Kasyo no Yume -- Toei
<The Dreams of Kasyo -- Prosperity in Winter>

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


= z Hakuyou =


The Forbidden Gate opened at a high spot near the sea of clouds, at Mt. Ryouun(_R)fs hillside. It stood deep within a huge cave. In front of the gate was a huge plaza that was surrounded at three sides by rocks, and extended to the edge of the only open side. Taiki slid off from Gyousoufs arm, held Gyousoufs hand tight and peeked out. Under them sprawled the snow-covered city of Kouki(, lit. Grand Base). The surrounding mountains stood tall, with razor-sharp edges covered by snow and glittering with white light. They made a sharp contrast in color with the blue sky.

As Taiki mumbled to himself, the warm air inside his throat clashed with the cold air outside. The stimulus made Taiki cough uncontrollably. His skin had turned numb with cold as he walked the short distance from the Forbidden Gate to the edge of the plaza. His eyes got smarted from the cold air. The dizziness from the bright light and the coldness of the surrounding air were just painful.

gThis is really cold.h
The mouth turned stiff and couldnft move at will. Gyousou nodded.
gTai is the land at the furthest north. When winter comes, snow falls quickly and covers the whole city completely. This sunny weather lasts for very few days. We might not feel a bit of it at the palace high above the sky, but the people are all living in such bitterly cold weather.h

gOh no...h
gIf one loses his home, he will be frozen at once. The snow covers the wild, and the soil is so frozen that you cannot even dig grass roots. If the food stored in the fall runs out people can only starve, but the fall harvest totally depends on the weather. The preparation for winter means life and death to the people. --This is the kingdom of Tai.h

Taiki gazed at the city that was white and frozen as if lifeless.
gThis piece of land might look flawlessly beautiful now, but it is mercilessly dreadful at the same time. --Never forget this.h
Yes, Taiki nodded. The ambience turned very serious.

Soon, Taiki was urged by the hand on his shoulder to return to the Forbidden Gate. But the ice-cold ambience didnft change even after the cold wind was shunned from behind. In a short time, his hands and feet were freezing cold, and his fingers were in pain. But those alone could not explain the cold lumpy feeling in Taikifs chest.

gWerenft it cold?h Gyousou asked, and his voice turned into a brighter tone. gWell, would you like to go to somewhere warm?h
gSomewhere warm?h Taiki cocked his head.
gIt is a warm place with flowers blossoming instead of snow falling,h Gyousou replied.
gBut now it is winter, right?h Taiki doubted.
Gyousou bent down slightly, put his hand on Taikifs shoulder, and smiled.
gIfd like to ask a favor of you, Kouri (䗢, Taiki's given name from Gyousou).h


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