Topic: Bodhisattva  (Read 3330 times)

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FinnKaenbyou

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Bodhisattva
« on: November 05, 2009, 01:19:12 am »
Well, before I get back to working on The Case Files of Reimu Hakurei, I'll just stick this up.

I've felt for a while that the UFO cast have great potential in terms of fiction, and this is hopefully a good attempt to make something of that. Thanks to Ruro for basically giving me the idea, and giving the OK before I exposed the rest of the world to my work. :3

I'll upload it in segments. Hopefully it isn't too long...

-----

"I wonder why exactly I can't sleep tonight."

It wasn't often that Byakuren found herself looking up at the ceiling of her room in the temple, unable to keep her eyes closed. Sleep usually came to her naturally, but something in her bones seemed to be forcing her awake. Her intuition on these things was typically very strong, so the feeling unnerved her.

It was now, more than ever, that Byakuren appreciated Shou's insistence on standing guard outside her room at night. It was a meaningless gesture - Byakuren was far more capable of defending herself than Shou was - but the feeling of someone looking over her was enough to let her relax, if only in the slightest.

"Maybe if I focus on that, I might be able to-"

Byakuren's internal murmurings were cut short by the sound of footsteps outside. Far too loud to be Shou's, or even Nazrin's, and they were getting louder by the minute. She heard the sound of Shou gripping her spear tighter, pointing it at the assailant.

"You are impeding on the holy ground of Vaisravana. State your name and business."

Shou's voice rang out, cold and severe. The intruder's response was less clear, but to Byakuren it sounded vaguely like a yawn.

"Man, another pencil-pusher...outta the way. I got business with your boss."

She spoke with no sense of dignity or respect, and even from the vague silhouettes she could make out it was clear that Shou had taken offense. In the mind of the tiger youkai, this was an insult to her superior, and lethal force was necessary.

"You-!"

The spear lunged towards its target, aiming straight at the newcomer's chest. A sure-kill, impossible to dodge at this distance-

"What the?!"

Assuming, of course, that distance wasn't something you could change at will.

"See, now there's trouble for both of us."

The spear had been blocked by some sort of freak miracle, an overgrown scythe stopping it dead in its tracks. Shou started to shiver slightly.

"I...Impossible..."

The assailant took this chance to finish her target off, quickly slamming her knee into the youkai's stomach. Shou let out a minute cry of pain before she fell to the floor in a heap.

Byakuren's blood ran cold.

"'Kay. She oughta be somewhere in here, then..."

!!!

There was only one door in and out of the room, and it was quickly torn apart by a few expert slashes of the scythe. Byakuren unconsciously stood up and pushed her back against the opposite wall, adrenaline ridding her of any idea of sleeping.

The intruder kicked down the tattered remains of the door, stepping in with a bored look on her face. She wore a simple white dress with a blue vest on top of it, and her short red hair had been tied in a pair of pigtails. Of course, Byakuren was too busy looking at the overgrown scythe in her hand to notice any of this.

"You. Byakuren Hijiri, right?"

Byakuren nodded, and immediately regretted it. Whatever this girl wanted with her, it wasn't a good thing. The redhead pulled out a piece of parchment from her chest, clearing her throat before reciting it. The formal tone seemed almost alien coming from her mouth.

"A-Ahem. Byakuren Hijiri, you have been requested to meet with the highest of Gensokyo's judges of the dead, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu. You will be guided by her most trusted shinigami employee, Komachi Onozuka, across the river of Higan, after which you will-"

Growing more and more irritated with every word, Komachi eventually gave up, crumpled the note into a ball and threw it into some distant corner of the room.

"Aw, to hell with it. You get the idea. The boss wants to talk with you. Come with me."

...She wasn't sure who she had inspected the intruder to be, or what they could have wanted. Possibly one of the shrinemaidens, looking to beat her senseless to resolve some 'incident' of theirs. Perhaps the human witch searching for something to plunder, or maybe even a local god staking their claim for the temple's turf.

Whatever she had been imagining, there was no way it could have been any worse than this. This was the encounter she had been trying to avoid for centuries, and now it had forced itself upon her.

For the first time in years, Byakuren Hijiri was staring death in the eye.

