"Rin," Kai said softly, and put his arm around her. "I think the others deserve to know what's going on. You're... you're not that person anymore, but your past doesn't cease to exist just because you change. And right now it... it's threatening us all."
"This would be so much easier if I had my Yuanjun here with me."
Rin sniffled and sighed. "Well, lovelies. I've hidden some things from you all. Partly for my own concerns, primarily for your wellbeing." She gave Kai a sad little smile and took his hand in hers and squeezed it. "I'm a bit older than 24. More like... nine-thousand or so."
"There was... a war. A long time ago. Unlike anything before, or since. Unlike anything you can ever imagine. I was not there, but I remember it. Sometimes, when I sleep, I still can hear it. See it. Smell it. A war between the Illithids and, well, everyone else, for the sake of all existence. The multiverse burned. Gods died. Everything fell apart. But we won. Civilization needed to be rebuilt from scratch in most places, like here, but we won. We won."
"Here, in Asul, a god died, murdered by the obscenities. Gods are, well, we're not supposed to die, lovelies. Divinity, it's, it's well, it's a Thing, alright? And while most things around the murdered god died, some things, by luck or whatever - I don't know - survived. And a little fox, scared, confused, and so very hungry, ate the only thing that seemed to still have flesh nearby." Rin gave a nervous little smile.
"I'm not the dead god, but I have its memories, some of them. It's fuzzy, indistinct, dreamlike. It's hard to explain. But, you know, the stories? They're true. I'm the most beautiful woman in the world." Rin laughed, it was like music. "I mean, like, literally. Honestly. It's not an opinion thing. If you disagree you're just wrong. I am what I am, in that regard. Divinity, it's a hell of a thing."
"I'm not Sogi Shiranui, regardless of what that rancid cunt told you. I was, though. A long time ago. Da Ji, too. And Pao Su. And Kicho Shogoro, and Yu-Lian, and Hoji, and all the rest. But, you know, I was also Kushi, and Ying-Hu, and Clever Fox, and others, too."
"I was Sogi, but I changed. The Wizards are right, you know. The Gods? They need you. Your belief sustains and drives them. I'm, I'm different. I don't need it, not to live, but I do need it. Crave it. And you know, Orochi, and the Demon Lords? They were on to something. Fear is a form of worship, a powerful, intoxicating, and easy to get form of worship. Despair, too. It's, well, it's hard to explain to you. You are not what I am, my sexy little beloveds. It's like trying to describe color to a blind man using pictographs."
"I did things. Horrible things. For a long time." Rin looked like she might cry. "A very long time." She squeezed Kai's hand. "I've probably racked up a bigger body-count than Therion. But, that was the past. That was then. That was Sogi. That's not me. Not anymore. That's not who I am anymore. Each day is a new day, and we are, lovelies, who we choose to be. I've learned. I've grown. I've fallen in love a few times, and oh, Gods, what a wonderful thing that is." Her face seemed to light up on that note.
"I've my own agendas, I won't lie. But I'm trying to help. And not just, you know, to make up. The past is the past. I help because I want to, I care because I choose to. I am who I choose to be. I was Sogi Shiranui, and Da Ji, but now I'm Rin Shiranui, and I choose to give a fuck for a change."
"I know it's a lot to take in, and I know I'm asking for your trust. And I know how hard it is. Honestly, I know. I'm not just, well, whatever I am. Divine, and mortal. I still remember, you know, what it was like. Tiny, scared, confused, and shivering. Even when I was young, and vile, I took care of foxes, because even then I understood - if I didn't look out for the little ones, then who would? I knew how horrible it was to be alone and hungry."
Rin gave a lovely smile and laughed softly. "I could go on about dualities and more stuff, about divine/mortal, and fox/human, and animal/person, but that' silly, and totally beyond the point. I am who I choose to be, same as anyone else. I've hidden things from you, maybe lied a few times, but never about the important things, the things that matter. I love you all, and I mean that, and if you can't find it in your hearts to forgive me, then that's fine, you don't have to worry, I won't have Chiyo kill your all or anything, but I imagine you'll feel really dumb when you wake up tomorrow and realized you missed the chance to be friends with a sex goddess who's absolutely willing to fuck your brains out."
Kai looked awkwardly at the others, unable to look at Shari at all. "Yeah, I knew about this before. Rin told me. I... it wasn't my secret to tell. But I'm glad we're all on the same page now." He squeezed Rin's hand, "well, almost. You never mentioned homicidal relatives, Rin."
Shari just stood over the scene, silent, foreboding. Brooding with the kind of sickened daydreams that a war veteran could not shake, just as much as a commoner could not concieve. She wondered how short-sighted and simple they must all seem to such a creature as their master...
Of course, she already knew it all herself. Rin's inhumanity was both what made her follow the woman in the first place, through her traditional upbringing and rigid code of honour didn't allow her to question the exact hows and whys. Power... that was enough. Or at least it was.
Maybe it was the ultimate irony that Kai's attempts at humanising Shari was what had most alerted her to Rin's failings. Those nerosis. That passive hand which refused to become directly involved. At least Oboro was presumably mortal...
