Kitsune (Seelie Fae)
The mischievous kitsune are a type of fox capable of taking human form. They may act friendly, but be careful - they’re probably thinking up a prank of some kind!
- A kitsune appears like an ordinary fox with at least one extra tail. Red and white are the most common fur colours. They are also often seen in human form, usually retaining their fox ears and tails. When in human form, they usually appear the same, making it possible to recognize one just by their appearance even when the ears and tails are hidden; however, they can also adequately replicate the appearance of someone else, though there will usually be a minor flaw that someone sufficiently familiar with the real person would be able to spot.
- Life Cycle
- Kitsunes normally reproduce more or less the same way as foxes, but they can also procreate with humans when in human form. At birth, a kitsune (born of two kitsune parents) is indistinguishable from a fox, its second tail not yet grown. Around age 10-12, it gains its second tail and the ability to transform, though at this young age it has little skill in transforming and cannot conceal its ears or tail. It reaches physical maturity around age 30 and gains a third tail around age 50. After that, additional tails are grown approximately once every hundred years, up to a maximum of nine tails, though the ninth tail often takes a lot longer to grow in. Their typical lifespan is around 1000 years, but some have been known to live for more than twice that long. Rarely, a kitsune who manages to live more than 1000 years may grow a tenth tail. (Note: Living more than 1000 years is not in itself enough to grow a tenth tail.)
- Kitsunes prefer food that would be suitable for foxes, but they can eat anything that a human can without issue.
- Kitsune have three major powers and several lesser ones.
- The ability to produce illusions is present from birth. Though kitsunes are known for the ability to create illusions that are almost impossible to distinguish from reality, this level of skill is typically not attained until they gain their third tail.
- With their second tail comes the ability to transform. At first, they can only take on a single form that matches their birth gender. This is their “base” human form, and it will continue to grow and age in parallel with their normal fox form. Learning to hide their ears and tail is usually the first step they take in improving their ability to transform. Most kitsune learn to hide their ears within a year or two, and their tail before the age of 20.
- Also with their second tail comes the “kitsunebi”, or foxfire. These are small balls of reddish-orange flame generated usually by a flick of the tail (though in fact they can be produced at will). Older kitsune sometimes produce blue flames.
- Kitsune also have a few other powers. With three or more tails, they can possess the body of a human or enter their dreams. The possession is a weak one, though - they can guide the person’s limbs, and speak through their mouth, but the person can resist the guidance and can still speak for themselves. It’s also hard on the person’s body. With five or more tails, kitsune are capable of levitation. With seven or more tails, they can teleport and scry on distant places (clairvoyance). Kitsune scrying requires an open flame as a medium.
- Society and Culture
- Kitsune usually live in family groups (sometimes staying in one place, sometimes moving about like nomads) until reaching maturity, at which point they usually move out and begin a life of wandering. They are mischievous, and love to play pranks on humans or each other. Most of the larger Inari shrines have a family of kitsunes that has lived there for several generations. Kitsunes typically do not get along with dogs (or inugamis).
Imp (Unseelie Fae)
The weakest of the demons, the tiny imp is more of a pest than a real danger. They can be annoying, but they can also be quite useful.
- An imp larva (sometimes called a pawn) is a small, chubby, bald, humanoid creature with red skin. It is around six inches (15cm) tall and possesses two tiny hook horns on its head, a spade-tipped tail as long as its body, and a pair of bat-like wings with a wingspan of nearly a foot (30cm). Its hands have two fingers (with one knuckle each) and a thumb (with no joints). Its feet have three toes, with no joints. It has no knees or elbows, though its arms and legs are able to curve a little to make up for this. It has red eyes and a button nose. In its mouth, it has no teeth or tongue. Imp larvae do not wear clothes and do not possess any gender-identifying features. When the time for transformation draws near, a glowing blue symbol appears on the top of a larval imp’s head. The exact meaning of the symbols is currently unknown.
- An adult imp (also called a royal imp, great imp, or hobgoblin - for a long time they were thought to be a separate species) is a little taller than a larva, reaching around eight inches (20cm) on average. In contrast to the larva, its body is slim and possesses the proportions of an adult human, including gender-identifying features. Its skin colour changes as well, becoming white, black, brown, purple, or orange. Its hair colour generally matches its skin colour, being white, black, brown, pink, or red, respectively, though there are occasional exceptions. Their batlike wings are larger than in the larval form, reaching about a foot and a half in span (46cm). Adult imps often go naked, but some have been known to tie strips of leather around their hips and (if female) around their chest.
