Eighth Tail

Art a gift from the ever talented Nano! Thank you for bringing Kaori to life.
-TH

“Mother I’m simply concerned, that’s all! It’s been over two centuries since we’ve lost father… my sisters and I have been taken across the Unified Monster Territories and even into the human lands since the war… I know it hurt, and it will always hurt, but I know you’re lonely too. Please? I’m not saying you should find a man to take father’s place, I don’t think there’s a man who can, but you can continue to grow… you’re so close to your ninth tail, to ascending… I’m sure you can find someone who can help you push forward again!”

Kaori sighed deeply as her eldest daughter Yuuka made her usual plea at the end of one of their calls. She had started a year or two ago, after the second century anniversary of her father’s untimely demise, and after some experience in the human’s second world war had shaken her quite deeply. Her daughter had thrown herself into her marriage, a man she said had saved her life, and in raising their children together. She’d thrown herself into life in general, and had gained two tails in such a short amount of time that it was considered nearly miraculous.

The older Inari could understand her daughter’s concerns. After all she saw her mother as an ideal she strove for. Yuuko had  told her mother as much, and her eldest child knew just how lonely she was. Had seen her break down more than a few times. She also knew just how long Kaori had been an eight tailed fox. It was a mark of concern, likely for her friends as well. An Inari who was so close to the pinnacle of her magical powers, to gaining the ninth tail. A peak of power that was one of the grand goals of such a long life of devoted development of raw magical talent. Accumulating magical power, expending it wisely to influence the world for good… or for your own ends if you took the darker paths of magic, was a instinctual drive of their kind. A one tailed fox was a force to be reckoned with by almost any standard. A nine tailed fox was a demigod.

At this stage of life if she was like her contemporaries she would be living with the finest of luxuries, in a manor with well kept grounds. Shrine maidens and other retainers would see to her needs and carry out her will, and she would send messages and edicts to the local nobility, offering magical blessings and charms to the local people. In return, the locals would give her offerings. Instead she lived alone. Her home was modest by the standards of her kind, and was only in some what good repair thanks to her own magical efforts. With the departure of her last child, she was alone in the mountain villa that was her sanctuary. A shelter from the haunting memories that tore at her heart and mind in the outside world.

“I… shall consider your words as always, beloved child.”

“Mother… don’t push this off. You could at least take on a retainer or two… maybe an apprentice? One of your granddaughters will be of age soon!”

Kaori caressed the side of the scrying bowl, stroking it as if caressing her child’s face.“Yuuka, don’t worry about me so… I have even taken on a retainer in the last month or so. He’s a good man… I should call your sister Shizuka home to meet him… that might be a smart match.”

“If you think he’s good enough for one of us, he must be quite a man indeed… Well I’m glad you’re not alone, mother. I shall leave you in peace for now, it’s almost time for the twins’ magic lesson. Your grandson should have been born a fox! I’m so proud of his skills.”

“I look forward to a demonstration of their talents on my next visit. Please pass on my affection to your family.”

“Of course, mother.”

The light spilling from the scrying pool faded, leaving only her own image in the rune-etched stone bowl. She touched her own cheek, examining herself. Except for a wrinkle or two, she had almost no signs of age upon her. After her seventh century and her eight tail, the fur on her ears and tail and, the hair on her head, had silvered. Another rare sign of her age, the coloring a testament to her magical skill, long experience, and raw power.

“Hmph… as if a young man could desire an old woman like me.”

Kaori muttered to herself as she moved around her darkened chambers, sliding one of the doors open to let the sunlight shine in. The cool mountain breeze blew in, caressing her even through her well made silk robes. Her tails trembled slightly with the breeze, waving behind her proudly. To all who saw her, she would be a regal, beautiful sight, magic power practically radiating off her well shaped, womanly figure. She only saw an old woman, whose love of her life had long departed this mortal coil. Perhaps her heart had healed, but what man could take pleasure in her as she was?

“Lady Kaori!”

A shout from her “retainer”, more of a house guest who never seemed to leave, shook her from her reverie. He was on top of the garden wall, fixing a few loose shingles in just a pair of shorts and sandals, an old tool belt he’d found in one of the outbuildings hanging loosely around his waist. Her face flushed at the sight of him. He had quite the disregard for display of his body, in the way that all healthy young people seem to. His abs in particular were very well defined, and always seemed to draw her eyes when he was doing work around the villa.

His skin was tanned, and his face weathered ever so slightly. Not in the way of those who tan for pleasure but of a serious outdoorsman. When pressed, the emerald-eyed young man had only run his hand through his beard and said he was a traveler, or maybe an adventurer with a crooked half smile. He was too young to have fought in the war, she knew that much, but he had been of just the right age to be leaving home when the UMT had integrated with the rest of the world they shared with humanity.

