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.
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