By Eline (Kanzeon on ff.net)
Note-type-thingies: Fic is actually based loosely on the soap opera that was the story of Tang Sanzang from Xi You Ji--but I think I butchered it beyond recognition.
Warnings: Long, protracted ending. Non-yaoi. (Darn, poot and blast--I'm losing my touch . . .)
Dedicated to sf--long melodramatic ending warning!
* * * * * * * * * *
Swearing sulphurously under his breath, Sanzo kicked the door to the inn's taproom open awkwardly. Hardly an easy operation for a skinny teenager lugging around forty-odd kilos of unconscious baggage. His muscles were burning with fatigue, but there were still things to settle and he would be damned if he was going to pass out before that.
The patrons of the inn had been alarmed by the screams and the gunshots. Sanzo judged that it had been about ten or fifteen minutes since the old woman had fired that first shot but they were still running around like headless chickens after all that time. Some of the faster ones had already started running out to the road, intent on fleeing what had sounded like a full-fledged battle.
He raised his gun and fired a round into the air.
Instantaneous silence. He had to remember how effective that was . . .
"Someone take care of this," he snapped, depositing her limp body into the arms of the petrified kitchen staff. Selecting a cart-driver at random, he continued to bark out orders. "You, run to the nearest township and get whatever passes for authority there to shift their asses down here to investigate. Send someone out to clear the bodies. And check if there are any still alive . . ."
Though he doubted that there were any survivors amongst those who had taken a direct shot. He aimed for the head and chest--and he seldom missed. Those that survived . . . *those* he had been dealing with them hand-to-hand when he had emptied his cylinder.
One look at the bloodstained, battered monk with his gun was enough to set people scrambling to obey. There was nothing boyish about him now. Not any more.
Sanzo wanted a cigarette. Or ten. Or a stiff drink. The inn's customers were babbling again as they milled about, trying to make sense of the chaos.
They did give him wide berth as he strode to the bar and appropriated a half-full bottle of whiskey.
All he wanted was a quiet corner to recover some desperately needed hours of sleep, but that was wishful thinking. He made do with a deep gulp of the whiskey and went to hunt for his belongings. They were where the old woman said they'd be--someone had rifled through them, but everything was in order and he had no quarrels with dead men.
The sooner he got out of this place, the be--
"Er . . ."
He glared at the kitchen maid who had dared to pluck at his sleeve as he brushed past.
"Excuse me . . . sir, what are we to do now?"
"How the hell would I know?"
"But if you've called the authorities . . . ah, sir--someone has to explain all this . . ." She cringed back, wary of a blow or worse.
There were other expectant faces in the room. Other people looking at him. Possibly other people coming along in a while who would want to know about the two dozen or so dead bodies outside. And there was that old woman, still out of it but relatively unharmed . . .
There were no expletives that could sufficiently express his ire at the moment.
"All right," he snarled and gestured in disgust at the bloodstains on clothes and skin. There were probably bits of the late Shibun somewhere in that mess too. "But find me someplace to change!"
The kitchen maid ushered him to the small room adjoining the kitchens that served both as a storeroom and servants' quarters and left him alone very quickly.
Sanzo let out an exasperated breath and looked about the dim room, wishing that he could just sneak out of the back window just this once. But no, not this time . . . He was stuck in this mess.
Feeling more than a little stifled in the cramped space, he threw the window open and almost swallowed his tongue at the sight that greeted him. Namely the upside-down corpse of one of Lu'dan's men swinging like some kind of macabre wind-chime just outside.
He took a closer look at the man. Definitely dead. The stiff's left eye was a bloody mess--it looked as though someone had rammed a long, thin and extremely sharp object through and hit the brain right after--
Oh. Oh shit.
Craning his neck to avoid the dangling body, he looked out and up at the open window on the second floor. The man's own belt had been tied around one ankle and the other end was fastened somewhere in the room upstairs. Sanzo would have bet his gun that he was currently situated directly below Lu'dan's quarters . . .
