Horizon:Kimitoasamade 1A Chapter 1
Chapter 1: High Altitude Performer
The wind blows
As they simply remain together
Point Allocation (Onstage)
The color white began spiraling through the sky.
The wide arc of that wind turned the chilly air’s moisture into mist and ice which surrounded the theatre ship floating in the sky.
It swept away the chill and the diamond dust wind raced across the Noh Stage’s deck like a blade.
With a scraping sound, a long groove twenty centimeters wide and five centimeters deep was carved into the wooden deck.
The small pieces of ice had transformed the wind into a saw.
There was more than one gust of wind. It was mostly spiraling around, but several lightning-like gusts formed and shot back and forth as if playing. More and more slicing sounds rang out and a new line was carelessly drawn across the deck each time.
Most of the people on the deck preparing for the Gagaku Festival fled inside the ship using the various hatches.
Then they saw a giant form stand up from the ether tuner on the Noh Stage’s main stage.
It was ether. Ether would normally glow blue, but it had grown disturbed and instead glowed a dim yellow. And that nearly dull golden light formed an almost humanoid form.
It was about eight meters tall and had no arms or face. It simply had a torso, legs seemingly made of blades, and armor also seemingly made of blades.
“A Non-God Sword!?”
The Non-God Sword moved as if in response. It had only been rising from the ether tuner to establish its form, but now it raised its faceless upper body.
Its chest armor tightened inward. The action was similar to a human swinging their arms forward.
One of the students, a third year with a defense spell activated by a charm, stood up from a hatch and gave a shout.
“Fall back! A Non-God Sword is a type of summoned god, but its confused thoughts make it attack indiscriminately!”
A moment later, the wind gained a will of its own. Before, the blade-like gusts that had been racing back and forth as if for fun, but now two of them raced straight forward from the left and right of the Non-God Sword.
Their target was some Aki students who had failed to escape in time.
There were three of them.
One was a second year girl and the other two were first year girls. One of the first years had apparently sprained her ankle after tripping over one of the grooves carved into the deck.
The crazed god rejected everything not from its holy ground.
That rejection took the form of twin attacks that tore through the deck in their race for the three stopped girls.
The three had no way to dodge it and that fact became clear to everyone there.
At that moment, two third year boys raced aft, one from the front port hatch and one from the front starboard hatch. Each boy removed his summer uniform shirt to reveal an undershirt that said, “Aki Academy Track Team”. They were regulars with official numbers.
They were on the way to rescue the girls.
The two boys raced full speed toward the three unmoving girls at the stern of the deck.
The boy on the port side was barefoot and the one on the starboard side wore spikes.
They almost seemed to be following the two gusts of wind up ahead, but all they did was place the back end of those gusts in their field of vision.
They lowered their stance for a full-power dash and used their pumping arms to activate acceleration spell charms.
The barefoot one to port used one that purified the burden on and weariness in his body.
The spike one to starboard used one that applied acceleration primarily to his knees.
They activated them at the same time.
And they accelerated all at once. The acceleration did not grow with time. With each step they took, they pushed their bodies forward along the deck, as if running up a wall.
The barefoot one to port shouted to the other one approximately thirty meters to his starboard.
“Let’s settle this once and for all!!’”
The spike one responded with his breaths appearing white in the air.
“I’m definitely cooler than you!!”
“Saying that about yourself is proof that you aren’t!”
“Then,” shouted the spike one. “Let’s prove right here which one of us is cooler, you barefoot bastard!”
“What!? What kind of team captain is stupid enough to damage the deck for a little extra speed!?”
But the two of them faced forward, looked to the wind strikes up ahead, and shouted in unison.
“We can’t have a proper competition with those in the way!”
They passed by the wind in a mere three steps.
They broke through the air and scattered the ether light of acceleration spells as they raced onward.
Up ahead, they could see the three girls who had failed to escape.
“Jump, cuties!!” shouted the barefoot one.
The girls exchanged a glance.
They shook their head and the spike one shouted to the barefoot one.
“Don’t make this harder on them than it already is! …Just jump!!”
The two first year girls jumped. Even the one with a sprained ankle jumped with her good leg.
The track team members each snatched a first year with one arm and reached their other arm toward the remaining second year girl.
Having them both say it at once may have been a mistake.
The second year girl in the center was unsure which way to go and ended up not moving at all. The track team members both missed her and passed her by. They exchanged a glance, approached, and used their empty hands to point at each other.
“This is your fault!!”
