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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


"What do you think you are doing? This person approached the Forbidden Gate without permission, knocked down all the soldiers and barged all the way to here! She is defiling the palace, and blemishing your majestyfs name. Drag her here to get her executed!"

Koshou looked at Konjin in shock.
" How rude! That is just too impolite towards a foreign general!"
" She is a general?! Which parts of her looks like a general? She is a swindler, thatfs for sure!"
" But well..."
" Are you missing something, Daiboku? Checking the credits of visitors and determining their treatment is the job of Konjin. Stop butting into other officialsf work just because you are getting some attention from your majesty!"

"Credits or sorts are not the problem at all!"
Koshou raised his voice into a shout, and Konjin was frightened.
" Do you think your majesty will allow anyone in such condition to be abandoned!?"
After spiting those words, Koshou urged Toshin.
" Come on. --And that kijyuu as well. Help me out with taking care of them and letting them rest."
Toshin nodded, and put his hands on Risaifs shoulder. Just as Toshin would like to help her up, Risai gently pushed Toshinfs hand off.

"Please donft act reckless any more. If Daiboku didnft show up, you..."
I understand, Risai looked at Toshin.
" I can form no sufficient words of appreciation to your utmost kindness. However, if Kei-ou would not be the least offended by my defiling the palace, please let me go after Daiboku."
" But..."
" I beg you. ...If I rest here, I believe I can never meet Kei-ou anymore."

Toshin gulped at the plead she bet her life on. There is no sign of life on Risai's face. Even her lips turned violent blue. She was breathing hard, but every time she breathed a heave sounded like a faint flute tone. The shoulders and wrists in Toshinfs arms were ice cold.

-- This woman really does not have much time left in her.

Toshin shouted. He threw Risai's arm around his shoulder to support her.
" Please take her with you."
g Well..."
" Otherwise, this lady can never close her eyes!"

As if getting the unspoken message that there was not a moment to lose, Koshou nodded, handed his long sword to a minor officer, and held out his arms. He transferred the woman into his own arms, the woman who wore a begging expression.


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