Elysium Lost (the backstory of the three bodhisattvas)I consider writing to be an art (even if I am not very good at it.) So I'll be posting chapters of Elysium Lost here.
Light of the World Abandoned
The title has a double meaning. Of course, Elysium (also known as the Elysian Fields) is another word for 'paradise,' so it's obviously a play on the title "Paradise Lost." However, Elysium is also an area on Mars. (It is the lightest area of Mars, explaining the subtitle 'light of the world abandoned.')
Throughout the story, there will be hints of the world they're living on being Mars. In the very first paragraph I indicate an abundant water supply, and NASA has stated that the evidence on Mars suggests that it was once covered in water. (Though in reality the water was too acidic and salty to support life. [Though they can't absolutely prove that Mars was unable to be inhabited at the time.])
Anyway, this is the backstory of my three newest characters: Sin, the Judge, and the Storm. It pretty much starts from when Sin is a baby (though of course, there will be jumps through time, as Sin is actually about 50 in Town.) Feel free to comment between chapters, if you feel so inclined. ^.^
(The first chapter SHOULD be up by the end of the day.)
The world was at peace. Water was abundant, which meant food--both animal and vegetable--was copius as well. All manner of being lived together in harmony, even the intelligent races. War was something you heard of in fairy-tales alone. Though there were weapons, they were only used to hunt game. It was truly an utopian world.
Then came the drought. Demons and angels could survive such a trivial thing, but the humans began to die from starvation, dehydration, and disease. With humans dying in small villages, there were none left to resolve small disputes between the demons and angels. Fights began to break out between the two races. Demons would fight dirty. Angels began dying.
The rumours began to spread throughout the land of the death of angels by demon hands. Demons, who had always resented angels for their immortality--though they surpressed it during the Time of Paradise--would cheer as they heard of each new death of an angel. The angels began to hate the demons just as much. The battle raged throughout the world.
Light of the World Abandoned
Anatomy of a Soul
The smell of blood was thick in the air, as was the smell of fire. The last village of angels was being burned down. Cheering and chanting could be heard among the crackle of the flames. Demons were feeding on the cooked flesh of the humans and angels of the village.
Two darkly dressed figures snuck through the shadows, one leaning into the other for support. One had covered his head to hide his pure white hair, drawing a piece of cloth over the bottom half of his face to better hide his pale skin. The two were severely injured, the pale one was bleeding from a large gash on the side of his head, making it very hard to concentrate. They were nearly out of the village.
And then, they heard the cry.
It was like a knife had been run through both of their heads. The sharp scream was unmistakeable. There was still another angel alive. And it was just a baby.
"We have to go back, Wei," the white haired one stated, wincing at the pain caused in his head from both the baby's scream and his talking.
"It'll be dead before we reach it," the red-eyed angel responded, glancing over his shoulder at the majority of the burning village. "If we're to have any chance ourselves, we must keep going."
His blue-eyed twin shook his head in response, "Then you go. I'm going back." He removed his arm from around the shoulder of the dark-skinned boy and stepped away from him. As soon as he did, however, he nearly collapsed. His leg was bleeding, though not heavily, but it had been injured badly as one of the beams in the temple had fallen on him.
"Don't be an idiot, Qin," Wei said, trying to help his brother. However, Qin swept an arm out wide to stop his brother from nearing him.
"That child is begging for help the only way it can," he yelled, indicating the screams they could still hear from the village. "And it is our duty to help where we can!"
His brother was about to respond when another voice chimed in, "Well, well, what do we have here?" The two looked up at a figure much taller and wider than themselves. The light of the fires left deep shadows in the edges of the figure's body, but reflected brightly off of his teeth, including the sharp canine that was stained from the blood of his victims. "A couple of monks still living?"
He then noticed a white strand of hair hanging down from underneath the cloth that covered Qin's head. His dark eyes widened slightly before narrowing in pleasure as he grinned viciously. "Well lookit that, a tasty little piece of flesh still left to devour. I must admit, I wasn't looking forward to fighting for a piece of that tiny little ball of meat. You look nice and lean, too."
Wei panicked as the demon approached his brother and began looking around for something to keep the demon at bay. He saw a sickle lying nearby, caked with blood. He quickly reached down and picked it up before putting himself between the demon and his brother. "S-stay back," he stuttered, the sickle shaking in his hand.
The demon let out a burst of laughter that carried throughout the area. "Foolish boy, you would..." but he was cut off by the blade ripping across his throat.
"Wei," Qin stared at his brother in wonder and horror, "you killed him... Not only that, but you killed him when he was off guard."
"It was the only way I could kill him," Wei stated. He reached down with his free hand and pulled his brother back up off the ground. "The others would have heard him and come to look. The child is still crying. If we take the long way around, we might be able to rescue it." Qin smiled up at his brother with gratitude and the two made their way around the village, using the baby's cries to guide them.
When they got close to the campfire where the demons had set up outside the village, they gagged. Being monks, both were vegetarians and disliked the smell of cooking meat, but this was something even worse. The combination of the smell of blood and the smell of burning flesh was horrid. What made it worse is that they knew it was a 'who' and not a 'what' that was being cooked. Qin retched, bending over. His brother helped keep his hair out of the way, as the cloth had come loose revealing the long white hair while they were travelling. After Qin had settled down his brother helped him to sit and indicated silently that he was going into the camp alone. Qin seemed worried, but he woud only hinder his brother in any fight.
Wei got in closer to the camp. There was only one demon looking after the crying child, and he seemed to be enjoying the child's misery. The demon occasionally would put out his cigarette on the child and relight to do it again, just to get a higher scream. Wei scowled slunk toward the demon quietly, but he wasn't watching the ground. He heard a twig snap below his feet. As did the demon. The demon turned, standing, and stared down at Wei. He relaxed and approached Wei slowly. "Oh, hey, you Abhiraja's boy?" Wei's eyes narrowed at the assumption that he was a demon, but the familiarity had allowed him to get close enough to surprise the demon with a slash across the throat. The spray of dark blood spattered across his face as the demon fell, still holding the child.
"No, I'm the temple's boy," he replied darkly to the dying demon. He reached down and plucked the child from the demons arms, looking at it. His eyes softened as he saw the child. It had lightning blue eyes and pure white hair, just like his brother. The child cried in his arms and Wei put a finger over the child's lips. The baby stared up at him in confusion, but had settled down at the soft touch of the older angel. "It's all right now," Wei promised. "You're safe." He rocked the child as he walked back toward his brother. Qin smiled at his brother's gentleness toward the child. He then saw the blood across Wei's face and frowned with worry. "I did what I had to do to save the baby," Wei said defensively. He handed the child off to his brother before pulling Qin to his feet. Wei lifted Qin up in his arms. "It will be slow going, but if we're quiet, we might be able to pull this off. There's a river only a few paces ahead in the woods." He nodded forward, indicating the place he was talking about. "There's a dock not far down the river that should have a ferry at it."
He slowly began carrying his brother and their new companion through the thinly wooded area. They reached the river within ten minutes, but then Qin let out a cry of alarm, "Wei, look out!" Wei turned to look and felt his brother's body jolt as an arrow struck the lighter boy's leg. Qin cried out in pain from the sting of the arrow and reached to rip it out of his leg. His vision began to fog. It was at that moment that Qin realised he was about to die from poison. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes.
