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Canidae, Canidae by Inuyaoi

Chapter 1

Can I offer you a flashlight in these dark times? This story is dark, grim and caters to certain kinks. There’s no romance in this, and no chance of it. Also, it’s told entirely by Sesshomaru.

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Canidae [ kăn′ĭ-dē′ ] n.

A family of carnivorous mammals that includes dogs, wolves, jackals, and... foxes.

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Chapter One

I knew the folklore. Catching a nine-tail meant she belonged to the one who caught her. The fox cheated me. I had done no wrong, broken no demon law. I caught her, which was not a simple thing to do. She was mine. That’s why I hunted her.

I walked on velvet feet, a gliding shadow moving under the dark trees. There were no stars, and no moon. Just blackness. The kind of black prey would sit still in for fear of predatory eyes. In such dark my quick eyes saw everything.

Excitement mounting. In my mind was some queer mantra. Her scent led me. She beckoned for some demon to approach, to come to her in the humid heat and in hers. Wait for me, Tamamae. Stay right there, and I will come to you. This was my mantra, which I recited like a rosary, a prayer to keep her there before her inevitable disappearance, which would have me hunting her through every territory in Japan.

A favorite trick of mine was to hide my demonic aura while moving downwind. While hunting, I chanced upon a thirsting kitsune. Like me, he had also caught Tamamae’s scent, but unlike me he did not hunt in stealth.

He died without knowing me.

And as the fox lay on the dirt, his throat torn open, a tremor came over me. He had been careless and simple to catch. This was not normal. He should have been more clever. Six tails meant he had lived for six hundred years. Then I began to wonder: was it Tamamae that made him forget his cunning? If so I would not forget mine. I would never forget myself. No matter how compelling her illusion.

My concern waned as I rubbed his red pelt against mine. It wasn’t enough to repress my aura. With a fox’s scent Tamamae might continue to advertise hers.

When I found her, I was delighted to learn that foxes too could be victims of deception. Tamamae, however, was not thrilled to see me. She froze with instant alarm, and it seemed an arresting moment as we stared hot and leering at each other.

What an unearthly scene we were; two silver youkai seeming like spirits in the surrounding forest. No light except soft flickerings of fox-fire; blue will-o’-wisps that drifted and distorted our shadows against the trees.

Gods, that a demoness could look like that. Tall, slender, white hair, white robes covering her to the ground—she was a fox touched with feline beauty. Of them all the loveliest fox was Tamamae. I forced myself to look up from her middle, her small waist cinched by silver fur, to a viper’s glare. “Ah, Tamamae,” I said, “the sight of you is good for my eyes.”

Respect yourself more,” she spat. “Demons who hide their scents behind the dead, even to deceive a fox, are indeed very low.” And she looked at me with such loathing that I almost considered she was right to have said this. Almost.

I had a way of smiling that didn’t quite reveal my teeth. “Cunning is not always conscious.”

Go weep you cur.” Her contempt had a distinct smell mixed in with her bodily heat. I loved it. “You bother me terribly, and I will not spend my nights under a murderer.”

Had fucking her been my intention these words would have bothered me. And her hatred was one-sided. I rather liked foxes, the females anyway. “You are under the wrong impression,” I said, “I did not come here to break you off.”

She murmured something soft and dangerous, insulting. Intuitive vixen. She must have known that humiliating her would be my thing, for cheating me, for calling this one a “cur,” and for the blue eyes that slid left from me now in disgust.

And now there was confusion in my feelings. That her apathy for me was not due to blindness or ignorance was what irritated me. I became more aware of my vanity glimpsing her pretty face. A great demon’s pride was the reason to prove her wrong, to tell her how well-received among demoness I was. To her face caving into hatred, I could have told her of the many sensu fans* that had snapped by my merely walking through estates, and more the breathy sighs.

Pride was also the reason not to tell her this.

Instead, I pitied her. She told me to weep, yet I wept for her. Pity that she would never know this one, a true canine, carnally. Male kitsunes have a cunning delicacy about them, and are hardly canines because of that.

What do you want then?” Tamamae demanded of me. “For what reason would you have me believe you were a potential suitor?”

To kill you,” was my simple reply.

Kill me you say! You,” she snarled. “You with your one arm?” It was not the wind that raised her hair from her neck. This power was not seen but felt and heard crackling around her.

If you do not give me such a wish as I demand.” Her face darkened. She resented me for what I was—the dog who caught the fox. And so it was that the spiteful bitch would refuse to grant my wish even though, according to the folklore, it was my right. “Very well then.” Now I moved nearer with my one arm. “Do not ask me for mercy—I have none.”

But when my claws came down emptily I realized Tamamae did not make quick movements as I did. She did not use demonic energy to thrust suddenly into spaces so that it seemed instantaneous.

Neither here or there, she had vanished along with her ghostly wisps. And, as I were, standing stupidly in the black pitch, I waited for something to happen.