But they could not head back now and the barefoot one looked back.
“Dammit! And she has a huge rack too! I wanted to ‘accidentally’ cop a feel when I grabbed her!!”
“You idiot! She avoided you because of that obvious ulterior motive!”
The spike one laughed and held out his hand.
“Ha ha. Of course, I had similar plans.”
They shook hands, but the twin wind attacks were still on their way to the second year girl behind them.
The barefoot one ended the handshake and tossed his first year girl to the spike one.
“I might not make it in time, but I’m going in for that grope!!”
“Get one in for me too!!”
The barefoot one forced his body into a midair spin, landed, and felt the soles of his feet burning from the friction.
The barefoot boy pushed his body forward with all his strength.
I’ll definitely make it in time, he thought. After all…
“That was a great decision, captain!!”
Light was flying around him. The team captain had scattered his acceleration spell through the air.
This gave the barefoot one his own and the other boy’s spell. The charm had been set to grant its power to others, but adjustments would normally be needed to combine it with another spell. However…
“We were using acceleration spells that didn’t overlap in the slightest!”
They knew each other well, so they had worked to gain each other’s strong points and make up for their weak points.
“Show them your Aki spirit!”
He kicked himself forward with double the acceleration and he forcibly tore through the air on his way forward.
It would take him only five steps to get there.
The wind blew in from the right and this new strike was timed with the moment of greatest speed.
The Non-God Sword had targeted him to interfere.
If he dodged this, he could not get his grope, but if he kept going, he would be hit. Which meant…
He leaned forward to forcibly eliminate a tiny bit more air resistance.
The result was miniscule, but it did raise his speed.
In that instant, the wind from the right accelerated.
He knew why. The wind he had seen before corresponded to someone raising a sword, so this was the speed of swinging the sword down. In that case, it was not directed at him at all.
“That huge rack!”
The twin attacks targeting that girl also picked up speed.
He realized he was not going to make it in time, but…
He accelerated. He knew he had to do something, so he sped up. He knew he had to do something and find something to do, but…
“A finalist can’t rely on anything but his speed!!”
He charged forward.
The wind was coming.
It was going to hit.
At that moment, something fell from the sky between him and the approaching wind on the right. It was…
It was a girl, but…
With a great sound of destruction, the wind approaching the barefoot finalist vanished.
But that was not all.
The two winds attacking the girl he was trying to save also vanished.
What just happened? he wondered.
But his body continued moving before he could think.
He grabbed the second year girl.
His right hand “slipped”.
The “slip” of his left hand was for the team captain.
Yes, this is for the captain. And since it’s for him, one more wouldn’t hurt. Yes, I need to make sure I keep possession of this! For the captain! Oh, but this one can be for me, I guess.
“It can, can’t it!? Can’t it!?”
He accidentally spoke out loud and got slapped.
It was an excellent slap, so he decided to recommend her to the sumo team later.
But as he ran toward the hatch that his fellow students were gesturing him toward, he checked behind him.
Why were they unhurt?
They were Musashi students and there were three in all.
One was near where the wind heading toward him had vanished. A blonde girl in glasses and a track suit was collapsed on the deck with her eyes spinning.
One was near the collapsed glasses girl. She had giant breasts and wore a black shrine maiden outfit.
The last was near where the winds heading toward the second year girl had vanished.
“Second in line to ruling the Far East, Nate Mitotsudaira!?”
Mitotsudaira stuck a charm comb in her hair to stop it from dancing in the wind.
She then pulled an armband from the wicker basket attached to her waist hard point.
Her shrine maiden outfit had no sleeves and thus no place to attach an armband, so she simply held up the armband and spoke in a carrying voice.
“I am Nate Mitotsudaira, Musashi Knight League Rank 1 and Extra Special Duty Officer of Musashi’s Chancellor’s Officers. …I will take charge of this scene.”
She faced forward and attached the armband to her waist hard point.
She then pulled a charm stocker from the wicker basket and attached to her wrist. The stocker showed signs of a few charms having already been pulled out, and it was stocked with…
“Shinto spell shields.”
Up ahead, the Non-God Sword was facing her. It had already raised its arms, so…
The wind blew in. This time, it was six gusts at once.
She raised her eyebrows as the blades of icy wind rushed in from six directions simultaneously.
“I will push back!”
She opened a spell shield in both hands, thrust it forward, and started to run.
Kimi watched Mitotsudaira’s back as she ran forward.
…Will she be okay?
