The Children of Inari, Kitsune, also known as Fox Spirits, are the descendants of the Great Fox, and traditionally, seen as her hands in the mortal world, though each possesses hearts, minds, and a will of their own, making them somewhat similar to Celestials in nature, owing to their divine heritage - though most consider them a type of youkai.
With a reputation as both tricksters and faithful companions, They are noted for their powerful magical and spiritual abilities and exceptional intelligence. Though fairly rare, they are one of the most commonly encountered creatures with divine blood.
A Kitsune can appear in one of two forms - a fox, or as a human which possesses fox-like features (traditionally ears and tails). They can easily shift between the two forms. The actual sub-species of fox varies, though the most common by far (including Shinju are Jangese Red Foxes. Suzuka, as an contrast, is a Black Fox. A Kitsune grows in power and wisdom as they get older, resulting in them gaining additional tails as they become stronger, to a maximum of nine tails. In their human forms, Kitsune often are extremely attractive and charismatic, though being creatures with powerful illusion magic, they often change their appearance to play practical jokes. Using their illusion magic, Kitsunes often pose as perfectly normal humans, but prefer to remain in their natural forms otherwise.
Despite being spirit-beings and thus creatures of a magical nature, Kitsune are flesh and blood. In addition to their shape-changing abilities, they are often skilled with magic and thus make natural mages - whether using arcane magic, shamanistic magic, or divine magic. Stronger ones are able to wield Inari's divine fire, an emission of flame that manifests as violent plumes that erupt like a fox's tail, and are often called "foxfire" by onlookers. Kitsune are naturally skilled with illusion, healing, and divination magic, and powerful Kitsunes often serve as Advisors to a Village Elder or as oracles.
Kitsune are infamous for their multiple tails - as a Kitsune gets older and more powerful, they will grow additional tails. At one tail, they are limited to the form they were born in (fox or human) until they get old enough and powerful enough to transform themselves (typically, at two tails). The number of tails reflects not only the power of a given fox spirit, but its age and wisdom as well. Once mastered, their ability to change form enables them to change their forms on the fly. A Kitsune who loses a tail becomes significantly weaker; should all their tails be lost, they lose all their powers entirely; a Kitsune with no tails is extremely vulnerable. A Kitsune's tails, if severed, will eventually re-grow, but it takes several years.
Kitsunes, being magical creatures and blessed by Inari, can interbreed with many creatures, including most humanoid creatures and foxes - the result always being more Kitsunes. However, typically, only Kitsune over a certain number of tails (traditionally at least three) are actually fertile. What form the Kitsune was in at conception (for males) or at the conclusion of the first trimester (for females) determines what form the young (always more Kitsunes) will take (either being born in fox form or human form). They usually gain the ability to shift forms within about 50 years. A Kitsune reaches maturity in about a century, and, being divine entities, are immortal.
Perhaps fittingly given their divine patron's portfolio as a fertility deity, pregnancy for Kitsunes is short (often under 3 months), and multiple births are relatively common. A common belief is that a Kitsune will never have more kits in a litter than she has tails, but this has never been proven. Non-Kitsune mothers traditionally only have one child.
Though extremely rare, a Kitsune, rarely, turns against her divine heritage; such corrupted foxes are often extremely dangerous and exceptionally spiteful, fond of cursing foes and using their powers to bring ruin to those that displease them. These corrupted foxes become known as Nogitsune, and are as selfish and diabolical as any fiend. They can possess mortal beings with a skill known as Kitsunetsuki, though the drain of such an ability invariably kills its host in time. It was recently shown that even weaker Kitsune are not immune to such possession.
Kitsunes often call themselves "The Children of Inari," and they serve as her hands and eyes in the mortal world. It is said that they first were brought to the mortal world to act as her handmaidens, protecting the locals and intervening in affairs on their behalf. Others suggest that they were simply ascended from foxes in the long-forgotten past by ambitious and powerful sorcerers. Regardless of the truth, however, one thing is certain: Kitsunes have grown beyond their professed origins.
Almost all Kitsune continue to revere Inari, though a number do not believe that they are descended from her. Because of their professed divine heritage, Kitsune are often called upon to dispel evil beings (fiends) and many of them have lended aid to those who fought such monsters.
Kitsune are often presented as tricksters, with motives that vary from mischief to malevolence, and the troublesome Nogitsune do nothing to lessen these tales. Amongst dragonkind, they are thought of as threats - dangerously long-lived tricksters who never forget a slight and similarly grow older with age.
Jangese folklore is replete with stories of Kitsunes playing tricks on overly proud samurai, greedy merchants, and boastful commoners, while tales of the crueler Nogistsune involve them abusing farmers, monks, or poor tradesmen. The victims of such pranks tend to be the opposite gender of the fox spirit in question. The stories involve the Kitsunes using their foxfire to lead travelers astray, or to confuse them with illusions and portents. Many of these are done with a specific goal in mind, be it seducing the target, stealing something of value, humiliation of the proud, or revenge. Kitsune are rumored to never forget a slight and can nurse a grudge for centuries, even over something exceptionally petty. Similarly, Kitsune never forget kindness and strive to repay favors.
Kitsune are known for their dallying with mortals as well. Many tales in folklore involve a young human and a fox spirit becoming romantically involved. Sometimes, this is a case of the mortal being seduced, but very often the tale revolves around actual romantic attraction. In many of these stories, the mortal marries the fox, who quickly turns out to be a devoted spouse. At some point the Kitsune's true nature is exposed, and the fox-spouse is forced to leave by their beloved's jealous family.
In Jang, Rain falling on a clear day, or a Sunshower, is referred to as Kitsune no yomeiri, or "the Kitsune's Wedding," in reference to a folk story in which a similar weather phenomenon occurs. The event is considered a good omen, but warns that Kitsunes will seek revenge on uninvited guests.
A Jangese Katana known as the Kogitsunemaru, was purportedly built by a legendary smith under the inspiration of Inari and the Kitsunes. The blade features a nine-tailed fox engraved into the blade, and is currently on display in the Tairu Cultural Museum in Northern Jang.