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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter One ~


No, it is not impossible. If she really concentrated hard, she could probably break free from the resistance somehow. However, that would waste a lot of energy, she sensed. It is no easy matter and requires a lot of power, and there is no doubt it would inflict a lot of pain.

Nevertheless, Sanshi looked around -- or she was hoping to.
The light is weak. Taiki's power is weak. Without the usual dazzling glister, the mana looked like thin rain dribbling down, dangerously thin.

" We are caged up..."
Gouran's voice sent goosebumps on Sanshi's back.

Kirin is a kind of spirit. A spirit has power surpassing beasts or humans', supplied through the power within the land. This power that trickled in was thin. Shirei (g) eats on such power. However, this power became not so reliable now.

The entrance of the trickle was small. Instead of that the mana that surrounds Taiki was weak, the problem was that Taiki could not take in the energy. --The horn was missing.
--And it is eating on his body.

When Sanshi and Gouran eat on Taiki's energy, Taiki would lose that amount of energy. The energy that trickled in was not enough to keep Sanshi and Gouran alive.
--Even though there are enemies.

Enemies attacked Taiki. Suddenly, Taiki transformed. And then, meisyoku (I). Taiki probably didn't know how to invoke a meisyoku. It is heavenly power granted to kirin, but Taiki didn't fully understand a kirin's power. Something happened that invoked an instinctive meisyoku. That incident must have something to do with the great wound on the horn. Observing that this attack occurred right when Sanshi and Gouran was heading towards Gyousou's side, Sanshi and Gouran's departure must have some relation with this attack as well.

Somebody purposefully separated Sanshi from Taiki's side. Using this weak point, the somebody attacked Taiki. If the kirin is killed, the emperor will not live long. It is treason, Sanshi mumbled to herself.

-- But who?
Sanshi definitely saw a person in the midst of the syoku (I), but she couldn't recognize the shadow as anybody she knew of.

Is that the attacker? Is he the leader of all revolts? Is he the one who lured Gyousou out to Bun Province, incited Taiki to send Sanshi and Gouran to Gyousou's side, and attacked Taiki at the weakest moment of defense as Sanshi and Gouran were absent? However, the enemy failed on Taiki's attack. At least, they failed to get rid of Taiki. The enemy might have noticed this and planned on another attack on Taiki. However, Sanshi and Gouran could not move freely.

What are we to do? Gouran's voice sounded within the dull golden darkness.
" Sleep."

Sleeping cuts the consumption of energy to the minimum. It is sleeping in a beast's way, without letting its guards down. It is resting one's body while releasing one's consciousness to sense stimuli in the surroundings.

" We must never let our guards down. -- The enemy can be here any minute."


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