Poseidon of the East

Chapter 13

3-4 Ribi said, “Taiho, are you okay?”

Rokuta flashed a smile. “I’m fine, I’m fine. As far as prisons go, this place isn’t all that bad. Better furnished than I would have imagined.”

p. 107

Glancing around the room, he had to wonder what it’d originally been intended for. Though by no means spacious, the room hardly resembled a traditional jail cell. It appeared to have been carved out of white rock. At the back was a sleeping nook furnished with a bed. A divan occupied a section of the room sectioned off by screens.

There was a well and a water basin in the corner, along with a set of kitchen utensils. Looking up—the high ceiling could almost induce a sense of vertigo—a skylight was cut out of the rock. It’d let in natural sunlight once the day dawned.

Rokuta said with a grin. “So, Ribi, can you look after the child?”

Ribi flushed a bit. “I have to wonder. It’s not exactly my strong suit.”

“You don’t have children?”

“Long ago I had a husband and a child. We went our separate ways when I was appointed a minister. That was during the reign of the previous emperor, so it’s been quite a while.”

“Weren’t you both entered on the Registry of Wizards?”

“My husband opposed doing so.”

“I see.”

Imperial and provincial civil servants becoming wizards made such partings inevitable. The immediate family could be registered but in-laws and more distant relations were excluded. And while they could expect preferential treatment in future appointments, the simple passing of time meant that a wizard could expect to loose many friends and relations along the way.

p. 108

“What of your retinue?”

Imperial viceroys ordinarily traveled with several personal assistants and servants.

“I assume they’re being detained. I haven’t heard about anybody being executed, so I have to hope they’re under house arrest someplace safe. The rest of the imperial emissaries are probably in the same predicament.”

“Well, that’s good to know.”

Six imperial civil servants were dispatched as viceroys to “advise” each province lord and prime minister. Their job was to get the province lord back on the right path, instruct him as to how the new regime worked, and correct any errors made along the way. But as they were mostly dealing with a bunch of cowardly old men, little good—or for that matter, little additional harm—came from these efforts.

That was how out of control En had become.

“How are you faring, Ribi? Nothing untoward has happened to you?”

A troubled expression rose to her face. “I suppose I should call myself blessed in that respect. Atsuyu has not yet strayed so far from the Way.”

“What is up with Atsuyu? What about the province lord?”

“I’ve heard the province lord is in poor health. He secluded himself deep in the palace and remains completely out of view, leaving everything to Atsuyu.”

Ribi rocked the child in her arms. Since being retrieved from the youma’s beak, she’d been sleeping soundly.

p. 109

“According to rumors circling amongst the ministerial staff, his mind is not altogether whole, and he is unable to execute his duties. Before, he lived in constant fear of Emperor Kyou. Even now, despite what anybody says, he refuses to set foot outside the Inner Palace. And yet he once seems to have enjoyed moments of sanity during which he summoned his ministers and issued directives. His condition has worsened since. He’s convinced his retainers are assassins sent by Emperor Kyou. Atsuyu was left with no choice but to step in to keep the government from falling apart.”


“That’s right. I never expected Atsuyu to resort to such outrageous and outlandish measures. He has not taken leave of his moral senses, so it must on behalf of his subjects.”

“Ganboku is certainly prosperous. I was surprised at how splendid a city it is.”

“Atsuyu is a capable administrator. He has done extraordinarily well within the constraints imposed upon him, having no actual governing authority.”

“There’s no letting Shouryuu of the hook. He’s played hooky one time too many.”

“You can’t mean—” Ribi said with a troubled expression. “He looks at the world through the eyes of an emperor, not one of us. Unable to fathom what the emperor was thinking, Atsuyu grew impatient and acted rashly. His retainers and subjects do love and respect him, but I fear all that adoration has gone to his head.”

p. 110

“I have to wonder.”

“That aside,” Ribi said, gazing at the child. “How are you really, Taiho? You look pale.”

“Yeah.” Rokuta nodded and sat on the divan.

“If you’re tired, should lay down and get some rest.”

“Good advice.”

He stretched out on the divan. Walking across the room to the bed wasn’t worth the bother.


“The blood is getting to me. Sorry, but I think I’ll call dibs on this one for now.”


“When Ekishin died.”

Ribi gasped. “Ekishin. Wasn’t he one of Seishou’s officers?”

“Yes. He did the wrong thing for the right reason.”

Momentarily at a loss as what to do with the child, Ribi placed her on the table and walked over to the divan. “Excuse me,” she said, and placed the back of her hand against Rokuta’s forehead. The white stone was hot to the touch.

“You’ve got a fever.”

p. 111

“The blood is making me ill.”

“Are you in pain?”

“I can stand this much.”

“Excuse me for asking, but is the Shashi an acquaintance of yours?”

The Shashi, Rokuta repeated to himself, and then remembered that the Shashi was the minister who commanded the province lord’s personal security detail. The Shajin was responsible for the emperor’s security. Below the rank of emperor, the position was referred to as the Shashi, though it was the Daiboku who actually handled the day-to-day responsibilities.

“So Kouya’s the Shashi. He’s really come up in the world.”

“He possesses the most unusual ability to tame youma.”

“He didn’t so much tame that youma as that youma raised him.”


“Sorry, but I’ll explain it to you later. I am really tired.”

“I understand.”

Ribi nodded. Rokuta closed his eyes. The intoxicating smell of gore weighed on him like a wet and reeking blanket.

previous Copyright by Eugene Woodbury. All rights reserved. next