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

Copyright Fuyumi Ono, Koudansya, 2001


= gÏ Koukashou =


Seirai said while staring to Asen and Sougen. Normally, the Guest Hall (qaSoukaku Den) which receives foreign guests was located at the west of the Outer Hall. To go inner still means to enter the Inner Hall. Aside very close friends, even foreign emperors can in no occasion step inside easily.

gYes. We are told to lead you to the emperorfs residence.h
The receptionist answered with confused expression and sweat drops on his forehead.

Carriages were prepared hurriedly. Taiki and others had no choice but to silently ride on the carriages, pass through walls in the palace, and enter the Inner Hall. Moving deeper and deeper into the Inner Hall, they saw two layers of walls that were even taller and sturdier than what they had seen at the beginning.

gHey, Seirai,h
Taiki whispered secretly to his Fusyou sitting beside him in the carriage.

gThat building that we saw earlier, isnft it Jinjyuu Hall (mda)?h
Yes, Seirai nodded confusedly.
g...I thought so from the very beginning, in fact.h
gIf that is Jinjyuu Hall, then this must be Roushin (HQ), right?h
gYes... This would be it.h

gEntering the gate at the innermost of Roushin, we would enter the Back Palace ({, koukyuu), wouldnft we?h
gYes... That should be so... shouldnft it?h

Seiraifs face twitched as he spoke. Profuse sweat formed on his forehead, and it seemed not to be solely due to the temperature.

For the palace that stands on top of the sea of clouds, its innermost is called the Imperial Wing (, Entyou), and that is separated into a number of blocks by folds of walls and gates. The innermost of all is the North Palace (k{, Hoku-guu) where the empress lived, with Soushin (Q) on the side, and the whole block was called the Back Palace ({, koukyuu).

At the east of the Back Palace stands the block of East Palace ({, Tou-guu), which consists of palaces like Tyoumei Palace ({) and Kaei Palace (Éi{), where the direct relatives of the emperor live.

At the west of the Back Place is the block of West Palace ({, Sei-guu). Buildings in the West Palace include Godou Palace (ˋ{), where the five mystic birds such as the phoenix (P, Hou-ou) and the Hakuchi (, lit. white bird) are kept. The Grand Shrine (_, Tai-byou) is where the emperor worships. Fukujyu Hall (a) is where the Roboku (H), the tree to which people prayed for children or fruits, is located.

Back Palace, East Palace and West Palace are collectively called En-shin (Q). As Back Palace is the center of En-shin, En-shin is sometimes refered to as Back Palace. However, now at Hakkei Palace of Tai, all palaces were closed except West Palace. Even when all palaces are open, even Saihou cannot enter palaces except West Palace as he pleases. Even Taiki knows this.

Nevertheless, the receptionist stopped in front of the gate that undoubtedly leads to Back Palace. He asked the ambassador group to get off the carriages, and kowtowed before them.

gWell... We are terribly afraid of being discourteous, but please move inside. We cannot enter from here onwards.h

gWell, but...h Seirai said in confusion, but the receptionist interrupted.
gIt is commanded to invite all of you. There should be doormen at the gates to introduce you to the emperor. So, please.h

gSo only we enter?h


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