Horizon:Kimitoasamade 1B Chapter 7
Chapter 7: Sweethearts at a Place of Wishes
My usual habits kicked in
And I went a little crazy…
Point Allocation (Can’t Be Helped)
Asama was thinking.
…Now, this is supposed to be a date, but what are we supposed to do?
They were at Mt. Takao. It was called a mountain, but it was actually the nature district and sail on the back end of Takao, the third starboard ship. The main selling points were the small mountain in the nature district, the Buddhist temple, and the various training ground viewing points or self-prayer stations.
Takao was known as a power spot, so it was of course the major Buddhist location on the Musashi. The mountain monks would also gather there.
According to the Testament descriptions, Mt. Takao was managed by Ookubo Nagayasu, a Matsudaira retainer, and Asama had heard that the candidates to inherit the Ookubo name were training there.
…Isn’t the daughter of the Ookubo family in the first year?
Because Ookubo Nagayasu managed Mt. Takao, rights to the name fell to Musashi rather than to Mikawa which had sent everyone away and given the names of all the major retainers to automatons. Partially because the Tadayo name had already been inherited by someone from Musashi, it was expected that someone else from Musashi would inherit Ookubo Nagayasu’s name as well. But…
“Takao can’t develop too much since its manager’s name hasn’t been inherited yet.”
As the daughter of the Asama Shrine, she decided she needed to focus more on the area’s ley line output and tuning management.
Even so, the area was well established.
Children played in the nature district’s park and the mountain monks were training in the artificial waterfall.
“Okay, today’s water has an impurity-exorcising spell, so a Buddha’s gonna appear and beat the crap out of all the impure people. I hope you’re ready.”
The water had stopped flowing over the bare-rock cliff and the mountain monks prepared themselves down below in front of a display that said “standby”. All of them held body pillows or porn game boxes with waterproof spell charms attached.
“All right! Bring it! I’ll resist this with my waifu!!”
“Yeah! Today we’ll prove that our genre-loving spirit has the justice needed to defeat even a Buddha!”
“That’s right. If we win here, it means this is Buddha-approved!!”
As soon as the cascade of water poured down, they were all swept away. For about a minute, the sounds of sutra strikes came from the Buddha that appeared at the bottom of the water. Finally, the mountain monks floated up, lying face-down in the water.
Once the older monks fished them out with bamboo poles, they all sounded refreshed.
“Ah ha ha! I feel like I was castrated from the bottom of my stomach to my crotch!”
“Okay! Let’s start from the beginning: browsing the divine network and saving any porn images we happen to come across!!”
“Yeah! Let’s use our refreshed worldly minds to awaken to a brand new genre!!”
Kimi and Mitotsudaira commented on the mountain monks who walked off with their arms around each other’s shoulders.
“Isn’t that just formatting the memory of their worldly minds?”
“And aren’t they looking at it all wrong if they’re thinking about ‘resisting’ it?”
“I’ve heard that some things just can’t be erased…”
Shinto could also purify impurities, but there was nothing they could do about the root problem. And even if they could, it would cause problems as far as ‘having many descendants’ was concerned. Plus, Shinto mythology tended to promote sexual things.
…It’s a tricky issue…
Asama took the other two along Mt. Takao. The mast portion was used for temple lodgings, so they did not need to go that far. Some trainee monks who had been lax in their training were being forced to bungee jump off the sail as many times as their age, but Asama could not quite remember if the Testament descriptions mentioned that or not.
“Asama, is that the reverse bungee using the towing belt’s ejection device that I’ve heard so much about lately? It shoots them up pretty high, doesn’t it?”
“I’ll agree that the training grounds here seem to be growing weirder and weirder.”
Some of the monks were jogging with an older monk in the lead.
“Listen! You are all pigs! You are from the Animal Realm! But I will whip you into shape so you can reach enlightenment! We’ll be singing a perverted song as we run to erase your worldly thoughts! …Freeze-dried tofu is good tofu~! It’s good for me~! And good for you~! C’mon!”
