Interactions with Humans

 
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Curiosity

Enlightenment

Wandering

Marriage

 "Kitsune have much longer to perfect their imperfections than humans do, with no offer of enlightenment. Observation proves to be an efficient learning process." -Ginyue, in a discussion about why kitsune sometimes interact with humans.

 

For the most part, kitsune like to keep the fact that they are spirits as hidden as possible. While they may interact with humans, they will usually do their best to appear as “human” as possible. Most kitsune go out of their way to avoid humans, for while they find humans interesting or hunger for the chance at enlightenment, they also fear the humans to an extent. Only the oldest of kitsune remember the Kitsu, but most of them understand quite clearly what happened to the Kitsu.

Some had begun to believe that humans had moved past those destructive tendencies, but the Nezumi proved that particular idea wrong. Kitsune and Nezumi were not particularly allied through more than the common recognition of non-humans trying understand the humans, but their loss shocked and terrified the kitsune as a whole.

Those kitsune who felt that humans were simply too great of a risk returned to their realm. Those that remained generally held the belief that despite the perils of trying to coexist with human civilization, humans were still the key to survival. Many of the older kitsune counseled patience, especially those who had spent any greater amount of time with the humans, though they have grown more careful to not tell stories that would make the younger kitsune too curious or eager about dealing with humans.

Most kitsune who do decide to make contact with humans do so for one of two reasons - Curiosity and the search for Enlightenment.

Curiosity

Curiosity is a simple enough motivation, though the average person does not honestly understand "curiosity" until one has met a kitsune in full question mode. Children, at least, do not completely understand the questions that they ask adults during their formative years, and adults usually can manage hedging on certain answers. A kitsune is fully aware of the questions they are asking and they are perfectly able to recognize a weak or faulty answer. While a polite person might take a hedged answer and ask no further questions, a kitsune will, more often than not, cheerfully point out the hedge or the weak answer and proceed to ask a multitude of follow up questions to get the answers that satisfy them. This is especially true of kitsune who have no experience with humans - though they can be political and subtle, they have little tact when their curiosity is tweaked. Sadly, kitsune will generally accept an answer of "I don't want to answer that," but the typical Rokugani won't be so blunt until they are upset. Someone who has befriended a kitsune can teach them or coax them to behave, but should be prepared to answer at least some of the questions when they are in private.

The curiosity that finally goads a kitsune to try their hand and wandering among humans can be a combination of several different questions. Ki wanted to learn the writing system of the Rokugani and later became curious about sword techniques. Chai wanted to learn about all of the different teas and preparations of tea that she could, and so she spends her free days travelling to different regions of Rokugan to taste and learn about the local varieties. Yokaze became curious about human society and history when she came across a wounded Ikoma. The reasons are varied and sometimes frivolous, but the kitsune is a being that has time for idle curiosity (and those who are befriended by kitsune, even when they don't realize they have a kitsune friend, often wish that curiosity were just a touch more idle).

 

Enlightenment

"People aren't born being nice, I don't think. Someone has to teach them to be nice or considerate or compassionate. These things lead the way towards enlightenment but so few people strive for them, even though their lives and the reoccurrence of them is the struggle towards enlightenment. In a world where people have forgotten that goal, people are by and large cruel, unforgiving, and selfish. I am not a strong enough person to try and persuade others towards that goal, even if I were able to attain it on my own."

Enlightenment is a touch less obvious of a motivator. Kitsune are sensitive to the balance of all things, but in some ways their very nearness to it makes them all the more oblivious to it. While kitsune can often help others on their way to understanding, the kitsune themselves have trouble attaining enlightenment on their own. For them to understand, it seems, they need to watch others. Sometimes, even, the kitsune's very curiosity hinders their path to Enlightenment.

Enlightenment is a different matter for kitsune than it is for humans. Kitsune have a better innate understanding of the balance of the world, though they don't always pay as close attention to it as they could. Kitsune who are not enlightened face the risk of fading. Unenlightened kitsune spirits do not pass on to a death realm; they merely fade away. Even in the case of kitsune who die unexpectedly, their spirits will remain in the realm that they died in, ghosting about until they finally fade to nothingness. These spirits are not reincarnated, they simply disappear. Enlightened kitsune are able to move their spirit to the underworld and to participate in the testing that all spirits go through at their deaths. These kitsune spirits then can move on to the Realm of the Ancestors or be reincarnated, much like human spirits.

The thought of fading brings to kitsune the same fear that growing old might bring to humans, though perhaps on a more visceral level as human spirits usually go to the underworld on their own. Fading is similar to going gold, but "going gold" refers exclusively to those who are still alive while "fading" may refer to those alive or those dead and disembodied. A fading kitsune is literally disappearing. Those who are still alive may function for quite some time before the spirit completely disperses, while a spirit with no body typically disappears fairly quickly once the fading begins.

 

Wandering among Humans

In general, kitsune less than fifty are simply not let out of their dens without adults around, and they are often considered children clear through their thirties or later. These youth generally “don’t have the sense given to a bumblebee” and often are more curious than is healthy about dangerous situations. Kitsune between the ages of 30 and 100 spend a minimum of 50 years in the training den Chigonoha. Individuals may, and often do, stay longer for more extensive training or to gain experience leading the younger groups of kits. There are units of the older, more experienced kitsune who stay in and around Chigonoha, to cover the younger, less experienced foxes and to provide an extra level of defense.

Otherwise, once a kitsune is freed from their mandatory training, they are generally considered full adults and are allowed to do as they wish.

Kitsune who chose to travel and meet humans are either prepared to run like mad upon discovery or are very confident in their illusions or skull spells. Usually, a kitsune starts by wandering into a village or two, trying to get used to acting human among smaller groups who are, theoretically, less dangerous. This is easier if the kitsune starts from a den that has one or two members who habitually interact with humans acting as herb gatherers or traders.

Where the kitsune goes from there depends on the kitsune and the experiences they have. Some kitsune spend an entire life span among the humans, though such is rare.

 

Marriage

It is not unheard of for a kitsune to marry a human. It is not at all encouraged, but it happens. Such cases tend to end in tragedy for the kitsune, as the kitsune lives so much longer than the human. Most kitsune only take one mate their entire lives, and if the kitsune were truly attached to the human that they married, they might not survive the death of the mate, especially if there are no young children who still need care.

 

 
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