Birth Trees, Twins, and Half-kitsune

 
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Birth Tree

Pregnancy

Twins

Half-kitsune

 

Birth Tree

Whenever a kitsune is born, they are born under a tree. That tree becomes the kitsune's tree, which they sometimes call their Birth Tree or Tree-Kin. The tree and the kitsune can communicate on an almost entirely spiritual level. It is the tree who first begins to teach a baby kitsune how to speak the many languages of the spirits, and the tree who teaches the baby fox the mysteries of the forest. A particularly fussy babe can be taken to their tree, and the closeness of the tree will calm the baby. Children kitsune typically spend a great deal of time near their trees, as it acts as a shelter and comfort for them.

The tree gains a certain amount of power from its association with the kitsune. While the tree has a kitsune attached to it, it will never get ill and will remain healthy and free of wood eating bugs or worms. The tree is overall hardier and healthier. A tree may still succumb to Taint, though, and a kitsune attached to a Tainted tree will become ill as if they were standing next to the tree and the Taint. If a tree dies from the Taint, the kitsune will probably be similarly infected.

In return, the tree gives the kitsune an anchor of sorts. The tree acts as a focus for many of the kitsune's abilities and the leaf is the connection between the kitsune and the tree. Leaves from the tree the kitsune is born under act as a stronger focus for illusions and spells than the Tama or leaves from other trees. These leaves, as long as they are kept near the kitsune or as long as the kitsune touches them once every day or so, do not wilt, bruise, or dry up.

Kitsune who have lost their trees due to fire or woodsmen or other disasters will immediately be in pain and fall ill. The kitsune can survive losing their tree, but if the loss of the tree happens at a very young age, the kitsune in question will never be able to progress to higher stages of power as the shock of losing the tree hurts them on a fundamental level. In fact, a baby kitsune may even lose their ability to see the kami or other spirits, if the loss of the tree is early enough.

Sometimes kitsune practice keeping cuttings of trees. A cutting of a tree may be nursed into growing a second tree. This second tree, as a piece of the original tree can act as a booster, but is not quite as effective as the original tree.

 

Pregnancy

Foxes, not being human, are prone to slightly shorter term pregnancies. Legends vary on *how* much shorter, but it must be short enough to be noticeable. For game purposes, full term for a kitsune woman is 6 to 8 months, with a tendency towards smaller babies than humans. This can lead to some problem for kitsune women when it comes to having half-kitsune children, because the child may end up being larger than is (relatively) comfortable for the mother to birth. This can lead to birthing complications.

Pregnant mothers have especially delicate constitutions and must eat fresh food. If there is no fresh meat or vegetables around, she may restrict herself to rice only. Pickled food will make her violently ill, and could result in the death of mother or child.

 

Twins

Twins are inauspicious for most kitsune, especially male twins. Twins sometimes, rather than being two separate individuals can be two aspects of a single spirit. This can show itself in two major ways.

A set of twins may grow up to be polarized in personality - with one being exceedingly virtuous and the other exceedingly wicked or violent. Together, they balance one another out and avoid major problems, but if they are separated or allowed to act independently from one another, they can cause havoc (even the positive of the pair). When they do work together on something, it can be a sight to behold, because they are extremely effective. Unfortunately, in this situation, killing of one twin most always results in the other dying as well so one cannot avoid the difficulties of their behaviors by simply getting rid of the twin with the undesirable traits. 

On the other hand, the personalities of the two twins may be very similar, but the two are of one mind in more than one way. This has varying degrees of depth... the twins may indeed be two separate personalities, but they have learned that their spirits are never truly separate. What one twin knows or sees, the other does as well. Sometimes, however, the twins do not have two separate personalities and they are more like a single spirit with two bodies. A spirit can handle this in several different ways - it may have merely gotten used to working two bodies at once, or it may have gotten in the habit of focusing on one body while the second rests. Unfortunately, there is a high chance that these spirits will go insane very young, or lose its grasp on reality and no longer be able to communicate or understand things clearly. Either way, these twins are generally considered the most useful as they can be used for long-distance communication that is relatively instant.  This type of twin sometimes survives the other twin's death or injury, but only if the other personality can block off the sensations of the first personality or if the spirit can separate the two bodies. Sometimes, in the case of a single spirit with two bodies, the spirit survives the death of the first body and has to adjust to living in a single body afterwards.