It took some effort and balancing on the windowsill to undo the belt from the corpse's ankle and catch it before it hit the ground. Rigour mortis had not set in yet. He had been barely dead for half an hour . . . Half an hour in which this man's comrades had been dispatched . . . Lu'dan would have been busy with greeting Kyoba and so this man had been upstairs, alone and doing guard duty outside his employer's room when he had been killed. If Sanzo's guess was correct--and he *knew* he was--the guard had been most likely taken by surprise.
Just the element of surprise and the guts to kill in a manner that would result in very little noise and very little gore . . . You didn't even need that much strength to penetrate the eye and the soft tissue behind it--
One more dead body. There were two more bullets in his gun at the moment.
Sanzo propped the stiffening corpse up against the wall outside and fired one shot. The corpse fell back, still leaking enough blood to be convincing. Of course, these bumpkins would not have seen enough of violent deaths to know that a shot at that range that would have resulted in a considerably larger amount of blood all over the place.
From somewhere outside the room, the babble of frightened voices started up again. Sanzo opened the door irritably and faced the panicked faces outside.
"Someone tried to sneak out the back--I shot him," he snapped curtly. This announcement, they took in their stride, eyeing the smoking weapon in his hand fearfully. After all, there were all those dead bodies outside to attest to the monk's willingness to kill anyone who got in his way.
Left to himself again, Sanzo felt the first twinges that signalled the end of the last adrenaline rush and the onset of true weariness. He was beginning to feel each and every one of his hurts again. Overstrained muscles, the ache in his skull and the most recent acquisition of a flesh wound by that lucky crossbow bolt. Fortunately for him, the wound was shallow and merely required washing.
A tiny sink in one corner yielded water drawn from rooftop cistern. He washed off the blood as well as he could and poured a splash of whiskey over the gash in his upper arm. It stung like the blazes, but he had done enough field dressings to know what to expect by now. That was why he kept bandages in his small pack of possessions for minor injuries like this.
His clothes were beyond the skill of any tailor or laundry-woman to repair--not that anyone would have touched them in the first place. Sanzo stripped off the offensive garments and used them as rags to mop whatever fluids or viscera still clinging onto his skin. He had not bothered with underwear after so many months of living in the open and the current set of pants had outlived its function.
And then there was *that* cumbersome package, given by the monastery as "a token of good will". There would be fresh robes in there, as loath as he was to admit needing them. But when he opened it, the garments within were not the robes that a travelling monk would have worn. He had last seen robes like *this* four years ago.
Of all the--
Sanzo closed his eyes for a moment, willing himself to be calm. The abbot was an *annoyingly* clever man.
And he could not feel angry at the presumption. Not when it had been *he* who had been putting this off for so long.
Master, you've won. Again.
The shirt and pants were practical, if a bit of a pain to pull on over new wounds because they were rather tight. He put the robes on and belted it with the sash. Smoothed the fine material over his shoulders and set the largely ornamental breastplate over it--it would not defend against real weapons or the claws of a youkai.
It was a reminder that a Sanzo was a defender of the Sutras, not just an elevated monk.He remembered that . . . that particular morsel of information from his Master.
You are now Genjo Sanzo.
He wondered what Koumyou Sanzo would say about Genjo Sanzo finally donning the robes of his position and not just the name he had been given after all this time. An acknowledgement? Perhaps so.
And it felt right because he could not keep running from the unavoidable fact that he was his Master's successor. With responsibilities. With a mission to fulfil because he had failed his Master.
Sanzo unfurled the Infernal Land Sutra and set it about his shoulders. He would not be parted from it. Never again. Like the robes, it would serve as a constant reminder of the cross he bore--as heavy a weight as the diadem he wore on his head.
* * * * * * * * * *
The appearance of Genjo Sanzo robed as befitting his rank stunned all and sundry who had stayed behind out of sheer morbid curiosity. An unfortunate effect that caused people to start bowing and scraping if they had to address him about the locations of all the bodies.