Wei stared, frightened, at the oncoming demons and as one struck out with a sword toward him, he stumbled backward and felt himself falling. Wei didn't know what was going on, all he knew is that he felt cold, but he wasn't going to let go of his brother. He blinked a couple of times and realized that he was in the river, rapidly flowing downstream. He could hear the demons yells fading. He clung even tighter to Qin and looked down to see how he was doing. Qin's eyes were closed, but he was still clinging to the baby.
Wei suddenly felt them hit something and instinct told him to try to grab on to the top of it before they were pulled under. He felt the object rock in the water and realized that it was the ferry that he'd told his brother about. Using all of what was left of his strength, he pulled himself and the other two into the boat. Qin was still breathing, but the baby was not. Wei quickly began to help the baby breathe, pushing on it's chest--though lightly compared to what one would do with an adult, as he didn't want to break the child's ribs. Soon the baby coughed and began crying again. He sighed in relief. Wei reached over to the edge of the boat and untied them from the dock, allowing the boat to drift down the stream freely. He didn't know how they had made it, but they had. He rested back on the floor of the boat, the only sounds he could hear were the rushing of the water, the babies screams, and his own breathing. But it was enough to tell him that he was alive. And it was enough to tell him that he wanted to be alive. He soon passed out from exhaustion.
(Created without picture for now as someone wanted to read it before he left for the day.)
Wei woke to screaming. Not the screaming of the child, but a voice he recognized, nonetheless. He sat up quickly and closed his eyes as he felt dizziness hit. "Qin," he called out, trying to find his brother despite the momentary blindness. Qin was in another room, obviously in extreme pain. Had they been captured?
A woman in a flowing blue gown rushed into his room right as his vision started clearing. She was human, but still had an almost angelic appearance about her. "Oh, sir, you're awake. Good. We were worried none of you would make it."
Wei scowled darkly at the woman, regardless of her gentle words and worried tone. "Where is my brother? Take me to him."
He began to stand, but the woman tried to hold him back. "Sir, you've lost a lot of blood..."
Wei looked up at her, wanting to be angry, but his teachings were holding him back. He, instead, pleaded, "Woman, your worry is appreciated, but not needed. Do you hear that screaming? That is my brother, Qin. I want to be with him. Now." The woman seemed concerned, but nodded, helping him to his feet. Now that his adrenaline was normal, he felt sore all over, but he still pressed on. The woman led him into the room where Qin was, screaming. He had five attendants, all trying to hold him down without hurting him as he thrashed around.
"Qin!" Wei pulled himself from the woman's grasp and stumbled over to the head of his brother's bed, where he knelt and placed a hand tenderly on the screaming boy's cheek. "Qin, what's wrong?"
Qin looked up at Wei, and Wei was shocked to see the look in his brother's eyes. He'd seen it all too well the last night they were in the temple. Priests had been tortured, women had their babies slaughtered in front of them. Angels were having their wings ripped off. And each gaze...each gaze had said, "Please. Please just kill me." Wei let out a cry of grief and rested his forehead against his brother's. Tears flowed freely as he fought two voices in his own head. One wanted to keep his brother, the other wanted to end his suffering.
"Qin," he whispered to his brother, who was trying not to scream as much as possible since his brother was so close. Qin continued to whimper and let out a scream when it finally got too unbearable. This happened several more times as Wei continued staying close to him, hugging him tightly. "Qin, be strong. This life is suffering. But if you die now, Qin, I'll be lost. I know it." He sobbed, clinging to his brother, "Please. I know it's selfish. But please. Hold on for me."
Qin shivered under Wei's grip, but then Wei felt the faintest of nods before Qin passed out from the pain. Wei stayed next to him for several moments, all of the attendants watching him silently, not sure if they should speak. Finally, Wei stood slowly and turned to them, wiping the tears from his eyes. "Tell me what's happening to him," he commanded in a broken voice that was barely above a whisper.
One of the attendants motioned him to the foot of the bed. Wei recalled slightly that night they fell in the river, Qin had been shot. The man that had motioned him over drew back the sheets covering Qin and carefully uncovered his wound. Surrounding the wound looked like dead flesh turning black, like gangrene. But, something looked strange about it's pattern. "It..looks like rose petals," Wei commented.
The attendant nodded, "Very few people outside of one family of demons know of this. My master told me about it. He grew up in a village near these demons. It is called the 'Black Rose Vine.' It is a curious poison that kills within a minute if it is not removed from the site of injection. I would assume that your friend survived its primary way of death because of the flow of the river over it."
"'Curious,'" Wei repeated, darkly, his eyes seeming shadowed. "You think my brother's pain is 'curious?' Tell me why he's not dead, yet, if this poison is so quick-acting."
"Ah, yes, well," the man stuttered. "That's the crux of the plant's power. Some say that the plant was created by demon magic, and that's why the demons are the only ones who know how to create the poison, and the fabled antidote. But if the poison is removed from the injury, then the person is left with the 'vine' part of the Black Rose Vine. It will continue crawling up your brother until the vine reaches his head. Once it reaches his brain, it will kill him."
"But how long does it take for it to travel," Wei asked, his face full of worry.
The man bit his lip and sighed. "One man was shot in the neck and lasted a whole month. He supposedly could withstand almost any pain. But..." the man glanced at the sleeping Qin, who still wrenched in pain. "I'm sorry. The pain never ceases. Most people kill themselves within a few days of being poisoned."
Wei stumbled back in shock and one of the attendants quickly reached out to steady him. "Days? Of endless pain..." He thought it all over in his head. His brother wouldn't kill himself. He'd agreed not to right before he passed out from this unending pain. And if the one man had lasted a month just from the neck and going up: how long, then, would Qin last?
"You said there's an antidote," Wei asked, desperately.
"None that has been proven to exist," the man apologized.
Wei looked over at his brother, silently. Tears formed again in his eyes. He tried to understand why this had happened to Qin. And then he remembered the reason they'd gone back. The reason his brother was dying. "Where's the baby," he asked, quietly.
"She's in the nursery right now," said the woman he'd first met. "She's such a little cutie," she offered, trying to cheer him up.
"She," Wei asked, glancing over at the woman. She seemed surprised that he didn't know that the child was a girl. He looked back at his brother. Qin had begged him to save the child's life. He said that it was their duty. Well, he would make it the child's duty to give her life to save other children, just as Qin was willing to give his life to save hers. He was going to raise her in a monestary and teach her the ways that Qin lived by. "May I see her," Wei asked.
The woman nodded and he removed himself from the grip of the helpful attendant, nodding his thanks to the man. She lead him down the hallway and he could hear many children laughing. Inside the nursery there was the baby and a gaggle of children surrounding her. One was tugging at her ear--though not hurting her--and another two at either wing. "She looks funny," and, "why are her ears pointed," resounded from the circle. Wei brought a hand up to one of his own rounded ears, slowly. It was very hard for angel children to make themselves look mortal, and as such--where he grew up--he was picked on, similarly. Though when he got older, the picking got more violent. He felt the ridge of his right ear. In his 'human' form, it was barely noticeable. But when he took on his angelic form, half of his ear was cut off. "That's enough," came his voice, clearly, as he stepped over and swiftly scooped up the baby.
She laughed and tugged on a strand of his hair. The children all looked at him with worry and confusion as to why they'd been yelled at. "We weren't hurting her, Mister," one of the children stated.
"Jin doesn't mind," another child said. "She was laughing, too."
Wei glanced over at the woman who was caring for the children. "You're Jin, I assume."
