Horizon:Kimitoasamade 2A Chapter 10
Chapter 10: Girl Soaking in the Tub
Is the beginning of depth
Point Allocation (Time to Think)
Suzu worked in the heat.
She was working in the washing area of her family’s bathhouse.
The bathhouse opened for afternoon business at four o’clock, but there were already some customers there.
The women’s bath of a Musashi bathhouse had peak hours at…
…Three times a day.
The first was the preparation time just before dinner. Dinner was at about six on the Musashi, so housewives and other female customers showed up from four to five to prepare for that. That group tended to be the wealthy class that had automated their cooking with spells or machines, so they were excellent customers who bought accessories for the bath and drinks for a break afterwards.
…The second peak is from six to eight.
It started with the group getting off work. Next, the families would arrive after finishing dinner. This was the greatest peak and their busiest time of day.
The last peak was from night to late night when full shifts of the engine division workers and other workers who did not get breaks would show up. They needed a permit to ignore the curfew, but Suzu’s family’s bathhouse met the business conditions and they had a recommendation from the Asama Shrine. Thanks to that, Naomasa and the other female engine division workers often stopped by.
That was the general flow of business here. Or to put it another way…
She could not say for sure since she did not know how busy other places were, but it was currently the second afternoon peak and the people getting off work would be showing up soon. Also…
“Ga-chan, Go-chan. You’re early…today…”
“Yeah. We had a lot happen today.”
Naruze replied to Suzu as she hung her head and rested her elbows on the edge of the bath.
Suzu stacked up the washing area buckets on the right.
“It must be…tough.”
Without asking for details, Suzu gathered up the disposable scrubbing bags that had been discarded. The algae creatures in charge of the bathhouse were already cleaning the corners and walls of the washing area with the rice-bran of the scrubbing bags inside them. From what Naruze could see…
…Those are white algae…or rather, cream algae creatures.
Meanwhile, Suzu stuck a hand in the bath and expressed her satisfaction.
The bath temperature would drop as the number of customers increased. Most Musashi bathhouses used direct rather than circulatory heating, so they heated easily but the temperature was difficult to control. Naruze did like the gentler heat of the circulatory type, but she preferred letting herself be shaken by the heat of the direct type. Water heated by the “bath heater” was rising from between the floor panels at the bottom of the bath, so gradations of heat struck her body. She took up a spot above one of those lines and let it shake her body as she hung her head.
She could tell the heat was wiping across the contours of her body. When she was exhausted, she would force herself onto her back, let her wings sink down, and have the heat wash over her back and hips. She loved the ticklish sensation of the hot water warming her wings.
…It’s true I don’t have to worry as much with the circulatory ones.
Winged races would naturally lose some feathers in the bath. Especially when the seasons were changing.
With circulatory heating, she just had to take up a position near where the water left the bath, but with direct heating, the water welling up from below tended to spread the feathers across the bath. They would then gather in the corners and along the edges, so to sum up…
…It’s amazing I can look Suzu in the eye when she has to clean it all up.
“You look happy, Suzu.”
Suzu wore a swimsuit. It bore the logo of the Asama Shrine that funded the bathhouse and the logo of “Suzu’s Bath”. The bracelets and anklets on her four limbs provided divine protections for waterproofing, insulation, and purification. Her work sometimes meant she had to face the hot water and steam, so she could not do it in the nude.
In that way, her outfit was technically a bathhouse uniform more than a swimsuit. She would put a yukata on over it in the dressing room and then clean the front of the bathhouse, so there were a lot of male customers who came just to see that.
…And as a tradition from when they used to be poor, she still does the swimming lessons dressed like this…
Suzu did not seem to notice, but her slender proportions were highly rated even among the girls. Making a doujinshi of her was sure to sell.
Yes, yes, nodded Naruze, but then Suzu looked back her way. The girl continued from her previous agreement.
“You two are…thinking about something…together, aren’t you?”
“Judge. That’s right.”
Naruze looked to the left.
She saw golden wings there. Someone else had their head lowered, but this person had a Magie Figur opened in front of her eyes.
“Margot, you don’t need to give this so much thought.”
“Oh, sure. I just can’t seem to find any motivation…”
Naito came back to her senses as she spoke.
The Edel Brocken tester documents were opened before her eyes. It described what they would be judged on when they took the test.
“Ga-chan, this says ‘welcoming anyone who can chug ten liters of water’, ‘looking for anyone who can endure being branded’, and ‘experience being burned at the stake preferred’. How serious do you think they are about those?”
“That company tends to just do whatever they feel like, so you can probably ignore that stuff.”
“And the reverse side of the documents has a section titled ‘This Month’s Negative Thunder Zone Horoscope!’, but it’s all unlucky stuff.”
“What does it say for me?”
“Financial Luck: ◎. Even being careful won’t help.”
“If that’s what qualifies as ◎, that thing must be on a pretty high difficulty level.”
