Dreaming of Paradise

Part Seven

Shuka couldn't sleep. Lying in the bed, she heard Eishuku arrive home. She didn't get up to greet him and instead pretended to be asleep. She lacked the courage to look him in the eyes and ask if he knew what the Kasho Kada really was.

She was sure he didn't. But at the same time, she wouldn't be surprised if he did. The utopia that Sairin had seen had nothing to do with the real Sai. It didn't even come close. If that point alone had been clarified, then perhaps they wouldn't have trusted the Kasho Kada so thoroughly. Then maybe they would have realized how it really should be used.

p. 286

Perhaps Eishuku did know and had recommended it to Junkou anyway. Perhaps he'd gone through Junkou to cover his own tracks. Perhaps Eishuku knew that the dreams Shishou was seeing weren't true, that the course he was pursuing could not be corrected. Knowing that he was heading toward that cliff full of conviction, Eishuku had resolved to push him off it.

But that couldn't be true. Eishuku and Shishou had always been friends, like brothers almost. If Shishou was straying from the Way, that would make Eishuku equally guilty of the sin. That's what she feared. Couldn't there be other explanations?

On the other hand, she couldn't help feeling that this would explain the source of Shishou's anger. Junkou had given him the Kasho Kada and Shishou had used it. Full of a renewed sense of conviction, he had ventured further down his mistaken path. Because of the Kasho Kada, Shishou had lost his last, best chance.

If he had then learned of the Kasho Kada's true purpose, and assumed that Junkou had given it to him deliberately, she could well imagine him storming into the North Palace, sword and Imperial Regalia in hand.

There had been rumors of Junkou's disloyalty floating around. Together with knowledge of the true purpose of the Kasho Kada, she could easily imagine Shishou jumping to the conclusion that Junkou had set out to deceive him.

When did those rumors start to circulate?

p. 287

She had definitely heard them herself. When had they started? Who had started them? Somebody had been spreading them about. And if that somebody had whispered in Shishou's ear the truth about the Kasho Kada?

No. This is all quite impossible.

Eishuku was the person she had chosen as her life partner, the object of her unqualified respect and affection. That he could do such a horrifying thing—

Quite impossible.

Impossible that Eishuku would try to lead Shishou down to hell like that. He possessed more character than that. In fact, Eishuku had chosen to return to Sai. If his intent had been to deprive Shishou of the throne, he surely would not have returned to Sai where a death sentence for treason awaited him.

Surely not.

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