He did not want this. He did not want all these sheep following him around asking for directions. But there was nothing he could do about it now.
In the meantime, the kitchen staff made a lot of coffee and fretted while waiting for the authorities to show up. Which they did--a good hour later. Sanzo had never seen a larger collection of men who wished that they were elsewhere--preferably counting their stocks of dried goods or tallying bales of hay.
The authorities out here were apparently made up of anyone who could read, write and count past ten. And they had no idea about how to approach him and the problem at hand.
To forestall any tiresome questioning, he held up the letter from the abbot of Louyang. "My name is Genjo Sanzo. I was being unlawfully detained by the innkeeper and his wife helped me escape. If you want a damned confession, then yes, I did kill those bandits out there. Some of them are flesh-traders from the north. If you ask one of the drudges, they could probably point you in the direction of where some of the innkeeper's victims were buried."
The amazement at his title, the shock at his bald-faced acknowledgement of the massacre and the identities of the slain seemed to knock the officials for a loop. Then came the tiresome statements from witnesses and the other servants who protested loudly that they had been working under duress under their crooked master. A search of Lu'dan's quarters--which were the ones just above the kitchens as Sanzo had guessed--alone yielded far more precious baubles and personal effects for one innkeeper, not to mention a meticulous tally of illegally-gained goods.
Men were sent out to the site of a mass grave that supposedly held the remains of victims who had wound up as entrees. They came back in, ashen-faced and shaken, to confirm the fact that there were a large number of incomplete human remains buried less than four feet underground. A lot of people who had patronised the inn would be feeling queasy for a fairly long time to come.
It was early evening before anyone of them came up to him again with anything significant. A lot of coffee had gone down since than and Sanzo's patience was rapidly fraying.
"Sanzo-sama . . ." the man began hesitantly, mentally fumbling with a prepared speech.
"It is apparent that the former owner of this inn was a brigand and murderer. It comes as a shock to us all that he had dealings with an illegal flesh-trader You acted in self-defence and justice was served--"
"Don't talk about fucking *justice*. You're just glad someone else took care of it for you." Sanzo ground his cigarette out on the tabletop and glared at the official. "There had to have been some cases of disappearances in the past. But you never checked, did you? If I were you--for which I am eternally glad I am *not*--I would investigate just how much grease the landlord applied to the palms of your local law enforcers to close both eyes to his fishy dealings."
The official went purple in the face, then turned pale as Sanzo's accusations hit a little too close to home. He started to splutter, but was pulled back by another officer.
"Forgive us," the second man said. "I am Dagen, currently holding the rank of lieutenant in this sorry excuse for a provincial office, but I was merely educated as a law clerk. Please understand that our resources are spread thin. Bribery here is easy if you consider the fact that the average official barely gets enough to get by. We are grateful and more than relieved for your help, Sanzo-sama."
Sanzo snorted softly. "So wrap this investigation up. I haven't got all day."
"We shall. But would you at least say a prayer for the dead? People aren't happy that there's a mass grave here . . ."
He seriously wanted to tell the man to fuck off. But he did not. In the end, he went with them anyhow. To a small field not far away from the inn, but well away from the main road. To where they had unearthed several sites containing various humans remains.
Some superstitious folk had already brought a tablet and joss for the dead.
And for the sake of his Master's compassion--compassion that had lead to a rescue of an orphaned boy from the river--he chanted the Sutras that he had never forgotten. The Heart Sutra. The Diamond Sutra. Not so much to appease dead spirits but to ease the minds of the people who had came to watch and pray that no restless souls remained here.
There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.
And then *she* was there, looking drawn but steady on her feet at the back of the crowd that had gathered. Somehow, she had found the time to shed her bloodied clothes and had turned herself out in a respectable grey smock and proper shoes. Enough to pass off as human again. Like some wronged woman who had not condoned her husband's actions and had piously helped a priest.
She came up to him when he finished, ignoring all the officials standing by. The look on her face seemed to say, "So you really are a priest. Wonders never cease."
