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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


Toshin rushed up the stairs amidst flustered voices from the surroundings, mixed with surprised voices and loud yells from above. The moment Toshin reached the gate, he heard a sorrowful cry of a beast. Toshin felt as if he was hit hard at the stomach by a fist. Those people stationed beside the Forbidden Gate, have they already struck down the woman?

Toshin dashed into the gate with the feeling of having swallowed a load of lead. Inside the gate was Roshin (HQ), a wide balcony at the interior of the palace. At the front of the balcony stood a high wall, behind which buildings of the emperorfs residence, Seishin (Q), stood tall. This is a forbidden place where even the highest-ranked officals were forbidden from entering without authorization, not to mention Toshin and other soldiers. On the stone steps that sprawled over the place, the kijyuu lay flat. Its body was bounded by hooks designed to restrain a kijyuu.

"Stop! Donft kill her!" exclaimed Gaishi.

The soldiers surrounding the kijyuu turned to Gaishi with surprised looks. The time Toshin ran up to the siege, the womanfs neck was about to be pierced through by spearheads. Soldiers who were holding their spears forward reflexively retrieved their weapons. At the same time, the woman struggled. Outraged shouts shot out from the siege. Kill her! The hysterical screams of Konjin sounded from the gate. The command to kill, the command not to kill, the woman and the kijyuu still struggling to escape, soliders struggling to restrain them -- amidst the chaos shot a sonorous voice.

"Whatfs this mess all about?"

Toshin looked at the person that walked towards the siege, and gave a sigh of relief. The big man that held a long sword in one hand was Daiboku (l) from Military Affairs (Kakan, Ċ). Under the command of Syajin (ːl) who has control over personal bodyguards of the emperor and important officials, Daiboku is very close to the emperor at all times. When privacy is needed, Daiboku stays beside the emperor and orders the minor officials. Even now, three minor officials were following around Daiboku.

An intruder, Konjin yelled. A visitor, Gaishi rebuked. Daiboku blinked his eyes as he looked around.
" Which is it? An intruder or a visitor?"
That is no visitor, a shrill came from Konjin again.
" This person just dashed in, pretending to be a visitor!"
Konjin had just begun to spout what happened when Daiboku shook his hand to stop him midway.
" Sounds faster to hear from that person instead."


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