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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Three ~


"So -- If Tai-ou passed away, Taiki would start searching for the next emperor, right? If Tai-ou was safe but Taiki passed away, Tai-ou would soon follow Taiki's fate. In this case Taiki's fruit will form in Mt. Hou, and a new kirin for Tai would be born to choose a new emperor."
" That is correct."

" However Taiki is not dead. So there is no reason a new kirin will be born, right? Also, there is no way Tai-ou passed away. As a result, even if Taiki is safe, there is no reason for him to choose the next emperor."
Syouryuu nodded.

" You have summed it up. Tai-ou and Taiki are both alive, so in theory Tai has no change in administration."
" However there are so many refugees flooding out. Isn't Tai in a very serious situation?"
" I guess. At least, it is true that youma (d) is plaguing the coast, and the flood of refugees before can no longer be seen now."

" A fake emperor (gi-ou, U) is in power, abandoning the ceremonies to the heavens normally conducted by the righteous emperor, and turning the country barren. Is there a way to remedy this?"
" The righteous emperor is alive, so technically the term 'fake emperor' is inaccurate -- but you can put it that way. In this case, the only remediation is that Tai's people rise up. It is unknown what would happen to Tai-ou or Taiki, but for the time being the provincial lords and the people are to join hands and defeat the fake emperor. Then the kingdom will be restored to its rightful state."

" However it has been six years since the messenger of Tai-ou's decease arrived. If there is power to rise up against the fake emperor, it should have been done long ago. Exactly because that is not possible, Risai bet on her very life to come seek my help, didn't she?"
"... It is true."

" Anyways, though En-ou has come all the way here, you have brought no useful information. In the end, Tai's situation is all the information you have on Tai, right? Furthermore, you have not even caught wind of that a shoku occurred at Entyou (), causing great disaster. That exactly is the proof that nobody could escape, including the officials at the central government, the entrusted ministers who should have a clear idea of the situation, and the people living at the capital. Risai was the only exception. Tai's situation has turned that serious!"
Syouryuu and Rokuta could only stay silent.

" Even Risai made it clear that Tai's people have no method of rescuing themselves. So, we may as well start by sending someone to search of Tai-ou and Taiki--"
Youko analyzed.

That! Syouryuu lifted his voice.
" True, I only know to such degree about Tai's situation. For such things alone I would not come all the way here to report. I come to stop you on exactly that!"
" That?"

" Listen. No matter what, never send your imperial army to Tai."


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