Hisho no Tori #2

Juuni Kokuki — 十二国記
(The Twelve Kingdoms)

丕緒の鳥
(The Birds of Hisho)

By Ono Fuyumi — 小野不由美

Translated by o6asan
  First edition released on 2009.Jul.15
  Second edition released on 2013.Apr.28
  Third edition released on 2013.Sep.7 : Current

chapter1 chapter2 chapter3 chapter4

2

   Hisho(丕緒) left there, after hearing the Sekichō-shi’s fading footsteps, who got angry and left the room. When Hisho(丕緒) went out, the confused lower official looked at him and the summer sun went down. Hisho(丕緒) didn’t go to his working place but went to the west along the main street which extended from east to west through Jichō.
   The south of Jichō almost opened. At the very back of the center of Jichō, a huge gate rose high as if it were scooped out from the slope of the mountain. This is the only gate, Romon(路門), to reach Enchō —the celestial place, which spread on clouds. There weren’t a lot of people who were able to set foot on Enchō through this gate. Even the officials were no exception in that all of them had not the right to get in there. Although the difference between Jichō and Gyōten is the same as between the ground and the sky, there is no difference about the both of them being shut from the celestial place.
   Hisho(丕緒) glanced at the gate, walked further to the west on the main street, and went to Tōkan-fu(冬官府). Tōkan-fu(冬官府) was made from the main office and a number of large and small workshops which surrounded the main office. Hisho(丕緒) came through intricate roads between the workshops. Although it was a familiar road for him, he had come less often recently. The noise and smell which leaked from the surrounding high walls were familiar, too. Checking the sound of a hammer, the smell of red-hot iron, and everything, he came through the gate at the end.
   The workshops are a department which belongs to Tōkan-fu(冬官府). A house, which is the center of the department, is fundamentally made from four small buildings surrounding a yard. Various size workshops are adjoining. In most cases, a workshop is much bigger than a house. So they called a sector of Tōkan-fu(冬官府) a workshop. Besides, the house Hisho(丕緒) visited had not the west building, moreover, the west side of the yard was cut by a cliff, beyond which two huge peaks held a canyon between themselves.
   The faded peaks blocked your way and obstructed both sides of your view. You could look through the evening glow between peaks, the mountains bottoms far down so they were barely visible, and the sun as it went down through the mountains which looked like pale indigo lines. You should see the city of Gyōten in the lowest direction. But in fact, you weren’t able to see it because it was blocked by thick green woods. The slope which continued from the yard was covered with pear trees.
   The pear trees which Shōran(蕭蘭) had planted. Saying she did not want to see the lower place, Shōran(蕭蘭) had continued to throw the pear fruits from this yard. Trees, which were lucky, would take root and grew bigger and bore fruits, and then covered the slope of the bottom of the valley. They had pure white flowers in spring. The clouds of the snow-white pear flowers covered the valley. What a brilliant scene it was!
   It reminded him of Shōran(蕭蘭) who had looked at it with her narrowing eyes. Her expression had a strange, but strong resemblance to the bird which Hisho(丕緒) saw at Sekichō-shi’s balcony. There is no relation between each other, though.
   When he was lost in his thought, a surprised voice came from behind him.
   “Mr. Hisho(丕緒) ―”
   The young man showed up from the north room, and ran up to him, smiling and grinning.
   “It’s really great to see you, Mr. Hisho(丕緒)”
   “Long time, how’ve you been?”
   The man who nodded yes was the lord of this house. He was a chief of Rajin(羅人) who were special craftsmen who made Tōshaku. Rajin(羅人) held tens of craftsmen in workshops which belonged to Rajin(羅人). The craftsmen’s chief was called master and the master of Rajin-fu(羅人府) was the Rajin(羅人). The young man had a gentle manner which was suitable for truly delicate workmanship, his name was Seikō(青江).
   “Please — please come in, sir.”
   Seikō(青江) was almost taking Hisho(丕緒) by the hand. In fact, he looked like beginning to shed tears at any moment. As a matter of fact, Hisho(丕緒) had not visited Rajin-fu(羅人府) for about a year. Once, he had almost lived there. These days, not only he did not visit Rajin-fu(羅人府), but also he did not go out of his residence at all. No Ruler, no Shooting-arrow ceremony. This were convenient circumstances for him, he did not have to go by Ra-shi(羅氏)’s workshops, and he entirely shut himself in his own residence. During this spring, Seikō(青江) sent a bearer who had the message ‘please come and see since the clouds of pear flowers started’. But he refused it. He knew Seikō(青江) was anxious about his health and sent the bearer to him on the pretext of the pear trees blooming. He knew his refusal hurt Seikō(青江) deeply, but he never felt up to it.