"No, Sir," the woman replied, smiling sheepishly. "We named her Jing, because of how quiet a baby she is--and we didn't know her name, since you and your brother were unable to tell us--but the children shortened it to Jin."
"Well that's not her name," he states pointedly. He then realized he hadn't even thought of a name for the child, himself. But with what he had to go through to save her, he knew the perfect thing to call her. "It's Sin."
(I suggest listening to "Too Much Love Will Kill You" by Queen while reading. It just sorta fits. [Moreso after the 'three-hundred miles away' bit.])
Cherish the Memory
It had been a month since they arrived at the hospital. Qin was conscious, and fighting the pain. He even had been able to tolerate it. The only time it got so bad that he passed out from pain was whenever he did any strenuous activities. He wasn't even allowed to help around the hospital. Wei had been missing for over two weeks. Qin was getting worried. Had his brother left him after seeing how much he was suffering? Wei was weak when it came to his twin. He may not have been able to watch Qin suffer.
There were some hints from the nurses that Wei might be out searching for a cure. But if that was the case, why hadn't he told Qin? Qin stared into the water of the fountain, looking at his own reflection. The left side of his face was bandaged still from the gash that had been inflicted on him that night. The attendant that had known so much about his new viral poison had told him that he would heal slower from now on. The poison stole too much of his energy. He still walked with a crutch due to the injury on his leg. He could, of course, transform and float everywhere using his angelic abilities; but that would be dangerous. They'd managed to keep the baby a secret, but demons were still heavily searching for any sign of angels. He stared at his new black hair. His own hair had been dyed to hide him. Some humans had blue eyes, so they didn't have to hide his eyes. The attendants had assured him that wherever Wei was, he would be safe, he looked more like a demon than an angel. Qin always smiled sadly at this. Wei hated being compared to a demon. Not only because demons and angels were exactly opposite of one another, but no one believed that they were twins, or even brothers. Whenever they said they were brothers, everyone always assumed that they meant brothers of the temple.
Qin wondered how many people were assuming that Wei was a demon, wherever he was. He didn't look human. Humans didn't have red eyes, just as they didn't have white hair. He smiled as he looked at his black hair again. He had Wei with him. All he had to do was look in the water and imagine his eyes were red. He reached down and touched the water lightly with two fingers, "Come back safe, Wei. I miss you..."
Meanwhile, three hundred miles away...
Blood splattered on the floor and the boy struck fell hard. He looked up at his opponent, breathing heavily, blood dripping from the edge of his mouth. His opponent grinned, displaying a pair of sharp canines. He was a young man with blood red hair and eyes. His pointed ears twitched slightly as he watched his sparring partner with that smug smirk of his. "Shit, Wei, I'm sorry," he offered a hand with a grin. Wei spit out the excess blood and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before reaching up and taking the other boy's hand.
"It's okay, Lokapele," Wei said as he was helped up. "I let down my guard. You warned me."
Lokapele laughed at his new friend, "You are so forgiving. Really, you act so much like a human. A normal demon would have knocked my hand away and tried to kick my ass from the floor."
"You know I was raised by humans," Wei replied, narrowing his eyes. He hated this pretending. He hadn't lied yet, which was against his usual code. The demons just assumed he was a demon, and treated him as such, because of his hair and eyes. When asked about his family he had simply stated that he didn't remember them--his parents had died when he was only about three, after all--and that he was raised by humans. Telling them that the humans had told him something about 'Black Rose Vine' had convinced Lokapele's family, the A'amakualenalena, that he must be one of their family. After all, very few humans knew of the Black Rose Vine. Now he just needed to gain their complete trust and learn the family secret of how to make the poison and antidote.
"Tell me why the words 'Black Rose Vine' held so much weight when I introduced myself, Lokapele," Wei said as he took a towel from the servant waiting on him to finish their spar.
Lokapele took his towel from his own servant and wiped the sweat from his brow before looking up at Wei and smiling. "In this world, there are only a handful of people that know of the Black Rose Vine. Each is connected to the Kualena family in some manner. You said that Ka'eo told you about us not long ago? He was Father's personal attendant. He retired about thirty years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if he recognized you as a Kualena. You do look a lot like Wainani."
Wei made a face at Lokapele. Wainani was Lokapele's oldest sister, and had practically raised the boy. "Are you saying that I look like a woman?"
Lokapele laughed at his supposed cousin. "Yes, kind of. It's the hair, I think. You really should cut it." Wei frowned, which only made Lokapele laugh more. "It was a joke, Wei. Lighten up. Damn, you're such a stiff piece of work. You really should take some time with one of the serving girls." Wei blushed furiously and Lokapele grinned, "You really need to learn to be more of a demon. Come on, I wanna give you something." He lead Wei down the hall, servants bowing as they walked past them. Lokapele paid no mind to them, as though they didn't exist. Wei smiled at each group of them. A lot of the servants were nervous about the attention.
Lokapele opened the door to a room where many women were gathered, chatting away. Their clothes were sheer, leaving them fully exposed. Wei blushed and looked to the ground, "Lo, I'm not..."
"Huh," Lokapele glanced back at his cousin with confusion, and upon seeing the embarrassment of the boy, he laughed. "No, no, not them. They're my personal slaves. What I wanted to give you is something relaxing, but not that relaxing." He walked over to a table and takes a small rectangle package from inside a drawer and tossed it at Wei. Wei, after nearly catching it several times, gave up and allowed it to fall to the floor before bending down and scooping it up, scrunching the sides a bit as he did so.
Wei looked down at the package in his hands and raised his eyebrows in surprise. It was a pack of cigarettes. "I don't..."
Lokapele interrupted him, "And now you do. You need to loosen up. Live a little. You've been acting like you belong in one of those human monasteries!" Wei laughed weakly at this statement. He sighed and pulled a cigarette from the pack. Wei then leaned in closely to a candle to light the thing. He coughed at the smell of the burning tabacco and tar. Lokapele laughed again, "Well, at least you got the guts to try something fun. 'Umnia, get my cousin a glass of wine. Faeqa, come here." A woman with dark hair and brown eyes approached the bar, preparing the two men some wine. Another woman approached the two. She looked absolutely stunning. Her hair was so blonde it was almost white, and her eyes were a sky blue. She almost looked like an angel.
"Beautiful, isn't she," Lokapele stated, raising Faeqa's chin to allow Wei a better look at the woman. "Her name was originally Malaika. But of course, with the angel hatred that has been going on among the other families, I changed it."
"Are you really an angel," Wei asked the woman. She bowed her head, not answering.
"Wei, you must learn never to speak to slaves except to order them to do something," Lokapele responded. "It isn't proper. The family will continue to look down on you while you still cling to the belief that humans and angels are our equals. We may favour a couple of them, like I favour Faeqa, but we never speak directly to them while other members of the family are around." He smiled, "And no, I'm not dumb enough to risk my family's welfare by hiding an angel. She is a half-angel, though." Wei stared at the woman without meaning to as he continued coughing, trying to get used to the cigarette. She reminded him of his brother. He missed him. The effects of the nicotine began to hit and he looked for somewhere to sit down. One of the other women saw the signs and brought a chair over for him.
'Umnia brought them their wine and bowed before slipping away into the gaggle of women. All remained silent in their master's presence. Lokapele allowed Faeqa to leave him. Wei took a sip of the wine and made a disgusted face. Lokapele smiled. "It is an acquired taste," he admits. They spent the rest of the evening drinking, smoking, and laughing at stories of the Kualena family. For the night, Wei actually forgot that he wasn't related to Lokapele, and all of his life in the monastery disappeared.
