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Chapter 4

The two arrived late, many of the attendees were already gathered in the main foyer by the time Alexis and her father entered the museum. Alexis silver eyes opened wide in wonder, the entrance way was packed with people, all wearing high-class attire. Dresses sparkled, the men wore suits and ties, and there were even those in traditional japanese kimono’s. Everyone seemed happy, chatting with friends, making connections and overall seemingly enjoying the Gala. This gave Alexis hope that everything would go smoothly.

Moments after they entered, Rin Rune spotted the two from across the room and quickly approached them. She wore an elegant red and gold dress that fell to the flow in soft waves, her straight pitch black hair was tied back and pinned in tight curls. She looked perfect in Alexis’s eyes. “You made it, a bit late.”

“Nothing new.” Wesley replied, giving his wife a kiss on the check and a wink to his daughter. “And you? Have you finally managed to relax a bit?”

“Are you kidding? My heart hasn’t stopped pounding since the first of the guests showed up. There’s still a lot to do.” Rin said with a laugh. “You look wonderful, Alexis.” She added, brushing a stray strand of hair behind her daughter’s ear, a look of pride on her face. “I’m glad the dress fits, that’s one less worry off my mind.”

“Thanks… ah…” Alexis opened her mouth, about to warn Rin of the threat Mio Anami had said. Her mother would understand, her mother would make sure whatever disturbance would be stopped. Yet, before Alexis could breath a word, the Minister of Magic council had arrived and Rin Rune was quickly waved over.

“Suki and Hachiro are around somewhere,” Rin said with a look back. “Just, don’t get into any mischief.”

“Promise.” Alexis said with a half-smile as she watched her parents enter into one of the many side rooms full of antiques and artifacts. With a sigh, Alexis headed in the opposite direction to look for her cousins.

Suki and Hachiro Takana were twins, and the same age as her. The three have been as thick as thieves ever since they were born. There were times Alexis envied them, they lived at the family shrine, and their father Tetsu – her mother’s older brother; was head priest. It wasn’t until the three of them entered Kitsune Academy did they begin to go their separate ways, but that didn’t mean they didn’t stop hanging out.

Alexis stopped in front of an exhibit; pottery from some past era that still held it’s painted image on the clay, when a shriek rang out nearby.

“Alexis!” Suki shouted, grabbing Alexis’s arm. “Oh my god, look at you. All fancy up like that. If we weren’t in some stuffy museum I’d say you’re trying to lure a man into marrying you.” She teased. Suki wore a new kimono, her short, shoulder-length hair was pined back with a shiny comb sticking out.

“Look at you, is that a new kimono?” Alexis asked, taking a step back to look at the design.

“You bet! Obaasan’s been hiding it for the past few months, but when this came up and we were given permission to come, it was pulled out for me. What’cha think?” Suki gave Alexis a posed. The kimono was made up of soft blues, greens and some purple. It reminded her of the pond by the Shrine during the winter months.

“It’s beautiful. Do you think Grandmother has one for me too?” Alexis asked, her eyes wide with anticipation. Obaasan did amazing work with fabric, and had made just about all of Alexis’s Kimono’s since she was a little girl.

“I don’t know. I’m sure she does, she’s probably waiting until the festival to reveal it.”

“Well aren’t you lucky to get your’s early.” Alexis said with a small whine in her voice. The two teenagers laughed as the moved off to the next exhibit. Hichiro was already there, dark eyes gazing at the tapestry hanging off the wall, he was also wearing traditional robes of a dark blue and black colour. Unlike his sister, Hichiro looked less than impressed at being here.

“Hichiro, why the long face? Don’t tell me your bored already.” Alexis asked, scooping his arm with hers, forcing him to follow her and Suki around.

“No, it’s not that.” Hichiro answered, his eyes seemed to search the room, looking for someone or making sure nobody was looking at them. “Father received a bad omen today.”

“Oh, Hichiro, not here, not now. And NOT with her.” Suki said with a stern, angry voice. “Alexis it’s nothing so don’t get wound up in all of this.”

Alexis didn’t pay attention to Suki and gripped Hichiro’s arm tighter. “What omen?” Suki seemed to be the only family member who didn’t want anything to do with the Shrine or it’s traditions. If anyone heard her, they would take her for a skeptic. It wasn’t that, Suki had her own gifts and talents, just not when it came to fortune-telling.

“He wouldn’t say, but made us arrive early to help Aunty.”

“Mio-san said something after practice today.” Alexis confided to the two.

“Mio is always saying stuff. Best not to listen to her.” Suki rebuked, not enjoying where the conversation was going.

“She basically threatened my mother because of this event.”

“Well, it was a high controversial issue,” Hichiro said, bringing the voice of reason. “The Anami family weren’t the only ones to have issues with certain artifacts on display. And with the honest history next to them.”

At that moment, the three stopped at a large painting of the legendary magician Katsu, dressed as a monk, fighting off a Chinese Dragon. It was just one of the so-called ‘controveresial’ artifacts that many in the magical society did not want displayed to the muggle public.

All three were silent as the took in the painting, the worn edges, and faded ink. Every once in a while the dragon in the painting moved, so did the monk. But the painting was so old that even the magical inks were weak and they could not move as freely as they used to.

“I saw the Fox Spirit again.” Alexis said in a low tone. “I told her about the dream.”

“You’re still having it?” Hichiro asked, sounding concerned. Alexis nodded her head as they moved on to the next artifact.

“What did it say?” Suki asked. Out of the three, Suki was the only one to not venture into the Fox Grove, or witness the Fox Spirit herself. Hichiro teased her their first year – which angered Suki – but didn’t push her far enough to go in.

“Nothing helpful… instead she gave me a warning. Said changes were in my life.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad. After all we’re in High School now.”

“It’s not that. When I told her about my dream, she said the younger man, you know the one who killed the older one, that I had to be careful of him, that he was dangerous to me.”

“Well… he did just kill a helpless old man.” Suki surmised in an unimpressed tone. “I wouldn’t trust him with anything.”

Alexis shuddered. “I don’t know Suki, the way the Fox Spirit spoke, it sounded like it was going to be something more… insidious.”

Suki laughed, though Hichiro looked solemn and thoughtful.

“Listen to yourself… Alexis, you’ve got to give all these vision and divination stuff a rest and focus on the real world. It’s going to drive you mad, if you don’t.”

“She might have a point.” Hichrio spoke in a soft whisper.

“Not you too. I thought you were on my side?” Alexis asked, feeling very defensive now that both siblings had turned against her.

“I’m not on anyone’s side, but you’ve been seeing the Fox Spirit a lot, and, you do know that it has a history of stringing people along. They are tricksters in the end after all. All I’m saying,” Hichiro said, before Alexis could open her mouth to contradict him, “is to maybe visit the Shrine and get an actual reading done by father or from one of the other Priestesses.”

Alexis’s closed her mouth tight and moved on, skipping several artifacts until she found a free bench to crash on. Suki and Hichiro joined her and their discussions turned to more entertaining and light topics. Once they managed to cheer Alexis up, they continued their rounds of the museum.

Chapter 3                                          INDEX