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~


g... At that time, I was just an unimportant official who had just received my position. When I heard the rumor, I sincerely wish that I could be at the place!h

Syukou laughed like he was amused, and Itan got a little disappointed. For other people it might be an interesting rumor, but for Itan it was no laughing matter. He had really prepared to die at that time.

At first, Itan indeed respected the emperor, in such piety that he never sounded a single complaint, but pretty soon the respect died out. The emperor doesnft have anything praiseworthy. He lost all the money he had through gambling, and didnft return for government affairs. Does Itan need to bow every time to such an emperor?

gI hate myself who was moved by such apparent generosity of the emperor! That guy is not generous at all; he is just easy-going!h

gItan, donft you think it is better to speak more prudently? It is for your own sake to know yourself and never forget politeness now.h

g... Any you are the one to tell me that?h

Itan looked at Syukou. Syukou was originally a Shun official (t, i.e. imperial affairs), working under naishi (j). When the emperor took a visit to naishifu (j{, the working place for naishi), Syukou said the following to the emperor.


--I have already prepared your emperor title (, okurina) used after your death. Kyou-ou** (, lit. the one to revive the country) or Metsu-ou (ʼn, lit. the one to destroy the country). You can be the one to revive En, or you can be the one to exterminate it. Which title do you like? Syukou asked.

(** This "Kyou-ou" is different in kanji from the "Kyou-ou ()" for the previous emperor.)


Syukou gave a faint laugh at Itanfs criticism.

gWhy put up the face of a Daibu(v)? It looked like I did that for the sake of getting a position.h

gThat didnft reach me. What you did happened three days after the coronation, right? I was still confined at home at that time.h

gOh was that the case? Wow, I had lived through so many years that I had a bad memory on things...h

gOh stop that,h Itan said as he glared at Syukoufs prim face. The two looked young, but those were just appearances. They were in fact so old that it was not strange for them to say gliving through so many years.h


--gI dislike both,h the emperor replied.

Syukoufs frankness has the same motivation as Itanfs. Syukou had also prepared to die. To begin with, Syukou was not an official appointed by the government, but was employed by niashi for their own use. It could already cost them their life to even speak to the emperor directly. Besides, the emperor could get so angered that he would grant death right at the spot.

Syukou watched as the new emperor before him made a twitched expression.

gI refuse both. I can not but feel embarrassed by being named using such ordinary words.h

Pardon? Syukou asked back as he threw a close glare to the emperor.

gDo all shikan(j, all officers working under naishi) work with only that level of literature talent? Why, please think of a more clever title!h

gOh... Y, yes.h

gYou are not suited as a shikan, are you?h

Maybe, Syukou embarrassingly admitted. The messenger arrived in front of him. At least I would be discharged from my position, Syukou thought as his stomach sank. Instead, Syukou was promoted from gyoshi(j), a middle-ranked position under naishi, to become a commissioner(m, Tyoushi) at the department of Syuu (H, state affairs).


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