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~


At the time when the new emperor was enthroned and answered the greatest prayer of all the people in En, Genei Palace was a magnificent palace with shining gold and silver. Now, it was not so magnificent any more. It could still be called a palace that inspires deep awe and affection. However, all the decorations, gold, silver, precious stones (including even the stones embedded on the throne) were sold off by the emperor to raise money. That was how poor En had become. Near half of the buildings had been gone. They were demolished, and the stone and wood were retrieved and sold off by the emperor. Only the black roofs that linked like a line and entwined among the peaks of Mt Kankyuu didnft change.

The palace was said to be granted by god to the first emperor. Therefore, previous emperors only added things to the palace, but never took things from or destroyed the palace. The palace buildings were the history of the kingdom. As a result, to not only strip the decorations from the buildings, but also to demolish the buildings and sell the materials off were no ordinary events to the confused officials.

Do it, the emperor commanded with only one line. However, the emperor left alone those evildoers that emptied the treasures off Kyou-oufs imperial chamber to fill their own pockets. It was possible to dismiss all the lords and officials and confiscate all their personal fortunes, but the emperor didnft do so. There were no spare time to do so. The first priority was to make harvest possible on this desolated land, and bring order to the whole kingdom.

The fields had all been turned to charcoal. Even if production started, it took twenty years before there was enough harvest to support the farmersf lives. For the time, the kingdom barely ate off its remaining fortune by selling imperial treasures from the palace, and everything that can be called objects from the storehouses, down to even small army knives.

--Just treat it like we deposit the things elsewhere. We havenft got much of a loss if that bunch were enthusiastic to collect and store. Deal with them only when they conspicuously use the stuff they stole. When the time comes, we will make them repay once and for all.

gHe is easy-going but not stupid.h Itan said in a low voice, and Syukou gave a faint laughter.
gHe is able but irresponsible, so just leave him like that.h


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