Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 29

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Chapter 29: Musashi's Knights[edit]

Horizon1B 239.jpg

That existence.

A sentiment?

Or necessity?

Point Allocation (Chivalry)


On top of the bridge in front of the Academy, Mitotsudaira took in a breath.

...I requested an opponent, so let's see what will happen now.

Thinking that, looking at everyone on the other side, she started thinking about the possibilities.

About the person that will come out to respond to her requirement for an opponent.

...Not the Chancellor, I would guess.

He was not a person with fighting ability, no matter how you look at it. People would only stop him if he were to nominate himself.

Shirojiro and Naomasa were not with them, so if we're talking about dueling-types, it would be someone like Tenzou or Urquiaga.

They were the ones taking on spirit exorcism cases to train their combat experience after all, to follow in their family's business or for their own career path.

Mitotsudaira herself started fighting to drive stuff like that away since middle school. The territory of Mito which the ship annually lands on was a place ghosts and the like are fond of after all, with all the wasteland and marshes. Even on the other ports, work like that comes in mountains.

Especially with the recent increase in phenomena, causing even the other knights to go out many times.

Though spirit in nature, the experience you get fighting living dead-type opponents are similar to that of human ones. Fights with those who survived those kinds of battles would surely be interesting.

...Yes, I have already prepared for such a case. It's just that—

“...What is everyone doing?”

Everyone was sitting in front of the Academy talking to each other, but no one came out from among them.

She had already given them time and waited, so what was happening?

“Umm...”

The moment Mitotsudaira tilted her head and reached out to them, from the lowered crowd of people, Toori's head turned and gave her a reply.

“Ah, Nate, some thinking time, thinking time~! Don't cut the time~~”

Before she nodded, everyone looked in her direction for a moment, then returned to bringing their heads together.

“Hey, what are we going to do? Nate sure is eager to do this, huh.”

“Hmm... I did bring some poison on my own, so should I use that...?”

“Or rather, Mito is a mid-close ranged fighter, so how about I as a long ranged fighter take a bow and snipe...”

“In my opinion, we should just wait until Shirojiro returns and get him to buy some silver bullets...”

“Even Mitotsudaira is out of my scope of interest, so I'll pass. Leave me out of this, please!”

...Disregarding the last one, these people are seriously going for the kill, huh!?

Being wary of the feeling of discontent rising inside her as an emotion of rage, Mitotsudaira frowned and let out a voice.

“...Can you not hurry up!?”



To the demand of the female knight standing on the bridge, as if to occupy it, everyone in front of the entrance once again brought their heads together and groaned.

In the group, Toori whispered right.

“I thought of something good. Tenzou, —prostate in front of her.”

“Y-You cannot prostate in front of someone without a reason! Mitotsudaira-dono is not the kind to get a joke like that, so we can't just kneel down on the floor...”

“Hmm, then, should I go out?”

Urquiaga searched his chest, making several metallic sounds in the process. Making a short sigh, he...

”Even if we are to save Horizon after this, I will not be able to act.

Whatever the case, my ambition is to become part if the Inquisition and neither the Catholics of K.P.A Italia and those of Tres España are heretics that I can fight. I will not be able to lay a hand on them.”

“Ah, me neither, just like him.”

Adele raised her hand. Rolling up her oversized uniform sleeves,

“I am a retainer. Us retainers serve knights, so opposing our own knight will mean losing the meaning of my position.”

“Work sure is tough, huh.”

Folding his arms, Toori nodded. Then, moved his gaze to Neshinbara.

“Neshinbara, you look like you have something to say. What is it?”

“Ah, right. It's just that something doesn't feel right here.”

Neshinbara stole a glance towards Mitotsudaira and returned his eyes to everyone.

“I wonder what reason does a knight like her have to fight and test the values of civilians like us?”

“If I may answer, I'm an idiot, so I don't know.”

“Right, I would guess. I'm glad you understand. Yep. ...Haha, I'm sorry.”

“H-He didn't even deny it! You even pitied me, didn't you, this guy! Ah, those eyes are that of pity, aren't they!?”

Everyone held Toori down. Noticing Mitotsudaira tilting her head on the other side, Kimi said.

“Fufufu, Mitotsudaira, you're afraid of not knowing what we're talking about, aren't you?”

“No, well, it's just like what I see everyday, but... Looking at it from outside, I would normally be scared.”

To her words, everyone once again brought their heads together. They tentatively affirmed and made contact with each other.