Many young men and women had come to the UMT since then. They came after finding work or with newly-wed spouses. Some simply came just with what they had and hoped to find their fortune, or to form a plan when they arrived. Other men specifically came in search of a lovely monster of their own, but Richard seemed to truly be what he said he was. A part of the new brand of adventurer that had come up in this land, wandering from place to place, seeking fame, fortune and whatever might be beyond the next horizon.

Though that did leave her with many questions about his continued presence at her home. Adventurers were supposed to wander, no? She had no grand quest to send him on, no magical items to grant him. She did intend to grant him a magical boon for his services and his company when he departed… but surely the chance of a fox’s magic and a roof over his head was hardly enough for such a man to remain in one place for so long?

When he’d first come to her Richard had been collapsed at her front gate in the midst of a torrential downpour. The wounds he’d sustained traversing the mountains had not been great, but he was slowly freezing to death in the rain, his body exhausted even before the cold had begun to bite and sting his drenched body. He had knocked at her door with all his might once, just once, and slumped to the ground unconscious. She’d thought him dead then, but he had a heart like fierce beast, and after a day or so of rest, warmed by the blue flames she conjured and aided by her healing magic, Richard opened his eyes for the first time in her presence.

“…well, I’m clearly dead, but if all the angels look like you, maybe that’s not so bad.”

For many men that would have been some cheesy line, but in the midst of coming back to conciousness, to find such words would have been impressive for the most smooth-tongued among them. Richard, however, said, and maintains, that he was and is completely in earnest. He’s never without a compliment for her, the sheen of her tails, the perk of her ears, her bright purple eyes… and she had no doubt that in the right setting he would pay her far lewder compliments about her body. The way his eyes wandered over her when he thought she wasn’t looking always made her skin heat up. It was the intensity in his eyes that really did it. A fiery form of energy that mirrored the passion with which he applied himself to whatever he was doing.

She waved to the young man and busied herself with the day’s tasks. She had many of her own chores to handle, even with Richard assisting her. From the magical to the mundane there was always something to do. Today’s tasks were primarily magical, so she shut herself in the part of the house that Richard referred to as her study. She had new magical texts in, and an experiment about mana generation that she was fine tuning. She’d thrown herself into her work after her husband’s death, and even before then she’d always been one to get lost in her daily tasks.

It had gotten late before she finally emerged from her sweltering study. The room had been catching more than its fair share of the end of the day’s heat, and with a sensitive experiment in progress, she hadn’t been able to avail herself to a cooling ice spell like she normally did. Still, it had been a good day’s work, and she found herself looking forward to an evening meal with Richard. He’d promised some more foreign cooking for dinner tonight, and was always a good conversation partner. However there was still some time before the hour she took her evening meal, and she was drenched in sweat.

She returned to her rooms for a fresh set of clothing, and made her way to the large bathhouse. It was her most beloved luxury, and even had a small outdoor portion to enjoy on cool evenings. An entirely natural hot spring filled the swimming pool like basins of the bath. Indeed the opportunity to build a divine salve for body and mind had been one of the reasons she’d selected this place as her residence. She stripped down without a care in the world, ready to relax before her dinner. Richard had proved to be a very able cook, and she liked some of the foreign meals he’d produced for her quite a bit.

Kaori’s thoughts were entirely on food and relaxation when she slid open the door into the bath, and only a slight intake of breath immediately hinted that she wasn’t alone. Refocusing her eyes, she found herself not quite face to face with her guest. He was clearly just finished washing off the sweat of the day and was on his way to the bath and… she couldn’t help but see all of him now. She’d managed to change his clothes when she recovered him with magic, and preserve his modesty on his behalf, but now… her eyes couldn’t help but wander him. There was quite a bit for her to look at too.

“Ah… Lady Kaori, excuse me I was just getting out so I could make dinner…”

“No… please. You haven’t been into the bath yet have you? You worked hard today… please stay. This place is large enough for two people, is it it not?”

The bath house was large enough for an even dozen with some space left over, so her understatement was obvious. The bright red blush on Kaori’s face as she worked to keep her eyes off of Richard’s body burned at her as if she had soap in her eyes. Not looking in the direction of her handsome young guest burned even more, however. Her eyes seemed to flick over to him of their own accord. She did notice however that he seemed to be having the same issue with her own figure. Silly young man. She was old enough to be one of his many times great ancestors! Still, it was quite flattering when she thought about it, it pleased her to still be able to draw a young man’s eye.

“Ah… if you insist then. I’ll just slip into the bath. Let me know if you need anything.”

Richard turned somewhat mechanically and headed back towards the bath, taking a small towel with him that he moistened and rested over his face. Quite possibly he was making a gallant attempt to preserve a lady’s modesty in an indelicate circumstance. If so, it was very considerate of him, but a small part of Kaori wished he would remove the tiny piece of cloth. And his last statement… just Richard being polite she was sure, but she couldn’t help but think of a few tasks for him. Her thoughts only grew lewder and more visceral as she washed herself, her skin more sensitive to even her own touch. Every motion, every sense heightened due to her awareness of not being alone in the room. Every touch, every sound, from his breathing to drops of water from one faucet or another, seemed to echo, if not through the room, then through her mind.

