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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Two ~


" Of course, everything will be according to official procedures. However, everything must be toned down. Every department involved in this, choose responsible officers with great care and organize. All officials except them must not be related in anything. All ends when Kouri returns. He should just notice a few officials' faces having changed, and the number of people decreasing a little bit."

Isn't that equivalent to deceiving Taiki? -- Risai pondered upon such a suggestion. It is true that for a kirin, it might be a blessing for them to get by not knowing such things. Kirins are generous in nature, detest bloodshed and despise the unrighteousness. In fact, they even fall sick because of blood gruel. Therefore, this measure is clear evidence of Gyousou's paternalism towards Taiki.

Risai was struggling to accept without reasoning, but a voice of "Wait a minute" was raised. It was Kaei, the newly appointed Daishikou (i).
" Is that really a good idea? -- I am afraid Taiho is very clever. Instead of hiding things awkwardly, why not tell the true situ..."
Never, Gyousou's short answer allowed no ground for refute.

Hearing the general idea of the plan, Risai felt an even stronger chill along her spine. Catching villainous officials in one blow; what a scary operation without hesitation! Yes, Gyousou was the favored subordinate under Kyou-ou who extended his power into every corner of the government after Kyou-ou's reign. He sure had the clear picture on everything: who did what, who did not do what, which officials were problematic, how should who be disposed and what should be done to fill the holes. It is also of no doubt Gyousou fully anticipated what would possibly happen when such villainous officials were disposed of. In fact, this winter hunt was not just for disposal of villains, but also a section of a grand strategic plan to shake out and wash off the enemies who were crouching low. Those who hid their treacherous and evil ambitions, and covered their tracks of evil deeds would watch the cleanup operation at the aisle smugly -- or would kick start their actions upon anxiety.

This man, Risai thought as she looked at Gyousou.
(Things that take a decade -- or even a few decades if not handled properly --after coronation, this man is trying to do the laundry in one year!)

She could not but feel chills surging through her. Before then, Risai held no unsettlement towards Gyousou. A popular famous general whose personality even Risai herself regarded highly, and an awe-inspiring character. However, at this moment, Risai began to feel something like an omen.

That was anxiety towards neither Gyousou's plans nor his power as emperor. It was just that -- is it impossible not to drop such a dark shadow in such strong light? Risai could not but think.

Then some time must have passed before this happened: Kaei suddenly paid a visit to Risai's residence. It was a night of light snow falling.


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