“Even Mito said that our group is pretty scary. I don't understand.”

“In my opinion, A busty-type shrine maiden with one machine eye like Asama-san saying that would be more of the question.”

“I would question why a glasses, baggy-type retainer like you would say that as well, Adele.”

“Hahaha, Uqui-dono, funny you should say that, being a half-dragon inquisitor yourself.”

“Fufufu, this ninja hasn't looked at himself lately, has he? What are you hiding from yourself?”

“Hey, you guys! You guys! Don't just change the subject without me! What's with this fun atmosphere leaving me out!? I'll suck all of it, alright!? Sniffsniffsniffsniff!”

Everyone glared at the idiot with serious faces. In response, Toori was going to say something, but hanged his head and lied sideways.

Ignoring Toori going limp, Asama lightly hit her hands.

“Now, let's continue our conversation while we still have the time. Neshinbara-kun, what are you concerned about Mito?”

“Ah, right. I looked up material regarding historical connections, and...”

“Ah? You're speaking again? Hey, hey, won't you make it so an idiot like me could understand? Neshinbara, you have that habit of not getting to the point after all. Make it super simple for us just this once, 'kay?”

In response to the recovered Toori's words, Neshinbara's smiling face popped up a vein.

Then, Kimi lightly beat on Toori's head.

“Fufufu, idiot brother, an otaku like him loves nothing more than showing off his knowledge, so you should let him speak as he wants to, alright? If you say anything weird you'll be caught up in his world of mad, you know?”

“Look in the mirror, sister!!”

“Ah, well, I'm used to it so it's fine.”

Neshinbara waved his hand and said.

“Looking at it from a historical standpoint, knights being a class above above the people is a natural thing.”

“...Huh? What are you talking about?”

Well, Neshinbara lowered his body, everyone following suit.

“Knights are people with influence. At least, ...their positions are above the public.”

“So?”

“Don't you think it's weird? Why would those knights be here, facing off against us? Their status are higher than us, you know? If I have to put it in words, they are the ones ruling over us. To say nothing about our faceoff, to us civilians the other side is higher, ...so why did they choose to confront us? They'll lose a lot if we win, you know?”

At that question, everyone stole a glance towards Mitotsudaira.

Realizing that she's being looked at, Mitotsudaira pulled back a bit.

“W-What is it?”

Everyone nodded and returned their gaze. With a pointed glance, Urquiaga looked over everyone.

“Is she thinking like this? Because of the crisis Musashi is involved in, ...Mitotsudaira's destructive urges are lighted up and quickly making her want to go wild.”

“...Wow. What would make her do something like that?”

“That's right. That's a bit pushing it, you know. Besides, Mito said that she herself is representing the knights. There's no way anything would simultaneously incite the knights to act, is there?”

“Umm, I feel like you're saying that it's definitely the case if she's by herself, but...”

With a troubled face, Adele tilted her head.

“I wonder. There's definitely something weird here.”

“Hey Nate, Adele is saying that something is weird in youoah...!”

“I-It's nothing, alright!? Kimi-dono, should I just hit you now?”

“...Umm, I don't care, but can you hurry up with it?”

Everyone made excuses saying just a bit, just a bit more, alright?, and...

“Right, Adele-dono, please continue.”

“Judge, there's the thing Secretary said, with whether there really is a need for conflict. I mean, well, knights and retainers don't fight with the people in the first place.”

Tilting her head for the second time, the girl continued.

“About the problem of class difference that Secretary said. There's the question of the greater knights wanting to fight the people, but this duel contests even the very context of the knights' existence.”



To Adele's words, everyone stopped their actions and voices.

Then all of them once again looked at Mitotsudaira without saying anything.

“...Like I said, what is it?”

Hmm, thus everyone nodded and again looked at each other.

“Not like we can ask her. ...About that, how this duel involves not only herself, but the whole meaning of the knights' existence, what do you mean by that, Adele?”

“Judge, well, this is about the knights of Musashi though, ...Actually, according to the historical recreation described by the Testament, at the later period of the Middle Ages, around two hundred years back, the feudal system of dedicating land to the knights and kings broke down for the most part.

The age we're in now falls within the Imperial Court system that offers them authority and assets.”

Right, Neshinbara nodded. He looked at Adele and gestured his thanks.

“In the later Middle Ages, in order to bring an end to the chaos brought about by the resource exhaustion of the Crusades, the rise of the trend of saving money as well as the religious revolution, many countries have started centralizing their power around a single head of the nation; the king.