The others repeated after him and Asama wondered if she needed to set up any defenses against what they were saying.
But, she thought. Does this work for a date or not?
…Right now, we’re at a Buddhist theme par-…no. Some of the monks over there may be putting on a fire-walking show, but that must be part of their training.
“Tomo, um, is that dancing Mikkyo Mouse over there really a legitimate part of Buddhism?”
“Well, I think he’s part of the Animal Realm, but beyond that I don’t know.”
Kimi on the other hand seemed to be in a good mood as she clung to Asama’s right arm.
Asama wanted ask what she found to be so entertaining, but…
…A good escort doesn’t ask if their partner is enjoying the date.
If they assumed their partner was enjoying it and were looking for agreement, they were looking down on their partner. If they assumed their partner was not enjoying it and yet asked, then they were only looking for a convenient answer.
The correct answer was to find things that they assumed they and their partner would enjoy, guide them there, and naturally enjoy that time together.
If the knowledge Asama had gained from their previous discussion was accurate, then what people enjoyed would never match up if they tried to force it. And even if it did, it would not last long.
Then, thought Asama. I need to figure out what it is we all enjoy.
I need to find it.
Asama looked to an offering station to the side and saw a fire altar.
…If we use that to chant a sutra for a Buddhist spell, we can get anti-demon divine protection, can’t we?
She just about asked Kimi and Mito if they wanted to try it out, but then she started wondering if chanting a sutra and getting anti-demon divine protection would be a fun date activity.
It would help teach her the differences between Shinto and Buddhism and the divine protection would be useful for her work, but…
…Th-that doesn’t have much at all to do with Kimi or Mito.
Oh, no, she thought.
She had been glancing over at the various fire altars and other things for a while now, but she had been looking at them in the context of her work with spells.
To Kimi and Mito, she was being nothing more than a spell-obsessed freak.
She shuddered at her own actions.
She had no idea if the training grounds or anything else here were “fun”.
She wanted to try out the different facilities, but that was because her work with spells made her curious if and how their divine protection and exorcism systems worked.
…Wow. I really am an obsessed freak.
She had assumed this date plan had been on her home field, but that was wrong. In a way, it was a complete away game where she could only score own goals.
Getting out of here as quickly as possible was the best course of action. When their enjoyment was so out of sync, it was better to leave and go somewhere else than to make a mistake. But…
Kimi pulled on her right arm.
Shaken by the other girl’s slowed pace, Asama turned to the right. She did not even have time to tilt her head. She decided to ask while hoping Kimi would not ask anything weird about the surrounding facilities.
“Wh-what is it?”
“Silly girl. You walked right past it.”
A small public fire altar was set up on the side of the path.
“Heh heh. How about we all try it out together?”
…Ehhhhh!? But what if my spell-obsessed blood gets all fired up!?
Despite Asama’s worries, Kimi pulled on her arm, but Mitotsudaira pulled in the opposite direction.
“W-wait. I have the Cerberus with me! What if he gets exorcised?”
Asama thought to herself while being pulled on from either direction.
…Oh, am I really popular right now or something?
Mitotsudaira spoke to Kimi while focused on the Cerberus on her head.
“Buddhist divine protections exorcise instead of purify. That means they entirely erase the target instead of just getting rid of the impurity. What if it affects my Cerberus?”
Asama tried to say something with a serious look on her face, but Kimi nestled up against the girl’s arm and cut her off.
Kimi lowered her eyebrows in a smile while looking back and forth between Mitotsudaira and the Cerberus.
“Heh heh. Then can’t you just put Troiko down and have him wait until we’re done?”
“A-and have him feeling left out!?”
“Oh? Is the Mitotsudaira family unable to discipline its servants?”
“N-now you’ve said it!”
Mitotsudaira placed the Cerberus on the ground.
“I can to discipline him! See!?”
She tried taking a step away, but the Cerberus dashed over to her.
…D-do you have no patience at all!?
She was at a loss for words, but Kimi and Asama spoke up behind her.