This wish,” came her voice, and I whirled to see her materializing from a safe distance. “Is there no getting away from you until you get it?”

No words came from me, only my whip. I missed. And before I could send the glowing thread again she made an airy gesture with her hand that halted me.

I could move yet couldn’t move. I didn’t want to move.

In her slow approach I sensed danger. Tamamae appeared even more beautiful. “Sesshomaru,” I thought I heard. It had been a voluptuous voice, and the feline glint in her eyes touched me like it was one of her carefully lacquered nails. She stood before me now, and my lids came down slowly, my face relaxing dreamily.

Then suddenly, to a brilliant flash against my eyelids, a gathering of colors, there wasn’t room in my mind for my own thoughts. Tamamae had cast an enchantment on me, and her power was more than sufficient to do it. It had even drowned out my most prominent sense. I could not smell the dampness of the forest. I was nearer to the moon than to the moss beneath my feet.

My breath caught when the illusions came.

I saw her flesh naked in a torch-lit chamber I’d never been, and felt her long legs, warm, firm, and sylphlike around my waist. I was leaning into her neck, tasting her scent, and her hair was in my mouth. I heard the pounding rhythm of our bodies, her laughing at my muffled cursings, and I trembled in that heart-tightening stop in time without stopping in movement. I felt our bodies pressed together, tied and knotted, and heard my moaning mouth chanting: be still, be still, begging her to be still lest she drag me with her before the pop.

not my fantasies, these visions. I swear they were not. They were hers, and she sent them to me. The suggestion offended. A laugh is not what a demon wants to hear when he’s climbing over a demoness.

Worse now, Tamamae was doing the thing that only foxes could make happen. She made a claw of her sorcery and gouged at hurts buried so deeply within that I learned the severity of my sufferings.

Gripping my face in this mental torment. I could hardly grasp the cringing horror of it. Insecurities laid bare, my bitterest regrets, father’s death; anguish, longing, lust, wrath—sentiments meant to be felt separately, perhaps in pairs but never all at once.

Struggling to force her out my innermost. Blinded by smut with no appeal. Magical threads pulling in every vein, weaving into the fibers of my psyche. She was searching for something. Slithering in every thought, turning over every emotion—she wouldn’t find it. I didn’t know fear. I had none.

Ah, but Tamamae peered deeper than she ought have. She plumbed the depths of my depravity, and I suppose what she discovered was the reason for what happened then. Truly, I wanted her, and I wanted to kill her. If she lived I wanted to fuck her privately, if she died I wanted to fuck her publicly.

wanting to do many things when I felt the slash of her claws. Senses returning, I had started to groan, and she cut me and cut me. The only thing that kept me from groaning again was that my teeth had clenched around it.

Weak and gasping, with a shudder I started to talk. “Damn you, bitch.”

I reached for her, grabbed something as she dragged me with her to the ground. I held her easily enough—though controlling the situation would’ve been easier had I my other arm.

Never had prettier claws butchered me or slashed my smile to my ears. Claws had never mutilated the crescent on my head and carved new ones into me. I was even impaled through my shoulder. Painful experience that.

Bleeding heavily when my pelt, more blood than fur, on its own wrapped around me. She tore at it, and it came out in patches.

If a demoness had ever sliced neatly I knew nothing about it.

Another burst of power.

I remember the roar of the flames, how they burned without burning. Foxfire doesn't burn. It doesn’t char the skin until crackling in its own greases. It chills the body, robs the spirit and scorches the soul. And I was drifting…. drifting as to the depths of cold waters, and very sleepy. I caught myself shivering, and when the shiver was strongest, and her body rose at the hips and into mine, I fainted against her.

Then Tenseiga, blessed Tenseiga, pulled me from that icy precipice. What a surprise to discover that it could save my body from destruction and my mind from madness.

Sheer tyranny of will healed my wounds. And a terrible rage came over me. Fighting this way, grappling like wildcats locked in a bloody embrace did not suit me. No longer were we the epitome of grace. Tamamae had reduced us to torn silk and carnage.

But if she insisted…

Pushing her head into the damp grasses beneath me, I let her see the malice spread over my face, let her feel the full hardness of me just for her to understand that I didn’t give a shit about it.

Cur!” she tried to scream. And oh, did she fight to say it with my hand at her throat. I was gouging into her, deep, lifting her, and she screamed the slur again. Her neck sizzled—my poison had not been idle—but did not melt. Tamamae was a great demon after all.

Suddenly she grew very still. Youki moved out of her, and her eyes reddened. She grimaced terribly at me, and I grimaced back as my true self broke through. And when my perspective changed and my paws hit the ground, we went down in a tangle of limbs and snapping teeth.

Nine tails, two glowing red eyes, her fangs were cruel.

Mine was crueler.

And those snapping teeth of hers were baffled by the mystery of my fur. Around her neck, she had no such protection. I sank easily into her yielding flesh.

