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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


In this world, Youko knew that there are at least two more taikas. It was the emperor and the Saiho of En, the great kingdom at the north of Kei. En-ou and En-ki had built the big dynasty that prospered for nearly 500 years. The two were taikas as well, but the home country they talked about were equivalent to a dream within a dream to Youko. An ancient Japan known to Youkofs imagination through history lessons and legends. That was also a mystic dream, but was a completely different one. Youko was enthroned with the backup support of En-ou and En-ki, and was indebted to the two in the chaos followed. However, at that time, Youko could have not even once the strange feeling that the two appeared from the same dream.

... In that dream, I might have just brushed beside him in a street corner without noticing him.
And he is the kirin of Tai... Youko thought. He chose Tai-ou, built a dynasty, and then Risai, that female general covered in wounds and blood, bet her life to come to Kimpa Palace just for the twofs sake.

"Is there anything wrong?"
Keiki knitted his eyebrows, and Youko came to herself.
" Oh... Nothing. What a weird feeling, I just thought."
Youko gave a bitter smile. Koukan also looked at Youko with a what-had-happened look on his face.
" Sorry, Koukan. -- So?"

Taiki, Koukan said as he looked at Youkofs direction, and then drop his glance back to the documents.
" ... was carried to Hourai because of shoku (I, lit. eclipse). He was born as a taika, and returned to Mt. Hou (HR) afterwards, but it was ten years after."
" Ten years after? He was ten after ten years?"
" Yes. Well?"

Kouka asked, and Youko shook her head. -- Then, when the taika was carried to the other side, there should have already existed a life in the fetus to which the ranka attached itself. Youko was shocked inside by this idea. Taiki's container should have already existed within the mother's fetus at that time. It should have been living and kicking, and its heart jumping. Then the ranka attached itself and stayed in it. If that is the case, where has the life that should have existed in the first place in the fetus gone?

Was it busted out by Taiki? Did the rank snatched others' place of existence to be born? She had done the same thing as well. This thought was really shady to Youko. Or else, was the idea wrong in the first place, that the taika and the life originally there were separate? Such a question would never yield an answer even if asked to the people in this world.

Youko noticed Koukan laying his puzzled glance on her again, and she again shook her head.
" Nothing. Please go on."


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