So, last night I finally decided against all better judgement to read the Kokumono SS in The Beans rather than Shoumyou's latest novel, especially since it seemed to centre around Sakujun. ^^;; But, I was decidedly pleasantly surprised by the storyline. ^^;;
For those who don't want to know the SS, now's the time to turn back. :P
The story takes place after all the novels included the one in... Oct? with Seiga who in the last novel tried to steal all the credit for Shuurei's work in trying to discover who was counterfeiting money thus making it seem like she'd accomplished nothing during the period she had available to make herself useful to the central courts and get her fired.
It happens during a time similar to o-bon perhaps, and on the last day of this 5-day period, people can supposedly see others that they can't readily see or those who've died in their dreams.
The story starts off with Shuuran finishing her studies for the day and singing the Souyouki to herself--a song that Shuurei often played on her erhu when they were going to Shuuran's village, which had been affected by the strange illness.
Shuuran nods off a bit and wakes up to find a strange man in her room surprised. Sakujun had heard her singing and asks her to sing it again. Shuuran agrees saying that she'll only sing it once because, unlike Shuurei and Eigetsu, she's still not so kind. Sakujun's surprised to hear those names, but agrees.
riou, looking at the calendar realises what day it is, and reading the stars sees that those people whose spirits leave their bodies could have problems getting back. He then goes off to investigate (after grumbling to himself about having to bother with anything so troublesome).
Eigetsu's in Koren and told to go to bed early by Ensei since if he's lucky he'll be able to see Doushuu-sama (the head monk?--person who'd raised him at the temple) in his dreams. Eigetsu thinks of various things including Sa Sakujun whom he figures had saved him in the mountain and that he might have said something he shouldn't have because he'd thought it was all a dream. He then gets up from his desk and goes to the door that leads to his room. When he opens the door, he sees someone inside and quickly closes it telling himself it's impossible for that person to be there. Telling himself it was his imagination, he pushes on the door to ensure it's firmly shut when it suddenly opens and he stumbles into the room shouting his surprise and Sakujun catches him before he falls.
Kourin rushes in surprised at Eigetsu's yell only to see him in Saku's arms. Shocked she angrily tells him that after Ryuuren, now another man?! She then turns on the man and tells him to state his name and business. Eigetsu tells her to bring salt quickly and when she only gets confused, tells her to look at the man's face. Shocked, she demands to know what that ghost was doing behind him, but quickly recovers and says salt would be wasted on him and that she'll get some sesame salt. While she's out, Eigetsu asks Saku which of the following he hates but Ensei likes:
1 - Seiran
2 - excess body hair
3 - active life
Sakujun immediately answers all the above. The two continue to talk and Eigetsu comments how Saku was the first person to truly make him angry. Saku comments that he's Eigetsu's first experience then. And just as Kourin returns, Eigetsu admits that Saku was indeed the first for him. Shocked, she throws the salt in Eigetsu's face and runs out of the room. ^^;
Eigetsu tries to follow through the door Kourin went through but discovers that it won't open for him. He learns from Saku that before a door seems to open, it glows, so the two look for doors that they can go through.
The first they go through leads to Kokujun as he stands in front of some graves. All of them have flowers on them except one. Kokujun tells Shunki that he won't put flowers on it and that he's determined to find Sakujun; he's convinced he can't be dead regardless of what everyone else may think. Kokujun's dream shifts to his being buried under a ton of paperwork and he comments how he wished he could work together with Saku. Sakujun looks through some of the scrolls and comments that Kokujun needs to organise his work first in order to go through it effectively and eventually helps him with it. Kokujun doesn't see Eigetsu at all in the dream.
