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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


"He is a taika (ى, lit. fetus fruit), just like me. I heard that from En-ou ()."

Youko was born at Hourai (H), at the other side of the sea in the east. However, the land called Hourai was just a paradise very far away as said in legends, so Youko was not really born at that place. Youko felt that she could only termed the worlds "this side" and "that side." Each world in the other's eye was a mystic land, a world that doesnft exist. However, in rare occasions the two worlds meet.

It is within this rare intersection which Youko had been carried to the other side, and was brought back to this side. -- or so it happened. Youko accepted this, but she didnft feel any sense of reality to this. It was because when Youko was carried to the other side, Youko was still in an egg. In this world, people were born from tree fruits called ranka (, lit. egg fruits). When this world intersected with that world, it happened that the ranka containing Youko was carried to the other side. At that time Youkofs life existed, but she was not born. The unborn life attached itself to the fetus of a pregnant woman. In this way Youko was born at that side. Therefore people born this way are called taika (lit. fetus fruits), but of course Youko had no memory of being inside a ranka. She was born and raised as the child of her parents just like anybody else, she had thought. -- That was wrong, you were actually born here, and in fact you were the emperor. So was Youko told as she was brought back to this side, but the whole matter seemed to her just as if she was dragged into a bedside fairy tale.

She felt not even a scant of reality -- but the matter called "birth" may just as well be something like this. I am now here, so it might as well be so, one could not but convince oneself. Youko too could not but convince herself in this way. Returning to this side, and becoming emperor for two years, now Youko thought as if it was the other side that was a dream. It appeared as if Youko had a dream of being born and raised in a marvelous world called Japan.

"How old again is Taiki?"
Youko mumbled, and Keiki answered behind her. He was the kirin of Kei that brought Youko back to this world and pushed her up to the throne.
" I believe he should be around ten when Tai-ou was enthroned."
" Tai-ou was enthroned seven years ago... So Taiki was around the same age as me..."

What a queer feeling. There is a person who shares the same dream that Youko had seen, somewhere in that mystic land or that mystic city. When Youko was a small child, Taiki existed at that world, also as a small child. How unbelievable! It was as if the child that Youko met in a dream appeared in Youkofs reality, and was told as the reality through the mouths of Tyousai and Saiho.


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