symbolism_egg: (It's Madarao; kinhoshi)
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: Not long before Christmas, Tokusa regales his fellow Crows with a curious story.
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: violent and sexual themes, religious themes like woah
Disclaimer: The D. Gray-man series and characters do not belong to me.
Note: The religious beliefs depicted in this story are not intended to offend anyone or to reflect my own beliefs. Also, I don't know if Kiredori is male or female.

There was a clever boy born in a village to the east, and from his mother’s dreams of shining angels speaking to her in a celestial tongue that night, which might be dismissed by the unbeliever as hallucinations, but I assure you were not, it was known to the her that this boy was destined to serve God. The swift recovery of her neighbors from their sickness only increased this conviction. She named him half after virtue and raised him in the traditions of her honored ancestors and the faith of the West. The first words to pass the boy’s lips were the Lord’s Prayer. As if by some heavenly aura, he brightened all around him with his wit and grace, for it was said, “have the wisdom of serpents.”

And this man was serpent-wise enough to tread on the devil and outsmart him should he ever encounter the fiend, whose devils plague this earth. When the boy walked as a child, surely seedlings sprouted where he stepped.

The Lord called him at a young age.

“Mother,” he said, “I must follow where heaven wills,” he said, and traveled to the west where he became a man. Those he left behind were sorely deprived of his presence, I am sure, but he left to serve them also.

The year was far into December, and it chanced that the core members under Madarao’s command were stationed on-base for the Christmas holidays. They had happened to enter, by ones and twos, a sitting room in the corner of their lodging hall. Being a site of leisure and not diligence, it was unfamiliar to them, and was crowded with boxes moved from storage, besides. To make it worse, someone had disregarded the warnings against mistletoe again, and Goushi was occupied with taking it down. In the corner was propped a fir tree that remained untouched only because of the baffling note tied to it: Please File.

Near Goushi, Kiredori perched on the arm of a chair that held a box, and appeared to be nestling in the fir’s needles. Link sat on the other side of the chair, absorbed in the book he held before his face. He faced the fireplace, cleaned enough for a low fire, and claimed by Tokusa. Madarao sat to one side of it, frowning, his arms crossed.

“Are you going to continue?” asked Tevak, who sat cross-legged on a cushion in front of the fire.

It was Tokusa’s fault they hadn’t left.

When the clever young man set out on his travels again, bearing the cross, demons and unclean animals fled before him. How each town rejoiced when rats and weevils and beetles poured from the storehouses! Necessarily this must inconvenience the next town down the road, reasoned the young man, but he couldn’t help his blessed aura. The townsfolk flocked around him in wonder and praised him, but with an appropriate modesty, he denied their praise and asked only for lodgings that night, and half a loaf if it could be spared, and a little wine, preferably red.

Now in this town was a woman named Kiredori who was with child out of wedlock thanks to

Tokusa.” This was all Madarao needed to say.

“My apologies, Madarao. I crossed that line a little abruptly, didn’t I?” Tokusa opened one of his eyes a crack and regarded his superior sidelong.

Link emerged from behind his book to say, “Tokusa, this is the most blasphemous thing I have ever heard.”

“I would give your words more value, Howard Link, if you did not say that to me at least twice a year. In fact, I’m rather amazed by my ability to attract the attention of someone so well-versed in recognizing blasphemy.”

“I feel it’s in poor taste for you to tell such a story about yourself.”

“Ah, but when did I say it was about me? I can’t quite recall.”

“You may find refuge in technicalities for now, but that won’t hold for long,” said Link, and held the book up in between himself and Tokusa again. “Although I refuse to listen to this.”

Goushi, a farmer’s son with the shoulders of an ox and all the mental virtues and faults thereof. This woman who just so happened to bear the name of Kiredori (which was popular that year, for children of either sex) was inflicted by a possession that caused her to froth at the mouth and convulse in the streets. This a peasant woman whispered to the young man as she conveyed him to an inn, where he entered, bowing low to the other patrons, and stepped across rushes to the communal table.

Now, the mayor of this town was a harsh man who had ordered the hapless woman flogged, but T—the traveler knew from his education in a monastery that this was wont to incite the demons even further. Over a fine glass of wine and a single thick slice of unbuttered bread, the young man resolved to speak with the mayor, Madarao, and dissuade him of his merciless conduct towards the poor fallen woman, for mercy was a virtue of the Lord, as the young man took his time to remind others when he could, for the sake of their souls.

Now, it was known that Madarao, belying his upstanding front, was engaged in sinful conduct with the choir boy, Link

“I—what—Tokusa! I will not allow such slander!” said Link.

“My apologies, but I thought you weren’t listening.” Tokusa moved a bit farther from Madarao, who had uncrossed his arms and was looking at him like a target.

“You owe an apology to Kiredori and Goushi as well. What you say is disgusting and untrue,” said Link, regaining his composure, “and might I inquire as to why I am a choir boy?”

“From the way you’re reading a hymnal outside of church, I thought perhaps you had found a new hobby.”

“No, it’s because I had more work than expected and could not attend mass last night, and so missed the choral performance.”

