Juuni Kokuki — 十二国記
(The Twelve Kingdoms)
Rakushō no Goku — 落照の獄
(A jail of the declining Light)
Translated by o6asan
The sun of late summer gradually goes down. A short time after sunset, his wife Seika(清花) brought the lamplight when he was reading a document in melancholic feelings.
“You have a break, don’t you?”
She asked him while lighting the candlestick from her lamplight in his study. When Eiko(瑛庚) gave a halfhearted answer ‘yes’,
“…… After all, doesn’t the man have a death penalty?”
She asked him about it in a low voice. Eiko(瑛庚) raised his head in surprise, put the document, and looked at his wife’s young face. In the madder red light, Seika(清花)’s light-skinned face was flushed. But, her face was wooden.
“Riri(李理) said her father would not kill Shudatsu(狩獺). Is it your decision?”
The blamed color ran in Seika(清花)’s tone. Eiko(瑛庚) forced his lips into a smile.
“What are you talking about? Riri(李理) asked me I was going to be a killer. So, I said no.”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean.”
She said coldly, and Eiko(瑛庚) kept silent. Eiko(瑛庚) completely understood what it meant when Riri asked him about it. These days, all of the people in Shiso(芝草) paid attention to the judicial branch. Not only the people but also any other branches, even menservants and maidservants who worked for these offices paid attention to the judicial branch. — Shudatsu(狩獺) is executed or not?
First, Shudatsu(狩獺) was judged by the court in Shingen-gun(深玄郡). The conclusion was Taiheki(大辟). — That is the death penalty. Shudatsu(狩獺) was sent to High Court in Saku-shu(朔州), he had the decision Taiheki(大辟) again. But, there was heated debate at the trial, and calls for the judgment of the country dominated them though they gave Shudatsu(狩獺) the decision. Therefore, Shudatsu(狩獺)’s future on Supreme court. — That means they leave him in hands of Eiko(瑛庚) and his men.
Then, if Eiko(瑛庚) puts out the decision with the capital punishment again, the punishment is determined. And Shudatsu(狩獺) will be killed. Riri(李理) might have heard this from someone working at the official residence. He can imagine why she asked “are you going to be a killer?”. Riri(李理) might not understand the difference between the murder and the death penalty yet.
“I did not talk about Shudatsu(狩獺), indeed. But …… if I sentence him to death, I can say it’s my killing. Riri(李理) will surely feel painful.”
She is a pure-hearted and bright child. She would trouble herself about it though she is very young. — When he thought so, Seika(清花) put on strong voice.
“If you think about Riri(李理) seriously, you must execute that monster.”
Eiko(瑛庚) looked at his wife’s face in surprise. Seika(清花) wasn’t an official. Her title was a lower official, but this was in name only, because she was given it for taking care of Eiko(瑛庚). It is an expedient to put one’s family who is not an official into Senseki(仙籍), so, Seika(清花) didn’t have any relations to politics. In the past, she has never intervened in Eiko(瑛庚)’s work.
“What’s up? Why asking me suddenly?”
“The monster killed children. Even a baby in victims. If you love Riri(李理) so much, please think about rage and sorrow of the parents whose lovely child was killed.”
“It’s of course I am ……”
Seika(清花) interrupted Eiko(瑛庚)’s speaking.
“No. I know. You cannot make a decision.”
It’s true, so, Eiko(瑛庚) could do nothing but keep silent. Certainly, Eiko(瑛庚) wasn’t able to do. You may say that he’s hesitant.
“Why do you need hesitation? Is mercy really necessary for the monster that cruelly killed innocent people?”
Seika(清花) said so, and Eiko(瑛庚) smiled wryly uncontrollably.
“This is not a problem of mercy.”
“If you say it’s not a problem of mercy, why don’t you determine the death penalty to him? If the monster didn’t kill Shunryo(駿良) but Riri(李理), what do you do? –”
“It is not such a matter either.”
Eiko(瑛庚) said as if admonishing his young wife. Seika(清花) was Eiko(瑛庚)’s second wife. His wife looked 20 years younger than he in appearance, but, actually she was nearly 80 years younger.
“Well, what kind of problem do you think it is?”
Seika(清花)’s face hardened. These days, he frequently saw this kind of her face.
“…… The law isn’t applied in emotion though you might not understand easily.”
“Then, do you say that monster is in the right?”
“That is not it. — The act of Shudatsu(狩獺) is unpardonable, and there would be no room for showing mercy. I understand your anger and people’s anger very well. I also detest Shudatsu(狩獺) just as you. The capital punishment is not such an easy thing that you kill him because of not being able to forgive him.”
Though he had said as calm and soft as possible, Seika(清花)’s face just was harder and harder. She shot a fierce look to Eiko(瑛庚).
“You do always treat me like foolish and unreasonable person.”