Not even two seconds later, sounds of destruction exploded from Mitotsudaira and white ice rose like smoke. Five or six trails of ice rose all at once.
The Shinto spell shield Mitotsudaira was using defended by reducing the enemy’s force and speed. It was the standard type for the Far East.
Unlike the Catholic and Protestant reflection types, whatever hit it would lose its power and either vanish or fall straight down. This had looked more like an explosion because the wind blades were quite large vertically, so when the bottom was reduced, the top could not keep up and it collapsed in on itself.
“Taking that much force at once will wear down the charm like crazy. …Mitotsudaira, can’t you run any faster? That looks more like 70% right now.”
Even if Mitotsudaira had not been defending against the wind, Kimi had a feeling she could run and catch up to the girl, but…
“I-I’m running as fast as I can!”
Kimi had always thought Mitotsudaira was the heavy tank type, but not this much.
…Not only is she running on her heels, but she’s using her strength all wrong.
Kimi could not give the girl any advice because she was bad with descriptions, but she could tell Mitotsudaira’s stance was focusing more on strength than speed. While that could be a problem in some situations, not being blown away meant a lot against an opponent with such great power.
Then I guess it’s fine for now, concluded Kimi.
Adele unsteadily lifted her head from the deck at Kimi’s feet.
“Oh, you can move, Adele? Are you okay? If you think you’ve been knocked senseless, I could grope you. How about it?”
“And how would that help me!? How!? …Sorry, I shouldn’t have dignified that with a response. Um, where’s the Extra Special Duty Officer?”
Three explosions of wind sounded out at almost the same time.
They looked back to see Mitotsudaira continuing forward. However, her pace was falling. She was within fifty meters of the Non-God Sword, but the number of wind swords was growing.
The Non-God Sword was likely only now really beginning to use its power.
“Here it comes.”
Kimi listened to the wind. Even that raging whirlwind had a melody to it.
Adele got up, took a crouching stance, and nodded.
“Non-Gods like a Non-God Sword are created from a ley line disturbance that causes the spiritual molds of the land and surrounding lands to overlap. This one is probably a fusion of the European coast’s legendary giants and gods as well as the Far East’s Genpei war and the ironworking culture of the Bizen area.”
“Is that secondhand information? From who? Four eyes?”
“Judge. Neshinbara-san seemed really happy as he talked about it over the divine network.”
“There are these rare times when he has some useful information. If only he wasn’t always talking about superpowers and other nonsense from anime and novels. Well, fine.”
Kimi listened to the noise.
“Heh heh. I don’t know much about Non-God Swords or whatever, but if you’re going to use swords, you need to use a sexier design. If all we’re up against is brute strength, then leave it to me, Gracias Aoi, to pave the way forward. That will clear the way to the ending, so you will be beaten to a pulp in no time.”
“Eh? Y-you can do that?”
“Oh? Adele, have I ever said I could do something that I couldn’t? You also won’t hear me say I will become the world’s best woman, hold the world in the palm of my hand, or become the very definition of beauty, but why would I bother saying anything I could do so easily? The things that I truly don’t know if I can do or not are much closer to home. Heh heh. And compared to those things…”
A small smile appeared on the corner of her mouth.
“I can easily make this Non-God or whatever look up to me.”
Mitotsudaira moved forward.
The wind continued to collide with her and her spell shields kept breaking, but…
…I cannot fall back!
Monsters created by an ether distortion were usually bound to a location and this Non-God Sword was no exception. Just as spirits preferred the environment suited to them and gods preferred holy grounds, this Non-God attempted to secure and protect the location it had appeared in.
But as a being born of an ether distortion and stagnation, its optimal location did not exist in this world. After all, this world was generally well-ordered.
So it bound itself to its current location and dyed the surrounding space in its own colors. If the world was unsuited toward it, it would remake that world.
Small monsters would be worn down by the process of spreading its domain and would disappear.
That was the normal outcome.
But that would not happen when one had extracted enough ether to support itself even as it stagnated the surrounding space.
That was the case here.
If left alone, its domain would spread to a portion of the deck and the surrounding space, so Mitotsudaira had a single goal.
“Keep the Non-God Sword focused on itself rather than its surroundings!”
She kept her stance low and opened her shield so it would not leave her body. Like that, she collided with the charging wind, received it, and swept it aside. Whenever her shield shattered…
…I open a new one!
She had plenty of charms. She had often played the role of defender in training and mock battles. To prepare her for conflicts with other nations, she had used a shield against a god of war or ship’s cannon on several occasions. Running out of charms and being unable to defend was a common mistake, but she had grown out of doing that halfway through the previous year.
