The Mage and The Fox
and The Fox
Hey Jennie… Jennie?, Kit says, spread over the carpet next to their bed.
Yes, Kit?, Jennie answers, lying down on the bed, drawing circles aimlessly in the air.
Do you remember how we met?
Jennie props herself up on her elbows and looks at the slender redhead on the floor.
What kind of question is that, she says and watches as a curious expression flickers across Kit’s face, of course I remember that?
Kit turns to her side and snickers at Jennie’s dumbfounded expression, her blonde hair framing her delicate face in a most cartoon-like expression of confusion.
Recount it, then. In your own words. I wanna hear you talk for a while. My tongue’s getting dry from all the babbling I just did there.
Jennie laughs warmly and crawls up to sit.
Okay then, my little fox. Come up here and sit in my lap and I’ll tell you.
Kit makes a sound suspiciously like a “yip” and makes a face that, if drawn, would use the number 3 in the drawing…
So, it was a warm day in the spring - May, if I remember correctly - almost summer and I was walking to my special spot in the forest. It had only been a few months since my Awakening and all of this was new to me---
Reeaaalllyy…? Kit said, tilting her head to the side and smiling deviously. Are you suuuuure you remember it correctly? Because--
Kit. YOU asked me to tell you-
But. I said tell me the story of how we met? Not that spring day when I popped out of the totem and scared you shitless-
I WASN’T SCARED--
You were, you were. I remember your face made this funny expression - and Kit flashes her eyes wide open and opens her mouth, trying to mimic her expression. Then you jumped into the bush and yelled and tried to run away and I ran after you and then I fell and you came back and then--
Kit. Jennie says, putting her index finger on Kit’s lips. Kit, you babble adorably and I love it, but.. what do you mean we didn’t meet that day? I distinctly remember never before seeing a fox-spirit...
Kit’s face turns more serious and she grabs Jennie’s hands.
Jennie, you.. you don’t actually remember…?
Serious now as well, Jennie looks deep into those flickering foxy eyes.
Ok, Kit, your turn. YOU tell me how we first met, then. Because I have a feeling it’s an entirely different story that I somehow don’t know about...
Kit draws a deep breath and sighs.
Okay. I’ll try not to babble too much, but you know how well that works. I get excited and then I start speaking whatever comes to mind - like that one time in the market when the old lady STANK of old fish and I said it aloud and you were kinda mad at me and the old lady was redder than a firetruck and then you pulled me out of the whole place and I ate ice cream - that was a good ice cream where we were a few (days) ago, wasn’t it? I’ve never tasted ice cream that good, not even back in Europe on the trip, remember? The one where I ate the raspberry ice cream from your bu---
Kit, Jennie says and smiles. You do babble. But try to concentrate on this, for once. Would it help if we Dreamed this?
Kit’s expression lights up.
Yeah! Yay, yay! Dreamtravel!
They both lie down, Jennie closing her eyes and mumbling some words, drawing a circle in the air. A faint smell of incense drifts in. The scenery kind of twists a bit, becomes brighter, before turning into a forest. Jennie sits on a tree trunk. Not a human girl anymore, but a regal-looking lady, with slightly glowing eyes and a fine dress made of dark silk. Her hair flows free on her shoulders and her Faerie-star earrings glitter in the sunlight.
There’s a reddish-orange slender creature sitting beside her, looking like a cross between human and fox. Her ears twitch constantly and her tail swooshes around.
It’s nice when you come here, Jennie, the fox says. It feels like you’re visiting my childhood home or something.
I know, Kit. Jennie says. I do like it here, too. It’s… quiet here. And I do like the.. effect this place has on us. Let’s walk to the sit-stone and talk there?
Ywah! Kit jumps and runs on all fours like a fox whould.
Jennie walks slowly, eyes closed, breathing deeply. She likes it here. The air is so clear and clean and her magic is so… on the surface here. Her Avatar and her a single entity, existing in harmony. And Kit as she should be, a Pooka, a fox-spirit, a native of The Dreaming. She belongs to her earthly realm only partially, but here she is what she’s supposed to be.
After a few short minutes, Jennie arrives at the small stream and the very large rock, a hill really, that has holes carved into it - holes big enough for them to sit and lounge in. A sit-stone. Kit is already there, curled up in one of the holes, smiling widely as her ears twitch.
Come up here, love, this is a comfy one this time. There’s moss here! The soft kind that you like.