With war changing into a large-scale activity where the strength of knights will not be sufficient, where many battles are fought by mercenaries, we're entering the age of the armed forces.

Any country other than the Far East have already started making the whole student body of their Academies into armed forces by making lessons in war compulsory for them.”

“Fufufu, looks like the otaku is already starting to derail from the point with his explanation.”

“...As it is, the story isn't over yet.”

Neshinbara showed a grin, a vein popped up on his head.

“...The knights under the feudal system cast away their weapons with the formation of the armed forces, and started participating in political, economical and military affairs. They were becoming a new existence, the Imperial Court. They would then be given court ranks by those with influence, but those without anything like that are still called knights at present time. However...”

However...

“The Far East is still under the feudal system as of now, and Musashi does not have any form of armed force, so the knights sent to Musashi are still under their system from the Middle Ages; being part of the feudal nobles. With the ‘Allocation of Expenses for the Purpose of Privatization’ passed on by Musashi, for the people outside the Far East to accept their responsibility for the protection, distribution of goods and social welfare of the residential areas in their vicinity, they assumed the role of managing their land; they also held the duty of performing a sortie in emergencies as well.

Thus, at present time, while Musashi's knights have paid for themselves and undergoing naturalization over here, for them to display their cooperation and absence of hostility towards the Testament Union, they would have to remain under the Far East's feudal system as part of the feudal nobles. In other words, they would remain as the knights of the Middle Ages.”

Judge, Adele said.

“The Far East cannot possess weaponry, but the knights as well as us retainers, would succeed our families' line of work and be able to hold our own weapons to ‘cooperate with the Testament Union’, so we are a rare existence. ...The knights residing in the Musashi without armed forces are not members of the Imperial Court protected by the armed forces, but knights of the Middle Ages who protect the people themselves.”

Even then.

“Thinking from the perspective of the knights' existence, ...Why would a knight, responsible for protecting the people, would want to duel with the people themselves?”

The moment Adele presented the problem, Toori said out of the blue.

“Well, there's a lot to think about here. As Neshinbara and Adele said, ...In short, Nate is higher than us, but would normally have to protect us, is it?”

“Eh? Ah, yes, Judge, that's right. Mitotsudaira-san is a knight after all.”

To Adele's answer, Toori nodded twice.

Then, with a smile filling up his face, he said.

“Then, this duel here has a reason, and if we are to clear that reason, Nate would become our ally and protect us, is it?”

Toori stretched once, then widened his smile.

Everyone was looking at him, but he didn't even look back. Instead, looking at Mitotsudaira on the other side of the bridge, tilting her head unknowing of their exchange,

“I'm relieved. If Nate becomes our enemy, we would have quite the problem after all.”

To his words, everyone wanted to say something. However...

“——”

No one said anything, responding only with the loosening of their shoulders.

In response, Toori looked over to Adele.

“Adele, who are the knights currently in high school?”

“...Well, the only knight there is Mitotsudaira-san.”

Adele showed a troubled smile.

“Thirty-one knights are present on the whole of Musashi, but most of them are either older or those in primary or middle school, or even younger. After we graduate, there won't be any knights in our Academy for 4 years or so. ...There are a lot of us retainers though, around six of us in high school.”

Uhm, Tenzou nodded along with Asama, Urquiaga, Naruze and Naito.

“A rare character, huh...”

“No, um, I think the five of you are quite rare as well.”

“No, if we're talking about rarity...”

As Asama turned her head around, everyone else looked towards the Academy building. Over there, Persona-kun and Itoken, along with Nenji, were pouring Hassan's curry into cups and drinking from them.

“Oh! Delicious, Hassan-kun! I'm sure this will hold significance towards our role as the people of Musashi!”

“That's right~, bringing our daily activities to their full flavour with curry is nice~”

“The joy we are having without a care towards our nationalities will surely be our hospitality as one of the people...!”

“....”

Returning their gazes from those four, everyone whispered.

“I wonder how Persona-kun drinks. Also, now that I think of it, rather than Persona-kun, he's more of a Helm-kun, huh.”

“In Nai-chan's opinion, Nenji drinking curry makes him look like vomit inside Uiro, doesn't it?”

“Margot, apologize to the people of Nagoya. Also, Nenji will look like that no matter what he eats.”

“Rather than that, you guys, don't put off the convo more than I could. The meaning of my existence could be taken away, you know?”