Before long Kaori slid into the hot water herself, sinking a bit lower than she normally did and enjoying the peace. Even if she was still slightly troubled by Richard’s presence, and by his masculine form that’s only just distorted by the water. Still, despite her surging hormones, Kaori noted that she was quite comfortable in Richard’s presence. The silence between them wasn’t oppressive, rather it was comfortable, familiar, as if they’d known each other for far longer than their brief period of acquaintance.

After what felt like hours of soaking they made their way back to the antechamber. Mindful of the other’s presence but determined to act as normal as possible in the awkward, tense atmosphere that developed in their shared nudity. A sense of nakedness that was far more pronounced than it had been while soaking in the bath. Of course none of these feelings stopped them sneaking peeks at each other when they each thought the other wasn’t looking. It was only when Kaori had put on a light robe and begun to dry and brush her tails that Richard broke the long held silence.

“You know… that looks difficult for you to reach, if you’d like, I could brush your tails for you.”

Oh. Oh my. Kaori thought to herself, her pulse racing for a few beats before settling back down, he was probably just being polite again, but… but it had been a very long time since she’d had her tails brushed by another. It simply wasn’t something you had anyone but an intimate partner do! Letting her guest brush her tails… it would be unseemly wouldn’t it? Still… he was handsome, and kind, and it really was hard to reach… Kaori offered her brush to the young man.

“Al…alright, that would be very kind of you to assist me.”

“Of course. It would be my pleasure.”

He took the brush and settled behind her on a small stool. Kaori did her best to look straight ahead, not wanting him think he’d made her nervous. She was so incredibly nervous though, and her heart was in her throat. She berated herself for acting like a young vixen with a crush and not a mature woman. She had grandchildren and she was letting this boy give her butterflies in her stomach? Hah! She’d show him! Kaori settled herself and waited for the touch of her brush only to feel a strong, broad hand wrap around her tail.

His grip was firm, but gentle, causing her no pain or discomfort as he ran his hand back and forth a few times on each of her eight tails, stroking them slowly and gently to pull the last of the water from her sensitive fur. His touch left her breathless, almost panting. He was practically massaging a very sensitive part of her body, and she bit her lip to keep any sounds she might make in response from escaping her mouth.

Finally, his hands fell away, leaving her guiltily longing for them to return, to continue stroking her tails for her. One hand does return, gently supporting her tail near the base as he brings the rest close to his body. She could feel his warmth, practically sense his pulse… and his mana. He was surprisingly strong of spirit when she’d found him on her doorstep, but this was the closest she’d been to him since he started to recover, and he was like a volcano of raw energy. The sensation of her brush biting into her fur was a very welcome distraction.

The teeth of the brush sliding between each individual strand of her fur as he brushed her was another truly pleasurable sensation. Brushing was an intimate act for Inari, not just because it was a form of shared grooming, something many creatures shared between those they were closely bonded with, but because it was physically quite arousing as well. What was more arousing was Richard’s face when she snuck a peek back at him. His focus was entirely, solely on her. He was treating brushing out her tails like it was an art form he was dedicated to mastering, not some chore or task he was performing out of manners, or some debt owed for his rescue. He was enjoying this, treating the task, and by extension her, with care and passion that made her feel like she was being courted for the first time again.

Slowly, gingerly, he moved from tail to tail, occasionally switching to another brush when she asked him to. It felt simply divine. He seemed to ferret out every knot and matted spot on her tails, ones she might never have caught during her normal grooming. He did it all with that same intent, focused expression as he worked on her. His expression alone made her tails tingle with a gentle electricity. That focus, that passion, he would make a good husband for her youngest daughter indeed. She would have to call Shizuka back to the homestead soon, and hope her daughter wouldn’t mind that the man she was going to suggest a match with had brushed her old mother’s tails like he was making love to them.

From what she’d just seen, he would perform quite admirably in that regard as well. He was a strong and very healthy young man indeed. Her mind wandered slightly to thoughts of what he might be able to do for her in that regard as well. She slipped into the moment and allowed her mind to wander to far more erotic thoughts than she normally did. When receiving such treatment however, she didn’t think anyone could blame her for her little vacation to fantasy. Those fantasies, however, did not go as she had expected. There were moments of messy, sticky, loving passion certainly, but she quickly found herself imagining simple things like eating meals and cuddling with Richard. She imagined what it might be like to fall asleep in his embrace; How it might feel to have Richard as her lover.

“Kaori?”

She blinked as she brought herself back to reality. She’d been having such a lovely dream she… was still in her bathrobe. Still in the antechamber of the bath house. With her mostly naked young guest having just finished giving her a nearly orgasmic tail brushing. Her tails swayed briefly, brushing across his arms, legs and chest as she automatically handed him a small jar of a conditioner she used.

