26 December 2062 [continued]
Having helped my friends complete our previous assignment
and earning enough money in the process to pay off my debts
and get a place of my own, I decided to go visit my friend
Kitsune. I did not realize how busy things would be today.
Apparently, the day after Christmas is quite the day for
shopping and returning things. Once again, I am thankful
for my Ainu and Buddhist religious background. I am spared
the unnecessary frenzy of the "holiday season".
Seeing that my friend would be too busy to discuss finding
an apartment with me, I decided to visit the Buddhist temple
again, where I could meditate and relax, given the substantial
injuries I still struggled with from our work earlier this
morning. The many hours I spent in zazen helped me begin
the healing process, so that I was feeling a bit stronger
when hunger got the better of me late in the afternoon.
I walked over to the Soyzchuan Palace and helped myself
to the biggest bowl of noodles they could provide. A full
stomach renewed my strength even further, so that I was
able to return to Buddha Provides with little struggle.
Fortunately, business had wound down for the day, and Kitsune
was not his usual rambunctious self when I saw him. He did
seem content to see me and was happy to see I had earned
enough to not only get a place of my own, but also do some
shopping in his store. He went into the back of the store
to fetch his wife, who knew of a place I could get a decent
apartment, and I started looking at the wide variety of
portable computers. After his wife gave me information on
the apartment house, Kitsune suggested I should look into
buying a pocket secretary from him, once I scrounged up
the necessary cash. I thanked him and his wife before leaving
to find the "Gardens of Babylon", the apartment
house where I would be living.
27 December 2062
I was surprised to discover yesterday evening that the
other residents in my apartment complex are mostly "professional
women". A number of them are rather attractive, and
all of them are quite friendly, but I know better than to
succumb to their temptations. Years growing up in the temple
teaches one control. I am happy to have a safe place to
live that is all my own. If it so happens that the only
such place near my friend Kitsune and the temple is home
to a number of prostitutes, then that is the way things
must be. I suspect that Kenji and his other comrades who
share his mindset frequent this neighborhood known as Loveland,
so I would rather be here. Furthermore, I harbor no grudges
against the prostitutes who are my neighbors. If these women
have chosen such a path in life, it is theirs to choose.
For now, I am much more concerned with recovering from my
injuries, a process that goes far better with a comfortable
futon and a steady supply of food, both of which are readily
available in my new home.
28 December 2062
I tried to meditate at home and write haiku today, but
I fear I have fallen victim to some minor infection caused
by my injuries. I have a low fever and feel rather sick,
so I will return to my futon and try to sleep it off.
29 December 2062
I think I am overcoming the infection, and my injuries
continue to heal. I suspect that a few more days of rest
will work wonders. I received a call from Arrow today. My
team has a tradition of meeting at a night club for a New
Year's Eve party every year, and I am supposed to meet them
at the Digital Ducats club late on the evening of December
31. To make sure I am completely recovered by then, I will
meditate and perform my practice exercises to loosen up
the knots in my muscles all this laying around has caused.
30 December 2062
I am feeling much better today. I decided to venture out
to visit the temple and enjoy the atmosphere of the Soyzchuan
Palace. I suspect I will be more than ready to celebrate
by tomorrow evening.
31 December 2062
This morning, I felt like a new man, and I had things to
do, so I rose early and visited the temple. I realized that
the dawning of a new year, even if only by the Western calendar,
meant that I should obtain a new omamori to replace the
one I had lost to the fire at my former temple in Kyoto
some months ago. Given the sort of work I now find myself
doing, I decided to ask for an omamori that contained a
blessing for general protection. I happily made the small
necessary donation to the temple and received the little
blue cloth bag containing the protection blessing. I will
keep it in one of my pockets at all times. I then decided
to catch an early lunch at the Soyzchuan Palace. While I
enjoyed my large bowl of soy noodles, Kenji dropped in for
a visit. I had not noticed him, but was happy to see him
when he surprised me. He mentioned I should come to a meeting
of the group he wanted me to join. He extended an official
invitation and told me to go to the upstairs section of
the temple later that afternoon for the meeting. I thanked
him and finished my lunch after he took his leave. I returned
home for a while and prepared for both the meeting and the
party with my team at Digital Ducats later that evening.
When the time arrived, I walked over to the temple and proceeded
up the stairs to an area I had not yet visited. I found
my way to a room used for physical training that apparently
doubled as a meeting room. Kenji introduced me to the group
known as the SINless Dragons and then introduced each member
in turn to me, using the names each had chosen upon joining
the SINless Dragons. So that I do not forget anything else
about my new comrades, I've decided to list everything in
my journal for safekeeping. These are other six members
of the SINless Dragons:
Kami leads the group and has great wisdom. Known
also as Kenji, he runs the temple as well.
Bushi is the competent ork martial artist I encountered
Kaze is a male elf with an apparently diverse ethnic
background who is also mute.
Shinshi is an Asian male human who practices Wujen
shamanism and helps run the temple.
Shinobi is a human Hispanic woman who secretly observed
me while disguised as a custodian.
Geisha is a beautiful Asian woman with an air of
great confidence and a powerful presence.
In order to join the SINless Dragons, I had to spend some
time in extended meditation with all of them so that I could
join the group's Astral link. Furthermore, I had to choose
a name to be used in group activities. I hesitated a moment
before choosing the name Oni, to reflect both my willingness
to face the darker sides of myself and my recognition of
the fact that I would have to accept those parts of me if
I ever hoped to progress past my current spiritual understandings.
To finish my initiation ceremony, I was asked to spill some
of my own blood into a ceremonial lead sake bottle inscribed
with strange patterns of orichalcum. Geisha keeps a similar
bottle for each member of the group and holds it, should
it be needed to aid the member at some future time. Before
departing, I exchanged information with the rest of the
group and Kami gave me a copy of the oath I would be required
to recite from memory at the next meeting, where the group
would teach me more about the higher mysteries of magic.