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
— He felt like they were running in circles.
Eiko(瑛庚) departed from Shiho-fu(司法府) with feelings like despondency. Throughout trials again and again, the summer finally passed and he saw glow of the sunset on that day, which made him feel autumn. On his way home, he stopped at Shikei-fu(司刑府) and conferred with his lower officials. When he entered the gate of his official residence, Seika(清花) was waiting for him while sitting at an entrance stained from the sunset. Behind her, he saw two strangers, man and woman, in the shadow of the entrance.
“– I’m waiting for you.”
What’s up? Eiko(瑛庚) asked and looked at the two strangers behind her. As soon as Eiko(瑛庚)’s approaching, the strangers quickly slid from a bench and kowtowed to him.
“They are Shunryo(駿良)’s mother and father.”
Seika(清花) was rising from a chair and said so, which astounded Eiko(瑛庚).
“– What are you”
“You must listen to them.”
She said decisively and stopped their kowtow to raise their faces.
“This is Shikei(司刑). Say what you want.”
Eiko(瑛庚) stopped it with his strong voice and looked hard at Seika(清花).
“I can’t listen to them.”
Eiko(瑛庚) said and tried to run through the entrance building. Seika(清花) caught his hand by the hand.
“Why do you run away? Please listen to them.”
“Let me go. I can’t.”
“You don’t care to victims’ pains, and what judgment can you make!?”
“You are arrogant.”
Eiko(瑛庚) shouted at her without thinking. Seika(清花) grimaced quickly.
“You think it has no value to listen to them who have no official rank. You refuse to listen to voice of victims and ordinary people, and you try to adjudicate only depending on logic of on the clouds.”
“You are wrong.”
Eiko(瑛庚) said and stared on the two persons, man and woman, who freezing over with their faces up. Their worn appearance and their hopeless eyes seemed to gouge his heart out.
“I think Shishi(司刺) listened to you. If you have the other things to say, complain with Shishi(司刺) again. Now, get out here as it is.”
“You think it’s enough for Shishi(司刺) to listen. This is not under yours. That’s always the case with officials. They keep their hand off more than their duties.”
Eiko(瑛庚) raised his voice at Seika(清花) who scolding him.
“If I listen to them on the personal level, the identity of the trial will be harbored suspicion against.”
Only the three, Tenkei(典刑), Shishi(司刺), and Shikei(司刑), manage the judicial contest. The others, except this three, never control the adjudication. It is absolutely necessary to protect the independence of the judiciary from the country or corrupt officials. Tenkei(典刑) can investigate victims as a part of interrogation and Shishi(司刺) can ask victims and their family for their opinions by his duties, but Shikei(司刑) meets victims by himself is never permitted. If he does, Eiko(瑛庚)’s judgement loses its credibility.
Besides, the ruler(王) left this case to his judgment. Eiko(瑛庚)’s determination is a national determination, so to breed suspicion about it should not be. the people placed their trust in Shiho(司法) or not, which depended on Eiko(瑛庚)’s judgment for the case. On top of this, he had Dai-shiko(大司寇). Enga(淵雅) was poised to object to the death penalty categorically. If Eiko(瑛庚)’s judgment was the death penalty and Enga(淵雅) knew he met Syunryo(駿良)’s mother and father personally, Enga(淵雅) would deny all his judgment by this single instance. And Eiko(瑛庚) couldn’t take objection to him at all.
“This is not only for me but for you two. Get out immediately.”
He dared to say with his back to them and Seika(清花) interrupted.
“No. I never accept it. Until you listen to them, I don’t let them go. As my guests, I keep them here even if it needs many days.”
No sooner did Eiko(瑛庚) yell than Seika(清花) went pale. And her pale face quickly went red with anger. Eiko(瑛庚) knew he said the worst word, but he couldn’t hold back.
“You know nothing. — Anybody? Anybody there?”
Someone called back to him and moved, but its sign was far away. Probably, Seika(清花) must have ordered to leave the room. As Eiko(瑛庚) understood to accomplish nothing, he broke free of her hands. At the moment.
“Please kill the monster, sir.”
He heard a painful woman voice.
“If couldn’t, kill me, sir.”
Eiko(瑛庚) looked back at the woman instantly.
“I called to my boy, when he went out. ‘Do you have money? Enough?’ At the moment, the monster was listening.”
— 12 sen(銭) for three. Sure, I have.
“He wanted to eat his fill with peaches. Usually, I don’t allow him to waste his money. But that day, he said, he wants his baby sister to eat a peach. She is still a speechless baby, though, she was very pleased when she once ate a piece of peach. So, she is sure to like a peach very much, he said. She likes peaches the same as he, because she is his sister, he said. So, he wants to give his baby sister a full peach, he said.”