An ache under her skin. Shari closed her eyes and brought her hand up to the scar transversing her face, then let out a deep shrug and turned to face the courtyard. She had been feeling like that alot lately. An advanced form of apathy.
"...As always, master, you can kill me, cut me in half, destroy this servant utterly with your slightest movement. I remember it well." She slowly turned her head to face Rin again, alrough voice now utterly lacking the eagerness to please that it usually had. "...But... I never questioned why before. Why you would posses this power and yet never use it... Could it be that's really all we are to you?... Gross little simple-minded chimps?... Objects of which to collect worship from?... Or, maybe just toys?"
Rin glared at Shari. "You're a gross simple-minded chimp, yes. I keep you around because I believe in forgiveness, that if I could turn my act around, someone like you could too. You seem devoted to trying to prove me wrong, though, Shari, and I don't know if I should admire you for that, or hate you for the selfish, obstinate, stupid little cretin you are."
"I just said I care, you miserable cunt." She growled. "Were you even fucking paying attention?"
Shari just glanced back at Rin, without structure, without respect. The cold hearted thug that the woman once was had clearly melted away, now regarded her master with a new notion that needed to be constructed from the ground up... the abbility to be honest. The idea of blantantly telling Rin about her recent betrayal attempt crossed her mind, even, but knowing what the godesses' true capabilities are, it could have come across a little like patronisation.
"It wouldn't have been so bad to die at the time. I might have begged for my life, but we both knew what would have been for the best." The crude thing went ahead and smirked, bathing in her own despicable nature. The creature sitting oppisate was much less honest than she could ever be, so allowing herself this leeway didn't seem so bad. "...and now... and now, you care but I'm being beaten half to death protecting them. This ugly little mortal? That's hilarious... better even, when you think of the fact I've actually started trying to protect their interests myself..."
Her mind became clouded. Her stomach was generally a refinery of hate, but still all she felt was blank apathy. That noxious attraction was unforgiveable. That time Rin had pushed her attentions away in favour of Yaunjun's, that was irredeemable too.
She gave a quick glance to the others, and their expressions brought forward a sad realisation indeed. As intertwined as her feelings of respect and affection were, as broken as she was as a person, Shari probally was the only one that really did love Rin at one point.
"I was Kushi you ungrateful cunt." Rin said coldly. "I fucking killed a goddamn Aspect of Orochi, I -" Rin cut herself off and just glared at Shari. "Get out."
Shari didn't say anything in response, she just slowly clambered out of the room and began to walk aimlessly out of the palace.
Getting one up on Rin did not feel as good as she had expected. Not even a repressed emotion, just nothing. More apathy.
Was this what it felt like to hate your own god? The monk's viewpoint had certainly been different from the others, they had not seen her raw power from the very start. Love-come-worship had bloomed instantly, and for a killer like Shari, it was like travelling to another dimension. Could she even have felt such affection for Kai, if Rin had not passively taught her the emotion first?... Was the reason why Rin both despised her so much, but also refused to kill her, a feature of their similarly savage, self-indulgent pasts? Did the monk herself start hating her master for the exact same reason?
"Now, if I had been such a pretty little fox..."
It was a cruel daydream.
Kai stood, pulling his hand free from Rin's. "I don't believe that who were were says anything about who we are, Rin, I never have. We are all fucked up and messed up and darkness stains even the brightest of us.
You called me a good man, a clever man; I am neither. I'm a man who has done very bad things and who will spend a lifetime trying to make up for them. There aren't good people and bad people. There are just those of us who try to not do too much bad, and even a few who try to do good. I didn't wake up one morning and feel remorse for the lives I'd cut short, realise I was steeped in evil, see the error of my ways and suddenly… suddenly change.
I was weak. I slaughtered… and I marvelled at the power I had…I- luxuriated in it. I would have drowned in my own twisted pride if I hadn't… if Mio hadn't brought me back. Shielded me from the absolute worst. She… she was always stronger than me, in all the ways there is to be stronger than a person.
Did you have anyone to help you become a better person, Rin? Anyone to be better for? How long did it take Sogi, Da Ji, all of them… to become Rin?
Shari is not the monster she was. She feels guilt, Rin. Guilt, and remorse, and... and... even love. And I understand hating her… mere mortal that I am, I fear I understand hating her better than anyone else in this room. I understand wanting to- gods, I understand wanting her stain to leave the earth. But I don't... since meeting you I don't… I don't think that any person's past makes them irredeemable.
She wants to change, Rin.
I need you to understand Rin, that I trust you. I care for you- in some twisted way sometimes the word love comes to mind- not… in the way it is usually understood, but stronger than platonic implies. And I am standing up and leaving not because I don't love you. But because I do love her."
He shrugged. "I'm her karma."
Rin gave a sad smile, tears in her eyes. "I had people. I remember them, and I miss them, and I carry them with me. I still have people to help me. People like you, and my beloved Yuanjun."
Rin sighed. "I know. I'm sorry." She pulled her legs in close and wrapped her arms about them, resting her chin on her knees. "I... I really don't think I can do this right now. I'm... I'm sorry, Kai, Haru, Ryo. I think I need to be alone with my Yuanjun. Can we continue this tomorrow, please?"
"Tell Shari I'm sorry."