Horizon:GT1 Chapter 9

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Chapter 9: Listing and Linking[edit]

HorizonGT1 223.jpg

I may lack the skill

But I will nevertheless

Go where the money leads me

Point Allocation (We’re Not Discussing That)

Asama viewed what she had written on the screen. It was a chronological list.

1. The ghost fleet appears

2. The ghost fleet begins to fire on us

3. Ghost warriors appear near the Asama Shrine

4. The fleet’s bombardment hits the warriors

5. The leader(?) ninja(?) of the warriors attacks Mito

The list was based on the notes she had taken while Mitotsudaira fought the ninja-like ghost when ordered chronologically. This was what she had sent the guards and the Chancellor’s Officers, but she did not know if they were investigating it all. But for the Asama Shrine, she wanted to make sure this would not happen again and that they could fight back if it did happen.

So she asked a question.

“During the previous mysterious phenomena – that is, during the ghost attack – I noticed a few oddities and contradictions in the fleet and the warriors that Mito fought. I was hoping you could help me come up with some ideas to answer my questions.”

“We are not going to bother with this if it will not make us any money.” Shirojiro raised his hand. “What do you say to that?”

Asama nodded at him.

“I’m not forcing you to help. I’m only asking for any help you can give me. So in your case-”

Flat Vassal: “Oh, the Treasurer duo are in Asama-san’s flashback.”

Asama: “I do remember having this conversation either then or the day after. It was relevant to the solution, so I thought I would stick it here for convenience.”

Marube-ya: “Based on our receipt records, Shiro-kun and I were eating eels that day. Hm, so it wasn’t just ramen. Oh, right! We found a good ramen place that day, so we bought ourselves some eel afterwards to celebrate!”

Vice President: “You don’t pay all that much attention to your finances, do you?”

Asama saw Heidi and Shirojiro stand up and the latter bowed toward the others.

“We will be leaving to check out the surface ramen shops to find a future business partner. We will be out for 5th period, but we also have to prepare for tomorrow, so we might head straight home afterwards.”

“Prepare for what tomorrow?” asked Ohiroshiki. “Do they have room for you to trade down on the surface?”

Heidi nodded.

“The more established merchants are delaying the process so us newcomers and trainees don’t get to trade, but they have to send their ships back shortly before we leave the landport. Our transport ship is a crayer designed for speed instead of cargo space, so we should be able to make it back even if the Musashi begins its ascent.”

“The Musashi’s atmospheric field and spell field are strengthened once it ascends high enough, so please remember you won’t be able to get back in after that. I don’t give my friends special treatment on the job.”

Everyone looked extremely skeptical of Asama’s final claim, but she could not figure out why that would be.

“Asama-chi, you do that all the time, like picking up To-chan at the guard stations.”

“I do that as a private citizen, not a shrine maiden. And I’ve been doing that so long it doesn’t really count.”

Now they all looked a little disturbed, but she had long since learned there was no talking sense into them.

Kimi would have made a joke here if she were awake, but she was currently out cold. So…

“How about we work at solving these questions?” asked Mitotsudaira while looking back at the large sign frame.

She slid her seat to the side so as not to block everyone’s view.

She was not actually Asama’s assistant, but she was trying to help out anyway. She may not have noticed it herself, but everyone was naturally accepting that.

She tends to overthink things.

With that thought, Asama decided to get the meeting going.

“Okay, let’s get started again.”

Mitotsudaira had questions.

There were a few things about the previous night’s battle she had not understood. Those had filled her with doubt, but if not for that…

Would I have won that battle?

She did not know. However…

“Mito, you should try not to say very much here. Because you might summon them here.”

“Judge. I will consider my view as no more than a supporting role.”

Asama tapped the text on the sign frame to emphasize it, but Shirojiro and Heidi crossed their arms as they left the classroom.

“Come to think of it, we have a ramen date planned, Shiro-kun! Do you think they’ll let us take home the free toppings?”

“Judge. We must focus on a possible partnership, but do not forget to haggle for the best price!”

It was honestly impressive how passionate they were at being the most irritating customers imaginable. Heidi smiled back to say bye, so Asama got back on topic.

“First, let’s take a look at each of the events here in order.”

