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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001
(C)¬–ì•s—R”üEu’kŽĞ@‚Q‚O‚O‚P

 


~ Chapter Three ~

 

Youko blinked.
" Why not?"
" No matter what. This is already set in stone."
" I thought I was helped by En-ou to return to Kei (Œc)?"
That is incorrect, his tone turned hard.
" You came to me to request my assistance. Kei-ou (Œi‰¤), who had been chased off from her kingdom, came to ask for protection. I only lent my imperial army to you."

" ...That sounds like playing with words to me."
" No matter how you see it, that is the heaven's logics. Basically leading armies into another country is an instant sin, a sin so serious that the emperor and the kirin would die in a couple of days."

Youko looked around the room puzzled, and Taishi Enho nodded in agreement.
" There is the story about Jyun-tei (…’é). Have you heard of it, your majesty?"
" No."

" A long time ago, there was an emperor in Sai (Ë) called Jyun-tei. At that time, the neighboring kingdom Han (”Í)'s emperor lost the way (shitsudo, Ž¸“¹), and millions of people were suffering. Jyun-tei, who took pity of Han's people, sent the imperial army to Han. The army did not even go to upthrow a foreign emperor; it only stationed at the small villages at Han's border, and protected and led the escaping people out of the kingdom. Nevertheless, a couple of days after the imperial army crossed the border, the kirin passed away, followed by Jyun-tei. That was an action disallowed by the heavens."

" But, then..."
Syouryuu shook his head.
" It yields nothing to criticize the heaven's way. Even though it is neither invasion or uprising, but only for the purpose of protecting the people, it is a strict rule not to send armies to another kingdom. There might be nothing wrong in the original purpose, but to the divine providence it is a serious sin -- Furthermore, after Jyun-tei, Sai's national surname (kokushi ‘Ž, the official title for emperors and kirins) changed from Sai (Ö) to Sai (Ñ)."

Syouryou swept his glance across everyone in the room.
" After Jyun-tei's decease (touka “oç ), the 'Sai-ou Imperial Seal (Ö‰¤ŒäŽ£)' engraving on the imperial seal vanished according to custom. When the next emperor was enthroned, however, the imperial seal engraving changed to a new 'Sai-ou Imperial Seal (Ñ‰¤ŒäŽ£).' Changing the imperial seal engraving is the heaven's work, or in other words, the proof of how serious the sin is. Changing the national surname is absolutely rare. But the least possible thing was invoked -- this is how serious the sin is."

" Then you are telling me to abandon the whole matter?"
" I am not saying that. One thing is for sure though: Things are not so simple as to equate helping whatever trouble happens around and a good deed. This is related to the future of Kei. I need to say it again: don't hurry."

" You are as well telling me to abandon. En-ou, you have not seen in what shape Risai crashed into Kinpa Palace. She has endured so much to trust me with something, and how can I throw it aside just to protect myself?"
" Don't be mistaken. You are the ruler of Kei, not the ruler of Tai."
" But"

Syouryuu raised his hand to interfere.
" There are those among the refugees that told this story. Both Tai-ou and Taiki were murdered, in the hands of the general from Zui () Province, General Ryuu (—«, Risai's surname)."
"... No way."
" Considering that Tai-ou and Taiki are not dead, the story is nothing but a baseless rumor. But be alert: in the usurper name list mentioned by the refugees, General Ryuu's name ranks top in frequency."

***

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