Racconti di Volpe
Short stories set in the world of "Ragazza Volpe Magica ~A Fox by any other name isn't as rhythmical~"
These are more character focused and happen during downtimes during the story.
A story about a boy who dismissed the magical creatures in his world until he had to save one
A Certain Girl's Dream
“Arlo! Come on, drink with us!”
“I’m not interested.”
“Arlooooo, come oooonn, you’re such a buzz kill.”
“Do I have to remind you who the designated driver is?”
“We can just crash here, take a load off man.
The blond-haired college student snapped the book he was reading shut, glaring at his completely intoxicated friend. His eye twitched ever so slightly as his friend smiled stupidly at him. “If you don’t need a DD, I’m going home then.” Standing up, the boy quickly exited the house party despite the protests of his friend behind him.
“What a waste of my god damn time.” He growled as he hopped in the vehicle. It wasn’t his car, but he certainly wasn’t letting his friend drive it home or more realistically, into the ocean.
It was another weekday night, and while Arlo Alonso didn’t have class until the afternoon the next day, he still wanted to get a good night’s sleep and for that he’d take the highway home. However, as he drove down the coast, wind whipping around him he happed to glance over at the ocean. It seemed especially tranquil tonight.
Living in an archipelago, the beach and by proxy, the ocean were unavoidable parts of his life. Arlo wasn’t the biggest fan of the island life, but in the same respect, he didn’t hate it. At any rate, maybe he could just relax and listen to the waves crash over shore for a while. For that, he’d take the next exit that came up.
With it being so late, the convertible he rode in on was the only vehicle in the small parking lot. Putting the roof back up, he rolled up the windows, then closed and locked the doors. You could never be too careful after all.
He walked down the small boardwalk into the sand below. The beaches were kept meticulously clean, even tonight was no exception. Not a single piece of trash was allowed to mar the pristine sands of the northern beaches. The same could not be said about the people allowed to come to the beach during the day however.
Walking the beach was as relaxing as he had hoped. The waves breaking on the shore providing the soundtrack to his late-night/early morning walk. The clouds obscured the moon, so it was darker than usual this evening, but it was all the more tranquil in that sense. He wasn’t sure how long or far he had walked, lost in his own thoughts. What pulled him back into reality was something laying on the beach. The boy adjusted his glasses, slowing his pace to a stop. “The hell?” He breathed out.
Stepping forward, the lump in the sand gradually became clearer to him until he realized what it was. No longer was this a relaxing beach stroll. Rushing over, he slid onto his knees next to a body. A girl with indigo colored hair, with teal highlights framing her face. Her clothes were plain, but the most telling feature about her was her ears, and the presence of a tail. Indigo cat ears with teal insides and a striped indigo cat tail, the underside of which was also teal.
“Hey! Hey!” The boy shouted, shaking her. “Fuck, I think she’s water element?” He looked her over again and again in a panic. He was no doctor, and this girl wasn’t moving. Arlo calmed himself. He wasn’t a medical professional, but he could do something. She was breathing, very shallowly, but it was there. He stared at her neck for a moment; a black collar hanging around it. His brows descended into a harsh glare; mouth set in a hard line at metal clasped around this girl’s neck. Shaking his personal thoughts aside, he re-focused on the task at hand. Avoiding the collar, he placed a pair of fingers on her neck and counted to six. “There’s a pulse.” He muttered to himself, gently removing his fingers from her. Arlo studied the girl’s overall condition. She was in rough shape. There were cuts and tears all over her clothing, but no visible injuries? That was strange.
The clouds parted at that moment, the moon shining through and providing more light. It was at that time that Arlo got a good look at the girl in actual light. There was something about her that felt almost calming. The panic from moments prior and the irritation from earlier in the night slowly began to fade. “I’m not leaving you out here.” He decided.
“I have to get to him.”
“I have to get back.”
“He’s in danger.”
Those thoughts swirled in her head as she fell through the darkness. It consumed her so wholly. She needed to get back to him. To him. To him? It was starting to blur. Everything was. All she saw was his hand reaching out towards her. Crushing her, striking her, pulling her. It hurt. It hurt so much.
