Hyōhaku #8

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

(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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   “Haven’t you found them yet!?”
   Seishō blows out his cheeks to Itan’s growl.
   “Not at all, you know where they went?”
   “They have their sūgu for riding. We also know their having gone out of Kankyū and toward the west. Despite this, you cannot even know their destinations! Why?”
   “That is the only clue we have. Then, what do you want from me?”
   “In the first place, why didn’t you chase after them immediately?”
   “They rode on their sūgu. We couldn’t catch them up, even if chasing after immediately.”
   “Two sūgu had been placed in the Kakan’s stable. Tell me why those guys were able to run away with them.”
   “The gate keeper of Tenkan is stupid, uh-huh?”
   Shukō gets a tea set from an officer and put it between them who grimace.
   “Stop it, you two are very childish. For what is your fight useful?”
   Itan turns his fire on Shukō.
   “Why are you so calm?”
   Seishō also nods in agreement and looks at Shukō who calmly faces a towering pile of documents in his own room of the office.
   “I quite agree.”
   “I’m not ok with it. ―We already knew where it’s going to lead, don’t we? It’s hardly possible they behave well if confined. If they are told not to go, they do go at any cost. Have you two already thaught about it?”
   Itan strikes on the table.
   “Right. ―And if they are told to go, they really go out in their own way! How could I confine them permanently!?”
   “So,” laughs Shukō.
   “Basically, there’s nothing way we can handle them.”
   Itan has his head in his hands, and Seishō suppresses his temple. Shukō laughs.
   “For the time being, I’m sure they understand that when they come they will not to be able to get up late if they behave too crazy. Besides, they were patient during two months, so, we were able to settle a very great deal of duties. We should be satisfied with that.”
   Itan reproachfully glares at the profile of Shukō’s straight face.
   “In short, you gave it up from the start?”
   “No,” Shukō looks feeling quite unhappy.
   “I refuse Shujō and Taiho acting on their own. Therefore, I cooperated in you two.”
   “I have just said it is impossible to confine them. To hope that they are well-behaved Ruler and Saiho is wasting our time. For the time being, I’m satisfied that they have understood that they will get an annoying situation if crazily having their way. We should train and train them as not to cut loose too much.”
   Seishō groans.
   “Are they Tama and Tora level?”
   “It might be impolite to the sūgu. Say domestic animals level.”
   Itan draws a long sigh.
   “Hey… You abuse them very severely.”
   “Well, did I say something wrong?”
   “No,” Itan mutters in his mouth. They not only miss an imperial conference, but also conceal themselves in a moment. If you turn your head away from them, they even enter other countries and do something bad. Nevertheless, they suddenly show up the outside of the outer palace, and they do an awful instruction to officials. Every time they do, officials run about in confusion, it’s indeed extraordinary labor for officials. ―Certainly, they might be like domestic animals with a bad discipline.
   “They will come back sooner or later. They have no other place tocome back.”
   “You bet?”
   Shukō questioningly raises his eyes from the document when Itan says in disgust.
   “Do you have any place to return except Gen’ei-kyū?”
   “Huh?” Shukō laughs at Itan who has blinked.
   “I envy you. I’m much younger than you, but I have no other place but here. You are a smart fellow.”
   “No, it’s”
   Shukō looks out through the window, laughing at Itan who is at a loss for words. The sea of the clouds as far as he can see, where he cannot see even a small island.
   “This palace, it is like a ship that floats far off in the ocean. There is no shore where he reaches, even if disliking and rushing out from it.”
   It is Seishō to mutter, “Maybe, you’re right.”
   “There are no acquaintances and no town where I was born any longer. They would leave before several decades even if I made new acquaintances and places in the lower world.”
   Though he has to resign from Senseki for disembarking, Ruler and Kirin cannot be allowed even to leave their positions. Besides, both of them are Taika.
   “―I see. This is the drift where people having no place to go gather.”
   “I think this system is very well made. We have no other places for us. We have nothing to do except sailing this ship…”
   “We do not have the land to go to though.”
   When Itan crosses his arms, Shukō returns his eyes to the document.
   “Where to reach or not won’t be a point. To begin with, we have no place that we should reach to. And we just go ahead today like yesterday, tomorrow like today.”
   “Well, we only need to do it until the ship sinks.”
   “When the end comes? When their ship sinks, it seems to be fast.”
   Itan says and Seishō nods deeply.
   “We might have to say that it survives still now. It seems to me all officials are suppressing holes so that water does not leak, because many holes are open here and there.”
   “Definitely,” Itan smiles wryly.
   “But, sometimes, such a ship keeps floating forever.”
   “It keeps, doesn’t it…?”
   “I don’t think so.”
   “I don’t know.”
   They have a look at the Sea of Clouds by each having his own way of questioning, but there are neither an island shadow nor bird shadows. The sea of the clouds is filled with complex colors because it projects the color of the lower world, and tireless waves wash the shore.

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