Hello once again. A week has gone by and here’s the 1st part of Chapter 2. I might have spoken too hasty, when I said I won’t split up all the chapters, as when I finally counted the pages the chapters in this book range from long to super duper long and with my current translation speed it would be impossible to release something each week without splitting the chapters in 2 or 3 parts. And I prefer it like this as it keeps me more motivated. Saying this chapter is the shortest, its like 16 pages in the book.
Anyways, enjoy. I added a few place names below that appear in this chapter, but for the rest of names, look up Chapter 1 Part 1.
黎山（れいざん）Reizan-city north of Einei famous for hot springs
永寧（えいねい）Einei-capital of Yoh
玉陽宮 （ぎょくようきゅう）Gyokuyoh-name of Imperial Villa in Reizan
Hearing Baigyoku’s voice, Sekka suddenly came back to himself after being immersed in his own thoughts.
It seemed like she and Shohen had been calling his name numerous times. When Sekka raised his head, he saw the two maids’ relieved expressions.
“It looks like we have arrived.”
“I’ve not the slightest idea where we are though.”
Peeking out of the window, he could only see the surrounding outer wall. They were probably in some sort of castle town.
Already dusk had fallen over the surroundings. Far away in the distance there was an expanding range of mountains and a sky dyed in a vibrant afterglow.
Today, for once, they stopped jolting in the horse-drawn carriage. He wondered how many days it has been since they left Ka country. Even if counting the days was futile.
When did the morning come or it became night, his sense of time was unclear. The days had continued with him riding in the carriage like an empty husk.
Sekka and his group were being taken to the capital of Yoh by Kishoh’s orders.
It was not an order to be opposed. Resisting it was just futile. The members of a royal family of a country that lost in a war didn’t even have the value of a dog.
They were prepared to receive the same treatment as prisoners, but on the first day they were only handcuffed, moreover the handcuffs were removed while they were riding in the carriage.
The arranged carriage was modest, but it had cloth-covered seats and you could gaze at the surroundings from the window covered with a bamboo screen. They were not just pressed inside a windowless carriage used for transporting criminals.
But for Sekka, the comforts while riding the carriage seemed at present like inconsequential things.
Since the time he had been brought along by Kishoh and treaded upon the Royal palace ground again, time had stopped. What he had seen that day has been etched in his memory and would not let him go.
The once beautiful Royal palace had burned down, and there were piles of corpses accumulating here and there. The smell of scorch marks and blood, and the putrid smell of corpses intermingled, it was a terribly offensive smell that wafted in the air.
Within the mounds of corpses there were the remains of a lot of familiar faces of Imperial guards and handmaids, and Shohen and Baigyoku who had accompanied Sekka sank to their knees as they saw the completely changed figures of their colleagues.
According to the enemy soldiers a lot of the handmaids had gulped down poison, due to fear of being disgraced. All of them died with pale, anguished expressions.
The Moon palace was in the same condition. No, here the situation was much more tragic. It was because not only priests, but also commoners who had come to seek refuge, had stabbed at each other afraid of becoming prisoners of war. Among the bodies fallen in the sea of blood, there were also young women similar to his aunt and their very young children.
The place where the damage was the most extreme was the Mausoleum where the Li family ancestors had been enshrined. His mother, aunt and the whole family had gathered there, they had thought to spend their last moments there. Most likely Shohun had been with them as well.
Before the gates to the Mausoleum, there were the fallen soldiers that had served the Royal family to their very last moment. There were people with their swords still grasped tightly and ones with their eyes wide open in regret. All the bodies had numerous injuries. They had staved off a fierce attack from the enemies, giving Yougetsu and the rest enough time to kill themselves.
The Mausoleum had been an impressive building said to house the spirit of Ka’s culture, but it had burned down to the foundations that had been made of stone. With this he could find no memento, let alone make any distinction among the ashes.
This was meant as an expression of Yougetsu’s strong willpower as she did not intend to let their remains be exposed once they naturally fell into their enemy’s hands. She had protected her pride as the Empress till the last moment.
The fire had been almost extinguished, but there were still smouldering fire residue so Sekka could not approach, but he could only circle the fire-devastated area.
He could not check Yougetsu’s and everyone else’s remains with his own eyes, but he knew he was supposed to think that if that had been mother’s intention, it was all good. He tried to convince himself as such, but he could not move from the entrance to the Mausoleum.
The tragic scene just before his eyes made Sekka slip down to the burned ground. He seemed to have grabbed nearby standing Kishoh’s arm, but he could not remember it clearly.
He’d been in a dumbfounded state. When he’d become aware, he had been back in his tent at Yoh’s military camp.
Despite the vividness of the memories of the scenery he had witnessed, in what mysterious way he had returned to the tent, he could not remember. He was relieved he had not exposed such a shameful scene as fainting in front of Kishoh. He felt he had a responsibility to burn the sight of his family’s last moments in his memory, but he had been barely able to hold himself up.
Since then the feeling of detachment from his body and heart had continued. The him, at present, had no sense of the reality or his whereabouts.
Jolting in the horse carriage seemed to him like a bad dream, like if he opened his eyes, he would be back in Ka Royal palace. His sister would be next to him, and the uneventful days would continue. He could not help feeling this way.
But in practice, every morning when he woke up he was repeatedly overwhelmed by the cruel reality.
Despite it being spring, the scenery reflected in Sekka’s eyes had lost all colour. There were sakura trees blooming along the way, but to him they looked dyed in diluted ink.
He knew Shohen and Baigyoku were concerned about his state of mind.
When he was ordered to leave for Yoh, Sekka had appealed to Kishoh to at least release the both of them. After he arrived in Yoh, he knew not what would happen to him. Judging from Kishoh’s way of speaking he thought the possibility of them being killed was low, but as imprisoned captives, they would most likely be forced into a destitute life.