Her grip on reality slowly loosened as it grew colder and colder. Everything was fading away, returning to zero. This was it?
Oh well. It wasn’t worth dwelling on.
Just when she was about to let the abyss take her away to an eternal rest there was a sudden, intense warmth. It was like nothing she had ever experienced before. She had to have it. From an early age she was discouraged from wanting anything, to just be subservient. But she wanted this. She wanted it so badly. She had never desired anything more in her entire eighteen-year life than the source of this warmth.
And then she woke up.
Her heart raced as she stared at an unfamiliar ceiling. What was this feeling under her? It was soft. She sat up, looking around. It was a small room she was in. Underneath her was a bed. So that was what it was like to wake up in a bed. She placed a hand on it, pushing it down and watching it slowly spring back up. It made her smile warmly.
The door slowly opened. Blue eyes met a pair of unfamiliar red eyes. “Oh. You’re awake.” The owner of the red eyes spoke. She took in the sight of the male standing at the doorway. He had long blonde hair, blackening at the roots; though it was kept in a messy bun. He wore a pair of glasses, a light brown cardigan over a red shirt and navy blue jeans. “You there?” He asked.
“Ah! Yes! I’m sorry!” She yelped.
“Sorry for what?”
“N-not replying in time.”
The boy blinked. “What.” He stated plainly, perplexed by the statement. The girl remained silent. “What is your name?” He decided on.
“No need for formalities. I’m Arlo.”
He approached the bed, which seemed to make Brooklynn a bit nervous, but she calmed down just a bit when he simply grabbed a chair and took a seat next to the bed.
“Where are we?”
“My apartment. It’s not the best on the island, but it’s a roof over my head, so I can’t complain too much.”
“How did I get here?”
“I found you laying on the beach. They wouldn’t take you at the hospital because I didn’t have your tuner. Fucking slime.”
“My… tuner?” She looked down at her hand, opening and closing it repeatedly. There was nothing there. She distinctly remembered having to pick it up after it was dropped before. “Ah…”
“At least you seem to be doing alright Brooklynn.” He noticed she stiffened as soon as he said her name. He normally wasn’t keen on such subtle changes or body language like that. This would earn a raised eyebrow. “Brooklynn?” He asked. She stiffened further and offered no further dialogue. His lips descended disapprovingly. She didn’t like him saying her name, he picked up on that.
“Okay, can I call you Lynn then?” He asked. She relaxed. “Th-that’s fine.” She nodded slowly.
“You have a maestro?” Arlo inquired.
“I do.” Lynn nodded. “His name is-” She stopped speaking, though her lips kept moving. Admittedly, he wasn’t the best at reading lips, so Arlo asked the pertinent question:
“His name is?”
He would watch Lynn open her mouth but produce no sound. “Ah… what? I can’t say his name?” She slowly began to panic. “Why? Why?” She asked repeatedly, starting to completely freak out.
“Hey hey, calm down.” Arlo reached out and placed his hands on the girl’s shoulders. Instantly her panic attack ceased. She stared at him blankly. There was this strange, calming presence that was almost radiating off the boy’s body. She had never felt anything like it. She slowly began to smile, completely relaxing as she was held in place.
Arlo released the girl and backed off slightly, unnerved at how quickly she calmed down. “Anyways, they put like chips in you guys or something. I’m sure we can find out who your maestro is so we can get you back to him.” He reasoned out. She nodded in agreement with that plan, it made the most sense. “Thank you for helping me Arlo!” She smiled brightly, catching Arlo completely off guard.
“C-cute.” He muttered under his breath.
“Huh?” She tilted her head.
“Nothing!” He snapped back quickly, turning his head away from the cat girl. At that moment a loud growling sound graced their hearing. Arlo looked at the girl who was holding her stomach, face paled. She fearfully looked up at him. “I-I’m so sorry I-”
“You’re hungry?” He asked. She hesitated before slowly nodding. “Can’t be helped, I guess. Come on, I’ll make you something quick for breakfast.” Arlo got up and left the room. Lynn sat in the bed, processing what was happening. She didn’t get reprimanded?
“Hey are you coming?”
