Forged in Fire - Part 2

 

Ginyue wasn’t in pain, and she knew she ought to be. Right now the bed she was in was more interesting than a pain she wasn’t feeling yet. This wasn’t her room. She used a proper futon. This was a Qui’an bed, a poster bed enclosed on three sides with elaborate carvings and inlays. Four posts rose in the corners, each with elaborate twisting carvings so detailed and layered that the posts looked deceptively hollow at first. Dragons and phoenixes chased each other through flames in the one nearest her to her left, and to her right were dragons and cranes climbing through trees up into mountainsides. After staring at the two posts for awhile, she realized that the birds in the flame were also cranes – the birds missing the fancier plumage of the phoenix and longer lines of the crane obscured by the licking tongues of flame. The walls to the foot and head of the bed were covered in padded silk, simple enough but she could see the master hand of the den weaver in fine, careful weave. The back wall was paneled in dark wood and had several small storage drawers. The fourth wall was just a curtain, heavy silk meant to block out light and to give privacy.

The completely detached way she noted how injured she ought to be and the lethargic way she was lazily staring at the carvings should bother her. The ceiling was just as detailed as the posts, but the bed was dark enough and the ceiling far enough away that she couldn’t make out all the intricacies of the tableau that stretched before her. She spent several long moments trying anyway, because she had the feeling that if she could just see the scene on the ceiling, everything would make sense and she’d be comforted by it.

She wasn’t in the Denmother’s healing quarters, she realized and that was odd. There were almost no private beds there, and no beds that were so permanent as this one. Walls were moving things in the Denmother’s infirmary, so that the room could be made to accompany as few or as many people it needed. Her nose was numb and she couldn’t smell anything, which actually bothered her more than anything else. She reached up to rub her nose, wincing absently as something twinged in her arm and shoulder.

Cedar, she realized as her nose finally registered the sharp smell around her. The wood was cedar. It was that scent, oddly enough, that placed the room for her. Only one kitsune in the den would be so human as to use something as unchangeable and completely mundane as a carved wooden bed made of cedar to keep bugs away. Even cub kitsune knew how to use any of the various kami to keep bugs off of them, and ill or very weak kitsune used something so physical to protect themselves from bugs. They tended to use bug nets since they were easy to obtain and could be moved easily, hidden quickly to disguise the weakness that necessitated using them.  And while some kitsune had a few quirks for enjoying human-style art or design,  most kitsune satisfied such curiosity in small ways – little trinkets that could be easily obtained when desired or thrown away when one grew bored of it. Only her foster father had spent so much time among the humans and was so completely comfortable with human innovation to build a cedar bed into his quarters in such a broadly permanent 500-pound way.

He had at least three of the monstrosities, and this wasn’t a bed she was familiar with.  She’d lived with him for several years as a youth, but her own bed had been inlaid with carvings of flowering vines and trees and the wood had been a lighter stain of cypress wood.  The realization that she wasn’t in “her” bed bothered her hermit, insular soul immensely, even tempered by the knowledge that she was at her foster father’s home. She struggled to get up, a quickly aborted attempt  that reminded her why she was there.

It didn’t hurt at first, but many things felt… wrong. Muscles not aligned they way they should, an uncomfortable feeling of things moving in ways they shouldn’t, a pop and a silent snick that shouldn’t have happened.

Then it hurt.

When she could see again, Ki perched next to her on the bed, speaking a soft healing chant to the water kami that he coaxed onto her forehead. The kami scattered down her body, chasing down the pain and banishing it in a cool wave of numbness. She released a careful breath of relief. It had been a long time since she’d been hurt this badly. Careful not to move, lest she disturb the water kami she rolled her eyes up to study her foster father surprised at the easy way which the chant flew from him. He’d never so much as healed a cut before in her presence, and she never realized he even knew a pain-blocking or healing chant. He never seemed to need healing, and the one time she’d broken something, he’d taken her to the den healer. The easy way he spoke the measured tones without the scroll and the alacrity with which the little water kami went about soothing her pain meant he definitely had something memorized and that water was obviously not his weaker element.

