Tasogare no Kishi, Akatsuki no Sora
<The Shore in Twilight, the Sky in Daybreak>

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


The time was at the beginning of summer, the third year in the calender of Kei (c), the east kingdom on the continent. That day, a pair of black wings appeared in the sky above Gyouten (ēV), the capital of Kei.

That day, the city was immersed in listless, hot and stuffy air. At the north of the city of Gyouten stood high a huge pillar-like mountain. The city spread along the slope that extended to the south from the foot of the mountain like a long sleeve. The city that stretched out in stages, the tightly packed steel-colored rooftop, and the roads that cut down and across all turned white under the sunlight. The heat wave that drenched thick with moisture stood stale throughout the city.

Every window in every building opened wide in the hope of welcoming a cool breeze, but unfortunately the wind stubbornly refused to blow since the morning that day. The only things that flowed through the wide open windows and doors were hot air that was almost scorched ash-white, and the sleep-inducing low buzz.

As if tired by the summer heat, not even a bird could be found in the summer sky. They all escaped to the various tree shades, away from the sunrays. A dog lay on its stomach in a short dark shadow projected by an old residencefs eaves. Beside the sleeping dog stood a chair, on which an old man was sleeping. Upon the dropping of the fan that slipped through the sound asleep old manfs hand, the dog lifted up only its nose, and listlessly looked up at its master. -- That was the time.

The sun went behind the clouds. The dog looked up in great anticipation, and saw the summer sky being eaten out by the clouds that rushed in from the east. The smell of moisture in the wind reached its nose, and a thunder could be heard from far away. It took no time until the sky was completely covered by clouds and turned really dark.

It was at that time when the black shadow dashed through the sky of Gyouten. Appeared from the east, it approached the Sky-Pillar Mountain (_R) while drawing a big arch in the sky, as if it was chasing the lead-colored clouds. A few people that happened to look upon the sky while waiting for the rain in various part of the city could be witnesses.

Those wings were pitifully weak. The feathers that covered the white wings were ruffled and soiled, and the strong black feathers at the wingsf inner edge (؉H) were missing and torn all over. Seemingly unable to even glide, the shadow desperately grasped the moist atmosphere. The shadow descended as if it ran out of energy, but the wings flapped on as the shadow was approaching the Sky-Pillar Mountain.

Raindrops began to fall as if to shoot down the shadow. They turned into a shower with a blink of an eye, attacking the wings. The shadow was then immediately swallowed by the rain clouds. Just before the shadow disappeared into the mist, those who happened to witness the sight shared the same thought: those wings seemed to have sucked into a place high up at the Sky-Pillar Mountain.


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