So you can read my books

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for INARI_Twilight Women


Fox goddess. Let not her path cross yours.

And should any foxes fall into your hands, let your fingers be gentle lest the fate of the Death Stone descend upon you.

Inari has an important place in Japanese legend.

She appears a seductive woman, going from life to life. Inari is a bewitching creature of alluring but destructive power, a Japanese version of Fata Morgana.

Here is how Samuel McCord met her aboard the cursed Demeter in RITES OF PASSAGE:

A voice both silky and dangerous spoke from the darkness to my right. "Laughter, Meilori? I have not heard that from you in so long I believed I never would a--"

The tall woman in the green and gold Victorian gown stepped out of the fog and stopped in mid-sentence. Her fingers went to the odd necklace of tiny, elegant mirrors about her neck. She stared at me. I stared back.

It might have been impolite, but it wasn't every day you saw a lady whose shadow told the truth behind the illusion.

Behind her head was a shadow, not of a woman’s long hair, but the wrinkling muzzle of a fox.

I forced the shock and fear from my face. She wasn't the first Animal Person I had met in my travels. But Elu had taught me in the Pajarito Mountains that the fastest way to get dead was to show weakness or fear in front of them.

I sighed. Elu had tried to warn me this hunt was different. But I never listened - until it was too late.

The fox-woman pulled herself up tall and bristled, "And what do you think you are looking at?"

Obviously, she had woven some spell that disguised her from humans. Unfortunately for her, I wasn't human. Not anymore. But there was no point in letting on I could see through her disguise, though her look said she had guessed I could. Best to keep her guessing.

"Reckon I'm looking at the Lady Inari your friend mentioned."

I saw her feral eyes narrow. I sighed as I looked deep into them. Though they glittered with the promise of violence, they held depths hollowed out by pain and grief.

She cocked her head at me, her eyes opening in more ways than one. "Compassion from a human?"

"Has that really been so rare, ma'am?"


I nodded. "For me, too, for what it's worth."

Lady Inari husked, "And how have you handled it, fleshling?"

"Badly. Got tired of being hurt, of being let down by hope. So I've retreated deep inside myself. Deep down where my spirit can't be destroyed completely."

Meilori asked low, "And does it work?"

"Not really. I got what I wanted but not what I needed. My blood-brother warned me if I keep on staying deep inside myself I’ll go blind."

Lady Inari frowned, "How blind?"

"Blind to all the things that make life worth living."

Meilori said, "I would like to meet this blood-brother of yours."

"He ... passed on."

She whispered, "Then, you, too, are alone."

Inari's head jerked up at that, and to keep things from getting out of hand, I said, "He's always with me."

Meilori nodded and looked tenderly at Lady Inari. "As with me as well."

That looked like it pacified Inari some, and Meilori turned to me. "It ought to be different for beings such as we."

"There is no ought," I smiled sad, "Life just is. You often time will find that things don't turn out the way you planned."

The two women looked at each other. The twilight seemed to grow darker around them, closing me out.

They seemed to have been born to live in the night. "Twilight Women" Elu called them. He had warned me to stay away from such.


  1. Thanks for the info about Inari! I didn't know this before coming to your blog :)

    And I love your phrase: I saw her feral eyes narrow.

    Feral is such a great word. Thanks for this, Roland!

  2. Oh, I like Inari. I like these legends that are elegant and have some reason behind their mischief. A demon/goddess a girl can identify with...

  3. Thanks, Jack:
    Inari. Feral. Yes, the two definitely go together! I'm glad you got something interesting and fun out of this.

    Give me elegant legends everytime, too. Inari has past pains that goad her into doing some of the mischief she does. But she loves Meilori ... and is jealous of Meilori's feelings for Sam. Life. Always something, right?

    Thank you for visiting and staying to talk with me, Roland

  4. I enjoyed reading this, but I have not heard of Inari in mythology before. The description of her is fantastic.

  5. Intriguing Roland,always intriguing.

  6. So much going on beneath the surface of this passage. The idea of the shadow betraying her true form is deliciously creepy.

  7. Seems like he just escaped this time.

  8. I wonder if Joss Whedon took Inara's name from Inari for Firefly?

  9. Weird. Am reading a book in a genre I don't typically look over which features a death stone in the opening pages. What are the odds?

  10. Writing with my 18mo in my lap. He loves your pictures. I can neither read or type.

    I need to buy you entire backlog and catch up. You're like an encyclopedia.

    A very, very scary encyclopedia.

    - Eric

  11. Love this post! I usually read European folklore. I need to remember there is a big world out there!

  12. Megan:
    It is such a broad, diverse world that I love to weave myths and legends into my novels that perhaps will seem new and hence more eerie to my readers. In my latest WIP, the Tuatha de Danann and Lakota myths mix it up in the post-Katrina French Quarter. Wolf Howl of THE LAST SHAMAN returns for the fun. Glad you liked this post.

    faraway eyes:
    Thanks for the nice words. Have a beautiful week, Roland

    Yes, I had a nightmare like that once and thought it was suitably creepy for poor Sam!

    L. Diane:
    Alas, he is on cursed transatlantic steamer with no way off and a host of undead predators. Let the sailor beware!

    You know I never thought about that, but it seems like he very well might have! Good thinking.

    Perhaps the spirit of Inari is watching over your shoulder. Say nice things about her just in case!

    I envy you: a lapful of love. Thanks for thinking of reading more of my novels. Though linked in the same mythos, they each tell a story that can be enjoyed solo. Yes, my mythos is sometimes scary! But what would STAR WARS be without Darth Vadar? LOL.

    Thanks for following. Yes, I have always been struck by the varied yet similar world myths that add sparkle to the imagination. Please come back, Roland

  13. I enjoyed learning about Inari.

    "There is no ought," I smiled sad, "Life just is. You often time will find that things don't turn out the way you planned."

    Such wisdom.

  14. Thanks, Jennifer:
    Poor Sam has learned the hard way, the tuition of heart-break -- like most of us. I'm glad you enjoyed finding about Inari. She is a pleased spirit tonight! Roland

  15. This is definitely something I'd like to learn more about. Thank you for introducing me to something new, dark, and wonderful! Also, thanks for the visit to my blog.

  16. I recently purchased a book on Japanese mythos. I can recall scanning a few pages and seeing the goddess Inari mentioned in quite a few places. This gives me inspiration to take a deeper look into things.