   He set foot in the room after about a year, there was no change from before. The room was crammed with desks and shelves which were filled with various tools and mountains of notes and plans. A year earlier and always, it was like this here. — Since Shōran(蕭蘭) held the position of Rajin(羅人), since Hisho(丕緒) had come here for the first time as Ra-shi(羅氏), there has been no change.
   When Hisho(丕緒) looked around with deep emotion, Seikō(青江) blushed.
   “We litter with things as usual…”
   “This is the way it goes. I can’t remember this room ever being tidy.”
   Murmuring an excuse, what Seikō(青江) was confusedly gathering up was old notes and plans. Hisho(丕緒) wondered if the articles that lay scattered about the desk were made by Seikō(青江). All of them looked like old Tōshaku. Seikō(青江) looked at the ground as he was ashamed of himself, probably noticing Hisho(丕緒)’s look.
   “I was wondering… I am remaking old Tōshaku, because I think it probably serves as training for me.”
   “uh-huh” murmured Hisho(丕緒). As Hisho(丕緒) did not give instructions, Seikō(青江) did not have anything to do.
   “You are eager and splendid though, I tell you to give it up for a while.”
   Seikō(青江) raised his face up with a smile rapidly.
   “So, we are going to make the new Tōshaku for the Ruler, Sir?”
   “We have to make it. Soon, we will have a Taisha(大射).”
   Hisho(丕緒) told Seikō(青江) about the Sekichō-shi’s instructions, Seikō(青江) looked amazed. While he heard Hisho(丕緒)’s words, he was definitely more and more depressed.
   “We have very little time. Sorry, but I have to hurry you up. Use your discretion in making it.”
   “I can’t make such…”
   “I don’t care. We only need Tōshaku which can fly less awkwardly and be divided less unsightly. It’s pointless to try to use your brains. I am satisfied, if we can hold the ceremony without problems.”
   “But… this is the first Taisha(大射) for the new Ruler.”
   Hisho(丕緒) had a half-smile.
   “I think the Ruler will be replaced soon.”
   “Mr. Hisho(丕緒),” Seikō(青江) said disapprovingly.
   “I hear we have a female ruler again.”
   It’s easy for Hisho(丕緒) to imagine the reign of female rulers. A female ruler has dreams on the throne, soon loses interest in them and ruins herself. The reign of Ruler Yo(予) was six years, the former female ruler was Ruler Hi(比), her reign was only twenty-three years. And her predecessor was Ruler Haku(薄), hers was sixteen. Kei had three continuous female rulers, and interregnums were much longer than reigns.
   “It is pointless to devise much. As long as its appearance makes it suitable, and if it seems to be auspicious, it will be O.K.”
   Seikō(青江) glanced down sadly and dropped tears at his feet.
   “…Please do not say such a thing but show me a brilliant shooting-arrow ceremony again, sir.”
   “I have no idea. We have little time, we have no choice but to reuse one of the old Tōshaku. Please do use cheap tricks for variety.”
   Seikō(青江) drooped his head and looked hurt.
   “…I will go and get you plans anyhow. Please wait a moment.”
   The back of Seikō(青江) who was leaving the room looked lonely. Seikō(青江) was Shōran(蕭蘭)’s pupil. After Shōran(蕭蘭) disappeared, he was pulled up from the craftsman to Rajin(羅人), but Hisho(丕緒) stopped thinking of Tōshaku at that time. Although they only use Tōshaku at a shooting-arrow ceremony, if he isn’t endeavoring to plan about it on a day-to-day basis, he can’t make use of it for a sudden ceremony. Nevertheless, after Seikō(青江) became Rajin(羅人), Hisho(丕緒) never made a single Tōshaku. Hisho(丕緒) knew Seikō(青江) thought it was his fault. He blamed himself that the reason of Hisho(丕緒) not to make Tōshaku was his lack of skills.
