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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 1994


~ Chapter Three~


gDo you also eat deer meat? Or do you prefer these?h
The man took out some packages wrapped in green leaves from his backpack. Opening the leaf wraps in front of Kouya, the man showed some steamed mochi (, rice cake) made of cereal.
Kouya remembered those. They were the ones given by Rokuta.
Humm, the man cocked his head.
gYou donft want them? You prefer meat, I guess?h

Kouya left the bushes and got out of the woods. Come on! The youma cried, but Kouya ignored it, turned to the man and pointed his fingers to the deer. After Kouya pointed to the deer and the youma back and forth a couple of times, the man nodded and gave a smile at the youma.

gI have said that Ifll give it to you, havenft I? Eat it. Just donft attack people.h

Giving a suspicious cry, the youma moved forth, sink its teech on the deerfs leg and pulled the deer towards itself. Kouya watched, and slowly turned back to the men. The men were watching the situation without letting their guards down, but they didnft seem to be planning any harm. Feeling relieved, Kouya kneeled down and leaned himself against the man while sitting right beside him.

The man naturally held out his hand. Kouya withdrew himself with slight alert, but the manfs hand landed on Kouyafs head. It was a big, warm hand.
gWhat a marvelous child. You are keeping and taming that youma, I suppose.h
The kind voice tickled Kouya to pull himself back. As the feeling of the palm disappeared, he felt strong loneliness sweeping in.

g...You hate being touched? You are like some wild animal.h
That is not it, Kouya shook his head.
gAlright. I will not do anything you hate. --Where are you from? I heard there were ninyou (ld, creatures that take human form) that took tenken (V, lit. sky dog) with them around here, but I had no idea it is really a human child.
Kouya only stared at the manfs smiling face.

gDo you have a name? Where do you live?h
Kouya replied, impressed slightly by himself who had a name. It was a scene he had in his dreams for many many times: some people in this world asking for the name that he held.


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