Yume no Shinden (Temple of Dreams)
Night 1 – Deai (Encounter)
Pairing: Benkei x Yoshitsune
Warning: Male x Male Relationships, AU, OC, OOC
A/N: Talk about dreams (again), this fic is inspired from X OVA: an omen.
Special thanks to Missexyrain for beta-ing this story. Makoto ni arigato gozaimashita!
The sun rising at the east painted the dark scenery around him in graceful mixture of violet and red and it caught Benkei's attention. He turned his head at the horizon. Although he is not a worshipper of Amaterasu, he has a habit to halt his activities and look at the sun every time she uncovers her illuminating throne and replace her brother, Tsukuyomi, who was given the night time to light the earth in her place.
The monk continues his journey through the mountain trail. His destination is the cloister at the peak of the mount. He came to learn its martial arts, which the monastery is famous for. He is obsessed for being the strongest. The fact that no one in Yamato could even compete with his strength sat the most. He has grown tired of being underrated. Since his childhood, his appearance seemed to be abnormal in everyone's eyes, even in his own mother's.
Born in appearance similar to an oni never gave him any happiness. Once, just once, he wants to meet a person who won't quail in fear when they look at him. A certain person who would treat him in indifferent manners as he treats the other humans, but it seems that person only exists in his dreams.
The time has already past noon when Benkei arrived at the temple. He was welcomed by a young monk who introduced himself as Jidō and he escorts Benkei to the chamber he will occupy while he lives there.
"This is your chamber." said the slim figured monk politely. "The other monks have already gone to practice in the inner field. I shall introduce you to them later."
There are two long divans covered with a humble mat and a few pillows on each of them. Both are facing each other on opposite walls making a small alley between them and it ended at a small table with a clay teapot and half a dozen of small cups on it.
Benkei observed the room with his eyes before Jidō says again, "You may put your belongings here. Ryōgen-sama awaits you in the main hall. If you wish to rest first, I'll co-"
"No. Take me to him now. I want to say my gratitude for having me here." Cut Benkei.
"Oh, alright then, I'll show you the way."
After Benkei puts his things on the divan on the left side, he follows the other passing many rooms and corridors, walking through a couple of empty fields to the main hall at the center of the cloister. He only saw a few monks doing everyday chores along the way.
'Where are the sōheis? I even couldn't hear their yelling from here. Where is this inner field?'
The sturdy monk kept observing his surroundings until his eyes captured the head of the main hall's roof. He walked in firm steps approaching the double gate into the building. Despite its name, the main hall is just an enormous, undivided room with a huge Buddha statue on a large altar at the center of the room. As he stepped in the main hall, he smells incense. The air in the room is also filled with thick smoke sourced from a great number of them on the altar. There was a sound of someone who was reading a Sutra while striking a mokugyo in rhythm. He could see a shadow of someone among the thick smoke when they walked deeper into the hall.
"Ryōgen-sama, I have brought him here." Said Jidō and left after nodding his head politely to the other two.
The Sutra chanting stopped. A rather old, but wise-looking monk turned upon the words of his disciple, even without him saying the name, this wise monk already knew who was coming there. "Ooh, Musashibo Benkei, I've awaited for you."
Benkei, returning the regard, went immediately down onto his knees and bowed his head a little to the abbot. "I'm truly grateful to you for accepting me here to learn, Ryōgen-sama."
Ryōgen smiled while nodding in understanding, he rose up, motioning his hand for the sturdy monk to follow him.
"It's not only martial arts that you will learn here, Benkei." Ryōgen started once they are outside. "You will have to learn Buddha's way through texts, sutras and be disciplined with mediations. You can't just train your physical strength and neglect your inner strength. It will only result in a body without a soul inside it, like veins without flowing blood. It's just an empty shell that can easily be crushed by bare hands."
"I understand." answered Benkei.