The next night...
Wei was woken as Lokapele shook him vigorously. "Wei, get up, come with me, quickly," he said, urgently. It reminded him of his last night at the temple when Qin had shaken him awake. But it wasn't just the words, or the way they were said. He smelled burning wood and flesh.
"Lo," Wei sat up, looking fully awake. "What's going on?"
"The Chanarong are attacking," Lokapele stated, pulling Wei out of bed and shoving a robe at him. Wei pulled on the robe, tying it off as Lokapele dragged him toward the door. "They don't know you're here, so you can escape if you go out the back."
"Wait, Lo, what about you," Wei asked, stopping. Lokapele tried to pull him onward, but he stood firm.
Lokapele smiled sadly at Wei, "I'm the whole reason they came in the first place. They found out about Faeqa. They're wanting to remove any sign of angels from the world. I have to stay to fight. It's my duty." A woman approached them in the hallway. It was 'Umnia. "'Umnia will lead you out." He held out his hand. In it was a packed backpack. "You may not be family, Wei," he smiled in a way that showed Wei he always knew Wei wasn't a demon, "but not all of the demons in the world are killers. Just remember that, huh, when I'm gone?"
Wei looked up at Lokapele, tears forming in his eyes as he took the backpack slowly. His brother might already be dead when he got back to the hospital, and now? He was losing the only other person he'd ever become close to. "Even though we've only known each other a little over a week, Lo, I want you to know that I've considered you my best friend." Lo smiled and winked at him before kissing 'Umnia passionately and shoving them toward the hallway that would take them from the castle.
(Well, due to my dad being home and being in a bad mood, I'm not gonna get to scan this picture with his computer tonight. So here's this chapter. Sorry it's short, but it wanted to stop right there, so it got to.)
Dead and Buried
'Umnia followed along behind Wei quietly as he lead her down the road. She seemed to want to say something, but it wasn't her place. As far as she was concerned, he was now the lord of the Kualena tribe.
They had stayed hidden in the caves near the Kualena castle until the Chanarong had left. Wei had ordered 'Umnia to stay in the cave until he returned. He was gone so long that she had worried that some Chanarong had remained. When he had returned, however, he was covered in dirt and seemed exhausted. "It's done. Come," were the last words he spoke to her before leading her out of the cave and to the road.
'Umnia followed Wei, watching the dark-skinned man with curiosity. He was so different than that night he and Master Lokapele had spent in Lokapele's quarters. He didn't smile. He didn't even speak. It was like Master Lokapele was the last link this man had to the world. Wei stopped and 'Umnia did so as well, looking up at the man. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the pack of cigarettes that Lokapele had thrown at him that night. He haltingly reached with his other hand to pluck a cigarette from the pack. He drew the cigarette to his lips and looked to 'Umnia with that sad smile that she'd seen Master Lokapele use so many times when he spoke to her and Faeqa about his role in the family. "Got a light," Wei asked. His voice sounded weak and broken, as though speaking was a foreign ability, now. She nodded and reached into her robes, pulling out a matchbook. He took the matchbook before she could open it and gave her an appreciative smile before tearing a match from the book and striking it against one of his nails.
We'll be there soon, Wei thought, taking a drag from the lit cigarette and contemplating both the smoke and his role in this world. Lokapele's family had adopted him without question. Why had he, an angel, been born to look like a demon? There had to be a reason. He looked down the now treed path. They were within meters of the hospital. He narrowed his eyes as he saw something flying toward him and heard a voice calling, "No! Don't go off the property!"
"Is that," 'Umnia said in surprise, quietly, "an angel?"
Wei's eyes widened as he saw the tiny Sin clearly, flying toward him, laughing. Chasing after him was one of the female attendants. Sin flew right into Wei's face and fell into his open arm. He held the cigarette away from her, staring down at the child in disbelief. He heard 'Umnia giggle behind him.
"Ah, Mister Wei, you're back," the attendant smiled at him. "Mister Qin has been asking about you. We had no idea where you'd gone." She offered to take the child from him, but he held Sin close to him. The attendant looked at him in worry. He looked filthy, and something seemed dead about his eyes. He'd also not said a word. He didn't even ask how Qin was.
So, that's how he knew Faeqa had angel blood, 'Umnia thought to herself. Wei turned to 'Umnia and offered her the baby. She took the child carefully. It smiled at her and reached up to play with her hair. She giggled again. Wei was a strange demon. He put the cigarette back to his lips and walked on, completely ignoring the attendant. 'Umnia smiled at his gain of propriety in status and followed along. The attendant watched the two head toward the hospital, stumped.
'Umnia was surprised at the beauty of the building, as they approached. It looked more like a mansion than a hospital. Out front, at the fountain, was a man who looked like Master Wei, but he was dressed in robes like a monk. The man looked up as Wei approached and his eyes widened. "Wei," he called, standing. He ran toward the other man. Wei seemed not to recognize the man at first, but then his eyes widened and his mouth was agape. The cigarette fell to the ground, though the strange man seemed not to have noticed it at all as he hugged the demon prince.
"Wei," the man laid his forehead against Wei's shoulder, tears running down his cheeks. Wei embraced him, as well, silent.
Two attendants came forward, quickly. "Mister Qin, you shouldn't," but they were too late. Qin grimaced in pain, clutching his brother's shirt in his hands as the pain coursed through his body. He let out a scream and 'Umnia stepped back, horrified by what was happening. She clung to the baby, who was starting to cry from the obvious distress. Wei held Qin, trying to steady him, unable to help him. He grimaced. He'd failed in his quest to gain an antidote, and his brother was paying for it. Qin passed out and Wei positioned him in his arms so that he could lift him.
"Master Wei," 'Umnia spoke, worriedly. Wei glanced at her. Without a word, he walked toward the hospital. Out of duty, 'Umnia followed, silently, carrying the crying baby. She rocked it as she walked, trying to silence it.
"Her name is Sin," Wei offered as he carried his brother into his room. He placed the fair-skinned boy on his bed, brushing the dyed hair from his face. "This is Qin."
'Umnia watched Wei as he placed a hand on the face of the other boy so compassionately. The man was not demon--he had blue eyes--but he looked eerily like her master. Had Wei fallen in love with the boy? It was not uncommon for demons to take same-sex partners. Her eyes widened in realization. He had said, when Lokapele had brought him into the room, that he wasn't interested.
"Leave. Take the baby to the nursery. Find yourself a room if you insist on staying," Wei said, coldly, not turning to 'Umnia. His attention was fully on Qin. 'Umnia bowed to her lord and followed his command. Wei removed the backpack from his shoulder and placed it gently on the floor. He reached in carefully. "Qin, Lokapele sent you a gift," he stated to the unconscious boy as he lifted a potted rosebush with black buds on it from the bag. He placed it on the table beside his brother.
(Another short one. Fits best with "The Great Pretender" [Queen]--yes, I have decided the brothers are all based on Queen songs.)
Over the next several weeks, Qin was locked in his room, working diligently to find a cure for himself. He was an excellent herbalist, so if anyone could find a cure, it would be Qin. Wei was out training in the yard, daily. He didn't have a sparring partner anymore, so he beat against a tree. Qin looked up from his work bench to look out of his window. He watched Wei as he pulled out a cigarette from his pack and lit up. Qin sighed. His brother barely talked anymore--even to Qin--and he'd apparently taken to sinning. Qin wondered where Wei had gone during his absence--and what had happened--to make his twin act like this.
