"He took the moonlight from me."
-Ukoku Sanzo, Saiyuki Burial
I frown to myself as I come upon the temple of Kinzan. Or, should I say, what is left of the once magnificent temple. It's been about a year since I last visited here, after I came back from the west and after I had found my own apprentice. I adjust the scripture hanging around my shoulders and walk into the broken gate, watching as it swings loosely on its one attached hinge.
A young monk appears around one of the corners of the collapsed temple, his arms full of cloth. He stops when he sees me, his jaw dropping slightly, then he collects himself. "Ukoku-sama!"
"Where is Komyuu?"
"Um. . . Well. . ."
"Speak, boy!" I snap, losing my temper.
"He's reached the next stage of his enlightenment."
"He's on a journey."
"See? That was easy. When is he coming back?"
"He won't be coming back."
"He's entered eternal rest."
"His flame has been extinguished."
"He shuffled off this mortal coil."
"He's dead, Ukoku-sama."
Ad with that one word, that one simple word, the world came to a screeching halt.
As the word echoes around in my head, still trying to connect, I finally meet the boy's eyes, seeing the pain of losing one dear to your heart reflected in them, the same pain I know right now. Komyuu was the one and only person I have ever respected... truly respected.
"Dead. . . Komyuu. . .H. . . how?"
"A youkai attack." The young man sighed lightly. "Come, sit. I'll pour some tea and tell you the story."
"No tea. Pour sake. Komyuu would have liked it more." I frown, finally collecting my scattered thoughts. I follow the young acolyte to the dining hall, where I sit down, waiting for the young man to return with the sake. I chuckle to myself as I think over what had just transpired. "You'd have laughed at that, Komyuu. A double Ph.D in Bioengineering and Genetic Design, as well as a Sanzo, and the only answer I could come up with for five minutes was 'huh'?"
"Pardon?" The acolyte asks, coming in, carrying a tray with a bottle of sake and a tea pot.
"Oh. Nothing, Just talking to myself." I take the sake and pour a cup, holding it in my hands for a moment before taking a drink. "I guess this means the night wins for now."
"Nothing again." I finish my cup, pouring another cup. "How long ago did he die?"
"Almost two years ago."
"Oh. You said that it was a youkai attack?"
"Yes. The youkai said something about Gyokumen Koshu needing scriptures for reviving Gumaouh. They killed Komyuu-sama and stole the Saten scripture."
"What about the Maten?"
"Koryuu took it with him when he descended the mountain. He is now Toa's 31st, Genjo Sanzo Houshi."
So he did give the little brat a holy name. . . and title too, apparently. I wonder what the other monks think of that. "I see. And do you know where he is?"
"No. No one's heard of him since he disappeared two years ago."
"So. . .this was Gyokumen Koshu's doing then?"
I frown, my hand compressing, shattering the thin porcelain of the saki cup I'm holding. I only realize it's shattered when I feel the dull pain and warm blood trickling down my hand and hear the young acolyte shouting.
"I'm fine." I snarl slightly. "Where is Komyuu's grave?"
"This way." The acolyte stands and I can see him shivering slightly. I've scared him. But somehow, I cannot bring myself to care. He leads me to the back of the compound where a small pile of rocks marks the final resting place of the great Komyuu Sanzo.
"That's his grave?"
"Yes sir. We. . . burned his body. It was. . . destroyed."
"He deserves a better burial place than that." I frown. He deserves a monument. But. . . at the same time, I think he'd be quite happy with this little rock caren. He was a simple man, but that is what made him so great. The acolyte bows slightly, leaving me alone, something that I appreciate. I sit before the grave, pulling a pack of cigarettes from my sleeve. "Well. . . I don't have an offering for you, Komyuu, so. . . this will have to do."
I light one of the cigarettes, sticking it into a crevice between the rocks, lighting. "And I don't have any incense, but you never liked the stuff. Always said it made you sneeze."
I light a cigarette for myself, sitting beside the grave of my one friend, frowning up at the bright blue sky. "I guess you'll have to watch me from up there now."
I finish my cigarette, stubbing it out. "At least I now know what I'm going to do to keep from being bored. Thanks, my old friend. And I'll watch out for Koryuu while I'm at it. Farewell for now."
I stand, brushing the dirt from my white robes. Well. . . I may as well get started on my journey.
India is a long way off.
A/N: Mmm. Yeah. I'm messing with Dr. Nii/Ukoku. He's one of my favourite characters and I wanted to cast him in a bit different light.
There will probably be more chapters to this story. ^_^
Dedicated to Phantom Gypsy.