This is a story called “Fox Of Nine Tails” which is the Lore about Tamamo No Mae Awaken Chaos Era. Let’s read it together.
The sound of his footsteps began to grow louder as the monk slowly meandered up towards the peak of Mount Nasu. At the higher elevations the stones were glass-like, and the sound that they produced when they were walked upon made an unsettling, crunching sound. This noise, combined with the treeless and deserted mountain, made the monk’s journey feel somewhat otherworldly.
Gennō was no longer a young man, and the years of heavy walking had made his knees slightly less stable than they once were. Tired and sore, he had to stop near a rocky outcropping… He sat on a large boulder near the path’s edge and leaned his walking stick down against his outstretched legs.
Relaxed, his eyes were drawn to some white birds that were flying across the tops of the larger boulders. This was completely involuntary; it was simply something to focus on until he gained his breath again. Just then, something unexpected happened… The birds fell from the sky — all of them at once, and they fell without another movement around a massive boulder. They didn’t even twitch. When he looked at where they had landed, Gennō noticed that there was a pile of dead animals near this stone — in various stages of decomposition. It was everything from bumble bees to raccoons that laid motionless next to this huge stone. Before he could get any closer though, someone chastised Gennō from his periphery.
“Don’t take another step young monk! You will not survive another one in that direction. I mean that…” A woman in a heavy, grayish cloak said calmly but forcefully.
“Hello there. I thought I was alone up here.” The monk responded pleasantly to what looked like a young, beautiful woman who approached him. “Am I in danger? It has also been a long time since anyone has called me ‘young.’ Curious, especially from a youthful person like yourself.” The monk said these last words with a warm continence on his face. Gennō could sense that there was more to this young lady than met the eye, but to call her out in any way would be completely reckless. She could be a mountain spirit, and it would be better to avoid any confrontation, if possible.
“You are only young compared to me, monk… certainly not in the world of mortals.” The woman did not try to be inviting or warm. She was stone-faced and cold. What stood out to Gennō was her wild eyes. The monk looked upon them with a special apprehension.
“Compared to you? I have 47 years on this earth… Although walking up this mountain, it feels like you could add a zero to the end of it,” Gennō said with a slight, playful smile. “May I ask your age then?”
“You may need to add a couple zeros to be as old as me, monk. Although, if you were ‘like me’ you would be far more powerful because of your age. That is very much the difference between a Nogitsune and a human… Sigh… despite your weakness, there is something that I need from you. And unfortunately, for that reason, I require you to be alive… and to know MY story first… Do you wish to hear it, monk? You will be the only human who knows it…”
Besides the overwhelming feeling of coldness in her voice, she also had a tacit undertone of smoldering anger… Although, it did not seem to be directed at him.
“Certainly… My attention is yours… I am afraid I have not caught your name … Ms? I am Gennō. I am also afraid that this old man is unfamiliar with a Nogi…tsune is? Indulge my curiosity, please.” He spoke intently.
“In time, monk, in time… For now, let’s just address your first question: my name. I have many…” She let out a seductive half-giggle at this moment. It seemed like a momentary slip, and she immediately became stoic again. “Let’s start with Daji. Perhaps you’ve heard of her? I was there… In the emperor’s court, Emperor Zhou of Huaxia. You may or may not believe me. But he… He was enraptured by me, and his entire grandiose palace became my humble play area.”
“Emperor Zhou was several thousand years ago… If that was the one you are referring to? I believe I have heard of Daji as well. It was said that she died long ago as well, although my knowledge of Huaxia is admittedly limited. I am a humble monk from Fusou after all.”
“In some ways, yes; in others, no. I am she… her. That, I can guarantee. Believe me or don’t, on the scale of what you have heard so far… There is SO much more. Perhaps this will help…”
At this moment, she pulled off her hood and her face became distorted. It transformed. She became a radiant queen before the monk’s eyes: the jewels, crown… everything. Although this holy man had seen many things, this was definitely a first for him. He had heard of shapeshifters before, but he wasn’t even sure he believed in their existence until now… When she transitioned back into her former form, she was visibly depleted… she was also somewhat transparent and looked… in pain.
She spoke, slightly less confidently now:
“I can only come into a material form for so long now. My energy is now tied to that cold and cursed stone; that one with the pile of dead animals. You see, they’re dead because the stone releases a gas. I have no control over that, but I am responsible for it. The gas represents my evil deeds… which are many. It’s been hundreds of years now that I’ve watched everything indiscriminately dying next to it. I cannot escape it… the ‘killing stone.’”
“Sigh…perhaps I need to start the story a little earlier.” Her tone was slowly becoming warmer.
“You see, I was born with golden fur and little, pointed teeth. I am a fox, or as you say in Fusou, a kitsune. As I aged, my consciousness evolved. As it did, I physically changed and became more powerful, only shown through my tails…1 became 2, 2 became 3, 4… all the way to 9; it took many years… After 1,000 years, I received my ninth tail… One fox in every 100 generations makes it. I made it. I became a tenko or ‘celestial fox.’ At this time, our tails become white, and we are supposed to ascend to the heavens… I felt the draw, the eternal bliss of where I could go… but I couldn’t; I had unfinished business in the world of mortals.
