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The Twelve Kingdoms: A Thousand Leagues of Wind

The Twelve Kingdoms: A Thousand Leagues of Wind

Titel: The Twelve Kingdoms: A Thousand Leagues of Wind
Autoren: Fuyumi Ono
having been born to wealth and power, she knew nothing of rural life. She had no servants. She had been suddenly thrown into an environment she had never seen before, where you tilled the earth by the sweat of your brow and sewed your own clothes with your own hands. She hardly knew her left hand from her right. Having lived such a cocooned life, it was hard getting used to the life of the orphanage. She found herself estranged from the others. She was so dumb, they said, she didn't even know how to use a hoe. She couldn't explain that she had never seen a hoe before, had never touched a hoe before
    According to her current census records, Shoukei's "parents" had lived alone in a mountain forest not far from Shindou. They were fumin, itinerants who had quit their homesteads and were not attached to any township. Fumin were often gamblers, criminals, or recluses like her "parents." They had discreetly eked out a living in the mountains near Shindou as charcoal makers, drifters with no ties to the land or any landowner.
    They had been executed.
    Shoukei's real father, the Royal Hou Chuutatsu, had promulgated countless laws and edicts ordering that the fumin return to their lands of record. To reject one's obligations to the law was to reject the sanctuary of the law. Crime and corruption festered amongst the fumin. Their undisciplined lives undermined the upright citizenry and encouraged the criminal element. The king implored them again and again to return to their homesteads and resume their proper livelihoods. Those who did not could not expect to escape punishment.
    Gekkei, the man who had inflicted this plight upon her, he had registered Shoukei on the census as the daughter of this couple. Their child, previously in the care of an orphanage in a faraway village, had supposedly been transferred here just before their deaths.
    But Gobo had somehow seen through the fabrication. The girl entrusted to her orphanage was none other than Chuutatsu's supposedly dead daughter. One day she had said to Shoukei, "If this is indeed the case, then you must let me know all about it. This life must be so very difficult for you."
    Shoukei had wept. A life spent growing food and raising animals was indeed a trying one.
    "Just supposing that the princess herself was living way out here in the sticks, dressed in rags. She who was once known as the brightest gem in Hoso. The jewel in the crown."
    Shoukei buried her face in her hands and Gobo continued on in her soothing, coaxing voice. "An acquaintance of mine happens to be a wealthy merchant in the capital of Kei Province. He deeply mourns the passing of our late king."
    Shoukei was unable to hold back any longer. Her life could never be as it was before, but the promise of things improving even just a little, of being rescued from this grubby existence, enticed to her let down her guard.
    "Oh, Gobo, please help me." She collapsed in tears. "Gekkei, the Marquis of Kei, he murdered my mother and father and abandoned me to this fate. He hates me."
    "Just as I thought." But ice and steel were in her voice. Shoukei raised her head in surprise. Gobo said, "You are that monster's daughter."
    Shoukei could hear Gobo clenching her teeth and realized her mistake.
    "He killed people like they were insects."
    It was because people broke the laws, Shoukei wanted to retort, but too intimidated to speak, she swallowed her words.
    "He killed my son. All because he felt sorry for a child going to the block and threw a stone at the executioner. For that alone, he was condemned and sentenced to death by that jackal."
    "But . . . that was . . . . "
    "So you think he should have been executed as well?"
    Shoukei shook her head violently. "No, I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know anything about my father doing things like that."
    In fact, Shoukei was completely in the dark as to what her father and mother had done. Sheltered within the heart of the palace, surrounded by wealth and fortune, she had assumed that the rest of the world was the same way. It wasn't until the soldiers had gathered in the city below the palace and turmoil had rent the air that it occurred to her that anyone might hate her father.
    "You didn't know? You're asking me to believe that the royal princess had no idea what was going on inside the Imperial Court? The whole kingdom fills to the brim with angry protests and the laments for the dead and you don't hear a thing?"
    "I honestly didn't know."
    "You lived your shameless

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