My name is Famine.

I come from a tranquil monastery called Gat Shiem, which covers the apex of a snowy mountain. Gigantic moonstone rock walls protect this place from Sol's harmful elements.

It is a blessed home that I'm grateful to wake up in. Especially on days like today where the morning daylight warmed my small room, making it hard to leave my snugly blankets.

"Onii-san, I've finished pressing your pants." Pesti yawned before me, wiping sleep from his neutral-grey eyes.

I smiled at the sight of my baby brother's delicate and unassailable features, which would outdo the beauty of any princess.

"You're good at this," I praised him when I eventually rose from my futon to take my clothes from his arms.

He acknowledged the praise with another yawn, sweeping aside strands of silver fringe from his brows.

My hands ran over the crease free cloth of my neatly folded sackcloth tunic and long pants. I felt fortunate to share room with my brother, as he kept a meticulous order, reflecting the cleanliness of Sangha Hall's (our dull stone dormitory) ground floor.

We began our typical routine once we were dressed for duty. Pesti and I were tasked with the upkeep of the grounds and gardens around the shimmering sand-white splendour of Buddha's worship hall - Butsudan.

"Morning," I reverently greeted a shaven head monk dressed in a formal midnight blue kimono.

We repeated greetings for the other monks we passed on our way to the small alder log cabins, which were nestled within a belt of pine trees at the small glen near the back wall.

The crisp air invigorated my energies as I tended to the cabins' private rock gardens and trimmed the grass of the meditation grounds with Pesti.

"Morning Loppy," I greeted a spotty rabbit that rubbed against my sandals.

Pesti gently patted its head.

"Can you clear away the fallen leaves over there?" he politely asked the creature, his finger pointed to scattered nettle leaves littering the sand beds.

The rabbit hopped to the area and eagerly ate the leaves.

By mid-morning, we had cleaned all the rock gardens, the Zendō and surrounding areas.

My cheeks were flushed from heat of the approaching noon sun. It was time for my regular visit with Buddha.

I packed away our cleaning tools in the tin garden shed behind the library moonstone pillar tower, and hurried to the Temizuya stone basin within the Central Courtyard to perform my ablution.

The placid lull about the Butsudan's wide verandah was calming. I felt pure as I entered the main worship hall and padded down the cool strip of floorboards that lead to our deity. I offered my thanks before a glorious gold and dark stone sitting Buddha enshrined within nature's splendour of various coloured flowers and lush foliage.

"Life's good, please keep it this way." I sealed my prayer with a clap; the sound echoing around the hall.

The smell of woody incense burning at the shrine filled my head with peace and a feeling of nostalgia. I relished the gentle rays of daylight warming the top of my head, which was bowed at Buddha's feet.

"It's nice, the earnest prayers from youngsters." I heard a papery voice behind me.

I greeted Shuso, our head monk, with a reverent prayer bow as he approached me from the other end of the hall.

"Famine. The pink angels are smiling down on us from the sky, looks like an eventful day awaits us. I saw your brothers at the Kuri with bellies crying for food," the elderly monk chuckled. "Aah such youth."

I acknowledged his metaphorical words with a cordial bow then sprinted through the temple grounds to the Kuri, (the kitchen hall).

Its long rows of benches and dining tables were sure to be crowded. I would miss out on the ganmodoki if I didn't hurry.

I groaned. The sight of piddly amounts of rice remaining on the row of buffet tables near the rice paper doors, upon my arrival, made my stomach growl.

"Damnit!" I hissed at the revelation of no ganmodoki. "Don't blame me if my afternoon duties are shoddy due to delirium!"

"Watch your manners Famine. You sully your pretty face with foul complaints. Your black eyes and hair stand out like a hissy cat," said a shaven head monk. His droopy dog eyes were set with a cranky expression.

"I need protein only ganmodoki can give!"

I yelped at the curt slap he gave my skinny shoulders.

"Sorry Adams-san." I bowed.

I hurried to the back row of tables and benches, which my three brothers occupied.

"Dat's what yah get for prayin' too long Famisto." War, my elder brother, teased me with choice bits of savoury fried tofu dangling, deliberately, between his chopsticks.

I growled at his smug face.

Daylight accentuated the cocky expression in his green eyes. His spiky crop of flaming red hair added to his rugged manliness.

He shoved the ganmodoki into his mouth before I had a chance to steal it.

"Mean!" I sulked and slumped down on the bench next to Pesti who was disinterested in War's raillery.

"There, there, Onii-san, take mine. I saved this for you anyway," said Pesti as he gently offloaded his three untouched patties to my poor plate.

"You're the best Pesti!" I hugged him, letting go when I felt his body tense.

"Fine, take meh morsels. Better give meh bloody thanks." War grumbled as he offloaded his remaining two patties to my plate.

My heart swayed with forgiveness. I planted a 'thank you kiss' on his cheek.

"Spoiling our younger brother again War?" chuckled Death who was seated next to him.

War ignored his tease. He shuffled out of his seat to take his leave, failing to hide his blushes.

I warmly acknowledged our eldest brother.

Death was already of legal majority age, being three years older than myself.

Adams-san had once mentioned that women would find Death's stylish sweep of blond hair, symmetrical features and smiling blue eyes fetching. 'Of husband quality', he had put it.

I personally found it difficult to envision. Death would only need to open is mouth and talk about magism to turn a person off.

"With my blessings." He kindly offloaded his fat ganmodoki patties to me.

Buddha had blessed me with three kind brothers.

"Make sure you chew thirty times before swallowing," he said as he wiped off some rice grains from my face.

He removed himself from the bench with dirty plates in hand.

I wolfed down my food, cleaned my mess and raced out of the Kuri to complete the rest of my chores.

ZaldizkoRead this story for FREE!