She had strength but no speed, so her role was defense.
The Testament Union had appointed her to the temporary position of Extra Special Duty Officer with the Chancellor’s Officers, but that was only because they wanted some influence over her as second in line to ruling the Far East.
She had already reached Rank 1 in the Knight League and she had performed official duties since halfway through middle school, so this was nothing new for her.
At first, everyone had apparently considered putting her in the rear guard, but…
“The Far East doesn’t have many defenders.”
The Far East’s primary weapons were the sword, spear, and rifle, so they had little concept of shields. Their reduction shields were tricky to use until one got the hang of the system and they mostly required staying in one spot.
The Far East needed a barrier to apply pressure to the enemy while actively moving forward.
That meant acting as bait to draw the enemy’s attacks, so Mitotsudaira would always move forward, yet…
…An attacker always moves past me and takes all the glory for themselves.
Hers was a thankless role.
But, she thought.
…Everyone expected me to be a delinquent.
Before gaining official duties as a knight, she had been violent, damaged many people and things, and even harmed herself.
Making up for it with this defense role was only her personal view of the situation, but she was fine with that. And…
She heard a small cry from down at her feet.
She recognized the sudden, quiet roar.
It was the Cerberus.
Mitotsudaira looked down at her newborn follower.
To her, it seemed to have followed her without being asked, but it may have thought it was leading her and threatening the enemy.
It could always flee and it seemed somewhat afraid, but the three-headed wolf still roared at the Non-God Sword. She placed it in the corner of her vision, and…
“I need to do this right!”
She moved forward and broke through the wind.
She heard the voices of the Aki students who had evacuated into the hatches.
Strength filled those voices, yet just a few years before, she would have only heard fearful and cautious voices.
“Honestly,” she said aloud this time.
She raised her eyebrows, moved forward, and spoke to herself in the wind.
“He was the one dragged me into all this and now he’s practically ignoring me? What is my king thinking?”
The wind struck her, but she rotated the shield in her hand to deflect, break, and surpass that power.
She moved forward and she could sense herself drawing in the enemy, but she could also sense her own lack of power.
She could protect the area around her. Even as a Non-God Sword, its physical attacks were not much different from a god of war or ship’s cannon. She only had to accurately block them. But…
“There’s so many!”
The amount of wind continued to grow. The Non-God Sword was doing more than attacking her in rapid succession.
It also began walking toward her.
By filling the gap between them, it could increase its speed of attack. And…
“It’s gathering the surrounding clouds, isn’t it!?”
The chilly clouds surrounding the Noh Stage shrank as if being squeezed in tight. The greater density darkened the clouds and the wind was also released from the clouds instead of just the area around the Non-God Sword itself.
“Everyone, don’t bother providing backup or tuning! Shut the hatches and evacuate!”
“The Non-God Sword is targeting you!!”
The Aki students were tuning the surrounding ley lines inside the large open hatches. That allowed them to restrain the expanding stagnation and hold back the Non-God Sword’s power.
In addition to spells, that required a calm heart. Those Aki students had undergone purification drills at Itsukushima Shrine, so…
“I don’t think I’ve ever hear someone so flustered! …Oh, no! I tore my tights! Look!”
“Are you trying to fill us with impure thoughts!?”
Even as they argued, they activated their spells and tuned the space around the hatches.
The wind around the hatches calmed and the clouds directly overhead cleared, allowing gentle sunlight in.
But for defense purposes, aerial ship hatches would deflect ether interference when closed, so the hatches had to be open to provide tuning. But…
“Here it comes!”
The Non-God Sword’s wind was fired directly toward the hatches.
It was trying to crush the extra help so it could focus on Musashi’s Extra Special Duty Officer.
There were eight wind swords. The Non-God Sword’s nonexistent arms were wielding their full power as it moved forward.
Each gust of wind blew in a straight line to tear into them.
They could not close the hatches in time, so the wind struck.
Eight winds collided with those manned locations and eight sounds rang through the sky.
They were sounds of spraying destruction.
However, it did not come from the destruction of the ship and there were no screams.
The wind itself was suddenly destroyed.
Even those in the hatches were confused. The wind had scattered like spray just as it was going to hit them.
They all looked up on the deck to see what had happened and they saw a light there.
It came from the center of the deck where the black shrine maiden and glasses girl had moved in to defend. The black shrine maiden was standing there and the glasses girl had moved away in preparation.
