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
At night, Hogetsu(蒲月) rushed into Eiko(瑛庚)’s study.
“– I heard a serious matter happened. –”
He said so with gasping for breath. Eiko(瑛庚) nodded simply.
“I’m sorry, sir. I wish I were here and could have kept her back.”
“You need not apologize. …… Who told you the story?”
“My manservant. — Before that, I heard something had happened at Shikei(司刑)’s residence. But I could not hear what happened really.”
Eiko(瑛庚) smiled wryly.
“Anybody can know because that was at the gate. Or, in my servants I have someone who can’t keep a secret. — Well, either way, people will talk.”
Said Eiko(瑛庚) and looked out of window. From the dark garden, cool night wind blew in. He felt — autumn has come.
“If Shiho(司法) or Sho-shiko(小司寇) know this matter, what will they do?”
“They will order me to get out of this case.”
Answering to him, Eiko(瑛庚) thought he can accept it if it happens. This case was above and beyond Eiko(瑛庚)’s ability. Not only he got out of the case but also he lost the position, Shikei(司刑), those might happen, but he felt it wasn’t so bad.
Eiko(瑛庚) thought so, and looked at Hogetsu(蒲月).
“…… It may have harmful side effects on you.”
Hogetsu(蒲月) kneeled down across from Eiko(瑛庚). He took Eiko(瑛庚)’s hands between his.
“Don’t worry about such a thing, sir.”
Hogetsu(蒲月) was only beginning an official of the country. He might lost his position which he obtained with effort.
“Don’t blame Seika(清花), son.”
Eiko(瑛庚) didn’t understand what Seika(清花) thought about but he knew her actions were never from evil thoughts. Hearing the details from the people around him, recently Seika(清花) went down to Shiso(芝草). Besides, she visited and talked with not only Shunryo(駿良)’s parents but also the bereaved. She would sympathize with their having talked story. The action that she caused was too hasty, but he could not deny her heart.
Eiko(瑛庚) said so, and Hogetsu(蒲月) agreed with him.
“It may be the result that we had poor communication. I should have explained as much as possible in words about my duty. At that moment, what I think, and what I hesitate.”
Though, he did not think himself did so if he could. He believed Seika(清花) could not understand it, and he did not want her to understand. — This is not denial. It is maybe opposite idea for him. Seika(清花) shows righteous indignation simply and is angered candidly, which he wants her to do.
But, his self-centered idea like this might make Seika(清花) angry, and Keishi(恵施) angry, too. All of them were Eiko(瑛庚)’s fault because both of them blamed him by the same things at least. — When he thinking, Hogetsu(蒲月) talked to him calmly.
“Grandfather, it’s not your fault, sir.”
“…… Do you think so?”
“Indeed, sir. It’s not your fault and it’s not my sister’s fault, either. All of them is caused by Shudatsu(狩獺).”
Eiko(瑛庚) laughed with pain……He thought ‘You talk about Shudatsu(狩獺) at the moment?’
But Hogetsu(蒲月) gave his head a subtle shake.
“My sister, Seika(清花), feels uneasy. I don’t know why she made up her mind for seeing Shunryo(駿良)’s parents, but I think I know about her purpose. For the death penalty of Shudatsu(狩獺) — and for making herself easy by it.”
“I told her the death penalty has no power of stopping crimes……”
Eiko(瑛庚) said, but Hogetsu(蒲月) nodded no.
“I think she didn’t have such an idea. Now, the peace of Shiso(芝草) is broken, and the process influences into the palace before we know. They already feel uneasy, the existence of Shudatsu(狩獺) makes them realize the existence of such criminals who are beyond saving. Beyond understanding and beyond empathizing with. The existence of someone who violates axiomatic justice and who does not care for it at all makes them uneasy, which put people like her into severe anxiety.”
Hogetsu(蒲月) said and smiled weakly.
“If even Shudatsu(狩獺) is removed, the uneasiness of them is removed, too. People or she can believe the world on some level. In that way, they are going to fix the world they can see.”
