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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 1994


~ Chapter Two~


The city of Kankyuu is the capital of En, but it was not that big. At least, the capital of Hourai is bigger than Kankyuu, Rokuta thought to himself.

Rokuta wrapped a shawl around his head inside the gate of Chimon. If he hadnft hidden his hair like that, the public would have spotted him immediately. There are no better ways; somehow, no dye can stick on kirinsf mane, so kirins cannot dye their hair.
Rokuta had changed his clothes to those of normal people, and hid his trace as he followed Kouya out of the city of Kankyuu. Nevertheless, Ekishin followed closely behind.

Ekishin was originally a soldier under the command of Seisyou. When Seisyou was imprisoned, most of his subordinates handed in their resignation, and didnft leave their home until Seisyou was released. Kyou-ou didnft allow so many resignations, and ordered many of the subordinates to get back to their positions. Those who refused were killed off, but quite a number of the subordinates survived the massacre. Ekishin then worked under Seisyou the Daiboku as a bodyguard. Holding deep respect to Seisyou, Ekishin refined his martial arts very well, so fine-toned that he could spot even Seisyoufs moves right away. Kouya and Rokuta tried to wait for Seisyou getting distracted, but it was so hard for them to hide their tracks from his sight that they finally gave up.

Ekishin kept surveying the surroundings with caution. The kirin is the only sacred beast for the country, and any chances of harming the kirin can never be allowed. If the people knew the kirin is around, they will rush forward for the chance of direct complaint to the government. That day, however, the lucky star was with them; no one seemed to have noticed the kirin.

Kankyuu spread like a fan at the foot of the Sky-Pillar Mountain . The city is protected by walls, and there are eleven gates. Leaving from one of the doors, one can see a vast slope of green extending from it. From not far away farmlands spread out. At least, Kankyuu is embraced by such glamorous garden scenaries.

gThis way,h Kouya said smilingly as he climbed over a small hill. Ekishin advised Rokuta at least not leaving the city, but Rokuta ignored him and followed Kouya. Entering a piece of woodland that had flourished for the last twenty years, Kouya yelled gheyh with the sound of an animal.

gHey, you still can do that.h
Rokuta said impressed, and Kouya nodded. Immediately, the sound ghereh could be heard within the woodland.

gThe big one, has he grown old?h
gYeah. Hasnft turned old as fast as humans though.h
gThey live longer than humans donft they.h
gMaybe thatfs the reason.h

Maybe, Rokuta nodded. Shirei never age, and they have the high intelligence to use human language. Rokuta originally thought that this is because Shirei had struck a contract with him, but it may also be the case that youma are such creatures in the first place.

Walking towards the source of the sound, they found a red beast waiting at a small piece of grassland.



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