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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Three ~


When Gyousou (邏@) was heading towards Bun Province (B), Risai () and other Imperial Army troops left behind were appointed to defend Kouki (). Not only defense, the Imperial Army has countless duties it must fulfill. Risai and other had to also take up the portion of duties left over by troops heading for Bun Province.

-- At that very moment, a rumor had spread to every corner of the palace. Risai, who was snowed under with duties every day, didn't catch the rumor for quite some time. From early morning to late night, Risai dashed around to cover Kouki's wide-open security gaps, and returned to her residence devoid of strength. On one such night, Risai found Kaei (ԉe) waiting, with an unsettled expression on her face.

"Sorry for making you wait for so long."
Risai, upon hearing from the servants that Kaei waited all the time till Risai returned, hurriedly led Kaei to the guest room. Spring had just come, and the foyer was freezing cold at midnight. Kaei chose to take no servant with her, and waited alone for Risai's return. Risai could imagine how cold and how anxious Kaei had been.

"I would have headed back early if you have sent a messenger."
Risai said as she stepped in the guest room, and Kaei smiled in relief.
"--Not at all. My apologies for intruding in your busiest times."

The servants at home had observantly served wine and food, but Kaei seemed to have not touched any. The anxious looks on Risai when she was waiting, her face when she recognized Risai at the door -- Risai realized that the topic was not anything good.

"Risai, did you hear of some strange rumors?"
"Yes. I am not familiar with military matters, and I am not sure how to digest the rumor..."
Kaei said, and stared up straight at Risai's eyes.

"... The place where His majesty is heading is Tetsui (Q) of Bun Province. Rumor spread on whether this is too much of an effort."
"Too much of an effort -- ?"
Exactly, Kaei worriedly knitted her fingers.

"Tetsui is place His majesty had a deep relation with. If it were an ordinary riot, it would be unimaginable His majesty would ever head towards there himself. His majesty took such a move exactly because it happened at Tetsui, somebody said."

"That... is true I believe. Gantyou () , Asen (I) , Eisyou (p), or anybody else among the Imperial Army generals would be more than enough for suppressing a bandit's riot. In fact, His majesty first sent Eisyou there. It is true that afterwards the riots expanded beyond the control of Eisyou alone. However, it should be enough to send somebody else, and it was not necessary for His majesty to head there himself. Despite that, His majesty went so far as to cut away a part of Asen's army, combined it with his, and led the combined army himself. It might as well be because it is Tetsui, I suppose."


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