He was in plain leisure robes, and his hip-length hair was loose from its foreboding formal knot. She’d never actually seen his hair down before, despite the years she’d lived with him. Any time he was on duty, his hair was tied up at least part of the way to keep it from falling in his eyes, and it seemed like he never slept. That it was down now told her he’d been nearby and resting, if not actually asleep.

A red fox of one of the older inner continent families, Ki was gifted with the darker red fur that Koten and many of the other Chigonoha would have cheerfully killed for, but age had burnished his fur and hair a glorious shade of gold in places. When he was in human form, it meant that his hair was picked through with a halo of gold and gold streaks among the still dark red of his hair. The dim light of the nearby lamp played glimmering tricks in his hair, glinting through the spun gold like wild fire.

She blinked at him stupidly for a moment. They weren’t really related, and he literally was old enough to be her father’s grandfather, but the magic of spirits kept kitsune handsome unless they decided they wanted to look old. It didn’t normally strike her so suddenly, but her foster father was still the object of many ladies’ admiration. And Reia would probably pull her ears until Ginyue told her what Ki’s hair looked like down.

Ki flashed a quick grin as the chant wound to a close and laughed softly, eyes focusing on her as he came back from the half trance he’d been in, “Thank you, little apricot.”

She blinked again and reached the hand that hadn’t hurt a moment before to rub her eyes a little. “Sorry.”

“Perfectly alright. I used to wonder if you looked at anyone and saw beauty. It made me worry for you.” He plucked her hand away from her face before she could rub her forehead, “Nah, nah. Leave that there for now. My work with water kami is not so good that they’ll keep working without the water there.”

She scowled at him, not for moving her hand, but for the first comment. Kitsune as a rule were pretty focused on things beautiful. It wasn’t that she wasn’t, she just didn’t notice it in people. “You’re my foster father.”

“And I adopted you when you were thirteen. The Denmother was distraught you didn’t have a crush on me.” He gently laid her hand back down on the cover of the bedspread.

Ginyue snorted a laugh, then stilled immediately before the movement could hurt. The little water kami kept working, though, and she was able to speak, “That must have been novel for you.”

A sheepish smile crossed his face, a quick free expression that was as much a sign as his hair that he wasn’t in his usual formal mode, “You know, it was the first time she ever told me I was good looking. And then she went on to say that any woman wasn’t a woman if she didn’t get a crush on me at least a little.”

Ginyue stared at Ki, eyes wide in surprise. It hadn’t taken her long as a youth to realize he only rarely entertained lovers for very brief periods, and that his entire devotion was on the DenMother. “Did she… um… realize?”

He reached over, one hand holding back the long sleeves of his robe, the other smoothing back her hair then ghosting lightly over her ears in a soothing touch. He breathed a small sigh, “It’s not that she doesn’t love me, little apricot, simply that she doesn’t love me like a mate. I have long since accepted that.”

She gave him a brooding look. He reached over and tweaked her nose, “Stop that. I think your parents were in a worse situation, political arrangements in the age of warring rarely managed children, perhaps for the better considering what happened. At least I can stay near her and help her when she needs. Though, today she gets to be jealous because my attention has been on my wounded daughter.”

Ginyue rolled her eyes at him, “Surely she hasn’t even noticed, what with that entire group of scouts that came so close to Taint.”

His tone was bland, but the quickly-spoken words were not-quite scolding, “Yes, and I’ll thank you never to do that to me again, either. I forget how amazingly resilient you are to Taint. Any other fox would be dead right now with those wounds and that much exposure to Taint. I didn’t think you’d wake up.”

His expression was neutral, he’d spent too much time with humans to be completely open when upset, but understanding struck her suddenly. She wasn’t in his guest room, she was in his own rooms and he’d been watching her. He’d been worried enough that he hadn’t even trusted to leave her in another room.  