Lynn sat at a small bar, watching Arlo cook breakfast. Whatever he was cooking smelled good. She figured that must be for him, making her wonder what she would be eating. After another few minutes, he dropped a plate of fresh food in front of her and went back to cooking.
A few minutes passed, Arlo still prepring his own breakfast when he happened to catch Lynn sitting completely still in front of the food, not eating. “What’s wrong?” He asked.
“Eh? What do you mean?” She tilted her head slightly.
“You’re not eating.” He pointed at the plate of food.
The girl looked down at the plated food, and then back up at the chef in question. “It’s for me?” She questioned. Arlo narrowed his eyes. “Yes. Eat.” He replied sternly, before turning back to the stove.
The cat-girl lowered her head. The food did look good, and he did say she could eat it. In fact, she felt he was annoyed that she wasn’t eating it. Eggs, sausage, and a biscuit. It was all freshly made and still even steaming. Grabbing the fork provided to her, she began to eat. Within the first sample bite, her eyes widened and she rapidly devoured the food she had been given, leaving the plate completely clean by the time Arlo had finished preparing his own food.
“I guess you were hungry.” He noted.
“Why are you apologizing?”
She paused. “I just…” There was no reply she could give, so she just hung her head.
“What kind of person is that maestro of yours anyways?” Arlo inquired before starting to eat his own meal.
“He’s really smart and kind. He makes sure to help other people. Oh! And he keeps me around, even though I’m not very strong.” She smiled as she spoke. Arlo’s eyes rested on the collar around the girl’s neck. It was slightly worn, definitely not new. There seemed to be a spot more worn than the rest of the collar. Then there was the state of her clothes, torn and ripped up in various spots. Though upon closer inspection they appeared to be fresh tears. Grunting to himself, he closed his eyes and resumed eating.
After cleaning up breakfast, Arlo got ready and headed out, with Lynn close behind. The cat-girl looked around in awe at her new surroundings as they walked along. In all honesty, it was similar to home in a lot of respects. The sun felt like it was just a smidge brighter, the grass seemed greener, and the waves splashed louder. “Where are we?” She decided to ask.
Arlo was about to question how she didn’t know, but then remembered he had found her washed up on a beach. “Salegio City, part of the Sierra Islands.” He replied. She stopped and lowered her head. Arlo noticed this and came to a stop himself. “Salegio City.” She repeated.
“Yeah.” He nodded.
“How did you even end up here?”
“We were running from a big scherzando and I got knocked into the sea.”
“Where are you from?”
The blond-haired boy stared at the cat girl. “Cantefino.” Now it was his turn to repeat a location’s name. She nodded. “Holy fuck, that’s on the mainland like a hundred miles away. You drifted all the way here?!” He exclaimed. She nodded. He pushed his bangs back with his hand. “For Marovo’s sake, even if you’re a water element, you’re lucky to be alive.” He shook his head.
“I guess so.” She lowered her head, deep in thought.
The two stood in silence for a moment, while the busy island continued operating around them. Arlo averted his gaze. “Uh, let’s keep going, the office should be close.” He muttered. Lynn slowly nodded; her gaze cast downward.
It was another ten minutes of awkward silence the sounds of traffic and tourism being the white noise that played around them. Finally, they would arrive at the local “Maestro’s Affairs” office. “Uhg, never been in one of these before.” Arlo grimaced, looking up at the sign that hung over the door.
“You don’t have a resonator?” Lynn questioned.
“No, not a fan of the practice.” He replied.
“What do you mean?” She tilted her head.
Arlo scratched his head, looking away. “We don’t really get many Scherzando on this island and most of the maestros I’ve met are assholes.” He looked back to Lynn who seemed hurt by that comment.
He waved his hands in front of himself, trying to think of something to say. “I haven’t met many maestros! So maybe I’ve just found the bad apples.” The boy made up on the spot. Lynn seemed to accept this at face value and smiled.
With that out of the way, the two walked in. Like Arlo had said, there weren’t may maestros present. It looked as if the staff at the desk were bored. Arlo looked around for some kind of indication about what he was supposed to do. With nothing blatantly obvious, he walked up to the front counter. “Excuse me.” He spoke. The attendant at the counter looked up from her computer. “Good morning, how can I help you?” She asked.
