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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


"These are for me?"
" Of course. I asked Gyousou-sama -- his majesty to get them for you."
The young Saihou (ɕ) cast down his eyes shyly.
" You see, in Hourai (H) where I was born, we give flowers for congratulation. I heard that here few people do that, but I really want to give a bunch of flowers to you, Risai, no matter what. You have just moved into this house, so I wonder whether these flowers would make the house look even more splendid."

Oh my, Risai smiled. It was the guest room of the residence she had just been granted. Barely a month after Gyousou the new emperor was enthroned, Risai was appointed the general of the middle army of Zui Province, and her residence was moved to the new official residence within Kakkei Palace (\{). Saihou is the pillar of the kingdom next to the emperor, and the provincial lord of Zui Province who commands the provincial army to which Risai was appointed. This honorable Saihou paid a visit directly to Risaifs official residence, and presented her flowers. This gave Risai incomparable joy and pride.

She told the servants to arrange the flowers and put them on a shelf in the guest room. The flowers alone made the room look many times brighter and warmer. The official residence that she had just moved in was unfamiliar like a strangerfs place earlier, but now it seemed she finally made it her home.

" I am deeply grateful. Risai is so blessed to be receiving such care from Taiho."
" I should be the one who feel very happy. I am still like my old self, knowing nothing about political or military stuff, so I feel so reassured when Risai becomes the general of the provincial army."

Saying that, the Saiho straightened himself on the big chair he was sitting, and slightly lowered his head.
" Well, please take it easy with me from now on."
" Oh no -- I canft receive a bow from Saiho!"
There is no one ranked higher than Saiho other than the emperor. Of course, it is nothing normal for a Saiho to lower his head in front of Risai, who was merely a provincial army general.

" That is not a kowtow but a bow, so donft get formal with me. I shouldnft have done it really, but, it turned up naturally like a habit. Even Gyousou-sama said that it couldnft be helped, so -- well, please think of it as some hopeless habit, Risai."

Yes, Risai said while stifling a laugh. This small Saiho was born from a different country. He was born and raised at Hourai, the legendary land lying at the end of the sea in the east. So even though his acts were sometimes strange, all in all they were pleasing to Risai. Pleasingly soft, and warm.


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