On Having (and keeping) Three Tails
Upon my birth, a tiny kit, my mothers tail I turned and bit, and snarling once and then again, she pushed me just outside the den. I blinked, and stood, on all fours first, then straightened, with a sake thirst, I wandered forth a while and then I joined the world of learned men. Soon I learned the ways and habits of tengu and poetic rabbits, tanuki tricks and bake-neko, and though lesser known, the bake-gecko. I practiced magic, Inari‘s gift, and learned to run, both straight and swift, the river gods had naught on me, my pride grew great as any tree…and soon, my tails they numbered three.
But then I met the inugami, a doggish, loyal sort of kami, and from him learned that tricks have prices, as I lost one tail to his mochi’s slices, and slunk in shame back to Inari, to bow to her and to say sorry. I asked her to forgive me, please, my eyes cast down and on my knees, she laughed and laughed and touched my head, and gave to me a quest instead, to save a village from the plight of oni stalking in the night and shrieking till men died of fright..
So back I went onto all fours, and to the village on the shores I ran and changing as I went I came as inugami, sent to save a loyal family who made their living from the sea. They welcomed me with tears of joy, and then I turned into a boy, and smiled at them and bowed so low and vowed that to the shore I’d go, and face the oni without fear, and scare them from their visits here. So down I went, at evenings tide, the fisherman right by my side, his fishing hook in one strong hand, we walked together down the sand. The rest I’ll tell another night, but my it was a lovely fight, and with the oni leader slain, I headed back, my tail to gain…and as I went down came the rain…