“I’m sorry Richard, I must be a bit tired from my work today… could you please rub this into my fur? It helps keep it nice and lustrous.”

“I can’t imagine you need it, it’s so soft and looks so lovely just with a brushing, but certainly, I don’t mind at all. Then you can go lay down for a bit while I make dinner.”

Oooh. Now he was just cheating! A human woman’s hair is her glory per one human faith or another. If this is so, then a Fox’s tails were her glory, and everyone likes to be complimented about a part of themselves they take pride in. Even the most slovenly fox minds her tails after all. Not doing so wasn’t so much a social faux pas as it was a mark of concern about the fox in question for her friends and family.

The sensation of his strong hands returned to her tails, stroking along one of them as if getting a feel for it before pulling away. Her sensitive ears could hear him fumbling a bit with the bottle before setting the cap aside, forcing herself not to look back. It was almost like she was wearing a blindfold, her other senses ramping up to compensate the lack of visual input. She could hear his every breath, how he was straining to keep a measured cadence of breath, the sound of the conditioner spilling onto his hands and finally, finally those firm, steady hands returning to her quivering tails.

He began to work the conditioner in slowly, ensuring a complete coating. It applied and spread quite easily, and a palmful was more than enough for one of her plush, fluffy tails. The effect on her didn’t end with just his hands though. The compound had a tingling, cooling effect on her skin as he worked it into her fur, which seemed to render her that much more sensitive to the warmth of his hands. The combined effect left Kaori panting softly, her brain only slightly turned to mush by the pleasure that was crackling through her tails.

Finally he finished his efforts on her behalf, both parties wishing that she had another tail or another cosmetic to apply to her slinky, silky, fluff. Richard rose first, and dressed quickly while she had her back turned to him. He tried to leave quickly so she could recover herself, or perhaps before she could change her mind about what just happened and throw him out on his ear. He’d clearly enjoyed himself almost as much as she had, but the nervous look on his face suggested that he’d not been expecting that, and was feeling just a bit out of his depth.

Kaori however called to him from her chair, stopping him in his tracks with her soft tone. She  was not quite sure what she was doing. Why she even stopped him… but her heart was outpacing her conscious mind, and put voice to what her heart desired, even if her mind hadn’t had time to wrangle her emotions.

“I… thank you. Richard. That was very helpful… if you’d like, perhaps you could help me like that again?”

His smile lit up the room like a second sunrise, the young man’s heart squarely on his sleeve as he received not just a sign of approval for this sudden jump in physical intimacy but a request for more. Perhaps, just perhaps, Kaori would take his feelings a bit more seriously now. Richard did wonder if she meant all of what they’d just shared, and decided if he’s in for a penny…

“Of course Kaori, I would be happy to share the bath with you and groom your tails again. I like sharing moments like that with you.”

Richard left whistling a happy tune, and Kaori in his wake blushed like wildfire. The fox woman held her face lightly as she tried to process what had just transpired. Her heart was beating in her chest like a snare drum. He had… taken that further than she’d expected. She’d just meant the grooming, not the bathing, she really had! Still, he’d gone for the full package of this little accident, and she wasn’t about to stop him. It wasn’t anything like a confession of his feelings, but it was a clear communication of intent all the same. His eyes, his passionate dedication to her as he carefully applied the brush and comb to her tails like he was handling fine silks. His desire was was clear, even if the object of his affections was still a bit confused about how she felt about all this.

Kaori could call out after him and correct his assumption; he’d just misunderstood her after all, hadn’t he? If a little brushing every now and then was all she meant all she’d have to do was say so, and Richard would surely understand. That wasn’t all she had meant though, was it? If she was honest, with herself at the very least, Kaori knew that Richard had precisely understood her meaning. It had very much been an invitation to join her in the baths again, a signal that she was open to his courting. He had understood her, and taken the opening she’d given him with all the enthusiasm a smitten young man can muster. The sensation of it all caused a riot of emotions within her, almost leaving her shorter of breath than Richard’s grooming had.  After a few moments of steadying herself, and letting her pulse come down, Kaori dressed, a foxy smile gracing her face. It wouldn’t do to be late for dinner with her new suitor would it?

Things progressed quickly after that first incident. It was like a wall had come down between them, or perhaps she had just admitted her own feelings and desires. Bathing together became a treasured moment of their day, a moment to relax and share about their efforts. It allowed them to learn about each other, to let their intimacy grow. Surprisingly, though nudity became less taboo, and Kaori and Richard both snuck their fair share of peeks at each other, intimacy did not progress to more base and lewd acts immediately. It seemed that Richard was determined to court her like he thought she deserved. While that desire might perhaps be at odds with living together and sharing a bath daily it still pleased Kaori deeply.