Saying that, Toori lied down on the floor looking up at the clouds travelling across the sky.

“Well then, should we have Nate face off against someone?”

“...Who will be the one, though?”

“We have our terms, no? According to what we've been talking about. All that's left is to nominate someone.”

Toori smiled and then continued.

“—Someone like Nate needs to reflect over her own actions, you know.”



Mitotsudaira was waiting.

...No matter the person, I'd like to finish this as soon as I can.

It's a painful decision, she thought, and Mitotsudaira sighed in her heart, how troublesome.

That moment, the people over by the campus building unexpectedly stood up and formed another scrum.

“Right.”

With Toori's words, the scrum disbanded and the opponent came out from inside them.

The opponent. At the end of Mitotsudaira's gaze, the one slowly walking towards her was...

“...Eh?”

It was Suzu.



In the middle of Mitotsudaira's field of vision, Suzu was walking.

Due to the sensors on her hair and hips, she seemed to be aware of where her opponent was.

Suzu was unexpectedly approaching her without any hesitation in her steps. However...

...Eh?

“U-Umm...”

Mitotsudaira looked over to the people behind Suzu.

“H-Hold on, what is the meaning of this!? Even though I desire an opponent to face off with...”

Her voice quieted down.

In front of her, several metres before her position, Suzu stopped moving and covered both her ears in her hands. Her slender body cowered slightly, but never retreated.

“U, Umm, ...your voice, w, was loud.”

The same time Mitotsudaira was shocked, everyone on the other side, in front of the Academy building similarly covered their ears with their hands and said.

“You're noisy~”

...T-These people, I'll show you guys...!

Even while Mitotsudaira was thinking, Suzu, who timidly parted her hands form her ears, made sure that there were noise and continued walking over to her.

In one moment, Suzu reached just barely beyond arm's reach.

Phew, sighing while reaching to a standstill, she held her ears to the surroundings, determining that no one was there.

Therefore, as if to respond, Mitotsudaira held her arms to her hips, both cases still in her hands.

“Umm, everyone? What is the meaning of this? I am seeking an opponent to duel with as a knight, you know.”

“U, umm, th, that's why.”

The response came from near her.

“I, c-came, b-by myself. I figured, I would, be the one, to, hear you out.”

“Eh? Umm, Suzu?”

Mitotsudaira began to grow impatient.

...No way...

She had a thought... Did they find out...

...The reason why I am here?

The knights of Musashi made a decision to try and talk with them. This was to be the best decision they can make in regards to Musashi's present condition.

However, in front of her, Suzu said.

“Let's, fi, ...ght.”

“——”

Mitotsudaira held her breath and looked over Suzu.

Over the distance she passed through, tilting his head with Mitotsudaira's movements, a figure was seated in front of everyone.

“Chancellor... You understood, didn't you? The reason I am here.”

“No way, I don't understand.”

With a smile, Toori continued.

“I'm not you, Nate. I didn't hear anything from you, ...I can't say I do despite that, no? What you could do, what is happening; I didn't remember you explaining the least of that to us.”

Mitotsudaira swallowed her breath and raised her eyebrows.

“There's no way... I'd tell you.”

“Then there you go, am I right?”

Mitotsudaira was lost for an answer.

...He definitely understood.

Affirming would mean they have agreed. Denying would be lying to herself. Then, rather than indicating an answer...

...For me to carry out what I should as the representative of the knights in this situation—

Thinking that, Mitotsudaira moved immediately by first opening her mouth.

“Representing the knights, as well as the feudal lords; I, Nate Mitotsudaira, have a proclamation to make to the people of our land.”

With those words, Mitotsudaira let go of the gigantic cases from her arms.



Neshinbara looked. Faster than the cases could hit the floor, Mitotsudaira closed her eyes and got down to one knee.

“Us, Musashi's knights...”

Her posture was that of greeting to Suzu in front of her, the one done on one knee. With the meaning of that one pose...

...This is—

Neshinbara hurried to look at the sitting Toori's profile.

He was already tilting his head.

“This is bad.”

Hearing that voice, Neshinbara shouted.

“Mukai-kun, stop Mitotsudaira-kun!”

There was only one reason. The result everyone predicted would happen.

“Musashi's knights are planning to fight the people... —They're planning to lose!!”



Mitotsudaira silently affirmed the fact contained in Neshinbara's scream.

...Yes, that surely is the case.

The knight will lose to the commoner; what such a thing will entail.

...The knight and noble classes' influence will be thrown into disorder, initiating the rise of citizen authority.

