”What are you doing here?”
This question was asked in an annoyed and somewhat angry tone, which carried a lot of gravitas. The impressive looking man asking the question was glaring across his table at soul without distinct features, but one that the man was familiar with.
“An odd question. This is the Jade Palace within the river of souls, where the souls of the dead are judged before passing on, is it not? And you are the Head Judge, are you not? I should think my purpose here is rather obvious. Everyone must stand before you or the other judges to face their due after meeting their demise.”
Although the soul standing before his desk was a blur without any facial features, the judge could hear the smile in the soul’s smooth voice. He could already feel a headache developing.
“Not your kind. Despite the thousands of Prime worlds, and the trillions of minor worlds in this universe, this is the first time in my history as the Head Judge and the Lord of Jade Palace, that one of your kind is here. And I’m fairly sure the previous Lord could say the same. So I repeat my question: what are you doing here?” He said with a little huff.
In fact, to the knowledge of the judge, only one other of the soul’s kind had ever even died before, and that one had gotten his soul destroyed beyond any recovery. No need to pass judgement, since there was no chance of reincarnation.
The soul let out a throaty chuckle and replied: “As you say, my kind has not faced judgement before, and as such has limited experience with the whole process. So why not find out? Also getting reincarnated seems like an interesting adventure. The final frontier and all that.”
Now he was definitely getting a headache.
“Wait. So you got yourself killed and now await judgement and reincarnation, because of curiosity and boredom? Do you have any idea how much of a pain it is to try and figure out what to do with you?” He said incredulously.
‘And he was having such a good day before this too!’ He thought. The Jade palace had judged souls bound for reincarnation for eons, and the other judges were quite capable of handling almost any case presented to them. Only when an anomaly happened was the Head Judge needed. He was after all in the possession of the Book of Life and Death, which had the details of the soul’s life and the circumstances of his or her death recorded. It allowed him to pass judgement with full knowledge, and thus afforded even the most complex of souls their karmic due in their next life.
“What am I supposed to do with you? Your very existence defies judgement. And I don’t suppose the elixir that we force all the souls of the dead to drink, to remove all their memories of their past life before reincarnation will even work on you?” He said while sighing.
Yup, a big incoming headache.
“No, I suppose it won’t work at that. Beyond that though, I would assume you will just have to pass judgement as you would any other that passes through here. You have the Book after all. You’ll just have to give it a bit of extra consideration. I’m actually quite looking forward to your judgement. It is always a little hard to consider oneself, what with the obvious bias and all.” The soul said slowly.
‘At least the soul was finally getting a bit serious’ He thought. Although he could still hear some curiosity and eagerness in the soul’s voice. ‘Might as well get to it.’ He thought with resignation.
“Ignoring the specifics for now, are you aware of the four general paths a soul can take for reincarnation?” He asked, although he already knew the soul was aware.
And as he suspected, the soul knew the answer and then some: “Naturally. There is the Heaven Realm, home to the Celestial Host and the Asura war gods. Opposite of that is the Inferno Realm, home of the Devils and Demons of Inferno, and the place of torture for the Damned. Lovely little place. The other two paths take you to the Prime Realm, home to the various mortal races and monsters, those being the main two paths respectively. I suppose you could also consider the Elemental Realm, Eternal Sea of the Immortals and the Great Void, but I suspect none of those are legitimate destinations for reincarnation.”
“Correct. I suppose it would be inappropriate to have you reincarnate into the Heaven Realm for multiple reasons?” He said looking at the soul with a raised eyebrow.
His only answer was another amused chuckle from the soul.
“And as much as I’d like to send you to Inferno Realm as thanks for dropping this whole mess on my lap, I can’t mess up the objectivity of the process, just because I’m annoyed with you. Whatever else you might be, a Damned you are not. Also I’m worried about the mess you might make of the whole place. I’m not particularly interested in making enemies of the Lords of Inferno.” He said with a shudder.
“That leaves us with the two most common routes. I suppose I could have you reincarnate as a slave or a cicada, but unfortunately your karma doesn’t merit either of those.” That earned him another chuckle from the soul. “Whatever else you might have done, you actually never committed any of the three prime sins that would earn you a big karmic retribution and a destiny as one of the Damned. In fact, you went out of your way to punish those that did commit those sins and did your best to help their victims.” He said while checking the Book of the Life and Death while frowning.
“To be fair, I didn’t do any of that due to reasons pertaining to morality.” The soul replied with a tinge of anger. “I simply thought their victims had been dealt a real shitty hand in life, and they deserved another chance and a little boost to get started. And I found the actions of the sinners to be despicable and against everything I consider honorable, abusing their power on those much weaker than them. I quite enjoyed bringing them down a notch from their lofty perches.”
“Oh I can see that. Some of the methods you used to punish them were quite…shall we say creative.” He replied with slight amusement. “Especially this slaver you met few centuries ago in Drognosset. The torturers in Inferno Realm would probably want to trade notes with you on that one. Apparently he dug his own eyes out and jammed his fingers into the sockets to kill himself, just to make it stop.” He continued with a shudder.
“Oh yes, that one really got on my nerves. He dealt mostly in little girls as sex slaves. He also had a habit of sampling his own wares against their will. So he was in fact doubling down on prime sins by combining slavery with rape. That one has always been a pet peeve of mine, and I’ve always got a Song of Khali reserved for rapists.” The soul said with audible distaste and anger.
“I’m sure the Queen of the Inferno Realm is quite touched, that you’ve named the worst torture method I’ve ever read about after her.” He said with another shudder. ‘I’m not even kidding; she probably would be quite touched.’ He continued is his thoughts.
“Although your actions during your life have resulted in widespread devastation, for the most part you’ve acted as a force for good, and had you not acted at all, the results would almost always have been much, much worse. Normally your karma would land you in the Heaven Realm, but seeing as that isn’t a good idea, I’m going to give you a bit of choice in your reincarnation to the Prime Realm. This might be the first time in the history of the Jade Palace that the soul judged has any say, but your case is an anomaly to the highest degree anyway, what with you carrying your memories of your old life to the next.” He said with resignation.
Huge headache incoming.
‘Maybe the soul will play nice at the new destination with some say in choosing it’ He thought, although he had little hope of that actually coming true.
“One of the mortal races could be interesting. One of the bit more long lived ones.” The soul replied with some thought. “I might have trouble adjusting to a human or something, that’ll just keel over from old age in less than a century. Also it might be best if you sent me to one of the major worlds. Things might end up badly if you got me stuck bored on a minor world with absolutely nothing going on. We’d end up here doing this again.”
‘I can do without having to go through this headache again, thank you very much! Besides, I was expecting something grander. Maybe the soul really did get bored with the old life, and wanted to try something different. Fulfilling these conditions would be pretty easy. If this was all the soul wanted, I can get off with a fairly light work load.’ He thought with some relief. He already had some possibilities in mind.
“I think we can arrange that. I’ll work it out by the time you get to the Passage. I’ll have one of the titans outside escort you, if there’s nothing else?” He said, while gesturing with his hand towards the door while rising from his seat.
The soul simply moved through the door towards the waiting titan outside.
The judge was still looking towards the now closed door when he suddenly had an idea. A delicious idea, that would help with his now drumming headache and get some revenge as a thanks, for the soul dropping this whole thing on his head. A wicked grin rose on his face.