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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


Feeling painful in the chest for such wasted time, Risai held her hand onto her throat. She felt a round, smooth thing at her fingertips. She held the thing up, and saw a round marble tied to her neck.

" Oh that, that is supposingly to be used by her majesty only. Youko -- "
The girl smiled with a little embarrassment.
" Her majesty could be so reckless at times. She forced the Treasury officials (~) to use it on you."
" For... for me? "
g It is the imperial treasure carefully kept in Kei Kingdom. Well, you are very lucky in so many ways. If you had collapsed at some other places or palaces, you might not have been saved. "
" I see... "

Risai didnft know whether she should be happy about it.

-- Kaei (ԉe).

With her eyes closed, Risai could only hear the wind. The marble in her fingers had a cold touch, and the coldness invoked Risaifs memory of her separated friendfs face.

-- Kaei, I ended up arriving here...

Ten years older than Risai, Kaei was an officer with a gentle face. She was clear-minded but gentle, prudent to the point of paranoia. It was at Sui Province (B) at the south of Tai where they were last together. After that, Risai left Kaei, and headed towards Kei alone.

-- Risai. You canft think like that.

Kaei told Risai while shivering in the wind. Her voice was gentle, but her tone was determined. Kaei's face and voice showed undeterred refusal. Risai was very sad. She had hoped that at least Kaei would understand her.

" What a shameful, frightening suggestion!"


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