The Forbidden Gate opened at a high spot near the sea of clouds, at Mt.
Ryouun(½_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(ī, 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
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
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 (ää¢, Taiki's
given name from Gyousou).h
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