Her voice was icy and low.
“Not at –”
‘all’, he tried to keep speaking but Seika(清花) cut in.
“Lately in Shiso(芝草), do you know the cases that child disappears continue?”
“I’ve heard rumors. But, it is not Shudatsu(狩獺)’s attack.”
I know, Seika(清花)’s voice was sharpened.
“Do you think me such a terrible fool? Shudatsu(狩獺) is already in the prison, so he has absolutely no responsibility for them. What I’m saying, recently in Shiso(芝草), such unpleasant crimes happen and happen.”
“Do you know men and women servants was massacred in the mansion of a lower official of Shunkan-fu(春官府)? One of the menservants was scolded from the master and had a grudge and huge anger, and turned it on not his master but his colleagues. We always hear such stories in recent Ryu(柳). What on earth might the big problem be in this country?”
For her saying, Eiko(瑛庚) could do nothing but keep silent. Recently, rash of crimes could not be understood — moreover, it was a fact that brutal crimes happened frequently.
“The world seems being filled with the people emotionally hamstrung. Forgiving a person like Shudatsu(狩獺) is the same as advancing crimes to people. Won’t we need to execute the severe punishment? Shouldn’t we make people know that the person itself is killed if someone commits a murder?”
Eiko(瑛庚) breathed out in melancholic feelings.
“However, people like Shudatsu(狩獺) don’t stop short of crimes, even if we did so.”
Seika(清花) saw Eiko(瑛庚) surprisingly.
“In fact, the capital punishment has no effect of preventing the crime. To our regret, even if the penalty is made severe, it doesn’t stop the crime.”
When being admonished, Seika(清花) made a grimace.
“Then, you forgive the criminal even if Riri(李理) is killed.”
“I don’t say such a thing. That’s a different story. I do not forgive the criminal if he makes something to Riri(李理). However, to operate the law as a judicial officer and to protect Riri(李理) are different matter.”
He raised his voice involuntarily. Seika(清花) tried to say something, and saw with a contemptuous glance at Eiko(瑛庚).
“It means even if Riri(李理) was killed, you would not execute the criminal. Because that’s a different story.”
‘You’re wrong’, though he tried to say so, Seika(清花) turned around and scuttled out of his study. Night completely fell before one’s aware and insects’ voices were on a cold night wind.
Eiko(瑛庚) muttered toward the back of his wife who disappeared.
” …… It’s not what I’m saying.”
There is no room where compassion finds a place in the law. Never. Therefore, if Riri(李理) is killed, Eiko(瑛庚) is removed from the trial naturally. He wanted to say it is law. But, Seika(清花) wouldn’t get it even if he said it. Perhaps, he would have a talk about not wishing the judge, who takes charge of the decision, to execute the criminal. If they do so, Eiko(瑛庚) cannot help answering that it is not possible to actually say even if he wishes it by his mind.
Eiko(瑛庚) sighed heavily, and he stopped standing up and sat down on a chair again. He rested his elbows on a desk, and pressed his forehead lightly.
He didn’t have will to treat her as a terrible fool. At least, Eiko(瑛庚) thought his wife not to be foolish. However, law isn’t enforced in compassion as a practical matter. Law is the last thing not enforced by such a dimension. But how can he explain? — In his own thinking, Eiko(瑛庚) was at a loss.
Seika(清花) is never foolish, and he guesses she is wise and intelligent on an actual life. However, she always thinks about things by emotions, and can’t do by reason only. Seika(清花) herself insists that she also understands reason, but in many cases, her ‘reason’ is her belief that her emotions is reason. When he says it’s not exactly reason, Seika(清花) always refutes that there is no reason not depending on emotions.
According to Seika(清花), Eiko(瑛庚) lacks affection and mistakes the utilitarian reason, which government officials use, for reason. It is Eiko(瑛庚) who do not understand, but, he is a high official and always treats her as a fool because she has no rank.
Lately, Seika(清花) was usually angry to say so. After getting angry, she always said that she would want to be divorced. Canceling the marriage, she said she wanted to return Senseki(仙籍) and get back to one of ordinary people.
To make Seika(清花) understood, Eiko(瑛庚) had no idea what to talk. In his business, Eiko(瑛庚) is not good at throwing away reason and talking about things only by feelings. Probably because of it, the more he tried to calm her, the more she used to get angry. Therefore, Seika(清花) must be gone someday. — like his first wife. The last word of Keishi(恵施) was “I am not a fool that you think of.
Both of first and second wives say the same words because they might be more correct.
He, who is lost in melancholic thought, can see the document written down the passage of miserable crimes.
The victim is Shunryo(駿良) who was eight. His daughter Riri(李理) is eight now, too. The thought makes him hurt. Since parting from Riri(李理) at the corridor, he leaves hurt feelings behind. It never goes away from inside him even by a lot of sighs.