Afternoon Views

Tenpou Gensui was looking thoughtfully at the ornamental carving which decorated the door in front of him. To be more precise, he was inspecting a space in the ornamental carving. A particularly complicated twist of carved vinework had come loose from the door, and was now lying on the ground at his feet.

Steam misted his glasses. Smoke curled from the cigarette that dangled, forgotten, from the corner of his mouth.

"Marshal!" Kenren waved a cheerful hand as he approached. "Hey there! I was looking for you. Trying to remember one of your books?"

"Yes," Tenpou said, thoughtfully, as he turned to match step with the General. "I was, actually. It's astonishing how one can read all sorts of things, but one never really quite grasps the concept till one sees it in the flesh, isn't it? The ultimate difference between theory and practice. The gap between the intellectual and the physical. The . . ."

Kenren nodded, and lit his own cigarette.

"Oh," Tenpou added, "do drop by later this afternoon. There are a few things I want to try implementing."

They parted company at the next intersection. Kenren paused. Considered the timing of his next task. Considered several things. Walked back and peered through the gap in the door.


Goujun strode briskly along the corridor, white silk raiment crackling briskly in the wind of his passage. Ah. There was General Kenren, staring at a door with a rather vague look, unmilitary cigarette drooping at the corner of his mouth, unmilitary winejar dangling from his hip. A picture of laxness and incompetence and irregularity. He approached, preparing a few stinging gems of invective.

As if warned by some protective instinct natural to troublemakers, Kenren's attention flicked towards him as he approached. The kami quickly snapped to attention. This was unusual in itself.

"Mm?" Goujun raised a thoughtful eyebrow. Perhaps, if allowed to speak, the General would confess some peccadillo.

Kenren smiled happily. "Good morning, sir!"

"It's afternoon," Goujun pointed out.

"Oh." The General didn't seem noticeably dampened.

"You're looking cheerful, General Kenren." Goujun was fairly sure that this must involve something which required disapproval.

"Absolutely, sir." The General saluted again. "Pondering Heaven and everything that we fight for. Remembering the important things in life. Feeling enthusiastic and vigorous and ready to attack the latest challenge. Sir."

"Mnh. Get to it, then, General."

Goujun watched the General swagger off down the corridor, and wondered yet again what was going on.

Nobody was watching. He stepped over to investigate whatever it was that Kenren had been scrutinising.


Kanzeon Bosatsu sashayed down the corridor like a perfume-laden tradewind in the middle of an austere monastery, trailing hir silks and swinging hir hips, black hair foaming down hir back in a sensual tumble of curls.

It was a reasonable thing that the Dragon King of the Western Ocean should be standing in the corridor which se had just turned into. It was a less usual thing that he should be thoughtfully staring at a door halfway down that corridor, red eyes slitted, delicately pale skin tinged by a hint of scarlet.

Kanzeon Bosatsu coughed, just to see what would happen.

Goujun turned smoothly, moving with draconic grace, as fluid as a river or a silk ribbon on the wind. He gave hir the partial bow that hir rank deserved.

Se cocked her head, waiting to see if he would do anything interesting. The afternoon had been boring so far.

Goujun's eyelids flicked, once, twice. "Misty afternoons / Conceal the sweetest flowers / When jade buds blossom," he offered.

There was a pause. He bowed again. He left.

Making a mental note that se clearly needed to surprise him in isolated corridors more often, if it got such interesting reactions, Kanzeon Bosatsu walked over to see what he'd been looking at.


Homura stalked gloomily down the corridors of Heaven, heavy cape swinging behind him, ignoring the fascinated mutters of the bureaucrats that he passed, and idly considering how it was that the universe could continue to function with such a dissipated, corrupt, stratified, calcified, utterly pointless Heaven in theoretical charge.

It was so depressing.

Turning a corner, he nearly walked over a slender figure peering at the carving on a door, did a frantic yet elegant two-step dodge, prepared to accept the near-victim's apologies with casual indolence, and abruptly realised whom he'd nearly walked over. His warrior instincts kickstarted his brain into the polite retreat mode. He didn't want Kanzeon Bosatsu to be interested in him. He really, really didn't want Kanzeon Bosatsu to be interested in him. All of Heaven knew what happened when Kanzeon Bosatsu got interested in you.

As he was frantically wondering whether to try walking backwards around the corner again and pretend that he'd never been there in the first place, the Bodhisattva turned and fixed him with a heavily kohled eye.

Se put a finger to hir lips, then beckoned.

Homura swallowed, and followed the directing finger over to the gap in the door. He paused. He scrutinized.

Kanzeon Bosatsu walked away with a happy smile, sparing a moment to pat Homura's rump en route.


Shien and Zenon found Homura wandering down a corridor. It had taken them some searching. There wasn't the usual trail of terrorised or fascinated bureaucrats, for a start.

Oddly enough, Homura was smiling.

"Have you considered," he commented, as they fell into step beside him, "how many things of simple beauty there are in Heaven? How one can turn a corner, and come across something pure as jade, smooth as silk, white as alabaster, and pause to appreciate that natural loveliness, and find one's heart lifted simply by contemplating its innocent sensuality?"

He's finally cracked, Zenon attempted to telepathically communicate to Shien through the medium of rolled eyes and a descriptive gesture involving forefinger and temples.

Perhaps if we treat him gently and take him for a nice walk in the fields of flowers, he'll feel better soon, Shien conveyed with a shrug.

Homura whistled cheerfully as he strolled along.


Konzen emerged from the bathroom, tugging at his hair nervously. Of course, that stupid monkey had to go and wreck his own private bathroom. Who would have thought that it was possible to destroy the plumbing so thoroughly?

Well, certainly he, Konzen, wasn't going to go without a daily bath. It would be disgusting. Dirty. Impure. Worse than Tenpou. A nice hot bath -- there was nothing to compare to it. Cleansing, relaxing, invigorating. But it wouldn't be a good idea to let the monkey's latest act of vandalism be publicly known. So he'd wandered along quietly and used one of the private baths in the general quarters.

At least he wasn't likely to run into anyone he knew out here.


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