Trickster is Meaningless was the seventh story I wrote for this collection, and the last story I wrote in 2019, finishing it on December 30th. It is the third wabi-sabi-themed story I wrote in December (The Legend of Upa, the only one not written in December, was completed in November). It is the longest story of the first seven, with its opening scene alone being longer than any of the other six. This was not planned, it's just how it turned out. It's also the first story in I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now to have more than two scenes.
I don't remember exactly when I came up with this idea, as the fanon stories in this collection were not necessarily inspired by my rewatch of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super. I believe this was one of the earlier ideas I had floating around, but I didn't decide on using it until near the end of my rewatch. I think I was at least into Dragon Ball Super before firmly deciding to use the idea of showing how Okinaro gets his third tail in a one-shot (he gets his second tail in Destroyer of Universes).
This one was somewhat stressful to plan out. I wanted to incorporate more trickster aspects in this story compared to Destroyer of Universes, using Japanese folklore about kitsune as a basis for that. I did hours of research on this subject, trying to find out as much as I could as well as what would be the best aspects of kitsune lore to use for Okinaro's development. That is why Okinaro shows his power of being able to change his form into whoever he wants (as long as he has seen them) and why he goes to the restaurant and steals food. The first scene was the last thing I came up with, actually, in terms of the plot, as can be seen by my outline for the story that I wrote on December 25, 2019:
Scene 1: okinaro meets a bragging warrior on some planet, who claims to be extremely powerful and beautiful and good with the ladies; okinaro confronts the man and the two prepare to fight until the man chickens out and runs away, humiliating himself and leaving okinaro unfulfilled
Scene 2: okinaro thinks of his past and feels deep regret that has no release; he does a psychedelic and starts tripping, prompting him to return to his hotel; however, in port, he runs into the bragging warrior, who is wasted, and who, after a brief exchange of words, attacks okinaro; okinaro defends him and brutally kills the man in five blows; he staggers home
Scene 3: when okinaro wakes up, he has a headache, but he notices he also has three tails, and immensely more positive, he leaves the world to continue his wiyu training, feeling a lot stronger already
I wrote that outline ten minutes after completing the first draft of The Big Ugly. It wasn't until 4 days later that I got around to writing the story, and by then I had decided to change the first scene to have it be in a restaurant where Okinaro would be able to show off some of his trickster qualities better. The stuff with that bragging warrior was kept, although the warrior brags about somewhat different things in the actual story.
It is no secret that Okinaro is my favorite member of the Starchasers aside from Ledas, as I have written about him in numerous stories in addition to his Starchasers: Origins story. This story had the potential to be somewhat of a comedy, and that appealed to me. The trickster aspect was also a big reason for me to do this story to establish that part about Okinaro before he appears in Dragon Ball: Heart of the Dragon.
I began writing this story off-and-on throughout the day on December 29, 2020. I got up to the part where the first guy whose meal Okinaro stole came back to his table. I then spent an hour and two minutes the following day writing the remainder of scene one, all of scene two, and all of scene three.
I edited this story starting on April 8, 2020, after finishing the editing for The Legend of Upa. I did not do much that day, nor the day after, nor the day after that in terms of editing, but some progress was made on all three days. I finalized my editing of this story on April 11th. There were additions and deletions from the first draft, but nothing super significant. The editing process took me roughly an hour and forty-five minutes. It was difficult editing, but there were neither significant additions nor deletions coming from it - rewordings were more common than anything else.
There is some level of personal experience in this story. I could only write about the psychedelics, for instance, after having experienced them personally. This story is not all about that though - in fact, I would say, that's not even a major part of it. The main part is dealing with how people act, how interactions are formed. I spent a lot of time that night unnecessarily being nice to a guy who was tripping. I couldn't trip because somebody had to drive us home (me and my brother, who lived about 20 miles away from where this ways going on). That was me. I was the only one who considered the possibility that no one could drive home high. So I wasn't high like the rest of them. Then, he wanted me to drive him an hour back to his house. I did not drive him back to his home, many miles away, for that was never agreed upon beforehand; another person, the fourth in this scenario, insinuated that we would drive this guy home. Guess what, fuckhead? You don't get to determine that. You don't own our car. We decide what we do. He took the train to our location. He knew what he was getting into. I told him no, that I would not go out of my way on an hour-and-a-half round trip drive that I had never agreed to in the first place, but was somehow implied because the dickhead who set this up thought "oh your time isn't important, who cares about that?", and he had a big fit about it. Then, he got robbed on his train ride back. That's karma for you. When you come up with unreasonable demands, don't be shocked when they don't get fulfilled. I have no sympathy for him. That personal experience was very much in my mind when I wrote this story. My brother's friend who set this up is lucky that he wasn't fucked over harder, because as soon as the psychedelics kicked in, he threw us all out of his house. This is a guy who doesn't use deodorant and has roommates. He won't go far in life. Were this even so much as 3000 years ago, he would have been summarily executed for being a poison to the tribe, and rightfully so in my opinion.
