Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Maze, Chapter 6

The Twelve Kingdoms
Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Maze, Chapter 6.
from Mina's trans. of Ono Fuyumi's Kaze no Umi, Meikyuu no Kishi.



"Originally, I was really worried..." Youka stopped her needlework. Since Taiki had arrived at Mt. Hou, he had grown a little bit. All his clothes had to be redone or lengthened.

"He's so close with Kei Taiho right now. It's so great." The nyosen who were doing needlework with Youka all laughed, and Youka laughed with them.

Youka will never forget the excited look on Taiki's face on the day he came running into the palace and told Youka that Keiki had showed him his transformation into a kirin, and that on the next day, he would let Taiki ride on his back for a stroll. He had been so happy, he didn't get to sleep until the middle of the night. The following day, Taiki came back to Houro Palace with a messy head of windblown hair, and again, was so excited that he almost couldn't sleep.

"Genkun never makes a mistake!" said a nyosen as she began to laugh.

"Recently, Kei Taiho has been emulating Taiki and is starting to pay attention to the feelings of the people around him. It feels so fresh and so fun to me."

"I know! Even though he still has no expression on his face."

Keiki had stayed at Mt. Hou a very long time, so he was not too reserved around them.

"Don't ask for too much!"

"That's for sure!"

The nyosen laughed together.

At this time, they heard the sound of light and quick footsteps coming from the direction of the path.

"I'm home!"

"Welcome back."

Taiki ran in with a messy lump of hair on his head and a joyful expression on his face. Two magical beasts followed by his side; one was Sanshi, and the other was Keiki's shirei, a youma called Hankyo.

"Where did you go today?"

"Kei Taiho took me to Mt. Ka, and I saw a lot of weird birds!"

Seeing Taiki smiling with such happiness, Youka couldn't help but smile as well. It looked like Taiki had already thought of Keiki completely as his older brother. However, at first, the nyosen would never have thought that a child could become close to Keiki.

"That's excellent."

"Kei Taiho said that he would take me to the Yellow Sea tomorrow and show me how to tame youma."

"Oh dear!" exclaimed Youka in a high voice. Hankyo laughed.

"Don't worry. We will accompany Taiki."

"Oh... That's right."

Keiki's shirei would be there, so it should be all right. Though Youka nodded at Hankyo, in her heart, she was still a little bit anxious. In the past, there have been kirin that met their end in the Yellow Sea. There, the youma will attack anyone, regardless of if they are human or kirin.

"All right, you should go take a quick bath. It's almost time for dinner."


Taiki nodded and said to Sanshi and Hankyo, "Let's go!"

After Youka watched Taiki and the two beasts gradually fade into the distance, she put down her needlework.

- - - - -

"What's wrong?"

When Youka arrived at Shiren Palace, Keiki was just getting out of the springwater at Shiren Cave after a bath. After the springwater emerges out from Shiren Cave, it flows all the way into the lotus pond in front of the palace gate.

"I hear that you are going to take Taiki to the Yellow Sea."

"Oh, this," said Keiki quietly, as he brushed his wet hair back. "Nothing will happen. I will ask the shirei to protect Taiki closely."


Keiki smile dryly. "You nyosen really do favor Taiki."

"Because even though Taiki is already ten years old, in regards to him being a kirin, he's still too young."

"You cannot say that." Keiki leaned on the gate and looked down at the lotus pond. "The summer solstice is only a half month away."

Youka hung her head.

"I just went to the Reikon Gate and it looked like were already over fifty riders waiting there."

"That many?"

Keiki nodded. "I had originally thought that since Tai was on the opposide side of the Reikon Gate, there wouldn't be as many people climbing the mountain. Perhaps they had not just come to climb, but have been walking around near the four gates, waiting for the Kirin Flag to rise."

Some people walk around along the Kongou Mountains. If they wait this way, after they see the Kirin Flag being raised, they can enter on the very next Ankou Day. This is because on an ordinary horse, it is not possible to make it to any of the gates in time for the Ankou Day after the flag is raised. Shortly after the summer solstice, these people will arrive at Hoto Palace.