   Hisho(丕緒) sat on Seikō(青江)’s seat. On the desk, some trial workmanship and old plans were located in a line. A blue Tōshaku was on the notes, arranged and accumulated. He thought it was probably used instead of a paperweight, an old thing which was handed down in Rajin-fu(羅人府). The picture of the bird with a long tail was dyed in the center of the china square board filled with fine designs. A picture of a magpie(鵲). He thought, first of all, it was such a simple thing.― He noticed the Tōshaku was cracked. Looking carefully, a lot of very thin cracks were running to the place which divides the tail of a magpie(鵲). Cracks here and there and they were patched.
   “…It’s a very good job.”
   Probably, Seikō(青江) made it. Only Shōran(蕭蘭)’s pupil could, she had brought him up with such tender care. Who could complain to him this splendid skill?
   Hisho(丕緒) picked up the Tōshaku. In its own way, it was thick and heavy. A light Tōshaku flies well, but it may fail to be hit because of moving so quickly. So, it is better to have a certain weight and a slight hollow in its bottom. In this way, its floating time is longer. — This is the earliest style of Tōshaku.
   All Ra-shi(羅氏) have made the best use of inventiveness since then. At first, in order to keep shooting it correctly, it flew as slowly as possible, and the device was made by form and weight so that it might float in the air for a long time. Before long, it came to adhere also to appearance. What was only china board of a circle or a rectangle came to take various forms. They are dyed not only by the elaborate pattern, but inlaid with gold or jewelry. Soon, even how to fly has been devised, and also how to break by examining and processing materials. Nowadays all Tōshaku are not ceramic. It being called Tōshaku is probably the vestiges of an ancient time.
   However — real birds were hit in very ancient times. Various birds including magpies(鵲) were released, and shot. But the Saiho(宰輔) which serves as a Ruler’s prime minister hate the taking of lifes. Then, in spite of having been an auspicious ceremony to affect the future, usually the Saiho(宰輔) did not attend the shooting-arrow ceremony. It is not an auspicious event ―someone thought. At what time or country? Who knows. They started to use china boards instead of real birds. And the same number of real birds as the number of Tōshaku which were shot down became to be released into the palace garden.
   Nobody knows why they were magpies(鵲). Probably it is related to the magpie(鵲)’s voice, as it is supposed to be a sign of joy. Possibly the main aim is more releasing birds than shooting down Tōshaku. More shooting them down, more voices which are supposed to be a sign of joy.
   They had been made to be shot down and broken to pieces without fail —and then the main aim of the shooting-arrow ceremony changed to shooting down and breaking Tōshaku after a lot of thought and device from a long line of Sekichō-shi and Ra-shi(羅氏). Tōshaku which plays music was Hisho(丕緒)’s masterpiece.
   In retrospect, that was the most prosperous shooting-arrow ceremony for Hisho(丕緒). Sekichō-shi of those days was Soken(祖賢), the reign of Ruler Ri(悧) was entering the end of the period. — Of course, he didn’t know it around that time.
   When Hisho(丕緒) became a Ra-shi(羅氏) because of his good skills, Soken(祖賢) was already a very old and experienced man in his work as Sekichō-shi. Hisho(丕緒) was given all the knowledge he needed by Soken(祖賢). His warm personality —and some innocence in his mind. Hisho(丕緒) was very happy about their work when they were thinking of the shooting-arrow ceremony. If one device was made, another idea was going to be born. He came to Rajin-fu(羅人府) with Soken(祖賢) everyday and lost track of time when they were working, including Shōran(蕭蘭) who was already Rajin(羅人), and they repeated trial and error again and again. People called Soken(祖賢) the Sekichō-shi in Sekichō-shi, and they made Hisho(丕緒) the Ra-shi(羅氏) in Ra-shi(羅氏) before long. Since the Tōshaku which played music made Ruler Ri(悧) very happy, the Ruler got down from on the clouds and visited Sekichō-shi-fu and rewarded Hisho(丕緒) and others by himself. There was no honor beyond this for officials who lived in Jichō. It was the good old days.
   ―But, Ruler Ri(悧) changed. It was considered whether Hisho(丕緒) let the next Tōshaku sound what kind of music, this time perfume would be attached to magpies(鵲) and when they would be broken a rich smell would flow —while considering those things, the reign of Ruler Ri(悧) began to darken. Probably the next Taisha(大射) was held three years afterward. Although celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of Ruler Ri(悧)’s ascension to the throne were held, he already tended to change into a tyrant at the time.