Both of these types of twins are always maternal twins (monozygotic - where there was a single egg that was fertilized, and later split into two eggs). This means that they will look similar, though not always entirely identical, and that they will always be the same gender. Sane twins of this sort are uncommon (less than 5% of twin births); it is much more common that the twins are dangerous for their polarized personality or that they are insane.

Fraternal twins (dizygotic - where two eggs are fertilized at the same time) are not identical and may be of mixed gender. These twins never share the same spirit, though the two spirits may still be closely intertwined. These twins will probably always know if their twin is injured, and they may even have a rudimentary means of communicating information back and forth. This is not the same thing as having a single mind, and is inefficient as a means of communication. These twins can always find one another, because they always know what direction their twin is. Their means of communications vary depending on how close they are, sometimes going no further than merely knowing where their twin is at all times to sometimes being as focused as being able to communicate with one another in words or images (very, very rare). Fraternal twins can usually survive the death of one another, though the can go into shock, which could ultimately kill them.

Twins that are sane and can reliably communicate with one another are jealously guarded by their clan as they are considered as prized and important as an especially strong shugenja.

 

Half-Kitsune

Traditionally speaking, half kitsune either die very young or grow up to be powerful beings. They tend to have none of the kitsune shortcomings and many of the human advantages, and are usually quite clever. Abe no Seimei was an advisor to the Imperial line in Japan, and was said to be half-kitsune. He lived to be 83 years of age or so, in the 900's (an exceedingly long life for the time). Some attribute the original development of the five element system in Japan to Abe no Seimei (so as L5R people, we like him). He is very similar in many ways to Merlin.

Half-Kitsune inherit much of the abilities of their spirit parent, especially if the parent manages to attach the child to a tree for a Tree-kin. They usually live shorter lives than kitsune, but almost always longer lives than the average human. This ranges from simply managing to reach an old age (80's) to living for a couple of hundred years (some myths attribute Abe no Seimei with having actually lived 300 or so years).

Just how much of the kitsune the child inherits is up to chance. The child may look and for all intents and purposes be human, except with sharper senses and an ability to see kami and ghosts. On the other hand, a child may be born in a human shape but with a short pelt of fur and ears that are permanently fox and be exceedingly good with commanding the kamigami. Some half-kitsune will have a fox shape and a human one, though it is more common for them to have a human shape with some fox features.

For example, Ash is half kitsune. He is about 80, and appears to be in his mid-twenties or so. He is covered with a short pelt of fur, in the colors and markings of a fox. He does not have the kitsune disadvantage of slow learning, but while he can see the kamigami, he cannot get a single one of them to so much as acknowledge him. He will probably live a good 300 more years before he dies, if he is not killed. Shirisui, however, looks entirely human save for having talon nails. She has no rear element, and can even see void kami. However, she learns only slightly faster than the average kitsune, so it takes her more than twice as long time to master new levels. She will only live to be about 90. Ressha, if he can avoid fighting, will live nearly a full 900 years. He has flesh-toned short fur, but otherwise looks human. He can use the kamigami with moderate proficiency, but even light thumps can leave him bruised.

A kitsune can make certain that a child will have no fox features by purposefully not preparing a Tree-kin for a babe, and being certain to observe certain rules that limit their shapeshifting. This child will not learn the language of the spirits on its own, however, nor will it reach the levels of proficiency and comfort with the kami that a kitsune might. They still will probably be able to see spirits, and perhaps even kamigami, and they most assuredly get their parent's sharper senses and slightly greater strength and agility.

 

 
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