"I am hoping that before the summer solstice, Taiki will possess a shirei."

Usually, those who wait by the four gates each believe that only they are the only true ruler, so their personalities are all extremely conceited and arrogant. If a person is reasonable, they need not worry, since most of those people are not only irrational, but also overly confident.

Keiki said further, "I cannot be away from my kingdom for too long. After all, the queen just ascended the throne not long ago, and moreover, the situation in the country is not very peaceful..."

"Kei Taiho, you're the one who really favors Taiki!"

Hearing Youka hold back a laugh as she said this, Keiki creased his brow.

"Otherwise you nyosen will accuse me of bullying him again."

"Indeed." Youka laughed as she took a bow towards Keiki. "Then please accommodate my request tomorrow."

"I won't allow him to get hurt, or else you nyosen will yell at me endlessly when you see me."

"Just don't forget what you've said today!"


"How about it?" asked Keiki as he handed over to Taiki a creature that was similar to a rabbit.

This was the entrance to the Yellow Sea, situated at the edge of the border between the Five Mountains and the Yellow Sea. It was a wilderness overgrown with bushes. The beast that Keiki handed over to Taiki looked like a rabbit with short ears or a big mouse with a long, thin body.

"Jakko? Or hiso?"

The youma in Taiki's hands obediently allowed him to carry it. Underneath the soft fur, he could feel its little heart beating.

"Jakko," replied the youma that he was holding in a rough voice. This was a small youma that Keiki had just tamed into being a shirei.

"Hiso is the name of this youma's species. This one is called Jakko."

Taiki nodded and scratched Jakko's neck.

"Nice to meet you."

Jakko didn't reply; he just made a few sounds.

"Does he not know how to speak very well yet?"

"Usually youma this small cannot really speak. At most, they can say a few single words."

It was Taiki who first discovered Jakko hiding in a bush and secretly watching them. When he was about to run away, Keiki directed an incantation towards him that Taiki could not understand, and when he looked back at Keiki, he glared at it for a moment. After Keiki finished another set of incantations, he called out Jakko's name, whereupon Jakko obediently came over to his side.

So this was a taming. Taiki had felt a little disappointed because he had originally thought it was going to be an exciting spectacle.

"Are all tamings this easy?"

Hearing Taiki's question, Keiki shook his head. "It was very easy because the hiso is a small animal. It won't be that way with a bigger creature. At times, the confrontation can last half a day!"

"That long?"

Taiki was surprised. Keiki nodded and picked up Jakko. He gently stroked Jakko and put him on Hankyo's back. Jakko then jumped onto the side of Hankyo's ear and began playing with him.

"For instance, I expended quite a bit of effort in order to tame Hankyo."


Hankyo laid upon a rock nonchalantly, and let Jakko play next to his ear.

"Just then when you were taming him, I thought you guys were just staring at each other."

Keiki smiled dryly.

"We certainly were staring at each other. But is you so much as lose focus for even a second, the youma will immediately take advantage of this opening and run away or attack you."

Taiki understood and nodded.

"The first to be distracted is the one who loses. If it's just a small youma that runs away, then it's not critical, but if it's a powerful youma, it just might exploit your carelessness and take your life. Thus, when a youma enters your field of vision, if you are not confident, run away quickly before you begin to glare at each other. However, if it's a very strong youma, you must transform into a kirin in order to get away from it."


Seeing Taiki hang his head, Keiki hurriedly added, "Don't worry, your nyokai can buy you some time."

"Isn't that dangerous for the nyokai?"

Keiki forced another smile.

"If it's a youma you cannot defeat, your nyokai will warn you before you encounter it. Actually, as long as you pay more attention, you will also sense it. After all, we are beasts, so we are very sensitive to the presence of enemies."

Taiki stood blankly for a moment and then a confused smile appeared on his face.

"That's right. We're beasts... I forgot about that."

"It doesn't really matter if you forget something like this."

"Okay. Oh, how did you choose Jakko's name?"