Wei stopped and looked up toward Qin's room. Qin blushed at being caught and looked back down at his work. 'Umnia quickly brought Wei his towel and Wei took it, patting down his forehead. He threw the towel onto his shoulder and walked back toward the hospital, 'Umnia on his heels. Que glanced up to watch her. 'Umnia had become Sin's new guardian, and Wei's new slave. She was like a shadow to Wei. "Why, Wei," he asked, quietly, as he watched the two until they were out of sight. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door and before he could respond, Wei entered. 'Umnia didn't follow. She'd been expressly forbidden to do so. Instead, she took Sin back to her room to get some playtime in.
Wei sat on the edge of his brother's desk, smiling at him. "I saw you watching me," he said, trying to reassure his brother that he was doing okay by smiling and speaking. "You know," he laughed, obviously trying too hard, "'Umnia thinks you and I are lovers. I overheard her speaking to one of the attendants."
His brother looked up at him, "You don't have to try so hard, Wei." Wei looked completely taken aback by Qin's statement. Qin smiled sadly, "I'm fine. I'll stay alive for you. You don't have to worry." Wei lowered his gaze, smiling weakly. "Wei, please tell me how you got the plant. And why you're acting so strangely...you've been smoking. And drinking. And you've been treating the attendants like they're invisible!"
"Hn," Wei responded, looking away.
Qin looked at his brother in worry. "Wei, what happened out there? You won't even talk to me anymore. We used to be brothers. But now you treat me like a stranger."
Wei stood and headed for the door. He didn't want to tell his brother that he'd become best friends with the prince of the family that had shot him with that deadly arrow. Qin jumped up from his chair and grabbed Wei's hand. "Wei!" Wei tensed under his grip. He gritted his teeth, closing his eyes tightly, and bowed his head. "Wei, talk to me...you're not acting right. You're barely acting like yourself at all."
"The Wei you knew is dead," Wei stated as he pulled his arm from the other boy's grip. He looked back at Qin--who seemed horrified by Wei's action--his red eyes piercing the other boy. Wei's lip curled up in a sneer, revealing sharp canines, only startling his brother more. "He died the same night you did." Wei looked away from his brother, grimacing at his coldness. He wanted to sever his ties with his more innocent brother. The truth was, he wanted to be hurt. He wanted to die. He was the one that was supposed to take that arrow. If only he had, none of this would have ever happened. Wei had convinced himself that he was bad luck. He was a demon, after all. He had destroyed his brother's life, and Lokapele's. Everything he touched died. Why couldn't he?
Qin stared at his brother, unable to speak. Why had he said that? It was true, they had changed a lot that night, both of them. Qin had become reclusive and antisocial, even before Wei brought him that rose. But Wei had decided, apparently, that because he killed out of necessity he was a demon.
Qin wrapped his arms around his brother from behind, hugging him tightly. "Wei, you didn't die that night," Qin said, softly. "You said you needed me, right in this very room. You said you'd be lost without me. Please, Wei, don't say you're dead. Don't become reckless. Even if your trip has changed you, I need you, too. I can't live alone. I'm not strong enough. But whatever it is that's changed you, it's made you stronger. I need that strength, to show me that there's still hope."
Wei turned his head so he could look at his brother. Qin looked down at him pleadingly and Wei sighed. "Idiot." He pulled himself from Qin's grip and turned to face his brother. "I couldn't leave you. Even if I wanted to." He smiled and shook his head. 'Umnia had a good reason to think they were lovers. They acted almost like it was true. He wondered if the legends about twins being lovers from a past life was actually true. Qin hugged him again, but Wei pushed him off quickly. "I need to get back to practicing. We should be leaving soon. There's no point in staying in a hospital when you're as healed as you're going to get."
Qin smiled and nodded. Wei hadn't told him anything of what he was wondering about. But he at least was talking to Qin again. And that was a start.
A week later, they were prepared to leave. 'Umnia asked permission to stay behind and aid the hospital. Wei had given permission. After all, he intended to take his brother to a temple. There his brother would feel more at home. Sin would be going with them, as well. He could hide Sin as a boy, but there was no way he could hide the busty human as a boy.
Wei smiled sadly at 'Umnia before turning to his brother and the baby. It was good that he was cutting ties with everything. Everything, but his brothers. He led the new family out of the hospital grounds and on to the next town.
Several years had gone by. Qin had become head priest of their new temple. He didn't hide his hair colour as he had at the hospital. Outsiders were forbidden in the temple. As were women. The thirteen year old Sin was beginning to develop into such. It had been Wei's job to teach the child how to bind herself so that she could remain a boy, as she'd been raised to think she was one. Luckily, angels didn't have the embarrassing issue that human women did once a month. Wei wasn't sure he could deal with that part of womanhood.
Sin had grown to be the perfect monk. He never spoke out of turn. He always did his work without complaint. The priests were already speaking of making him one of them. He knew every single sutra from heart, and would answer with wisdom whenever asked a question about their religion.
Even Wei had fallen back into the mundane work of a priest. Though, Qin had observed his brother sneak out to secluded areas of the grounds quite often. Qin would notice the smell of smoke on the winds not long after. How Wei continued to be supplied with cigarettes, Qin was not sure. Even though he was head priest, Qin would ignore his brother's blatant disregard for the rules of the temple.
Then, one day, another priest had caught Wei smoking. This priest--who had been one of those that had come close to becoming head priest when the much younger Qin was chosen--was sure that this was his chance to remove Qin from his place of importance. The much older priest grabbed Wei's arm and Wei's eyes widened as he looked over at the old man. "What the fuck is your problem," Wei yelled at the old man. He received a smart strike on the head for such a remark. The old man dragged Wei--yelling the whole time--to the high priest's quarters.
With strength abnormal of an old man, he thrust Wei forward. Cigarette still in hand, Wei looked up at his brother with a look of apology. It wasn't an apology for smoking, but of being caught doing so. Sin, who had been serving tea to his older brother, looked at his other brother in shock. The old man stated, victoriously, "Priest Wei was smoking in the courtyard."
High Priest Qin looked up at the old man with a calm smile, "And what is your point, Priest Hideo?"
Priest Hideo sneered, sure that he had Qin, now, "You favour him because he is your twin. But his actions are purely sinful. If you do not judge him accordingly, then surely you're not fit to be high priest."
Qin's smile widened, but he still remained calm. He took a sip of his tea before responding. "A wise man of the West once said 'You wish to remove the splinter from one man's eye. But first remove the plank in your own.'" Hideo was greatly offended by this and blustered, about to remark, but Qin continued, "Your want for a higher station has been obvious to us all, as it was to my predecessor."
"Your brother's sin is still obvious, despite that," Hideo snarled. "Do not change the subject!"
"Very well, let us broach this subject," Qin continued to smile. "Do tell me, in what verse and sutra does it say that one is not to smoke?" Hideo continued to remain unable to speak. He could not think of any scripture that specifically said 'do not smoke.' "You do not know?" Qin smirked. "Then let us ask our living library. Sin?"
Sin gasped at being addressed, but smiled at the chance. "The eight precepts are: right thoughts, right understanding, right concentration, right mindfulness, right effort, right livelihood, right actions, and right speech. The concept of smoking would fall under right actions, which is a wholesome action, avoiding action that would do harm to others."