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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2009, 01:20:13 am »
"W-Why are you visiting me? The yama judge the souls of humans, don't they? I am no longer among the unenlightened."

Komachi cleaned her ear out with her finger, uninterested in Byakuren's complaint.

"Lady, all rules have exceptions. And when the top dog herself tells me to haul your ass in her direction, I'm not exactly gonna throw the rulebook at her."

Her lip was quivering. She hadn't experienced this fear for longer than she could remember, and now it was coming back to her twice as hard as it ever had before. A nervousness trembled into her voice, something none of her followers would ever have expected from her.

"A...And if I refuse?"

Komachi sighed. If there was anything that pissed her off, it was the whiners. She'd dealt with plenty of people who'd begged and pleaded for a second chance, making the trip as long and irritating as possible for her. Those were the ones whose corpses she had sent to the Old Hells to be burnt alive in some sort of cruel vengeance, but that wasn't really an option right now.

She went for the next best alternative, stepping back out of the room and looming over the unconscious Shou. The scythe slowly started to make its way towards her throat, the moonlight reflecting off its amazingly sharp edge as Komachi's voice took on a new, darker tone.

"You refuse, and your big kitty friend here wakes up with her head that little bit further away from the rest of her."

Byakuren choked back a cry of horror. She had no doubt that Komachi's threat was completely serious - death was nothing to a shinigami, after all, and the scythe was now hovering barely above Shou's neck. The survival instinct that had helped her to live this long screamed at her to stay silent, to value her own life above that of one of her followers.

For the first time she could remember, that instinct lost out.

I can't...not after she went through so much just for me. What sort of gratitude would I be showing her...?

"...Alright...I'll come."

The words practically forced themselves out of her mouth, half of her still reluctant to say it. Komachi's brief stint of aggression came to a speedy halt, returning to her fatigued expression as she pulled the scythe back.

"About freakin' time. The blood from that would've taken forever to clean off. Now get over here."

She beckoned to Byakuren with her spare hand, and the monk slowly stepped forward. Every step felt like she was walking into the ocean with stones in her pockets, but it was her compassion for her worshippers that helped her to put one foot in front of another.

"...After all...life is just a painful cycle of suffering and death. Escaping it is what I want to do more than anything...right?"

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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2009, 01:20:50 am »
She had expected the trip to be longer, to be frank. The passage from the world of the living to the realm of the dead had a great deal of importance, so it seemed logical that getting there wouldn't be easy.

In truth, Komachi had simply clicked her fingers and they'd appeared next to the Sanzu River. It was amazingly anticlimactic, and for the slightest instant Byakuren wondered if she was blowing the whole thing out of proportion.

That was before she realised that there was still the Sanzu River to cross.

"And now for the fun part...get in."

The sarcasm in Komachi's voice couldn't have been more evident, and she practically shoved Byakuren onto the nearby boat. She followed on afterward, spinning the scythe in her hand and using it as a makeshift oar. The tiny wooden boat slid away from the edge of the river, starting on its journey to Higan.

Byakuren could see the waiting souls of the recently deceased staring at her jealously. Faces of the young and old, men and women, rich and poor, all looking in her direction with a common envy. She didn't have time to appreciate the irony.

"Aren't those people your priority? They've clearly been waiting on you..."

"And I'm on special orders to get you to the boss, so they can wait a little longer."

Komachi didn't bother looking back, casually raising her middle finger toward the vengeful ghostly horde. Byakuren wondered how few people must be wanting the job if this was Shikieiki's most trusted employee.

"...Wait. Special orders?"

Komachi nodded.

"Yup. You're gonna find this hard to believe, but she's had her eye on you for a while now. Ever since you showed up following that weird treasure ship incident, in fact."

Byakuren's head sank. She could tell from Komachi's voice that she wasn't being called in for a compliment.

"You've heard about the Sanzu River, right? They say that the more you sin in life, the wider it becomes as you travel across it."

She spoke as if it was idle chatter, but the words were clearly placed in order to make her think. She was a sinner - there was little point in trying to argue otherwise at this point. She had acted against each and every natural law of the world by granting herself eternal youth. It went against each and every religion in existence, but she had hoped that if she couldn't die she would never have to fear judgement for her crimes.