The shrine maiden was lit by sunlight.
The Non-God Sword’s movements had made the swirling clouds grow even denser, yet the sky was perfectly visible directly over her head.
Plus, even more light was supplied from above the eight hatches.
The black shrine maiden was dancing.
She took gentle yet accurate steps, those steps sounded loudly, and she let her body bounce.
The wind roared.
As she moved, the Non-God Sword’s swirling clouds seemed to rumble and cry out.
But some of the onlookers realized that was inaccurate. They lay on the steps from the hatch to the deck, peeked upwards, and slowly measured the timing.
“Is the rhythm of her dance synchronized with the movements of the clouds and wind?”
That was one of the spells of the Ootsubaki-style entertainer gods. One would dance to purify and provide divine protections to the surrounding space. Normally, the spell would apply the theme of the dance to the surrounding space in the form of divine protections and purification, but this was likely different.
“Did she take on the Non-God Sword’s rhythm to interfere with that rhythm!?”
“Heh heh heh. This is only a sword manifestation being distracted by a wolf. No matter how powerful it is, it’s simple at the most basic level. And if you want to swing all those swords around so much, stop trying to fuck the empty air see how it feels for yourself!”
She kept her eyebrows flat, spun her body, and looked across all of the wind, deck, and sky around her.
She laughed out loud and audibly stepped on the wooden deck. As if reacting to that sound, the wind blew in from multiple locations.
It was flying, but…
“How foolish. You’re just an adorable little child. You were only just born and known nothing of the world.”
As she danced, Kimi spun around and dodged every last one of the wind swords, causing those blades to collide with each other.
“Heh heh. Act tough if you like. I can easily respond in kind. See?”
Countless ice fragments scattered through the wind around the dancing shrine maiden, but not even they reached her. They simply adorned her dance.
As the range of the sunlight grew, the scattered ice glittered. Kimi smiled and spun within it all. She used her fingertips to draw out the paths of the swirling clouds in advance and her feet touched the deck to match the timing of the Non-God Sword’s swaying body and moving legs. Even as she twisted her body, lifted her hips, and embraced her chest, her movements drew out the wind’s movement in advance or followed after those movements.
She spoke as her dance sped up.
“You really are hopeless. You haven’t lived through even a single night and you’ve never woken up to find yourself alone. You do not understand the meaning of loneliness or the origin of solitude. I will teach you that a newborn blade can only be put away in its scabbard. Yes, I will teach you so very kindly.”
Her movements sped up and new light appeared.
A Shinto spell circle made from a circle of torii shapes rose from her feet. It grew to a diameter of approximately five meters and acted as her footing. Four additional torii-style sign frames appeared behind her. Another large one rose into the sky and displayed an enlarged image of her face.
“I’ll go with a reverse-order Ootsubaki-style Foothold Dance. The song will be Star Festival. …Is that okay?”
As soon as she asked that, Uzy clapped on her shoulder and instrument icons appeared in the four sign frames behind her. They shook, added to the sound, tightened in, and yet began playing a song.
Meanwhile, the Non-God Sword roared.
It was a loud, sky-shaking voice, but Kimi had predicted even that great rumbling.
She produced a voice of her own. And…
“Try to keep up.”
With that comment, Kimi accelerated. She ruled that spell emblem stage with her dance.
The Non-God Sword stopped in response. With one hundred meters between them, it bent its body as if to combat Kimi’s movements.
Wind appeared in truly every direction and swept across the deck.
Adele held up a spell shield like an umbrella and looked around the area.
The entire deck had become a giant clash between a storm and the sunlight.
The Non-God Sword was rapidly launching attacks with its feet stopped on the deck while Kimi loudly faced it with her dance. Adele could see all of their movements, but…
She could also hear them.
Again and again, the wind crashed down more as a violent wave than a gale and was ultimately smashed into white spray. Kimi continued her composed dance while her sign frames played accompaniment in place of a band.
Her hair danced, her hands and fingers bounced up, and her legs were repositioned without end. When she looked on the verge of falling over, she would add a spin to escape.
“Hey, tomorrow is a summer day, the day of the star festival.”
Adele could hear Kimi’s singing voice even through the bursting wind.
“I sigh countless times and send you looks of protest.”
The wind crashed and clouds tried to block out the blue of the sky.
“But you seem to hear everything. Everything but me.”
Kimi’s steps smashed the wind and her swinging arms cleared the sky.
“No matter how close I sit to you.”