But enough of this palaver. Let's get into the endnotes.
Story[edit | edit source]
In the summer of Age 608 Okinaro, the Unshriven, journeyed to the bustling trade world of Lipanto to satisfy the nostalgia harbored in his taste buds. Thirty-seven years prior, he had visited a crowded and very expensive restaurant called ‘Nindago’, and its meatballs had been, in the Inari’s humble opinion, the most delicious food he had ever eaten in his travels across the universe.
Being a wandering solitary warrior-monk, Okinaro was almost always hard-pressed for cash. When he required food, he flew to a planet (being able to comfortably breathe in space), and customarily hunted its native fauna, or consumed its fruit if he could find any. He was not above stealing, but he didn’t usually have to resort to that. Visiting a world such as Lipanto, which was populated by millions of Planet Trade Organization soldiers and civilians alike, meant that he would inevitably need to have plenty of space woolongs to do anything fun–that, or be a little clever, and a little cuntish.
It was always impossible to get a table. Last time, he’d paid for his meal. This time, he was too impatient to use gambling tricks to rack up a quick petty fortune, although he’d done that in the past. He had decided that he would use his wits to win him a free (and much too expensive, in the space fox’s estimation) meal. When he came back again, thirty years from now, the waiters wouldn’t be the same, surely. No one would remember him.
He got an idea as he approached Nindago, which was a little brick-red eatery crammed between a butcher’s shop and a souvenir store near the corner of the road. Snaking out to the street was a line of well-dressed and impatient aliens of many a species, bickering amongst themselves as they waited to be seated. Okinaro had to be quick, though that was no problem for the two-tailed fox of a man. He shot inside, not so much as disturbing the air around them so as to make them notice, yet not going so slow as to let himself be physically seen by the famished patrons.
Making his way past the customers lined up before the podium of the head waiter (a regal-looking Faerin), he turned left at the far wall and headed straight into the restrooms. Inside that foul, polluted zone, he spotted a caped Jolean shipmaster who was pissing to his heart’s content in the trough. That was when Okinaro got another idea.
It was entirely normal for the boron-based being to hear another patron washing their hands in that respectable establishment, or so he must have thought. The sneaky fox crept up behind him, his hands cupped with water, and, silent as he could, released it onto the floor. The man was still pissing. Okinaro had plenty of time to hide in one of the stalls.
And wouldn’t you know, when the Jolean turned around, he didn’t expect there to now be water all over the fine metal floors that the Planet Trade Organization so loved. So he placed his boot out exorbitantly for the circumstances and tried to take a step. Needless to say, the man fell, cracking his head on the floor and bleeding out some.
Okinaro licked his lips, closing his eyes for a moment, then opening them again, concentrating on the man’s appearance, the color and shape of his clothes, and how drunk he had acted when he had tried walking a few steps. Everything had been duly noted; the Inari was well-practiced in the art of deception. He exhaled, extending an invisible energy beam towards the unconscious officer.
All it took was stuffing the bleeding man in one of the stalls and locking the door. No one would notice for an hour or two, which would give him plenty of time to eat up. He exited the restroom some moments later, in the form of the pirate, and stumbled out to an empty table. There, a steaming plate of Nindago’s signature stilark meatballs in a bowl of Lipantian rice awaited him. Fortuitously, the drunkard had only taken a single bite out of it already.
He thought himself quite lucky, so he scarfed it down in one mouthful. He didn’t care if people stared at him–this wasn’t his body. As long as the drunk man with the concussion didn’t wake up in the next few minutes, he was good. Okinaro called over a Faerin waitress and ordered another bowl.