The list was as follows:

1. The ghost fleet appears

2. The ghost fleet begins to fire on us

3. Ghost warriors appear near the Asama Shrine

4. The fleet’s bombardment hits the warriors

5. The leader(?) ninja(?) of the warriors attacks Mito

“Um.” Mitotsudaira tugged on her sleeve and whispered to her. “I’m not sure I like being called Mito in a formal context like this, so can you use Mitotsudaira?”

“No can do. That would be way too long to fit.”

The smile on Asama’s face told Mitotsudaira she had been set up here. But Naruze ignored the embarrassed wolf and raised her hand.

“#1 happened as we entered the docking sequence at Totomi.”

“Yes, I was doing the docking work at the time, so that timing seems right to me. But just to be sure, what were you and Naito doing then?”

“Delivery work, so we received a warning to avoid moving between ships because of the docking sequence.”

“I see,” said Mitotsudaira while Asama added text to #1.

1. The ghost fleet appears while docking at Totomi

“Oh, and add that the ghosts appeared to port,” said Naruze. “Sorry, about all the additions.”

“It’s fine. That is important information.”

1. The ghost fleet appears to port while docking at Totomi

“In that case.” Tenzou raised his hand. “I can explain what I saw, Asama-dono.”

Asama: “Um, Mito? You don’t have to do an impression of Tenzou-kun when telling his part.”

Silver Wolf:'’' “I-I wasn’t. I was talking normally.”

Scarred: “I can explain what I saw, Asama-dono.”

Almost Everyone: “…”

Scarred: “Hee hee. Is a bit of mimicry really that surprising?”

Gold Mar: “That was more than just mimicry. You could really hear his voice. Is that a Kotodama thing?”

Unturning: “That would mean she has a deep understanding of him.”

Almost Everyone: “Ohh.”

Maru-Ga: “Mitotsudaira, feel free to continue with your shallow understanding of Tenzou.”

Silver Wolf: “I-I wasn’t trying to do an impression of him! I swear!”

Mitotsudaira saw Tenzou point back with his thumb, indicating the blue sky out the window.

“Since the Musashi had descended beforehand, the enemy fleet’s altitude was awfully high compared to ours.”

“Crossunite-kun, a higher position is advantageous when attacking a ship like the Musashi,” said Neshinbara. “Because you can do damage to the surface cities.”

“Why would they…want to…do that?”

Suzu’s question brought everyone’s eyes to Neshinbara, who crossed his arms, uncrossed them again, and pushed his glasses up.

“You don’t know? By damaging the people and their homes, you can throw Musashi’s politics into chaos and spread fear through the citizenry.”

“Y-yes, but, um.”

Suzu was having difficulty finding the words, but Mitotsudaira knew what she was getting at. As a knight, she knew all too well. She wanted to come out and say it, but…

“U-um, Suzu?”

“Go ahead.”

Suzu gave a nod of permission while shifting in her seat to face Mitotsudaira.

“I can’t…say it very well.”

“In that case,” said Mitotsudaira to take over. “Is this what you want to say? Are political chaos and fear among the citizenry really worth anything to a ghost fleet?”

They would be important to a knight. When you were placed in charge of a territory, you had to manage it efficiently but also provide peace of mind for the people living there.

But Itoken crossed his arms and asked a question.

“How intelligent is that ghost fleet and the ghost warriors!?”

That seemed like an odd question to be posed by an incubus, but Tenzou was the first to respond.

“From what I saw on the front line, the ghost fleet appeared to make group decisions, but it would be hard to say what they consider valuable.”

“Same for the warriors that pursued Mito,” said Asama. “They and the ninja(?) she fought were vengeful spirits, so I would assume their decisions are based on their grudge.”

“Then why attack us?” asked Naruze. “Do they have a grudge against the Musashi?”

No one had an immediate answer to that one, but Neshinbara did raise his hand.

“The ghost fleet had cannons, so intelligent or not, can’t we say that firing artillery is a part of their existence as ghosts?”

“It is fairly common for ghosts formed from the ‘mold’ of a warship to attack anyone they come across,” said Mitotsudaira. “And the more that gather together, the greater the tendency to do so.”

“Right?” Neshinbara nodded, opened a sign frame, and hand drew the side view of a large ship. “This is the Musashi and this next to it is the ghost fleet.”

Everyone watched as he slid the large ship’s drawing downwards.

And with a hand on his chin…

“This is the Musashi’s docking shequence.”

“Sequence.”