“Talk about a lack of discipline…”
“Yes, I expected her to coddle the thing, but I never thought it would be just as clingy…”
“Qu-quiet down, you two!”
Mitotsudaira picked up the Cerberus and placed it back down. She made sure it sat down, rubbed its head, and told it with her eyes to stay put. Then Kimi spoke from behind her.
“Dat’s a good bwoy~ Shtay right dere~ Heh heh heh!”
“I was not saying that!!”
Not in baby talk anyway, she added silently.
The Cerberus still looked like it would get up and dash after her the second she gave it an opening, but she somehow got it to sit down and then she pulled her hips back.
Taking a step back would not work.
If she did that, it would dash after her, so she started by pulling her hips back to place her body backwards. Then, instead of taking a step back with her feet, she pulled the rest of herself back. She guessed the Cerberus would not dash after her like this.
It did not.
Good, good, she thought while holding her palms out to the Cerberus.
He can learn like this, she thought.
“Stay,” she said to help.
It dashed toward her.
Honestly, the stupid thing doesn’t know how to do what he’s told, she thought while Kimi and Asama spoke behind her.
“They often say this kind of thing shows how you were raised yourself.”
“Does that mean Mito was undisciplined back with her parents?”
“What are you two whispering about!?”
The Cerberus barked as if in response.
This isn’t good, thought Mitotsudaira while gently lifting the Cerberus up to eye level.
“Um, listen. A servant is supposed to listen to what his master says.”
“Mito! Mito! Pets are also seen as prized possessions, so you could also go that route here!!”
“B-but…” Mitotsudaira looked back toward Asama and Kimi. “I’m from a knight family. Even a pet needs to have a proper master/servant relationship!”
She held her chest out proudly, but Kimi raised a hand.
Mitotsudaira had a bad feeling about this, so she narrowed her eyes as she asked about it.
“What is it?”
“Judge. …If you think pets should have a master/servant relationship, does that mean your master/servant relationship with your king comes from a desire to be his pet?”
At first, she had no idea what Kimi meant.
She read back through it in her heart, grasped the meaning, comprehended it, and imagined it, but Asama reacted first.
“W-wait, Kimi! You mean Mito would have a chain around her neck while she goes on a walk with a nudist, gets all excited as he feeds her, and marks the area when they come to a stop no matter how embarrassing it might be? And then she sleeps in his bed in place of a heater!? What are you thinking!? There’s such a thing as being too cruel even among friends!!”
“You’re the cruel one, Tomo!!”
However, Mitotsudaira did recall seeing her mother and father heading to their bedroom with chains and collars around their necks, so perhaps that was something similar. When she had asked what the chains were for, her mother had said, “Heh heh. That’s too treat a bit of a disease we get. It’s something like rabies, so we start drooling and biting at each other. But it heals up by the next morning, so there’s nothing to worry about.” She was pretty sure she had heard a long, shrill scream from her father after that, so thinking back, her mother might not have been healed after all.
…Being his servant by being his pet!?
She had never thought of that before. Perhaps she could think of that as a new set of values.
She started to imagine it, although not as vividly as Tomo had.
She did not think too deeply about it. It was more about what kind of situation that would be or the general feel it would have. She was just taking a quick peek.
“Now, imagine your king is sitting in a chair. You are sitting on the floor next to him. You take his hand and place it on your throat to have him scratch you while you whine. Once you can’t hold back any longer, you move in front of him, place yourself between his legs, and rub your throat against him. You try to snatch the snack he’s eating with the corner of your mouth, but you end up knocking both of you and the chair over. You end up lying on top of him, and…”
“Qu-quit butting into my imagination!”
…Ah, Tomo is giving me a shocked look!
You’ve got it all wrong! she thought as a sign frame opened between the three of them. For some reason, it displayed the white stealth sky.
“Hi, this is Naruze. I-I was flying around, but I got another sudden nosebleed and crashed. …W-were you sending out some weird sexual signal over the airwaves?”
Mitotsudaira was not sure what the Technohexen meant, but Asama took one glance at the shape of the sky on the screen and said, “Oh, that’s Oume’s 3rd wide block. I’ll contact the contract station in Hamura and have someone who can provide free medical care sent out.”