“That — Did Seika(清花) say?”
“No. I think so by myself. Ordinary people in my mind tell me so.”
I see, Eiko(瑛庚) murmured in his mind.
“They fix the world by removing……”
Suddenly, he remembered Enga(淵雅)’s words.
“The word, monster, regards a criminal who cannot be understood easily as inferior to other things as human……”
Hogetsu(蒲月) put his head on one side mystifyingly.
“It’s Dai-shiko(大司寇)’s words. When I heard the words, I think there was something in them, and it is true for me still now. We are coward more than we think about ourselves. We cannot be easy except we disconnect from things we never understand……”
When he ignored the fourth letter of apology from Keishi(恵施), the feelings must have been in his mind. At that time, he felt he couldn’t keep up with her any more — It must have been an impulsive movement to disconnect from things he never understood and to drive her out a place where he could not see.
When he looked back, Eiko(瑛庚) did to offer her discharge and to redeem for her victims, but he never met her personally. Probably, he must have wanted to separate Keishi(恵施) to the place where he never saw. Though he helped her because he felt responsibility and obligation, probably he should have visited her in jail and have talked with her personally. Keishi(恵施) might not have repeated the same crime if he did so at least.
“Such a creature human being is.”
Hogetsu(蒲月) said and was patting Eiko(瑛庚)’s hands consolingly.
“But I have an official of the country in my mind, too. I know I have to think about and I know I have to put my feelings aside. I don’t belong to Shukan(秋官), but I think I know your burden you have on your back now, grandfather.”
Eiko(瑛庚) just nodded.
“Please leave Riri(李理) and me to look after my sister, and devote yourself to your duty as Shikei(司刑), sir.”
Eiko(瑛庚) squeezed his grandson’s hands back without a word.
Eiko(瑛庚) had heard their voices. He didn’t think that encroached on his own responsibility, but he couldn’t allow himself to behaving as if nothing had happened. The next day, he reported to Chiin(知音) about it. Chiin(知音) told him to wait for further instructions and to advance the trial while waiting. Three days later, he got called from Chiin(知音), and Chiin(知音) he saw had a sour face more than when he had reported.
“We have no problem because Shujo(主上) understood you.”
Eiko(瑛庚) looked at Chiin(知音)’s face.
“I held a consultation with Sho-shiko(小司寇), and we decided reporting to Shujo(主上). I sought for Shujo(主上)’s directions, but Shujo(主上) said no problem.”
Chiin(知音) talked in a dejected voice. Eiko(瑛庚) became depressed, too. Although thankfully no scolding for him, he felt dejection at the same time. He thought he must judge the case by his own decision after all. Above all else, he had a major dejection for that Shujo(主上) already gave up the case.
“…… Shujo(主上) is not interested in Shudatsu(狩獺) at all, isn’t he?”
You’re right, Chiin(知音)’s voice became more lower.
“What’s Dai-shiko(大司寇) thinking in his mind?”
“I don’t know, he’s not contact me yet. I think he heard about you.”
“Considering his thought, you’d better replace me as Shikei(司刑), sir.”
“I have Shujo(主上)’s word, so there is no need to.”
Chiin(知音) said and looked at Eiko(瑛庚).
“I know your burden but I want to you to judge the case. Whatever results follow, I am convinced of your decision, I mean the decision of you three, Jokyu(如翕), Sotsuyu(率由) and you. — As I thought so, I left this to you three.”
Appreciating his words, Eiko(瑛庚) bowed deeply. While his way to trial’s room, he became depressed more and more. When he entered the room, he saw Jokyu(如翕) and Sotsuyu(率由) with an anxious look on their faces and was profoundly depressed.
“…… Shujo(主上) already gave up the case as we already thought.”
The first words just came out of his mouth was not about his own treatment but this.
Their country was going to declining — definitely.
This put him back where he started. The country was inclining, would they be permitted to revive the death punishment at this time? When their country was sick severely after for years, can Shiho(司法), Eiko(瑛庚) and others, really stop the abuse of the death penalty?
