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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


~ Chapter Three ~


"I agree with your view. Asen assassinated His Majesty and stole the throne, logically because he believed he should be the rightful one to rule Tai as an emperor... However I could never see him in such light. I could see no interest Asen had held to manipulate or rule the kingdom."

Asen did not rise because of hatred towards Gyousou, or desire to snatch what rightfully belongs to Gyousou -- Risai noticed. Asen's incentive to rebel was nothing simple as the rumors had suggested -- merely hatred that one of the Two Pillars had become emperor and the other a subordinate. That was why not a single person had doubted Asen.

It was as if Asen detested the Kingdom of Tai () itself, Risai felt. Asen did not pay a cent of hesitation in destroying the kingdom under his own rule, or reducing all the people he governed to dust. Above all, there was nobody to resist Asen.

"If there were a riot, Asen would send his troops to suppress, and would do something during the time both sides got into a lock... Such plans had apparently never come across Asen's mind. When there is a riot, a huge army would be sent to massacre all people and burn down the whole community without question. Asen does not even pursue the escapers. If they rise up again, kill them again. -- Something like that."

"Hey, in this way, no kingdom can ever be established!"
"Definitely... but"

Risai could not understand why this happened. Despite Asen's deeds, his supporters ever grew in numbers. Did they fear Asen so much they bowed under his feet? -- Probably not. During Risai's runaway as a traitor, she travelled throughout the kingdom in search for Gyousou. In the meantime, when she knew of people who disapproved of Asen or intended to rebel against him, she gathered them as an organization in an attempt of rebellion. However, every such attempt came to no avail beyond belief. Always from the inside, somebody switched sides, and the organization degenerated. The people who criticized Asen and yelled about Asen's atrocity today abruptly turned into Asen's supporters on the next day. The higher the person's rank, the more probable they were to switch.

"The provincial lords who have been protecting the uprising people till the day before suddenly sell every one of us to Asen, and continued to be provincial lords under Asen as if nothing has ever happened. They do not even give a single worry over exploiting their provinces and killing their people."

It was a disease, the incidents apparently whispered. Definitely it resembled some epidemic. Those who caught the disease lost their rebellious intent against Asen. Whatever atrocity they committed, their hearts did not trouble; whatever happenings they saw in front of them, their conscience was not pained.

"Sounds like ... brainwash, doesn't it?"
Youko mumbled. What on earth is this thing that swept the whole Tai like that? Whatever it was, no resistance could be gathered to remove the traitor.

"There is no way Tai's people could save themselves..."


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