He clicked his tongue at her and broke the moment with a wry smile that told her he knew what she was thinking. “Stop that woolgathering and tell me of this new human you’ve brought in.”

She inhaled sharply, “Did he survive?”

Ki blinked once at her and tilted his head. She sensed rather than saw an air kami flit away and come back almost immediately. “He’s still asleep, but ‘Kahun expects him to survive just fine. He’s still in a danger area, but nothing that she hasn’t handled before. I expect seeing to him is almost easy, since he doesn’t carry illness of Taint exposure.”

Air spirits were notorious for their inability to be focused. His casual, immediate use reminded her again how good he was with air and she immediately envied it. She couldn’t get them to so much as stir a breeze in her forge. “I don’t know who he is other than the air kami flock to him. I don’t think he’s a real shugenja, but they certainly report to him. He was following the trail of the mother.”

Another air kami buzzed the room, and Ki glanced up, one eyebrow raised towards the front door as he sent the air kami skittering back to its sender. Koten cracked open the door slightly and peered in with a cautionary air that told Ginyue it was pretty late at night. Koten  nodded to them and edged into the room only to freeze suddenly just inside the door.

Still dressed in his scouting gear – grey and brown cloth and leather loose enough to jump and run in, but gathered close at the wrists and ankles to keep from snagging on briar thorns or limbs – Koten’s sudden freeze was the epitome of started, wary fox. He’d left his bow and arrows somewhere, and he’d pulled off his hood and cap to reveal his bright sunset orange and red hair and ears. Common stock fox with normal enough coloring, he wasn’t particularly remarkable for a fox. He was only about as tall as Ginyue, which made him only average height, and he was neither overly good looking nor homely for a kitsune. Yet, he was remarkably good with people and his prophetess mother said he’d be the face of relations for the den, naming him “heavenly flame” to suite the welcoming, strong presence she said he’d become. He didn’t normally offend anyone because he was unusually keen at reading reactions.

Right now, Koten’s senses told him Ki was more than ready and willing to trounce him hard in the epic style that the older monks only hinted at in subdued whispers when the older fox wasn’t around to curb their tales. Ki hadn’t changed expression a whisker, but there was a sudden air of absoluteness, an intensity of regard on him that had Koten suddenly believing the monks had under-stated the older fox’s abilities. Koten had a moment of panic, instantly replaying in his mind the past couple of days and what he might have done to hack off the normally placid tree guard.

Koten slowly ducked his head, lowering his ears as he did so to indicate his confusion. Ki made no motion, but an air kami thumped against Koten’s longest dagger, hard enough to make Koten wince and curl his tail.

Oh.

Koten took his time removing all of the weapons and setting them out in a row, taking care to never look like he was about to actually use one of them. He even divested himself of his normally hidden blades, suddenly unwilling to test Ki and his temper. Once free of anything resembling a normal weapon, he stood and stepped sideways away from them so that he could put distance from the blades without actually approaching Ki. It was then that Koten saw what Ki’s body and the low light had hidden – Ki had his katana and his wakizashi. The katana in an elaborate blue and silver sheath was next to his hip, hung through his obi awaiting war; the wakizashi in simple black and green was half hidden in the shadows next to the bed but well within easy reach for Ki. Koten paled and took two more steps away from his own weapons and gave the older kitsune a deep, formal bow.

The whole byplay raised Ginyue's eyebrows in surprise. Ki wasn’t normally so picky as to require someone remove their weapons like that, especially not Koten. She blinked hard and looked over at Ki, who was still radiating that fur-raising aura of promised, waiting violence at Koten. Ki was a relatively laid back guard, normally. Oh, Ki wouldn’t hesitate to kill someone he even thought might have bad intentions towards the Denmother, but Ki didn’t usually even spar with other people much less go looking for a fight. People who did try to start fights with him tended to just get dumped in mud or the fight ended up in some other anticlimactic, but hilariously embarrassing non-violent ending.