The wind swords raced forward in unison, but…
“Only the starlight reaches your eyes.”
Kimi only had to look back with a smile to crush that wind.
“Fine, then. Tomorrow is a summer day, the night of the star festival.”
Adele saw a line of light appear at Kimi’s feet.
“I will have you look up to the stars. I will have you mesmerized by them.”
Kimi’s movements read the Non-God Sword’s movement patterns and created them like sheet music.
“Fine, then. Today is a summer day, the night of the star festival.”
Adele heard a “la la” from Kimi. It was not related to her movements or anything else. Even the lyrics of the line were meaningless.
“The stars will still be there on the way home.”
Kimi added a new movement to the mix.
“They will stand still for you.”
She embraced her own body in her arms. She started with the shoulders.
A moment later, Adele saw a violent tremor run through the Non-God Sword’s shoulders and its entire body shook. Kimi’s song, dance, and music had synchronized its ether to herself.
“Today is a summer day, after the star festival.”
When she embraced her own hips, the Non-God Sword’s hips were struck and its ether ruptured.
“I will have you reach for the stars.”
Kimi wrapped her arms around her shoulders, chest, hips, and body to embrace herself. Each time, the corresponding part of the Non-God Sword was struck and broken.
“I will have you do so forevermore.”
Kimi’s voice rang through the sky. It was a laugh and she then opened her mouth wide.
Rather than pierce through the wind, her voice seemed to push it outward.
Then came the blue.
The clouds covering the sky were parted and a path of sunlight was formed.
As Kimi’s voice spread, so did the path of light between her and the Non-God Sword.
A single figure stood in the center of that path.
“Extra Special Duty Officer!”
It was Mitotsudaira.
She had been enduring the wind before, but now she moved forward.
She used both hands to raise her shield made of ether.
And she collided with the collapsing Non-God Sword’s leg.
The tactile feedback told Mitotsudaira she had destroyed it.
She had made it close enough because Kimi had drawn the enemy’s attacks and then tuned the area to a certain extent.
The sound of shattering glass rang out as the Non-God Sword’s left leg broke.
Amid the fragments of bursting ether light, Mitotsudaira looked up at the enemy and spoke.
“Well done, Kimi!”
Kimi heard Mitotsudaira’s voice as she continued her dance as a postlude.
…Heh heh. She’s in a good mood.
That may have been because she had reached the enemy and destroyed them despite being a defender. Maybe she needed to relieve some stress, thought Kimi, but it was not only thanks to Kimi that Mitotsudaira had reached the enemy.
It took some preparation before she could sing and dance. It had taken some time to read the Non-God Sword’s rhythm and create the stage for the spell.
…And that was only possible because you started forward, Mitotsudaira.
For the first half, Mitotsudaira had drawn the enemy’s attention while Kimi prepared. For the second half, Kimi had drawn the enemy’s attention while Mitotsudaira continued forward.
That knight has a bad habit of not noticing her own accomplishments due to her guilt about the past.
That isn’t what a proper woman does.
I just hope she realizes soon that immersing herself in self-deprecation is holding her back from taking the next step. What does she think she’s doing?
Kimi’s song finally ended.
She was not out of breath. Rather, the damage to the Non-God Sword and its destroyed leg had caused it to shift from her predicted rhythm.
She would eventually fail if she attempted to rule the stage with the same rhythm as before. And even if she succeeded, that would allow the injured Non-God Sword to recover.
She continued dancing while wondering if she needed to prepare the next dance, but she shrugged when she saw the result in the sunlight up ahead.
“Well, we’ll manage somehow. I can take my time and think.”
A second strike hit the Non-God Sword and shards of light scattered from the right leg, the one Mitotsudaira had not destroyed.
Kimi shouted to the person who had collided with the leg after racing down the pathway of sunlight.
“Excellent work, Adele!”
Mitotsudaira saw Adele’s results.
She had charged straight into the other leg with her shield at the ready.
Adele was not a Shinto musician. She was Catholic. Her spell shield was the reflection type, so her speed was an important factor to its power when ramming something.
Mitotsudaira knew that Adele was just as fast as (if not faster than) Tenzou, the ninja in their class. But…
…Is she okay!?
Adele had picked up too much speed, so she was launched into the sky along with the shards of the Non-God Sword’s leg and her own shield. The reflection of her shield had lifted her from the deck.
Adele spun through the air with an expression that made it clear she had not expected this, so Mitotsudaira reached out a hand.
But there was no way she could reach the girl.
