Scars of Suldairia
The Tale of Mother Fox
I’ve spoken to Mother-fox about this tale and she neither confirms nor denies any part of it. yet I feel there is a truth in it that we may learn from. some part of it has to be true, otherwise how would it have survived the generations? and as such I have decided to write everything I know about the tale into my book.
In the beginning, there was a beautiful maiden. She was known far and wide for her cunning, as well as her generosity. She gave to the poor, she worked for the church, she rooted out corruption and evil in her town. to everyone who knew her she was a nice woman. Yet there were those who wanted to take advantage of her generosity, this is their story, and by extension my own. For the maiden was no other than Mother-Fox. This tale; of her rise to power and the terrible curse her kin now bear.
sadly the maidens name has been lost to the folds of time, and I believe none but mother-fox herself know it any longer. so our tale of this beautiful maiden, the town she protects, her generosity, her downfall and her rise to power all begin with but a single breath, uttered between lovers.
The man to the maiden “how do you do it?”
The maiden responds “with care”
“do you think it will work?”
She takes a deep breath, and slowly responds,
“there will always be poor, there will always be hungry, there will always be those who need help. but I will not always be. I would give anything however to keep my small corner of this world a paradise for those who are in need.”
The man nods “you have done a wonderful job doing just that, but have you ever thought about reaching out to other towns, helping others in need? im sure that this town can last without you for a small while.”having never thought of helping anyone outside her own village the idea takes hold of her, becoming almost an obsession. Some months later, after making sure that the town is well stocked and prepared for her extended absence. the maiden heads for the nearest large settlement. heading farther to the west than she has ever been before she stumbles across a city unmarked an any map. the streets are lain stone and the buildings are beautifully carved. she is not used to such beauty in buildings and busy gawking at the architecture as a guard approaches her. he politely asks her how she found this place. “I walked and walked and walked, looking for another town I could lend my aid to, and this is the first place I came across, by the beauty and wonder of this town though you hardly seem to need my assistance.”
The guard informed her that, yes the town is indeed well off but she is welcome to stay and rest herself before continuing on her journey.
the maiden feels drawn to the city, as if it were pulling her ever deeper into its heart, and decides that yes, she will rent a room and stay the night.While she walks deeper and deeper into the city, her vision seems to waver, her lids getting heavy… it seems a good idea to lie down in the street… yes that seems like wonderful idea…
…the maiden wakes up in a soft warm bed. surrounded by those she took care of, the townsfolk, the poor, the hungry, the infirm. they kept moving closer, hands outstretched. always asking for more, more food, more medicine, more money. the maiden continued to give and give and give, until she had nothing left to give. and yet they begged and pleaded. soon they began feeding off of her generosity itself, the essence running from her in long strands into their waiting hands pooling like the water, coin and medicine they begged and pleaded for so desperately. the shimmer of her hair fading, the glow of her skin fading to a pale luster. and yet they asked for more! She had given her beauty, she had given her generosity itself, all she had left to give was her cunning, and yet she would not give them that, instead she decided to use it. over there pleading she managed just a few words.
“you have taken all I have, yet look to yourselves and take what you need from there.”the townsfolk turned to look at each other. Saw the riches, the beauty and the generosity in each others eyes. first they asked, then they begged, finally the greed overcame. as the no longer fair maiden watched her friends, her family take everything from each other, she could no longer bear it. she tossed and turned, finally falling out of her bed and onto the floor, but when she looked up, there was no one there. she looked to her hands, she looked at her hair, she was pale and her hair lacked its normal luster. as she stood a voice reached her ears.
“you say you would give anything, but you wouldn’t give yourself. all you have left, all that makes you special any longer is your cunning. I have taken everything else from you, or should i say you have given me everything else.”the maiden looked around, and saw nothing. not a bed, a room, or even a city. nothing but the shade of a sizable tree. and yet the voice continued.
“I had heard of your deeds, but I did not think them true. your beauty is unsurpassed”the voice seemed to be issuing from the top branches of the tree
“your generosity, unwavering”It was definitely coming from up there, the only thing the maiden saw? a small bird, which flew down to land in front of her. from the birds mouth the voice came again.
“and your cunning, how i wish i had gotten that as well, all cannot go as planned i suppose”the birds wings spread wide, much wider than they should, stretching as its body did. the head became larger, less avian like, the beak and feathers disappearing all together. in front of the maiden, where the bird once stood, there stands a beautiful naked woman, recognizable as the maiden herself.
“I suppose this form IS suitable for now” the bird whispers to the maiden.
“but I need your cunning to make everything of yours mine, I couldn’t just use you body if I am to become you, and raze your village to the ground.”
“Do what?!” the maiden yells?
“you plan to do WHAT to my village?”
“ooh I plan to burn it to the ground, and take all of its valuables, its gold, its resources… its souls for myself.”thinking quickly, for the maiden knew she had little time left she made an offer to the bird-woman.
“and you need my cunning for this? why do you need my cunning? surely someone as wise as you could do it without my aid. and with a body like that, well… who would question you?”