“I found this girl on the beach last night; we were wondering if you guys could help us find her maestro.” Arlo explained. The attendant stared at Arlo, then slowly panned her vision over to Lynn who stared back.
“We can have her scanned and find her registration data.” The attendant offered. “That’d be great, thank you.” Arlo nodded. “Just put your name on the sign-in sheet and we’ll call you up.” She pointed at the clipboard laying on the counter. Arlo went ahead and signed the paper in question. There was only one other person ahead of them, and two other names crossed out above that. Slow day it seemed.
Sitting down Arlo continued to look around in curiosity. It seemed like a pretty average place all things considered. Lynn just sat quietly; hands folded on her lap while she waited in silence. “You okay?” He asked. The girl jumped, slowly turning her head to Arlo. “Y-yeah. Just worried.”
“My maestro. I remember when I got knocked off the cliff, he was facing down that scherzando alone. I hope he’s okay.”
“You guys are loyal to a fault huh?”
Lynn remained silent; head lowered. In the short time Arlo had spent with Lynn, he had observed her ears were always folded back, except the couple of times she was startled or surprised. His gaze once more fell upon the collar that adorned her neck; specifically, the worn-down spot. Now that he was sitting closer to her, he noticed the worn-down portion of the collar was actually slightly stretched out. It made him uneasy.
His head snapped up when a new voice called his name. Looking over there was a man in a lab coat by one of the previously closed doors. Arlo looked to Lynn who just stared back. “Come on, he’s gonna help us.” He reassured her.
Walking over to the man, he greeted Arlo with a hearty handshake. “Good morning.” He spoke, he looked over to Lynn before re-directing his focus to Arlo. “I’m the chip tech here. You need her scanned?” He asked.
“Yeah, she can’t recall her maestro’s name, that and I would assume there’s like a database of maestros or something?” Arlo asked.
“You’re not a maestro yourself?” The tech answered the question with a question. Arlo shook his head. “Don’t need to be.”
“Well that’s fair, this island is plenty peaceful.” He motioned for the two to follow him. The pair closely followed the man into one of the rooms in the back. “Sit down here miss.” He motioned for Lynn to sit on the exam table in the corner of the room. The cat girl quickly complied with the request. The tech retrieved a small handheld device from one of the drawers and walked over to Lynn. “Lower your head please.”
She did as instructed. Moving her long, thick hair aside, he placed the device at the base of her head. He re-adjusted it several times but stepped away after a moment, frowning at the device. “Hang on, I’ll be right back.” And with that, the pair were left alone.
“Huh, I wonder what was up.” Arlo commented as soon as the tech was out of earshot.
“He seemed confused.” Lynn spoke up quietly.
The room fell to silence. A couple minutes later the tech returned with a second of the same device. Setting the first one off to the side he returned to Lynn’s side. “Head down again.” She complied once more without question. However, the process from before would yield the same results. “What’s going on?” Arlo queried.
“The chip’s not returning a signal. Are you sure this girl was registered?” He asked.
Arlo shrugged. “I dunno, I found her on the beach last night conked out.” He looked to Lynn.
“I was. I lost my maestro’s tuner when I fell in the ocean.” Lynn spoke quietly, recounting her self-perceived failure.
The tech looked over Lynn as a whole. Her clothes were torn up, but she appeared to be physically ok. His eyes fell on the collar around her neck, studying it similar to how Arlo had earlier. “What is your element and attribute miss?”
“Water-Healing” She replied without missing a beat.
Arlo raised an eyebrow. Healing? He had some knowledge of resonators from what his maestro friends had told him in the past, but he wasn’t well versed in the specifics, he usually tuned then out when they started droning on and on about the finer details. “Hmmm…” He set the second device down. “Can you both follow me?”
