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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Two ~


" That is not true! I am the one who is being rude. To be honest, I was puzzled how to say what while visiting somebody I have not even exchanged conversations before. It is a life-saver when you ask me to cut straight into the meat."

Kaei gave a slight smile, but still touched her cup rim with her fingers in a somehow helpless expression. Her well trimmed and filed fingernails, which were different from Risai the soldier's, were wandering around the unrefined clay rim. They were slightly trembling, Risai saw.

" You look cold. Shall I bring another brazier in?"
" No, it is definitely not cold."
Probably noticing her trembling fingers, Kaei hurriedly gripped the fingers with her other hand.
" It is definitely not cold. Risai, I am scared."
" Scared?"

Kaei nodded, and looked at Risai straight in her eyes. It was an expression of great fear from the bottom of her heart, Risai observed.
" His majesty's coronation was followed by astounding changes within the palace. How should I put it -- such speed in putting the government in place is never heard of."

Risai didn't dare to agree, but waited for the other to continue in silence. It was the same praise heard everywhere in the government, but in a slightly trembling voice, Kaei evidently did not feel glad about such praise.

" ... Is it a good idea to be in such haste?"
Tears dropped silently from Kaei's eyes.
" ... haste?"
" It is necessary to revolutionize the government. It is also necessary is dispose of misdeeds. However, such action should never be hurried, shouldn't it? Why isn't it possible to take more time, digest with care and change moderately?..."
" -- Too impatient, you mean?"

" I cannot do it while feeling that. No, I am definitely not trying to criticize his majesty. However, I myself is so scared of what I am to do that I cannot do it. I cannot but feel that something is amiss. I cannot dismiss my impression that something that must not be forgotten is now being neglected. Is it really a good idea that everything is changed in such high speed? -- Those question I can never push out of my mind."

Risai nodded. It is not unreasonable, she felt.


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