Then Suzu approached from the side. She was swapping out the purifying algae creatures in the bamboo basket in a corner of the bath. She removed the creatures floating inside the basket and replaced them with the ones she carried over. The creatures were quite lively as she pulled them out.
“Replacement!” “Temporary break!” “Time to eat a whole bunch!”
“Come to think of it, you don’t replace them because the impurities build up inside them. You do it because they get hungry after digesting it all.”
“Y-yeah. It’s a different…way of thinking…I guess?”
And Suzu said something more.
“Are you…making an important decision?”
“Judge. Oh, but you can stay, Bell-rin. …Right, Ga-chan?”
“That’s right. Suzu’s safe and I want to make sketch of her outfit. Yes, yes. Good. While you’re taking care of those guys in the basket, kneel down and bend forward. …Yes! That’s perfect!”
“Ga-chan, you’re going to start bleeding again.”
Blood suddenly erupted from Naruze’s nose.
“W-wait, Margot. Bleeding from the crotch!? That’s a little too dangerous!”
“You can be pretty amazing in a number of ways, Ga-chan.”
“Yeah, but I think I’ve bled too much today. I’m feeling woozy.”
“What?” Suzu was confused and she must have noticed the smell. “Eh? Um, wait, uh, d-divine protection, divine protection.”
She held her bracelets together and a spell sign frame appeared. It was an emergency hemostasis spell from the Asama Shrine. She entered the bath and placed the sign frame on Naruze’s forehead. Then…
“U-um, it’s spilling out? Then, w-wait. Over here.”
Naruze put up no fight as she was carried out of the tub and placed on the edge in a sitting position. Suzu added an insulation spell to make sure her body did not cool off.
“Um, your hard points…”
“Oh, ours are over there together. Ga-chan’s are the ones in front.”
Even when taking a bath, they would bring their hard points in with them for body management, divine protections, and security. The waist hard points were the central ones, but anyone at mid-level or above would make sure the neck ones could be used as an alternate center by including a management spell and a start key for the other parts. Naito and Naruze’s were that way.
“Our settings are shared, so I can use mine to authorize the external interference to the divine protections.”
Naito was glad she had added the ability to change the settings remotely. Suzu placed her sign frame on Naruze’s hard point parts lying on the floor and a torii-style sign frame appeared behind Naruze’s neck where she sat some distance away.
Naruze’s body shook once and then she sighed. She blew some blood from her nose onto her hand and washed the hand in a bucket.
“Ahh, my throat kind of tastes like rust. Suzu, I’ll have some coffee milk later.”
“S-sure. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’ll go eat some yakiniku after this. But…”
Naruze said “but” again and looked to Suzu.
“Suzu, this might be sudden, but…what would Margot and I look like if we wore matching outfits?”
“Judge. You would look…cool.”
She answered immediately and with a smile.
I seeee, thought Naito.
…It’s kind of embarrassing when your friends support you. But…
I see, I see.
She did not think her motivation was quite that cheap, but…
“You think we’d be cool, Bell-rin?”
Suzu nodded and organized their unorganized hard point parts so they would not get in the overflowing bathwater.
“You have…jobs, you compete…with the adults, and….”
“You fly in the…sky. You’re really…cool.”
Aside from the flying part, that description fit Naomasa and Ohiroshiki as well.
Plus, Naito was pretty sure Suzu would have called them cool even if they did not have jobs.
…I guess her final image of us comes from the flying part.
Suzu was blind, but Naito still asked.
“Would we be cool if we had matching outfits when we flew?”
“No,” said Naito. “Technohexen outfits. …They’ll be special-made for flying and fighting in the sky.”
“Hmm.” Suzu seemed to have trouble imagining this, so she looked up to the steamy ceiling. “Like the automatons?”
“Well, I suppose that is a type of combat outfit…”
“Th-then like Naomasa-san…or Asama-san?”
That was not quite it either. The M.H.R.R. girl’s uniforms were probably closest to it, but…
Naruze opened a crop mark frame Magie Figur and drew a picture with her finger. Her fingertip created a thick line, but she increased the resolution so the screen only displayed a hand or a face at a time.
…She’s drawing the zoomed in portions to create the whole without actually seeing it all at once.
Naruze could only do this because she had memorized the measurements of the different parts and had a mental sketch to base it off of. She claimed to have developed the technique so she could secretly draw on a small frame during class.
After she finished drawing, she shrank it down to 10% size and the whole picture fit perfectly on the screen. She then added a spell to emboss it.
“This is the outfit we wanted you to see us in. …Here.”
She tossed the Magie Figur and it stopped in front of Suzu. Suzu held a hand out into empty air, found the Magie Figur, and touched it. She placed a hand on the surface.
Her palm was wet, and that may have been why she rubbed the Magie Figur a few times as if wiping it off.
Her palm first touched the chest area and then moved up.
She seemed to realize that was the face. She then carefully checked over the face and the arms. She was especially careful as she stroked the fingers. Then she checked the torso, the legs, and the other parts.
To Suzu, a Technohexen looked cool when she flew.
“You’ll be flying…like this, right?”
That settled it.