   Nobody knew what made Ruler Ri(悧) do so. Someone said that his son was assassinated and it made deep cracks between the Ruler and his close aides. It did not become clear who killed his son. Then, Ruler Ri(悧) was possibly caught by suspicion and fear. It was said that he was frequently hard on officials. Soon this came down from on the clouds and had a bad influence around Hisho(丕緒). The Ruler was testing officials at every turn. He thrust difficult subjects which seemed to be impossible, and, occasionally asked officials for proof of too much loyalty. His behavior did not make an exception for Sekichō-shi. At the 60th anniversary he ordered them to show a better shooting-arrow ceremony. His manner implied that he would not tolerate them not doing better than the last one.
   Remembering of those days, Hisho(丕緒) breathed with difficulty even these days. Their devices became the duty, not the pleasure. Shishi(司士) who is Sekichō-shi’s superior was too eager for success, and put in much interference with a lot of instructions. It was absolutely necessary that the ceremony was even more magnificent than last time. This sense of duty and Shishi(司士)’s interference without considering the amount of work, made preparing it very difficult.
   But, the ceremony had succeeded, he thought. Ruler Ri(悧) was very pleased, saying it was more wonderful than last time. Both Soken(祖賢) and Hisho(丕緒), however, weren’t satisfied by that. Although Tōshaku were broken splendidly, it was not seemed as a good sign. Around the shooting-arrow ceremony, many officials Hisho(丕緒) got used to seeing got missing. The Ruler who lose the people’s trust looked at the scenes of Tōshaku broken, it was very chilly and empty, even if pottery birds looked like brilliant flowers, played beautiful music with sweet smell.
   Still —no therefore, Soken(祖賢) was eager to make new devices.

   “This time we will make the Ruler feel better.”
   In the courtyard, when Soken(祖賢) rode astride his chair and told what he thought, he was like a little child thinking a trick.
   “Yes, but how, sir?”
   Hisho(丕緒) asked, Soken(祖賢) turned his face skyward saying “Uh…”
   “It is not enough gaily and flowery, but more exhilaratingly. I don’t talk about feeling high, I talk about feeling warm and smiling unconsciously. He has an unconscious smile on his face and looks all round. He finds the same kind of smile on the faces of top aides. They see it each other, they feel connected with themselves and happy. — How is that?”
   Hisho(丕緒) smiled wryly.
   “You say always such a thing that I do not see or so.”
   “Don’t you know about it? Well, when we happen to see a heartwarming scene, we feel something. We see each other’s faces which are laughing, and find to be able to relate to each other, like that ―”
   “I know what feeling you talk about. But I don’t know how to pull into shape.”
   “Shape,” said Soken(祖賢), tilting his head slightly to one side, and said again doing it to another side.
   “Well, I guess Gagaku(雅楽) doesn’t fits my thought.”
   Gagaku(雅楽), that is also called Gasei(雅声), is an abbreviation of the elegant and orthodox music. It is classical music which is used for great religious services or a ceremony of the nation and played only by traditional instruments, the songs sung with it are not music, but prayers. The composition suits more a magic spell by the arrangement of sound than a melodious music. Although it is profound and solemn, in it much of the pleasure of music doesn’t still remain.
   “So, do we take folk songs?”
   Soken(祖賢) jumped while answering yes.
   “That’s good. Not a voluptuous song they sing at a banquet. More lighter song ―.”
   “Like children’s songs?”
   “It isn’t bad. Work songs are suitable, too. Well, house wives often sing together when they wash at the riverside. We play some music from here, and others from there. What do you think?”
   As Hisho(丕緒) with a wry smile looked at Soken(祖賢) who brightened his eyes, Hisho(丕緒) turned a look to Shōran(蕭蘭). Sitting on the stone of the end of the courtyard and throwing a pear fruit, Shōran(蕭蘭) heard their talk and had a smile, which was a nanny’s smile who has this kind of difficult little children.
   “Yes, I don’t mind to do what you say.”
   Shōran(蕭蘭) threw the last fruit. On the bottom of the valley small pear woods were going to grow because she continued to do this patiently.
   “But, using folk songs is more difficult than using Gagaku(雅楽). Gagaku(雅楽) has mechanical styles by its theory, though, folk songs have a various chaos.”
