“Well, that’s unusual.” The God of Wealth, threw a sarcastic remark, leaning against one of the columns. “For the Mighty Ryou to go back to his shrine. Because you really do care about the people, right?”
“You should care about your own business. When I’m going back to my shrine, has nothing to do with you.” Ryou walked towards the door, holding an empty expression on his face, but inside he was getting irritated already.
“Oh, I sure am. Way better than you do. In every way.” Ryou still heard how the man was laughing, as he quietly shut the door.
Usually, he wouldn’t care about other Gods knowing that Ryou is not really devoted to his duties. That the man stopped giving his all long ago for someone so selfish as humans. Ryou lived long enough to understand how this life worked and what he wanted from his existence, and he didn’t feel guilty about it. Not anymore.
A fully closed wooden carriage with an open door was already waiting for him at the edge of the path. Leaving TEN, the home of all Gods, was never this hard as today. Maybe because at least several months have passed since he last been there. Going back only to drown in days of lasting pain for someone this greedy and self-centered wasn’t inviting. The God got inside the vehicle and the door closed on its own. Ryou exhaled deeply, leaning his back against the seat, watching through the window at the glossy sky. His stay shouldn’t take too long.
“Ryou-sama, welcome back!”
As soon as the carriage landed on the ground, even before the doors opened, the God already heard greetings coming from outside. He gave himself a moment to change his empty look into a polite smile, before getting off.
Ryou was about to nod to the gathered monks, but all his thoughts were suddenly pushed aside. Everyone’s spiritual powers were different. It was like an energy field surrounding the person, and the God didn’t even need to see a person's face or hear their voices to know whose it was. Human’s spiritual powers were so blunt compared to Gods. Barely visible, just a line of a very thin shield surrounding them. Monks, of course, were emitting most of it, and Ryou knew every last of it. He didn’t bother to separate students’, they were too weak anyway.
However now, the shrine was wrapped in the softest rays and layers of the brightest breeze. A sort of light that kindled something beautiful within, and at the same time stirred every other energy around. The warmest waves welcomed Ryou like no words ever could. At its purest, the most gentle form of a soul, that brought a vivid hue to this dull place. This unfamiliar energy was so vibrant in the air that Ryou unconsciously raised his hand as if he could touch it.
He heard the voice from the distance but didn’t react. Where was this coming from? Ryou’s eyes were wandering around the whole space. It was coming from every corner of it, even from the farthest one, and that only made him feel a greater urge to find the source, search in every corner until the God found it. Finding it to protect. No way this strong spiritual energy would belong to a human, but this wasn’t a God either. Where are you?
“I’m sorry… sir?”
“Yes?” He finally answered, but only because Kusou’s calls started to annoy him. He was too dense to notice that Ryou’s attention was focused on something completely different.
“We… were about to have dinner. Would you like to join us?” He asked with such a nauseously sweet voice, that Ryou was very close to declining the offer. But the fact that the source of the light might be there didn't let him say no. It’s been centuries since Ryou last felt so lost, inspired, and eager to find someone.
“Very well.” The God replied, putting a faded smile, but eyes didn’t see how the monks' faces agreed with something like that. His eyes were still searching, hands hidden in the sleeves, shivered. Who are you?
As they were preparing the dining hall, Ryou sent the carriage back to TEN and tried to keep his mind busy, but ended up walking in his room back and forth. The God kept glancing through the slightly opened door. That spiritual energy was driving him crazy, its brightness reached even the beginning of the forest, maybe even further. At some point Ryou stopped and pressed the bridge of his nose, taking a deep breath. When he left a few months ago it was different. When did this happen? Why didn't he think of coming to check the shrine sooner? The fact that he couldn’t be close to this light was already driving the God mad.
When Ryou entered the dining room from the side, the space was already full. Students and monks were kneeling on their pillows, deeply bowing for him, greeting, paying their respect as they were taught to do. But the God kept searching. It was here. So so close. Even when he sat down, and the small cup full of sake was given into his hand, Ryou still wasn’t able to spot the light. His energy was just so powerful it melted into every surrounding thing. As if he would give their power source to someone else, draining himself that way. Just like Ryou.
The God slowly placed the cup against his lips, not taking his eyes away from the students in front. As if the time had stopped, like all sounds were suddenly muted, but the view became sharper than ever. Ryou’s eyes were following every line and gap. He wasn’t observing, the man felt like he was blinded by something so close and yet out of his reach. The God tasted the liquid from the cup, not feeling that sweetish burning of it - every last of his senses were focused on something else. Someone’s fingers were slightly shivering as they held the chopsticks. All of the students were looking down, afraid to meet with the God’s intense gaze, and as much as Ryou wouldn’t have cared any other time, he needed to see their faces. He quietly sighed, placing the cup down on his table with the food he hadn't even noticed. This suspense was almost ridiculous, the God would have laughed at himself, but instead only frowned.
“Ryou-sama, maybe you would like something else ins---”
The God moved his hand a bit to the side, a clear sign for him not to speak. Kusou’s voice was the last one Ryou wanted to hear now. But him interrupting the high priest's words was something that no one expected. Some of them curiously glanced at their side, and Ryou finally through the mass could see them clearly.
“Did you take in any new students?” Ryou asked a bit louder than he had to, considering the fact that Kusou was sitting next to him.
Obviously, the God’s words caught the man by surprise. Kusou stuttered for a moment before starting to mumble his answer.
“No one worth mentioning, sir…”
That wasn’t what the God asked. Kusou’s opinion about who was worthy and who wasn't, was questionable. Ryou glared at him for a moment before looking back at the hall.
“Is that so…” It was enough for Ryou to understand that he wouldn't get anything useful out of this man, and there was only one thing he still could have done.
“Si-r?” Kusou barely held the gasp back, seeing the God getting up and stepping down off the podium. Ryou left the man behind without giving him any reaction.
The God passed through monks and first students, before slowing down his steps. No matter how he tried to feel it, that bright energy was surrounding everyone. If the only way to find out where it was coming from was to face him, then let it be. When was the last time he felt so desperate to find something? Maybe never.
Ryou had all eyes on his back, as he walked towards the end of the hall. It was there. The warmth was so powerful it made him almost stumble. Ryou stopped as he reached the very end of the room. Feeling something in his throat, like every word he knew, had been lost, the man slowly turned his head. Just to find a boy almost at the very corner, kneeling on the tatami, dressed in worn out rags, barely with any food on his table, with the brightest light the God had ever met.
The boy was keeping his head down, even when Ryou stepped closer. His hair was colored in that deep black ink, strong and solid color that made his wavy hair look like it was a piece of art. Something so smooth and probably pleasant to touch, that Ryou had to clench his fingers a bit harder. He patiently waited for the boy to notice, but only because the God himself felt like meeting someone else for the first time. Finally, the youth looked up, if it were possible to call it that.
He only gave a tender quick glance, but that was enough to make his soft round cheeks lightly flush. It was also enough to meet his eyes of that deepest shade of dark, that held a soul so divine than any star at night. As if Ryou’s existence would have suddenly fallen like everything else lost the meaning and that one moment, not the gravity but the boy’s existence was holding the God in this world. There was no one in this room but him, everything else just slipped through. Just that human boy and his light.
Ryou’s lips slowly opened. He heard himself asking, but even his own voice sounded distant.
“What’s your name?”