“I pronounce it shequence, Naruze-kun!” He tapped the lowered Musashi and then the fleet above it. “Anyway, the ghost fleet lacks the intelligence to pursue the Musashi, so it ends up higher than us as we descend, which of course means it is firing down on us.”

“Neshinbara-dono, we very clearly saw the ghost fleet pursuing the Musashi.”

“I was just getting to that.”

Expressionless Naruze made a “throw this loser out” gesture, but then Adele raised her hand.

“Does that mean the ghost ship was intentionally staying above us?”

Adele positioned her hands to indicate two different heights.

“The Musashi is down here while the fleet is up here. Do you get it? You’d better.”

“Adele, Toori-kun isn’t here, so you don’t have to be so forceful,” said Asama.

Oh, she’s right!

She hated how much of a habit that had become, but for now she kept her hands in those positions.

“I saw it from the academy stairs.” She tilted both hands at an angle at equal speeds. “I think the ghost fleet moved like this, like they didn’t change their relative speed much at all. Once they were enough above us, they stayed in that spot.”

Musashi residents were trained to judge distances in three-dimensional space by eye. Knowing where someone else was located in the air made things safer when working at a port or when moving between ships.

Ohiroshiki raised his hand.

“Why would they match our speed like that?”

Naito looked to Neshinbara.

“Bara-yan, are you just going to ignore that Adele completely ignored what you said?”

“Are you familiar with the saying that honesty is a virtue?”

“Could you prove that for us?”

“Judge. I didn’t actually see what happened. I was at the printing office on Oume trying to keep a stack of unsold books from collapsing.”

“Whose books?”

“My own.”

Naito applauded with an exaggerated smile on her face. And then…

“I don’t think honesty and self-deprecation are quite the same thing.”

She’s strict.

Neshinbara turned his back and slammed an arm against the desk, but that was not new. Adele noticed Ohiroshiki still had his hand up, so he must have known it would go like this.

“Um,” began Adele. “Do you find something odd about them matching our speed, Ohiroshiki-san?”

“Judge. Like we touched on before, do they really have the intelligence and rationality to do that?”

“Ghost ships have an instinctual drive to ask the living for something, so they’re pretty good at giving chase.”

“Did they ask us anything?”

Everyone froze in place. Naomasa spoke up with a “come to think of it” tone.

“You have a point. Funayurei will generally ask for a ladle, a mooring line, or oil. I hate that we needed Ohiroshiki to point it out, though.”

“True,” said Naruze. “It’s so infuriating that we needed him to point it out.”

“That’s not the part you’re supposed to agree with, Naruze-kun! This is why I can’t stand you old hags!”

All the girls except Suzu glared at him until he stopped talking. Then Naito raised a hand.

“Could it have been the attack?”

“What do you mean?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Maybe attacking our surface cities was the ghost fleet’s reason for appearing there. I mean, a lot of them were warships, so that’s what they do, right?”

“Hm.” Asama put a hand on her chin. “It is true Funayurei will use the ladle you give them to sink your ship or do the same thing by hand. So maybe they were using the same logic to try to sink this ship of the living. In that case…”

Asama looked at the text on her sign frame.

2. The ghost fleet begins to fire on us

“Maybe even this attack on us was part of their nature as ghosts.”

Adele could not quite accept that, so she raised her hand.

“Um, can I say something? I agree attacking us was probably the ghost ships’ objective, but I’m not sure that came from their nature as ghosts.”

Everyone turned to look at her.

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The many gazes made her sweat, but she went ahead and spoke anyway.

“Remember the shot that landed near the Asama Shrine? I saw one of the ships fire that while it was already sinking. Is their nature as ghosts really enough to explain that level of fixation on attacking?”

And…

“Tenzou-san was supposed to look into if the enemy had a specific target, right? How did that go? If they had a target, they must have had a clear reason for attacking.”

Adele looked to Tenzou, as did everyone else.

He raised his right hand.

“Do you think honesty is a virtue?”

“Whelp, he’s useless.”

“L-let’s not jump to conclusions, Naruze-dono!!”

“Did you look into it or not?” asked Mitotsudaira.

Tenzou’s shoulders slumped.

“The thing is, a whole bunch of upperclassmen gave me things they wanted taken to Okutama’s underground.”

“Oh,” said Adele. She had been asked to carry some large objects to the surface, so he must have been asked to bring things to the underground. The Chancellor’s Officers office was located there, after all. He hoped to be part of the ninja-focused 1st Special Duty Unit, so he needed to build up connections like that. But…

“It’s hard to say anything for sure without Tenzou’s info.”

