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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Three ~


For a short time, Risai was dumbfounded. Kaei's eyes wandered off.
"In the first place, we are already accustomed to a substitute government (katyou). From Kyou-ou's demise to His Majesty's coronation, the kingdom was supported by a substitute government, that's why. Therefore we feel no disharmony. However, I grow more scared day by day. Who on earth is this man, staying in the Inner Hall (Naiden), and holding Hakuchi's foot as the Imperial Seal?"

"But... Asen..."
"For certain he is not elected by the Heavenly will. Taiho's condition is still uncertain. If Taiho is already -- if Taiho is deceased, the situation now is not at all unnatural. However, is our Taiho really deceased?"

"But, Kaei"
"A Meishoku (I) occured, implying that Taiho had been thrown to the other world. No. If he was just thrown to the other world he could always come back. Therefore he is unable to return even if he wants to -- this might be the case. However, if Taiho is at somewhere, this government right now is no substitute."

Kaei showed a grimace.
"Asen is a fake emperor (U, giou), and this is a fake government (U, gityou)!"
Risai hurriedly looked around. It was Risai's own room, so of course there was no sight of a third person.

"Risai, do you remember the rumor when His Majesty set off to Bun Province?"
"That he is overdoing it in Tetsui, Bun Province...?"
"Yes. Not just that. I was also aware of another rumor at that time."
"Another rumor?"

"Yes. Along with rumors that His Majesty was plotted against, there were rumors that everything was His Majesty's plot, right? His Majesty headed towards Bun Province in order to handle the rest of us remaining in the capital. The generals remaining in the capital were Gantyou, Gashin, you Risai, as well as Asen. Furthermore, it was said His Majesty took part of Asen's troops with him, in order to reduce the number of troops under Asen's command..."

"You are telling me..."
"Now that the situation has become like this, I start to think that maybe the rumors are true. At that time His Majesty was at Bun Province, probably because it was Tetsui, and His Majesty could not do anything about that. However, was it really necessary to cut part of Asen's army in addition? Maybe His Majesty had become aware of that Asen was about to rebel...?"


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