Okay, okay. Coming. Jennie retorts as she climbs, laying down on the soft impossibly-green moss. It’s like lying on feathers. Can I ask you to start now, my little fox?
Kit rolls to her back, puts her hands behind her head and closes her eyes.
I’ll try to stay focused. So.. it was winter, it was cold, dark, and miserable. I was young and had only been ‘Awakened’ for like two months. I didn’t really know anything about anything and was confused as a baby with a calculator. Did you know babies can count? This one baby I met-
Kit… Jennie sighs lovingly and smiles at her.
Sorry, Kit grins. So it was this winter night, like years and years ago. I don’t really remember why it was winter in here then, but it was. OR then I was in that place--!! Where we were together just … okay, okay. But you HAVE to remind me after this story. That’s too much to be a coincidence! But, yes, winter. I was a little fox and I was walking through heavy snow, when I heard a voice. It sung a song that I had never heard before then. I crawled closer and I saw a person, a human, making a… a.. lantern! out of snowballs. She had a small candle with her and she was singing something while making snowballs. A school bag and a bike sat near her in the snow. I watched for a while and tried to sneak closer but then CLABAUNG! PAIN! AGONY! It really, really hurt! I remember the pain to this day, my hand - paw - leg -whatever was on fire. I had stepped into a trap. A trap! In Dreamland! I couldn’t understand what had happened. I cried in pain and then the person noticed…
And--- then I walked towards the noise, Jennie said, with a gaze fixed far beyond the now, to a distant point in history that just opened in front of her eyes. I.. I walked towards the noise and saw a small fox, yelping in pain
It DID really, really hurt, though.
It yelped again and I saw it was trapped. But… I was playing in the forest, I wasn’t Dreaming.. was I? That was years and years ago, I had just started high school that year.. I was on my way home from school and stopped to make a snow lantern. I had been Awakened for a while then, but still was largely unaware of the larger world. But I saw that fox and something in me said that I needed to rescue it - no matter what.
Then you came and opened the trap.. And my leg was free and I was free and I…
The fox didn’t run away.. It walked a couple of steps away, stopped, turned around and… smiled at me? I.. why haven’t I remembered this before…? The fox smiled and I felt… good. It was The Correct Thing to do, but then…
Then I sensed something and nature took over. I bolted. I ran and ran and ran and ran till my legs hurt. I don’t know what it was but something came and it scared the hell out of me. I’ve regretted it since that day, but I couldn’t help myself. I panicked and just ran.
I.. watched the fox bolt and run. And I was happy that it was saved, but then I felt something…
Jennie’s expression goes wild, her eyes wide, pupils shrinking as small as they can, her mouth opening and closing, looking for words that fail to come.
I… felt.. A presence, Jennie whispers, unable to stop herself. I turned around and.. He was there. Standing just a few feet away. Those impossible eyes, like holes in the void…
Proudmoor?? It was Proudmoor?! You met HIM that day!? Kit almost screams and jumps from the floor, eyes wide . She rushes to embrace Jennie. I’m so sorry my love, I’m so sorry. You were so young and to have met.. that.. then. Alone. Cold. Scared. I can’t imagine… Jennie, how are you alive?
I.. I’m not exactly sure… I.. don’t remember.. The next thing I remember is… spring.. My first spring break in high school.. Strange.. I.. I don’t remember that winter at all. Before this it didn’t even occur to me that that winter must have happened.. I have no memories of it.
I’m so sorry I brought back those memories.. I really thought you’d have remembered that one and that the Evil Bad that I ran away from had been just something less.. Horrible. Like a snowblower, or some other mundane thing that would’ve scared me, but was in reality harmless and we could just laugh at it… but.. Proudmoor… But why don’t you remember the others..?
I came back. Every single day, to the same spot to look for my savior. I wanted to thank her properly and apologize for running off so suddenly the first time. I saw her there, many times, but I chickened out on actually thanking her the first month or so. But then, in the spring, she was there alone again, reading a book. That’s the first time I actually stopped and decided I’d do it. By then, I had mastered my form a bit more and could appear as me, or the fox or.. You know - earth-me.
It’s still sometimes weird to think that you’re not wholly there when we’re home. But, I guess, neither am I. Maybe we should just move here?
Jennie.. Uhm. You’re still lying on your bed in the material world.. You can’t just…
OH, right. Dang. I forgot I had that part.