However, Mary spoke up in his defense with eyebrows raised.

“Do not worry. He will figure something out.” She embraced his arm. “Isn’t that right, Master Tenzou?”

Scarred: “Oh, s-sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt the story!”

Flat Vassal: “No, um, that’s quite all right. Yes. Oh, look at that thread go…”

Asama: “But you’re not entirely off base there, Mary. I think, anyway.”

Asama saw Tenzou sigh. He must have been feeling down, but…

“Um, Tenzou-kun? If you need a chance to redeem yourself, is there anything else you figured out?”

“Judge. I observed the trajectory of the enemy artillery after Adele-dono made her observation. Now, I didn’t manage to record all of them, but it generally went like this.”

He produced a sign frame displaying a diagram of Musashi’s 8 ships from above.

He had drawn white lines on top of that to indicate the paths taken by the artillery.

What does this mean?

Asama was vaguely hopeful to find something useful on that diagram.

“They’re awfully scattered, aren’t they?” said Naruze.

“They are, aren’t they?” replied Tenzou.

Those two were in agreement for once. A great number of white lines were drawn over the Musashi and they all took the same general path.

“From Murayama toward Okutama.”

But they were aimed over a wide area. Most of them passed right over the Asama Shrine, but…

“It barely looks like they’re aimed at all,” said Naito. “At the time, I could have sworn they were aiming for the Asama Shrine.”

“Right?” said Naruze. “To the Funayurei, that was the evil temple producing the spell field trying to destroy them.”

“C-could you not describe us that way!?” protested Asama.

Then someone else spoke up unexpectedly.

“Huh? Th-they were…though.” It was Suzu and she put a troubled hand on her cheek. “It really sounded…like they were aiming for…the Asama Shrine.”

“If Bell-rin says so, I’m willing to believe it.”

“Right? If Suzu says so, it’s probably true.”

Those Technohexen sure changed their tune quick. But…

“When the paths are scattered over such a wide area, it looks more like they were generally firing at the sky beyond Okutama, but you thought they were aiming at the Asama Shrine, Suzu-san?” Adele tilted her head. “Then what’s different between what we see here and what you sensed back then?”

Suzu only tilted her head too.

Why hadn’t Suzu experienced it the same way they had?

How do we reconcile Tenzou-kun’s diagram with what Suzu-san said?

Asama tried to figure out the difference between Tenzou’s diagram and Suzu’s memory.

“Tenzou-kun gave up partway through, but Suzu-san managed to stick with it to the end.”

“I-I don’t like how you phrased that!” protested Tenzou.

But the truth was found there.

Tenzou had a drawn a “record” of the partial information he had gathered, but Suzu was viewing it as a “memory”.

They were viewing a drawing that gathered everything Tenzou had observed.

And they were hearing Suzu explain what she remembered.

There was a clear difference there.

“The process for establishing the information is different. A diagram versus an oral explanation.”

Asama understood the difference between Tenzou’s record and Suzu’s memory.

The diagram combines everything at once, but Suzu-san is replaying the events in her head.

That was it.

Asama understood this well after learning Shinto techniques through both oral instructions and textbooks.

“Tenzou-kun has provided us with records of all the artillery shots from the start to when he gave up, so while it only shows what he saw, there is no concept of time there. On the other hand.” Asama looked to Suzu. “Suzu-san is relaying her auditory memories of what she sensed from the start to the end. So can I ask you something, Suzu-san?”

“Yes…what is it?”

“Timewise, when were we targeted?”

“Oh,” said a few voices in realization while Suzu placed a hand on her chin.

“It was obvious…starting at about…the middle of the battle…I think?”

“There you have it. Tenzou-kun, you gave up on taking records partway through, but can you display only the later entries?”

“I-I worked hard getting what records I did, you know!?”

As Tenzou operated his sign frame, the black outlines of a spreadsheet appeared, showing he had done this through coordinate points, not hand drawing.

He probably has coordinates recorded for each of Musashi’s cities.

“Why do you go to all that unnecessary effort?” asked Naruze.

“A good-looking chart is more persuasive when you show it off in public.”

“Can’t you just use a ruler?”

“I am not one of the chosen few who can draw a straight line using a ruler.”

Asama knew what he meant, but she really wished he would stop rising to Naruze’s bait.