“Did you take it from the pews?” asked Kiredori reprovingly. Goushi had finished his task, and found space beside the fir tree to seat himself.

“Of course not. The south library had a copy.”

“I would expect no less of you,” said Tokusa.

although this was nothing more than an empty rumor that the young man did not give credence to for a moment. Link could not rightly be called a choir boy either, for in the past month the rest of the choir had been massacred by Vikings, and there were not yet sufficient new members to form a new one. At this time Link was working at a

“Bakery,” said Link.

Tokusa arched one smudge of an eyebrow. “A mere bakery?”

“I feared what sort of manual labor you might have me doing.”

“Do continue,” urged Tevak.

bakery for a low wage. This fine bakery was run by Mister Leverrier

Secretary Leverrier,” corrected Link.

“Might you explain to me how one can be Secretary of a bakery?”

of a fine lineage of secretaries who had refined the art of baking. Following this tradition, the apprentice Link had baked the bread of which the young man had partaken. Surely no earthly bread could be finer in taste or texture. It was to the source of such wasted talent that To—the traveler journeyed the next morn, after curing a blind girl, who had been in the choir also, of her affliction with a palm pressed to her forehead.

Had Link been doing unmentionable things with Madarao, the traveler would here have charmed some insight from him to aid his task, but those being mere rumors, he went there to obtain more of the simple bread that was his sustenance.

Indeed, the bread at this bakery was much too fine. Might you not bake some coarse and half-cooked loaf, more suited to my humility? cried the afflicted traveler.

Don’t be ridiculous, said Link in reply, that is an insult to the name of Leverrier’s Bakery.

Secretary Leve—”

Ah, I remember now, his sin was gluttony, and in truth he was eating a blackberry pie while he spoke to the traveler, and baked. The delicious aromas within would have tempted any but the traveler, whose will was strong, and who did not much care for blackberries. He resigned himself to a breaking his fast with a loaf more delicious than otherwise, and inquired into Madarao’s conduct.

The mayor is a terrible, terrible man, cried Link, striking the pie with his fork in anger, and we must work seventeen hours a day, although I myself enjoy it, and on Wednesdays work eighteen. This was why he was not fat despite his vice, at least not very.

Link was grinding his teeth together. “Not very?”

“If you might stop interrupting, Link,” said Tevak. Her gaze was fixed on Tokusa in fascination.

In this village lived also a beautiful young woman named Tevak. She was more beautiful than the other maidens of this kingdom. Certainly more beautiful than Kiredori. She was as beautiful as the flowers that sprang up outside the bakery at the young man’s heels, which were as beautiful as the wings of angels. And yet Tevak was plagued by troubles, and not just the misfortune of being Madarao’s younger sister. Wait, wait, don’t hit me, please, I take that back entirely—indeed, Madarao was the paragon of older brothers, admired and feared by hospitalized suitors of Tevak everywhere, in various hospitals.

No, Tevak’s misfortune was that she was engaged to Howard Link.

“Tokusa. Do you want me to kill Link?” asked Madarao.

“Not particularly, no,” Tokusa replied pleasantly.

“I’m not even responsible for any of this!”

Tevak lamented this unfortunate turn of fate. Link was a God-fearing young man, but he would rather fill in those little customer order forms than devote time to courting her. He toiled most hours of the day and night. He expected her to move into his bakery. He had, at most, three expressions. Although there were rumors that he had smiled, not a one of them had ever been proven.

Alas, Link’s only objection to the doubts she voiced had been to point out that he had already filled out the engagement and marriage contracts, and, too, he evinced a remarkable ability to continue baking after being punched in the face, upon which Madarao had declared him marginally worthy.

But I neglect the sainted wanderer of this tale. The young man heard tell of Madarao’s beautiful sister from Link, and, thanking him, left the bakery. Now he chanced to pass beneath Tevak’s window, and look up. He was immediately stricken blind by her beauty. But a passing angel healed his eyes, and he looked up at her again.

I have heard of your affliction, cried the young man.

It’s true, I’m engaged to Howard Link, she replied, who has no sense of humor.

The young man vowed to give his aid to her, another in need.

“I don’t care for this story, Tokusa,” said Madarao. “Finish up this nonsense.”

Tevak’s expression had not changed this whole time.

“Let me tell a story more suited to your tastes, then,” Tokusa told Madarao.

Suddenly, a demon! Tokusa slew him with his sword.

“No,” said Madarao.

“See, it is you,” Link said accusingly.

There was blood everywhere. The man who was, at times, mistaken for someone named Tokusa raised his eyes to heaven and offered a prayer for the souls of the deceased. But the hapless young man had little time for benedictions. Madarao was at that moment filled with wrath and searching for someone to discipline.

It was four o’clock in the afternoon, and, right on schedule, Kiredori was in the town square, possessed by demons and frothing at the mouth.

“I’m afraid I have to go,” said Kiredori, standing abruptly and stalking out of the room.

“And I have paperwork,” said Goushi, doing likewise.

Tokusa watched them go with a disappointed expression, but rallied and carried on for the sake of his reduced audience, at least one of whom regarded him with murderous intent.

