"Oww, that hurt! Dusa, I told you to make sure that I don't fall down while walking with these stupid shoes. Gosh, you are a hopeless spirit, Dusa!"
"What happened Asuka, are you okay? … Huh, are you using those tengu shoes again? How many times I have told to you that do not use tengu shoes since you are not a tengu!"
- "Eeeh? Aethra, you are so unfair! Why Tatshiba-san can use tengu shoes!?"
"Ah, you mean that human hakutaku who's thinking she is a tengu? Tatshiba-san is old and nuts. Just let her be whatever she wants. *sigh* You're as stubborn as 100 years ago when we met."
Hmm, time has passed really quickly. I met Asuka 100 years ago.
It was a rainy autumn day, 550 years after Hiroshi's death ...
I was on my way back to the Kitsune Shrine with food bags when I noticed small whimpering white ball among the grass next to the road. I peeked the white furry ball among the grass and found a little fox baby. Its fur was wet and dirty and the fox trembled on the way to the shrine.
Then I finally got the fox baby to the Kitsune Shrine. I went inside and started to prepare the bath for the fox. When I came back I didn't saw the fox anywhere. I looked for it, but in vain. I was tired so I went to my bedroom to rest for a while but when I opened the fusuma I saw a little girl in dirty white dress lying on my futon. … Why didn't I notice before that she's a kitsune?
"H-hey girl, are you okay? D-do you need something? A doctor perhaps?" I said cautiously.
- The girl looked at me and said then "Don't worry … There is no need for the doctor."
I walked closer to the girl and touched her left shoulder. "You are wounded and bleeding. There's scratches everywhere over your body and a bad sore on your left shoulder. Are you sure that you don't need the doctor?"
- "I said I don't need the doctor! And don't touch me, I don't need your help! Let me be!" she shouted.
"Alright then, miss stubborn, if you need me I'm behind this fusuma."
After five minutes she came out of the bedroom. When she opened the fusama, I astonished; she was totally healed. No bleeding, no scratches. Also the sore on her left shoulder was gone. She smiled to me. That was the first time I saw her smiling.
- "Teehee, I told you not to worry, didn't I? See? I feel great! … But I think I need some new clothes … Ehehe."
I couldn't believe my eyes. Where were all those wounds!? "H-how ...? How did you ..? I thought that …" I stammered.
- "Oh, oops! How rude of me, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Asuka and I'm a kitsune, just like you. Thank you for taking me here. That stupid truck ran over me and I fell down among the grass."
"T-T-Truck ran over you ..? Eeh!? Then … How did you healed so fast?"
- "Teehee, it's an ability, ability of fast healing."
"Ah, I see. That reminds me, you need some new clean clothes and I have the perfect ones for you. Just wait a minute I'm going to get them."
Something in this girl is strange. I have never met a kitsune with an ability of fast healing. I didn't even know that it's possible that a kitsune can have such an ability. And her big vermilion red eyes … They are scary. What if she's evil? Maybe she's just exploiting my kindness … No way! I don't think so. But still, I can't trust her yet.
"Alright, here's the clothes I talked about. These clothes belonged to the great healer kitsune of this shrine 1200 years ago, or that's what I've heard. They're only rumours so I can't prove you that it's true." I said and gave the clothes on her arms.
She changed her clothes and then came back to the small lounge. The clothes fit her perfectly.
"Here, put this on your neck. It's called spirit bell because there's an ancient guardian spirit inside it. The spirit's name is Dusa. When you are alone and you have the spirit bell on your neck, call the spirit by her name and she will serve and protect you until the death. Understood?"
- "Yes, understood. But … How do you know all these things?"
"Well, I know a lot of things. I'm 709 years old after all and I have lived in this shrine last 550 years … Alone. A long time ago I made a promise, promise to take care of this shrine. Sometimes I feel really lonely and I feel like giving in. But I can't leave this shrine, because I made a promise."
- "I stay! I can't leave you here all alone! I will help you with the works in the shrine. So don't worry, I help you to keep your promise. Tomorrow is a new day!"
Tomorrow is a new day … After a long time I feel I believe in tomorrow again. Tomorrow is there … It's waiting for me. Asuka gave me back the feeling I lost many years ago …