Embers in the Wind
A Consideration Of The Kumiho As A Social Animal And The Implications Of Such A Phenomenon
Due to their intensely chaotic and sadistic nature it has always been assumed that the Marked of Kurama are a solitary, self-isolated collection of individuals. Their violent rampages and psychotic urges make them loathsome enemies under any circumstance, and the only saving grace we have is that to our knowledge Kumiho always act alone.
There are many reasons for us to find solace in this fact. Firstly, whilst they do not lose any of their rationality during and after the Turn, they lose anything that vaguely distinguishes them as a separate individual person. All dreams, desires, wants, personality traits, emotional connection and relationships with their fellow race disintegrates with their desire for blood and chaos. This is why upon turning they lose the right to their given name – becoming only one of the Marked or a Kumiho – and indeed by the time the change has fully taken them they appear to forget (or at least not care) who they are at all. This makes it impossible for the Kumiho to be anything but entirely self absorbed, driven only by their desire to survive and to torment.
Furthermore, whilst they retain the Kitsune ability to disguise themselves as well as an other magical abilities they had before they changed, the Kumiho capacity to keep themselves hidden is greatly limited by the need to conduct their sadistic tortures. Exiled Kumiho are regularly known to take up residence in other mortal settlements of one race or another, as it gives them easy access to prey. However, due to the escalating nature of their sadism inevitably their actions draw the attention of other residents, and they are forced to flee or be hunted. As such, a Kumiho can never be said to have a permanent “home”. Younger more self aware Kumiho travel regularly to avoid detection, but as they grow older and more powerful and their needs grow more and more all-consuming their capacity to remain hidden gets placed in greater and greater jeopardy. It is a sad truth and a sure blessing that the phrase “A powerful Kumiho is a soon-dead kumiho” contains so much truth.
It is for these reasons and a lack of any evidence to the contrary that we believe the Kumiho to be incapable of any form of society, and it is not an unreasonable belief. However, in our desire to reassure ourselves of the possibility of an organised Kumiho force we neglect to remember that society, and indeed civilisation, is not as easy as saying ‘the point at which most logic and order resides’. That is simply the society or Erehwon, and the Kumiho are distinctly not a part of that. Instead, a society of any sort is formed when a collection of relatively like-minded beings find it more profitable in some form or another to work together.
Given this it is surprisingly easy for me to imagine a scenario where multiple Kumiho of varying capabilities and degrees of power function as a crude, chaotic, violent sort of unified mass, governed by a leadership not determined by vote or by true ascension of position but by a power-stability balance, where the strongest Kumiho with the greatest grasp on their desires govern the antics of the others. Such leaders would function as targeters and watchmen, regularly cycling to provide even to themselves the chance to sate their needs. The overall effect could be best described as a twisted sort of social contract – those who do not lead under the obligation not to reveal the existence of such a group through their antics, those who lead under the obligation to protect the group from external danger so it could function efficiently. Such a regime would be utterly brutal in nature, for one who was not leading to reveal themselves would result in immediate death or banishment, and any leaders would be subject to a system not dissimilar to werewolf lore, should an “alpha” become too violent or incapable of controlling the group they need to be exterminated. Of course ,this set-up would lack any of the pack loyalty or sense of duty of a werewolf pack, but by pure rationale a wild Kumiho leader cannot protect them and must be put down.
Under such a system, Kumiho could be evenly distributed to the largest number of cities and settlements with the most prey and least likelihood of detection. They could be recalled and moved after a period of time, given a safe place to retreat to until the need takes them again, and have something we could not possibly dread more, and never believed they could possess – organised numbers. Such a situation is simply a logical step for the Marked of Kurama, and as all they have left to them is rationale and desire it is a possibility we must begin to recognise and prepare for.