Keiki looked at Jakko. This small youma didn't have the power to be a shirei. He could only go back to the royal palace and play as he wished in the garden.

"I didn't choose it. This name should be what he has always been called."

Taiki tilted his head and looked puzzlingly at Keiki.

"After you've glared for a bit and your opponent concedes his loss, his aggression will subside. At that time, you will be able to discern his name. Actually, I don't quite understand everything about it either, but this is probably how it is. In the blink of an eye, a name will suddenly appear in your mind, and when you shout out this name, the youma will come to your side and serve you. From then on he will always follow your orders, up until the moment you die. At that time, he will gain his freedom."

After he said this, Keiki smiled a little.

"As far as what characters to use for his name, just choose characters that match the sounds."

"I thought I heard you saying incantations just then."

"The incantations are not completely necessary, but if you know them, it makes it easier."


Taiki sat down upon the rock though he looked like he still had some uncertainties, and Keiki sat beside him.

"When we want to tame youma and make them become our shirei, we must exchange pledges with them—It would probably be more appropriate to say that we bind them."

"Bind them?"

Keiki nodded.

"Youma have been excluded from the Providence of the Heavens, so what we're doing is reincorporating them into the Providence of the Heavens and binding them, in order that they not deviate from the way for a second time. If they let us bind them, then they become our shirei."

"I still don't understand it."

Keiki sighed.

"I'm sorry..."

Hearing Taiki apologize, Keiki hurriedly added, "You don't have to apologize. It is natural that you do not understand it."


"This world was created by Tentei for the happiness of the people, and he established the Providence of the World. However, if this is so, why do people die and why do they get sick? Why are there youma in the world that attack people? Why do calamities occur? ...Do all of these things exist through the deep deliberations of the Heavens, or do they pass beyond them? Regardless of how it is, all of them go against Tentei's 'goodness.' This is an indisputable fact."

Taiki thought for a little bit and then nodded.

"However, Tentei has his own intentions. They are not things that we can guess. It is like where there is life, there is also death. Because there is a Providence of the Heavens, there must also be some sort of opposite providence."

"Just like the light and the shadow?"

"Your analogy is very accurate. We kirin are shinju that exist to help the people. Still other magical creatures exist that have similar purposes. On the opposite side, there are also some magical creatures whose exist expressly to harm the people."

"Are those the youma?"

"Yes." Keiki smiled.

"So we should tame those creatures who are outside of the Providence of the Heavens and bring them back in, right?"

"That's exactly right. Speaking in terms of the analogy you used, the youma are creatures of the shadow, and in order to command them, we must pull them back into the light and bind them in order to prevent them from returning to the shadow."

"I understand now. But...how do I do that?"

Keiki sighed again.

"This is very hard to describe in words. Actually, I don't understand it completely either. I think I can only explain it in terms of will. That is, you must possess the power of a strong determination to pull these youma under your own control. However, it's not enough to simply have the determination."

Hearing Keiki say this, Taiki's face filled with uncertainty.

"Let me say it this way. All kirin possess a special 'power.' As to the magnitude of this power, it differs from kirin to kirin, but it is certain that every kirin possesses this special power."

"Is it because of this special power that kirin are all able to transform?"

"Yes, this is a power we are born with and have nothing to do with our will. Thus, no matter how much we hope to tame a youma, if our natural power is not strong enough, we will still be defeated in the end."

"It's just like people's physical strength or their running speed. They're all born with it."

"Right. You understand my meaning." Keiki sighed in relief. However, Taiki tilted his head again and spoke.

"But...using our strength to bind youma into the light side is a very difficult thing, rite? Can we not be distracted even for a second? If we do lose our attention a little bit, do our powers weaken?"

Keiki sighed again.

"I'm sorry..."

"You don't need to apologize. Perhaps...I am being too hard on you by saying these things." After Keiki said this, he deepened his voice. "You must listen to me calmly. —Shirei will eat kirin."


"More accurately, they eat the corpses of kirin. After they eat a kirin's corpse, they are able to possess the kirin's power for themselves."

