(And why doesn't the cut part show on the nice wide lj-cut screen? I don't get this.)
"This game is over," he said, loudly so his voice could be heard, and he opened the door.
"Game?" a nervous voice answered him. "Uhh- what game?"
"Jiroushin?" Konzen blinked. "What are you doing here?" His gaze swept the room. Still empty. "What's going on? Why is it so dark all of a sudden? And have you seen Gokuu anywhere?"
"Ah- yes- "
"I mean, ah yes, I have ahh information about your first questions, or rather Kanzeon Bousatsu does, and-"
"Never mind Kanzeon. What's this all about?" Konzen settled irritably onto the bed. Bedrooms were for sleeping, was why they had beds. Bedrooms weren't for interviews, was why they didn't have chairs.
"Hir Excellency can explain it. Se wants to see you. Uhh, now. If you wouldn't mind."
"I do mind."
"Oh." Jiroushin blinked. "But se ahh commands your presence, you see."
"Too bad. I'm not going wandering through a pitch-black palace just because the old bat tells me to. Anyway I have to wait for Gokuu to come back. If he comes back." The possibility occurred to him that *Gokuu* was wandering through a pitch-black palace with no idea where he was. No, that was silly. Gokuu could smell his way back- he was an animal, after all. And anyway *I* can't go looking for him, I'd get lost myself. Just sit tight---
"What?" he said irritably. Jiroushin had been saying something.
"I am to tell you that, uhh, if I have this correctly- 'If the kami will not go to the Bousatsu, the Bousatsu will come to the kami.'"
Konzen was on the verge of saying 'Well, let hir' when the ramifications of that sank in. Kanzeon. Here. In his bedroom. Hastily he got to his feet.
"Alright, alright. I'll go see hir. *You* carry the lantern."
At least someone had finally had the sense to light a few of the lamps along the way. They made their way through the corridors of this wing- never heavily peopled at the best of times- towards Kanzeon Bousatsu's suite, repassing Tenpou along the way, still contemplating the darkness. Rather to Konzen's surprise, Jiroushin requested the Marshal's company as well.
"You wouldn't happen to know where General Kenren is, would you?" Jiroushin asked hopefully.
"Gone fishing," Tenpou said briefly, and Jiroushin's face fell.
"Oh dear. Finding him will be a problem then."
"What do you want him for?" Konzen demanded, and got only a vague "Ahh, I'll let the Bousatsu explain that" in answer. Which did nothing to improve his mood. He was seething like reheated soup by the time they got to Kanzeon's office.
"What's going on here?" he demanded as he strode through the doors. "Why is it so dark all of a sudden?" He stood menacingly, he hoped, above the lounging bodhisattva who looked up at him with quirking eyebrows.
"It's dark because the sun has gone," Kanzeon said. 'Nitwit', hir tone added.
"Well, where's it gone then?"
"Into a cave."
"Well, wh-- Uh, what? What do you mean, into a cave?"
"Into a cave means into a cave. What else would it mean?"
Konzen blinked in confusion. Tenpou's mild voice spoke behind him.
"Is there a reason for this slightly unorthodox occurrence?"
"There is indeed. She's pissed off."
"Who's pissed off?" Konzen demanded in frustration. "Besides me?" Pitch black in the middle of the day, Gokuu vanished, and the old hag sitting there babbling her nonsense--
"And would there be a reason for *that*?" Tenpou inquired, as if Konzen's question had been merely rhetorical.
"But of course. Extreme provocation, or at least what she thinks of as extreme provocation."
"She who??" Konzen howled.
"She the sun. Are you well, Konzen?" Kanzeon stood up and put a hand to his forehead. "You're having an awful lot of difficulty following a very simple conversation."
He batted hir away. "I'm perfectly well. And the sun is a flaming ball of gas."
"The celestial party line." Kanzeon sat down again. "The sun is a rather high-strung Shinto goddess who doesn't exist for official Buddhist purposes. Naturally."
"So who's been flaying pie-bald horses backwards now?" Tenpou asked, with midnight black obscurity.
"It's a little worse than pie-bald horses this time," Kanzeon said. "*Or* taking a dump in her palace. Someone has stolen her celestial peaches."
"Her celestial peaches?" A very unKonzenlike interpretation of the word had just occurred to Konzen, and he blushed crimson.
Kanzeon gave him a knowing red-lipsticked smile, as if reading his mind. "The peaches of immortality."
Tenpou's drawn breath and "Oh, I see" did nothing for Konzen's state of mind.
"The peaches of immortality belong to the Emperor," he corrected her.
"The party line," Kanzeon said again. "The peaches of immortality belong to the Heaven-Shining-Great-August-Deity--"
"What kind of a name is *that*?!"
"They're all called things like that over in Wa. Amaterasu for short. Anyway, she owns the peaches of immortality and no Konzen I don't care what that old fart says, they're hers even if they're kept here. Or were kept here, until someone walked off with them this morning. And now she's gone off in a snit and hidden herself in a cave, and that unfortunately will have repercussions not only Up Here but Down There, and not only in our Now but in their Now and Then and Will Be."
"Mh?" Tenpou inquired while Konzen blinked.
"The people Down There experience time as linear, with a past and a present and a future," Kanzeon explained.
Tenpou frowned. "But- how? Or rather, why?"
Kanzeon shrugged. "Celestial bureaucrats. They like to make things easy for themselves. In this case the paperwork on who's reborn when as what. Easier if it's separated into three categories, they think, instead of all lumped together like Up Here. And of course it only complicates things totally for the rest of us--"
"Look," Konzen said. "Enough of this. What did you call me here for? *I* have nothing to do with any peaches, whoever they belong to. I want the lights back on and I want to find Gokuu--" The words died on his lips. "Oh no," he said palely.
"Oh yes," Kanzeon nodded.
"What proof do you have?!" Startlement and anger put unaccustomed energy into his voice.
"He was seen by the guards with a peach in each hand and juice running down his chin," Kanzeon said unanswerably. "They pursued him and he ran. And then-- 'everything went black', as they say Down There."
There was silence for a moment.
"So it would seem the peaches are gone," Tenpou suggested, "and getting them back isn't an option. Since that's past praying for, there remains to get *her* back."
"As before?" Tenpou asked.
"It worked then... I'd rather hoped the General could be persuaded to take the lead part, given his talents, but since he's not here..." Se shrugged.
Tenpou grunted agreement. "We need someone else."
"Any thoughts?" Kanzeon smiled at the Marshal. Se was making up to him. Konzen hunched his shoulders, repelled. His mind turned back to the question of Gokuu. That stupid monkey- into everything, always going where he wasn't supposed to, always hungry of course...
"'Like will to like, quoth the devil to the carpenter,'" he thought he heard Tenpou say, which was total nonsense. Must have misheard... and where would Gokuu go hide when he was in trouble?
"Ah, yes. I was thinking the same thing." Konzen's attention snapped back. Kanzeon had that tone to hir, the one like a cat's smile, satisfied and more than a little untrustworthy.
"What thing?" he demanded.
They both looked at him. "We need someone like the sun."