It hadn’t arrived before the indignant space dingo whose dinner he had stolen came running back to her table. Off he ran in a blur, disappearing as the hapless off-duty soldier yelled and shook her fist. There wasn’t much else she could do. There were no on-duty officers in the restaurant, and she was not about to chase after him while she was off-the-clock. He retreated to the restroom, for that was the one place he could stash the bodies without needing to vaporize them, which seemed overly cruel in his estimation.
Returning to the restaurant as an overweight Inovian with three chins, he was clearly no one at all, and no one should have looked at him sideways. He had tucked his furry tails underneath his tunic (leaving the mimicked lizard one out, of course), and hoped that no one would notice. Thence, he returned to the table he had been at before, where the second bowl of meatballs awaited him. The space dingo was over by the kitchen, furiously berating a helpless waitress. He could hardly believe his fortune.
The meatballs were delightful. It was a shame the pleasure of eating them was such a fleeting and tantalizing high. Seeing that the dingo wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, he whistled over a different Faerin waitress and ordered a dessert.
Near the end of the space fox’s meal, a man across the room got to his feet, cleared his throat, threw out his arms, spun around, and began speaking in a deep voice, causing the other conversations within the restaurant to come to a sudden and awkward halt. Exasperated, the off-duty soldier took a thirsty gulp from his glass of Enacir-imported beer and shook his head, as if he were ready to come to blows over this with the woman sitting beside him.
Okinaro didn’t quite know what to think, so, feeling a little daring, he ordered a milkshake to watch the events unfold.
“I’m a grand old thing, really, you know I am! Maschey, oh, Maschey, don’t do it. No, no, I am not going back to the hotel, get off of me, hag!” he said, slapping his woman away. He drained his beer, placed the empty glass carefully on the table in front of his embarrassed wife, and ordered another one in front of the entire restaurant before continuing. “I must say, it’s really pathetic. No one here compares to me. None of you pissants come close. I haven’t scanned anyone with over a power level of eighteen thousand, and I’ve been checking all night, I have. Hah! You know, mine’s forty-five? Bet that scares you lot.”
“Oi, shut up!” someone shouted.
He raised his fist, then thought better of it, smiling sheepishly. “I’m a gentleman, you know that? It’s not right to wreck this establishment. No, no. Classy place, this. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. You’re all lucky, cunts.”
Okinaro, being a boy, was most certainly not entitled to appraise country matters personally. He had liked this girl once–she’d been named Chihako and she had been a grade three Zenko. Only she had succeeded in their double-suicide attempt. He still thought of her sometimes. Afterwards, the space fox had been banished from Inan and discharged from the Ijo Temple over it, and, as if there had been some force of divine punishment involved, his two tails had been reduced to one (by which supreme force, he knew not). Since then, during his decades wandering the universe, he had gained his second tail back, though for what reason exactly, he did not quite know.
He had been about to gain his third tail–for wisdom, if he remembered correctly–the morning after he and Chihako were to commit double suicide. If only he had not gone down that reckless, romantic path, he would have had three tails almost three hundred years prior. Surely, by now, he would have four or even five. But one should not dwell on the failures of their past self, lest they become choked by bitterness.
As it were, his precociousness had seemingly run out. He yet had two tails, and that rather pissed him off. Gaining a third had seemed so easy back then; the matter was not so clear, or feasible, at present. To have some random Planet Trade Organization soldier lecture him at a time like this, when he was supposed to be on vacation, enjoying a delicacy, was beyond intolerable. That shit-mouthed man who had little to no control over his pride was about to get it good.
“Any of you cowards want to arm wrestle? No, no? Hah, bunch of recreants.”
Okinaro stood up, licking his cup clean in front of everyone (whenever he was impersonating someone else, he didn’t care how he behaved in public to an even greater extent) before setting it down. Wiping his mouth with a scaly hand, he said, “You’d break your arm if you fought me. I’m sure there are half a dozen others in here who could do the same to you.” He paused to look around at the others eating their grub, to make it extra uncomfortable. “So why don’t you shut up and sit down and stop making a damn fool of yourself?”
“You wanna fight?”
“Not at all, soldier.”
“Oh hahah, you’re a civilian, eh? Look at you, you tub of shit. I’m not afraid of you, I ain’t!”
“So what if I am?”
“Doesn’t make it illegal to fight. You a coward? I think you’re a coward! C’mon coward, show me what you’ve got.”
