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Hyōhaku #6

Juuni Kokuki’s side story — 十二国記外伝
(The Twelve Kingdoms)

漂舶
(Drifting Ship)

By Ono Fuyumi — 小野不由美

Translated by o6asan
  First edition released on 2010.Jan.23
  Second edition released on 2013.May.29
  Third edition released on 2014.Feb.2 : Current

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6

   “…Another new building was completed.”
   The man who is vacantly looking at the outside from the window rests his cheek on his hand and says so. Outside of the window is a boulevard of Hekishō, a new big building has been built on the opposite side of the street. Shōgyoku sees and laughs at it.
   “The amount of people have increased in Hekishō. It is like a dream compared to my childhood.”
   Shōgyoku shaves a round brick tea. The famous tea of Hakutan, which is from Kei located east of En, is what the man brought last night. The tea should be pretty expensive, nevertheless, he threw it out and told her he wanted to have it. His courtesy name is Fūkan, she doesn’t know what his occupation is and where he comes from. He is probably not from a neighboring area because his visiting has an interval of about half year. He has a splendid conveyance animal and is generous with his money, so, he might be rich, but, when women asked him how he got such good tea, he answered he’d stolen it.
   “…The more people, the more buildings for pleasure. How incorrigible human is!”
   “An ordinary man, he doesn’t turn a phrase. Shave this, if you are lying around. Maybe it’s good tea, but it’s too tough.”
   The man nods to Shōgyoku and receives the round brick tea and the knife from her. He obediently shaves the brick, and begins to drop the sheavings into a teaware on his knee. Shōgyoku gazes out the window after laughing at his actions. Red roofing tiles and green pillars. Brand-new high buildings continue.
   “Right, the population increased …When I was a kid, this area was absolutely barren. When digging up the ground, we found out burnt rubble and white bones. At the imperial demesne? Can you believe it?”
   The man laughed.
   “They say En was ruined once. ―Is this enough?”
   He passes the teaware to Shōgyoku, and she opens her mouth a little.
   “Who drinks so much? The shaved tea loses taste.”
   “You make me work, and scold me?”
   He says so, and Shōgyoku glares at him.
   “You are in my debt. You forgot, didn’t you?”
    He checked in around the closing time of the gate, called in about ten geishas and gave a big feast, besides, placed foolish bets all night and lost a lot of money. Though he took a room for an overnight stay, Shōgyoku won it from him because of a bet, he was very depressed, so, Shōgyoku lent him her private room.
   “If you make this tea, I will wipe all your debts away.”
   Hearing her, he gets off his butt grumbling. Shōgyoku laughs and watches over how he makes tea so unskillfully.
   “What do you do for a living?”
   “Well.”
   “What are you, an official?”
   “I look like an official?”
   “No. But, you come to Mt.Shō to climb every time, don’t you? Your job, isn’t it? That is a forgotten and spooky place, although an imperial park.”
   “It’s not my job. It’s kind of a pleasure jaunt.”
   “No kidding! There’s nothing worth seeing.”
   The man laughs thinly.
   “A grave there.”
   Shōgyoku blinks.
   “…I’ve heard about it. In Mt.Shō, there’s Gen-paku’s grave. A prime minister long ago was put on public display, wasn’t he?”
   “Public display?”
   “Yeah, I heard. He raised a high treason. So, they displayed his body in public.”
   “It’s nonsense.” laughs the man.
   “It’s not a display but just a grave. First of all, it makes no sense to display a rebel in an out-of-sight place.”
   “Oh… You’re right. But, it’s the grave of Gen-paku, isn’t it? Since you visit his grave, are you connected to Gen-paku, Fūkan?”
   “I don’t have necessarily no relation with him.”
   “Well, you are a bad guy, too. Because, the Gen-paku was truly a bad guy, wasn’t he?”
   He laughs.
   “I don’t care if you said anything, but that would put Atsuyu in an awkward position.”
   “AtsuyuGen-paku? But, it’s so in the story. He killed Gen-kō, made the State Gen with his own way, and caused the rebellion at last.”
   “Indeed, that’s how it has been widely known.”
   Holding his tea cup, he is back by the window. He indifferently looks down at the road.
   “…Atsuyu was a son of Gen-kō. In Ruler Kyō’s era he became a Reiin and helped his father, but, his father was really coward. Ruler Kyō was the same kind of disaster as wars and acts of nature. His father was not a person who can get over the disaster. Atsuyu expelled his father, and acted as Gen’s leader. Though Atsuyu deprived the state marquis of his place, he can be said to have removed the disaster, if we think about it, his father assisted to Ruler Kyō and oppressed the people.”
   “You talk as if you had seen it. ―But, a crime is a crime, isn’t it?”
   “Yes, you’re right. ―But here’s another man who had the same coward father. A disaster was approaching. His father also was not a person who can get over the disaster, and he knew it. He kept himself without committing the crime to his father, but his family territory was ruined by the disaster.”
   He smiles slightly wryly. He himself looks ridiculed.
   “After killing his father, Atsuyu got over the disaster and saved the people. Another man didn’t kill his father because he’s afraid of being a criminal, and left the people to die. Which was better?”
   “…I think it’s not Atsuyu. After all, he made the high treason because he’s a person who didn’t fear the crime, did he?”
   “You think so…?”
   The man peers into his tea cup.
   “I don’t know Atsuyu well… I think Atsuyu decided that he had no worth if he was not a lord. He decided he had to be a good lord. He caused the rebellion, but, I think he didn’t want the throne. Ruler Kyō appointed his father as Gen-kō, and he himself was just Gen-kō’s Reiin. If someone had ascended the throne as the new Ruler, it would have been impossible for him to keep his position, so, he had tried to be number one.”
   “…I don’t know.”
   “Me, neither. But I think Atsuyu wanted to be a good load. Yeah, he wanted praise. And, he had no inconsistency. ―Should I say that he had no hesitation for his wish? Therefore, he did not fear to be a criminal.”
   “In short, he wanted praise by everyone?”
   The man looks back at Shōgyoku’s question.
   “Was he wrong? Atsuyu wanted a good name. That’s not bad. He gave the people beneficence for the good name. Whatever the fact is, the people are enriched, and the monarch is also enriched if the people praise him as a splendid monarch.”
   “That’s true, but…”
   “Sometimes, I dream that he was able to carry out the good name to the last minute. As a matter of fact, Atsuyu had to defend himself as the lord before he got the good name, but, if he pursued only the good name to the last minute, he might have been the finest man as a Ruler.”
   Shōgyoku has her eyes wide open.
   “You’re kidding.”
   “Oh?”
   “There was already a Ruler in the throne, so his act was the high treason! He didn’t carry out his original intention, so, he didn’t have a talent enough as a Ruler, I think. Or, Atsuyu lacked something. If not, the Taiho would have elected Atsuyu for a Ruler.”
   “Ah”, the man laughed.
   “I get it…”

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