According to the Testament, the day will come in England where a king will be brought down in a revolution by its people.

There have even been rumours that people are gathering power and going in that direction over in Hexagone Française. An end to involving the people in politics along with the royal family, to say. The return of the rise of the people, if only as a single communal movement.

...Then, in this scenario, if the knights of Musashi were to themselves submit to the commoners, the people would be put in a situational position to establish a revolution.

If they do, what will happen?

...The knights, left only in name, will become among the people.

As a result, there will not be any knights left on Musashi to protect the people.

That's just fine, Mitotsudaira thought.

The knights are strong. They are perceived as guardians, entities which people rely on.

However, Musashi's knights decided on one thing in the meeting this morning:

...The possibility of their existence fueling the people's intentions to oppose the Testament Union.

If that was to happen, though, the knights and retainers will not be able to protect the whole town of Musashi.

Prioritizing the safety of the people, only one decision came to light.

We submit to the Union.

However, even that has its problems. That was...

...the safety of the people that will be relocated to other nations.

As Shirojiro pointed out, all Far Eastern finances outside of Musashi would have most likely be dispossessed already.

There is no money so then, they thought...

...We will elevate the status of Musashi's residents above those of other countries.

At present time, other countries are under the hierarchical system of power centralized around the Chancellor's Officers and Student Council, with the Chancellor and President as kings at the top. With such a strong convergence of power in the system, the ruling organization can put up a large-scale resisting force capable of dealing with the fiercely changing times of this generation.

However, the revolutions that will eventually come will change that trend of action. The people will gradually come to participate in a large fraction of political activities.

Thus, there has been a trend among the Chancellors and Presidents of countries to put off the Testament's historical recreation related to the rise of the people, in order to protect their rights and policies as kings.

However, the people are waiting for the time of revolution, leaving the nation under the care of their kings until then.

Under such conditions, what would happen with Musashi if the people were to successfully take down its knights?

The knights would lose their authority and become commoners, and in exchange, the people will claim their powers for themselves.

Under the Testament, such a revolution was not described in the history recreation of the Far East. No one has any idea if it should happen or not. Therefore, the very revolution itself will be a violation against the Testament.

...What, then, if the people involved in the revolution were to become residents of the countries they will be relocated in?

Inside those nations, 'those involved in the revolution' will surely become part of the nations' history recreation under the Testament. However much a country's royalty were to deny revolutions, with the people who experienced such an event already residents of their nation, their views would mean nothing in front of the Testament's historical recreation.

The people of Musashi would surely bring down the royal family in their destinations, as the centre of the revolution.

That was the intention.

So Mitotsudaira continued. Brought down to her knees and face down.

...We are—

“By the hands of Musashi's people, are completely...”

...made to surrender, and declare our submission.

Those words will be the end. Still...

...I never thought Suzu would be my opponent.

With her declaration to fight, an opponent of considerable strength would come out. They would then fight for a bit, then she would declare her loss; that was what she thought.

No one would let such a naive course of events occur. Still...

“Made to...”

This is the end. If she were to declare her own defeat, it will be Suzu's, no, a commoner's victory. So she had to go.

“surr...”

...ender, right after she finished that word, Mitotsudaira heard Toori's voice.

“Heeyy, Bell-san, can you stop Nate for us? Anything will do.”

“Eh? H, how, d-do I?”

“Hmm, ...rub her chest.”

...Having that done to me will be my real defeat!!

Subconsciously reacting to his suggestion in her heart, Mitotsudaira heard sounds.

Two of them.

The first was the dull sound of the two cases crashing the ground.

In succession, Suzu panicked and took a step forward.

“Ah.”

The second was that of her body cowering in response to the heavyweight cases cracking the floor.

With her step forward throwing her shrunken body out of balance, she fell forward in front of Mitotsudaira.

“...!?”

In front of her, she felt Suzu extending her hand forward as she fell. The sound of a small breath escaping her throat like a cry could also be heard. However, Mitotsudaira opened her mouth.

...What I should do now is—

Once again declare her surrender. Still, what she heard was...

“M-Mito, tsudai... ra-san,”

...What am I saying?

When you're falling over, letting out a cry at me.

Trying to say something.

Electing herself despite having no fighting ability, trying to say something without minding her falling over...

“U, umm...”

This cannot be, Mitotsudaira thought. At this rate, before she finishes her words, Suzu will fall to the ground.