The tail grooming of course became a highlight of her evenings. He took such delicate care of her fur that she almost felt like a young woman again. Her tails hadn’t looked so good in what felt like centuries. Only the silver of her fur gave any hint of her age to Kaori’s mind, and she fully credited Richard’s attentive grooming. She even got a bit greedy, and found excuses to interrupt their daily tasks for a brushing in the morning or on a lazy summer afternoon. It delighted her that he seemed to enjoy that shared time as much as she did, even without the alluring sight of Kaori being dressed only in a towel or her dressing gown.

Months passed, and as the days grew shorter and the summer warmth began to fade, he only seemed to burn for her more. When the maple leaves were as red as blood, he finally confessed to her. Kaori still didn’t know how he’d managed it. Harpy delivery or even a magical delivery perhaps, but he’d found red roses for her, and made her a fine meal with all her favorites. Even a special treat in a sweet rice and tofu dish she’d loved since she was a girl. Every fox seemed to. Kaori had always been hopeless at making it, and she’d never seen him practice making the dish to surprise her with.

Fine wine, fine food, and eyes that burned for her with far more intensity than the mix of lust and infatuation that had perhaps guided him when he first came to desire his savior months ago. If Richard had only lusted after her then, it seemed to her that he loved her now. How could any woman not respond to such naked, honest emotion? She almost wept for a moment, for joy, for love, and for a loss long ago. With emotion writhing through her like lighting she took him then and there to what would be their bed from them on, dinner forgotten. It had been so long, but he made her body sing like he was conducting an orchestra, and she liked to think she showed the new man of her household an enjoyable time as well.

Feeling a century or two younger, Kaori savored the last of summer and the first of fall with her new lover. Even with work occasionally stalling around the house for days of lounging and love making. Indulging in tender moments in each other’s company like they were falling on a sumptuous meal after weeks of hunger. she felt she’d been getting more work done than she had in ages. A mana link between them had been forged on their first night together, and work again was diluted as she started teaching Richard magic. He made her feel like a queen or a deity, pampering her and loving her, and she reciprocated with everything she had.

There was however, a lingering doubt in her heart. The difference in the ages bothered her still. Even with his lifespan almost certainly being greatly extended by their bond, he was still so young, and at times she was reminded that she was a grandmother with a lover that she’d been more than prepared to suggest as a match for her own youngest daughter! Perhaps even her eldest granddaughter would have been a sensible engagement to arrange for a few year’s time. Sakura was young for a fox, but her magical talents were second to none, and she was quite mature for her early forties.

So, when time came for Richard to go into the nearest village for some supplies that were hard to magically generate, and to reestablish contact between the villa and the townspeople, she watched him, fear gripping her heart like icy spikes as she sat by her scrying pool. “No, I’m sure he’s loyal, I’m sure he’s mine… but, but who knows what sorts of creature lives in that village? What if he realizes just how old I am now that he’s returned to proper society? I… yes. It’s important that I watch. I just. I need to know.” She told herself that, over and over again, as she gazed deep into the silvery waters.

The nearby village was a few day’s journey on foot, and a fairly normal arrangement for the rural UMT. A strange mix of magic, modernity and old world values that resembled a peasant village from ages long past, but with modern conveniences like tractors, and magi-tech equipment of all kinds. The sheer density of humans in this particular village was also a bit uncommon for the UMT. Normally the mix of the various species that made up monster kind were at least in equal proportion to humanity even in the most isolated areas.

After a day of watching Richard wander around the village, talking to people, bartering for the various things they needed to help them prepare for the long winters in the mountains, she finally saw the sight she’d been dreading. Richard had his now very full pack slung over his back, and was talking with a beautiful young woman. Even if she hadn’t been Kaori’s junior by more centuries than she wanted to admit, if they’d been comparable ages, the old fox would have felt somewhat threatened by her. The perfect picture of a healthy human woman. Long dark hair done up in a bun, porcelain skin and generous curves displayed tastefully by her traditional clothing.

Still, Richard didn’t seem to pay attention to her as men would almost certainly normally do. No fawning over her or any subtle leering. He didn’t offer her anything more than common courtesy. He simply concluded their conversation, and whatever business they might have been conducting, and after a brief stop by the well to fill his water skin, he was on the trail for home again. Kaori slumped into her chair, dispelling the scrying circle with a sigh of relief even as her heart sank. She’d been right about Richard. His eyes were on her, they didn’t wander even with such lovely scenery on display. How long would his eyes remain like that?

She felt guilty for watching him like that, for not trusting him as she should have, but she’d been alone for a very long time now, it was hard to trust, especially when her own self doubts wouldn’t stop nagging her. She also had established the young woman in the village as something of a challenger in her mind. Her mental hackles went up as she considered the young human who might dare to try and poach her mate from her. Richard might not be her husband yet, but he was quite a strong candidate for the position. No. No this wouldn’t do at all. She’d have to show that she was still in the game. Have to show Richard her appeal… and thanks to the Harpy mail order service, she knew just how to do it too.