…I loved nature. It was cruel but always fair… and beautiful, so beautiful. That included the animals. This was enduring, timeless. But everything changed, in the name of ‘civilization.’ ‘IT’ was insatiable; and IT destroyed everything… everywhere I went. I saw countless creatures destroyed. I was friendly with many of them, and they were brutalized. Before, the humans had hunted for their own families. That was fine. That’s what I did after all, but what many of the ‘royal’ guards did was kill and skin the foxes. Their bodies were left, crudely beaten and their fur torn from their bodies. I’ll spare you the graphic details, but I watched my own family suffer this fate… More importantly though, when I gained my ninth tail, I had watched it happen for a thousand years… I hated humanity, especially the nobility… But a surprise also accompanied my new status — I could transform. I could become any figure I wanted to be. I could be whomever I wanted to be… including humans.
I say this all like I rationalized it, but in all honesty, it seemed more like fate. In fact, it was the day of my ninth tail’s appearance when it happened. . . Queen Daji drowned in the river while bathing. I knew who she was; the other foxes spoke of her often. Her handmaidens were not watching, and she caught her ankle between the rocks in a deeper area of the river. I saw it. The fast-flowing water kept her pulled sideways, so she could not breathe… And her first scream was a choke muffled with water. It was remarkably quick, the whole incident… The thought struck me like lightning. To the point where there was no fighting it. I quietly pulled her onto the land, hiding her, and took her form, joining the handmaidens. I had no idea how to act like a lady, but after an afternoon watching the others, it did not seem too complex… I took the noble posture. I spoke with poise and only looked down when the king came. I was uncertain if he would recognize his queen had changed somehow, but he did not. Or else, he was simply blinded by lust. The vibrancy of my wild spirit was irresistible to him. No golden crowns or the finest jade could ever equal the draw of my wildness to him. I was his drug for his bridled, domesticated mind… I’ll tell you a little secret… NO ONE actually likes the kowtowing and pampering they get in the role of a king. They may claim to… they may insist upon it, but deep down they loathe those that do it for them, and they loathe having it done for them. If not immediately, they will grow to hate it… I was aloof and acted bored with him – which I was. And he loved it.
In time, my anger slowly began to express itself. I even had contempt for him. I made a sport of what he would do in my name… killing and torturing. I had no idea what I was doing, really. I did what was natural to me, and what they did to ‘us’ in the forest… They, the nobles and dignitaries, disliked it and me — my lack of civility… my refusal to do their absurd… gestures of politeness… That isn’t really why they hated me though. They hated my power over Him… and only because they wanted it. So, I tried to outdo myself in debauchery every day. I watched those preening aristocrats squirm. I began to like THAT more than anything.“
She took a deep breath at this moment and gave a slightly proud look before she spoke again, “Eventually, he did such atrocious things, he lost his kingdom. When I left, I left the entire empire in shambles. The dynasty crumbled. It felt like I got my revenge… I also got away, of course. They didn’t know anything about a sorceress like me. They tried to execute me, but I was simply gone in a flash. I went on to the next place and ended up in the far south.”
“How far south?” Gennō said, looking at her keenly. He was genuinely interested in the story.
“Far… I’ll skip a little time to save you the trouble, but the next time I assumed a name, it was ‘Lady Kayo.’ After laying low there for hundreds of years, again in the forest… I’ll admit, I began to miss the comforts of the palace. Once I had learned their language, I presented myself in the place of another noble. Eventually, I caught the eye of the Bharta King, Kalmahapada, in 1046 and… history, perfectly repeated itself. Again, the king was enraptured. Again, I began to develop a disdain for him. And again, I came to hate the soft elites. And I eventually did the same to them… all of them. I forced their king to do what he never-would in his weakness for me. Horrible things… They were all my ideas, but HE did them. You can only blame me for so long… And he would have done these ‘horrible things’ until his end if I asked him to… without a doubt. But… I felt I should leave after I toppled another empire and unmoored another kingship that I blamed for the horrors perpetrated in MY forest.
Afterwards, I again returned to Huaxia. I hoped that my work had dismantled the empire forever. But as soon as the last empire fell. It was only shortly after that another empire came to be… I tried to end it too. I became a consort of the emperor again. This time the name was … uh, what was it… Ah yes, Bao Si, and as her, I got up to my old tricks. I again unseated the Emperor of Huaxia… Men really are rather helpless around me… And, I say that with genuine empathy. It is rather sad. Although, this time, they had heard of the Daji… And their spiritual leaders talked about the rumors of the nine-tailed foxes… It was beginning to become unsafe. In fact, this time, they sent hundreds of soldiers to capture me. They were catching on. I would have to leave for good. I had spent too long in Huaxia.
Unfortunately, word was spreading quicker and wider in those days though. I needed to go somewhere more distant. I needed to put the ocean between my rumors and myself… Again, it seemed like fate. It was that morning that I saw a ship that said ‘Osaka.’ When I went there, my intent was to keep a low profile, but unfortunately, this was the place where my story became the most… intense… And resulted in me being bound to this stone for the past 250 years… It was also here — in Fusou — that I would receive my most famous name, Tamamo no Mae.”
To be continued… (Fox of Nine Tails: Part 2 drops on July 4th).