Still, Suzu only said a little more. It immediately reached Mitotsudaira's ears from her mouth as she fell.

That one word shook, but reached her as if to grip her thoughts.

“Save me...!”

She could not understand the intention behind those words.

Still, Mitotsudaira opened her mouth. Something must be said before all else.

As a knight, in front of a commoner. She was here to say it, after all.

So Mitotsudaira spoke from her throat, clearly, her thoughts as a knight.

That was.

“—Don't worry.”



One moment letting out her innermost thoughts, Mitotsudaira said.

“Who do you think I am?”

Saying that, she raised her body and took half a step forward.

Brushing her sleeves, she received Suzu's body and absorbed the impact into her upper body. Like thus, Mitotsudaira bent her body back slightly, effectively stopping Suzu's fall.

...I've done it now...

She understood that her action meant kicking their ‘best decision’ to the curb.

Still, the sensation of relief she held in her arms is definite.

Her figure becoming one holding Suzu up, Mitotsudaira drew a breath.

In her arms, she felt the heart inside the small body she supported beat quickly, but it let out a sigh of relief.

She must have been frightened. She could feel her tremble slightly. Still, in her arms, Suzu hung her head and said.

“Thank you...”

“What are you saying? It's only natural.”

I'm showing off a lot, she thought. She was plenty afraid as well but still...

“No matter what, the soul of knight will definitely save the commoner. The way of the knight is in fulfilling such duties after all.”

Saying that, Mitotsudaira looked in front of her. Seeing everyone, and Toori sitting in front of them in her view she thought.

...Ah, this is just...

If he were to cast aside Musashi's hardships and decide to go and save the one person important to him, Mitotsudaira, having saved Suzu herself, would have no reason to go against him.

What would the other knights think of this?

She did not know. Still, Mitotsudaira bent down to her knees, having made sure of herself.

Helping Suzu stand on her own, with a smile said.

“Are you alright?”

“Nnn...”

Looking at Suzu nod, Mitotsudaira moved her gaze further forward.

She looked over to Toori, and lowered her head.

“Nate ‘Argent Loup’ Mitotsudaira, Knight of Musashi, —As the Fifth Special Duty of Musashi Ariadust Academy's Chancellor Officers, I would like to join in the ranks of the Chancellor's command.”

“Then, I'll have to get back my rights as the Chancellor, no?”

“—Am I not to blame for anything?”

Her raised eyebrows and face in question are met with Toori's smile. He then continued.

“I did owe you something from yesterday, no?”

“Owe?”

“Yep. —You did let me fondle your chest.”

Eh? The moment she thought. Around her, the students as well as everyone else looking over the situation from around the school; everyone shouted.

“EH...!?”

“Wha, wai, no, you got it wrong! It's not what you think!”

She couldn't stop everyone's noise. Experiencing the voices and expressions of the people around her, yet feeling no malice from them, Mitotsudaira...

...Seriously.

Feeling helpless as a knight, but not stopping the smile from forming on her lips, she looked over to Suzu, Toori and everyone else.

“If all of you want it so bad, I'll have no choice but to offer my strength as a knight, won't I?”

Still, Mitotsudaira looked behind her.

Masazumi appeared troubled, lowering her shoulders at the end of her gaze.

“That's the nature of your position, no? Not something I can say anything about, not knowing the way of the knights myself. Besides...”

She knew what she was going to say. Therefore, Mitotsudaira turned to look at Toori, and declared.

“This is my win. The superiority of us knights above the people will not change.”

“That's right. —So we're at one win, one loss, huh?”

Judge, Mitotsudaira affirmed. There was the contradiction of stepping down from the stage after her win, but such things could happen to the knights living in this day and age, she thought.

Mitotsudaira thus let out a voice. Loud enough for everyone making noise around her to hear.

“—Masazumi, the rest is up to you. Your forte in debate and speech will decide everything, you know?”



The people's voices and motions did not just permeate the area around the Academy, but spread all the way to the other ships as well.

As her body stands in the wind brought about by the half after noon, over on the bridge by the Academy, Masazumi fell into thought.

...This is where it really starts.

The people are no longer able to ignore their duels in this special student general meeting.

Their attention has already been attracted by the noise, if not the spectacle of Shirojiro and Naomasa's battle; even more so by Mitotsudaira's act which brought them closer to this confrontation.

The broadcasting committee's PR has already informed the public of those two battles, and that the next one will determine their conclusion.

