A cold breeze wrapped around a frozen mountain range, picking up several loose flakes of snow and sending them into the air once more. One beautiful flake floated in the wind until it was abruptly stopped by a tuft of purple hair resting on the tip of a limp kitsune's ear. The touch of the snowflake made Nilya’s ear flick slightly in response as she sat on a rocky cliff jutting off the side of a small mountain trail, overlooking a vast snow-covered valley. The kitsune’s body was drooping forward. Her three fluffy tails lay motionlessly behind her. The only sign that she was actually alive was the white and purple-tipped haired snow kitsune slowly crafting a small icy bauble in her right hand. Her dull, joyless purple eyes stared at her work, trying to distract herself from the growing despair trying to consume her heart.
Memories of her recent harrowing escape filled her mind: the choking smell of thick black smoke, the heat from the fire that devoured her den, and watching almost all her belongings being incinerated by crimson flames. Once she escaped her burning home, she was faced with bloodthirsty eyes of the mysterious hunters. As she fled from them, Nilya could feel their desire to end her life. A chill ran down her spine as she remembered running and running, but not being able to escape. Her lungs burned, and her legs cried for a rest, but the largest hunter, a troll, was relentless. Try as she might, no amount of effort could free her from their pursuit. Suddenly, another gentle gust of snow-filled wind interrupted the recollection of her recent ordeal.
Snowflakes flew into the kitsune’s face, snapping her mind back to the present as one frozen piece of art landed on her nose, giving it a tender kiss of cold. Looking away from her creation, Nilya’s eyes widened as she saw the display that had formed in front of her: curtains of blues and greens filling the night sky, inviting a small smile to appear on the kitsune’s face. This was not the first time Nilya had witnessed this dancing show of lights, but this time was different. It drew her mind to memories of when she first saw them.
Nilya was very young and only had one tail at that time. Her mother had recently brought her to this strange land, and the whole time Nilya remembered her mother always looked so worried and stressed. Young Nilya would always try to cheer her mother up with games and pranks. Nilya rarely failed to help bring a smile to her mother's face when doing so. One night, her mother came into the cave they were staying in, excited without Nilya's assistance. She had the biggest smile on her face as she lovingly scooped up Nilya into her arms and carried her daughter to an overlook to show Nilya these lights for the first time. Nilya’s smile grew as she remembered sharing the wondrous view with her mother. Nilya remembered how her mother’s tails wrapped around her like a soft blanket as they stared up into the sky together in awe. Nilya’s own three tails slowly wrapped around her in an effort to feel a hint of that loving warmth again. Nilya then recalled some of her mother’s words from that evening, “Nily, in a world that often seems so cruel and ugly, its beauty like this helps remind me of the good and hope that is still in it. We cannot give up hope for a better tomorrow.”
Nilya’s expression shifted to a sad smile as she recalled the loving memory of her mother. It had been eight years since her mother’s life ended, leaving Nilya alone to fend for herself at the age of twelve. Those eight years had been lonely, and Nilya missed her mother’s company greatly. Times like this, Nilya felt like her mom was still watching over her. Viewing the shifting colors, Nilya decided that she would not let this despair consume her, and she would turn tragedy into opportunity. Unwrapping her tails from around her body and returning them behind herself, the kitsune decided she would create a new, better life for herself to honor her mother’s sacrifices for her. Starting tomorrow, she would do more than hide in a den and play pranks on others from a distance. Nilya smiled as she set her mind on her new goals while watching the beautiful scene unfold before her. The crysionist's icy star-like sculpture slowly rotated to catch the colors of the lights from various angles as the kitsune’s trio of tails happily waved side to side, mimicking the movement of the lights, as the kitsune enjoyed the demonstration in the sky.
Written by Nathan Sanborn