The internet was catching on quite quickly in the UMT, or a form of it at least. Prior to formal integration however, there had already been a magical equivalent. As soon as mages started building communication networks, cunning entrepreneurs had figured out how to sell things over those networks. This mixed quite well with the Harpy Mail Order Network, which used a chain of avian couriers to run items to customers far and wide across the UMT. They had everything and anything, but they had a particularly deep field of women’s clothing, to include lingerie that ranged from sweet to scandalous.

Lingerie was something new to the vixen. In her long life lingerie for sexual enticement was quite recent, and a lot of the human expansion on the concept had only come in the last few centuries! Her late husband had never been a fan either. He had preferred pulling her out of her silk robe, and to share passion in adventurous places. Still, men were and are visually driven creatures, and lingerie was a way to weaponize one’s visual appeal. With very little experience in lingerie for anything beyond the plain and practical, Kaori decided to borrow Richard’s laptop, and to check the human internet via the satellite up-link he’d managed to get a some what stable connection to. The results were… interesting to say the least, as were some of the naughtier links that came up on the auto suggest feature. She made note of a few new techniques to try, and went back to the more familiar magic driven system she was ordering from.

In short order Kaori has picked out three outfits ranging from a very classically styled garter set with a corset to something a bit more modern that seemed to have less material than just the garter belt of the garter belt set. She especially wasn’t sure how she felt about wearing the skimpy panties that came with the last set in particular. G-strings were a relatively new import from human lands that were becoming quite popular in the UMT. They certainly seemed like what Richard would be used to, coming from outside of the UMT, according to her research. They were just a normal kind of underwear weren’t they? Surely she could match the average human woman from anywhere on Earth at the very least. Kaori nodded vigorously to herself in the mirror. She’d made excellent choices and she more than had the body to pull off anything he might want her to wear. Confidence restored, she set a magical seal on the order, safe in the knowledge that the new weapons in her romantic arsenal would arrive before Richard returned home.

At least, that was the plan. Kaori really regretted not paying the extra gold for instant teleportation of the clothing she had purchased. Sure it was magically speaking quite the expenditure, and it wasn’t cheap monetarily either, but she hadn’t counted on Richard being… well, Richard. He’d made a three day trip in a day and a half. Just in time to relax in the bath with her in the evening of the second day. She’d chided him for possibly hurting himself, but how could she be angry when he told her he’d wanted to hurry home because he’d missed her with that crooked smile of his?

After an impromptu meal and a long soak, it was finally time for a long overdue post-bath grooming. Kaori was positively tingling for her paramour’s touch. He seemed just as eager to touch her, but he set her usual brush and comb aside and drew a package out from under the neat pile of his clothes. Fine cloth, well made cotton with some silk lining. Within, a small wooden box, hand lacquered in a lustrous black, waited. The box alone would have been a fine gift as a jewelry box or some other storage. Within however, was a beautiful brush and comb set, hand shaped from bone and fine metals, wrapped together in patterns of blossoms and vines, with hints of magical runes, enchantments against wear and damage, and charms that would improve the health of fur and hair alike upon them.

Kaori’s eyes were wide, her mouth slightly gaped open. She’d received many fine gifts in her life, but this was truly special. That it was designed to make a special time they shared together so much better for her made the gift far more intimate. That they clearly cost far more than she’d have thought her human partner possibly had to his name made them all the more heartfelt. It almost made her concerned. Richard seemed to read her mind and head off her concerns long before she could ever voice them.

“I… was figuring I should get you something. Where I’m from, rings are the traditional way we handle proposals and signify marital bonds. I don’t know what things are like here, and I wanted to have your input on the rings when we had them designed, maybe even make them together with you by magic… so I ordered these a month or so ago. The villagers remember the “lonely fox goddess” and took the designs I gave them and… well the jeweler and his daughter went a bit further with them than I’d expected to be honest with you. I hope you can accept them and accept my…”

Richard didn’t have a chance to finish his question before Kaori gave him his answer in the most undignified way. Eight tails waving in the air as she held him in a pile on the floor. She nuzzled his chest with a happy purr in her throat. He wrapped her in his arms with a chuckle.

“I suppose that’s a yes then?”

“Of course you silly young man. I was only waiting for you to ask me.”

 


 

It took a day for them to regain their footing and their routine. Kaori had to add all manner of other efforts to her usual schedule. She had to plan a wedding now, to tell her children, to arrange for Richard’s goods to be shipped from his homeland… to meet his parents. She was worried about that of course, no lover isn’t just a bit worried when meeting the parents of their beloved. It was a somewhat enjoyable nervousness to feel for the second time in such a very long life. She forgot entirely however about the package that was coming.

She forgot until she heard the flap of wings in the courtyard, of course. It was late evening and she’d been torn between work and planning all day. Her daughters had been calling constantly, many wanting to come and visit to meet their mother’s new partner. When it wasn’t family it was her renewed research into bond magic, now studying her own mostly complete bond. Finally, there was the somehow magically self-generating giant planning book that every bride seems to generate, though Richard’s desire for a traditional wedding in the native style certainly simplified things.

