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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Two ~


She sank into deep thoughts as she walked west towards the inner hall, and at that moment, a person in armor was walking towards her.

"Oh -- Kantai (魋)."
Kantai noticed Youko, and stopped his steps to give a light bow. He was the general of Imperial Army in Kei.

" You came at just the right moment."
Youko said, and Kantei withdrew himself a little.
" If you want me to practice sparring with you, please no. I had been drilling hard on my subordinates just now. If you want to vent your sutoresu (stress) or whatever on me, I cannot bear it anymore."
Youko gave a small laugh.
" That is not it. If you are tired, why not come with me for a rest?"

Understood, Kantai nodded, and was brought to a study deep inside the inner hall. This resting place for breaks between administrative work became Youko's residence during the day.

"...What a scratch team this dynasty is."

Youko mumbled to herself while making tea in the study, and Kantai was dumbfounded. Youko gave a bitter smile. -- Rather than saving Tai or whatever, Kei is the one that needs the most help. The indispensable empress now could not but study how to read and write before she could attend any administrative work, and half of the subordinates were originally fighters on the street, so they musted be trained on things like discipline and real battle tactics. The government even ran out of trainers, and needed the general of Imperial Left Army to directly teach them.

" You even need to take care of subordinates' training. It must have been harsh on you, Kantai."
" Not really. It is not a great deal at all. A general has nothing to do except in wars, you know."

Youko laughed. That is not true, she knew. At the beginning when Youko first came, she was shocked by such a huge army, but she understood the importance once she knew the details. There is nothing like policemen in this world. Patrolling and arresting criminals were under Military Affairs department (Syuu-kan, H) and conducted by the army. Besides those, the army administers public infrastructure construction. Work that are not done with drafted citizens would be shouldered by the army and prisoners in penal servitude, under the command of government officials. Together with palace and city defense and important officials' protection, the army is busy all year round no matter whether there are wars.

" This is a small sign of praise."
Youko said as she held out a teacup, and Kantai laughingly but politely accepted it.
" It is not wine, but I humbly accept."

After a while of laughter, Youko started to ask Kantai.
" Kantai, do you know Tai-ou? He seemed to be a famous person."
Sure, Kantai nodded.


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