Taiki turned back to look at Hankyo. Hankyo, who had been resting his large head between his forelegs, turned to look with his expressionless face. Taiki couldn't tell from his behavior any changes in his heart.

Keiki smiled uneasily.

"You don't need to be afraid. Hankyo will not attack you. Kirin are part of the light, and youma are part of the shadow. Unless we specifically give it to them, they cannot take our power without our permission."


"Kirin rely on their power to tame youma and pull them into the light. However, youma have their own innate magical powers, so in order to tame a powerful youma, you must have the power to match him. Youma will, from the power a kirin uses when he is taming them, measure that kirin's abilities."


"They will assume that after the kirin dies, his power will be given to them, so they will first determine if it will be worth it to become this kirin's shirei."

"I think I understand what you're saying."

"If you have successfully tamed a youma, they will never refuse your command, because they know that after you die, your power becomes theirs."

"So that's why you said it was a pledge?"

"Right. Because in order to take a creature from the shadow and put them in the light in a way that they not return once again to the shadow, it is necessary to bind up their chain, and to also protect ourselves."

"So that they can live under the light?"

"Yes. The chain that binds the shirei and protects us is their 'name.' Kirin rely on their will to draw forth a youma and discern his name. And then, the kirin formally confers this name upon the youma and accepts him as his shirei. The youma then determines the power of the kirin through the kirin's will and accepts the kirin's command while keeping the right to acquire the kirin's power after his death. This is what taming is."

"Then the youma eats the kirin's body after he dies, obtains new powers, and then regains his freedom once again?"

"Right. However, the conditions are that when a youma is the kirin's shirei, he absolutely must not defy his kirin. He can only use all his strength to protect his kirin, but never harm him."

Taiki took a close look at Hankyo. He had originally thought he was an interesting creature, but now he felt like he was completely impenetrable.

Hankyo glanced a Taiki and then opened his mouth widely.


Taiki crouched down in fright. Hankyo yawned casually and smiled.

"Hankyo!" Keiki smiled dryly as he rebuked him.

"Actually, older kirin all use a few tricks. Do you know what divination is?"

"Do you mean like fortune-telling?"

"You could call it that. When we are hunting powerful youma, we borrow some techniques from divination or sorcery, geomancy, those types of things. However, these are all very profound areas of study. If you ask the nyosen, they will teach you, but it isn't something you can learn in a short amount of time."


"We must first choose the day, the land, the direction and the youma. When we subdue the youma, we seek a situation where the youma's powers are weakest, and where we are strongest. However, even if you don't plan it out like this, it doesn't mean that you won't be able to subdue the youma. It is the same with the incantations. Because the effects are not as powerful as in divination or sorcery, they are not essential. But if you are used to saying them, then when you don't say them, it will feel strange. That's all."

"Then does it matter if I don't learn them?"

"Would you like to learn them? Even a little will help you out."

Taiki nodded. Keiki then reached out his hand and held onto his shoulder to straighten his posture.

"First of all, you must have proper posture. You must engrave this in your mind."


"Spirit is divided into seiki, the spirit of life, and shiki, the spirit of death. The morning is full of seiki, while the afternoon, shiki. It is best to tame youma in the early morning, which is filled with seiki. The air that we inhale through our noses is seiki, and the air that we exhale from our mouths is shiki. When you're breathing, you must pay attention to this. You must never reverse this. When you exhale, you should exhale lightly. This is also something you should practice during ordinary times. Otherwise, it will be hard to make a habit out of it."

"I should breathe in through my nose and breathe out through my mouth."

"When you want to avoid youma, you should employ the Uho walk."

Keiki demonstrated a special method of walking for Taiki.

"If you encounter a youma and you want to avoid eye contact with them, then you should use Koushi, Teeth-striking. The Tsuitenban works especially well, wherein you firmly bite down the right part of your jaw. If you want to concentrate your spirit, sound your front teeth. This is called Meitenko."

Taiki sighed. "Can I really remember all of this?"

"You can remember them very quickly, but in order to perform them skillfully, you must still practice. You only need to ask the nyosen and they can all teach them to you."