The gentle ringing of a bell was the usual signal that a harpy had arrived onto the property with a package. Said chime is what it took to finally shake through the hazy mix of work, family and sublime happiness that had so fogged her mind. Every woman deserves such a mental haze, to have released themselves to peaceful contentment, in the days that followed having someone profess their affection to them. She’d taught her daughters as much, why shouldn’t she enjoy the same?

Still, the bell’s insistent ringing summoned her to the courtyard, and suddenly ice gripped her heart. It wasn’t so much that it was lingerie, or the condition of her fiancee, it was the question of how he would react to her in lingerie. She wanted it to be a surprise. She was confident in herself, but these clothes were new to her, and with proper presentation she could calm her nerves and focus on maximizing her impact on Richard when he saw her in them for the first time. Not that it should be an issue she told herself as she paced towards the courtyard, even if Richard got the package. After all it was sealed, was it not? Unfortunately, that wasn’t how things were about to play out. Richard was indeed receiving the package as she came into ear shot just in time to hear the courier telling Richard about the disposition of her shipment, and how it came to have such a large gash in the side.

“Right, the package got damaged between here and the capital city hub. Little talon accident from one of the new couriers apparently. The contents got checked at the Iron Feather Eyrie relay point, and everything’s there and in one piece. No damage.”

Richard nodded. “Well that’s good then, I’ll get it to Lady Kaori once she’s done working for the day.”

“Good enough for me. Can you sign the delivery confirmation?”

A sharp spike of magic flared across Kaori’s senses as Richard burned a seal into the Harpy’s delivery script and the harpy winged off into the sky. The large avian made Richard take a hard step back to handle the gust of wind, and tilt the package at just the right angle. That skimpy new pair of panties she’d been particularly nervous about owning, never mind wearing, fluttered to the wood slats of the floor. Richard stooped to pick it up and his eyes were met with a furiously blushing Kaori. She silently took the package, and the errant underwear, and retreated to her rooms with a whisper of her feet on the floor.

He left her for a bit, letting a few hours pass as she sat in her small reading room. Where she read, smoked, entertained very occasionally with the closest of friends. A simple tatami floor supported a fine table, a small bookshelf, and a small chest of drawers containing everything from blankets to a tea set. It was her quiet place. Away from her work, away from any who might be in the house. It was to this place of safety that she’d retreated, and where her lover would eventually find her.

She was waiting for him to an extent, Richard was a man of action after all. He would let her be long enough to see if she would come to him, to explain her embarrassment, to explain what had upset her. If she would not seek him out, he would seek her out. Come to her chambers and pierce into her privacy and see if he could not alleviate that which had upset her, whatever it may be. Richard himself was extremely confused and concerned by Kaori’s puzzling behavior, and worry was etched into his face when he entered her room.

“Kaori? Can I come in?”

“Yes. Please… I… should have come to you I think, but I’m glad you’ve come.”

Richard walks in at a crouch before kneeling down on a cushion next to her, almost automatically reaching out to gingerly stroke her face. Richard might be young, but his wisdom and innate empathy allowed him to communicate his concern and his support for her with just a simple touch of her cheek.

“Darling, I’m not sure what’s managed to upset you, but please, share it with me so I can make it better. I’m not sure why the delivery you received earlier has caused you to withdraw to your den like this. I mean… it was certainly a new look for you…” He offers her a nervous grin, its usual lopsidedness drawing a smile from her in turn. “I’m not complaining though. I bet it would look killer on you. If you were saving it for our wedding night…”

Kaori held up a hand to silence him, taking a long breath to compose herself. “I… I suppose I’m just being silly, especially for a woman of my age. It was supposed to be a surprise for you after all, so it shouldn’t be embarrassing, especially not if you see them. I think it’s why I’ve decided to order them. I’ve been… worried. When you traveled to the village for supplies, I… I scryed you, and I saw you with that human girl. It’s not that I was jealous so much as it is that… I will not be getting any younger any time soon. I wanted to make sure I could stay desirable to you, and I thought some racy outfits might… help keep your eyes only on me.”

Richard stroked his chin lightly, fingers scratching through the stubble of his short beard as he considered her words.

“Mmm. Well, you know, as far as my eyes are concerned you don’t need to worry about a damn thing even if you start wearing nothing but potato sacks. Honestly your beauty makes me glad we live in the mountains, any closer to the cities and there’d have been an endless line of suitors for the sexy silver fox…” He leaned into the inari in her chair, nipping one of her ears ever so gently with one pair of canine teeth. “My sexy silver fox.”

