The youkai moved warily through the shadows, looking for his next victim.
The night is our true element, we bakemono. Youkai like myself if you will, are magic creatures.
The veils that protect the unwary are thinner at night. The magic surges in the darkness. Oh there is far more prowling than we foxes. Some are even creatures that the night or the moon or the stars call out, and for others, like the children of Yomi, the children of the dark hells who sneak, sometimes, out of their pits, it is the lack of light itself that loosens their bonds. Others lose the covering that hides them by day. The creatures that mankind fears most are always closer at night, closer to the scent of human life and vitality and grief and hunger, even the ones of they create out of their own flesh and blood and lusts and hates. Poor souls that are doomed to become youkai in their own right one day seek out the darkness, too, and yurei, angry ghosts, emerge, preying on the shadows.
Behind the shadow of a large tree, he sniffed the air, sorting the night scents carefully, until he found the trace he was looking for.
The scents of the night are fascinating to us. Those odors, the scent of loss and lust and corruption call to us, even those who work as the tools of the Kami, hovering near to keep the darkness in check. Those delectable human scents beg us to wrap our magic around that fabric of darkness in their lives, to feast and laugh when they realize just how weak and foolish and pathetic they really are.
Thus it has always been in the interactions of human and the magic realm.
He looked at the sky. The moon had not yet begun to rise. He could tell the one he was following had been by this way not long ago. The buildings in the village center gave him plenty of shadow to dodge through, and he moved through them silently and unseen.
From the beginning of time, humans would warn themselves to avoid graveyards because they were pained the loss of their dear ones and frightened by their guilts. Thus we learned the magic power hidden there. They would fear the long distances between villages, the beautiful and haunted wildernesses where there was little but wasteland and bandits, so creatures of the night learned to hide behind every tree or in every deserted hut. Desperate, yet drawn to our power, humans spun tales of how we would trick them in the dead of night, leading the unwary human astray by foxfire and song and deception to joy in our power and ability and to make fun of their weaknesses.
The tales told by lamplight are not wrong, for in truth, we often do.
Two villagers walk by, both slightly intoxicated. Both would be easy targets, but he has other plans. He hides behind a barrel and blends back into the shadows. Tonight he has different prey in mind.
By day, we may walk among them as their neighbors and companions. But when the moment is right, we drift through their cities and towns, disguised in the shadows, finding plenty of the right moments to pounce, to entice, to feed on their sins and fears and embarrassment. Many times this is blamed on their own darkness, and we sit back and laugh, watching the poor souls blamed for our deeds as we walk unafraid in their villages and cities and temples and homes. Where their hearts are dark, we feed.
He turned the corner, leaning up against the wall of a hut. He knew her routine well. In a few minutes she would walk out of the small house next to the steps to the shrine, and take up enough firewood to last until the morning. He had planned each step of his revenge with care.
Tonight, I am the darkness, an avenger, here to prey on you, oh wicked one! Tonight I will feast on your guilts and fears. You think you can mock me. You think your coy ways means there will be no retaliation. Not tonight. The air here is redolent with just those scents of wrongdoing that make the night my banquet table.
The doormat was lifted, and light poured out as a small female shape ducked out of the house. He made ready to jump.
“Rin will be back in a moment, Kaede after she gets the wood,” the girl said, moving around to the wood pile.
He leaped and began a frightening roar. Suddenly, his jump was stopped in midair by a long, clawed hand, holding him by the tail. He shook as he realized what had happened and was brought upside down to face a glowing golden eye.
“You will cease stalking Rin, Kitsune. She apologized for spilling ink on your bow. Let it go.”
“Yes . . . yes, Sesshoumaru-sama,” Shippou said, his voice quavering.
“Good.” With that, the daiyoukai dropped the kitsune child on the ground, and walked off.
Shippou sighed, then his eyes narrowed and began to glow in the shadows. “The night is our true element, we bakemono,” he muttered. “ Even when we’re thwarted, we slink into the darkness and begin our plans anew. Vengeance will be mine!”