“Here it is!”

He held out the sign frame with the new settings. Some of the lines there were a little off, but…

“Oh,” gasped Naito at how concentrated the lines were.

They had all passed above the Asama Shrine since the height was off. Or rather…

“The paths overlap just aft of the Asama Shrine where I was fighting,” said Mitotsudaira.

This came as a surprise to Asama.

Mitotsudaira saw Asama silently place a hand on her chin.

Her crossed arms pushed up her chest, but her arms were also half buried inside them. How big are they? wondered Mitotsudaira, but this was hardly new, so it was not that much of a surprise. Regardless…

“Why would the ghost fleet target the Asama Shrine when you have that pain-in-the-ass barrier to contend with?”

“You could phrase that more nicely, Mito!”

“Good question,” said Naruze. “We know now that Suzu’s memories are superior to the ninja’s half-assed records, but why would the ghosts aim behind what they see as the evil Asama Shrine?”

“Can you please let it slide!?” begged Tenzou.

“B-but…why?”

“Maybe they were scared of what would happen if they did hit the shrine,” said Naito.

“N-nothing at allll scary would happen,” insisted Asama. “I mean, maybe a spell field would activate and annihilate the ghost fleet, but it’s normally no more extreme than that.”

“What could be more extreme than that!?” asked the others while Mitotsudaira rewrote Asama’s sign frame.

2. The ghost fleet begins to fire on the vicinity of the Asama Shrine

She went on to think about what she had written.

Could it be?

“Were they maybe aiming for me?”

“Wouldn’t they aim for you from the beginning in that case?”

“Then why did that enemy suddenly start-”

Asama frantically held her palms out toward her, so she fell silent.

Oops! I’m not supposed to talk about those ghosts!

Asama continued for her.

“We honestly don’t know why they started attacking you, Mito, but I really don’t think the artillery fire was meant for you. Especially because they weren’t aiming for you from the beginning.”

Come to think of it, that was true. Asama displayed her notes from the time on a sign frame.

“A cannon shot hit behind the shrine, the ghost warriors went boom, and then a ninja(?) ghost attacked Mito like it was somehow her fault. That’s how it played out.”

“Did they think Mitotsudaira-dono had done it?”

“I don’t think they’re that intelligent. These are vengeful spirits, so they act based on grudges.”

Asama paused there, wrinkled her brow, and finally turned toward Mitotsudaira.

“Mito, you didn’t know that ghost in life, did you?”

“I absolutely did not. I don’t know anyone in Totomi.”

“Oh.” Adele raised her hand. “Totomi is east of Mikawa and there was a lot of arguing after the Battle of Okehazama on whether it would go to the Testament Union or P.A. Oda. I think the Testament Union sent an armed trade fleet from Tres Portugal and España here to insist it belonged to them, so do you know anyone from there?”

“Adele-dono, isn’t it highly unlikely a European would be a ninja? Also…”

Mitotsudaira knew what Tenzou was trying to say, so she finished for him.

“I cut all ties to Europe during the fourth grade.”

Mitotsudaira saw everyone come to a stop when they heard that.

“–––––––”

She sighed in her heart. My past actions are coming back to bite me here.

Things might have played out differently if her king was here, but he was not.

I’m such a disgrace.

She had a tendency to make herself look bad but also act like that was perfectly fine.

She was doing it again here.

“Now, Asama. I honestly do not know if I was being targeted, but if anything does happen, I just have to win. So…”

Before she could finish, Asama nodded and smiled at her.

“So once this meeting is over, I will go tell Toori-kun you’re refusing our help and trying to solve this all on your own.”

Hori-ko: “Relying on him here is a low blow.”

Asama: “I-I’m honestly impressed to find you have your limits, Horizon.”

Gold Mar: “I’m not sure this is about having limits.”

Mar-Ga: “This was exactly when I realized going to her king was a good solution with her. A good solution when you need to come up with a scenario for her doujinshis, I mean.”

Silver Wolf: “Really!? That’s your biggest concern!?”

Mitotsudaira found herself unable to move.

“Eh?”

She’ll go to my king?

This was an unexpected reversal.

And it was more effective than she could have imagined.

All of her gloomy feelings were blown away.

W-wait!

She felt pathetic and ashamed, but she could do nothing about it and simply found herself at a loss for words.

The others had frozen up too, but Naito recovered and nodded.