It wasn’t him–the others in the restaurant were glowering at Okinaro. How they had turned on him only made him more likely to do something brash. He couldn’t help but feel some level of peer pressure in that moment. Approaching the drunken officer, the Inari called forth some small measure of his power, being sure not to push himself too much. If he did, it was likely he would lose control over his shapeshifting ability. That could never be allowed. He did not want any of them to know who he was even if he wouldn’t be back for thirty years. Maybe three of these guys would still be around by then. He could risk that. He didn’t care if their scouters picked up the power spike.
They took their seats (the man’s wife being pushed aside to make room for the space fox), and a crowd gathered around them of officers and wealthy civilians with alcohol on their breath. A referee was chosen (seemingly at random) and commenced the game. Without so much as giving Mr. Braggadocious a moment of glory, Okinaro snapped his forearm. His tails might have popped out the moment he did that, but he hastily stuffed them back inside his tunic. He wasn’t sure if anyone had seen. Most likely not.
Not one of them cheered for him. That was unfortunate. Still, what else was he to do? It was a clean scam. That tickled him good, nonetheless. He wasn’t going to bitch and whine like Mr. Braggadocious was doing as he rolled on the floor, clutching his bleeding arm, the bone poking out near the wrist. Satisfied greatly, Okinaro collected himself, bowed, and disappeared in an explosion of light
Suffice to say, none of those drunken fools ever saw him again.
Some days he dreamed of her; some days he wished they had succeeded together. He was still a two-tailed Inari, as he had been that day, and try as he might, he had never managed to break past this hurdle. At one point, he had been a prodigy. Now, he was a pathetic wretch.
He missed her company. Perhaps if he could have gone back…
They served liquor. That made them classy in his opinion. Nyarin gin got him good and drunk, and around two hours later, he stumbled out of the bar in an elated, semi-euphoric mood. There, he found few welcoming faces, and a cold street at night. Lipanto was colder than he remembered. This was supposed to be summer, after all.
He got lost because that was the most natural thing for a drunk foreigner to do in a complex structured city that had been originally modeled some ten thousand years ago. How anyone had been so civilized back then struck Okinaro as odd. Nonetheless, their foresight (if it could be called that) led him down the wrong path.
Running down an alleyway, Okinaro, now returned to his normal form following his fleeing of Nindago, came face-to-face with a gang of dirty Joleans. They smirked at him and spoke in threatening voices, but were not too pushy, and indeed, for all the space trash he had encountered over the years, they were amongst the classiest.
“What are you looking for, furry?”
The question was casual enough. “That does not concern you.”
Their leader grinned, opening his cloak and revealing his inventory, which hung from the inside. “So you’ll want J’tartha then. Eight thousand space woolongs an ounce.”
“Good deal that,” one of his comrades hissed.
“Best price around.”
“You assume much, Jolean. I have no idea what this ‘J’tartha’ is.”
The green man was unmoved. “It’ll change your worldview, furry. Take it or leave it. We good for eight thousand?”
He sucked in a breath and went for it. “If you say so.”
There was a pulse in the air that everyone felt and that no one else understood, nor made a comment about. The dealer looked over the eight coins–silver thousand woolongs each that had been plucked from his pockets moments earlier–and deemed the transaction complete with a haughty look. He was almost too stupid for Okinaro to contain himself. He wanted nothing more than to make the fool aware of his folly. Alas, now he held a baggie of small green candy-like pellets (18 in total), and that soon became the sole focus of his thoughts.
“Don’t take more than four your first time.”
On the way back to his hotel, he ate ten of them. Nothing felt off at first. He was moving, acting semi-social towards those walking the moonlit streets with him. He knew where he was going. Then his chest started to feel light, and he felt good–happy, even–and the feeling was strange enough to make it difficult for him to react properly and with enough urgency in the environment around him.
Soon, colors started streaking. Lights became everything, turning into fractal patterns before his eyes. Still, if he blinked, he could see reality before him, dull and misshapen as it was. Okinaro knew that whatever those cursed Joleans had sold him, he had not been prepared.
Time passed too slowly, and at the same time too quickly. It was hard to keep up. He didn’t know what he was seeing–there were eyes in everything watching him now. He felt goosebumps rising on his flesh, and it felt good, not terrifying. Staggering down the alleyway, he noticed Mr. Braggadocious.