"Just then, I used the Nine-word Mantra to stop Jakko from running away. You need to hold your hands like so."

Taiki imitated Keiki's clasped hands.

"This is called the Sword Seal. Ready your hands at your waist, draw your sword, and then perform four verticals and five horizontals."

Keiki took Taiki's hands and gestured with them.

"Now say, 'Rin, Byou, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zen, Gyou.'"

"...This is really hard."

"You'll be able to say it with some more practice. The movements must be well-executed. Once you see your opponent lose his aggression, you need to say an incantation. However, this requires knowledge of divination. Just remember this much for now: 'Shinchoku Meichoku, Tensei Chisei. Jinkun Seikun, Fuo Fudaku. Kimi Koubuku, Onmyou Wagou. Kyukyu Nyo Ritsurei!'"

Taiki looked very anxiously up at Keiki, and Keiki forced a smile.

"Kimi Koubuku, the monster submits; Onmyou Wagou, the light and the dark unite. Kyukyu Nyo Ritsurei, quickly according to the laws."

"Um... Okay."

"And then put your right hand on your head with your palm facing outward to receive the Will of the Heavens, and your left hand should be pointing down toward your feet. Then, call out the name of the youma. Sometimes only the sound of his name appears in your mind, and sometimes the characters for them will also appear. All of this is instinctive to a kirin."


Taiki heaved a sigh. Keiki patted a very discouraged looking Taiki.

"We still have a bit of time before the shiki spreads through, so go find a few small youma and practice a little."

Taiki nodded. However, at the end of the day, not one youma fell under the spell of his incantations.


The summer solstice finally arrived.

Taiki was sound asleep in his bed when Sanshi tried to stir him awake.

Yesterday—or more accurately, it wasn't until very early this morning that Taiki returned from the Yellow Sea, out cold in Sanshi's arms. She looked at his expression as he was sleeping deeply, and although she was not heartless enough to want to wake him up, if she had let him continue sleeping, Taiki would certainly regret it very much.

"Are you awake yet, Taiki?"

Suddenly, Youka's voice carried itself over here, and the cloth curtain was lifted open. Youka poked her head in to look around, and she smirked.

"Oh, really..." Youka smiled and looked at Sanshi. "It looks like he played until really late yesterday. Any results?"

Sanshi shook her head.

Even though they stayed in the Yellow Sea until the middle of the night, in the end he still wasn't able to subdue a youma. Keiki and the nyosen were at one side helping him out with the divination, but the youma were still able to escape Taiki's glare. Though neither of them said it, Keiki and Sanshi both knew that Taiki was not aggressive enough.

"I see... Then he must have been very discouraged. Even though we may not want to, we should still wake him up."

Sanshi nodded and shook Taiki again. "Taiki..."

Youka completely lifted up the curtain, letting the sunlight in. "Taiki, get up quickly, or else Kei Taiho will have left."

"Oh..." Taiki finally moved a little bit. However, he flipped over and again they heard his level breathing.


"Well, he is still a child."

Hearing someone behind them, Youka and Sanshi hurriedly looked back toward the entrance.


Gyokuyou laughed softly. "It looks like we can't wake him up."

"We were out so late yesterday. Just let him sleep," said Keiki who had been behind Gyokuyou.

Hearing this, Youka became flustered. "That would be too impolite. Taiki, it's time to get up now."

"It's no use. Let him get a good rest."

Hearing Keiki say this, Youka shook her head vigorously. "I can't. That way when Taiki gets up, he'll be very sad."

Sanshi nodded her head in agreement.

Sanshi knew that Taiki had returned last night, having completely exhausted his mind and body, but she also knew why he hadn't wanted to go to sleep. Thus, she shook Taiki's body with more force. "Taiki! Taiki!"

After being shaken three times, Taiki finally opened his eyes. He first blinked a little bit, and then suddenly jumped up. "The Taiho..."

Sanshi brushed his hair. "He's still here."

Taiki blinked his eyes again, and then he saw all the adults smiling as they watched him. He face flushed as he lowered his head.