“Yeah, we really should tell To-chan about this.”

“That is correct,” said Hassan. “Only he and curry could solve this one.”

“That goes without saying, right?”

“W-wait, um, I…”

She wanted to avoid causing her king any trouble here.

Ahh.

She held her head in her hands in her head…however that works, but Asama looked oddly satisfied with how this had turned out.

“Okay, we still need to figure out why the ghost fleet was attacking the area behind the shrine. Did they have some good reason for blowing away their fellow ghosts?”

“Heh. Isn’t it obvious!?” shouted Neshinbara. “The weaker ghosts were offered up as sacrifices to power up the ninja ghost! That must have been their plan!”

But Naruze held out a hand to stop him.

“Buzz. Wrong. The ghosts and the cannon blast were made of ether, so they were obliterated before they could be ‘sacrificed’ in any way.”

“Then could it have been an accident?” asked Naito. “But they were still aiming for the area behind the Asama Shrine, right? Asama-chi, is there a concentration of ether pathways back there or something? Something they would be interested in attacking more than the shrine itself.”

“Our ether pathways are concentrated directly below the shrine. So…”

Asama tapped Mitotsudaira’s shoulder and showed her a cross-section diagram of Okutama on a sign frame.

“Can you see it on this?”

Mitotsudaira located the Asama Shrine in its underground atrium on the diagram. If you were going to aim below the shrine from outside…

“If you targeted the area below the shrine from aft, you would hit the area behind the shrine. But this was from Murayama to port, so the shots would have hit to the port of the shrine.”

“Then what were they aiming for?” asked Ohiroshiki. “And what were those ghost warriors pursuing?”

“Well…”

She honestly did not know.

They had been chasing something when her king first spotted them, but they had never seen what.

So they had no way of knowing.

“Asama? And the rest of you too. Are there any records of something leaving the nature district behind the Asama Shrine during the confusion?”

“No, not that I am aware of,” said Tenzou.

“The Asama Shrine did not detect anything like that either,” said Asama.

“In that case,” said Mitotsudaira while rewriting Asama’s sign frame again.

3. Ghost warriors appear near the Asama Shrine and chased after something

She had a question about what she herself had just written.

“…?”

What was this feeling?

Something about what Ohiroshiki had said felt off to her. He had asked…

“What were they pursuing?”

Mitotsudaira also presented them with another fundamental question.

“How did they appear inside the Musashi’s spell barrier? And so near the Asama Shrine for that matter?”

No one had an answer.

Since Asama did not know, no one else would either.

So in search of a hint, she began focusing on the other information, hoping it would help her home in on what she wanted to know.

They had discovered what the enemy was aiming at, but…

“The more we discover, the less sense it all makes.”

They knew the end result, but they did not know the origin of the ghosts, why the ghosts had done it, how the ghosts had appeared there, or what the ghosts were.

There was just one thing she was almost entirely certain of.

Something about the result doesn’t sit right with me.

She could see what the enemy had done and what it had resulted it, but the “why” was a mystery.

Why had they done that?

Why had they appeared here?

Not knowing that meant something.

“Knowing their origin could really change how we interpret this,” said Naito. “Because it would tell us more about their nature as ghosts.”

“Judge. The same result would have a different meaning,” said Naruze. “But we can change our interpretation later, so I don’t think we need to worry about that too much right now.”

Everyone agreed with that.

They now had a good grasp of what had happened and of the end result.

“Let’s look back at the sign frame.”

1. The ghost fleet appears to port while docking at Totomi

2. The ghost fleet begins to fire on the vicinity of the Asama Shrine

3. Ghost warriors appear near the Asama Shrine and chased after something

4. The fleet’s bombardment hits the warriors

5. The leader(?) ninja(?) of the warriors attacks Mito

That was the best they could do, but knowing the result of each step meant a lot. And finding some clear questions to answer had to count for something. But…

“Asama, did this help to define the mysteries more clearly?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Hmm, I just hope we can get to the bottom of this before leaving Totomi.”

Asama crossed her arms and closed the sign frame to signal that the meeting was over.

At the same time, someone appeared at the classroom door.

A man stood with his hand on the door but did not enter the room.

“Oh, are you all here? Hm, not all of you, I see. I just came to peek in and see how you’re doing.”

This was almost the first time Mitotsudaira had heard this voice in person. It belonged to…

“Principal Sakai!?”