The old sappy sucker was getting a suck-off from an old friend, who bolted at the first sign of the two-tailed Inari.
Okinaro could hardly bark out ‘hello’ he was tripping so hard.
“Hey, you just cost me a lot of money, damn bastard! Hey!”
The colors and patterns were becoming overwhelming; he was more interacting now with the machine elves he could see popping up around him than with Mr. Braggadocious. “You started it, pal.”
“Hey, first off–I am not your pal. Take that back. The hell’s wrong with you? I didn’t start nothing. You came down here, startling everything, not me.”
“Whoa, back off, man.” The space fox did all he could not to trip. His vision had become filled with mostly greens and yellows, with some oranges and blacks added in, and some muddying browns splashed in the corners here and there. Every being he could see, having eaten ten of them, was watching him–some were just eyes–and were slowly moving in a rhythmic sensual pulse, like they were thrusting against one another slowly.
He had not the patience for it.
“Don’t tell me what to do, furry! I remember you from the restaurant. Uh huh, yeah I do. You were that fat slob that broke my arm. Civilian, hah! My ass. Look at those tails. They’re exactly the same. What’re ya, some kind of shapeshifting demon?”
Okinaro had been caught red-handed, and he didn’t really have much to say, so he asked the man, “Would you like to duel?”
The man’s face was drawn up in a wrinkly scowl that made his second chin dwarf his first in size. He massaged the outside of his cast. “You’re not worth my time, furry. You’re real scum. It would be like killing a bug.”
In a blinding flash of light, he approached Mr. Braggadocious and elbowed him in the forehead three times.
“Gah!” the man screamed in horror as he stumbled back, blood running freely out of his left nostril. “You–you di…”
He fell over, dead. Okinaro couldn’t exactly be sure, as everything around him was stretching, like he was watching a film roll of time. It didn’t much matter to him. He didn’t care about any of this. The candy was alright, but what, really, had it given him in the end?
For all his worth, the Inari made it to his hotel room, even with the shapes and colors popping up in his vision. Without reflection, he promptly collapsed onto his bed, where he fell into a deep and dreamless slumber.
Some hours later, Okinaro, the Unshriven, awoke. His head was killing him. Everything was so much greyer, so much tighter, so much more plain. He sighed, staring at the ceiling, thinking of her. His tails spasmed, and he shivered, feeling an unnatural tickling on his leg.
Looking down, the Inari noticed three tails, not two.
He wasn’t sure if he was dreaming, so he tried to put his finger through his palm. When he realized he could not, he jumped up, ran out of his room, and fled Lipanto before the local security force could find and question him about Mr. Braggadocious, because, as a wandering warrior-monk would know best, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Endnotes[edit | edit source]
- This story is named as such to reference Okinaro's trickster ways throughout it, which leads to him gaining his third tail. It is a reference to a lyric from "The Trickster" by Radiohead.
- Nindago will appear in Dragon Ball: Heart of the Dragon in one of the last few sagas (when Olivien and Chari are 15 years old) as a rival business to Olivien's space taco restaurant. I designed them with that entirely in mind, and they are only in this story because I wanted to explore a potential rival for Olivien (the owner during HOTD will be perhaps the great-great-grandson of the owner when Okinaro visited Lipanto in Age 608, and by Age 793, the Nindago will be a restaurant chain). Nindago itself is a pun on the Japanese word for meatball, "nikudango".
- Okinaro is not above stealing, and neither were the kitsune of Japanese folklore. Stealing will not result in his tails being removed, as doing so does not go against the core tenants of wiyu.
- Okinaro's original idea was merely to fly into the restaurant undetected, go into the restroom, then come out, pretending he was a customer already. It was only when he saw the Jolean shipmaster pissing that he got the idea to impersonate the guy.
- Okinaro could have easily knocked out the Jolean shipmaster. He used the water-on-the-floor technique simply because it entertained him. For a trickster, that is often the primary concern. Certainly, I would say this is the case with Okinaro.
- The Jolean shipmaster could have easily died from that fall. We'll never know if he did.
- Okinaro could have shapeshifted into the Jolean immediately, but it would be weird to have two identical people in the restaurant. People would ask questions. Hiding the man would prevent questions from being asked.