"I'm sorry... Good morning everybody."

- - - - -

"Genkun, Taiho, we're very sorry. Taiki doesn't usually delay getting out of bed."

Gyokuyou smiled as she received the teacup that Youka had handed her, and then looked at Keiki.

"It looks like Taiki really thinks of you as his brother. This really is too good."

Keiki had only a gloomy look on his face.

"Kei Taiho, you've really helped us out a lot."

Hearing Gyokuyou say this, Youka smiled without saying anything. However, Keiki sighed.

"But I was still not able enough. For that, I profusely apologize."

"All those inherent abilities that we're born with have always impossible to explain in words. You've done so much for him already, and we're very grateful."

Keiki looked even more discouraged. After Gyokuyou finished saying this with a smile, having finished grooming and changing his clothes, Taiki and Sanshi walked out together.

"I'm really sorry."

Putting down his teacup, Keiki stood up and took a bow towards Taiki. "Taiki, I must bid you farewell now."

Taiki looked up at Keiki with his reddened eyes. "Do you really have to go?"

"I can't be away from my kingdom for that long. I'm sorry I was not able to help you out much."

"What do you mean? I should be the one apologizing to you. I was such a bad student."

"You were no such thing."

"Please take care."

"You as well."

"I will."

Keiki looked at Taiki who was holding back his tears with all his restraint, and he put his hand on his shoulder. "Don't be anxious. The Heavens created the kirin. Tentei will aid you."


"I hope you meet your ruler early on. After you have descended to your kingdom, Kei Kingdom is just across the Empty Sea, so we will have opportunities to meet again then."

Hearing Keiki say this, Taiki tugged on Keiki's sleeves with his small hands.

"Will we really be able to meet again?"

Keiki smiled. Seeing Taiki so eager to see him again, it made him very happy.

"I guarantee it. When you go to your kingdom, I will definitely be the first to come congratulate you."

Hearing this, Taiki's little face glowed with radiance. "Okay!"

If he could have, Keiki would have liked to stay until Taiki had successfully subdued a shirei, and also until he had received, without any problems, all those who will climb Mt. Hou. However, that was not possible. He had already been away from Kei Kingdom for too long. In addition, before he had left, he had also informed them that he would definitely be back on the summer solstice at the very latest.

"Where are you leaving from?"

"From Hakki Palace."

"Then can I accompany you to there?"

Keiki smiled. "Of course you can. We should tell Hankyo and Jakko to come as well."


Gyokuyou stood up as well and looked at the big kirin and the small kirin in front of her. "Is Taiki also very close with your shirei?"

"Hankyo often plays with me."

"That's excellent," said Gyokuyou with a smile. She then looked at Keiki, whose hand was still on the little kirin's shoulder.

"Kei Taiho, your achievements have certainly not been small. You've learned how best to act towards people."

"But..." Taiki looked up at Gyokuyou. "Kei Taiho has always been very nice to me!"

Hearing Taiki's serious tone, Gyokuyou glanced at Youka. "Is that so?"

"Yes!" said Taiki with determination. Gyokuyou laughed. Keiki had a complicated expression on his face. All the other nyosen in the room, including Youka, stifled their laughter.

- - - - -

Neither the nyosen nor even Gyokuyou would have expected that Keiki's awkwardly-expressed kindness would actually be the reason that Queen Kei Jokaku lost her way.

However, that is another story.


After he saw Keiki off, Taiki looked extremely depressed. However, in reality, Taiki no longer had the time to be sad.

From the day after the solstice on, nyosen could be seen everywhere, along the all the paths to Hoto Palace. The grand incense ceremony was performed at Hoto Palace, and the nyosen were all also wearing bright and colorful attire. Both the furnishings in the palace and Taiki's clothes were much more magnificent than during ordinary times.

—The festival season had arrived upon Mt. Hou.

- - - - -

Taiki was sitting on a rock near the Shashinboku. When walking inside of the maze, the winds always carried with them the scent of flowers, but at the top of the rocks, the wind held only the smell of the sea. Taiki had always considered this to be incredible.

