A significant part of the plot revealed here. Luna learns about her real mother and the Order learns of her reappearance.
Luna finds out that she is in fact not the daughter of the woman who raised her. She is the daughter of a kitsune, hunted by the followers of the Order of the Pure Earth. Her adoptive mother gives her a tome and an amulet called an ishi and tells her that her birth mother will explain before leaving Luna in her attic bedroom.
Luna sits in silence as night falls. The tome lay in her lap, and the light spell she cast begins to fade, as had the sunlight. She lights a lamp as darkness falls over the room, and lifts the book from the carpet, carefully looking it over. It was definitely old. There was no title on spine. An image of a nine-tailed fox was etched in the hard leather cover. While the book looked mundane, a strange warmth emanated from the pages. She opens the book, turning it on its side and letting the leaves fall open.
What she found sent the already confused girl into despair. No words covered the pages. She turns a leaf. Nothing. Another leaf. Nothing. The pages were blank. She drops the tome and begins to weep. As she cries, she feels a hand on her shoulder.
"Why? Why is there nothing there?"
"The book holds more than you think, child."
"Hush, child, and listen. I am your mother, Alvula."
Luna turns to find a figure standing in the room. The woman stood like a human, with a humanoid body, but with a fox-like head and nine tails that swayed rhythmically behind her. Her ghostly form glowed with a pale blue, almost white light.
"I was being hunted by a group of cultists that call themselves the Order of the Pure Earth. You were still a kit. We cannot assume human form until we are at least a century old, and you were too young to hide in this way. I came across a woman named Amana. She was carrying a baby. A newborn, no more than a few weeks old. She wept, and I asked why.
"Her baby was dying. She had been ill at birth, and had not been recovered. I told her I could help. If I sent your spirit into her dying child, her health would recover, and you would be hidden from the Order. She agreed to raise you as her own, and she has."
"So, what happened to you?"
"The Order is powerful. If I were to hide as a human, their priests would be able to find me. I could not flee, as they are relentless, and their greater numbers would overtake me with time. I took an empty tome from the sundries store and left money on the porch. I drew out my hoshi no tama, my star ball, and stored it in the leaves of the book. I put my soul in this book, and waited for the day you opened it."
"If I'm in another girl's body, what happened to the girl?"
"The girl's spirit had already departed. That is why the child did not have the will to recover. With no spirit, the body didn't need to stay alive, and began to die. It is only by the strange machinations of fate that such a child would appear in my time of most dire need."
"Can I leave this body? Do I have a kitsune form like you?"
"You can, yes. And I will teach you soon."
"What will happen if I do?"
"The body will begin to die. Our earthly forms are only vessels for our souls. If no soul inhabits the body, it will lose its purpose and cease to function. It will not happen immediately, however. The spirit of the child whose body you inhabit departed while the child was still in her mother's womb. It had almost been a year when I met Amana."
"Could you not have inhabited another body yourself and hid from the Order that way? Could you have stayed with me?"
"No. A body with two souls would have been too obvious, as would a new villager so soon after they closed in on me. The questions raised if I began to raise another couple's baby would be too difficult to handle tactfully, as well. My only choice was to seal myself in the tome."
Luna sat in silence for a moment as she pondered what she had learned. Her thoughts were interrupted, however, with a sudden thump. Alvula's ethereal form dissipated, and the lamp on her shelf lit up of its own accord. She walks to the window and picks a rock up from the rug beneath the window sill. Having nearly forgotten about the events of the day altogether, she clears her throat and forces a deep bellow, "Who disturbs my slumber?"
"It's Wess. Just stopping by to say hello."
An awkward silence ensues, as the reply of the reluctant apprentice smith offered no opportunity for a skillful retort. He was five years older than Luna, served as Luna's oldest friend and confidante. "I found your bracelet. You know, the one your dad and I made with the leftover metal from the last shipment."
"Really? I didn't even know I had lost it." This was a lie, as Luna had left it where he would find it intentionally. Luna admired Wess, and when she was not learning magic from Amana or the smithing trade from Caesar, she spent as much time as she could with him. He was proving to be a promising warrior, and would give her gifts from time to time, when he returned from the city with iron and steel shipments.
"It was by the well. I found it when I drew up water for the cooling trough. Lucky, too. It could have fallen in if I wasn't the one who found it. I don't think anyone else would have been as careful with it."
"That's fine, but be a bit more quiet. Mother's asleep. Leave it in front of the cellar window. I'll fetch it tomorrow. And it better be there in the morning, or I'll drop YOU in the well."
"Okay, okay. You don't have to resort to such drastic measures, your highness." Wess leaves the bracelet on the ground and turns to leave, "See you tomorrow."
"What?" Wess turns back toward the window. "Didn't you just say to be quiet?"
"Can you get me a red ribbon? Not too wide. About a finger's width across. It has to be long, though."
"Sure. Meet me by the well tomorrow and I'll give it to you."
"See you there."
- - - -
"What news do you have for me, Paladin?" A robed figure sits in darkness on a marble throne. He wore a hood, and his face could not be seen.
"Grandmaster, I have received word that one of our former targets has reappeared." The man who knelt before the 'Grandmaster' was Mayko, the man who hunted Luna's mother before she disappeared without a trace.
"Which target. Even the sharpest minds can forget with time. Mine is no different."
"The kitsune. The demon has reappeared."
"The scryers say she is in Gaea. That is the village where we lost the trail. We are preparing to set out at once."
"No, we must be cautious. She is too smart. And powerful. We must entrap her. Find out what is important to her and use it against her. Send a Preacher. One of our most skilled."
"Yes, Grandmaster. Should I at least relocate to Umbranda? It is not far from Gaea, and will provide us with suitable resources and protection."
"That will be fine. Will you be looking forward to returning?"
"Yes. Yes I will. Very much."