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~


gHe is still not back.h
At a room in Genei Palace, Syouryuu scanned the darkness outside and mumbled. It had already reached midnight, but Rokuta had still not come back. Rokuta frequently leaves the palace without telling anybody, but he had never failed to return before midnight. Even in occasions when he leaves at night, he would be away from late night to early morning without alerting anyone, and he had never made every official turn pale like this.

gSomething must have happened.h
Syukou said with a worried face, receiving a reply of gMaybe.h Then, a person stormed in with flustered footsteps. It was Seisyou, wearing a stiff expression.
gThat is rare. Seisyoufs face is turning pale,h Syouryuu teased.
gIt is no time to joke around. --Ekishinfs body was found,h Seisyou spat in a low voice.
Syouryou naturally looked at Syukou, Itan and Seisyou in the room.

gTaiho is missing. We donft know his whereabouts.h
g...What a pity. He had just been spared from being killed by Kyou-ou.h
Your majesty, Syukou glared. gIt is no place to say such a thing, isnft it?h
gRokuta should really choose his friends a little better! Damn it if his bodyguard gets killed every time he gets out.h
gYour majesty!h
gLeave that idiot alone!h
No longer able to suppress his anger, Itan exploded.

gThat man is called Kouya, am I right?h
Itan asked Seisyou.
gI heard so. The name was also confirmed by the doormen at the Gate of Chimon (賖). He and Taiho got out of the castle, and Ekishin followed them.h
gAnd then he got killed. ...Where?h
gOutside Kankyuu. Also, his corpse has been torn apart. Most probably the work of youma or youjyuu (db). This evening, Kankyuufs people reported seeing a Tenken (V) with their own eyes.h
gAnd Taiho is nowhere to be found?h

gMaybe he got captured. But the appearance of youma is suspicious itself. No youma could be found around Kankyuu these days, I thought.h
gHumm. --Also, I donft know whether this has any relations with it, but today, there is a report on a missing child.h
gIt is a baby girl born just this spring. She was left unattended for a little while, and then she was gone.h
gHow strange... Maybe there is a relation between this and Taihofs disappearance?h

Anyway, Syukou voiced up. gI hope Taiho is fine.h
gIs he a kid so easily to be killed and die obediently?h
Hearing the mumbled grumble, the three subordinates at once turned their glances to the emperor who sat by the window. Itan gave him a glare.
gDonft you even worry about him a bit, you bastard? He is missing!h
gWhat good will it do even if I worry?h


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