That hope had been dashed irreversibly.

"...Y'know, if it just came down to that, I wouldn't even be tryin' to get you across. A sin like yours would make the river go on forever, so I'd be better off just throwing you in."

Byakuren clenched her teeth. Was this a subtle threat on the part of the shinigami? Instinctively she braced herself in case her ferrier made an effort to push her off, but Komachi simply continued rowing.

"But it's not that simple. There's another clause to it as well - the more people are willing to mourn for you in death, the shorter the journey gets."

Komachi smirked as the monk looked at her with an expression of wonder.

"Guess a lotta people must care about you, 'cause we're here."

Byakuren flinched, and with a look behind her realised that the boat had indeed reached the other end of the river. She remembered the hundreds, maybe thousands of youkai who she had helped over the centuries, the individuals she had given her all to protect.

But...was it for their sakes? Or for mine?

Byakuren's immortality had come with a catch. If the magic that had granted her youth were forgotten, rejected by the world, then she would wither and die in an instant. Desperate more than anything to live, she had quickly turned herself into the closest thing the youkai had to a saviour, protecting them from the vile, unbelieving hands of humanity. They had undoubtedly been grateful to her, endlessly so, but it tugged at her heart as she considered whether their gratitude had been misplaced all along.

"Alright, get moving. It's a short walk to Higan from here."

Komachi nudged her with the blunt edge of her scythe, prompting Byakuren to stand up and take a step off of the boat. A simple, non-descript path surrounded by red blossoms was in front of her, beckoning her to travel down it. Komachi stayed in the boat, signalling that this was where they were to split up.

"Well, you were interesting to travel with, I'll tell you that. Have fun with the boss."

Slipping the scythe into the water again, Komachi waved Byakuren farewell, totally ignorant of the scale of her occupation. Then again, she'd been doing it for some time now, so maybe she was just desensitised to the idea of leading people to potentially be damned to the eternal pits of hell to suffer for all eternity.

...You just had to remind yourself. Well done.

Trying to clear her mind of the idea, Byakuren focused on this last stretch of the journey. Her feet touched against cold, hard stone, each step seeming to drain the light from around her. She didn't have the nerve to turn back now, so she continued stumbling forward as the cheery red blossoms took on a scarlet tint in the light's absence.

By the time she'd arrived, she could barely see her own hand in front of her face. She bumped into something, but all she could make out of it was that it was roughly the height of her waist. Running a hand along, Byakuren felt the smooth surface of wood.

"Welcome."

A spotlight fell from the heavens upon her, revealing her to be behind a witness stand. Light began to return to the world, expanding Byakuren's vision to reveal an extravagant courtroom.

And sitting in the judge's stand, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu looked down on her with an expression of absolute authority.

"Greetings, Byakuren Hijiri. I've been expecting you."

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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2009, 01:23:20 am »
Shikieiki herself didn't seem that threatening - short green hair and a pair of surprisingly bright blue eyes. Even the dark blue uniform of the Yama wasn't enough to make her frightening to Byakuren, but what shook her more was what Shikieiki represented. This was the confrontation she'd been running away from for eons, and she would have been terrified of it if the judge was Nazrin in a paper hat.

"I assume you realise your visit here is long overdue."

Shikieiki, not bothering to introduce herself, immediately got to the crux of the matter. Byakuren, too caught up in her own fear, found her mouth refusing to open and simply stood in silence.

The judge hit her rod against the stand, producing a deafening shockwave that threatened to blow Byakuren off her feet.

"I said, I assume you realise you should have come to me some time ago."

Her voice had a newfound severity and (above all) volume that caused Byakuren to stand to attention like a metal bar had been stuck up her back. Whatever punishment she was due for her crimes, clamming up now was guaranteed to make it several times worse.

"Y-Yes, Miss Yamaxanadu. I-"

"You will refer to me as Your Honour. Not Miss Yamaxanadu. I am a judge of the dead, and I expect to be treated as such. Are we clear?"

Every time I open my mouth, I make things worse.

"...Yes, Your Honour."

"Good. Now, what were you saying?"

