The Girl and The Fox
The girl left the house early this morning.
She was on her way to early morning kendo practice, which was quite unusual ever for her club.
Normally, they met only in the afternoons, but since there was a big tournament coming up, they decided to meet in the clubroom at around 6:30 to get extra practice.
She lived fairly close to school, so she left her house at 6 with a toast in one hand and kendo gear in the other.
Even so, she felt that she was a bit late, so on her way, she made a quick right into the nearby park to get there more quickly.
She usually takes the streets when walking leisurely, but she didn't want to be late, so she took this path she's known since childhood to get there as fast as possible.
Normally, one would always take this more beautiful path, but this one was different.
It was not only the girl who avoided it…
In fact, everyone avoided it.
It was a sight to behold though.
The trees stood tall, and became taller the further you went in.
The air because fresher and less windy due to the shade.
Many different colors could be seen, especially now as fall came and the leaves started falling.
But this place, despite being beautiful, gave people an eerie feeling.
Some say it was because of the shrine in the center of it all, home to a fearsome god who's power many felt was an attrition to all sorts of demons.
But this was all folklore, and the girl knew it.
When she was a young child, she was forced to go in the park by her friends, but discovered there was nothing there after all.
The look on their faces when she emerged from the other end with a gloomy face and unsteady walk was priceless, especially once she added a load scream after coming out of it alone.
She started laughing when they all ran away from her little farce.
After all, nothing happened.
That's what she continued to tell herself, that is.
As she walked through from the school's end in the late afternoon, she was scared that first time.
And she definitely not only felt, but also heard that something, perhaps even many things were slowly watching, following her.
But once she reached the shrine in the middle, basked in the sun's afternoon glow, all those fears disappeared.
Even though she wrote it off as just her being nervous, she avoided taking leisurely walks though this park after all.
Especially this morning.
The sun still hadn't completely risen, so it was still dark.
And in this dark, all she could think of was that somebody, something had been watching her.
She picked up the pace, trying to get this over with as soon as possible.
But something was off.
It felt like she was running for a long time.
Not just a few minutes, either.
Perhaps her racing heart made her sense time flowing especially slowly, but it felt like she was running for hours.
She wasn't particularly tired if doing so, but the sun didn't continue to rise, nor did she ever reach the shrine at the center, let alone her school.
She truly felt that off she stopped, it would be the end of her.
But she didn't know what to do.
She continued to run to no avail.
Unable to keep up with her rapidly speeding up thoughts of fear and tension, she planted both feet into the ground and leaned on her knees.
She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.
As she had her eyes closed, she felt the noisy crackling of the dry leaves around her had stopped, allowing her to hear the smooth wind around her.
And for some reason, this made her think of the calm before a storm.
That short moment of peace before all havoc was released.
But she slowed the rhythm of her heart, and calmed her thoughts.
By the time she opened her eyes, she felt she was ready for anything.
This couldn't be farther from the truth though.
She opened her eyes to see something quite different than what she had expected.
Instead of a dark place surrounded by trees and covered with autumn leaves, she was met with an open plain, completely free of both trees and leaves.
Hearing some shuffling from behind her, she instinctually grabbed the handle of the sword at her hip, but this deeply confused her.
After all, just moments earlier, there was no sword.
She was in her school uniform, and had been caring her kendo gear, but she didn't even own a sword.
To make matters more confusing for her, looking down she noticed that she was clad in full armor.
Instead of simply having the wooden chest plate covering her body, there was a metal one, along with shoulder guards that were of completely different quality.
Despite that, it was very light, and so she confidentially drew the sword and turned around.
Behind her was a frighteningly large fox demon.
She had never seen such a thing before, but behind its large fangs came a very low and steady growl, and its feet were engulfed in blue flames, floating in the air like it was nothing.
Was this what was following her?
There she stood, with her sword in hand, and the demon in front of her.
The sky had steadily been getting lighter and lighter, and as soon as the sun cracked above the mountains in the distance, her body left forward.
She was completely takes for surprise.
It was as if her were watching a movie, except her point of view was that of the heroin.
Blow after blow, her arms reliably blocked the strikes of the fox, and from time to time followed with a very elegant parry.
Little by little, she became more and more relaxed with these odd circumstances, and even started to enjoy it.
After countless trades of metal and claw, she started to take control of her body, moving it waster and faster.
No matter what kind of attack it hurled at her she was able to easily block.
However, no matter what attack she returned, the fox demon easily dodged.
They eventually came to a stalemate.
It might be more accurate to say that the fox stopped attacking, though.
Thinking of it as a chance, she tried to leap forward to deal a deciding blow, but her body wouldn't move.
Her arms even lay there if front of her, trembling slightly, as if expecting something truly horrifying coming up.
Suddenly, the fox turned its head to the side, and threw it back forward, but with a huge ball of magical fire.
Its size was incomprehensibly large, almost as if the sun had come crashing down on her.
Just as suddenly though, the sword she held, gave off a faint golden glow that steadily drew larger.
And her arms automatically brought the sword around and behind her right hip.
She took a deep stance, and waited for the attack to arrive.
As if they knew it was the right moment, her arms swung the sword wide in front of her, launching a fearsome golden wave.
It dissipated the fireball easily, and cut through the fox demon just was easily.
As its body collapsed to the ground, it started fading away, along with the whole scenery around her.
What was left were some trees that surrounded her, along with many leaves that littered the ground.
Somewhat relieved that it was all over, she turned around to be greeted with a small shrine.
It was the same one that she stumbled upon earlier in her childhood, but at the time, she was too scared to even think about looking inside of it.
But this time, it was right in front of her, so she took a peek, to find an armor just like the one she had worn, and a sheathed sword with the same handle as the one she fought along with.
She was curious to find out if it had the same golden glow, but as her hand approached the shrine's door, a voice told her that she mustn't.
Suddenly, she was reminded that she needed to go to school, and promptly, as the sun had already started rising in the sky.
So she started running.
This time though, it wasn't out of fear, but of excitement to fight her club members with her familiar bamboo sword.
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