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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


Of course, the woman must be pretending the deep wound, and the kijyuu was trained to act like it was on the verge of exhaustion. The tale about she being the general of Tai Kingdom was another blatant lie. Toshin didnft only believe in such a lie, but was also taken off guard as he swallowed her badly conducted bunch of acts.

(--Badly conducted bunch of acts?)

Behind the Forbidden Gate there was a wide arena that could let a whole troop station in formations. The woman and her kijyuu headed to a flock of stairs at the other end of the arena. Probably stirred by the chaos, standby soldiers and officials rushed out from a barrack next to the arena.

-- Her acts are not bad, Toshin thought as he ran after the woman. It was nothing like acting. The woman and her kijyuu looked really at the brink of death. One could fake bloodstains by rubbing red soil, but that couldnft fake a wound. In particular, the womanfs right arm really gave the impression that it was deeply wounded.

Let me see, Toshin decided as he stared at the woman who was staggering up while struggling to put her feet on the stairs. Even now, the womanfs right arm was not moving. The woman tripped and fell in front of Toshin. Still her right arm was not moving. Her kijyuu rushed up to her and extended its neck as if to help her up, but the woman grabbed its neck with her spear-holding left hand.

Without thought, Toshin searched for Gaishifs face around. Gaishi, who was running right behind Toshin, nodded towards Toshin.
gJust go after her. Catch her. -- But donft kill her.h
But, Toshin gave Gaishi a rebuking glance. Kill! Konjinfs high-pitched shrills echoed from the entrance at the arena.
gDonft kill her. There is something we need to ask her even if she is a criminal.h

Toshin nodded and ran after the woman again. The woman that clutched at her kijyuufs back was reaching the top of the stairs in one breath. Blocked in front of her was another huge gate, and behind the gate was the deep interior of the palace on top of the Sea of Clouds. Behind the gate another Ryou of soldiers was standing bay, but would they eventually notice the chaos?

-- Oh no, if someone was alerted and opened the gate carelessly to peek out, there is imminent possibly that the woman could force herself right into the palace.

However, the moment Toshin was fearing over such possibly, the gate moved. The kijyuu, while letting the woman ride on its back, threw itself into the gate and crashed to the other side of it.


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