Shikieiki spoke with the tone of a schoolmaster hearing a child admit to a petty theft or a school brawl. It made Byakuren feel horribly inferior, but she trekked on regardless.

"...I realise that I've prolonged my time among the living, yes."

"And not fairly, either. Indulging in black magic for the sake of self-preservation? You can hardly be more selfish."

Shikieiki quickly jumped at the first opening to break into a lecture. The judge's words beat down on Byakuren like punches, and she couldn't bring herself to deny any of it.

"And to further the matter, you exploit people left, right and centre to keep yourself alive. If I recall, you spent some time as a famed youkai hunter, correct?"

"...Yes, some time ago."

"And did you ever so much as pull a hair from the head of a youkai in that time...?"

Byakuren couldn't bring herself to look the judge in the eye as she responded.

"...No."

"No, of course not. You lied to every single human who asked you for aid, and chose youkai ahead of your own kind. A betrayal of the worst possible degree."

Byakuren felt like she was shrinking, getting smaller and smaller as she continued to be reprimanded. Desperately, she tried to produce some form of resistance to the yama's words.

"B-But Your Honour, the youkai needed my help! If I hadn't taken a stand they would have died out and-"

"Don't act like you ever bothered to consider that at the time. You helped them because doing so was what kept you alive. Nothing more, nothing less. Your apparent generosity was fueled solely by your greed."

Almost in unison with her own apparent shrinking, Shikieiki seemed to be growing by the second. Her eyes stared down at the stunned Byakuren, merciless, unforgiving and heartless. She felt her stomach sink as those eyes looked down on her.

"There is a famous saying outside of Gensokyo: 'The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason'. Looking at your history, Byakuren Hijiri, I can see no better example of this than you. To the humans, you were a hero whose promises were never met. To the youkai, you were a false saviour whose kindness was a cruel facade!"

Anger began to seep into the judge's voice, as her sheer moral outrage at Byakuren's crimes began to overwhelm her. The monk no longer had the bravery to speak up for herself, silently accepting her sins.

"Do you realise what legacy you've left behind?! Hundreds, thousands of humans and youkai who owed their lives to you and praised you! Worshipped you! And all of that faith goes to the coward who hid under the shroud of sainthood to disguise her own self-service! Think about that for a moment - imagine all of those people dying in their beds, going into the netherworld thinking they lived so long thanks to a con artist like you! And did you feel even the tiniest fragment of guilt?! Of course not, because as long as you stayed pretty for all eternity nothing else mattered to you!"

Shikieiki's eyes burned with a passion for justice, and she pulled no punches as she laid out Byakuren's shortcomings in front of her, then shoved them in her face for good measure. She could already feel the flames of hell licking at her feet as the judge took a deep breath.

"...I brought you here so that you could be judged for your sins. With the facts laid out like this, my verdict is clear - a liar like you deserves to suffer eternally for your crimes."

Byakuren was crying silently, scared to make a noise in case she further angered the judge. She had expected this since the beginning, since Komachi had burst through Shou to get to her, but she'd spent the whole time in denial, hoping that maybe there was something else happening. Now there was no avoiding it - she was going to hell, and there was nothing she could do about it.

Goodbye, everyone...I'm so sorry...

---

"...Or at least, it would be if that was the full extent of the facts."

"Hm...?"

Byakuren was pulled out of her own depression by the judge's voice. It wasn't the harsh, violent tone she'd used up until now, but something completely the opposite: something gentle, calming, like a mother tending to a lost child.

"What I said about you was true a long time ago, Byakuren. And based on those facts and them alone, you would most definitely be sent to hell."

Shikieiki stepped down from the judge's stand, walking over to the stunned Byakuren. She seemed shorter when she didn't have the stand supporting her, and it just made the compassion in her eyes seem that much more genuine.

"But somewhere, deep down inside...you changed. The years of working with the struggling youkai didn't go by without leaving some sort of effect on you."

Walking over to the witness stand, Shikieiki waved her rod in Byakuren's direction, poking at her forehead with it.

"And your reasons changed one day. You stopped thinking about yourself, and really did look out for the best interests of youkai. You stopped thinking with your head, and started to use something much more important."