Her legs were average and her height was decent for a girl, but not very impressive compared to most of the knights, warriors, and Chancellor’s Officers. Needless to say, the reach of her arms and legs were just as unimpressive.
After self-destructing, Adele would have to show her willpower as a vassal when she landed. She was on this Shinto stage despite being Catholic because she needed to earn some money for her daily life. She had apparently recently learned the trick to working on scaffolding and she mainly worked as a mechanic. She had been called here on short notice when they found they needed someone at the last second, but if she hit her head, she would probably be given a decent payout to cover medical expenses, which was sure to delight her.
At any rate, her attack had been a success.
Both of the Non-God Sword’s legs had been broken and its stance had crumbled.
Of course, as a spiritual being, the legs were only for show. The monster primarily moved by floating.
However, its legs had made up a large portion of its structure, so destroying them caused its density to crumble.
Mitotsudaira was fairly certain it would continue to collapse like this, but…
The Cerberus cried out at her feet.
It was not the Cerberus’s cry that confused her.
That roar had been meant to warn her.
She trusted the small wolf and looked up to see what this was about.
The Non-God Sword was getting up, but not with its legs. It was using its arms.
It had not had any arms before, but now it had six. A sword formed the upper arm and forearm of each one and two on each side acted as crab-like legs.
Mitotsudaira knew what was happening. With its place stolen and its body shattered, it was focusing all of its power on itself. This was self-defense meant to protect its own body instead of self-preservation meant to spread itself into the external world.
An Aki student watching from a hatch described this new form.
“Is that a Gyuki?”
There were some differences in the legends, but that was a monster that appeared on the coast and in the watering holes of the western Far East. It had the body of a spider and the head of a horned ox. Even Musashi had a record of one appearing in Asakusa. And in that case…
“This stagnation must have taken in the Gyuki’s mold too.”
The Non-God Sword had started to crumble, but it had recovered. It lifted itself up, used two blades like arms and used the remaining four like legs.
However, that roar was immediately crushed.
The Non-God Sword had been destroyed.
Adele saw the light as she lay sprawled out on the deck with her eyes spinning.
A straight line of light pierced diagonally through the Non-God Sword’s raised left arm, chest, and front right leg.
The piercing light stabbed into the deck.
Unlike a flame, the light was focused and it quickly vanished, leaving behind…
The arrow had flown in from the east. The Tanigawa Castle was floating nearby there. It had initially been quite a bit higher than the Noh Stage so that Adele and the others could jump down, but now it was only a little bit higher, and…
Asama stood on the edge of the Tanigawa Castle’s deck as she performed the follow-through from firing her bow.
She watched the Non-God Sword crumble after its attempted recovery and then she slowly reached for a new arrow.
“Do not move, Adele. The homing still isn’t great, so I’ll go without it.”
“Just out of curiosity, what would happen if I did move!?”
“If you move, I’ll accidentally target you. …No, I mean this thing will.”
“What!? What do you mean by that!?”
Asama fired regardless.
After destroying the Non-God Sword’s legs with two additional shots, Asama sighed.
She relaxed her shoulders and looked to the scene of the battle where Kimi and Mitotsudaira were smiling and waving at her. She could even tell the Cerberus at Mitotsudaira’s feet was letting down its guard.
That meant the problem had been eliminated.
She was from the Asama Shrine, Musashi’s main shrine. Aki was managed by Itsukushima Shrine, so she could not easily interfere. Her summary negotiation with Aki had concluded by having her agree not to set foot on Aki land and to instead ‘perform a westward exorcism’ from Musashi land.
If she had failed, she would have interfered with Aki and would be indebted to them.
She had needed to both hit and destroy the target.
There were homing spells for a shrine maiden’s arrows, but using the Blessings for that lowered the power. Once she could apply for the rank of upper-level shrine maiden, she would be able to use more efficient methods, but she was still mid-level. She had the power, but she lacked accomplishments.
That was why she had been forced to use non-homing reinforced arrows.
To hit, she had needed line of sight.
She had not expected the Non-God Sword to begin a recovery for self-defense, but Mitotsudaira and Kimi had done a splendid job of guiding her to victory.
They had only had a quick discussion beforehand, but those two and Adele had managed to clear away the wind barrier and then hold the Non-God Sword in place to make it easier to shoot.
Asama watched the crumbling Non-God Sword with Konoha, her left false eye.
She could not tell if the mold at the foundation of its appearance was crumbling as well. If that remained, it was possible another one would appear.
