A generous kitsune donated toward the preservation of my site just at the beginning of March, around when the world and certain parts of my family decided to sort of fall apart to one extent or another. Enormous thanks to said kind individual! Your patience is appreciated to an extent you may never fully know. Quiction is never supposed to take so long to knock out. Indeed, it only takes half an hour or so. However, finding creativity in a universe where nothing feels solid and everything seems a moment away from tumbling into chaos is painfully difficult. Excuses aside, thank you, thank you, thank you, dear reader!
I turned about thirty different versions and approaches to this story over in my head before finding one that was as close to satisfactory to me as possible. It was very difficult to settle on one that felt right. Early attempts featured Coyote as a friend or antagonist to Lynx, others painted Lynx as mean hearted or simpleminded. None of the attempts rubbed me the right way. Hopefully this will function. If there is deeper lore you seek, my foxy friend, throw a question at my CuriousCat, and I’ll weave a bit more. I feel like this little tale doesn’t fully reward you for your patience and generosity.
Anyway! It’s fucking Quiction time, y’all.
“Tell me the old folk tale of how the Lynx, once known for having the most beautiful tail of all of the animals, lost the same.”
When Djenni made the animals, there were only a handful. She wrought them from the parts of the world which would become the center of their being. Yeth was formed from hard earth and grass, and his hard hooves carried the sound of thunder upon the land. Ruk, woven of charcoal and smoke, was the great bird from which all others were to come. Djenni molded hardened sap and shale chips into the first serpent, Nakalo. Fire and flint sprang into the form of Gurti, the dog. Tzenshi, progenitor of monkeys and men, began as clay and iron. And last, Djenni pulled her own shadow off and placed within it eight stars. When she breathed life onto it, the shadow became Anshi, the cat. After creating the animals, Djenni watched them go about their business.
Time showed Djenni that Yeth was swift, Ruk was wise, Gurti was loyal, Anshi was graceful, Tzenshi was clever, and Nakalo was lazy. The serpent drew her ire for this, and she spoke to him one day, telling him that for his refusal to use his legs no more than half of his children would possess any. So it was that Nakalo’s descendants now are divided into those with legs and those without. Nakalo, being as he was, did not care. Some of his children, however, would.
After long months had passed, Djenni decided to grant each animal a token of her favor. She called them all together and spoke to each in turn. To Tzenshi, she gave a strong tail—as long as he was tall—for grasping branches and moving through trees. To Ruk, she gave a tail just shorter than he was, which fanned out to help him navigate the skies. Gurti received a tail half his size and swished it back and forth behind him in excitement before turning himself in circles to look at it. Djenni provided Yeth with a tail one quarter of his length, made of many strands which caught the wind and shimmered in the sun. Anshi, her favorite, she blessed with a sinuous tail three times his length. Nakalo she gave a tiny tail which could barely be seen. He shrugged, uncaring.
With the animals complete and the world fully formed, Djenni called each animal to her tent alone and lay with them. She took Anshi the first day, Tzenshi the next day, and so on through all six—ending with Nakalo, who yawned halfway through. A day and night of quiet passed, then Djenni gave birth to the animals’ children.
First came the cats. Tigers, lions, jaguars, pumas, cheetahs, and all other felines or all sizes and colors sprang out from her. All bore the beautiful tail of Anshi, but Lynx possessed the grandest. Its length and supple splendor delighted even Djenni. Each day that followed saw a new group of children: the dogs, the hoofed creatures, the birds, the simians, and the reptiles.
Of the last, Snake was the most pitiful. Her body lacked legs and tail entirely; she was but a torso and head. Over time the other animals, particularly Tzenshi’s children, began to tease poor Snake. Man and Ape were cruel to Snake and she squeezed herself beneath a large stone to ponder her revenge.
From her hiding spot, she watched the two simians continue to cause problems for other animals. She saw them frighten so frighten Skink that his tail fell off and wriggled on the ground. As the brother wandered off in a fit of laughter, Snake watched her brother do something astounding. He took the twitching organ into his teeth and consumed it. A moment later, a new tail appeared on his body where the old one had been.
That night, while Man and Ape slept, Snake slipped up behind the and bit both of their tails off. Her stomach began to rumble and hurt, so she crept away to her rock again and fell into a fitful sleep. The cries of the simians in the morning roused Snake from her sleep and she poked her head out from under the rock. Man and Ape wept and ran about, searching for their lost tail. Chuckling, she poked out further and asked what was wrong.
“Our tails have gone!” cried Ape.
“Not gone,” Snake tittered. “Taken.”
Man shrieked “What? Who has taken them?”
Together the brother begged her to return them. She refused, citing their cruelty, and explained that she had eaten the tails and they would never again be seen. Sliding completely out from under the stone, she revealed the new tail that had grown from her rear end overnight. The brothers howled in anger and sadness, dashing into the jungle—they and their descendants would forever be enemies to Snake and hers.
One day, Lynx happened upon Snake and asked how she had come to have such a marvelous tail. Snake answered her, explaining also her reasons. Intrigued, Lynx looked back at her own tail and pondered for a moment. It could not hurt to try, right?
It did hurt to try. It hurt terribly. Biting through her tail, the cat nearly passed out from the pain. She managed to swallow it down and the pain was immediately gone. Where her long tail had been, it was again! She did it again, and again, and again. Each time the initial pain became less and less. After the fifth time, Lynx began to experiment. Her first thought was to see if she could influence the color of her new tail. She concentrated hard after swallowing and, sure enough, the new appendage was bright white. She tried a few more colors before returning to white and prancing off happily.
A few months later, winter swept in with bitter cold. Lynx traipsed through deep snow and bemoaned her aching paws and ears. She knew that if things remained as they were, she could not survive. Taking a short piece of her tail, Lynx swallowed and thought hard about her ears. An itchy rustle crept over her ears and the fur lengthened into two tall tufts. Delighted, Lynx immediately nipped off a longer chunk and concentrated on her paws, which grew large enough to tread atop the snow and thick enough to resist the cold. Another chunk from her tail thickened Lynx’s coat and another still coaxed ruffs from her cheeks. The cat was ecstatic.
One might have thought that such an act—casting off the inherited gift of the mother-of-all and changing the body that she gave birth to—should anger Djenni and lead the other creatures to turn away from Lynx. However, Djenni applauded Lynx’s wisdom to change what one must in order to survive. The other animals were amazed by the new form of their sibling. When they learned how Lynx had achieved her feat, some sought to make their own changes. Hare, for instance gnawed off almost all of his tail and conjured up strong hind legs and tall ears.
The new bodies followed the offspring of the animals down through the years to the present day. The magic of Djenni’s favor has gradually waned over time, but some still remains in Skink’s descendants. To this day their tails may come off and flop upon the grounds, yet grow anew.