- "He didn’t care if people stared at him–this wasn’t his body." - this reminds me of how I sometimes try to do outlandish things in my dreams but they still feel real enough, even if I'm in some disguised body, that I get too embarrassed. I am not nearly as bold as Okinaro is.
- The waitress did not recognize that Okinaro was at the wrong table, which means that she was not the one who originally served the space dingo her platter of meatballs. That was lucky for Okinaro. Would've been boring to have him be recognized by anyone other than the space dingo in my opinion.
- "There wasn’t much else she could do. There were no on-duty officers in the restaurant, and she was not about to chase after him while she was off-the-clock." - she could have easily chased after Okinaro. This was utter laziness on her part. I would have chased after him were I in her position. That's wasted money right there, and he should have paid for it. She gets what she deserves by being so lazy. A lot of Planet Trade Organization officers are unreasonably lazy.
- Like kitsune in Japanese lore, when Okinaro transforms into any other being, he maintains his tails, which is rather inconvenient.
- I wonder what the space dingo thought when she got her tab later on, not knowing that Okinaro had ordered a second bowl of meatballs and a dessert. She probably had another screaming session with the restaurant's staff. Being an officer of Icer's, though, meant that she could have conceivably destroyed the restaurant if they had screwed her over.
- "It was a shame the pleasure of eating them was such a fleeting and tantalizing high." - this is why food is a worse comfort than most drugs, in my opinion. My old friend, Mr. Q, begs to differ, and that's one of the many reasons why I don't find him to be all that intelligent.
- The boasting man's scouter not picking up Okinaro's power level is confirmation that the Inari can suppress his energy.
- "Okinaro, being a boy, was most certainly not entitled to appraise country matters personally." - this part of the story, with three paragraphs about Chihako, was introduced through a stream-of-consciousness sort of way that was more emblematic of my style during the Ikigai period than at any other time. When the boasting man says the word cunt, it makes Okinaro think of women, and then immediately his thoughts shift to Chihako. That's not to say he thinks she's a cunt and not to say that he thinks she isn't. The Chihako stuff was added in here in order to show that he's not just a carefree trickster. He's got his problems too, some old scars that have yet to heal. It is also the reason he takes the psychedelic later on. He is feeling guilt for being part of the double-suicide attempt and also for being the only survivor. I think he would have preferred to have gone with her. The cruel reality of his situation is not something I think he will ever be able to make alright. She will never come back, and even if he falls in love with someone else (which is doubtful), he will always have lingering thoughts about his greatest mistake. A learning moment for him, to be sure, but just because he gained XP from the experience doesn't mean that it was worth it.
- I probably will never get into the specifics of why those who break the tenants of wiyu lose and gain tails. It is a mystical part of the Inari species.
- Chihako possessed three tails during their double-suicide attempt, and Okinaro possessed two, meaning that she was more powerful, wise, and older than him. So really, it was her fault. She should have put a stop to it, but she was the one who forced Okinaro to lose one of his tails, which set him back many hundreds of years in gaining tails. Additionally, since Okinaro was kicked out of the Ijo Temple and banished from his homeworld of Inan for his transgressions, it became much harder for him to gain tails. No longer did he have access to manuscripts, teachers, and the like to help him in his quest to achieve nine tails. That is a big part of why it took him nearly three hundred years to gain two tails, when it's usually about one hundred years per a tail for a dedicated wiyu practitioner who lives at a temple.
- I am not sure if Okinaro will ever gain a tail for the pillar of wisdom again. His second tail was for purity, and his third is for nothingness (as we shall discuss in the below endnotes). I am not sure how many tails I will give Okinaro - at least four, and probably five, but six seems like a stretch at this point. I know one of them will be for harmony. Both his fourth and fifth might be for harmony, but I don't know yet. The wisdom aspect might be closed paths to him due to his double-suicide attempt. He would have had a wisdom tail within a week's time when he chose to do the double-suicide, so that had major consequences for his belief system when he abandoned reason for madness.
- Had Okinaro not attempted double-suicide I think he would've been a five-tailed Inari by this point in time, and by the time of Heart of the Dragon, could have conceivably been at 6 tails, achieving a seventh during the events of that story. Because of what he did, he's essentially going to be penalized two tails, which massively drops his potential strength from what it could have been. This was a very costly mistake.
- I believe at least a few people saw Okinaro's tails pop out when he broke the man's arm, but it's no certain thing.
