Higashi no Wadatsumi, Nishi no Soukai
<The Sea God in the East, the Vast Sea in the West>

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 1994


~ Chapter One~


The commissioner drew a deep sigh.
gPlease stop that childish behavior and at least turn your head to face me.h

Rokuta was sitting on a porcelain lionfs head at the patio. That place was slightly higher than chairs. His legs, which he canft keep still when he has his attention caught, were swinging gently and kicking lightly against the fence.

Rokuta turned around, and showed a toothy grin.
gI am still a kid, you know...h

gMay I know your age, my dear sir?h
gThirty three.h

Rokuta was already in his thirties, but he looked about thirteen years old. This is not rare at all. Those who live at the sky above and can look down to the sea of clouds never grow old. In the case of Rokuta, he had stopped growing up when he entered Genei Palace, although it might be just as good if he had grown a little older: Kirins become full-grown between their late teens and early twenties. His temper also didnft have a scant of maturity, just like a thirteen-year-old. Maybe that was because his substance stopped to grow with his physical appearance, or maybe that was because people judged by his appearance and treated him as a kid. By the way, the age Rokuta mentioned was calculated by the customary count of birthdays, because the age was used for compulsory public service related purposes.

gMy dear sir, with such heavy responsibility on your shoulder, it is inappropriate to act like this when you reach adulthood. Saihou(ɕ) is to support the emperor and to carry out generous policies for the people. He is the leader, the only one who hold the title of Kousyaku ( , duke) among the ministers. Please have some self-conscience towards your behavior, my dear sir.h

gI got it. Is it about the dam at Rokusui ()? But why donft you tell that to the emperor?h

The commissioner slightly raised his beautifully-arced thin eyebrows. The commissioner was a thin, fair-skinned effeminate man, but one should never be tricked by his looks. His surname was You(k), and his first name was Syukou(t). The emperor also gave him another name Mubou (d, lit. no tricks/plots). This name was not without meaning.

gc Well, then may I ask where your majesty has gone?h

gDonft ask me. Didnft he go down to Kankyuu and pick up girls?h

Syukou smiled meekly.
gTaihou doesnft seem to understand why I come to raise the issue of Rokusui?h

gOh, really?h
Rokuta clapped his hands together.
gShouldnft the issue of flood control be brought up to the responsible officials? It is not your responsibility is it?h

gNo, it is not my responsibility, as you said. However, En is now around its rainy season, and if flood control is not conducted, the green farmland that Taihou cherishes right now would all turn into swamps. This is such an urgent issue that must be approved immediately, but where has your majesty gone?h

gBeats me...h

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