Kaori shivered slightly as a tingle of energy ran from the base of her ear down the length of her spine, to gather like lightning in the tips of each of her eight luxuriously plush tails. The feeling was enhanced by the sensation of his hand flirtily stroking one of her tails, groomed just that morning by her lover himself. The sound of his voice was so close, so low, dominant, and aggressive. He was normally soft, kind, and gentle, but every man gets dominant and possessive from time to time and this was his way of expressing that. The sound of his voice and the way he caressed her tails expressed his devotion, his dedication.

Her raging emotions left her utterly unable to keep her composure, to keep her focus on anything but Richard. She had lived a life of absolute control and discipline, to keep her needs, her desires, her passions under rigorous control. Now though, now she could reveal herself as nature made her, a side of herself she had only been to show to now two people in her entire long life. With her face bared of the mask,  she turned to the man who was her granddaughter’s junior by some two decades. A question slipping from her lips as she rose to embrace him, face flushed, body warming as his words flow across her like soft kisses.

“Why?”

He slipped her robe from her shoulders, and then the pin from her hair, leaving her very naked in the small side room that served as her quiet place. Her silver hair was cascading like a waterfall down to the small of her back. Her pale skin was like porcelain even in what little light was available to them, shining white, only just contrasting her silver hair. Her deep purple eyes glimmered like gemstones. Her lover’s eyes inspected her, scrutinized her, following every line from her slender neck to her generous bust, proudly maintaining some perk and fighting the long centuries of gravity. A still trim waist gone soft from when she was an athletic young woman at a century old, now caressed by his strong fingers. Her hips, widened from childbirth, her thighs thickened from her youth, but still slender over all. His eyes wandered her, drinking in her beauty before returning up to meet her own, emerald meeting amethyst.

“Silly old fox… when I first saw you when I opened my eyes all those moons ago, I thought I had seen an angel and I said as much. You were and are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. As I recovered and worked here, I got to know you. I found your personality even more appealing than your enthralling, stunning, beauty.  I couldn’t even dream up your equal, be it your body, your mind or your heart. Every day I pinch myself because I can’t believe such a sublime creature is real, nevermind that she might come to love me. Past all of that, you… feel right. How you think, how you express yourself. How cute you can be. How we laugh together. It feels like I was looking for you, and didn’t even know you were missing. That’s why.”

Kaori practically leapt into his arms, pressing against him with a whimper, trying to resist crying as best she could. It had been so long, so long since someone had looked at her like he did, and even if it hadn’t been, such words from a sincere lover would make the hardest heart skip a beat. She held herself to him, enjoying his warmth, his scent, the feel of his sturdy, powerful body, feeling his hands stroke and explore her, stoking the fires of passion within her, love already burning like a bonfire. Kaori pulled away from him teasingly, a foxy smile on her face as she took his hand, leading him towards her bedroom.

“Come… my surprise might have been ruined, but you’ve only seen the one piece of one set… perhaps you might enjoy seeing the rest? It might take all night…”

“And the next day if we do it right…”

“Mhmm, you young people, always possessing such vigor.”

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7 thoughts on “Eighth Tail”

  1. I noticed previously on Discord, that you requested someone give you some Creative Feedback. Which is something that I find odd.
    Odd because you’re such a wonderful writer. The kind of quality writing that inspires me to improve in so many ways, and one that I cannot hold a candle to. I can readily see why your prose makes it to the top ten so readily.

    So, the thought of one such as I critiquing you? It makes me feel like an even bigger hypocrite for even thinking to attempt it. But none the less, I shall make the attempt.

    A) Spelling/Grammar. I have no complaints here. You’ve done a marvelous job of catching them before you publish. If there are any, I’ve yet to discover them.
    B) Creativity/Premise. Quite phenomenal to be succinct. From the Harpy Delivery Network, to the references to the UMT. I do not know what they mean, initially. But, I feel secure enough in the knowledge to be patient for their explanation. And you do. I smiled at the passing reference to the Kitsune-zushi. Which shows that you’ve done your homework.
    C) Relatable. Oh my Goddess! Even from the get-go in every story, I take on the mantle of every one of your protagonists’ thoughts. You allow the reader to fly in with them like an airplane landing on a runway: smoothly. Within a handful of paragraphs, I felt like an aged mother, concerned and yet mildly annoyed with one of her kits. But then, I am middleaged to begin with. Lady Kaori’s mind is filled with the thoughts we all have.
    D) Consistency. Very much so. If there are any inconsistencies, my mind has yet to stumble across them, despite the several read throughs.
    E) Other. If I had any complaints, I’d be inclined to request more in the way of dialogue when introducing story details. She obviously still loves her first husband, but there are little by way of ‘flashback’ dialogue to indicate her yearning. If I had to hazard an opinion, I’d imagine she’d be comparing Richard occasionally by the standard her first husband had set. But that is the western mind of mine in action. An Inari’s fox-mind may be completely Eastern in that regard.

    But, on the last, you have improved much in that regard since your first story. (Which was also quite good by the way. )

    Thank you, for inspiring me to improve my doggerel.

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