The next door leads to Ensei's dream just as he strikes down Chougai. Chougai tells him that having worked so hard to become so strong, Ensei was no different than he and that now that he's killed, he'll never be a "normal" person again. Ensei, terrified that might come true, refuses to touch a sword again. Time passes and Ensei's holding a bloody sword, the one that's always been in his hand after killing Chougai, and a bouquet as he stands in front of a grave. Turning, he tells Nan-roushi (his master) the he could and would leave Sa Province now; he was no longer afraid that he would lose being himself. Instead he would go to the capital and do what he could to help Shuurei. Governor Kai tells him that if Ensei's with her, he'll never advance, but Ensei doesn't care about personal advancement. Seeing Sakujun, Ensei tells him that he's going to Shuurei and how he'll be part of her destiny, just as she became part of his when he met her for the first time in the capital. Since he was studying, he tells Saku to teach him something but Saku tells him that it would be better to teach monkeys than some excess hair-loving ape. Ensei tells Saku that he would be part of Shuurei's life, that he'd be by her side and her music, and that it was something that only the living could do.
Waking up, Ensei then comments that while Shuurei would never forget Saku, it's not because he was special, but because she's just that nice.
As Eigetsu and Saku continue looking, one of the doors opens before Saku and he sees Seiga and Anju talking. Seiga talks about how he's looking forward to crushing Shuurei and seeing her face when everything she's been working at fails and how he despises her. As that vision ends, Eigetsu sees Saku just standing there, and asks if there was anything there. Saku says there was but wasn't anymore.
The next door opens onto Kiyou shortly after the civil war. Keichou sees the ruin and the smoke from all the bodies being burned as it rises in the distance. He'd just returned from wherever his family had fled during the war, and wonders if all his friends are dead. There he runs into Shuurei. He'd expected her to be one of the first to die since she'd always come down with a fever as a child and been so sickly. He apologises to her for having been the only one to run away but Shuurei tells him not to be stupid and that she's glad he'd run, escaped everything that had happened, and that he survived. She then tells him that all their friends had died.
After Shuurei became an official, Keichou rethinks his life and how he'd done nothing but live the easy life and dreamed of Shuurei becoming his wife, but seeing her in uniform, he realises that it wasn't going to happen and starts to work for his father seriously. When the trouble began in Sa Province with the illness, he was one of the first to answer the call ordering certain alcohols and eventually deciding to go to the institution that Eigetsu and Shuurei had started to set up plans for, and to study different alcohols.
Keichou looks at Eigetsu and thanks him for helping Shuurei. He tells him that there's one thing that he knows that the Emperor didn't, and that was that Shuurei saw everyone she cared for die in front of her--her mother, her friends, everyone--and that the one thing she couldn't handle was watching people die in front of her like that. So Keichou decided he could at least spare her that and that he would go to Sa Province.
Next we see Ryuuki in the room where Shuurei stayed and there's an erhu on the bed. Ryuuki still remembers the time they spent together and talks to himself about letting her go. Saku asks him if Ryuuki couldn't have stopped her from leaving, and Ryuuki admits he could have, but that wasn't good enough. If he'd done that, Shuurei would've been really nice and everything, but he didn't want her there to take care of him. He wanted her to care about him because he was special to her. He didn't want to destroy what was important to Shuurei but wanted them to be important to him too. So he let her go instead. Ryuuki then notices that it's night outside, and realises it's the night that Shuurei had been kidnapped. He then runs out the door.
A little earlier, Eigetsu wanders about the residence and finds Kourin unconscious on the floor. Surprised, he quickly picks her up worried because the night would end soon. He then hears sounds of a commotion outside.
riou's still looking for Shuurei's spirit that's gone wandering off somewhere. If he doesn't find her soon and take her back, she'll never wake again. Ryuuki find him and surprised, asks him what he's doing there. riou tells him that's not important, when they hear the sounds of an erhu. Ryuuki realises that it's the Souyouki. Shuurei often played it but it wasn't her playing that they were hearing. He then comments that that piece was of riou's family's ancestor--the younger sister and princess of the first leader of the Hyou clan, Emperor Sou Gen.