He could not see tears in her eyes but they were filled with something deep.
“For that, he helped me very well. A help, a coin. For all day, he stayed around me, and asked me for something to help. He said to help this, or to help that. Tenderly and lovely …… I gave him extra 2 sen(銭) on the day. I told him, you are great, helping and saving for a long time. As I knew his total became 12 sen(銭) by the extra 2, I gave 2 sen(銭) to him.”
Eiko(瑛庚) took his eyes off her. He understood what she wanted. He was prepared for being considered as tyrannical and was going away. The man voice ran after his back.
“My son is dead. Why is that man still alive, sir?”
The voice was cracking. Was it because of shouting himself hoarse or becoming a slave of passion?
“It was very near of me. But I couldn’t save my boy. He must have cried for help to us. But, I couldn’t hear him. How suffering he was! What he thought and what he felt? Why did the man kill my son, why he? I have no idea. I never stop thinking about it because of having no idea. My only idea is my son never returns. And yet, the monster is still alive.”
He wanted to refuse to listen to him, but he never did.
“My son suffered very much. We are still suffering. Despite that, why is that man no suffering? There is no worth of our suffering? For officials like you, do we, the ordinary people, have no worth you look back on even if we suffer very much?”
Eiko(瑛庚), controlling himself, didn’t look back at him.
The servants who rushed in let the couple back to Shiso(芝草). Though Seika(清花) objected, Eiko(瑛庚) gave them careful instructions that they made the man and the woman go home definitely and strongly ordered them not to let the people involved come in his residence. At the same time, he sent for the lower officers and he let them shut the gate and guard it so that the same thing would never happen. After that, he visited Seika(清花) to persuade at her room but she never opened the door.
“Enough. I’ve understood you and I’ve known what you think of me.”
She told him to slam down from the other side of the door and never answered again. Eiko(瑛庚) could do nothing except standing in the corridor.
Seika(清花) might leave him the same as Keishi(恵施). — It can’t be avoided, he thought.
If it’s her will, there is nothing he can do about it. But, he wonders what Seika(清花) depends on for a living after that. It’s possible Eiko(瑛庚) pays for her support or gives her work, and, she , as a citizen, can be provided Kyuden(給田) again. While Seika(清花) living in the official residence, 12 years passed in the lower world(下界). The 12 years brought Seika(清花)’s mother and father death, and siblings old age. Her acquaintances also were spending 12 years. He wonders if she adjusts gradually to it.
Thinking so, Eiko(瑛庚) smiled wryly.
Such a long time which made all her relatives die didn’t pass. Recently, their touches to each other became rarer, but, some years ago, she kept in frequent touch and visit with them. They would be able to mend their long silence. — Unlike Keishi(恵施).
When Keishi(恵施) left him, she had lived with him for a little less than 6 decades. Her parents, of course, her siblings already passed away. Moreover, even their children weren’t alive anymore. Keishi(恵施) became an ordinary person again, didn’t have any relatives or a friend in the lower world, and what she thought and what she felt.
He could image her loneliness she felt. Actually, once Eiko(瑛庚) resigned his position and surrendered his Senseki(仙籍), and went out of power. After Keishi(恵施) leaving. He didn’t have trouble making a living because he had his own savings and benefits from the country, but, it was a traumatic experience that he had nowhere to go. He had no acquaintance and old friend, including their children. Their grandchildren or relatives were somewhere, but he couldn’t find them. All the places where he had lived, including his hometown, was noticeably different. As he surrendered his Senseki(仙籍) because of taking responsibility for a scandal, he could do neither visiting his second son was a state official nor depending on his close peers. To avoid meeting and talking others, Eiko(瑛庚) had no choice except belonging at home. Eiko(瑛庚) cut himself off from the world completely.
He thought the story of how affair had happened was very ironical at the moment. The term, while belonging at home, Eiko(瑛庚) met Seika(清花) and got remarried to her. The reason why Eiko(瑛庚) shut himself up in his house was Keishi(恵施), who was Eiko(瑛庚)’s first wife, tried her hand at criminal act.
Eiko(瑛庚) didn’t know about Keishi(恵施)’s life as a common person, after her leaving him. Eiko(瑛庚) offered assistance to Keishi(恵施), but she refused it and disappeared in the street. It was after five years that he heard of her again. Keishi(恵施) was arrested because she took enormous money and goods by cheating people, using the name of Eiko(瑛庚) who was one of top officials and putting a word or favors into her victims’ ear. The investigation brought out Eiko(瑛庚) having no relation with it, but he couldn’t stay as an official anymore. He resigned to take responsibility for it and went out of power.
— What was she thinking about?