   “But, you can, Shōran(蕭蘭)?”
   The old man pulled her hands as if pestering her. Shōran(蕭蘭) smiled wryly and looked at Hisho(丕緒). He held his laughing and showed a sigh.
   “We must tune their sound by breaking birds actually and prepare them one by one. Tuning by our own ears. And following it, we will shoot the birds. We need a throwing machine again.”
   “Some from here, others from there.”
   Soken(祖賢) declared proudly. Hisho(丕緒) nodded.
   “Yes, we need a lot of throwing machines. A throwing machine per a song, we must decide a position exactly by plural marks, where an archer will break a bird.”
   “Oops, it’s a big job. All Tōkan(冬官) must be mobilized again.”
   Shōran(蕭蘭) also sighed but still smiled. Devising materials, throwing machines, production of birds themselves —she always needed team play in the end, as a result she got into a big thing with the whole Tōkan-fu(冬官府). But strangely Tōshō(冬匠) doesn’t make a disagreeable face. That’s a craftsman, like Shōran(蕭蘭) too, who rise to an unreasonable demand. Soken(祖賢) and Hisho(丕緒)’s plan is a very difficult one which nobody has made, they are willing to help them, in spite of complaining apparently.
   Hisho(丕緒) himself is none other than this kind of craftsman. Making Tōshaku superior to the last time which had the goal forced by other people was painful. But, to carry out the unreasonable demand looking positive is pleasant. He was glad at this time because he had hard time before.
   Did Seikō(青江) come into Rajin-fu(羅人府) as a craftsman exactly these days? Though Seikō(青江) wasn’t still good as a craftsman, but even he was dedicating joyfully to manual works.
   ―But one day, Soken(祖賢) was suddenly taken away by soldiers who intruded.
   Hisho(丕緒) still doesn’t know why it happened. He knows Soken(祖賢) led to suspicion of plotting a rebellion, but Soken(祖賢) never had treacheries to the Ruler. He was probably implicated in the crime of rebellion by a misunderstanding — or a lie, but the circumstances were too complicated and there was no ways by which Hisho(丕緒) could know what happened. His appeal that rebellion by Soken(祖賢) never occurred did not reach anywhere. First of all, he did not know about whom to appeal for help. Shishi(司士) who is Sekichō-shi’s superior avoided Hisho(丕緒) for fear of implication, Taiei(太衛) and Daishiba, the bosses of Shishi(司士), were on the clouds and Hisho(丕緒) had no method of meeting them, even if appealing to help him. Although he wrote a complaint, he got no answer, and he didn’t know whether it was even in the hands of high officials.
   As you, of course, know, ordinary people have no powers— he did not remember who said so and consoled him. Hisho(丕緒) and Shōran(蕭蘭)’s friends and acquaintances said they should be glad that they were not implicated in the case. Because Soken(祖賢) probably protected them at the risk of his own life. There were no doubts that Hisho(丕緒) and Shōran(蕭蘭) were never in the conspiracy and they were never examined at all. That broke him up much more. When Shishi(司士) met him at last, he told Hisho(丕緒) the worst thing. As Soken(祖賢) had no relatives, Hisho(丕緒) should take his body.
   He had no more rage and no more tears. Doing as he was told, he took away Soken(祖賢)’s severed head, holding it with his hands, he got into A conviction.
   ―Magpie(鵲)’s voices are signs of joy. To shoot them down can’t be an auspicious sign.
   It is wrong to please an audience by seeing Tōshaku being shot, broken and fallen. Essentially, we should not shoot Tōshaku. Never hit, never break. But, the shooting-arrow ceremony is an event about shooting Tōshaku. Though shooting down Tōshaku should be banned, Ruler’s power forces it for a courtesy event. It is not an auspicious sign but an ominous sign. If the Ruler mistakes how to use the power, it brings ominous events to the world. He believed that the shooting-arrow ceremony is the event in which they have confirmation of this.

   “We will remove all smells from them.”
   One day, after finishing Soken(祖賢)’s funeral, Hisho(丕緒) showed up to the workshops and told Shōran(蕭蘭) so. ‘Oh dear’, Shōran(蕭蘭) dilated her eyes and regarded her hands embarrassedly.
   “I don’t mind. ―But, we made it this far with considerable effort at last.”