Dagen looked at Sanzo with raised brows. "And this lady was the w--"
"Is the owner of the property and the ferry crossing according to your rather interesting backcountry inheritance rules," Sanzo said flatly. "I believe it is written in your province's charter that any capital of the deceased reverts back to any blood-kin who can claim it as inheritance. Or, in the case of no heirs and blood-kin, it goes back to the surviving wife as a repayment of the dowry money upon the annulment of marriage via death."
It had to be said that some of Dagen's peers did not look too happy about that. But they were not about to argue about it now--not with a volatile priest quoting their own laws at them.
"Very well then . . ."
"Sanzo-sama, would please consider ministering to the families who are trying to identify if the bodies belong to one of their lost loved ones?"
Sanzo felt his headache returning with a vengeance. He would be trapped by this mass of superstitious peasants and--
A bony hand clamped down on his arm. "Priest, would you help an old woman? I'm having trouble remembering some of the prayers and my conscience cannot wait." The old woman nodded genially at the officials as though she had not heard the previous exchange. "And my legs are none too steady--premature arthritis, I'm afraid."
It was an escape route and Sanzo grabbed it hurriedly. "The lady needs to pray for the wretched soul of her husband--"
"And my arthritis--"
"Yes . . . the riverbank will do," she said, putting her weight on his arm a little more than what was necessary for support. "Mustn't take up too much of the priest's time now . . ."
"I think you've put a lot of noses out of joint today," she said when Dagen and the other part-time officials were out of earshot. "Fortunately, I did not burn that marriage tablet yet . . . You should have been a lawyer, priest."
"Hmph." Sanzo lit another cigarette, ostensibly watching some men setting up a grave marker for the slain. "I stayed a while at Louyang Monastery--long enough for an old priest to babble on about certain points of the law."
"Embarrassed at helping out an old women?" She sounded amused. "Walk with me a while, priest. I think I have a confession to make now that all this is over . . ."
"As long as it keeps me away from that pack of damn vultures."
"They're just awed."
Sanzo snorted. "Awed at a mere monk?" He doubted that anyone here really knew the significance of his rank.
"No, boy. They think you look like some heavenly messenger of sorts. And who would pass up the chance to look at a young god?"
"That's the largest load of crap I've heard all day." Sanzo glanced sideways to see if she was hiding a smile. But her expression was mostly blank. "Hmmph."
"There are rabbit-holes out there, but you'll have to watch out for them," she said blithely.
Leaning on his arm for support, she headed purposefully in the general direction of the river, stopping and here and there to pick up a wild flower or two. Sanzo hoped that she was not entertaining any suicidal fantasies--he was in no mood to save people from themselves. Let the other priests do the dispensation of salvation and hope--he was hardly qualified.
Afterwards, she merely knelt at the small boat dock and set the pitiful handful of weeds gathered from the field adrift on the current.
"There's no incense to burn. I wonder if he would mind . . ."
"The dead rarely care about such things."
"Perhaps." They watched the weed flowers float over the deceptively calm surface of the river. "He's always been with me, but I think I should let him go now. He's not my reason to go on living anymore."
She sat back on her heels contemplatively. "It wasn't anything like that, you know? That kind of grand and sweeping romance that girls want . . . He wanted to find a wife and we got along well enough. This is *not* the part when I fling myself into the river--I actually got over that years ago," she said matter-of-factly. "I think I really would have done it back then . . . But I had an obligation to him."
"He would have wanted you to live." A meaningless platitude.
"No, priest--you do not understand . . . I was three months pregnant when my husband was murdered. We got along well enough for *that*." By the tone of her voice he could tell that she was privately amused.
He glanced down at her still back, slightly disconcerted. "So . . . did you . . ."
"Oh, no . . . I wasn't that frail. I gave birth to a son--a healthy boy."
The child would have been killed by Lu'dan then. Two lives for which she had waited so long for revenge.