"Thank you, Sin," Qin smiled, looking back to Hideo. "Has he harmed you in any way by smoking?" The priest's eyes widen at the child's knowledge and the irrelevance smoking seemed to have on the precepts. He shook his head, angrily. "Then he has committed no sin." He looked to his brother, "You may go, if you wish, Wei." Wei, knowing the smell of smoke bothered his brother, and that he still had a lit cigarette, bowed and left the room. Qin glanced over at Sin, "Sin, I need to speak to Priest Hideo alone, please." Sin bowed respectfully and set the pot of tea down on Qin's desk before departing.
Qin looked up at Hideo, and his gaze changed from the kind look that it usually was to something cold and stern. "While my brother has committed no sin today, Priest Hideo, you are skating on very thin ice," he stated. "I saw the blood on my brother's forehead. Had he wished to present such evidence, I would have thrown you out immediately. You should take a lesson from him on the second precept. You have violated all eight precepts this day. Do so again, and I will expel you from this temple." Hideo's eyes widened. He had not thought that he had struck the boy so hard.
Priest Hideo bowed, "Forgive me, High Priest. I will attempt to do better."
"You are excused," Qin stated, his voice still icy. Hideo quickly left Qin's room.
Wei slowly returned to his brother, sans his cigarette. Qin smiled up at him, but his eyes were filled with concern. "How is your head?"
"That idiot," Wei remarked, pressing a hand over the split flesh. "What in the ten hells is that man's problem?"
"He has ambition, and has forgotten the precepts," Qin stated, his smile turning sad. "But perhaps today was a way to set him back on the right course."
"You know your problem, Qin? You care too much about others' enlightenment."
"And yours, Wei, is that you care about no one's enlightenment. Not even your own," Qin retorted.
Wei looked away and sighed. "How are you doing?"
"The poison is still spreading," Qin replied.
"Don't worry," Wei smiled at his brother. "We'll find a cure."
Sin, who had been just about to round the corner into his brother's room, leaned up against the wall, heavily, eyes widened in horror. Qin was poisoned? By who? He clutched the front of his own robes, looking down. Why hadn't Qin or Wei told him? Were they afraid the boy would overreact? Or didn't they trust him? Sin turned and headed back to his room, tears streaming silently down his cheeks.
(I know it doesn't quite flow right. But it was the best I could come up with for the way I wanted to do this. Trivial answer so that you don't have to look it up: A 'kasa hat' is the kind of hat you'll often see rice farmers or priests wearing in movies that is conical in shape and made of straw. [IE, the way I found out the name of the hat was because of Chichiri my favourite character from Fushigi Yuugi.)
Five years later, even Hideo had accepted Qin as high priest. Wei, however, still held the priests' suspicion, and tended to go on walks away from the temple for solitude. Wei was on a walk outside the temple when on the road ahead he saw a young-looking priest, sitting and looking up at him. His bald head was hid by a kasa hat. He smiled at Wei "Travelling alone, Priest?" the man asked Wei.
Wei regarded the other priest curiously, "Out on a walk, actually."
"Hoping to end your life to get to the Buddha sooner," the man asked as he saw Wei smoking.
"The Buddha would not mind my company, I think," Wei smiled. This man had been joking with him, not judging him. That was strange for a priest.
The other priest laughed, "Well said, Priest Wei. And indeed he would not." He smiles, "Your kindness toward people, no matter their race, is why heaven smiles down upon you."
Wei took a step back, clutching his walking-staff tightly. How did this man know his name? The man laughed at his fear and removed his kasa, revealing a red chakra on his forehead. Wei's eyes widened and he fell to the ground, prostrating himself before the bodhisattva.
The man smiled kindly, "There is no need to bow to me, Priest Wei. Our methods may be different, but our goals are the same. Rise and take me to your temple so that I may meet your brother."
"O-of course," Wei stated, standing slowly. "But, may I ask my lord's name so that I may introduce you properly?"
"My name in this country is Jizo. Though you were raised to call me Dizang," the man stated. Wei's eyes widened. He knew of the bodhisattva well. It had been Dizang that he had prayed to as he had rushed to save Sin. Dizang was well known for his love of children. It was said that that was the reason he had such a youthful appearance.
Wei lead Dizang back to the temple. Priests and monks immediately recognized the chakra and bowed before the bodhisattva. Wei ignored them, but Dizang smiled to each, considering one just as important as another. Wei lead him to the High Priest's quarters, where Sin, a priest now for five years, and Qin were playing a game of Mah Jong with only half of the tiles since there were only two of them. "Ryuukyoku," Sin stated, looking down at the board. It was a draw.
"It seems so," Qin stated before looking up to see who had entered. He widened his eyes in surprise. Sin looked up and seemed just as surprised, bowing before the bodhisattva.
Wei cleared his throat, "High Priest Qin, Priest Sin, may I introduce Bodhisattva Jizo."
"Rise, young priest," Dizang smiles. The child was his favourite of the three, of course. But the other two had their own merits. "I came to speak to all three of you." All three seemed confused by this. Especially Wei and Sin. Dizang reached into his hat and pulled out three gems. "I am sure you know of Monju, Kanzeon, and Vajrapani?"
"The three guardians of Buddha," Sin asks, out of turn. The other two looked at him in horror, as though the impropriety might in some way upset the bodhisattva.
Dizang simply laughed, "Just so, Priest Sin, just so. Well, each of you has an aspect of them, so much so that you yourselves have reached enlightenment."
One of the gems rose from his hand magically. It shot quickly at Qin's head, right between the eyes. Both of his brothers screamed in protest and fear as it embedded itself into the man's forehead. "High Priest Qin, chosen of Monju, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom: you have shown knowledge beyond your years to judge fairly. You have been chosen to become the Bodhisattva of Judgement."
Sin took a step back, eyes widening as Dizang turned his attention to the youngest member of the family. Dizang smiled, and Sins fear seemed to melt from him. He stood still, awaiting the bead as it lifted from Dizang's hand and impaled itself in Sin's forehead. "Priest Sin, chosen of Kanzeon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion: you have compassion for all people and innocence that goes beyond that of a normal person. You have been chosen to become the Bodhisattva of Innocence."
Dizang finally turned to Wei and Wei back away slightly, looking more suspicious of the bodhisattva. The final gem lifted from Dizang's hand and shot at the dark-skinned angel. Wei closed his eyes and felt the gem enter, but instead of pain he felt warmth. "Priest Wei," Dizang said finally with a smile, "chosen of Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of Power: your willingness to protect those that cannot protect themselves is unusual among people now. You are also unique in that you are two worlds combined in the fullest way. Sin and purity are only one part of it. You have also taken the title of both demon and angel. As well, you can lie while telling the truth. You have been chosen to become the Bodhisattva of Discord."
All three felt the powers of the jewels radiate in them, as though a separate entity was helping to run their bodies. "Your duty toward Buddha is similar to Sitatapatra, the Goddess of the White Parasol. Each of you has a way that you can combat demons and humans that use demon magic." Wei was about to protest, but Dizang interrupted the eruption, "Even a demon can be saved, if he follows the teachings. But many do not. Bodhisattva Wei, your fighting skills are why you were chosen. Bodhisattva Qin, your judgement of whether others are truly sinful is why you were chosen. And Bodhisattva Sin, your ability to bring peace to others--despite their current sins--is why you were chosen.