The rod dropped slightly, now pointing at Byakuren's chest.

"Once, you were a false prophet. That is undoubtedly true. But in following that path, you experienced things that turned you into a true saviour of youkai. You corrected your own sin, and so I have nothing to judge you for."

Byakuren was silent for a moment, struggling to grasp the concept of being forgiven of her crimes. Her eyes began to well up again as she started on a response.

"But...what about the sin of immortality? Have I been pardoned of that as well...?"

"I am a kind judge, and am willing to overlook that shortcoming on one condition."

Shikieiki momentarily fell back to her more severe expression.

"You must continue your work. Aid those in need, those in peril. Give to others in spite of yourself, and all in all become a force for good."

Byakuren smiled, elated as she wiped tears from her eyes. Shikieiki's words had both revealed her crimes to her and exonerated her of them - a learning experience, as well as a weight off of her shoulders. As she continued to grin, Shikieiki was pondering something to herself.

"Hmm, I'm trying to remember now...there's a term for that, isn't there? A being who willingly accepts the sins and hardships of others out of compassion alone..."

Byakuren's distant memories of her time in the Buddhist temple flashed back to her.

"You mean...the bodhisattva?"

Shikieiki clicked her fingers.

"Yes, that's it, the bodhisattva."

The judge, seeming much more friendly now, put her hand on Byakuren's shoulder.

"Consider yourself Gensokyo's first unofficial bodhisattva, then. Do your duty well, okay?"

Byakuren flinched as the yama touched her, but she relaxed and accepted it as Shikieiki's way of being friendly. She was still slightly enawed, though, and her reply came out slightly stuttered.

"Y-Yes, Your Honour. Thank you for your kindness."

Shikieiki shook her head.

"Oh no, don't thank me. You've earned it. With all of those people out there who have so much faith in you, it'd be a crime for me to stop you from helping the world. Now, get out there and make a difference for me."

The judge nudged her in the direction she'd come, the lights revealing the path back to the riverside.

"Komachi should be waiting for you...presuming she hasn't dozed off again. Honestly, I have the worst taste in employees..."

Byakuren laughed a little at that, the judge suddenly seeming almost comical in terms of her subordinates. She waved the judge farewell as she made her way home, the faces of all the youkai she had saved over the years fresh in her mind. Knowing all those people had been grateful for her help, she couldn't help but look ahead to her new future with fresh hope.

But first of all...I need to return home. Shou will be worried sick by now...

-----

The case of Byakuren Hijiri is, without a doubt, a borderline one. A judge could potentially have fallen on either judgement without being accused of being unfair. Regardless, I feel that Byakuren has absolved herself of her sins - or at least that if she hasn't she will given sufficient time.

Perhaps she was not truly welcome in the court of Higan. This is a place of judgement for the souls of humans, and after her dabbling in the dark arts she was something else entirely. I expect to suffer some criticism for my decision to take time with her than with judging the souls of the recently deceased.

But I honestly feel that this time with Byakuren will be wholly beneficial to Gensokyo in general. Without her guilt weighing her down, Byakuren will do great things for both humans and youkai, leading them to better lives and inevitably better final judgements.

And above all else, in the end Byakuren was willing to put the lives of others before her own. She may have turned herself into something else to cheat death, but by being so willing to give to others while expecting nothing in return, Byakuren Hijiri proved that deep down, she was truly human.

Or perhaps...she has become something greater entirely.

~ Log of Shikieiki Yamaxanadu, Judge of the Dead


-----

Now to get back to writing Case Files. -_-

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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2009, 01:35:15 am »
Beautiful, man. Just great.

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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2009, 01:42:28 am »
;______;
Rou you're a fucking genius

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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2009, 01:50:43 am »
I don't usually say this about any fan fiction, but I did actually like this story a bit. I hope you'll keep working, Roukan.

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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2009, 02:23:46 am »
Wow. This is certainly one of the more thoughtful fics I've read. Nice job.
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Re: Bodhisattva
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2009, 03:44:46 am »
Yaaaaaaaaaay \o/

Shikieiki and Byakuren together was a dream come true~ Thanks, Rou.
 

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