Chapter 3: A Title
Kouryuu paused outside the door to Koumyou Sanzo's room. He was looking forward to his new title with a certain amount of trepidation. It would be nice to have a title so he wouldn't have to listen to the idiots that served as priests at this temple, but he was well aware of Oshou-sama's predilection for bestowing horrible names on the unwary. At first, he had disliked the name that he had been given when he was found in the river, but then he had met Master Buttercup, making his own name seem normal in comparison.
Sliding open the door, he stepped inside to find Sanzo-sama waiting.
"You summoned me, Oshou-sama."
"Sit down, Kouryuu." Koumyou gestured to the space in front of him.
Kouryuu took a seat. There was a pile of orange paper on the floor in between them. He sat quietly, waiting for Sanzo-sama to speak, or at least stop smiling. Not that he had ever seen Sanzo-sama not smiling, especially when Sanzo-sama kept an excellent supply of Essence of Lotus (for medicinal purposes only) on hand at all times. Finally, his patience was rewarded.
"It's time for you to use the orange paper, Kouryuu," said Sanzo-sama.
"That's nice," Kouryuu said noncommittally.
"You're wondering what this has to do with your title, aren't you?"
Koumyou Sanzo reached into his sleeve, pulled out a rolled up sutra, and unfurled it in front of him. He stretched it to its full length, but even then it was only a few feet long. There was barely enough to drape it over Koumyou's shoulders.
Kouryuu leant forward. "Is that?"
"Yes. This is the Maten sutra," said Koumyou.
"It's a lot shorter than I expected," said Kouryuu. He had seen Sanzo-sama use the sutras before and they were much longer and more numerous. Perhaps the Seiten sutra was the long one?
"The truth is the Buddhist gods never had that much to say. If I truly taught the lessons in my sutras, the path to enlightenment would take about four and a half days. I'd advise you to follow my path and avoid teaching all together in the future."
Kouryuu's eyes widened as he finally realized what Sanzo-sama was getting at. "You're making me a Sanzo?!"
"Well, yes." Koumyou gave him an even bigger smile than usual. "Personal strength and spiritual power are important, but the true skill every Sanzo needs is origami."
"Every Sanzo must supplement his own sutra with extra paper. I usually use the orange, but you can use anything. Other sutras, toilet paper - you can even use newspaper."
"Yes. It looks about the same. Just don't use the comics section."
"The sutra makes a good paper fan as well. That's why mine's so heavy."
"I thought that was because you lined yours with iron," muttered Kouryuu.
Koumyou chuckled and practiced an ability Kouryuu liked to call 'selective hearing'.
"Now practice a bit with that sutra while I find my red permanent marker so we can give you a charka. You can use the orange paper." Koumyou made it sound like the greatest honour in the world.
Kouryuu opened his mouth to protest, closed it, opened it again, then shut it and ground his teeth together. There was no stopping Oshou-sama when he was in this mood. "Yes, Oshou-sama," he said with a sigh.
"And the Sanzo garments, Kouryuu!" called Koumyou from the other room. Kouryuu pictured the distinctive garb with the sutras on the shoulders, and the strange black leather arm guards.
"The arm guards are to protect you from paper cuts!"
Kouryuu groaned softly and hoped he got away with a name that was better than Master Buttercup's.
The events of the last night had been traumatic, disturbing and many other words the author can't be bothered to search the thesaurus for. Koumyou Sanzo was dead, but on the plus side, he'd actually managed to give Kouryuu a decent name before he died. A name, Kouryuu, no, Genjo was counting on to help him deal with the idiots that served as high ranking monks in the temple.
"As I already told you," he ground out, "they were youkai."
"Birds!" cried out a monk on his left. "A bird swept in and took the Seiten sutra!"
"Nonsense," said Master Tai. "It was some type of vicious squirrel. Birds don't attack like that."
"And squirrels do?"
"I still say it was that brat," spat out Abe. He had held a grudge against Kouryuu ever since the day he had found his favourite sutra folded into an origami frog.
"That was Oshou-sama," muttered Genjo. No one seemed to hear him. He raised his voice. "Isn't it more important to get the sutra back?"
"Perhaps the squirrels and birds worked together!"
"Let him speak!" called out Shuei.
Genjo nodded his thanks to Shuei as the abbot motioned for silence. Once he had it, Genjo explained his intention of leaving the temple in search of Oshou-sama's killers ― and a stiff drink, though he didn't mention that part.
"It is the temple's responsibility," explained the abbot. "Letting him make paper airplanes all day can't have been good for his health."
"I will reclaim my property," declared Genjo, tugging at the bandage around his forehead… a few minutes later, after one of the monks had fetched a knife to cut the bandage off, his charka was revealed.
Genjo ignored the abbot's rather loud mutter about how giving Koumyou his own permanent marker was a bad idea. The abbot subsequent, rolling about on the floor laughing, didn't help either.
Eventually, the abbot composed himself and conferred the title properly. He reached beside him and took up the golden crown that Genjo had last seen on Oshou-sama's head. "This is Koumyou Sanzo's crown. Be careful it doesn't melt in the rain. We think he made it out of paper mache."
And the cloth that was supposed to drape around his head was made of paper as well. Sanzo could hear it rustle. Was there anything that Koumyou Sanzo did that wasn't involving paper?
"We will get you some robes and then we shall decide what to do."
"I need to leave now," said Sanzo as calmly as he could, which wasn't very calm at all, but at least he wasn't strangling the abbot like he wanted too.
The abbot nodded amiably. "I know you wish to leave, but first we must settle the debate of who stole the sutra. How will you know if you're to search for a vicious squirrel or a nasty bird of prey?"
Sanzo nodded slowly, becoming aware of where Oshou-sama's supply of Essence of Lotus (for medicinal purposes only) had gotten to. The abbot would be no help. He would retire to his room, wait until they all were asleep, sneak into the armoury to get some firepower, sneak into his master's room to get some paper for his own sutra, and get out of this madhouse.
Sanzo finished reading the last page of the paper ― Red head with Oedipus complex looking for blond bombshell with religious tendencies. Please send all replies to Houtou Castle ― and stuffed it up into his sleeve to use later. The idiots in the back had remained remarkably silent while he read, so he expected them to start up again any moment now.
"Ne, Sanzo?" said Goku behind him.
He hated being right.
"How come you never let us read the paper when you're finished?"
"Probably because he knows you won't be able to read any words not related to food, bakazaru," said Gojyo.
"Shut up, erokappa! I can read lots of words."
"Like fried, sautéed and deep dish, right?" said Gojyo smugly.
"I can read lots of words," Goku insisted. "Octopus and squid and chicken and pickles and cheese and…" The list went on endlessly.
Sanzo attempted to tune it out, feeling a nerve in his forehead begin to throb. As if it had a will of its own, his hand crept into his sleeve and expertly began folding the front page of his discarded newspaper into another paper fan ― number 783 of the journey, to be precise.
Goku could read the paper in the mirror, since its words were going to be printed across his forehead when Sanzo smacked him with it.
Thank you to everyone for reading and thanks to Sylk for betaing.