You may not have heard his name, but if you've ever picked up a signed copy of a biography about one of Subeta's many celebrities, you'll be familiar with his writing.
Shadow Fox takes a fascination in the famous... and sometimes infamous... citizens of Subeta. He's fascinated by all those little details you won't find in the everyday Subetapedia. Why is Esmerelda such a fashion snob and when was the last time she actually saw her assistant? Just how many mismatched gold socks has Saggitarius carelessly tossed into the Quest Shop when he couldn't be bothered to properly sort the laundry? What does Hustler do with all that money tossed his way for a chance at a box that may contain a priceless weapon...or a malformed plushie?
Then there are the stories of the average Subetan citizen. Everyone from the up-and-coming Feli Sock Bandit in Centropolis to Average Arnold, an everyday popoko who took such a fascination with Angry Arnold after his first battle that he started his own worm farm on the shores of Veta Lake. The farm isn't too far from Fox's own splendid house on the lakeshore, the kind of cozy cabin where one can sit for hours staring at the calm water in summer or enjoy snuggling under a blanket next to the fireplace when it turns cold.
Fox wants to tell great stories from all walks of life. This is his passion. This is what has him out of bed at four in the morning, tail tip twitching as he waits for the coffee to brew, his paws hovering over the keys of his typewriter.
His constant companion and editor-in-chief is his best friend Moody, the Blues. The gorgeous little feline helps put his interviewees at their ease, purring softly as they stroke his incredibly soft fur. Moody knows good writing from fluff and will loudly vocalize his disapproval when Fox lets his excitement get ahead of his common sense. Sometimes the reader doesn't want to read about the bombastic death-defying trouble-maker who daringly swooped down to make off with a treasured pyramid of mozzarella and basil. It's enough to say a bold mallarchy made off with a slice of pizza at the Carnival.
Yes, Shadow Fox is an impressive author, but if you wanted to know the contents of his books, you'd be off perusing a copy. The story I want to tell you is about Fox himself.
We don't often think of great storytellers as worthy of a story in their own right. This is a mistake. The pivotal moment of Fox's youth is a heartwarming tale of a boy with a dream, a kind traveler and a whole lot of ice cream.
It all started in Arctic Frost with a disgruntled telenine pup who wished for more than sweeping floors in his father's shop. Survivors of the Ice Fields told such fascinating stories of ice walls that seemed to be speaking in a moaning language and huge white creatures with huge teeth and massive claws that seemed to have a particular fondness for cookies. He took to trailing behind his father's customers, hanging on their every word...until a rugged celinox took notice of his presence.
"Well, hello there. You're quite the little shadow, aren't you."
His father looked up from the register. "Fox, get back to work. How many times have I told you not to bother the customers?"
"He's no bother at all, Sir. I always love a youngster with a nose for adventure. Besides, I've never seen any but a feli move so quietly at such a close range. A real Shadow Fox, this one. Perhaps you'd lend him to me for the afternoon? I could use an extra pair of hands." The celinox held out a massive paw. The name is Begrand. I'm on a mission to see every square inch of Subeta within the year."
They went to look at the great conveyors in the gift wrapping center and to Vanya's workshop where a little toy kumos was in the process of transforming into a living, breathing pet. All the while, Begrand told stories of surfing the swampy cost of Shadowglen, exploring temples in the Sacred Lands and lazing on a barge near Shengui Guo.
Best of all, they stopped at Icy Goods for the most marvelous ice cream sundaes ever devoured by two hungry travelers. Fox got a mint chocolate chip with extra chocolate sauce and cherries. His friend made the flavor suggestions and he took to them like a tutani takes to water.
He never saw that intrepid celinox again but Begrand's nickname sprouted dreams in his head, dreams that would set him on the path to fame.
That isn't to say it was an easy path. Building a fan base takes time, as any writer will tell you. There were weeks he had to choose between keeping the lights on and eating. (A particularly bad memory is of nothing in the pantry but a jar of three-year-old pickles and a bag of stale salt & vinegar chips. Never a fan of sour food to begin with, he simply cannot tolerate the taste of pickles or vinegar to this day.)
He never gave up. He persevered. He achieved what many only dream, but never at the cost of those he interviewed.
Those with the best stories to tell will shy away from bells and whistles in most cases. It takes the subtlety of a shadow to bring out the best in a reluctant speaker and Shadow Fox never tires of using his persuasive powers to add a little more joy to the world.