Ginyue reached out a hand – her good one – and patted Ki’s arm gently once before sliding her hand soothingly down his forearm. Ki’s ears twitched and he turned to blink at her, but he settled almost immediately, the menacing air disappearing like so much water in a desert. Ginyue huffed a laugh at Ki for his grumpy parent act and, suddenly emboldened, succumbed to a desire that had been dormant since she was a teen. She snagged a lock of Ki’s hair and curled her fingers through the sinfully soft length. Ki watched her do it with an amused, patient air and proceeded to pretend to ignore Koten silently sweating in the corner. 

Koten breathed a slow, long breath to loosen his chest and took a moment to eye the two of them. Ki and Ginyue were by no means related, at least not in any measure of reckoning that Ki had ever mentioned. They were both dark red foxes, both from the older interior continent families who were proud and good looking, even among kitsune. He was on the tall side, just as Ginyue was tall for a woman. They both had linings of gold in their hair, though Ki’s was from age and Ginyue’s golden hairs came from another cause entirely. Her eyes were the spring green of leaves just starting to bud while Ki’s were a clash of hazel and grey.  Had Ki adopted Ginyue as a babe rather than a teen, no one would have ever known she wasn’t his, they looked so much alike.

Koten breathed another slow breath, and reached up to rub his ears, which still twitched with the remnants of his nervousness. He combed his fingers back through his hair to straighten the hood hair he just realized he’d had, then with a still wary eye on Ki stepped closer to the bed.

“Awake then, are you? You had us worried. I thought we’d lost you to Taint sickness.”

Gin snorted a small laugh, “No, Koten, I’ve touched the Wall and spent a couple of weeks near the Wastelands. The only reason I came back sick at all is because I got shot with an arrow that had been poisoned, and like an idiot ran around in the tainted areas with the poison in my system. Taint alone probably won’t kill me.”

Koten rolled his eyes at her and shared a brooding glance with Ki, before drawling, “Right, well, there was also all those broken ribs of yours, not to mention that cut on your side that left all that blood on the ground. Hey, what about the mild concussion? Or that dislocated shoulder?”

Gin blinked and turned to peer down at her left shoulder, the one that had protested moving, for a surprised second. When she looked back, both men had their ears flattened and eyes narrowed at her in nearly identical expressions of irritation. Her ears lowered at them in chagrin. 

“Um. Okay. I’m sorry. I was really badly hurt and I shouldn’t make light of it.”

Ki huffed a sigh, “I’d find that more convincing if she actually sounded remotely contrite rather than confused.”

Koten grinned, “Yeah, well. She never was very good at subterfuge.”  Gin scowled at him, but Koten continued blithely, “You’re keeping her from feeling too much of it is the problem. She’d probably take it more seriously if she could feel all the wounds she had.”

Ki nodded solemnly, “Probably, but I’m not inclined to leave her in that much pain. She’ll be well enough tomorrow after 'Kahun comes down and sees to her. How are the scouts?”

Koten hitched his slacks slightly and sat down on his heels, balancing easily on his toes. He didn’t care to keep his head above Ki’s for too long, not with memory of the older fox’s mood so forefront in his mind., “Well enough. I can’t tell if the Temple Master is annoyed at us for needing priests to banish the Taint, or gleeful at the opportunity to send some of the newer priests out for some training.”

Ki huffed a small laugh, “Sounds like the woman. Probably the latter, if not both.”

Koten shrugged and perked his ears towards Ginyue, “Alright, Ginyue. The human’s going to make it, by the way, and damned if the air kami aren’t making a fuss. I’m surprised Ki’s got a couple here, still. Most of them are making their way over there and partying. Denmother’s about ready to get stabbity at them all, but air’s not her strong element, so she’s just fuming. Even the kitsune who normally can calm kami down are being entirely ignored, when the kami aren’t celebrating by playing pranks. I’ve never seen Fuu look so entirely rumpled and distraught.”

