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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Two ~


" He is such a person. He was said to love catching and taming kijyuu himself above all. During syousan, it seems that he would love to go hunting, and therefore didn't join the troop. However, I had already heard that Gyousou would enter the Yellow Sea the same time as us for syousan, and thought to myself, there would be no chance for me."

Risai gave a bitter laugh, and Kaei stifled hers with her hand.
" That is the truth... Therefore I cannot be said to be a subordinate. However at Mt. Hou, I luckily won trust from both Gyousou and Taiho. That is the fate by which his majesty laid his eyes on me."

There was a difference in status between an Imperial Army General and a Provincial Army General, but one is not a subordinate of another. Therefore Risai was greeted as in the same rank. Soon after Gyousou was enthroned, Risai was invited to Kouki (, capital of Tai) and was introduced to Gyousou's subordinates. Among them were those who followed Gyousou in syousan, and Risai had already known their faces. As a result, Risai very naturally walked abreast with the other subordinates after being promoted from Provincial Army General of Zui ().

" Now that I say it again, I cannot but feel amazed. Even I wonder whether I am his majesty's subordinate or not."
" I see..."
Kaei gave a light sigh.
" Then my instinct was also not something to be belittled. -- Somehow, Risai doesn't look like a subordinate. You look a little different from being under his majesty from the very beginning."
" Do I look so?"

" Yes. That is the reason behind my visit today, Risai. I cannot admit that I am scared by the others. There is something scary about them that makes me feel I would be shunned off. But Risai makes me feel differently. Maybe because we are both females?"
" I am delighted to hear that."

Risai replied. Kaei didn't put it wrong. Gyousou's original subordinates had been serving Gyousou's side for a long time, and they knew fully Gyousou's personality and thinking pattern. It was a deep-rooted absolute trust, or an intertwined thick bond. The bonding is so strong that sometimes Risai also felt being estranged. If even Risai felt so, Kaei would be out of the question. Feeling that she was the only odd one or out of place was only natural, Risai thought.


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