They were led into a larger room, one with huge machinery in it. Arlo was impressed with the equipment, but took a seat in the corner to avoid being in the way. The tech walked Lynn up onto a small platform. He affixed a mask over her mouth and nose and attached a wire at the back of her head. Arlo noticed the girl wince slightly when this occurred. Once the tech stepped away from Lynn a glass tube came down around her. A clear liquid began to fill the tube. Arlo himself shuddered slightly at the process. It seemed claustrophobic.
After a couple minutes of liquid filling the tiny chamber, Lynn was floating in the water. “So what is this thing doc?” Arlo asked the relevant question.
“It’s a diagnostics chamber. Since the handheld scanners couldn’t pick up the chip, we need this.” He replied, keeping his eyes on the computer in front of him. “Ah, just as I suspected.” He turned to Arlo, frowning. “We’re not going to be able to find her data.”
“Wait, why not?” Arlo asked.
“The chip was burned out.” He looked to the cat-girl. She had her hands on the glass, her eyes wrought with worry. “Would you mind stepping outside with me?” The technician asked Arlo.
“S-sure…” Arlo felt uneasy about this. He stole one last glance at the concerned girl before walking out with the tech.
“So here’s the deal: chip burnout can happen, it’s an uncommon phenomenon. Usually happens when the resonator is over-taxed. Since these chips not only hold data but transfer rhythm between the tuner and resonator, it can break after intense battles.” The technician told the boy.
Arlo digested that information. “It makes sense to me. She said something about fighting a “big scherzando” when she was knocked into the sea.” He told the tech.
“Yeah, the big ones are rare and scary powerful. I don’t know how much you know about battling, but maestros will go after the big ones because they have a chance of knowing Ossia spells, dual element spells. The only way of getting these super rare spells is to have them used on your resonator. It’s something that is really only a concern to competitive battlers.” He explained.
Arlo grunted, sharpening his frown. From the sounds of it, her maestro forced her into a battle with something way out of their league.
“At any rate, I’ll need to install a new chip and assign a tuner to it.” The technician said simply. “So there’s no way to find out who her maestro was?” He asked.
“We could look him up by name.”
“That’s a problem then.”
“She can’t recall his name for some reason.”
There was a brief moment of silence before the technician replied with: “Mhmm.”
Returning to the room, Arlo sat in his self-assigned seat and watched as the technician took care of the procedure. A few taps of the keyboard popped the old chip out. Or at least that’s what Arlo assumed happened. All he was able to see was Lynn’s eyes go wide before she went limp. A few more keyboard taps and the girl winced again. Needless to say it seemed like a very violent and concerning procedure.
“All done, the new chip is installed.” The technician told Arlo.
“Is she okay? That looked like it hurt.”
“The chips are installed in a delicate part of the brain stem. It allows instant transmission of data to and from the tuner.”
“Better than the old proto-tuners. Speaking of which, let me go grab a new one.”
Arlo was left alone with Lynn in the slowly draining tube. She seemed a bit out of it. Regardless, Arlo walked over to the tube. “Are you okay?” He asked, raising his voice a bit to make sure she could hear him from within the glass prison.
“Dizzy…” He heard her say. To him it was barely a whisper, but it was there. Arlo’s frown sharpened. As soon as the water could no longer support her upright position, the girl leaned up against the walls of the tube, her eyes glazed over as she blankly stared out into space. The boy pinched his lips as he began to pace, awaiting the technicians return.
And return he did, complete with a small cardboard box. Arlo watched the professional totally ignore Lynn’s condition and focus on opening the box he had brought in. Finally, Arlo decided to speak up. “Hey, are you SURE she’s okay? She looks an inch away from death.”
“She will be fine.” There was that clarifying word: “will” as in she wasn’t fine right now.
“Is this normal?” Arlo asked, a certain rapidity to his voice.
“Yes, quite.” The tech fired back without hesitation. Arlo opened his mouth to point out how awful Lynn looked right now, but the tech kept speaking: “Consider that we just yanked a piece of broken silicon from her head and replaced it with a functioning one. She’ll be uncoordinated for a while. She should be fighting fit by tomorrow morning.” The man spoke matter-of-factly; again, not even batting an eye towards Arlo or Lynn. The boy scowled at the man, before looking to Lynn who looked dead on her feet. It just felt wrong, subjecting another sentient creature to this torture.