A crowd of villagers had gathered round her, for besides their daily toil, there was little to do in this town. But Madarao saw their indolence and Kiredori’s madness, and, angered further, he approached them calling for their punishment. Yet between him and his victims appeared the young man, unarmed save for his faith. No, as a messenger of peace, he did not actually bear a sword (for there had been no demon), which would not have been proof against Madarao in any case, for it was the mayor’s cold heart which the young man faced.

Find enough mercy in your soul to spare the suffering, said the young man to Madarao.

No, said Madarao.

Why not? asked the young man.

It’s tradition, said Madarao, and who the hell are you, anyway?

I am but a humble servant of God. He does not wish you to do this, and I speak now for Him.

Can you prove it? demanded Madarao, who was truly an unyielding man.

I will drive out the demons from this young woman, Kiredori, declared Tokusa—the young man, that is—but you must promise never to harm the townsfolk under you, if I do.

Although impatient to berate the townsfolk who even now eyed him with fear from beyond the traveler, Madarao agreed to let him try, but only because he mistakenly believed a beating to be the superior way of driving out demons, and expected the young man to fail. If you fail, he warned, you will be put in the pillory and laughed at for a fraud.

But the young man was not afraid. He looked at Kiredori, whose demon was driving her to slap one of the watching townsfolk, and saw that it was a fierce demon indeed. Goushi watched helplessly from the edge of the crowd, lamenting her state. The young man touched Kiredori’s forehead, but this was not sufficient to drive out the demon, and indeed, she tried to bite him.

Now, the young man knew that although miracles were all very well, often reason must bolster faith, and so he turned his brilliant mind to the case of Kiredori’s demon. Judging that a demon cannot coexist with the holiness of a sacrament, he asked if Kiredori had ever been baptized, but learned only that the priest had left the town months ago for fear of Madarao. The traveler had an idea that was better yet, and might curb the malicious gossip about Kiredori and Goushi as well as drive out the demon.

Call for Howard Link, he cried.

What, the choir boy? asked Madarao.

No, the apprentice baker, and your sister’s betrothed, said the holy traveler. He bade a child to fetch the baker, and Tevak as well.

Soon the two arrived in the square and stood before the young man. The young man held in his hands the forms he had instructed Link to fetch, and said,

Tevak, do you wish to wed this man?

No, I do not, she cried, for he loves the oven more than he loves me, and is not particularly attractive.

She begged forgiveness of Link and her brother, who found both her objections reasonable.

No, forgive me, said Link, for I have neglected you. Donuts are far too distracting. Tevak, who was almost half as kind as she was beautiful, readily offered her forgiveness, and from that moment forward they were very good friends.

The young man knew two who ought to be wed in their place, and so he crossed the names of Link and Tevak from the marriage contract and wrote in the names of Kiredori and Goushi. The sacrament of marriage, which magically makes intimate relations acceptable in a somewhat arbitrary fashion, is holy, and when the paramours signed the marriage papers, there was an inhuman shriek as the demon was driven from Kiredori. She wiped the froth from her lips and gravely thanked the traveler.

Even Madarao was impressed by the young man’s God-given wisdom, and, having the honor not to renege his vow, and urged to charitable thoughts by his sister Tevak, whose heart was warmed by the traveler’s kindness, he made an agreement with the gathered townsfolk. It was decreed that the townsfolk need never work more than six hours a day, except for Link, who might work eighteen, and may not be flogged unless convicted, except for Link, who might be flogged if he left the muffins in the oven for too long and burnt them.

The townsfolk thronged around the young man and praised his name, and vowed to remember him and his miracle. They had never seen the like of his wisdom. He blessed them and refused all offers of money, taking with him only his faith in God, and some bread also.

Tokusa stopped talking. The fire had waned at this point, and there was a chill in the air, although this was nothing to the members of Crow. Link and Madarao were ignoring Tokusa much as they were the cold. He looked at Tevak expectantly.

“Tokusa…that was a horrible story,” she said.

“I would never burn muffins,” said Link.

“It was quite insulting to my elder brother as well, you know.”

“Tokusa,” said Madarao, “I am going to have to speak with you about disciplinary measures.”

“After Christmas, I am sure?”

“After Christmas, if only because there is no time on my schedule tomorrow.”

“Wonderful,” said Tokusa, the smile on his face not wholly sincere. “Surely this is a Christmas miracle.”

“Hardly,” said Link.

Madarao and Tevak were rising to their feet. Side by side, they swept out of the sitting room without a word of farewell.

“Do have a Merry Christmas, Link, if I don’t find another chance to say so,” said Tokusa.

“The same to you,” Link replied rather stiffly, “and come the next one, don’t waste our time with your ridiculous stories.” He closed his hymnal and, giving Tokusa a slight nod, wished him goodnight and left as well.

Tokusa yawned behind his hand and seated himself closer to the dying fire.

The young man continued his journey alone. In many lands far and near he drove away demons and healed the afflicted, and offered his wise words despite how many were too foolish to listen. Perhaps someday he would find true and worthy companions on this earth. Yet he knew that other sainted individuals wandered performing their own good acts, and in this he did not struggle alone.

Tokusa nodded to himself and went on his way.
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February 2011

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