Mitotsudaira sighed and let Asama take care of Naruze.
She picked the Cerberus up again.
“Why don’t the two of you go get a divine protection from that fire altar without me?”
“Eh? But the Cerberus would be fine.”
Mitotsudaira’s head fell forward and Tomo explained.
“Thanks to the rules of the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism, a local god like that will be treated like a lowest-level Buddha, so he won’t be exorcised.”
“Y-you could have told me earlier!”
“Well, I tried to stop you when you started talking about exorcism, but…”
Who was it that had cut her off? The culprit had turned the other way with her shoulders shaking.
Mitotsudaira knew baring her fangs would not get through to that girl, so…
“Tomo! …Let’s leave that trickster here and go get the divine protection without her!”
Mitotsudaira grabbed onto Asama’s arm and started toward the fire altar space.
Asama smiled a little at Mitotsudaira’s behavior.
She could be a little strict as a knight, but she would become more like the others when that was not necessary. She of course needed an excuse or justification for that transformation, but Kimi had provided that here.
…This really is a give-and-take kind of thing…
Asama found that a little amusing, but then she realized where they were.
A lantern-like pedestal and a small fire altar vending machine were set up in a forest clearing. Kimi had already bought the materials to make a fist-sized wooden framework.
“Now, let’s get started.”
“C’mon, Tomo. We don’t know how to do this, so can you put it together for us?”
How could you ask that of a spell-obsessed freak? she thought. B-but this is fine. I just have to avoid going crazy like that. Yes, if I do it naturally and on instinct…no, that’s getting into obsession territory. So, um, I need to grab the altar wood like I have no idea what I’m doing.
“…Tomo? Your hand is shaking like crazy.”
“N-no, this is fine. This is perfectly normal. B-but, y’know. I don’t know all that much a-about this kind of thing.”
“Heh heh. But, Asama, how does this work?”
“Oh, well, you set fire to the altar once it’s set up and summon the power of a Buddha using a mantra. The ether effect synchronizes with the heat conduction of the fire, so passing the heat through things will burn away any impurities or apply a divine protection. The way the heat conduction style of divine protection spreads is dependent on the way the altar is set up, so you mainly want to build it vertically. But it’s actually more efficient if it swells out in the center.”
She realized what she had done only after answering.
…N-now I’ve done it!!
She had claimed not to know much about it and now this. She was acting like a nerd.
That was all Mitotsudaira and Kimi said as they began helping with the construction of the small altar.
Asama did not understand.
Weren’t they going to leave this to her? But those two were each constructing a side of the fist-sized altar while Asama dealt with the rest.
Then they stuck the charm stick into the pedestal’s central hole.
“We light the incense while chanting the mantra.”
Buddhist prayers did not ask for things like love. They were mostly on a large scale such as for an entire nation or they were for protection from demons or illness. Instead of improving daily life…
…They protect you from unpleasant things.
Kimi lit the end of the charm and it started burning down faster than expected.
After she grabbed a pinch of incense from the small bag provided and sprinkled it on the charm, the smoke and aroma spread out. Asama and Mitotsudaira watched Kimi fan it over toward them.
“What kind of charm is this?” asked Asama.
“One I don’t need.”
“Then what is it?”
“I told you: one I don’t need.”
“And. What. Is. It?”
Kimi refused to answer, so Asama snatched the bag in front of her and checked the effect written on it.
“Boy repellent… Ehhh!? What is this!?”
Asama saw Kimi tilting her head while repeating “oh, dear” over and over.
Kimi pointed at herself with both hands.
“This is a Buddhist prayer for love, right? It makes boys other than your beloved have a harder time noticing your charm. The part of your presence that invites worldly thoughts is sealed off to everyone but a specific person.”
“No, um, uh. I’m supposed to draw customers… I show up in commercials and stuff. Just the other day, my dad and I did a Shinto home shopping guide.”
“Heh heh. Now what’s the real reason? …Do you have someone in mind?”