"Poor boy . . . Lu'dan would have killed him. But I crept out as soon as I could get up. I suppose I didn't know what I was doing--I could barely crawl and there was no where I could go for help . . ." She stood up and brushed off her robe absent-mindedly. "Didn't even think about pinching a horse to escape--but I couldn't ride anyhow. I couldn't do a lot of things back then . . . Girls where I came from were mostly trained to be ornamental vases . . .
"I couldn't keep him with me."
A bird flew over the surface of the river before them, shattering the calm surface of the water.
"I'm telling this to you, priest, because you are not like any holy man I have ever seen," she continued steadily. "I suppose I had some notion of escaping on a boat or something back then. But there weren't any boats--none that I could manage, I think . . . So I put my son on an old plank and hoped like mad." Her gaze followed the river's path southwards. Southwards where it would shortly join other tributaries to form the trunk of a larger river that flowed east.
The Yellow River.
"Miracles . . . do you believe in them?"
In that instant, Sanzo did not trust himself to answer. He did not even trust himself to breathe.
He found his tongue at last and uttered the blandest thing that the monks used to say at the monastery when faced with such questions. "They have been known to occur."
"Ah? How pedantic . . . that would have been what the monks at the temples I visited as a child would say. Usually right after the bit about how the Goddess of Mercy aids all those in need. I don't put much faith in them after all these years." In the light of the fading sun, her hair was tinted yellow and orange. Her eyes--which could have been any shade from brown to dark blue before the cataracts and a life spent in darkness had obscured them--reflected the light for a moment when she turned to face him.
"I don't think about the possibilities anymore. It was a very old and warped plank after all. So, priest, what say you?"
"Someone once told me that in life, we would have to make our own way," Sanzo said tonelessly, not trusting his voice one whit at that point. And we make our own way, no matter what the cost. "Perhaps you are asking the wrong kind of priest about it. I just killed more than two dozen men because they were in my way."
He knew what she was asking of him. If it had been the right thing to do. If she had actually drowned her son despite her best intentions. If she had been less than sane at that point in time to have done such a thing.
If only he could answer--shocked as he was, confused as he was . . . He was barely seventeen--but how much time could prepare a person for something like this? Sanzo had never thought much about his parentage because the boy he had been had simply decided that Koumyou Sanzo was all the family he needed.
And Koumyou Sanzo was the kind of person who could deal with this sort of thing. Because he would not judge and he would not turn people away even though he would give bloody cryptic answers most of the time. But in the end, there would be a grain of truth in it and it would be more comforting than anything that Genjo Sanzo could ever say or do.
Behind his stillness, shock gave away to confusion and a hundred questions that clamoured for attention.
How long ago was--
Did she leave anything with--
Questions that died halfway to his lips.
He was too much of a coward to ask.
So very afraid of the answers.
She frightened him, this woman with her dark past, haunted eyes and deep scars. The failure to protect the most precious things. The ever-present guilt that lurked behind every nightmare. The myriad of what ifs. The depths she had sunken to.
It was like looking into a--
"Which is not much of an answer at all . . . Though if you had said copying out the Lotus Sutra twenty times, I would have been just a little disappointed. Priest . . ." She had stopped ruminating and was looking at him expectantly. "Are you leaving on whatever quest you're on?"
"How did you--" The words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself.
"You look like you were trying to find something. Something important. So important that you wouldn't let a lowlife pack of bandits stand in your way." Something like a real smile appeared to grace her face for a moment. Or perhaps it was just a trick of the fading light.
"You could say that . . . So what are you going to do?" He wanted her to live. He knew that she had to be alive when he had completed his quest for his Master's stolen Sutra. She had to be to answer his questions when he was strong enough to ask her.
"I don't know . . . There's nothing for me here except bad memories . . ."
But he had to be able to find her some day.
"But someone told me that I had to make my own way . . . Why should I let that bastard taint my memories anymore?" She looked back at the ferry crossing and the inn. "It was *my* dowry money he stole to build it, damn it."
"You could keep it," he found himself saying. "It's still a profitable venture out here."