So, the people who have decided to watch this final duel have gone outside their houses, not intimidated by the risk of becoming involved in battle, and mobilized to areas with a good view of the venue.

Shops are already taking advantage of the situation, setting up stalls in the streets and parks as well as bringing out couches outside their premises; they had the sole intent to trade.

...Musashi's people are sensitive to developments on the ship.

Anyone would feel a sense of danger regarding continuing to live in the Far East. Then...

...Even now, they are still in doubt of the point in staying here.

Drawing her breath, Masazumi held her arms together.

She was part of the parliament and King's side. The side that will somehow make up for the loss brought about by Mikawa's destruction, and avoid total war with the Testament Union. To that cause, they are to accept Horizon Ariadust's suicide as the right thing to do as the current head of this generation, recognise Musashi's transfer as an act of substituting the ship for the destroyed Mikawa and completely transfer its people to their own countries.

...In contrast, the other side—

Refusing to accept Horizon Ariadust's suicide, to protect Musashi...

...What are you going to do!?

It was obvious. They were going to save Horizon, even if it meant all-out war. Under the boundaries of fights between Academies. She could already see the cards they hold, to a degree.

Even if Musashi possesses no weapons, the strength of a God of War is there, as well as the influx of money to the shrine made by people from the other countries, pretty much giving them the resources to be able to fight.

The knights have also vowed to protect the people, stating that in the case Musashi is transferred, they will be able to inch the people towards starting revolutions in the other countries.

...However, none of those are real.

Few people have actually received training in combat, and no one knows how useful all that God of War and fighting power will actually be. Even the knights; with only dozens of members, there is no way they could possibly protect all of Musashi from the consequences of war.

The people are probably just fired up with the intention of opposing the Testament Union right now.

Looking from above, anyone would understand. Centering around the students, there were people getting in touch with others on their clerical handhelds. Still, that is just...

...Probably having discussions with their parents, huh.

The current world is where students represent their countries. It would either be to trade the life of a nation's lord for its safety, or to fight to protect both the nation and its king, getting hurt and possibly dying to do so. Not one of them would not consult their family about this.

“This would be in my favour, then.”

No parent would want their child to die, that was what she thinks; the child would also feel the same.

To grow rather than die; if a place of safety is to be prepared for those who will come to have that opinion, they would surely be able to excuse themselves from the blame, saying that the death of their king and the downfall of their nation was inevitable.

Even so, the way they were discussing on their handhelds was...

...Shirojiro and Mitotsudaira's words must have rung in their hearts.

The people right now would think like this:

“We may lose, but...”

...To avoid the guilt of abandoning their lord, as well as to protect their money, they would ‘resist in an apparent way’, and if that is to fail, they would just proceed to start a revolution and bring the country down.

That is to say, they would try to put up a resistance for now and see what will happen.

“How naive.”

They would never succeed. She had enough reasons to be able to say that.

“I will be showing them those reasons, huh.”

Saying that, Masazumi looked forward.

Beyond Mitotsudaira and Suzu standing in the middle of the bridge, the rest of the class was there.

...Opponents, huh.

Were they her friends before this? Even now, she never really knew.

All that happened was that Mitotsudaira looked over to her and said.

“Masazumi, even now you still have the chance, so...”

“You don't need to hold out your hand to me. It's going to be my turn, after all.”

She showed her affirmation and escorted the knight out of the stage.

“Mitotsudaira, the way of the knight appeared to me as a form of sentimentalism similar to willpower.”

“Judge, that's why we would often become intoxicated with our passion.”

“I see, —it may be different in nature, but the feudal system of warriors still exists in the Far East. It's still fine for knights to be here, in my honest opinion. So, Mitotsudaira, don't mind me and go. I am no longer...”

She continued.

“Those of the people you should protect.”

“Judge.”

Then Mitotsudaira sent out a greeting.

She left. Suzu, her shoulders held by the knight, looked over here, but Masazumi didn't mind.

She had more pressing matters to pay attention to.

Behind her.

She heard a sound.

The sound of people making noise, the sound of a carriage moving on the pavement and the sound of hooves.

...They came, after all.

“You're not someone I can count on, are you? —I am here to observe, should I say.”

Turning her head, there was a group of carriages on the stone pavement below the Academy.

They were horse carriages belonging to the members of Musashi's provisional council.

One, two, three, four, the numbers continued to increase, passing the two-digit mark.

Intimidated by the number of carriages forming lines by the sides of the road, the people there fell into silence. As if to substitute for that, the sound of the carriages and the hooves,

“—!”