“it is rather beautiful” replies the bird-woman “and I am quite smart on my own, maybe I don’t need your cunning.”The plan almost done forming in the maidens head, she speaks “well not all of it, I could gift you but a portion of it, I’m sure that is all someone as wise as you would need” nodding in agreance the bird-woman walked to the maiden. “and what would you ask in return? surely this is not a free gift, i have your generosity after all.”
“I would just like to learn how you became a bird madam, it is a very interesting trick after all”the woman stopped, mid stride
“a trick you think? no this is a curse. I am a horrible wretched thing in any form other than this. my skin melting, my feathers popping out of it. always something half formed, never whole. I would not force this on anyone let alone gift it”
(The Story continues on page two)
“are you sure madam? with my cunning maybe you could find a way to lift your curse. that is the trade I offer.”
shaking her head and beginning to walk away the bird-woman stops and looks back at the maiden. “maybe, just maybe your cunning could help me seal this curse away. very well, I will show you how I became a bird.”
making a show of dragging herself closer the maiden shifts a little “ooh please come closer ma’am I cannot see the intricacies of what you do from there, and i am to weak to move myself”
the bird-woman comes near the maiden and begins to shift, bones cracking, feathers bursting out of her skin. it is a very violent thing to witness. when she is done the bird woman looks to the maiden and asks
“do you see, how the process is done? it is simple magic really, but the final part comes from the curse placed upon me.”
“ooh really?” smiles the maiden “and how would the curse be transferred, i desire to fly the skies and see as the birds do!”
Finally catching on the bird-woman tries to morph back to the fair maidens form, but she is to late. the maiden has already snatched up the bird and in one large gulp, eaten her up.
the maiden then then began to glow, the luster returning to her hair and the beautiful color returning to her skin. but it was tainted now. she could feel the curses weight bearing down upon her, and from her own mouth she heard the words that would forever change her life.
“you have taken my curse, you generosity and beauty may have returned to you but that is not all! think to yourself, what is the only thing you have left to give? your cunning. so you will take the form that fits you.”
bones began to break, blood began to spill and fur… there was fur everywere, dirty, matted, horrible fur. her teeth popped out of her gums and new longer, sharper ones came to take their place. her arms and legs elongated, from her nails grew claws and from her hair? but a single long bloody tail.
She fled into the Forrest running for days and never tiring. the curse fed off of her. and the bird-womans magic kept her alive. but at least she was right in one regard, with her cunning and the bird-womans magic, she would be able to seal the curse away so that it would not harm another. it took decades to gather all of the materials, and during her travels the maiden found that she could control small parts of the bird-womans magic. each time a new spell was mastered another tail sprouted.
after almost a century, and eight tales later, the maiden was finally ready to seal the curse away. she prepared an area under the tree where she originally found the bird-woman and began the ritual. it took days of fierce chanting, blood seals and liberal amounts of dancing under blood red moons. but it was done. around the maidens neck was a series of rings, so tightly packed so as to look like fabric. each was an individual ward, and each compounded with the next lending the seal immense strength. exhausted physically and mentally the maiden fell asleep in the shade under the tree.
the sting of the cold around her woke her. she was no longer furry. her skin was smooth again, and she didn’t look as if she aged a day in the ninety plus years that had passed. deciding it would be a good idea to make sure the seal held, she attempted to shift the way the bird-woman had shown her so many years ago. and instead of growing wings, she grew a tail. instead of a beak, whiskers. and as for talons, she had paws. the woman was right, she was as cunning as the foxes form she now took.running back to her home town, sometimes as a human, sometimes as a fox. she began to get disenheartened. the ground was becoming more hard packed. the soil more dry, and the trees. were had all the trees gone?
finally coming to a rest inside the ruins of an old wooden wall, she looked around and saw, not the sand claimed ruins, not the broken down walls and the rotting doors. but the families she had let down. the people who had died because she was not there. and her lover, long since dead. she walked to the towns graveyards and found his stone. next to that of a woman that the maiden had never known, they shared the same last name, and yet the man had no siblings. and so the maiden wept, for her lost love, for his lost love, for the town she lost, for the family she could have had. she wept for what she left behind, but she shed the most tears for what she new would come. a future without the only man she loved? with no family and no friends.
that’s when the first raiders arrived. seeing the ruins they thought it would be easy pickings, they were dead wrong. within seconds the maiden had struck down every last one of them, lashing out with her tails and unleashing almost a centuries worth of fury on man after man. then a single piercing note broke the silence.
twas a babies cry, the raiders had brought a baby with them! even in the rage she was in the maiden could not strike down an innocent child. so she did what any sensible person would. she took it out of the ruins, away from the bodies of the slaughtered raiders and to the forest where she cared for it. and when the child was old enough, the maiden (feeling it was the right thing to do) bit the child. allowing a little of the curse to leak into him. and so the first true child of Mother-fox was born. of human blood, and demonic curse.
The new Mother-fox then lifted one of the many seals around her own neck and placed it upon the child to bind the curse. over many years, seemingly by divine providence, many children found there way to the heart of the forest were mother-fox lurked. every one was given this gift and lived by her side as her children. mother-fox was content to raise those abandoned by her own. until she found someone she could love again.
The story is marked as ending via a larger than normal paw-print, with the words, “legend is all it is, but a convincing story none the less.”