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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Two ~


The smell of dust and cracked wood. The sun that was ripen to rot. The dull rusty-colored sky. The slowly stirring red haze. The ground that sounded with ominous noise. --Risai could not shrug off the ominous feeling inside her. Something terrible had happened. Something unbelievably horrid.

In fact, the damage in buildings became increasingly serious as it got closer to Jinjyuu Hall. The government office (B, Syuutyou) gate completely collapsed. The surrounding stone walls crumbled here and there, and the building that could be seen on the other side were tilting precariously or turned to rubble. The stone pavement's stones were dug up or turned upside down, cracks could be seen everywhere, and one side was piled up with rubble. A corner of Jinjyuu Hall could be seen. Many of the buildings over there had turned into a hill of rubble.

The ground noises had stopped before anybody knew, replaced by mourns and cries that could be heard here and there. The sunrays were dim, and a tinge of ominous red hovered in the sky.

Manpower was gathered in the end. Many soldiers were summoned to remove the hill of rubble and search of Taiki, but in nowhere would the small kirin be found. Not a trace could be found at the garden and the balcony facing the Sea of Clouds to the west of Jinjyuu Hall and main hall. Buildings and trees were uprooted, on which a mix of soil and rubble accumulated, leaving only the traces where huge waves had beaten and swept everything into the Sea of Clouds. Ships and kijyuus (Rb, lit. rides) were sent. Every inch of the garden had been combed through to find the small Saiho (ɕ). However, from that day onwards, nobody had ever found Taiki.

During the course of search, a bird had been sent with an emergency message to Bun Province. Before that bird arrived at Bun Province, another bird arrived from Bun Province. The message carried on the seityou (’, lit. blue bird) was this: Gyousou had disappeared.


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