It seemed as if something was approaching from the southwest.

Taiki thought of the views of the Yellow Sea that he saw when he was riding on the transformed Keiki's back.

Mt. Hou was a mountain that consisted of mounds of strange crags. Green rocks were assembled into a complex landscape that extended all the way down to the foot of the mountain. And though the maze that was formed by these rocks also looked very complicated, there was only one route that reached Hoto Palace. Starting from a long, long time ago, countless shousen had walked through that path and had already left a deep mark that was clearly visible from up high.

Since there was only one route, there was also only one entrance into Mt. Hou, and the path through the entrance was linked in three directions.

A road stretched across the Yellow Sea. Like the path to Hoto Palace, this road had passed through a good many years, and there was a trace left by the treading of countless people. There were tracks thru the rocks and ruts carved into the steep slopes, all made by people's feet. People had thrown stones into the swamps and streams, and even erected stone tablets in the desert. Across the wider fissures in the great crags, people had built bridges with withered wood; trees had been removed by passers-by, so that eventually there formed a narrow pathway through the dense forests.

These sorts of trails extended through the Yellow Sea in all directions to the four gates.

Of these gates, the Reikon Gate in the southwest had already opened and closed.

Where were the people now, who had entered the gate on the day of the summer solstice?

Youma and youju gathered in the Yellow Sea, so the journey through it was, without doubt, full of difficulty and danger. The people who enter the gate on the same day form a group similar to a caravan, and work together to traverse this dangerous passage. It is also said that there exists even a profession that specializes in protecting them, like a travel escort service.

"My heart is beating really quickly..." mumbled Taiki, as he hugged his knees and rested his chin on top of them.

Sanshi, who was sitting beside him, heard this, and just said quietly, "Don't be nervous."


This matched up completely to his premonition.

When he was playing or learning a few easier divination lessons from the nyosen, if he so much as looked out into the southwest, he would suddenly feel as if he couldn't breathe. And when he recalled that the Reikon Gate was in the southwest, he would feel a chill and his heart would beat faster.

This was not a good premonition. He always felt something scary was making its way to him.

"Can I really do it?"

"Of course you can." Sanshi said only this short sentence. Thus, the sound of the wind seemed even clearer as it remained by Taiki's ear.

"Do you think there's a real ruler here?"

"I don't know."

"There probably isn't, I think."

"Do you wish there not to be?"


Sanshi looked at her stiff-bodied master hugging his knees.

If there really was an actual ruler here, was Taiki afraid that he would then have to leave Mt. Hou, or that he would not be able to pass this test?

Regardless of why, Sanshi very clearly felt Taiki's anxiety after the summer solstice had passed. This pained Sanshi's heart even when she was just by his side.

If the people climbing up Mt. Hou were not those that think themselves the ruler, then they were those that were supporting those with the abilities to be the ruler. Thus, the real ruler was not necessarily amongst them.

Or perhaps, Taiki was afraid to find his ruler.

After kirin go through the process of choosing their ruler, they carry the fate of the kingdom upon their shoulders. In addition, the ruler's conduct in government carries upon it the fate of the kirin.

As soon as the ruler strays from the proper path, the kirin must bear the consequences. At that time, he will suffer a sickness called Shitsudou. This is a serious illness that is not easy to cure. Thus, it could be said that the ruler holds the life of the kirin in his hands.

To entrust one's own fate to another person is naturally a very frightening prospect.

"The real ruler won't climb the mountain this early..." It was very obvious that Taiki had said this for his own ears. Thus, Sanshi didn't say anything.

Taiki didn't have any shirei, nor could he transform, and he still only understood a small amount about being a kirin. In this situation, it was normal to feel apprehensive. No one callously blamed him for it.

"Kei Taiho, he..." Taiki looked from the southwest to Sanshi. "He said it, right? That the Heavens would help me out?"

Taiki looked up into the sky again, and even though his face carried the innocence of a child, it revealed a resolve.


The wind on top of the rock blew by swiftly.

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