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Ken took the first chance that he got once he was within the safety of the forest to return to his true form, a furry raccoon dog.  He scurried up the tree as quick as he could and used the branches to make his escape. As he ran as fast as he could, he heard a frustrated screech and a voice demanding that the ‘filthy tanuki’ be found.

It wasn’t that long ago that he had thought that voice was the most beautiful thing in the world.

I was too gullible. The thought tore at his already fragile heartstrings. Running until he couldn’t hear the crashing of the humans below him, he found a group of branches to rest in that would keep him hidden from the ground. Only after he was alone and safe did he allow himself to grieve.

Burrowing his face into his tail, he heaved unhappily since his current form could not form tears. Thinking her name only made it that much worse. He had mistakenly believed that a human could truly love him. She had been so pretty and sweet. Ken had fallen for it almost immediately and was spending every moment he could spare with the human woman.

After a month, he had been ready to marry her. All he had to do first was share his secret. He couldn’t marry without telling her the truth about himself; that he was a mystical raccoon dog. Thinking back, her lack of surprise should have been a hint. She had taken it well, far too well, for any normal human. It had been hundreds of years since humans had believed in magic so why was this modern woman doing so well.

A few days later and he found out. She was a hunter. It was her job to hunt down creatures like him and sell them to the highest bidder. He’d been trying to work up the courage to ask for her hand when she pulled the gun on him.

What happened after that was more of a painful blur. He’d been scared but had enough strength left to make a break for the trees the first chance he got. Now, his love was shouting directions to her henchmen in an attempt to track him down. A Tanuki coat was rare and worth a lot apparently but a live one was even better on the black market; at least, that’s what he gathered from her conversations with her subordinates.

He curled into a tighter ball as he heard footsteps running below his tree and angry voices cursing him and their own luck. The only thing on his mind was the cold, merciless look on her face when she looked down at him with the gun in her hand. While his heart shattered into even smaller pieces, he couldn’t help but wonder how many other Tanuki had she tricked the same way.

I was a fool.

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I’m on a roll today!! Actually, I spent my World Politics class plotting out some of these instead of learning about Neoliberalism. Just means more studying when the test rolls around.

Next Creature: Jiangshi

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