   There were rolling a lot of small silver balls in a small plate. In these balls the perfumed oil which Soken(祖賢) aimed at was contained. Soken(祖賢) was particular about their scent. He wanted not only good scent but the scent with which they felt happy. Happy —and satisfied, he claimed such a smell is good enough. He consulted with woodworkers of Tōkan(冬官), came to the workshops everyday and made up the perfumed oil. The size of the balls of perfumed oil was also devised so that it may be fragrant with elegance, at this moment, Soken(祖賢) was already killed, but it was just completed at last.
   “No smell is better. We will also change the sounds of Tōshaku being broken. More dismal sound is better. The music we use is not good being lively. On the contrary, I think Gagaku(雅楽) of the funeral for the late Ruler is more suitable.”
   Shōran(蕭蘭) sighed, giving a wry smile moderately.
   “You say to me to redo all, don’t you?”
   Shōran(蕭蘭) looked at the small plate again. She looked sorry —or sad.
   “But, even if you desire so, we cannot use the Gagaku(雅楽) of the funeral. We cannot call it a celebration.”
   “O.K. You can use folk songs. But I don’t need happy songs. Less tones. I want lonelier music.”
   “I see.” Shōran(蕭蘭) murmured without emotions, and said nothing. Although they made up Tōshaku they removed smells from them and let them play lonely sounds, they had no opportunity to show it to Ruler Ri(悧). The Ruler Ri(悧)’s reign had ended on its 68th year.
   Hisho(丕緒) continued making Tōshaku during next interregnums. Unnoticed, he became to see people’s image on Tōshaku’s because of Seikō(青江)’s words.
   “Why is it a magpie(鵲)?”
   Seikō(青江) was extremely skilled with his hands and had a good brain. After Soken(祖賢)’s death, Shōran(蕭蘭) kept Seikō(青江) with her and trained him eagerly as if she tried to fill the big hole.
   “They say that magpie(鵲)’s voices are a sign of joy.”
   Seikō(青江) listened to Hisho(丕緒)’s explanation and tilted his head.
   “There are probably other birds as auspicious. Why not a more beautiful or more precious one? Strange.”
   ‘Exactly’, Shōran(蕭蘭) stopped her hand from working and her eyes were brightened with interest.
   “I think you’re right. Even if Hōō(鳳凰) or Ranchō(鸞鳥) would be good.”
   People can’t possibly shoot down Hōō(鳳凰) or Ranchō(鸞鳥) —Hisho(丕緒) smiled wryly, but thinking about it again, this was very strange.
   Magpies(鵲) aren’t precious. They are ordinary birds that are seen in a village or agricultural land every day. It has a black head and black wings like a crow, only the belly and the root of the wings are white. And a long tail. A tail as long as the body which is also the same color as a crow. Though slender wings and a long tail are graceful, it has neither exceptionally beautiful color nor eye-catching markings. It doesn’t have a particularly beautiful voice. It is an ordinary bird like a sparrow or a crow, at the beginning of spring it picks the ground, and nuts when autumn comes. It is a lot more common to see this birds walking and hopping on the ground than flying in the air.
   ―He considered suddenly they seemed like people.
   Very ordinary people who are anywhere. They wrap themselves in simple clothes and spend most of their lifetime cultivating the ground. They have neither particularly outstanding skills nor are very attractive. If they keep to hone their skills or be diligent in their studies, the highest position they can rise will probably be just that of a lower class official like Hisho(丕緒), they cannot rise up on the clouds. But, they didn’t hate it and continued to make their lives innocently —and that’s all.
   Magpies(鵲) are people rightly. If they are satisfied and collapse from laughter, singing with joy, it will be a good sign for a Ruler exactly. People’s joy is a proof that the Ruler’s reign is right. If people sing and chatter, a reign of Ruler will be to continue for a long time.
   He thought his intuition is right in that shooting Tōshaku and feel happy is a mistake. The power which Ruler has shoots people. People who are shot break into pieces. To shot down and be happy is absolutely wrong. By daring to make a mistake, we make them taste the fear of the power —We should make them experience it.
   He wanted to make Tōshaku, which archers felt guilty to who shot down and break.
   But ―.
   “―I have been digging up all things as much as possible.”