Her hot blood was like ambrosia spilling into my mouth, and in my rapture back and forth went my tail. I had even shut my eyes—what sport it was!

Chaos now. She became frantic. My teeth sinking deeper, she rioted against me. And it was a mad riot. Yet the hurt she gave, the teeth in my shoulder, didn’t matter. In this colossal body I was deadlier, more robust, more ironlike with muscle, more ruthless, and more vicious. Tamamae was just a delicate muzzle on stilts.

However, by her severest contortion and neck arching, that muzzle of hers bit clean through mine.

I let her go and she fled.

But I was a hound coursing game—and one has no idea the lucid state of mind when pursuing fleeing hind-legs. Nothing mattered but getting back to the bloodied mat of fur between two pricked ears.

Crashing out of the forest at full tilt. Turn for turn I stayed with her, a heroic effort on three legs. She was swift, stealing backward glances and taunting me with her tails. My muscles burned. This was a cruel sprint across the rice fields, but I drove on my complaining body, tightened the gap and caught one tail in my teeth.

I should not have done this.

My entire body went stiff. I came to a full stop when she returned to her human form and pointed. “It’s a trick! I tricked you, Sesshomaru!” Frozen. I tried to change but no matter how I willed it I was a massive dog. “For you I will gladly sacrifice a tail.” Growls rumbling from me as she flashed her fangs, laughing. “You! Oh, you—I know what I’ll do. I know just what I’ll do.”

Eyes darting back and forth. Still could not move, and could no longer look down and sneer. I became wild in my body. Could only be wild until I knew the reason to be worried.

Tamamae angled her head into the night, listening. There was nothing but the roar of blood in my ears.

Beyond the rice fields lay a sleepy ningen village. In front of me there was space and that bitch, and it was into this space did I want to fly and rip off her laughing head. She turned to me. I felt a spasm of alarm. “Do you hear them?” Dogs. Mortal dogs barking in the village. “Relatives of yours?”

My jaw clenched. Let me be an animal with this bitch, I thought then.

And I would never forget her face, how her teeth snapped together as she laughed and laughed. “You thought it would be that easy,” she said. “That all you had to do was kill me. You fool. I die as easily as you do—not well! You will never own me and I will never grant your wish.”

Who do you think I am?’ My roar shook the earth and, at last, I changed into my humanoid form.

Tamamae became serious suddenly. “You are very perfect. I can see that. But you are also distinctly disturbing. For that I curse you, Sesshomaru.” And when a swirling wisp rose with her hand, casting her face in an ominous pale light, I suspected then the gravity of my transgression. “I curse you to the nature that is the shame of your heritage—the very nature that has enabled the dog to come in from the wild to slide on their bellies at the feet of man.

And to whom dares to command you first… unrelenting obedience. You will obey, and will submit to every whim, every fancy.”

Dogs barking again. The irony was terrible.

Though I had changed, my eyes gold again, her face was red. The night was red. Everything red. “What!” my voice clipped. “What!” Tamamae snapped her fingers and liquid ice passed through me. What happened then ended on my knees and with the wisp leaving my mouth on a breath.

Ah,” she sneered, “your knees are ready I see.”

If you think”—words left me. Still unable to move. Cold all over yet my throat burned. “Give me what I want and I’ll have mercy on you. It’s the wish I want. What use would I have for a thrall?”

Lies,” hissed Tamamae. “You have mercy for no one—this you have told me. And the merits that you do possess have a way of being that you are in no way curious of.”

No…” This nausea of worry. The weight of condemnation. A growing questioning… what have I done? “I have it. I can be merciful, but you jump ahead of your fate.” She listened as I petitioned. Yes. Petition. That’s what it was. What was it to beg? I didn’t know. But there was clarity in my dread. I became afraid suddenly. Then I became angry.

I am curious about something.” I was glaring at Tamamae and hating her. “What was this wish of yours?”

To wield any weapon of my choosing.”

She made a face of comprehension, then grinned. “Ah, well if your master wills it… maybe you can take out your revenge on lesser creatures.”

And she made like a blue orb and left, leaving me to my silent dread.

I wish I knew the severity of her cunning before. This was evidence of her genius. Because I had two options then—avoid humans for the rest of my long life, or to be so arrogant to willingly enslave myself.

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A/N: As you can imagine, it’s incredibly difficult to capture Sesshomaru’s voice in first person. It seemed natural to let “him” take the role of an unreliable narrator.

Tamamae is loosely based on Tamamo-no-Mae, the nine-tail fox demon. Speaking of tails, there’s “Ninetails,” a Pokémon—lol. According to its dex entry, it’s a vengeful creature that will “curse anyone who pulls on its tail for 1000 years.” Both Inuyasha and Sesshomaru seem susceptible to trickery. I thought it would be interesting to draw from it.

 * A sensu is a Japanese foldable hand fan.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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