A knock sounded at the door frame and everyone turned to look at painfully normal introduction. Ikoma Norituri was handsome for a human, especially one that was supposed to be dead. Among the kitsune, he looked rugged and he had a flirtatious air that hadn’t lessened even when he’d been on death’s door. He’d been found, several months previous nearly dead by one of the human ghosts who still walked the shores of the Red Lake. That ghost had brought the Denmother, who healed him almost on a whim. Then she decided to keep him. It was ridiculously unprecedented.

Since he’d still been recovering, he hadn’t had much of a say at the time. A message carrier for the Lions, he’d never really told anyone why he’d been waylaid, though he’d been insistent that the messages he’d carried be delivered. The den had seen to it under the Denmother’s orders, and had similarly sent a notification to the Lion that he was recovering under their care. Once he’d spent some time with the Denmother, Norituri hadn’t seemed too inclined to rush his recovery.

Still, the clothes the Denmother had outfitted him with hung a little loose with the weight he’d lost during the bed-ridden recovery, and while he managed an undeniable impish sparkle to his eyes, he was still a little weary looking. He tended towards the scruffy side, which at the moment had him looking like a tumbled rake of a man.

He smiled at them all and grinned at Koten, “Of course they are making a fuss. The young man is Doji Kawamori, of course.”

He bowed and stepped in at Ki’s small welcoming motion, but paused at the line of Koeten’s weapons laid out. He scratched his chin thoughtfully, but shrugged and stepped around the stash. He didn’t have any weapons to offer, and it was plain what the stack was about. His kitsune guard, the Denmother’s Rock guardian, glanced in the room then beat a hasty retreat to the front door before Ki could do more than flick a steely look at the other fox. Norituri didn’t make a show of noticing the guard had abandoned him, but his attention turned briefly to examining the not particularly small woman in Ki’s bed.

The three were studies in kitsune attention. Ki’s was wary with a very faint flavor of violence that tinted stronger the longer Norituri focused on Ginyue. Koten’s expression was the blank look of a fox who was so confused he didn’t yet even know what question to ask. Ginyue, though, she focused on him with the intent look of a kitsune about to settle down for a serious grilling, eyes almost fever bright. She moved her good arm, as if she were about to try sitting up. Wordlessly and without looking at her, Ki reached over and flicked her nose with the tip of one finger to bat her back down into the bed.

“Ow! Okay. Geeze.” She batted Ki’s hand away, glaring at him for a second before looking back to the human. She focused back on Norituri and raised her ears at him, looking comically curious from the bed, “You know who he is? Who made his sword? It’s not really metal, it’s all kamigami packed together in a metal housing.”

Norituri grinned again, clearly having expected questions, and not appearing surprised in the slightest at the revelation of the sword. Ki didn’t wave him to a cushion, but Norituri got close enough to talk and crouched down to get his head level with theirs. “Well, he’s the son of the Oracle of Air. I expect that things about him are special in more ways than one.”

Ki raised an eyebrow slightly, turning just enough to give Norituri his attention. Koten leaned back a little, since the turn also gave Ki the angle and room to use the sword on the human that no one had expected to survive a month. Ki was more interested in asking a question of his own, though, “Why was the son of the Oracle of Air traipsing around the back country woods unguarded?”

Norituri had been expecting more rapid-fire questions from the other two kitsune. Indeed, he’d grown rather adept at fielding the seemingly endless questions of which most kitsune seemed capable. Ki’s serious question filled with human focus sobered Norituri only a little and he frowned lightly.  “He is a magistrate of the Crane Clan. I’ve heard that he’s sometimes sent to… odd… scenes.”

Ginyue’s eyes widened, “And what was he doing on the fringe of our wood, then?”

Norituri shrugged, “Well, an oni this far from the Wall is pretty odd, wouldn’t you say?”

She huffed a sigh, “We didn’t even know there was an oni out there, how could he have?”

Koten looked appalled and cut in, “Wait, you said Magistrate? What kind of job is that for an Oracle’s son? Are the humans that disrespectful?”

