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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Three ~


"Yes. Remembering such rumors, I could not but feel upset, and inched myself as much as I could towards an unnoticed corner. When the dreadful happened, I hid myself behind the rubbles. And there was a hole, so I crept in and escaped to the outside."
The young officer ran back to his residence within the surrounding chaos and darkness, but immediately searchers arrived. He temporarily found a hiding place under a corridor, but then he heard soliders discussing, that one must have escaped because there was one corpse missing.

"I escaped from the palace with my bare life. Ducking into a carriage of bodies, I passed the gate by playing dead. The carriage dropped off at a Tyoudou (n, a public place for placing bodies) outside Kouki, and I ran and ran away. At first I ran straight back to my land in Zui Province, but then the Air Force (Kuukoushi, st) showed up. For the time being I left Zui Province, mixed among the refugees and finally arrived here."

The man put his hands together, as if his life depended upon it.
"Please help me! I will be killed by Asen! Please --"
"I promise your safety."

Risai nodded. She ordered her subordinates to let the man rest for the time being, warning seriously alongside to never let the man be seen, and to never say anything about the conversation. After that, Risai approved two letters, and handed one to a subordinate to bring back to Kouki. In the excuse of requesting advice for riot suppression, the messenger was to deliver a secret letter. Risai had given a serious warning to deliver the letter only to Haboku (mn) in the palace. If there is a chance somebody else can lay their hands on the letter, the messenger was to destroy it. At the same time, the other letter was sent through Seityou (’) to Sougen () in Bun Province.

-- Asen, usurping.

Housing Niseishi under her tent, Risai somberly marched into Jyou Province. Ten days later, the Air Force suddenly danced into the camp. Wearing the Asen Army's seal, they brought a document with an ominous red seal.

"You are accused of conspiring with Niseishi to storm into Nisei Palace, and massacred officers in an attempt to steal Hakuchi's foot as your own."
The Air Force announced, above all, that Risai had murdered Gyousou (邏@) and Taiki (i).
"You are asked to return to the palace, and to give no resistance for your honor's sake."

Risai claimed that she knew nothing of a Niseishi, let alone sheltering him, but the Air Force apparently knew in advance that the man was hidden in Risai's camp. The young officer was dragged out, and was executed on the spot with no questions asked. "We guarantee your safety," the Air Force claimed, but that was only military cliche. There was no doubt Risai would have been murdered on their way back to Kouki.

Risai could escape in the end, mostly because the Air Force allowed Risai to ride on her kijyuu (Rb) Hien (), despite that they were to lead her back. With the help of Hien, Risai barely escaped. They were already at Jyou Province, where Risai had a lot of acquaintences. They played a role in saving Risai's life.

From that day onwards, Risai became a traitor (taigyaku, t, lit. big rebel) ...


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