Note: Voting part added.
Previous thread: >>113356
Much as with the ceiling, the relief’s been partitioned into sections by the stone piers carrying the dome’s weight. A brief look at each of them reveals something of the story’s whole structure: a series of self-supporting vignettes is housed in the individual recesses, all of which tie back to the broader theme of the tree and, when taken together, work to tell a tale resembling the one that the Lady told you – emphasis on ‘resembling.’ There are several significant departures from her version all throughout, none of them more marked than the quadrant immediately counterclockwise from the door, at what might be termed as the relief’s ‘beginning.’
It’s represented differently – the participants are figured in an abstract flavor and the action’s been highly-stylized, but this area of the relief’s evocative of one of the paintings from earlier.
Depicted is the combat between a grotesque horde of demons and monsters and a proud host of the divine Devas. They’re locked in a fierce and bloody melee at the zenith of the sky; behind them, the pennants of Heaven flutter in tatters from an embattled gate. At first, the fiendish attackers seem to have the upper hand; the advance unit of the Heavenly army is destroyed in an ambush, and to make matters worse, in the following battle, the center of their line is broken after a battalion of winged devils works to the side of their formation and turns their flank. Driven back now to inside their walls, the Devas are prepared for a long and bitter siege when, from within their ranks, a champion comes forward. This great hero, with six wings waving and heavy spear held straight ahead, rallies the divine host and leads a charge that completely turns the tide. The motley mass of monsters is crushed, routed before the Heavenly army’s rekindled valor, and at their head, she is invincible. None among the enemy, not even their greatest, are able to withstand the champion’s power. Though her spear’s shivered, though her armor’s shattered, though she’s covered in wounds, though she’s taken a blade through the heart in the attempt, she cleaves through to the demon queen and, after a struggle that brings the battle around them to a standstill, succeeds at throwing her down in single combat. Any semblance of order or martial dignity among the fiends is lost with their leader’s defeat. They’re scattered in full-on flight; they’re slain in droves; they’re hurled from the heights of the empyreal sky, falling in flames to the devastated world below.
So ends the tale’s first part.
The relief’s next section isn’t so much a continuous narrative as it is a series of stills united through the inclusion of a common element – the tree. In all of the images, the Saigyou Ayakashi looms darkly over the surrounding plain, spreading its solemn shadow to shade the ones who are ‘asleep’ beneath its boughs. deeply red,
as the garnet and spinel are red.
Predictably, the largest and most involved among the images in this section of the relief is to be found at its end – retelling the tragedy in which the Lady lost her family.
It’s in two parts.
The first half is of the summons to that she alluded, showing how all the residents of Hirokawa were beckoned to their deaths in the night. Appearing as the Death Butterflies that the Lady displayed for you twice before is a sinister train of wandering ghosts. They steal into the slumbering house through a window that’s carelessly been left open and, upon reaching the individual rooms, proceed to possess all of the reposing residents except for Murasaki, Youki and Yuyu. Based on what’s shown here in the relief, those three are saved because they’re being actively guarded – each of them has a phantasmal protector that’s hovering above his/her sleeping form and repelling the approaching ghosts. Over Youki, it’s a gangly, armored humanoid that could only be Susano-o; over Yuyu, it’s a man with a staff; over Murasaki, it’s… a goddess? …You’re not quite sure, as the individual rooms are too small to make out much in the way of specific detail.
The second half’s removed forward in time to the next morning, portraying Youki’s rescue of his mistress. With a determined glint in his eyes and his twin swords slashing fell and fearlessly, he’s protecting the little girl behind him from the ghostly goliaths crushing in from all sides.
There’s three points of particular interest here.
The first is the Lady. Even when she’s represented in stone and no more than six, it’s obvious that the expression with that young Yuyu’s staring up at brave Youki’s back isn’t of simple awe or shallow appreciation – it’s love. Unconscious, ingenuous and innocent love.
The second is Youki. You might not be giving enough credit to artistic license, but… it’s strange. As he’s been shaped, Youki doesn’t look a day younger than how he appears today, despite that the scene shown here is from ten years ago.
The third is an existence invisible to the eyes of them in the relief.High in the sky overhead of the Saigyou Ayakashi is suspended the hazy, disembodied spirit of a god. He’s only bothered to materialize his upper body, his hands held out and grasping towards the tree as he watches the feat of arms that’s playing out underneath him. Whether his reaction is of approbation or irritation, you can only guess;the three-peaked crown he wears is hung with a veil that entirely obscures his face. The High King of Destiny.
It’s at this point that you encounter another break in the relief – a passage. You weren’t able to see it on coming in from how it’s angled, as it’s buttressed between two of the dome’s supporting arches, but before you now is an unlit, unobtrusive entry. Where it leads, you don’t know – it quickly turns a corner and continues on to a place you’re unable to see; however, there’s something else of that you take notice.
…The ‘wind’ that you followed to reach this room and then promptly forgot in the spectacle of the ‘sleepers?’ It’s originating out of this entry,
and what’s more… It’s audibly picked up.
[ ] Can’t hear it clearly from here, but its presence is unmistakable – there’s a distinctly artificial sound being borne on the wings of this ‘wind.’ Investigate inside.
[ ] Will postpone entering in – for now. At present, you’d like to look over some more of the relief. (Specify)
[ ] Will postpone entering in – for now. It’s high time that the ‘sleepers’ awaken, starting with… (Specify)
[ ] Will postpone entering in – for now. Retrieve that Jeweled Pagoda first.
[ ] …Wait a second. If this room’s housing all those whose lives were supposedly stolen by the tree, then doesn’t this mean that the Lady’s parents are here as well?
You may choose more than one option.
Some food for thought, take it as you will:
-There are many different descriptors you could apply to an Asura, but 'grotesque' is hardly the first that would come to mind.
-The hero knows very well how an Asura appears. Notice how he doesn't relate them with the fiends that are depicted on the relief?