The man turned to Arlo and held out a tuner for him. “Here you go.” The tech said. Arlo stared at the device, the clear shell showing the various mechanisms stored within. He looked up at the man. “Why me?”
“You brought her in, and as of now she’s a stray.”
“She has to have a maestro?”
“I mean, you could let her go outside but she’s quite domesticated, I doubt she’d be able to survive on her own.”
This entire conversation felt wrong. Sure, Arlo had heard the terms before, but actually hearing someone actually use it to describe a living person felt sickening. If this professional was using such terms to describe a resonator, what were those maestros doing?
He shakily grabbed the device; upon his skin making contact with the tuner, it lit up. Just the backlight mind you, there was no actual information displayed on the screen. The technician walked over to the tube and disengaged it, catching Lynn with one arm as she fell. He removed the mask and wiring that had been attached to the girl, finally he led her over to the examination table and helped sit her down on it. She managed to barely keep herself upright with her own strength.
“Okay, hold the tuner at the base of her head until you hear a beep.” The tech instructed. Arlo glanced down at the device in his hand. With a sigh, he stepped over to Lynn and held the device at the back of her head. After around thirty or so seconds, he heard the aforementioned beep. Pulling the device away the change began quickly and drastically. The clear shell began to lose its transparency, gaining a bright blue color, and the screen began processing all kinds of information before finally resting on a status screen:
Species: Demi-Human (Cat)
How easily the device displayed all of Lynn’s information was almost terrifying to Arlo, it even knew who he was just with a simple interaction like that. “This thing says I’m her maestro now.” Arlo pointed out.
“That’s normal since its your rhythm flowing through the device. The registration can be updated at any MA Office.” The technician told him. “Since you’ve never had a resonator before, I suggest you read the manual. I’ll leave it here. She should be good to leave in about half an hour or so. Take your time – we’re plenty slow here.”
And without allowing any further protest from Arlo, the technician left Lynn and her new maestro alone. “Sorry Lynn.” The boy spoke up after a moment. “Why are you sorry?” She asked. “I didn’t know he’d make me register you as my resonator.”
Despite Lynn’s senses being so dulled, she was still a bit shocked. She wasn’t used to receiving apologies. It felt nice being considered. “It’s okay Arlo, it’s just temporary until we find my maestro.” She managed to muster up a smile, her head swaying back and forth slightly. Arlo suddenly grabbed her, she was surprised by the unexpected touch, but relaxed as soon as he eased her down into a laying position. “Just relax for a bit. We’ll leave when you can walk back to my place.”
“Sorry Arlo…” She breathed out.
“Don’t apologize. You have nothing to be sorry for.” Arlo shot a glare at the machinery Lynn was just subjected to. “It’s not your fault they treated you like a slab of meat.” He practically growled.
While Lynn regained her strength, Arlo sat down with the manual that was left for him. The basic functions of the tuner were pretty useful. He could pass his rhythm to Lynn from an almost unlimited distance, as well as communicate directly with her. The tuner also boasted all the same features as his portable phone, which was pretty handy in his opinion.
Then he reached the section about the red button. Disgust didn’t even begin to describe what he was feeling as he read the booklet. He felt physically ill; nauseous even. This one section of the manual alone validated all his negative feelings towards maestros.
“Arlo.” He looked up. Lynn had propped herself up. “Are you okay? You seem upset.” He remained quiet. “Is there anything I can do to help?” She asked.
He closed the manual. “It’s nothing.” He decided on. “How are you feeling?”
“A bit better. I think I can walk.” She hopped off the examination table and immediately stumbled. In an instant, Arlo was by her side catching her. Her face reddened. “Ar-arlo…” She whispered, caught off guard by how fast he intercepted her. “Be careful.” He spoke gently. “Come on. It’ll probably be better for you if you just sleep this off.”
Lynn’s face grew redder as he wrapped an arm around her and helped support her weight. “Easy does it.” He spoke gently. The girl swooned, just enjoying the warmth Arlo provided.
Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.
This is more of an experimental piece. I wanted to show off bits of the world without cramming it into the main story somehow. I might do more like this?