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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Three ~


"Risai -- are you going for battle?"
Kaei (ԉe) paid a visit to Risai at midnight, when Risai was preparing for departure two days later.
"Yes. I guess I would be the most suited for Jyou Province, because I have the advantage of knowing its landscape."
I see, Kaei agreed. However usual unsettlement and great loneliness was written all over her face. She studied Risai's face with an intent gaze, as if this was the last time in their lives they would meet each other.

"Don't worry. I know Jyou Province like the back of my hand, and I have a lot of acquiantences and colleagues within the Provincial Army. The rebellion is not as big as in Bun Province, so I would not expect to spend much time before everything is taken care of and I return."
"Yes... It would be so, right? I wait for your early return from the bottom of my heart."
Kaei smiled, but her expression was as if she would cry any time.

"Hey, Risai -- Are we doing the right thing?"
"...About what?"
"His Majesty is missing. Taiho () is missing. However the kingdom is setting off for a new era already... I am scared."
Risai lightly made fun of Kaei, and Kaei put on a complex smile.

"I guess. I am always afraid..."
Risai gave a soft laugh.
"I can see that."
"However, Risai, I am more scared than ever... His Majesty was like a racing horse, and I was truely scared riding on his back. Now the kingdom is also dashing. However, that thing we are riding on, what on earth is that?"

Oh? A sound escaped from Risai's lips, as she looked back once more at the unsettled Kaei.
"No matter how hasty or how reckless he seemed, His Majesty was a genuine emperor of the Kingdom of Tai. He received Taiho's election and the Heaven's will before he was coronated. In other words, he was a wild horse under full approval from the Heavens for certain. However, now...?"


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