- Life Cycle
- When first born, a larval imp is only about two inches (5cm) tall, but is otherwise in the same proportions as the fully-matured larvae. They grow to their full size over the course of a year. For the first nine years of their life, an imp remains in the larval stage. It’s actually very rare for an imp to live this long, but those who make it to their tenth year build themselves a chrysalis of charcoal. The chrysalis breaks open around a month later. Sometimes, the transformation fails, leaving only the now-charcoal form of the larval imp, but when it succeeds, the fully-grown adult imp emerges. An adult imp can live for as long as 100 years. They reproduce much like humans; two weeks after conception, the female lays up to five eggs, each no larger than a walnut, which then grow to the size of basketballs over the next three months. Each egg produces 10-20 larval imps. The adult imp does not tend to her eggs.
- Larval imps can also reproduce on their own by possessing a human. If 1000 or more imps manage to possess a single human, they can effectively eat the human from the inside, turning its body into new larval imps. A single human can easily produce a million imps, and often quite a bit more.
- Larval imps subsist primarily on insects. An adult’s diet is much like a human’s, but with a particular preference for meat and a retained taste for insects.
- Imps are very weak and do not possess many powers. A larval imp turns to soot and breaks apart if submerged in water for more than thirty seconds, though they can handle light rainfall without issue thanks to their ability to produce flame at will. Imps are also more or less immune to fire. Adult imps have additional powers depending on their skin colour - white ones (known as queens, though they can be male) can dominate weak-willed creatures by looking in their eyes, black ones (known as rooks) can produce a fairly strong force shield, brown ones (known as bishops or generals) can create minor illusions (in particular, they have a very effective form of invisibility), purple ones (known as kings, though they can be female) can cast a variety of buff-like effects, and orange ones (known as knights or lancers) can form weapons out of fire (both ranged and melee).
- Imps are capable of possessing humans. Normally, a single larval imp won’t have any affect, so they work together in swarms of 100-200. (Adult imps only need 2-5 for the same effect; alternatively, a single adult may work with 50-100 larvae.) They can only possess people who have an “emotional gap” - for example, an unrequited love, a yearning for friends or a loving family, or a shattered dream. Someone who has multiple such gaps is especially vulnerable to impish possession. The possession brings the human’s negative emotions to the forefront, usually causing them to do spiteful things or even lash out in violence (depending on their personality). The imps can’t directly control the human’s body, but the influence from bringing the negative emotions out is often fairly strong. Apart from the psychological harm that their actions would tend to bring about, possession by imps is not normally very dangerous. However, these actions often have a tendency to widen the gaps in their hearts, which allows more imps to lodge themselves in. Someone possessed by more than 600 imps starts to show physical signs - for example, horns or a spade-tipped tail may appear during fits of anger. Sometimes, heavily possessed humans even gain functional wings for a short time. The true danger sign is when their hands become clawed - at this point, it’s usually too late to reverse the damage (unless you can act quickly and immediately). Once claws appear, the imps begin to devour the person from the inside. This happens quite quickly, within a matter of minutes (at most 30 minutes if the host is able to resist, but most are unable to by this stage). Then the remaining shell of the person bursts open and the millions of newborn imps stream out. If the host is possessed knowingly and willingly, a single imp is sufficient to bring out the physical signs (just the wings, horns, and tail). There is no danger in this regardless of whether the imp is an adult (though willing possession by several adults could still be dangerous).
- Society and Culture
- Larval imps are often used as servants (or even slaves) by more powerful demons, such as oni, kakodaemons, yanari, asura, or shedu. Humans and djinn also occasionally use them in this way. They perform all sorts of menial tasks for their masters, rarely living to the age of 10 to form their chrysalis. It’s also common for small bands of imps (between 500 and 2500) to roam the land looking for prey (ie, humans that can be possessed). These free imps are communal in nature, sharing everything they have as a matter of course. They don’t have much of a culture though, focused as they are on the simple matters of finding prey (humans) and eating enough insects to stay alive. They fact that they can’t speak doesn’t help.
- Adult imps usually stay out of the human world, remaining in the world of the fae where they can focus on procreating without interruption from humans. However, some have been known to lead free bands of larval imps, and others have even been known to occasionally befriend humans.