A beautiful pagoda that sits right in the middle of the island. It is a full twenty stories high, which is technically an impossible architectural feat with those kind of wooden walls and roofs. Gravity would bring down a pagoda of that height in the world of the living... but not the world of the dead, apparently.
This is where characters stay. Though pagodas are normally for storing precious relics, apparently, your characters fit the bill! Each character is given one entire floor to stay in, complete with a bed, a wardrobe full of their normal attire back home, and even its own functioning toilet + shower. Should their clothes get dirty, there is a box to put them in, and the Gardeners will get to it. Doors are locked with a simple and rather ancient-looking padlock, for which each character has a key to. The locks are possible to break, but they’re pretty tough for their age and make a lot of noise. Plus, the Gardeners replace them the moment anyone isn’t looking.
Stairs are behind the pagoda, slowly scaling up all the way to the twentieth storey. Which means, if you live on Floor 20, you’ll need to climb up 19 flights of stairs.
Sorry. But, well, bunking in someone else’s room is also allowed! Would you really want yourself to be sleeping and defenseless in someone else’s room, however?
Straight out of the Pagoda, the courtyards stand still and peaceful. The hallways are a little complex, but there are maps to show where you are right now at every turn, and how to get out. That’s a good thing, because it’s easy to get lost in here when you’re not used to it. Really, it’s just a hedge maze, just with less grass and more walls. These intricate hallways serve as a nexus to all other locations currently available, and directly lead to the Courthouse, the Pagoda and the Lake. Right in the middle of the long hallways is the large Peach Garden.
Still, the Courtyards themselves aren’t too bad to hang out. There are multiple small, comfy areas like the photo above existing within the twists and turns of these halls. Just don’t get lost: after all, if you ever run into trouble, you need to know where to run.
THE PEACH GARDEN
The Peach Garden is where the sacred Peach Tree grows. The trees always seem to be flowering, and their falling petals almost dye the small ponds themselves pink. There are multiple gazebos around as well.
Meng Po can most commonly be found here, overseeing the Gardeners tending to a small, bareboned tree in the vast expanse of other bigger and more grand ones. From afar, it almost looks dead, if not for the few tiny peach flowers blooming on its otherwise naked branches. But make no mistake: once all those flowers fall, that means everyone on the island can be reincarnated. This peach tree is the one thing you can hope will ever send you back to the living world.
Apart from, of course, getting away with murder.
Speaking of murder: though these gardens are sacred, Meng Po will politely clear out and leave the place completely abandoned if she senses that ‘something will happen here’. Which is to say: yes, you can totally still kill someone on the Peach Garden. There is no safe haven here.
Xiao Bai also takes breaks (read: slacks from work) here, and normally carries around a basket of peaches. Apparently, they’re from the peach tree, despite that fact that you can never see any growing. If you ask nicely, she’ll share a few. They’re delicious, and one of the only other meal options if eating at the cafeteria is too terrifying (see below).
The Courthouse looks almost like a palace. Normally, it can only be seen from afar, as the gates to the Courthouse are all locked shut. But in the case of a trial, the gates are opened, and everyone must ascend the steps to attend a trial that will either put a sinner to justice, or damn an innocent soul.
At least, it’s a pretty place?
To the right, opposite of the Courthouse, is a huge lake. There was once a bridge here, but it seems to be broken. While seemingly serene, there are many signs left on the remains of the broken bridge, that all read, to some extent:
“DO NOT SWIM HERE!!!” “DO NOT FISH!!!” “DO NOT WASH YOUR CLOTHES HERE WE WILL HANDLE THOSE!”
Maybe you shouldn’t stick around for too long. Wait, but-- far off in the distance, you can make out... a town...?
However, without a boat and such, you can’t make it over for now.
(Town is inaccessible for trial. Though, characters are welcome to try getting there.)
Now we’re talking.
Compared to the rest of the island, the ‘cafeteria’ seems much more modern. Meng Po feels very proud about it. In even has technology far beyond whatever time era this island exists in. Air-conditioning, television, a fully-functioning modern kitchen if you decide to take a look-- if only you could stay here! Alas, you are only invited to the cafeteria during the set Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner time every day. Breakfast is at 7am, lunch at 12pm, and dinner at 7pm. You can ask any Gardener for the time, or check the incense clocks around the gardens. The smell changes according to the hour. You'll have to get used to them.
The Gardeners will cook for you and serve you the best (or what they think is the best) meals possible on the dot. However, you are welcome to ask for kitchen access outside of those times to cook your own meals-- you’ll find that there are a huge variety of ingredients available, and Meng Po is very interested in foreign cuisine as well! Why not impress her with your culinary talent?
But wait, there’s only one big dining table? Why, of course! Everyone must dine together, regardless of how much you hate each other. Want to come at a different time, then? Well... breakfast and lunch lasts for one hour, and dinner for two hours. If you’re even a minute late, too bad-- no food for you. Don’t worry, starvation apparently isn’t a way you can die here, but it is still very unpleasant.
Say that you do show up on time, and are served a steaming hot pot of delicious food. However, it’s simply too much, and you can’t finish it all! Too bad. If characters cannot/refuse to finish their food, they will be force-fed by the Gardeners, and even personally by Meng Po if you're putting up enough of a fight. Hey, wasting food is a sin! Did you think you were staying at a luxury hotel? Your soul was bound for Hell, remember that. You are here only by the graces of King Yama. And no, you cannot ask for smaller portions. Your gracious hosts must always ensure you are well-fed!
If anyone dares to demand food outside of mealtimes, they will be given literal hellfire. And yes, they will be force-fed it as well. Same goes for if they try to break into the cafeteria out of the stipulated times.
Should you enjoy a hellfire meal, you will feel terrible for the rest of the day (yeah, no kidding), as if your entire body is burning and it’s too painful to speak... but thankfully, the effects magically wear off after a good night’s rest. That is, if you can even sleep well after going through that.
(Those are all the locations for the trial round. Here is a general map of all available areas! For currently available areas, you can assume the expansive courtyards + peach garden have many different areas within as long as they fit the theme of a quiet Chinese garden. If you have any questions, hit the mods up!)