   He came to himself by an unexpected voice. When Hisho(丕緒) looked back, he found Seikō(青江) who had just come back and held volumes of paper.
   “Fortunately, all plans by you remained.”
   ‘Oh’, Hisho(丕緒) breathed out.
   “Then, choose a good one from them.”
   Seikō(青江) drooped his head.
“…Do you think my skills are that poor?”
   “I think you’ve got it wrong.”
   Seikō(青江) shook his head in silence. Hisho(丕緒) murmured again, “you guess wrong.” He suddenly remembered his palm with a large weight on it, and found it still holding the Tōshaku.

   They tried to choose and make a good one from them, but, this was too difficult for Hisho(丕緒) who already expected it to be difficult. Even if the plans remained, Tōshaku were actually made by Shōran(蕭蘭) and owed a lot of processes to their delicate handiwork, hers and Tōshō(冬匠)’s. Both materials and techniques, Tōshō(冬匠) who was in charge reached details through a trial and error process. If you have neither eyes nor hands of the Tōshō(冬匠), you never know its moderation. Though it was craftsman that actually made it, the master helped them by oral instructions or directly at the workplace. In other words, it was necessary to do it again from the beginning if Tōshō(冬匠) who was actually related to the work didn’t exist anymore. Besides —to make things worse, Kei had always had a lot of troubles since the end of Ruler Ri(悧)’s reign. Many of craftsmen disappeared so that Shōran(蕭蘭) didn’t live here anymore, and the number of craftsmen who remember moderations were limited. It was impossible to make past Tōshaku at once. Many of the processes should be tried and erred from the beginning —then, there’s no difference between making old or new. That makes new things easier not to be bound by past records.
   He thought so but couldn’t make a move. In the mean time he was not able to be a bad loser and continued to choose one of the old plans, the new Ruler formally took the throne. In accordance with ancient ritual, when the new Ruler entered the palace, all officials, higher and lower, welcomed her on the clouds, but he could not see Her Majesty because he as the lowers was so far away from her. He could know neither her face nor her personality. Only one thing leaves no doubt, which seeped from above the clouds, was that she is a girl who came from another world. They say the girl does not know much about common sense and is very nervous.
   ‘Again’, this thought let him lose his energy for making Tōshaku.
   Ruler Haku(薄) ignored the power, and was drowned at the luxurious life. She rose to the highest position, obtaining extreme luxury and going into raptures, she never came down to the ground. In contrast, Ruler Hi(比) was interested only in power. She was pleased that all her officials and people at her command were willing and able. And, Ruler Yo(予) was interested in neither of them. She secluded herself at the depth of the palace and stayed there for a long time. She denied the power or even both, her people and her country. When she showed herself in the imperial court at last, she already became a tyrant who went out of the ordinary way.
   As soon as the New Ruler had entered the palace, Hisho(丕緒) was called again by Sekichō-shi. Same as before, Suiryō(遂良) was courteous and familiar like trying to gain Hisho(丕緒)’s favor.
   “Well, did you get a good idea?”
   Suiryō(遂良) knitted his brows embarrassedly, when he heard Hisho(丕緒) replied shortly “No”. Next, he was with a smile as mediating Hisho(丕緒).
   “Fortunately or unfortunately, the next shooting-arrow ceremony seems to be delayed from our expectation. They will let Taisha(大射) be postponed until next time.”
   “Postponed — ?”
   Suiryō(遂良) wrinkled his face when Hisho(丕緒) asked back with doubt.
   “Don’t ask me the reason why they do that. I never know about it. It might be the New Ruler’s intention — or, it might be the intention of important people, who knows?”
   It could happen, Hisho(丕緒) nodded.
   “We will have the first Taisha(大射) for the New Ruler at Kōshi(郊祀). I’m sorry that we can’t show Her Majesty a good Taisha(大射) at her coronation, but we have more time now due to that.”
   Kōshi(郊祀), that is a ceremony for praying for the happiness of the country to the gods, is held on the winter solstice. Especially, the first Kōshi(郊祀) is very important for the New Ruler and the country. The first Kōshi(郊祀) has a Taisha(大射) naturally. —It is absolutely sure. Even if Hisho(丕緒) makes it by an original idea from nothing, it will be working in time because he has more than two months until the winter solstice.
   “The future of all Kakan rests on your shoulders. I dump everything on you. And you, save our faces by making something good.”

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