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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Three ~


Risai () drew a deep breath, and gripped tight the marble in her hand.
"--I could not but head towards Jyou Province (B). Leaving Kouki, I took half a month to travel from Zui Province (B) to Jyou Province. A few days after crossing the province boundary, a subordinate tumbled into my tent."


"I beg for your assistance! I would get killed!"
The man in rags was trembling as he spoke. He was clad in a noragi (ڎq) common for the lowly peasants, was covered in mud and dirt, and gave no hint of being an official. Probably he took such appearance to mix into the refugees (fumin, ), and to escape his pursuers' eyes.

"I was in the Imperial Affairs Department under Daiboku (m). I worked in Nisei Palace (񐺋{)."
The man took out his cordon (jyuu, ). A cordon is a knoting pattern three fingers wide, and its length and color varies according to department and rank. The cordon the man took out from his boro ()'s breast pocket was definitely the property of Niseishi (񐺎), under Daiboku of Imperial Affairs. Niseishi, as the name suggests, works in Nisei Palace to take care of Hakuchi ().

"Niseishi, what"
"The general! ... Definitely the Imperial Army General! Imperial Right Army's..."
"...Asen (I)"

"Yes! Definitely it was General Jyou (, Asen's family name)! It was that day -- that day of big catastrophe. That night, he stormed into Nisei Palace with his subordinates! 'Any damage? Any harm to the officials?' he asked. In the first place, we do not open the door to anyone without Daiboku's approval. But you know what the situation was, so we let him in."

"You mean Asen?"
"Yes. Then General Jyou -- He stormed into the palace, and began slashing Hakuchi. However, Asen's sword could not cut into Hakuchi. The sword just passed through Hakuchi like cutting air. Realizing that, Asen commanded my colleague to bring in a hen. You know, those hens used for ceremonies, taken care of by Keijin ({l, lit. the chicken guy). Sandwiched by soldiers and threatened by swords, my colleague headed towards the Keijin's place, and brought back a hen. Asen then killed the hen, cut of the hen's foot, stuffed Hakuchi into a pot--"
The man covered his face.
"--and killed off all the officials in the place..."

The man barely escaped from the scene. It was fortunate that half the palace had collapsed due to the Meishoku (I).

"The moment Asen stormed in, I had a bad gut feeling. There was a rumor that His Majesty was scared by a certain general, and headed towards Bun Province (B) in order to escape from dogging assassins sent by that general..."
"There was such a rumor...?"


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