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Post Reply Kasyo no Yume (華胥の幽夢, the Dream of Kasyo
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Posted 8/8/08

After more than a month of journey, Taiki returned to Kouki (鴻基), only to find that Kouki was still buried in pure white snow. Looking down to the white landscape, Taiki finally landed at the Forbidden Gate.

The moment Taiki and others got off from their kijyuus, the door guards immediately stepped out of the gate and lined up in two neat rows to greet them, white breath coming out of their nostrils. The door guards called, handed the kijyuus to the soldiers, and opened the gates solemnly.

“I was reminded again that we are different from Ren not just in temperature.”
Taiki said, and Seirai laughed.
“I cannot agree more.”
“Seirai, you must be relieved now, aren’t you?”
“Just a little.”

They laughed as they passed through the Forbidden Gate, and headed towards the Inner Hall. Apparently the report that the group's return had reached everyone without miss. When they entered the Inner Hall, they found officials lining up at both sides, and the emperor sitting on the throne.

Feeling the uptight and tense atmosphere inside the Inner Hall, Taiki moved to the front of the throne, and kneeled down to pay his respect.
“I have returned safely.”
Gyousou nodded, and waved Taiki to come up to the throne. Taiki stood up, and walked to the side of the throne. He felt the inexplicable relief that he had finally arrived home.

“How was Ren?”
“There are really flowers booming.”
Really, Gyousou smiled and said,
“I’ll listen to the details later.”
Gyousou then turned to speak to the prime minister.
“Write a report on the details. They all must be very tired, so we will just let them rest sooner.”

Yes, the prime minister replied articulately, and gave his congratulations to Taiki for his finishing the grand mission. Sougen gave a simple report to all the officials. After the remaining rituals were done, Gyousou had the bind shade lowered, signaling the end of the meeting.

“You must be tired. Rest well today. I’ll walk you to your room.”
Urging Taiki by patting him slightly on the back, Gyousou exited the Inner Hall.
“No, I am not tired at all... But, oh, Mister Gyousou, shouldn't you go to attend administrative matters?”
I have heaps of things that I want to tell you though, Taiki thought as he said.

Gyousou smiled.
“Today is the special day of Taiki's return, so I guess it doesn’t matter for me to take the day off.”
Taiki was so happy that he felt like dancing around.

“What are the emperor and the Taiho of Ren like?”
Taiki clang to Gyousou’s sleeves as he rained stories on Gyousou. The story of how he bumped into the Back Palace. The story of the fields in the palace. The story in the morning when Renrin woke up Taiki and others, opened the windows, brought water for washing their faces, made tea, and made Tansui and others really uneasy.

“I also helped with farming work. Ren-ou...”
Gyousou suddenly pushed Taiki on the back as he talked.
“Kouri, this way.”
Oh, Taiki looked around. It should be the right way to return to Jinjyuu Hall (仁重殿).

Cocking his head, Taiki looked up at Gyousou.
Gyousou smiled.
“This way.”
“Oh… Okay.”
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The path Gyousou walked on led to Seishin (正寝). Thinking that Gyousou would like him to have a stay at Seishin, Taiki rambled on about the appearance of Urou Palace and Jyuurei, and about Kyuu and Han where they stopped over during their trip. One month is too long for Taiki. There are so many things that he would like to tell. By talking, Taiki felt that he could bury behind him the time he was not at Gyousou’s side.

“Then, Seirai...”

Taiki continued, but suddenly stopped his track. He had been walking along as Gyousou pushed him on his back, and now he entered a place he had never seen before. Looking around, he could see the Main Hall of Seishin nearby. The building he was looking at now was located at the immediate west of the Main Hall.

“What was up with Seirai?”

Gyousou asked as he passed through the building into a cozy little garden. Right at the back of the garden, there was a door to the main building, and there stood Tansui. That was the reason for Taiki’s shock. Tansui should have returned to Jinjyuu Hall (仁重殿) after leaving the Forbidden Gate.

What’s the matter, Gyousou smilingly asked, and Taiki was urged hurriedly into the main building. He saw his familiar female servants and his luggages all moved to there.