But dealing with that was Aki’s job. The work here had revealed the Non-God Sword’s ether vibration. If that fixed rhythm was reported to Aki, they could deal with it via purification or sealing.
But besides that…
“So our Extra Special Duty Officer proved useful.”
Asama heard a female voice from behind her.
She looked back and saw a female student in armor standing much closer than expected. She was pretty much right in front of her.
The girl wore a light mobile shell over her summer uniform and held a cowling assault spear in her left hand.
The girl that Asama spoke to wore an armband saying, “Vice President: Ookubo Tadayo”.
Vice President Tadayo looked her way, smiled, and shook her longish black hair.
“I should’ve expected that from the Asama Shrine. Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered showing up. …Are Suga and Tsuna here?”
Asama frantically shook her head.
As a member of the Asama Shrine, she knew the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers, but she did not often speak with the Vice President and this was the first time the girl had spoken to her with a smile.
After shaking her head, Asama thought about the mentioned names.
“Um… No, the Vice Chancellor and 1st Special Duty Officer haven’t-…”
“If you’re looking for the Vice Chancellor, I’m over here.”
A boy sat on the edge of the bow.
He was a thick boy. He had the frame of a log standing on end, a thick wooden sword rested on his lap, and he stared out at the Noh Stage. His armband said “Vice Chancellor: Oosuga Yasutaka” and he placed a hand on his chin as he viewed the other theatre ship.
“The Extra looks happy.”
“That’s because she’s the shield that always heads out first but never reaches the enemy. It’s the same in the Knight League’s mock battles, so I think she gets a little too self-deprecating. It’s to the point that she’s even considerate of a Rank 5 like me.”
“A good superior is considerate of her subordinates.”
“And that’s why I have to head out there.”
Asama understood what Tadayo’s statement meant.
“You mean Musashi’s Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council are all set to deal with this Aki-side trouble?”
“It wasn’t hard getting permission after everything you and the Extra did. If Aki showed up now and crushed the already crumbling Non-God Sword, it would only hurt their reputation. We reached a compromise where we do it for them since it’s a small job and we’re already here.”
“Tadayo. I think you could put that in a nicer way.”
“I don’t want to hear that from a Suwa-style.”
Tadayo smiled bitterly and prepared to leap over to the Noh Stage using the two ships’ height difference, but she suddenly turned toward Oosuga who was still sitting down.
“You come too once Tsuna gets here. Even if it’s for show, we’re acting on the behalf of another academy. You can wait until we have the appropriate materials from the 1st Special Duty Officer.”
As soon as he replied, Tadayo made her jump.
She was a Rank 5 in Musashi’s Knight League. Even as the Vice President, she was militaristic. She soon landed on the Noh Stage which still had some wind remaining.
She raised a hand to greet Mitotsudaira and began running.
She sure is fast, thought Asama as she watched the girl’s light step.
“Um, where is the Chancellor and Student Council President?” she asked Oosuga.
“I don’t know where Torii is, but she’s probably playing with Watanabe. The Far East’s Chancellor and President have to be incompetent after all.”
Oosuga returned to the deck as he answered and Asama heard him let out a sigh that could have been in sorrow or relief.
“What’s with that mature atmosphere you’ve got going on, Suga!? It’s really cool, so take thiiiiiiis!
It happened far too suddenly.
A third year girl roughly wearing a summer uniform took a light step and kicked Oosuga’s large frame right in the butt, knocking him away from the deck.
Asama did not have time to think any further. Oosuga was a large boy, but he had been in the process of standing up. He swayed quite a bit in the direction he had been hit.
After a light cry of doubt, he fell right off the deck.
Is he okay? Can you really do that? wondered Asama while the rough girl watched Oosuga fall and let out an impressed “ohhhhh”.
“Hey! Did you see that!?”
She suddenly turned toward Asama.
She was a third year, but she was a little shorter than Asama and she showed off her teeth with a smile.
“This means Musashi’s Vice Chancellor was injured in an accident out here, right!? That should let me and Aki both save face. It’s gotta.”
She had a carefree smile on her face and an armband on her shoulder.
Asama read what was written there: “Chancellor and Student Council President: Torii Mototada”.
In the end, the Non-God Sword was entirely destroyed and command of the scene was returned to Aki thirty-two minutes later.
The falling Vice Chancellor was picked up by a trade ship and only made it back via Aki two hours and fifty-seven minutes later.
When Asama and the others returned, their first stop was the Asama Shrine. By then, it was past 6:30 PM.
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