi Sachio, fortunate child of the forest.  I wish.
I have edited all of the first 6 chapters of Fox Tales. There are substantial differences, that I hope make the story clearer and more understandable. Hope you like!
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