Norituri shrugged at the DenLord’s son, used now to how the den often didn’t mean to include him in the occasional sweeping proclamations of distain for ‘human’ things. “Whereas the sons of Oracles usually would have a high station in the Empire, his father did not have a station of respect.  Still, Doji Kawamori apparently chose to be a magistrate.” Norituri shook his head lightly with a glance over to Ki, “And I don't know why he doesn't have a guard.”  He raised one hand to forestall another question, “I’ve been here the better part of half a year now, remember, and he's not from my clan. I’ve no idea why he is here. I can guess that he must have been investigating whatever it was that led the woman and her baby to our forest.”

“She was running from the Oni. The same one that was killed today destroyed the village the woman was from.” Ki’s ears had begun to tilt back slightly.

Koten shifted uncomfortably, as that particular bit of information hadn’t actually been disseminated yet. Everyone knew of the oni this morning, but they hadn’t told people that the oni was probably responsible for the village.

Norituri stared at Ki for a heartbeat, then cracked his own question, “Just what would the Crane clan have to do with a demon?”

Ki's lips thinned fractionally, and one ear flicked in sudden irritation, but he had no response.

Ginyue wilted a little, “Should I have let him die, then? If they are involved in a demon? He was looking for the mother, though. I thought maybe the child might be some bastard throw off that he was looking for.”

Norituri blinked at Ginyue’s confused, frustrated voice, letting the tension of the moment before slide away. The hermit’s serious, focused regard was unnerving as she normally shied away from new people, and to her Norituri was still very much a "new" person. Norituri studied her a moment and suddenly realized that Ginyue was effectively high, and he glanced between the two men in surprise. Norituri was entirely without any ability with the kami, so he had no idea what either kitsune could do, but he could tell that the room didn't smell like they'd given her something. He hadn't known one could even do that with kami. Ki’s expression turned a distinct shade of stony, and Norituri quickly turned his thoughts to trying to answering her question since she so clearly expected him to be an expert on all things human.

Koten snorted at her and interrupted while Norituri thought, “He’s the Son of the Oracle of Air, whom we do not want pissed off at us.”

Norituri nodded in agreement of Koten's point, “And he’s alive because of you. I’ve never actually heard anything bad about him, so I think everything you did was right.”

Norituri grinned at her then in the wide, cheerful grin that had probably netted the Denmother’s affections. Ki’s tail, hidden from the human’s view, flipped once in a quick spat of irritation and Ginyue smoothed her hand down Ki's arm again, absently soothing.

Ginyue sighed, “Thank you, I think. Anyway, I think I’m calling in sick for… like… a week. Yesterday, dead woman and orphan baby. Today, killing an oni and getting a severely injured Important Personage. I really don’t want to know what tomorrow will bring.”

Norituri grinned again and leaned forward just a touch in a conspiratorial manner, “Let me give you a hint. He’s in the medical building. And he’ll be awake tomorrow.”

Ginyue scowled and pointed at herself with her good hand, “Sleeping in, damnit. Making. Knives.”

Ki, who had nodded at the first proclamation, turned enough to give her a reproving look for the second. Koten did the same.

Norituri shook his head, “No, no, no. He’s going to have to stay here until he’s better, and he’s going to need someone to show him the ropes. You are the one who invited him, and by courtesy laws of the den, you’re the one responsible for him. By the time he wakes up from the blood loss and the Denmother lets him stay up, you’ll be well enough yourself to host. Besides, it’s not like you’re going to be able to do any heavy lifting until your ribs set, and he’ll be in good enough shape to muscle things around for you once the Denmother’s done with him.” He narrowed his eyes at her, “He at least knows you, and in any case, you’ll need to tell him about the woman and baby you found.” He was completely unflappable, making his case swiftly from point to point, covering guilt trips and ending with the coup-de-grâce: rank. “This is a request from the Denmother’s mate. I’d appreciate it if you would do this while she’s so busy taking care of the taint-ill scouts so she doesn’t get overworked.”