As well as the neighs of the horses filled the air; stopped in the leading positions was her father's carriage.

“Now.”

Masazumi once again folded her arms and turned back to everyone else.

“—Shall we start the final duel?”



There was an arrangement of tatami mats in the middle of a prairie.

Below the light passing through the ceiling, with a round table and a teacup, it was a six-unit arrangement furnished with cushion seats.

Three sides of the arrangement were surrounded by a wall of pale light, with the fourth one blocked off with an iron wall.

There was a figure of a person resting her back on the iron wall reading a book on the tatami mats.

It was Horizon in her casual clothes.

Books were piled up to her sides. Three volumes to the right, three to the left. The books on the right had their backs face up, while the left ones were placed with their front covers face up.

Reading her book, Horizon unconsciously cast her gaze outside.

“....”

Beyond the walls of light covering three of four sides, there was a spacious field. On that land filled with short grass, figures in red uniforms carrying spears and rifles were standing according to their ranks. There was some distance, but they were surrounding her position.

In front of her, determined to be north from the way the sun casts, over by the distance were a number of ships, beyond which was a slope leading to mountains and valleys.

To her left, the west, was the same.

To her right, the east, beyond the fields and ships was a slope leading to the sea. The sea which periodically shone a light up to the sky.

Even now, light traveled from the sea to the sky, along with a faint shake of the land. Swaying her head as if to match the beat of the tremors, the speaker behind her in the wall suddenly let out a voice. It was the voice of the female student in charge of her care.

“How are you feeling?”

To the question, Horizon raised her head. She looked at the speaker and said.

“Judge. To be direct, there are no observed abnormalities. Is anything the matter?”

“Ah, no, we are currently scanning your body. That is all, Princess.”

Hearing that, Horizon recalled the time back when she had her body inspected on Musashi by the shopkeeper woman and Masazumi's recommendation.

During the inspection with the female engineer in charge, she wondered.

“Is it fine for me to have my clothes on?”

“Tes. The analysis procedure is essentially that used to examine large-type spirits, so selective scanning of the important areas is possible...”

Saying up until that point, along with the sound of her panicked motions, the female student continued.

“I-I'm sorry. Um, please forget about that...! If you would hear us out, we do not think of treating you the same way as we do to a spirit, Princess!”

“So it will be fine if I continue reading my book, is it not?”

“...Tes.”

Then that is fine, thinking this, Horizon returned her gaze to the book.

That moment, far into the north, she heard a sound.

“——”

A group of sounds, Horizon determined. Sounds she has heard recently. During Mikawa's destruction last night, the people have certainly made a similar noise. That was when she was with them, but if they were far away, this is what it would have sounded like.

...However.

Horizon thought of a problem.

The noise from last night was because of Mikawa's destruction.

Then, why would a similar one be made right now?

She didn't know.

There is a lot I do not know, Horizon thought and continued to think:

...If you do not forget the question, will the answer someday appear?

Her own nature, her past, what she should do; her obtaining the truth about these things as well as her understanding of them were probably because she never forgot to question them. If that wasn't the case, she wouldn't even notice the answer in front of her. She would not understand, nor would she accept, left only to go with the flow of events.

The way she is now, she would already understand what she herself should do, so she thinks.

She may have no memories, nor does she have experience, but the books she read have taught her.

The way a lord of the Far East would account for the mistakes of his country in the present generation.

The one who caused Mikawa to fall last night was her father, so she heard.

She didn't know who he was, but a father is a relative; a parent of hers. This was also in the books she read.

Hence, what one should do when she loses her parents is...

...I do not know.

There were different cases in the books she read.

There were people who cried, there were those who laughed, and there were those who felt relief.

Statistically, it would be something sorrowful, but that emotion itself...

...Most of my emotions were made into Logismoi Oplo, so there is none in me.

This would surely then remain a mystery to her.

What she does know is only that to correct the mistakes her father made, she needed to pay with her life.

The best decision. Going by that, people will be saved and given relief.

It was written in the books.

Still, Horizon had a thought. About the conversation she had with the female student acting as the court lady. That was...

...Under the best decision, ...is something there?

Another choice, crushed in favor of the best.

What came to her mind was the scenery of the bakery.

The best decision was no longer in her reach.

“I wonder. If there was something that would show that to you, then—”

Horizon, thinking of the existence of a choice she cannot hope for, stated.

“It would have to deny my best decision and have a duel with me.”