- "Suffice to say, none of those drunken fools ever saw him again." - if only the boasting man had been so lucky.
- The crowd turning on Okinaro was an unexpected twist for me. He didn't really do anything to cause it other than being grossly overweight and ugly in his shapeshifting form. Perhaps that is enough. Perhaps the others just wanted to be left to their meals, and drunken boasts were common in Nindago.
- I don't think Okinaro drinks much, but from some of the legends I read about kitsune, they do drink. One aspect I liked about that is that often they would get drunk and sort of reveal themselves to the humans. In this mode of thinking, I had Okinaro get drunk and sort of reveal a lot about himself from doing so. All of this is spurred on by him missing Chihako. Some periods of his life, such as in this story, he gets intensely nostalgic and sad about her being gone. Drinking the Nyarin gin was what put him in a reckless enough mood to try the psychedelic later on.
- Okinaro must have swindled some money to have paid for the gin, or perhaps he ran out of the bar before paying (less likely considering nobody chased after him).
- I tried to evoke a thin sense of wabi-sabi when Okinaro wanders the streets of the ten thousand year old city in the cold of night. I also tried not to go overboard with description for this part to keep in the spirit of that theme.
- I am sure the drug sellers noticed that they were missing 8000 space woolongs when they went home that night and counted their profits. Just a minor bit of trickery from Okinaro even at the end. Why should he have to pay for that stuff? They were the ones who forced the issue.
- Okinaro disregarding the warning to only take 4 pellets because he's a first time user is something I would do, perhaps to a fault. With psychedelics in general though, you cannot overdose, so no harm there. This is the case for J'tartha.
- The description for what J'tartha felt like was more detailed than descriptions of anything else in this story. They were somewhat based on personal experiences with DMT. Not entirely, though. This is alien shit.
- "The old sappy sucker was getting a suck-off from an old friend, who bolted at the first sign of the two-tailed Inari." - I believe the whore who was blowing him was not female, but left that vague enough due to Okinaro tripping on the J'tartha.
- "The space fox did all he could not to trip." - there is nothing you can do once the drugs are in you, though. Resisting the natural course of things is not very wise. Even as Okinaro is headed towards gaining one tail, he is far off from the category of wisdom at the same time.
- "Every being he could see, having eaten ten of them, was watching him–some were just eyes–and were slowly moving in a rhythmic sensual pulse, like they were thrusting against one another slowly." - I got the sense that this was the case with DMT, that the beings were somehow tied to the plants themselves, but they could've just been aliens too, who knows? I personally saw the beings who were just slowly moving in rhythmic sensual pulses, grinding against each other. The ones I saw were female and rather portly, but did not look humanoid.
- I realized when I was plotting out this story that the boasting man would not have recognized Okinaro disguised as an alien. That was the main reason his tails come out during the arm wrestling match. Also, a kitsune's tails popping out at an inopportune time is a trope in Japanese lore, so it felt appropriate and convenient to use here. Very much a multi-purpose move.
- The boasting man boasted one too many times, methinks. Hot air can warm the flesh, but doesn't do much to stimulate the mind.
- The most impressive part about this story in my opinion is that Okinaro found his way back to his room while high on the J'tartha. I think the reason that this was possible was because after he took the J'tartha, it dulled the effects of the alcohol, and as much as it made him visually hallucinate, that was less important compared to the way alcohol affects memory and judgment.
- The question of why Okinaro got his third tail will not be fully answered here, as it's too easy for me to just reveal every single aspect about my story. Two things I will say are: Okinaro stops using a disguise after getting drunk, boldly walking around Lipanto in his Inari fur, and he takes a practical view on the psychedelics - that they are nice and make him feel good, and perhaps help him not feel so depressed about Chihako, but they are not a medicine that will get rid of his longing for her. Taking those things into account, the tail that Okinaro gets is for nothingness.
I liked this one quite a bit on the re-read. The prose was perhaps the best of the first seven stories. The mixture of superficial not-so-serious prose with the underlying pain Okinaro feels about his dead lover was the most rewarding part for me to write. I enjoyed describing the psychedelic experience. All of the swindles that Okinaro pulls at various points were fun to come up with. I quite like tricksters - they are superior to heroes and villains for me - so working with that in the context of space fox's style was an interesting exercise to attempt.
<---- Part 131
Part 133 ---->