Gin graced him with a not-at-all disguised glare. Koten had leaned back again at the casual usage of the Denmother’s name and the similarly casual mention of their relationship, wary of the potential for fury from Ki. Ki just regarded Norituri with a look torn somewhere between surprise and reluctant approval, like he’d just found a sopping wet, smelly cat who could write lyric prose in perfect handwriting.

Finally, Gin sputtered, “Mate?”

Norituri’s expression turned unexpectedly besotted, grinning with a sort of sheepish pride. Ki snorted and answered in a mostly disguised tone of resignation, “She’s pregnant and delirious with it. They’re waiting to do official notifications until she’s far enough to show.”

Ginyue gaped at Ki and Koten stared wide-eyed at Ki, neither at all certain if that increased Norituri’s chances of living or decreased it.

Norituri blithely ignored Ki's disgruntlement and grinned at their expressions, “Well, that’s how it is. I appreciate it, blacksmith. I will see to it that you are rewarded and that you’ll get those days off from patrol that you wanted.”

He rose then, straightening a little gingerly for still sore bones, and gave her a nod with a suddenly serious expression. “Two people now are alive today thanks to you. Good work. Kaikahun will be by within the hour to see to your wounds.”

Ginyue could only stare at him as he bowed and made his way out of the room. Once he was gone, she covered her eyes with her good hand and groaned, “Wait, I didn't say yes."

Koten snorted a very small laugh, "Ah. Too late, Gin."

She sighed, "When did he get so evil?”

Koten and Ki shared a bemused look, though it was Koten who chuckled, “I think he always had that sense of humor.”

Ki nodded slowly, “It is only very recently, though, that he’s realized the rank that Kaikahun’s affection affords him. He’s testing the waters carefully.”

Koten gave Ki an incredulous look, "You call that careful?"

Ki shrugged slightly, "As long as he keeps Kaikahun happy, I will not interfere with them, because her happiness is what I want. I am rather certain he had the presence of mind to figure that out when he was still bed-ridden." He gave the now closed door a long look before glancing back to the unusually perceptive Koten, "Still, that was the first time he's been so blatant."

Gin perked up an ear and uncovered her eyes to look at her foster father, “Can I ignore him?”

Ki laughed and beeped her nose gently, then shook his head at her, “No, child. He is right and you know it.”

Gin cursed.

 

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Language note -

Qui'an bed - I totally made this up this term. The bed style is real, and is an actual Chinese style of bed, but I have no idea what they are called. XD I've been told that the real name translates to "Two room wedding bed" but I've never had anyone explain why they are called that, since they aren't used just for married couples, and they don't have two rooms. Here are a couple of pictures of the sort of bed Ki's got, for reference, though Ki's is actually built into the wall. I've been in one and they are awesome - even in hot weather they are naturally cool and they are of course dark. I'd love to import one of these babies if I had money. XD They really do weigh about 400 - 500 pounds and are put together entirely using joints and hidden catches. No nails or anything of that nature, and it can take about four hours for a group of people who know what they are doing to put the thing together.

 

Oni vs Demon - Oni does not actually translate directly into "demon" though there are, of course, parallels. There are actually several other distinct forms of beings that we in America would refer to as 'demons' (and despite the potential for them being good, this includes kitsune, by the way!), so calling something 'demon' is inexact. "Oni" is a particular form of demon. For the most part, my characters will use the term 'Oni' when they are talking about beings that are actually Oni, instead my of translating this to demon. The exception is for where Nori's adding extra emphasis towards the end there. He's not just referring to an oni, he's referring to anything evil or potentially very destructive. What he's really saying is "What would the prissy Crane have to do with something so ugly that would stain their honor so horribly."

 

See Here for a discussion on DenMothers and their duties

See Here for a character page for Ginyue

See Here for a character page for Ki

Sorry, no character page for Koten, Kawamori, or Norituri yet. >.>;; Those guys get no love, yet.

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