Eiko(瑛庚) saying, both Jokyu(如翕) and Sotsuyu(率由) were lost in thought. At this time, they were still thinking what they should do. They could not make up their mind, what is right or not. Considering Shudatsu(狩獺)’s crimes or bereaved families, they thought they couldn’t be helped the death penalty. But after this decision, a fear of the death penalty in their minds reared up.
Eiko(瑛庚) felt it’s neither taught nor learnt. As well as the death penalty for murder is neither taught nor learnt, the hesitation for the death penalty is neither taught nor learnt, he thought.
He heard his daughter’s voice in his mind.
— Daddy, are you going to be a killer?
The words Riri(李理) said might happen to be a truth of these hardest things. Eiko(瑛庚) had been thinking the death penalty and the murder are very different matters, but, did he really believe it? No, Eiko(瑛庚) felt as if he had known about it. No matter what someone says the death penalty is a murder definitely. That is to terminate other person’s life artificially.
It is natural thoughts that the person who commits a murder is punished by death, and it might be natural feelings that people hate to kill others. Now, most of people insist on executing Shudatsu(狩獺) to Shiho(司法), or giving him to them if Shiho(司法) not doing so, but, how many people of them can kill Shudatsu(狩獺) if they meet Shudatsu(狩獺) face to face? At that moment, probably it is only the bereaved that can come forward and can use a sword to him. Eiko(瑛庚) thinks, himself would not hesitate to kill Shudatsu(狩獺) if Shudatsu(狩獺) murdered Riri(李理). Eiko(瑛庚) considers, nomal people can do it even if they hate to kill others, when they have their revenge. — On the other side of the coin, nomal people cannot do such a thing unless they lose their senses because of desire for revenge.
The abuse of the death penalty that people fear, the violence of the death penalty that people feel, they are the same things. That is instinctive scare — which might have roots in the reflection for hating to kill others.
As Eiko(瑛庚) said so, Sotsuyu(率由) sighed unwillingly.
“Perhaps you’re right, sir. — This is just my opinion, but while I insist on the death penalty, I remember one of my friends. He was a colleague when I was a local official, and he is a Shoriku(掌戮) now.”
Eiko(瑛庚) could not help looking at his face. Shoriku(掌戮) under Shirei(司隷) give punishment on criminals for real. If Shudatsu(狩獺) is punished by the death penalty, the practice would be the duty of Shoriku(掌戮). Shoriku(掌戮) give it to him.
“It is natural that the person who commit a murder is punished by death — Shudatsu(狩獺) brings me such a guess, but I have a doubt my friend has the same thought or not. I know we cannot treat to sentence to death by the national law the same as to commit a murder by a personal selfish purpose. But, when we revive the death penalty, someone who terminates Shudatsu(狩獺)’s life exists for real.”
“But,” Jokyu(如翕) put a word in soothingly.
“We will use soldiers under Kakan(夏官) for the real execution. This is not a very nice thing to say though, soldiers are accustomed to kill others.”
“Do you think so? Crime control, counterinsurgency, in these situations, soldiers put themselves in the place to be killed if they do not kill. They can think about killing in the situations on the same level with executing a criminal who is fastened tightly at the site? I do not think so.”
“But …… Execution by executioner is not a murder. Justice executes the criminal, not by the executioner. Using executioner hands, the king of gods(天帝) does it. — I think telling its main point and rewarding abundantly will satisfy him.”
“…… Do you think he is really satisfied?”
Jokyu(如翕) lowered his eyes and shook his head quietly. Eiko(瑛庚) also felt he would not be satisfied if he were the executioner.
Jokyu(如翕) made a little snorting laugh.
“I want to give him the bereaved if I could…… They will take executioner’s duty with pleasure.”
Sotsuyu(率由) also uttered a dry giggle.
“I agree with you completely. — But, that’s revenge. We, Shiho(司法), exist for preventing to take the law into their own hands, and stopping a cycle of revenge.”
Sotsuyu(率由) said and looked up at midair weakly.
