Wager The Stars
Sayuri "Lily" Fang
Rogue female kitsune
Human Form: 5’6" tall, brown eyes with golden flecks, auburn brown/red hair, sun-kissed skin
Kitsune Form: red/brown fox with white markings and the same brown eyes with golden flecks
Sayuri was born in her native fox (kitsune) form to loving kitsune parents as part of a litter of pups with three other siblings in the deep forest. The only life she knew for the first three years of her life was that of a fox. It was a simple, loving time in her life full of play with her siblings, learning the forest with her parents, and coming to realize the strangeness of the world around her and her place within it.
Not all children born to kitsune are able to take human form, but when Sayuri was playing a particularilly rough game of catch with her siblings, quite by accident as she grew overly excited she transformed into a human girl, scaring her siblings into hiding and herself into a screaming and sobbing fit. Unsurprised, her mother transformed into a sweet woman who comforted the child and thus did Sayuri begin to learn of her true heritage and meet the rest of her tribe who lived outside their family den. Both her parents could transform into humans, and soon one of her siblings, a brother, would also join her in this understanding. Her two other siblings remained foxes, but were never afraid of the rest of their family and lived happily with them until they reached maturity and left the den.
When Sayuri was 12, her father took her into the human village for the first time and she fell in love with the human world. The sounds, smells and sights all around her were intoxicating to the girl. She wanted to experience it all, yet she didn’t understand the rules. When she attempted to take an apple without paying for it, like she would at home from a neighbor, she couldn’t comprehend why the shopkeeper was angry with her. It wasn’t her father who came to her rescue; he was busy bartering for supplies. A young boy, not much older than she was, saved the girl. He paid for the apple and took her by the hand, rushing away into the crowd before the proprietor could stop them.
Jacob was a pickpocket and Sayuri’s first friend outside her own kind. Over the summer and fall of that season their friendship grew. Their differences didn’t matter so much to the youngsters, as they enjoyed each other’s company, learning what they could of each other. He called her Lily. Sayuri’s innocence was her greatest asset and impediment. She was a willing apprentice to everything Jacob taught her about the rogue arts. Yet she was crafty and knew other skills, taught to her by her father as well – skills in how to hide her true nature from those humanoids who would harm the simply for being born different.
It was another innocent accident that changed her life, bringing havoc to her friend. Sayuri was late coming to visit Jacob, and in her haste chose to run through the forest as a fox to get to the village quicker. But in this risk, she was careless and was seen by hunters who followed her in secret. They saw her transform and then greet the boy as a friend. They waited throughout the afternoon, watching the two adolescents until the girl left again. After dark, they struck.
When the bells tolled a fire, calling for help from the village, Sayuri’s tribe did not hesitate to answer the call, racing through the trees to the orange firy glow in the dark night sky. As they approached, they heard the shouting from those battling the flames as they fought to keep it from spreading. Sayuri had never seen such destructive forces as this consuming everything in its path. Chaos was everywhere as people ran in every direction trying to stop the madness that refused to be controlled. As the newly arrived kitsune began to aid the villagers, Sayuri helped as best as she could, running buckets of water to able hands or lending her skills to help rescue trapped people escape. All through the night they battled together with the villagers to save their homes and as the dawn broke, the fires died and the extent of the devastation was clear.
Sayuri looked for Jacob but could not find him, nor was he found among the dead. After several days of searching and clearing the debris away, several bodies were uncovered and buried. It was assumed that Jacob had died among them. Sayuri was devastated. For weeks she was inconsolable. That winter the village and her tribe grew close, sharing their sorrow and supplies as never before, but for Sayuri it was hollow without her friend.
She dedicated the next three years of her life to honing her skills, his skills, honoring the memory of her friend and loosing herself in the process. She became talented, seeking out adventure, following it where it led her across the land. She was making a name for herself “Lily” the rogue adventurer. That was when her world shattered.
Working for an unnamed benefactor who was paying her to get a trinket from someone who stole it from him, she had just gotten into the chamber when she heard a familiar voice calling to her – Jacob. He was not dead after all. He told her that in order to save her from being hunted, on that fateful night, he agreed to join the hunters and steal for them. The fire was an accident, but one that served a purpose. Had Sayuri not been such a talented observer at this point she may have missed the slight sound of someone else nearby, but she twisted around at that moment and dodged the net that was to capture her. Betrayal written in her eyes, she glared at Jacob as she fled the building, dashing for the safety of the streets.
Now she chooses her companions more carefully. Now she no longer shares her secrets lightly. Those few she has grown to trust know her talents, but not her nature.
In Lily’s own words:
Have you ever been scared to go home; knowing that doing it would put everyone you love in jeopardy, your parents, siblings, really your whole family? How far would you go to keep them safe if you knew that you were being pursued by ruthless, persistent, dark-hearted hunters. My childhood friend, Jacob, sacrificed himself to these hunters for three years. He tricked them into believing he was like me, a shapeshifter, a Kitsune growing into his magic, so they took him and in the taking (he didn’t go quietly or willingly) caused a fire that nearly consumed the small village where he lived. I felt guilty for that fire apparently killing my friend for over a year.
Jacob protected me and my family that day, and I didn’t even know it. I thought he was dead for three years. Three years that I dedicated to honing my craft in his memory – my “trickster stripe” as Papa called it. I was the only one of my family that exhibited the potential for magical aptitude and as soon as the first abilities surfaced my family and I parted ways. They knew and understood why I had to hide my true self within my human guise and they had to hide in a different, deep forest away from our former home as simple foxes. It pains me that it’s been over 4 summers since I last saw my family.
The fear of being found by the dark hunters has never faded, even when they have not surfaced in several seasons or seemed to have picked up my trail. Jacob found me though. He told me about his deception and the realization came then how he had saved my life – a life that would have been a horror to me, a prisoner with a death sentence, tormented in captivity and slavery (and much worse) to ruthless men until my magic was strong enough for them to take my life while in my non-human form, and all so they could sell my lovely Kitsune pelt to the highest bidder. I shudder just thinking about it.
Once the hunters realized that Jacob was not developing magic, he was sold to other slavers and over time found his way to freedom. Once free and able, he sought me out. That took the longest time, since I had made it quite difficult to figure out where my family went. But his patience and diligence paid off and we were reunited for a short time…. before he betrayed me and tried to capture me. My only friend, now my betrayer. I don’t know what part of his story to believe now. How much of it is truth and what was a lie to get me to believe him?
I now knew how close to danger I was and how carefully I have to guard my secret. Few can be trusted not to betray me. Greed is a very powerful thing to humankind. I see it all the time. Nearly every job I take is because some person is greedy for a thing someone else has or once had that they now desire to possess.
So close is the apparent danger, that rarely do I transform into my true form; only allowing myself the luxury when I feel completely safe. However as my magic grows, the need to transform and let myself feel the world as I was born to feel it grows exponentially. I will not be able to resist this desire forever. I do not want to. To feel the breeze through my whiskers as I race on all fours along a trail or watch the moon rise with my Kitsune eyes reflecting the light back, glowing in the night – it feels like a dream now. Like the dream to dance when I was small, yet now I am not small. My magic (like my tails) is growing too, soon it will be too big to hide within a simple disguise.