That’s you, alright. Anyway, one day that spring I took my earth-me form and approached the girl on the bench. She looked at me with those pretty eyes and I hesitated, I almost ran away again, but swallowed my anxiety for a second. I sat next to her and said ‘Thank you. I don’t think you remember it now, but you saved my life in the winter. I was trapped and you set me free.’ She-- I’m going to change to ‘you’ because it’s so obvious at this point and it makes my head spin when I need to change yous to hers and everything and I can’t continue the story if my head spins too much. Like in the amusement park that one time when I went too many times to that spinning thing and puked on that man’s shoes. Oh boy was he mad though, I’ve never seen a man that mad simply for getting vomit on their shoes. It might have been because of the other guys in suits too. They weren’t that happy about it either--
Oh, sorry, what was I saying again? Oh, yes, her. You. You said to me something like ‘what the hell are you on, girl?’ I remember hesitating and I figured you had just forgotten the thing. It didn’t ACTUALLY occur to me back then that you didn’t connect a small fox and earth-me at all, since it was normal for ME… So I just said that you had saved me that winter, that what you had allowed me to escape something and you probably didn’t even know it, but I remembered and wanted to thank you. Then I asked what did you do here, this was a place that not many people visited, like ever. You just tilted your head and looked at me funnily, saying that you came here often, that this was one of the routes you took to return home from school. I knew then that that wasn’t earth and it was Dreaming and wondered for a second if you took your classes in the Dreaming. You said that you came through this place every so often because it was quiet and beautiful here. That you hadn’t seen anyone else here for a whole year and that’s why you liked it here. I asked if you remembered seeing animals here, particularly any foxes, but you didn’t. It made me a bit sad, I must admit. Then you said you had to go home and left. I followed you for a while and you walked through a gate that really wasn’t there at all and just disappeared.
You mean I traveled to and from The Dreaming without even knowing it?! It was hard to do for years even when I figured out how to do it and I was able to do it back then without even thinking?!
Beats me. I don’t know how you did it, you just did. Maybe it was the gate? Anyways, I continued to see you throughout that spring, then and again. We even met and chatted about the weather and your book and the forest a few times. But then I think school ended or something and I stopped seeing you.
School ended and we moved around for a while. I lived abroad for a couple of years, I think. Europe, Asia, even Australia. We practically lived on ships and planes for a few years.
I figured that out afterwards. Meanwhile I learned how to.. Uh.. “wake up” and come back again. I began to spend more and more time on earth and learned to live there, too. But I continued to look for you. I don’t really know why, you just were always in the back of my head as “the girl who saved the fox”. Then some years afterwards, one summer when I was playing by that old brook in the forest, on earth that is. That day I heard a sound I had not heard for years. A song. A song sung by a voice I was familiar with. I instantly ran towards it, but stopped in the bushes. You had changed a lot. Gone was the young awkward schoolgirl from years ago. The questioning face, the shy eyes and the books. Instead you walked like you owned the forest, not in a bad, human-way, but like you were part of it. Like you saw it for what it really was. You sat near that brook, took out something and started crafting. I crawled around the bushes and watched you go at it.
That I do remember. Or, not you in the bushes, but that day. I was carving my first totem. That was the day I was going to be a proper Mage. A Dreamspeaker, like they called me. I was going to chisel out a totem for me and contact a spirit and speak with them..
Why DID you chisel the totem after a fox, though?
It was easy, I had loved foxes for a long while then, ever… since.. High school.. Wait. Now wait. Did I actually like foxes because some part of me remembered… you?
Kit grins like her mouth’s wider than her snout. Her whiskers shiver from the effort.
I don’t know.
I carved that totem as best as I could. Set it on the ground and tried to open a channel to the spirit world and was really surprised when it happened that fast!
Yeah, well, it didn’t. I figured I’d play a little prank on you…
Prank worked though, I’ll give you that.
Yeah… it did. I’m not REALLY sure who pranked who, though…
Let’s call it a mutual prank and say it was a win-win? Jennie says and smiles warmly at Kit, Come here, my little fox...
Kit jumps and lands on Jennie’s lap.
Jennie. Let’s ask another of your kind if they could… you know.. Dig up your memories? Maybe once this is over we can devote a bit of time to this?
Or because we already saw him once.. Maybe we should ask before. I.. I might contain some important information that we need. But for now, let’s spend some time here before going back… What does the fox say?
Kit laughs heartily and hugs Jennie.
Sure, sure we can, my little Mage, sure we can.