It turned into a long conversation. The abbot talked about philosophy and martial arts, and how they synchronized in the same stream of human life. Benkei listened to them all earnestly. Even though, deep down in his heart he couldn't lie to himself. All he wants is to be the strongest then no one in Yamato could to look down on him.
Night time in the cloister is awfully quiet and dark. He couldn't see Tsukuyomi's throne from the small window across him. All of his chamber companions were already fallen asleep from exhaustion after a full day of practicing. He hadn't had a chance to practice anything in his first day here. Although, he didn't really feel tired from the journey before. But it seems just by listening to Ryōgen's preaching until twilight it was enough to bring him an air of realizing it, he slowly closed his eyes and fell deeply into another realm.
"Huh? This place is…?" Benkei woke up in a place he felt familiar with. "A dream?" He murmured to himself.
He couldn't comprehend this fact in his mind, but the atmosphere here is just too bizarre to be explained rationally. He was positively sure that he was still sleeping soundly in the monastery's chamber. He saw a place that totally blurred his belief.
It was an empty street at night and no one was seen there. It was the capital Kyō. It was eerie that the scene feels so familiar to him. He was walking around the capital late at night. The monk doesn't want to earn any malicious glare from the capital's citizens. Just the sight of his silhouette is enough to make the children run away in terror or even worse. They were going to throw rocks towards him and shout, "Oni, go away!"
"A dream." He'd finally resoluted to himself. He kept walking along the dim street without knowing where he will be heading, until he vaguely heard a sound of a fue played in his ear. It was a beautiful, but strangely sad tone. He oddly felt like the sound the fue emitted is calling out for him, even in a desperate way. The monk turned his head around and caught a glimpse of waterflow not far upfront. He approached to what seems to be a river. There is a young man standing on the bridge.
The figure on the bridge was holding a fue in a practical way near his lips. His long black hair that was let loose down his back looked smooth just as the finest black silk floating in the wind. A shiny complexion that was like a white pearl hid mostly behind a simple cream-colored wafuku. It's like he saw a scene that came out from an expensive beautiful painting in some castle. He was the one who played that tone Benkei heard just a moment ago. The fue hasn't stopped playing and the lithe figure still didn't take notice of his presence across the bridge.
Benkei closed his eyes to enjoy the music that stabbed his heart thoroughly. Just a few seconds he heard the music before he unconsciously stepped his foot on the bridge. He abruptly opens his eyes again. The young man hasn't moved a finger and even though the fue still attached on his lips it stopped playing. Did he notice that someone else was there? Curious of what is happening, Benkei decided to approach the fue player.
"Why do you stop?" The monk asked when he was standing five steps distance from the player. Benkei could see the young man smiling from the side as he lowered his fue onto the bridge's grip.
" 'Why?' You ask…" The young man said with a low chuckle at the end. Then he turned his head over to the monk, "Maybe because you've already come."
Benkei narrowed his eyes. What is this strange young man in his dream trying to say?
A stoic face similar to a porcelain doll's captivated him deeply. He moved his lips, but even though there is no sound coming out, Benkei could hear his words clearly in his head.
"I'm the one who called you here."
And as the words echoed several times, the statement the fue player claimed makes the monk gasp his breath roughly until his eyes suddenly opened. His breath was heavy and his eyes found the dark ceiling of the monastery's chamber he saw last as he slept a few minutes before.
"A dream." He echoed his first sentence in the real realm.
Oni = Demon
Sōhei = Warrior monk
Mokugyo = (Wooden fish) wooden percussion instrument similar to the Western wood block. The wooden fish is used by monks and laity in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It is often used during rituals usually involving the recitation of sutras, mantras, or other Buddhist texts. (Source: Wiki ^^
Capital Kyō = Heian Kyō =Kyōto
Fue = Flute (Japanese Traditional Flute)
Wafuku = Japanese clothing (Opposite: Yofuku = Western clothing) referred as simple kimono for everyday wear.