"True. A woman doesn't have it easy out here in the sticks, you know?" She plucked one last grass stalk from her clothing and got up carefully. "But this place is going to get a bad reputation. I suppose that can't be helped now."
Sanzo contented himself with making non-committal noises now and then. "Ah."
"I'll have to hire more help . . ."
Only then did he realise just how ruthlessly practical she was as she neatly redirected her focus from revenge onto her own life. She had apparently lost the suicidal impulse years ago. Thoughtfully silent, he followed her back to the inn where the kitchen drudges were timidly setting things to rights.
"Eh--they fall back on routine well enough . . . at least they didn't run away," she said, surveying the clean-up in progress.
"Trained dogs don't stray far away from their food dishes."
"Very true, I'm afraid. But they've got *some* spirit left in them. Stay for dinner, priest? I don't think I need my store of rat poison anymore."
It was in his mind to refuse, because all those foolish officials were still hanging around, as were the curious and annoyingly inquisitive. He was not in the mood for any more questions or hearing the whispers as they covertly glanced his way.
It was the fucking monastery all over again.
But the old woman steered him into a relatively quiet side-room and set a loaded tray in front of him despite his protests. "Eat it anyway. You're too skinny. And no alcohol until you get through half of it."
The pot was calling the kettle black, but Sanzo was more annoyed because she had pre-empted his wish for spirits.
"What's that then?" he asked, jerking a thumb in the direction of the crowded common room and taproom where things seemed to be moving along as usual and the patrons seemed well on the way to getting very drunk. "The post-investigation and exhumation party?"
"It doesn't hurt anyone to follow their routine. It takes their minds off other things."
Sanzo did not doubt that most of those who had seen the contents of the mass grave would want to find forgetfulness in a bottle and let the tablet and grave markers do the remembering for them.
"Those yokel officials out there aren't following their routine. It'd be better if you were rid of them."
"What, and lose the chance to sell overpriced beer to that lot?" she asked sarcastically before leaving him alone. And in the end, the desire for a strong drink faded and he found himself wanting nothing more than to rest.
Sanzo did not regret the chance to bathe and wash all the accumulated grime and blood from his skin. A reasonably long soak in the baths relieved some of his aching muscles and allowed him to sleep the moment he found his bed in a room well away from the noise of the crowd downstairs. It came with a bolted door and he permitted himself to let his guard down at last.
He did not dream. Exhaustion carried him deep into oblivion and well through the night. When he finally woke about an hour after dawn, he realised that it had rained in the middle of the night and he had slept through it all.
Regarding the mist-draped countryside from his window, Sanzo wasted a quarter of an hour musing on nothing in particular. It felt good to empty out his mind before dressing in his robes--the robes of a Sanzo. He would get used to it, in time.
The ferry was in operation as though yesterday had never happened. By the looks of it, someone had drafted some burly farm-boys and they were cheerfully bungling their way through the delivery of a load of chickens across the river. Down in the common rooms were the comatose forms from the previous night, sleeping peacefully through all the yelling, splashing and squawks of outraged chickens. Sanzo was suddenly glad that he had not indulged in any beer. He would be able to make his escape with relative ease now.
A familiar figure was directing the staff in the cleanup downstairs. She looked up when he trod on one particularly creaky step on the way down.
"Thought you'd be out of it a bit longer than that . . . Breakfast?"
"I'd rather be out of here before that lot wakes up," he said, nodding at the snoring collection of officials, farmers and the like.
"Pity. I'll see you out." And she did, walking out all the way to the main thoroughfare with him. He did not protest it, not even when she pressed a bag of provisions on him.
"The least you can do is get a little less skinny," she said.
"Don't waste your breath thanking me."
"Oh, I won't . . . Though I was told," she began casually, "that they found Lu'dan dead--shot in the knee . . . and throat."
Sanzo did not deign to reply.
"And they also said that you caught the last man sneaking out behind the kitchens and shot him--through the left eye . . ."
She looked at him for a moment and looked away. "Nothing--just curiosity . . ."