“Therefore, the executioner puts all of his effort……”
“I have a question for you two.”
Eiko(瑛庚) looked at their faces.
“The people demand the death penalty. The lower officers allow the death penalty. But, the higher officers, the more hesitating. Why do they behave in such a way?”
Jokyu(如翕) tried to speak, but quit.
“That we who participate in judgment might be expected hesitate, but the high officials who do not participate in judgment really are against taking risks all together. I feel bizarre at the thought of it.”
“Yes …… definitely, sir.”
“For them, the country is themselves. — I think. I realize myself as a part of the country. Not only the judiciary, I feel that my intention is reflected to the act of the country by some form. I consider all the officers who participate in national administration have the same realization. Our intention is the intention of the country, the act of the country is our own act. For this, the murder by the country becomes our own murder.”
— Daddy, are you going to be a killer?
The death penalty is to kill other person. Someone terminates Shudatsu(狩獺)’s life. The someone is ordered to do it by the country. Judicial officers, like Eiko(瑛庚) and others, encourage the country to do it, so it means high officers who appointed Eiko(瑛庚) and others to be judicial officers encourage it. — After all, high officers themselves will become a murderer.
“People pay back the death with a murder. This is neither taught nor learnt. I feel that I must not kill a person or that I do not want to kill a person are also neither taught nor learnt. A murder by the country is the murder by me, so I want to avoid this …… It’s just my personal feelings, of course.”
Eiko(瑛庚) has instinctive fear for murder in his heart. Probably the same fear at heart of the people. But for them, the country is a part of gods. The Ruler(王) who is elected by gods, the officers who are elected by the Ruler(王). Both of them are isolated from the people and their intentions. So the people can demand the death penalty without hesitation. For them, to kill Shudatsu(狩獺) is not done by their own hand. It is done by gods’ hand.
“It would not be permitted that judicial officers discuss the rights and wrongs with their personal feelings, even more it shouldn’t that their personal feelings affect their judgment. But, for the person who knows the justice, the thoughts of hating murder is the same as righteous indignation that to pay back the death with a murder. I do not want to be a killer. I do not encourage others to murder……”
Jokyu(如翕) sighed deeply.
“It will be also reflex that the feelings hate the death penalty as a murder, as the death penalty for a murder is neither taught nor learnt but reflex. Both of them are subjective instinct rather than reason, and their weights are perhaps equal.
“…… Maybe right.”
“I know to revive the death penalty brings abuse of it, but I also know the duty of the judiciary is to stop the abuse. To revive or to continue avoiding, both have a point. So both cannot bring the conclusion.”
“Well, the last factor we have is Shudatsu(狩獺) himself.”
Said Sotsuyu(率由), and Eiko(瑛庚) and Jokyu(如翕) raised an eyebrow in doubt.
“To revive or to continue avoiding have even chance. Therefore, which we choose depends on Shudatsu(狩獺) himself. Originally, the reason Shujō(主上) decided to avoid Taiheki(大辟) is the purpose of punishment is not the punishment itself, but to indoctrinate people. So, we can indoctrinate Shudatsu(狩獺) or not — that is the point, I think.”
But, Eiko(瑛庚) eyed Jokyu(如翕).
“Do you think Shudatsu(狩獺) has possibility of the reform?”
Jokyu(如翕) tilted his head — It surprised Eiko(瑛庚) a little.
“I met him, but I never feel he reforms himself. But, there is always Dai-shiko(大司寇)’s saying that pricks my conscience. He said ‘You declare they are other things than human, and then you order them to repent. Who follows it?’ — that is.”
Eiko(瑛庚) was shocked by him.
“I don’t know why Shudatsu(狩獺) killed Shunryo(駿良). I cannot neglect Dai-shiko(大司寇)’s saying that Shudatsu(狩獺) must have his reason. If we find the reason, we might be able to indoctrinate him.”
Eiko(瑛庚) was thinking — and nodded yes.
“I’ll see Shudatsu(狩獺).”