Eiko(瑛庚) thought of Keishi(恵施) as a good woman. He could imagine she was the last person tried her hand at criminal act. He thought she was probably reduced to poverty, which made her be tempted by an evil spirit, and he found it painful. After her arrested, she wrote a letter of apology many times and he felt her sincere reflection, so Eiko(瑛庚) offered Shishi(司刺) to discharge about his own damage. As her former husband, he redeemed for her victims. For that, she sent a letter with a lot of thanks for him, after serving 6-month jail sentence, she got out of his sight. A year later he heard of Keishi(恵施) again, who was arrested at Kin-shu(均州) for similar offenses.
He had a bitter taste in his mouth when looking back at that time. Her letter of apology and his discharge offering, the same things were repeated, but Keishi(恵施) did the same crime again and again afterward. The more crimes the less damages, but Eiko(瑛庚) couldn’t help accepting the fact that a person exists who is never reformed. He ignored her fourth letter of apology without standing. At that time, it was three years since he had gone out of power, he got remarried to Seika(清花) and was recalled to his former position of the government.
After recalled to his position, Eiko(瑛庚) tried and tried to look into the matter of Keishi(恵施), but her action was beyond his understanding. For the interrogation of Tenkei(典刑) in the prefecture(郡), Keishi(恵施) stuck her chest out and said that it was the revenge for Eiko(瑛庚) who looked down on her. According to some sources, her immediate motive was money and goods. Keishi(恵施) was poor in the lower world(下界) as Eiko(瑛庚) guessed it. But actually Eiko(瑛庚) found Keishi(恵施) had thought to try her hand at criminal act itself was to revenge for him. Keishi(恵施) deceived wealthy merchants or local officials to prove herself not to be stupid. At her first jail sentense, she showed her deep regret and officials released her because of believing it, but her interrogation under second arrest, she spoke she never regret at all. –For Eiko(瑛庚) it was beyond understanding though, they said Keishi(恵施) definitely considered breaking and evading the law were the revenge for Eiko(瑛庚).
The Tenkei(典刑), who interrogated her, commented that she had obsessive desire for revenge and hostility for husband, but Eiko(瑛庚) could not understand why she had hated him so much. At any rate, after Eiko(瑛庚) gave up Keishi(恵施), he heard of her who repeated the same crime for living. She always used the same methods, so anyone wasn’t decieved gradually and he became not to hear of her. Eiko(瑛庚) did not know how she is doing.
It was not always true that Seika(清花) followed in Keishi(恵施)’s footsteps because she went back to the ground, but he could never forget the experiences with Keishi(恵施).
He sighed in front of the door where he couldn’t hear any sounds, and returned to the main building. At the steps of the main building, Riri(李理) wrapped up in a small ball and was on the verge of tears.
“……Do you drive Mammy out, Daddy?”
His daughter who held her knees looked up at Eiko(瑛庚)’s face, and asked. Eiko(瑛庚) sat at her side and nodded no.
“I never do such a thing.”
“But, Mammy says so. You do drive Mammy and me out, Daddy.”
Eiko(瑛庚) wondered how she took care of Riri(李理). He could accept Seika(清花)’s leaving, but how she would do about Riri(李理). She would maybe take her daughter with herself as a common person, but, the thought brought the double sights of Riri(李理) and Shunryo(駿良) to him immediately.
The lower world(下界) was wasted. He felt as if he threw out his innocent young daughter in the monster-ridden world as Shudatsu(狩獺) dominating over.
“I never throw out you and your mother. I always want you two to be with me. Or do you want to get out here, my daughter?”
Riri(李理) shook her head.
“Then, will you promise me? You are never going anywhere.”
–And you are never caught by a monster as Shudatsu(狩獺).
Riri(李理) nodded with a very earnest expression. Seeing her face, Eiko(瑛庚) feared.
If anything happens to my daughter.
Jokyu(如翕) said that the person got the death if he murdered someone is not the theory but a reflex. Eiko(瑛庚) thought he was right. Such a thing, to kill such an innocent young creature as his daughter with unsparing brutality, should not be tolerated. He never overlooked it and the person who dare commit such a crime should be prepared himself for his death.
If Shudatsu(狩獺) had murdered Riri(李理), Eiko(瑛庚) would never have forgiven him. If Shiho(司法) didn’t kill him, Eiko(瑛庚) would put Shudatsu(狩獺) to the sword by himself. As a result, he didn’t mind even if he was accused of a crime.
–There is no choice except the death penalty.
As soon as he thought so, he got a chill down his back. He felt like making a step toward the place where not making a step into.
He wondered what his hesitation was. — Eiko(瑛庚), who was in thought, patted Riri(李理)’s cheeks.
“Can you comfort your mother?”
Riri(李理) nodded her head, got up abruptly and ran in her mother’s room. Her small back went away. It was getting away smaller and smaller.
Eiko(瑛庚) stared after his young daughter.