"Bring as many people to enlightenment as you are able," Dizang smiled. "And protect those that cannot protect themselves. That is every bodhisattva's mission." He bowed to them as one would bow to an equal before placing his kasa back on his head and turning to walk from the building.
(All right, the shortest chapter yet, but this was the perfect place to stop.)
The three had been dubbed the Bodhisattvas of Annuska, the Bodhisattvas of Favour. The Hironobu Temple was proud of their bodhisattvas, despite the fact that pride tended to lead to sin. The Hironobu Temple had already set to work on constructing a statue of the three, despite the bodhisattvas' protest. All three continued their work as though they were still priests, though they knew that soon they would have to leave the temple. High Priest Qin would have to choose a successor, now that he was leaving the temple. Until he did so, they would not feel comfortable leaving Hironobu.
Wei, despite his high status, continued to smoke. A monk or two actually joined him in doing so whenever he was out in the courtyard, trying to understand why Bodhisattva Wei smoked. He had been led to enlightenment while smoking, after all. Wei would look viciously toward any priest that had tried to join them. After all, every one of them protested him when he was only a priest. And he still had a scar from Priest Hideo's cane.
Sin continued to work as he had always worked, performing the duties of a monk. He was sweeping the steps that led to the temple when he noticed a woman approaching. She was filthy and wounded. She reached out a hand toward him before falling to the ground in pain. Sin dropped his broom and ran to the woman, kneeling beside her. He'd never seen a woman, not that he remembered. All of his memories were of the temple. But he did recognize what a woman was, because Kanzeon tended to take the form of a woman, and they had a statue of Kanzeon in the temple. It had been from Kanzeon that Sin had learned that he was really female. Despite that, he continued to think of himself as a boy.
Sin tried to help the woman up and she smiled up at him weakly, "Sin, you've grown up so much." Sin looked in shock at the woman. How did she know his name?
She closed her eyes and Sin's eyes widened. "No, Lady, hold on," he shouted. He shook her, trying to get her to open her eyes. Her hand slid away from her stomach, revealing a broad hole. Sin gaped and his lip began trembling. He had never seen any form of violence before. He hadn't even noticed when Hideo had injured his brother.
"So, she did know where there were angels, after all," said a voice coming from close to one of the trees nearby. Sin looked up, his eyes widened in fright. The owner of the voice had pointed ears and sharp canines. "And here people are telling their children that your kind were just a myth..." The demon stepped forward, bringing to bear a sword, grinning viciously. "Transform for me, little boy, so that I can rip off your wings to show people."
Sin stood and backed away as the man swiped his sword down at the boy, but he hadn't quite managed to get away, stumbling and falling. Sin felt the hot searing pain as the left side of his face was split down to the very skull. He screamed out in pain and fear.
Back at the temple, all of the monks and priests heard his cry. Wei and Qin immediately dropped what they were doing and ran toward the gates of the temple. Wei could feel power surging through him as his anger rose. Whatever Sin had screamed about, there was obviously something dangerous out there. He needed a weapon, but the temple had none. As though beckoned by his thoughts, a large axe appeared in his hands. Wei stopped for a split second to look down at the axe in wonder. But remembering the scream, he immediately continued to run.
Qin, wanting to protect the younger angel as well, knew that if he'd only thought about a weapon, it would appear to him as well. He called out a pair of katanas, continuing to run without looking down at them.
Sin held out his hands, wanting something--anything--to protect him from the next attack of the demon. No one was coming. No one would be there to save him. Tears ran down his cheeks as he watched the demon's sword come rushing down on him as the demon grinned maliciously. Suddenly, the sword was stopped. Sin blinked in amazement at the priest's staff in his hands.
The demon let out a yell of protest at the sudden appearance of the staff. He then laughed, "You think a silly little staff will save you, Angel?"
"No, that's what I'm here for," said a voice behind the demon. The demon turned to find an axe plummeting into his face. The demon dropped and Sin stared up at Wei in horror. The axe, realizing it's job was done, didn't disappear completely, but became a pair of gold bracers on Wei. Sin dropped his staff and leapt into Wei's arms, pressing his face into Wei's chest. Wei hugged the boy, trying his best to comfort him.
"I was so scared," came Sin's muffled voice, still quivering.
"Wei," came Qin's quiet voice. He was staring down at the woman that Sin had found on the road. "It's 'Umnia..."
Wei's eyes widened as he looked down at the woman. She was the last remnants he had of the memories of Lokapele. His lip trembled as her stared down at her. He closed his eyes tightly, begging that it not be true. And yet, he knew as soon as he opened his eyes, she would be there.
He felt a soft hand on his shoulder. He looked up into the kind eyes of his twin. Qin softly removed Sin from Wei's arms. "Come, Sin, let's get you bandaged up," Qin said softly to the boy. Sin nodded and allowed Qin to lead him away. Wei noticed that the other two had their weapons become simple jewelry, as well. Qin's had become silver bracers, while Sin's were bracelets. He smiled weakly, thanking whoever was watching over them. If they had not been granted the status of bodhisattva when they had, Sin would be dead right now. Just like...
Wei turned his attentions back to 'Umnia. He knelt beside the woman and brushed her hair from her face, tenderly. "'Umnia...I am so sorry." He closed his eyes tightly. "It seems that anyone who knows me ends up dead." He reached down and scooped 'Umnia up into his arms and stood, slowly walking back toward the temple.
At the temple, Sin was getting stitches. The priest tending to the bodhisattva was not a doctor, but tended to sew clothes for those that couldn't. Sin was gritting his teeth, trying to deal with the pain. But some of the shock was wearing off, and now the needle itself was hurting. "Just a little longer, Sin," Qin stated. He watched worriedly. Sin's eye had been split as well. The chances that he wasn't blind in that eye were completely gone. They would simply have to cover it and hope that it healed enough that he wouldn't have to wear an eye patch the rest of his life.
Sin stared at the floor with his good eye, trembling. Qin smiled sadly as he watched the younger angel. Sin was too young to remember the destruction of their village when they'd left seventeen years earlier. Qin had hoped that Sin would grow up without fear, and without the scarred memories that he and his twin had. It seemed that the angels were destined to live a life of disaster, though.
Once the priest finished stitching up Sin's face, he began to bandage the boy. Sin looked up at his older brother and asked quietly, "What did that man mean when he said that angels are only a myth?"
Qin sighed, glancing toward the gate where Wei had just walked in with 'Umnia. The monks and priests rushed to aid the angel, but he pulled the body of his friend's lover away from them, yelling at them to stay away. "As far as I know, Sin, we are the last angels in the world," Qin replied. "A war started when you were a baby. Demons--naturally our enemies--had attacked the smaller groups of angels. The angels fought back, of course. But sheer numbers won out."
Sin took this information hard. He'd never been outside the temple, so he didn't know the harshness of the outside world. It had scarred his view that anyone could be saved, but he still held the view. It would be harder to enlighten killers, but not impossible.
Once the priest was done bandaging him, Sin stood. He smiled at his brother, though it pained him to do so. "If we are the last, then we should make our time count."
The brothers remained at the Hironobu temple for another two weeks. In that time, Sin healed enough that they were able to finally leave the temple. 'Umnia had been given a funeral and had been buried in a place of honour on the eastern wall of the courtyard. Wei had buried her with the necklace Lokapele had put in the backpack when he had sent Wei from the castle. The necklace had an emblem of a rose on it, the symbol of the A'amakualenalena tribe.
