Nine Astra Skies

Mad Snail

24 Little Tanuki

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The tanuki looked straight to Ye Chen, panic-stricken. Its eyes were clear like a pair of black crystals embedded in soft, white snow and strangely emotive. Its nose was both chiseled and delicately sharp as it protruded from its blemishless face.

Ye Chen was startled. Why would a mere beast possess such human-like features? 

In a daze, Ye Chen found himself earnestly admiring the tanuki as a bewitching beau in his mind before he managed to check himself. Funnily, he was puzzled at how he had opted to use such a phrase to describe an animal.

"Hey there, little one. What's your name?" He blurted out before laughing at his own inquiry, mumbling to no one in particular. "Why am I talking to this tanuki as if it's going to answer me?" 

Then he noticed signs of sentience in the tanuki's eyes as it studied him from head to toe, he added, "I don't suppose you're the legendary fox spirit, are you? I mean, you do have three tails with you but if you've added six more tails, you would be a nine-tailed fox!"

Surprisingly, the white tanuki responded. First, it silently rubbed its face with its cute little paws. Then, it jerked its chin up and gave a snide sneer at Ye Chen, as if it found the young man ridiculous.

Once again, Ye Chen found himself taken aback by the tanuki's anthropomorphic reaction. A surge of extreme curiosity cropped up in his mind as he stared at the white tanuki, his mind raced. 'Could it really be an actual fox spirit?'

The little critter's leg was still bleeding by the time Ye Chen set it down on his bed before turning to a cabinet to grab some white bandages and medicine.

"Seriously, who hurt you like this?" Ye Chen remarked. Then, after a slight, thoughtful pause, he added, "I'm going to call you Little Tanuki."

The creature's eyes suddenly brightened as if it understood Ye Chen. 

It watched quietly as Ye Chen wrapped the bandage around its hindleg after he applied the medicine. In fact, Little Tanuki never once made a fuss throughout the process; it had been acting very docile. 

That was when Ye Chen's nose picked up a very soft but pleasurable scent from its body, prompting the young man to smile. "Whoa, you even have quite the aroma! Combined that with that perfect fur you have, you must be one of the hottest babes by tanukis' standard, huh?"

Little Tanuki's face was suddenly dyed in hot pink. Somehow, the sight of it blushing made it look even more alluring. 

"No way. You actually blushed! You're already giving too much evidence for being a fox spirit. Oh! Speaking of that, I don't even know if you're a male or a female yet!" Ye Chen mumbled and once again lifted Little Tanuki up. 

Sensing an ominous intention from the human, Little Tanuki started wriggling violently as it screeched in high-pitched squeals. Unfortunately, its strength was no match for a morbidly curious Ye Chen…

"Hey, don't move! I just want to see if you're a male or a female! Hmm? I can't find it." Ye Chen's left hand had Little Tanuki pressed tightly against the bed while his right hand rummaged through its thick white fur. After a while, he happily said out, "Aha! Found it! I knew it, you're a girl!"

Little Tanuki's snowy-white body was immediately crimson, though that somehow made it look even lovelier and seductive. Despite that, it was shrieking at the top of its lungs with its front paws scratching the sheet frenetically.

Unable to contain its struggle anymore, Ye Chen accidentally let the little critter out. Safely out of his hands, it turned and fired off a long barrage of squeaks as it waved its front paws with rage. 

"What are you so hung up on? You're a beast, I'm a human. I can't do anything to you now, can I?" Ye Chen chuckled at the sight of the tanuki's fur erecting in hostility. He moved closer and extended his arm towards the little creature. "Calm down. We don't want your wound to tear open, you know?"

In a flash, a thought raced in his head. 'What if I did, in fact, accidentally do something to Little Tanuki just now? Does it mean I had almost unwittingly engaged in one of the most infamous acts of depravity known as—'

He felt chills down his spine and immediately snuffed the thought from his mind. 

Little Tanuki instantly dove under the bedsheet at the sight of Ye Chen's approaching hand, obviously still furious enough to deny Ye Chen any chance of physical contact.

"Alright, alright! I was just curious about your s.e.x, really. I'm sorry, okay? I won't do that again." Ye Chen relented, smiling apologetically. He did find it strange that he was apologizing to a mere animal though.

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Watching the tanuki burrowing itself into his bedsheet, Ye Chen could only smile helplessly. "Well, it's getting kind of late, so I really need to head to the canteen for my dinner. You can take a rest here. I'll come back to see you again later."

'That young tanuki might not even know that this might happen to it! I mean, I kind of p.i.s.sed it off pretty badly just now. I guess it's probably dying for me to leave the room just so it could run away as soon as possible…'

At that thought, Ye Chen found that his appet.i.te waned. He ate his meal quickly, bolted up and headed straight in the direction of his room.

Surprisingly, the training grounds were filled with people as he went on his way, despite the sky turning into complete darkness as the night rolled in. It was quite an unprecedented sight.

However, Ye Chen was not very motivated to train. He just dashed into his quarters and ran into his room and immediately hurled himself at the bed in search of the little white furball. 

There was nothing under the sheet anymore. Little Tanuki had really left him. 

Somehow, that discovery stung him. He looked around again and searched his room meticulously but he could not find it.

He had no idea where that little creature would run to, nor was he capable of looking for it in the ma.s.sive and ever-precarious Lianyun Mountains. He sighed dejectedly. 

That was when his attention fell onto his desk. There was a piece of paper with some scribbles on it.

Ye Chen studied the paper and burst into chuckles. Little Tanuki had actually dipped its paws in ink and left some prints and stains on the paper. Quite interestingly, they looked as if they were following some sort of linguistic pattern instead of being random strings of prints and strokes. Could this be the writing system of the Tanukis?

"I didn't know that you could write, Little Tanuki." Ye Chen pictured the creature grabbing a piece of paper, dying its paw black with ink before authoring its letter attentively. He burst into soft giggles at how adorable the scene was in his head. 

However, he still had no idea if the Tanuki was ever going to return.

*** You are reading on ***