“Why...?”
Taiki turned to look up at Gyousou, and suddenly remembered Seirai saying, “There might be good things happening to you” before they went to Ren.
“Does that mean I am moving to here?”
“If you do not want to stay at Jinjyuu Hall, that is to say.”

Taiki knew that he face was scorched with joy. It was so close to the Main Hall where Gyousou was. Taiki had also been longing to talk to Gyousou, however short the conversation would be. However, the Palace was too big to walk for Taiki, and his wish had long been denied.

“However, this is further to Koutoku Hall (広徳殿), the provincial office.”
“That is absolutely fine with me. I will just hurry to there as fast as I can go.”
“But, can you legs carry you that fast?”
“If they can’t, I will just run!”
“Doing that every day would be hard, wouldn’t it?”
“Fine with me! It is good for health, and now that I want to grow up, I would surely grow much faster if I run every day. ... And, well...”

“You hate the carriage as usual, am I right?”
Taiki nodded as Gyousou asked with a smile. Taiki could never get used to carriages. Being carried around by adults on their shoulders made Taiki somehow guilty and uncomfortable.

“Then Kouri, you must become an apprentice of Tansui for a while.”
“Tansui?”
“There are young horses. Ask Tansui to teach you ride a horse.”
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Really? Taiki jumped.
“I can ride on a horse?”
Gyousou nodded.

“It might be more fun to be able to ride on a kijyuu (騎獣). However, riding kijyuu in the palace is forbidden. Moreover, kijyuu might be a little too large for Kouri’s body size. We can put a saddle on the carriage like what we did in journeys, but you will feel bored of it, won’t you?”
Taiki’s mind was filled with only glee.

“Thank you for your perseverance in the long journey.”
“But... it isn’t that hard, and there are many joyful moments. But do I deserve such a praise from you?”
Yes you do, Gyousou smiled, and walked up to the second floor. There was a warm bright room that was decorated at all sides by glass windows.

“It is not just solely for you. I also would like you to be close to me.”

Taiki eyes opened wide. That moment, Taiki felt the concern that Gyousou had over him. Taiki always felt lonely and helpless, so Gyousou showed his concern in this way, Taiki thought.

“Well... but...”
Taiki didn’t want Gyousou to think he was not happy. However, Taiki’s heart was sunk by the burdensome concern in Gyousou. As Taiki fumbled for words to express his feelings, Gyousou gave a bitter smile.
“I rush too much, I guess.”

Gyousou took a seat in one of the chairs, and pointed to another chair, which Taiki obediently sat on.
“There are people saying that I am too ruthless and hasty, and I believe the allegations were not all wrong. However, I was not good at easing my rein since long ago. Therefore, I would like to see Kouri’s face.”

“...My face?”
“I like it when Kouri asks what things are and talks with me, like that time when we just moved in Hakkei Palace. I need you to be my paperweight and soothe my rash. Otherwise, I will leave all officials behind and run on my own.”

Taiki stared blankly up at Gyousou.
“… What’s the matter?”
Nothing, Taiki shook his head.

“So today, I’ll just sit back and relax on Taiki’s travelling stories. Recently, Gashin (臥信) said that my mood was so sullen that it became scary to be beside me.”
“Gashin? From the Army of Zui Province (瑞州)?”
Gashin was in Gyousou’s army before. He was now leading the Right Army of Zui Province.

“It was like staying beside a hungry tiger.”
Gyousou smiled bitterly, and Taiki laughed out without thinking. He thought it might really be the case in some sense: Taiki was the caretaker of Gyousou, looking after him so that he would not be hungry.

“Then, let me try my best to make Mister Gyousou’s stomach always full.”
Please, Gyousou laughed, and suddenly he raised his hand.
“Oh, you brought that from Ren, I bet.”

“Yes?”
Without knowing what Gyousou was referring to, Taiki looked at the direction Gyousou was pointing at. Outside the glass window, huge ume (梅, Japanese apricot) trees stood crowded outside the fence.

At branches close to the window, there are two white, small flowers.

The long winters of Tai was finally to draw its finale.

*** END ***

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