Sin left flowers of jasmine, peach, and orchid on the woman's grave daily. He didn't remember her, but his brothers had told him that she had cared for him when they were dealing with a difficult part of their own lives. So in a way, she had been a mother to Sin. Even though he didn't remember her, he respected her for her attention to him.
Wei visited her grave daily, too. He would kneel and pray for an hour, crying silently to himself. He had not gotten to know 'Umnia, but she followed him without question. She respected him, and he felt he had let her down by allowing her to die. Her death also opened his still-fresh wound--even after it was half of his lifetime in the past, as he was now thirty-three years old--of the memory of Lokapele's death, as well as the rest of the Kualena family.
The death of 'Umnia and the injury to Sin was actually a blessing in disguise to Qin. His rose bush was dying. It had been dying ever since their visit from Bodhisattva Jizo. He was implementing a way to dry the rosebuds without completely destroying them. He would need as many as possible to keep studying them, or there would be absolutely no hope for himself. And if he died--at this dangerous time in Wei's life where Wei was balancing on sanity as though it were a single thread--Wei's thread would snap and there would be no hope for Sin, who still needed a guardian.
Several humans watched as the young boy with white hair munched happily away on his breakfast. None of the people in this tiny town had ever seen an angel, nor did they know he was one. The white hair intrigued them, but it was the group as a whole that confused them. Sin was obviously a priest. He wore white robes instead of the usual yellow, but he still spoke like a priest. And he ran around barefoot.
Qin spoke like a priest, but he was dressed like a guard. His long blue coat was trimmed with white, complimenting the priest's robes Sin wore with a blue sash and headband. Though he was dressed like a guard, the man wore no visible weapons.
The last man confused the villagers the most. He was dressed similar to a priest, but he was currently smoking and had ordered a glass of wine. Still, even the villagers of this tiny town knew what the red chakra on his forehead meant. He was a heavenly being. He called in question the very teachings, however, by the way he acted.
"Where are we going," Sin asked Qin, curiously, between bites.
Qin seemed at a loss. Their mission to either reform the demons and humans or otherwise rid the world of them was clear. How they were supposed to do this was a mystery, however. The world contained millions of people. The three bodhisattvas might be powerful, now, but even they couldn't hope to deal with that many people. "To the west, I suppose," Qin finally decided.
"Why west," Sin inquired. It seemed like a strange direction, to him. There were plenty in their own religion that needed enlightenment. Why go where people actually were of a different religion? Wei lit up another cigarette. He hadn't spoken since 'Umnia's death. He seemed to be drawing further and further into himself.
"I would prefer to simply lead people down the right path. After that, all we need do is fix a few kinks in their way of thinking," Qin stated. "If they don't even know the right path, they'll be forever lost."
Sin nodded. It made more sense since Qin put it that way. "Pfft," came Wei's now usual sound when he disagreed with something. His 'pfft' had expelled a puff of smoke from his lips. Sin hoped that it had just been a release of air, and not a disagreement.
Qin glanced over at his twin. "You know, if you've got something to say, you should say it." Qin had been getting more than a little aggravated at his brother. He knew that Wei was not going to say a word, which was what made it so aggravating. Wei just shrugged and glanced away.
A trio of demons stepped into the restaurant and the leader smirked over at the angels' table. "Well, I had to see it for myself, but it looks like the rumours were true. We got ourselves a couple of angels to play with, and a traitor demon to kill."
Wei scowled at the usual link. He'd decided that though there were a few demons in the world that were good, most of them would be dead because of the evil demons remaining. He stood and the three demons took a step back. They then saw how short the man was. Wei laughed at them and the leader of the group growled, "What are you laughing at, Shrimp?"
Qin stood--towering over his brother, he was taller than the demons and they actually were surprised and a little taken aback. "I assume that he's laughing at your obvious fear. You can still turn back. I would not suggest fighting us."
Sin stood and backed away. He didn't want to be in the middle of this when a fight broke out. And a fight always did break out. His apparent fear seemed to make the demons believe they actually were more frightening than they actually were, however and they smirked, drawing their swords.
Qin sighed but Wei grinned, his teeth still clinging to his cigarette. "Let us get this over with, then," Qin stated, calling forth his swords. Wei's axe appeared in his hands. The demons seemed surprised by the appearance of their weapons.
"Get the little one," the leader said to the one closest to Sin. The demon nodded and the leader engaged Qin in combat so that he couldn't stop the other. Wei was occupied with the largest of the three. Most of the patrons began rushing out of the door as the demons moved away from it.
Sin backed away as the demon approached. "It's okay, Kid. I promise to make it quick," the demon stated. Sin could hear the faintest sound of regret in his voice.
"You don't have to fight me," Sin stated, though he shook in fear. Wei had taught him to fight, but he didn't want to fight unless it was absolutely necessary. "Even a demon can reach enlightenment. There is hope for everyone."
The leader laughed as he pressed in on Qin, "Do you hear your kid begging for his life?"
"His life is saved," Qin stated. "He is not begging for his life, but your friend's," Qin corrected before pushing the leader back. "Your soul, however, doesn't seem to be salvageable," Qin stated with a frown. Using the powers granted to him by Jizo he could see the demon's soul like an aura. "How many innocent people have you killed without regret?"
The leader laughed, grinning maliciously at Qin, "I stopped counting a long time ago."
The largest was about as talkative as his opponent. He continued to try to use his larger size to strike the smaller Wei down. However, Wei was stronger, despite his petite frame. He struck the large demon back with one attack and the demon fell to the ground. Wei finished him off with one last strike.
The demon facing Sin seemed to be at a loss. He was dragged over here to kill the 'angels.' But all he saw in front of him was a monk. He'd never seen someone with white hair, but that didn't make them angels. And the kid seemed so innocent and scared. The demon heard a scream and turned to view his leader being run through with the other angel's blade. He looked around at the three in panic. He flinched as Sin reached out but was surprised to find that the angel simply placed a hand softly on his shoulder. Somehow, all of the fear he had faded away.
"Don't listen to what others tell you you are supposed to do as a demon. Follow your own path in life," Sin offered.
"He's right, you're a good person," Qin offered. "Stereotypes don't suit everyone. My twin may look like a demon and act as such sometimes, but that is because he chooses not to follow the stereotype set for our own people." The demon looked between Qin and Wei in surprise. Their faces did look similar, but he assumed that was just by chance.
"Go be yourself," Sin stated with a smile. "Don't let anyone tell you what that is. Decide for yourself." The demon nodded and backed out of the restaurant. Wei called his axe back to him and kneeled to pick up the larger demon so that he could remove it.
Qin turned to the owner of the restaurant, "We will, of course, pay for the mess and your lost income from those who have left because of the scuffle."
"I could not ask that of you, Bodhisattva," the man replied, seeming a bit nervous.
"It is our fault, it is therefore our duty to correct it," Qin assured him. The man nodded slightly, accepting the payment from Qin. He could barely afford to keep the restaurant open as it was, such a loss would have ruined him. He'd only tried to shake off Qin's offer out of duty. The bodhisattva had known this, however.
Wei returned and removed the second body. A few patrons returned, more out of curiosity than to continue to eat. Sin was helping to pick up chairs and other items that had been overturned on the rush of others to leave. Once he'd cleaned up as much as he could he looked to Qin for guidance. "I think it's time to go."
"Where are we going," Sin asked.
"To reach more of our own people," Qin responded. Wei smirked at the change of heart and lit up another cigarette as his brother led the trio out.