My nastiest hangover is mainly the minister’s fault.

Unlike any usual stiff diplomatic, Minister Kagekamui is an outstanding man, with more secrets up his sleeve, than stars in the sky.

He catches me one winter night, at a poker table, with the foxes and the tanuki. It is the middle of my underground shift, and I’m supposed to be on the watch for rogue magical entities, not playing transformation poker with them. But it is such a beautiful night, and Consul Kitsune has his 31st birthday party. 

I bring enough food for a small army, the foxes bring the sacred sake. The tanuki contributes music, dirty jokes and stripping women. Let me tell you one thing: tanuki are disgusting. Never ever ask them to show you how they transform. The foxes are way more elegant about it. They outright refuse to show you.

We all aren’t entirely sober. We have had a few beers, maybe many more.

So the minister walks into the cave we glamoured into a makeshift disco. Instantly the air freezes. I try to stand up and bow, but fail miserably. Later he tells me, he is looking for some letters. Bogus story, I think he only wants to join the celebration.

Instead of firing me, he joins our game, and I’m more than flabbergasted. He even sings “Happy-Birthday” with the rest of us. Being his head secretary, I have never seen him perform magic before. Together we drink the best mouth-chewed sake ever and smoke some unique tobacco, the oldest fox has brought.

After the first two rounds, nearly all tanuki are hammered. They giggle uncontrollably, and the foxes try to cheat their way through the game. The minister transforms into me, copying my mannerism exactly. He spooks me so hard I lose balance and fall backward, feet kicking the air. I nearly take the whole table with me.

I remember laughing so hard, I accidentally kicked Consul Kitsune too, who slapped a snoring tanuki for it.

It is my turn to transform, and I’m so drunk, I get stuck halfway through. I try an egret but only manage to elongate my nose and get feathers everywhere. I wobble back in my chair, and Kitsune spits his drink out. The oldest tanuki squeals.

Then the sake kicks in, or it’s the tobacco, but the rest of the night is kind of a loud and fuzzy blur, with me dancing poorly, and coaxing the cherries into blossoming prematurely. I think I succeed a full egret transformation, judging by the number of feathers I have in the shower next day.

I can’t quite remember how I made it back to my usual form, or into my apartment in the first place. The next morning is terribly bright and loud, and I’m missing more than hundred thousand Yen.


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