However, Shohen and Baigyoku both wished to accompany him.
For the two maids who were ready to accompany him to a foreign country without taking note of the danger, Sekka felt responsibility as their master. He had to hold on for their sake instead of exposing his state of being there in body but not in spirit.
The carriage passed through two gates, and proceeded further and further inside. Beyond that point there towered many a number of simple and multi-storied buildings. Yoh army’s lodgings and government office were quite luxurious.
The carriage stopped, and as there came Eishun’s voice the carriage doors were opened. The doors had been locked from outside, so that Sekka’s group could not wilfully get on and off.
“We are currently at Reizan, located north of Yoh’s capital Einei. Due to the gushing hot springs, it has been a health resort visited by the Emperors for many generations.”
As normal, Eishun attended to Sekka who was now a princess of a ruined country by affording him every courtesy.
He took care of Sekka’s party’s various daily necessities, was it because he felt a sense of responsibility as the person Kishoh ordered to be in charge of them? The clothes they wore now were also provided by Eishun.
“Tonight we will stay in Gyokuyoh (玉陽宮) Imperial Villa. You’re all probably tired from the long journey, so please certainly enter the hot springs to relax and unwind.”
Everyone listened to him talking about the hot springs with shining eyes, even Shohen and Baigyoku who had not dropped their austere attitude towards Eishun. Although they had bathed in lodgings along the way, a hot spring was exceptional.
“His Majesty will probably arrive during this evening as well.”
However, hearing Eishun’s next words, Sekka knitted his eyebrows. His mood which had begun to rise slightly instantly plummeted to the ground. Shohen and Baigyoku who blatantly sighed seemed to be in the same state.
Kishoh had stayed in Ka country, and Sekka’s party had gone ahead entrusted to General Sai. It was to deal with the post-war period, and to put Ka under Yoh’s control.
Along the way to here, they had happened to pass by neighbouring countries that had been overthrown by Yoh, but there were always already a new system of government in place there and stationed Yoh army’s troops.
He wondered will Ka change in the same way as those neighbouring countries… He could only grasp his clenched fists tightly at his own helplessness.
“Please, come this way.”
Lead by Eishun, they stepped inside the Imperial Villa.
Yoh’s army was well disciplined, so the Ka Imperial Palace had not been looted. They also did not mock Sekka and the rest who were now captives with any vulgar speech or conduct. But be it as it may they could not suppress their curiosity towards the rumoured to be beautiful princess, so when he had alighted from the carriage he was faced with many glancing repeatedly at him.
The Imperial Villa that could be seen from the side of the carriage was much bigger than the Ka Royal Palace. There stood many a palace building, all perfectly symmetrical.
The palace building allocated to Sekka was especially grand and located in the deepest part of the Imperial Villa grounds. The soldiers that had undertaken guarding the place, had kindled a bonfire in the courtyard.
“There will be guards placed in front of the doors and in the hallways. They won’t enter the bathroom, so please enter without worry.”
Eishun then left the room, with words of promise to come back with a meal later on.
“This Imperial Villa is really grand,” Shohen whispered as she was concerned about the guards located in the courtyard.
“Indeed it is grand, but I could not say it is to my taste.”
Baigyoku frowned in disgust as she looked up at the ceiling done in red and gold patterns of lucky omens.
In Yoh country they favoured vibrant colours like red, blue, yellow and gold, so the same colours were also used inside of the rooms. But for Sekka’s eyes the display seemed a bit gaudy as Ka palace where he grew up used blue and white as its base colours.
After he had given them sufficient time to take a breath, Eishun brought their meal accompanied by soldiers.
The meal provided to captives such as them was quite extravagant. There were many steamed dishes and a broth made of fish and vegetables placed on top of the table. If he thought about it during the march, he could not recall them not providing them a meal even once.
At least it seemed like that man did not plan to make them starve. Sekka was reminded of Kishoh as he took a bite of the fruits that were offered by Eishun as a specialty of Reizan.
He had no idea what he was thinking, as he could not read the man at all. Every time he met the man face to face, he could not come to grips with himself while talking, unlike his usual self. When in front of Kishoh, he had tried to conduct himself to the best of his ability so that the fact he was not the princess would not be exposed.
“Tonight there has been a lot of rare dishes.”
Eishun said happily as he served tea after the meal. He was a man devoted to his professional duties, but his peculiar way of dealing with Sekka’s party made them wrack their brains.
“After shaking in such an unstable carriage every day, even food one likes becomes inedible.”
“That’s true. And yet, there were only things the Princess had never eaten up till now.”
“That was harsh,” Eishun’s smile was strained, while Shohen and Baigyoku continued to keep an eye on him.
While marching, they had served them hard flour rice cakes and a rice porridge. The rice cakes were a popular dish in the west, made from wheat flour baked into a flat form, but people in Ka country were not overly familiar with it.
“Since we will be performing recognition of service ceremony as well, I think we will be staying in the Gyokuyoh palace for a while. During this, please take your time to slowly rest.”
After once again exclaiming how fine and wonderful the baths at the palace were, Eishun finally withdrew.
So long Eishun. The other half will be out next Sunday (Latvia time). One thing to note is that I might have a bit of a problem to find time for translating for a while, as I am currently supposed to be writing my most important paper for University, so I’ll be super busy for like 2 months. I have about half of chapter 3 done, so I have chapters to sustain the feed for a while and I’ll try to translate a page a day at least, but we’ll see. Be reassured I’m not gonna drop this though, I’m having way too much fun translating the steamier scenes (which *hint, hint* Chapter 3 hehe).
Anyways, till next week. If you wanna support my fangirl agenda of filling the internet with more BL consider buying me a coffee so I can trade it for some more hours awake~