There was nothing to get so flustered about. She knew that, but Kimi was smiling and egging her on and Mitotsudaira joined in with a bitter smile.
“Of course, who knows how useful this kind of cheap divine protection is. But it can still act as a symbol. From now, one we need to be aware of how we each feel about a ‘boy repellent’.”
“With that decided, let it wash over you. You need to get your money’s worth.”
…Does this really mean anything?
Asama wondered that as the fire’s heat washed over her and the incense smoke surrounded her.
“C’mon,” said Kimi. “You’re dense when it comes to yourself, so you need this most of all.”
She fanned over the thickest part of the smoke.
Asama could sense the incense reaching her and passing through her hair. The fire altar’s divine protections interfered with the ones she already had. Hanami appeared and automatically resolved any issues, but it concerned Asama when she saw “Beloved Person: Set by user’s feelings”.
“You’re too jumpy, Asama.” Kimi cut in. “You should know better than us how little a cheap divine protection like this can do.”
“But…it’s still a divine protection…”
“It’s set by your feelings, isn’t it? So are you afraid you can’t control your own thoughts?”
Asama did not know what to say and Kimi’s smile grew.
“Heh heh. You would normally say love is off limits for shrine maidens, but you mistakenly thought this kind of divine protection means you have to fall in love with someone, didn’t you?”
“I-I was not mistaken.”
“Then you were correct to think that?”
Asama could immediately tell this was a play on words. It was simply a clever shift of meaning in what she said.
“Don’t worry,” said Kimi. “When it comes down to it, you won’t be mistaken.”
Asama held out her hands to stop the girl, but the smoke blew over. Feeling there was no helping that, she spoke up.
“Are you saying I’m mistaken or not?”
“If I had to say, I guess you aren’t.”
“When it’s something that really matters to you, you always do what you want in the end.”
“Th-that isn’t true. Shrine maidens have to be selfless, you know?”
“Oh? And who are you being selfless for?
Asama was not sure what to say again and Mitotsudaira smiled bitterly next to her.
“Well, you certainly are letting people like Kimi push you around.”
Asama did not dare agree lest Kimi take it as a promise. But…
Was she really that stubborn in the very end?
And even if she was, there was someone she could not say no to. But…
Was she mistaken about her inability to say no to that person? Or was she correct because those things were more or less what she herself wanted?
She recalled why she was here and why it was she had decided to form a band.
Was she mistakenly using his words there? Or was the desire inside her the same as what he hoped for?
She started thinking more about it, but…
“C’mon, your incense is the only one left. Hurry up and use it.”
Asama looked Kimi in the eye as the girl fanned the thinning smoke over toward her.
That girl and that boy could easily push her heart around. She could be strict, but she could relax around those two and perhaps that was why she wanted to be pushed around by them.
If so, everything she was doing now was a mistaken understanding of her own desire to be pushed around.
“What do you see?”
“If I do what I want in the very end, then I can’t know whether I was mistaken or not without going to the very end.”
Mitotsudaira tilted her head, but Asama ignored her and dumped her bag of incense onto the charm. The incense quickly burned, producing bluish-white smoke.
“I’m not giving you any of this.”
Asama fanned it to herself.
“Oh, c’mon,” said Kimi. “Of course I’m going to want it if you say that.”
“Well, you can’t have any. This is a barrier I need to keep unwanted focus off of me as I continue on to the very end. I need to find the answer quickly.”
After all, there were only six days until the Gagaku Festival. She wanted to see what it was she wanted before then, so she let the smoke pass through her hair and clothes.
Those two always brought trouble.
But, she thought in her heart.
…Trouble is one thing Shinto shrines are meant to deal with.
As she wondered how to confirm she was correct and not mistaken, she let the incense pass through her body.
“While we’re at it, how about we give ourselves more divine protections to repel unnecessary things?”
“Oh, dear. Are you trying to keep us all for yourself just because we’re on a date?”
I was always planning to do that, she thought. After all…
“I’m very strict. Even when it comes to dates.”
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