They glanced back at the inn and the surrounding compound. It was not as though a simple building could have any more meaning or significance than what people placed on it . . . but this place had to hold a wealth of unpleasant memories for her.
"You've made up your mind to stay here?"
The old woman nodded. "In the end, this is still home. I saw the first brick laid--you could say I've grown . . . rather attached to it."
There was no way he could have forestalled his next question. It simply rammed its way out unchecked without any intervention by his brain. "So how long has it been since then?"
"About twenty years or so . . . I think."
*That* was like a punch to the gut. And he did not know what he ought to feel at that revelation. Too long ago. So it couldn't be--
As if you could trust *her* judgement when it came to time-keeping!the insidious voice in his head jeered at him. Twenty years could be seventeen years or an eternity living inside her own head!
But what if her account was accurate? And if it was not, then some other child had drowned in the river. Not the first to do so. So many babies left to drown in that river . . . And he, out of so many of them, had survived.
While he had been immersed in his own thoughts, she had been speaking. "If you're looking for a stopover during your wanderings, boy, this place is always open and it *has* got good service."
"Perhaps . . ."
"That's the most civil I've ever seen you, priest."
"My name is Genjo Sanzo."
Her eyes widened. "Your rank is that high? But you're only--" She paused and shook her head ruefully. "No, I wouldn't underestimate you. My name is Ketsu'e."
Sanzo nodded and stepped out onto the road. East again, through the mountains this time and all the way to Chou An . . .
"Hey . . ."
He stopped and turned slightly.
That slightly girlish tilt of the head again. "Come back someday, boy--and next time, I expect a real answer from you."
One day. Some day, he would come back to face this woman once again and ask her . . .
Ask her his hundred questions and perhaps a thousand more.
And perhaps, he could answer her question at last.
* * * * * * * * * *
End of fic.
Fic Status: Complete as of 06/09/2002. (Fic was actually started in March 2002. *looks sheepish*) Unbeta-ed. (So if anyone is kind enough and has the time, I wouldn't object to having it beta-read.) It is also the first multi-part-fic in two years that I actually finished. T_T I suck . . .
Update Status: Being continuously revised. Typos and grammar--very, very bad. After corrections, the fic will merely be bad.
The fragment of the Heart Sutra was from Dr. C. George Boeree's site:
The idea for this was lifted off the original Xi You Ji. (What, you thought I had any original ideas in my head? Perish the thought.) About 500 years after the Great Sage had been imprisoned under the mountain, the Buddha created the Scriptures and sent Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy/Kanzeon) to find a holy man to fetch them from the West. The lucky guy was Xuanzang (kanji = Genjo), a foundling who had grown up in a monastery and taken up vows. He was also the son of a royally-appointed official and a well-born lady, but he had been born after his father had been murdered by a lecherous boatman. The boatman impersonated the official and abducted his wife. The lady stayed alive for the sake of her unborn offspring and set him adrift on the river shortly after his birth because she was told to do so by a deity sent by the Goddess of Mercy. The baby was found by the abbot of Jinshan (kanji = Kinzan) Temple and grew up without knowledge of his parentage. Nevertheless, the tale has a happy ending--Xuanzang's father was not really dead, everyone got re-united in the end and the bad guy got his comeuppance, etc, etc. Xuanzang took the name Sanzang (kanji = Sanzo) and set off for the West about three chapters and a lot of poetry later.
Note-type-thingies: If Sanzo in Kazuya Minekura's "Saiyuki" had been the type to jump up and yell "Mom!" on the 99.99% chance that it really was his mother, this fic would've turned out *very* differently. But that's about as likely as him giving up on the coffin nails . . . And I'm not one for happy endings without at least a truckload of angst in between. (Xuanzang's real mother, Yin Wenqiao, ornamental vase that she was, still had the sense to write a message on her shift in blood and bite off her son's little toe for an identifying mark even when she was promised a miracle. Sanzo appears to have all his toes . . .)
Body count: 26
Do nasty things to Sanzo: *nods* *runs away as fast as she can*