Stories from a Wandering Tanuki Merchant: The Fear of Fire and all That it Consumes

Chapter 1: The Fear of Fire and all That it Consumes

Word Count: 682

64 - Write about a nightmare your character has had about something they fear.


β€œStart with the smoke,” Kyanoko repeated the words of Akata, the wandering kitsune who helped her realize where her dormant power lay. She claps her hands together, allowing only a small hole to open between her thumbs. The tanuki’s face scrunches as she focused on making her palms heat, but suppresses the fire that wanted to come along with it. 

Soon enough, Kyanoko would smell smoke. She cracked one of her tiny eyes open and saw the swirling smoke rising from between her thumbs. Curiously, she opened her hands and watched as a large puff quickly rushed into the open air and became quickly dispersed by the wind. 

She looked at her palms. They weren’t fire-free like she had hoped, but perhaps it would be close enough. Instead of a visible flame, her hands crackled with the embers of fire. Lines would run and dance between the texture of her skin and it was the skin itself that seemed to have produced the smoke she was looking for.

The tanuki stared at the railways of embers. In a daze, she saw the embers getting bigger and bigger. Before she could even realize what she was doing she had caught the entirety of the fur on her body aflame! She felt immediately hotter, her tongue involuntarily sliding out of her mouth to try and regulate her temperature. Try as she might to douse her own flames, it felt as though her fear has only made the flames rise higher.

Panicked, Kyanoko rushed for the nearest town, leaving behind a trail of fire in her wake. The tanuki needed someone to help her. For them to smother her flames or blow them away, anything to reset her back to normal. But by the time she reached the town, the guards were ready for an attack against some horrible flame-beast. 

She cried out for help from outside their walls, but the guards kept their crossbows trained on her. A lord on horseback walked across the bridge to meet her with a small company of knights. Kyanoko felt fear rise in her chest, and with it, the heat of her fire- which turned from red to a sickly green. The lord’s cape billowed as the ambient temperature suddenly spiked, creating an updraft. The wood of the nearby fences dried and combusted. The lord reached his hand out to Kyanoko, steam rising off of his hands. He was a water elemental! 

Kyanoko reached her burning hand out to meet his, but as soon as she made contact, the lord turned to ash and crumbled. The tanuki shrieked in horror at what she had done, her flames turning color once again to a brilliant violet. Her flames reached even further, burning the knights, the fields, and the town and her inhabitants. Kyanoko’s face burned as boiling tears streaked down her face. In final disparity, she felt her body crumbling to ash starting at her appendages as her fire became too much for her own body to handle. 


Kyanoko awoke with a start, safe in her wagon. She felt hot and sweaty, and she was heavily panting. Quickly she reached for her talisman- a barrel that could dispense any brew depending on the wants of the receiver. But it had limits, clearly, as she had wanted water but the best it could give her was a mild and cold green tea. 

The liquid escaped from her mouth and drizzled off to the sides and slid down her neck. Grumpily, she left her wagon with nothing but a sheet wrapped around her to keep her from being fully exposed. She wandered in the night to a nearby stream, her reflective eyes shining through the darkness. 

After she hung her sheet up in a nearby tree, Kyanoko washed off her sweat, the tea, and the drowsiness from her eyes. She sat in the water, feeling the steady flow calm and cool her. Resting her face in her hand, she released a low and long groan.

β€œI need to get a handle on this,” she mutters to herself.

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