64 – The Fox

At first, you try to pretend that this fox was a normal fox.   “Shhh… Mei Mei, be quiet.” You tell the barking puppy.  “It’s just a fox.”  Just a fox. Not an insane man eating Anathema at all.
You pick up your struggling puppy and briskly hike towards the village.   As you walk, the feeling of impending violence does not recede.   Mei Mei struggles against you and growls at the fox over your shoulder.   Why would the Lunar risk exposing themselves by attacking a native boy?   Unless the Lunar overheard you speaking to the goddess in Spiritspeech.   It knows that you are a threat to it!

You put the puppy down and entangle your fingers into her fur, so she will not run after the Lunar.  Pulling your knife from your boot, you look over and see the fox stalking you from the Mangrove bushes. The fox is now so close, you can see that her left paw is stark white compared to her right one.    The Lunar snares at you when it realizes that it has been spotted.  Knife in hand, you confront the fox and say in a low threatening tone “I’m not scared of you.”   Your voice cracks on “scared.”

Your cheeks burn and you silently curse your voice for choosing the moment you need to intimidate a dangerous Anathema to start to crack.   Heart pounding, you grip your knife in your sweating hand and await the Lunar’s attack.

The attack never comes.  The threads of fate calm.   The fox’s expression softens and it looks away from you and the puppy.   To your utter confusion, the fox retreats back into the Mangroves.   The Lunar had you.   Why didn’t it attack?  While the fox was not much bigger than Mei Mei, the Lunar must have more terrifying animal forms at its disposal.   Perhaps the Storm Mother lied and this Lunar was not connected to the kidnappings.

“Wait!” you ask, annoyed that your voice cracked yet again.   You try to put the fact that this is a Moon-Mad Anathema out of your mind.  You have to exploit any source of information, even from a suspect source such as a Lunar.   “What do you know about the kidnappings?”   you ask, voice thankfully steady.

The Lunar pauses in its retreat and then slowly walks back to sit down before you.  You and the Lunar stare at each other for what feels like an entirety.   This has to be the stupidest thing I have ever done, you think.  Suddenly, instead of a small desert fox, a large naked woman appears before you.   The Lunar is crouched before you, her elbows resting on her thighs.  One of her dangling hands is crisscrossed with white scars in contrast to her dark skin.   When she opens her eyes to stare at you, you are surprised to find they are dark brown.  You would have assumed that they would be silver like moonlight.   You could not remember what color the Tiger’s eyes were.

“What is your interest in the kidnappings, little egg?”   The Lunar’s voice is raspy from disuse.

“I need to find out where the children from the other islands went.”  You tighten your grip on Mei Mei, who is shaking with fear.   You hold your knife steady in your other hand, careful not to show any fear.

The Lunar cocks her head, studying you.   “The Fair Folk come to collect the children in a barge.  I smuggle away on the barge last time but the Fair Folk knocked me off.   Afterwards I tried to follow it, but the barge moved faster than I could swim.“

This surprises you.  “Can’t you turn into a dolphin or something to follow them?”

The Lunar growls at your comment.  “What do you know about the kidnappings, little egg?   What information can you give me in exchange for what I gave you?”

What do you do?

  • Explain your theory that those who have been though coming of age rituals might not be taken
  • Confront her about her dispute with the Storm Mother.  People are starving and it is her fault.
  • So… What’s it like being a heart eating monster?
  • Say nothing.   This conversation has gone on long enough.
  • What other questions would you like to ask?

(( Hey, how have the decision options been this chapter?  ))