TITLE: Kunitsu Eyes
GENRE: Epic Fantasy
Arekkusu’s mother was human, but he was born marked to be a Kunitsu, one of the strange half-animal creatures who walk though fairytale and legend. But unlike other children born with the Kunitsu mark, Arekkusu came from a family of magicians, and his mother wished to hide her last child from the monsters who would take him when he was three. She succeeded, and Arekkusu remained among humans until after his ninth birthday. Then he was found, and taken away from all he knew.
Since then, he has found an animal totem, Cat, who lives in his chest and advises him (though it insists on receiving credit, and not working too hard, just like a cat). He has learned to appreciate the beauty of the animal characteristics of his Kunitsu brothers. But he himself remains human in appearance.
On a mountaintop, at age thirteen, Arekkusu discusses this with his totem.
‘But he did not come. And you did not come. Everyone says that claws are the mark of a totem’s favor, but you don’t favor me at all. I look human, and I know human things, not like the others. Surely there must be an advantage for me somewhere?’
You have many advantages. Your abilities in dealing with humans raises your status. How many apprentices are called to report before the Elders? How many have advised the Ox himself, or walked with a human magician?
‘But you don’t favor me.’
You have my favor. Who helps you to leap, or to be up all night? And I have never failed in my good advice.
‘If I were with a human family, I would have a place, and know what it was. Why must I leave even memories behind, when you do not even care enough to give me claws?’
Cat was quiet for a very long time, and Arekkusu listened to the wind. When Cat answered, at last, it was in a very different tone of voice. I could not come. I could not find you, and the Avatar was asleep, and could not help. Now it is too late.
Arekkusu looked in horror at his useless hands, and asked, ‘Do you mean… Do you mean that I’m going to be like this forever?’
If I were able, I would have given you claws the moment I crawled into your chest.
Arekkusu put his head against his knees, and wept.