Opening the door leading to the music, they find a beautiful woman in chains with a toddler (who's so cute that even Reishin wouldn't be able to help but realise how cute she was) sleeping in her lap. Ryuuki unthinkingly starts to say the young child's name. "Idiot! Be silent!" Instantly a fan flies out of the woman's hand and hits Ryuuki squarely between the eyes. The woman angrily tells that she's sleeping well for a change, and that if he wakes her, she'll hit him, salt him, and send his corpse down the river. The woman gives her thanks to riou for setting out the lamp and doing what he could to keep Shuurei safe. Thanks to the lamp, she was able to take her time and be with Shuurei, and had protected her the entire night. However, the night was ending and they should take Shuurei and leave. riou takes the sleeping Shuurei from the woman's lap and hands her to Ryuuki who, as the youngest child, had never held a child before. ^^;
riou then asks the woman if she'd hated Riou. She says that's a difficult question to answer. Ever since he was a child, Riou had sent her roses every season for decades. They'd spent a great deal of time together, and he played the erhu for her all the time, and thanks to that, she'd learned to play. She didn't hate his music. And while it wasn't he who'd locked her up but his father, he'd never once freed her of her chains. She tells them to hurry and leave. After they're gone, she comments how despite saying the same things, Riou and Shouka acted very differently. Riou locked her up whereas Shouka set her free; Riou wanted little from her other than being with her while Shouka wanted many, many things.
Exiting the room, Ryuuki finds that he isn't outside, but in pitch blackness like when he'd entered the Sentoukyuu. Realising that like that night, there were people hiding in the darkness, he hands the sleeping Shuurei to riou and asks him to take care of her. He'd take care of the fighters. Drawing his sword, Ryuuki fights the others while riou runs with Shuurei, but as he fights, he realises that someone else was fighting beside him, but doesn't know who.
riou runs through a thick fog to one door when he suddenly backs off and several daggers come flying out. Fighting off the attack, someone asks him if he intends to disobey Ruka-sama. However, riou tells the voice that he wasn't told anything about today, that he'd do whatever he wanted therefore, and that they would have to leave empty-handed. riou then jumps through his door.
After the person carrying Shuurei disappeared, and the Emperor disappeared, Saku finds that the sword he'd been fighting with disappears as well. He's suddenly grabbed on the arm from behind and finds Eigetsu carrying Kourin on his back. Saku asks Eigetsu what he was doing there and Eigetsu angrily tells him that he didn't know what Saku would do left to his own devices and therefore came to get him. Saku laughs and realises that Eigetsu was worried about him despite everything. Eigetsu admits he doesn't hate him as much as he used to. Saku then says that perhaps the day that they'd share the same feelings wasn't too far off then and Eigetsu tells him that day would never come. Saku wonders about that and says he gets the feeling that the day they'd have tea together would likely come soon. Eigetsu gives in and tells Saku that he would have tea with him. He then gets hit on the head and discovers a very angry Kourin who's upset that he and Saku seem to have become still closer at some point. She then runs through her door leaving Eigetsu.
Saku tells Eigetsu to go and that he'd go as well; the door Eigetsu had come through wasn't the same door as his. Eigetsu hesitates only to be grabbed from behind. Turning he discovers a very angry Yougetsu who'd come to find him after he didn't come back for so long. Yougetsu then yells at Eigetsu to hurry up and go back and throws him through his door which was even then starting to vanish.
Eigetsu wakes up in the real world dismayed that that was all the time he got to spend with Yougetsu and that he'd done something to make Yougetsu angry again. ^^;
Ryuuki wakes feeling like he'd had a very good dream and that he'd met young Shuurei. Going to the archives, he finds Shouka who sighs. When asked why, Shouka tells him that it's a lot harder to see the dream that he'd like to see. Shouka thinks to himself that while it's very much like his wife not to come see him in his dreams, that she should come at least once! Ryuuki tells him that maybe Shouka's wife had been in Shuurei's dreams instead, and thinking about that, Shouka agrees that between him and Shuurei, his wife would've chosen to be with Shuurei. Just after Ryuuki leaves, Shouka hears Shuurei's footsteps approaching as she tells him that she'd dreamed of Mom for the first time in a long time...
In the darkness, Sakujun hears someone singing, and following that voice, ends up going through the door back to Shuuran's room. He'd agreed to teach her in exchange for her singing that song. Shuuran tells him that he must never have known hardship in his life but that it wasn't too late. Saku tells her that she's very kind and vanishes from her dream.
Yikes that took a lot longer to write out than I thought! >.< Dinner!