It might be bragging, but the outfits would actually be divided between white and black. That said…
“I think flying…in matching outfits…would be cool.”
“Judge,” said Naruze.
She erased the first aid sign frame, stood up in the bath, and circled around behind Naito. Naito knew what she was going to do, but she gently spread her wings as if she did not.
“We’ll be together.”
She embraced Naito from behind as if tossing her body between the wings.
Naruze had been out of the bath, so her skin felt cold and ticklish to Naito’s heated and damp back. While resting between Naito’s main wings, Naruze passed her arms between Naito’s main and secondary wings. She brought her hands to Naito’s chest and held her tight, so Naito could not move her main wings properly.
Naito was more or less restrained.
Not even she knew which one of them was being comforted by this restraint and she turned to Suzu.
The girl seemed confused. Naruze laughed at that behind Naito and then Suzu held up the Magie Figur.
“Can I…have this?”
Naito was amused by the clear surprise in her partner’s voice and how a tremor ran through the girl.
“Well, if you want one, I can draw a better one,” insisted Naruze.
“I want…this one.”
“She says she wants that one, Ga-chan.”
“Yeah,” agreed Suzu. “I can show…my mom and dad.”
“N-no, wait! Wait, Suzu! I got a little carried away and made the chest see-through and put some excessive detail into the crotch!”
“Why can’t you ever hold back, Ga-chan?”
Naito thought to herself as her partner let go of her and continued telling Suzu to wait.
…I’m still not feeling a whole lot of motivation…
Naruze was worried about her or was at least concerned. Naito felt the backlash and definite restraint of that, but…
A sign frame appeared next to Suzu’s face.
It was Kimi.
Asama could not use her arms thanks to Kimi and Mitotsudaira.
“C’mon, Asama! Say, ‘ahhhhh’! C’mon!”
She was worried everyone was staring as they walked along Okutama.
They were finally getting to the crepe of their snack. On the way from Murayama, Mitotsudaira and Kimi had dealt with the great quantity of ice cream placed in the bucket as a “little girl bribe” from Ohiroshiki:
“We must consume all of this to protect Tomo’s past!”
“That’s right, Mitotsudaira! Let’s have a duel while Asama watches! Okay, my turn comes first! I sacrifice vanilla to summon excitement! Then I place a target lock on the wasabi chocolate.”
“I intercept! I stop the enemy spoon, summon caramel salt, and obtain deliciousness!”
Asama was not quite sure what any of that meant, but she wondered if it was bad manners to clang their wafer spoons together while walking.
But after a while, Kimi said something else.
“The cumulative effect is dealing freeze damage to my stomach! At this rate, I won’t be able to give birth to a healthy child!”
That sounded kind of dangerous, so they decided to hurry to Suzu’s bathhouse.
Asama was about to start on the crepe that Mitotsudaira held out, but she was nervous about what it was. She touched the cooked outer layer with her tongue, placed it in her mouth as if peeling back that outer layer, and gently sucked out the contents.
She found it reminded her of Western sweets. The lingering flavor of cream and the rising aroma of butter were only found in fatty Western sweets and she detected a salty flavor inside the sweetness. It melted quickly in her mouth, but it still felt solid due to the sugar and fat. It reminded her of mizuame, but it stimulated her taste buds differently from Far Eastern sweets made from variations on sugars, red bean paste, and baked sweets.
I’d get fat if I ate this every day.
Is ice cream the cold version of this? she wondered.
“H-how is it, Tomo?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“Eh? Oh, it’s delicious.”
She heard a sigh of relief, so Mitotsudaira must have been worried. The Asama Shrine was Musashi’s Shinto representative and they were effectively the most “Far Eastern-ish” thing on the Musashi since the Matsudaira family was in Mikawa. She was the heir to that shrine, so it would have been a big deal if this was her first time trying a Western sweet.
“I do eat Western sweets like castella and wafers a fair bit and my dad eats Western food a lot, so there’s no need to be nervous.”
“Judge. But I was still worried whether you’d like it or not.”
As a half-werewolf, she may have been sensitive to smells and tastes. Asama brought her teeth in for another bite, while telling herself it was only to put Mitotsudaira’s mind at ease.
She knew what to expect this time as she tasted the eggy crepe and the cream inside.
…This is definitely fattening.
But it also qualified as something she liked.
She squished it between her tongue and the roof of her mouth, she wrapped it around her tongue, and the flavor gradually escaped toward her cheeks. The almost foaming stickiness reminded her of playing in the mud as a child and it matched the shape of her moving tongue.
The flavor of butter seeped out of the crepe in her mouth.
She wiped back up that flavor with the crepe on her mouth, gently bit down, and smoothly swallowed it.
She felt she could enjoy it longer if she bit the sticky mass into pieces and gradually swallowed it, but there was plenty of residual flavor on the roughness of her tongue regardless. She felt she was spoiled for being able to swallow it all at once like that.
She thought a sweet and fatty smell would leave her mouth when she breathed out, so she exhaled the scent of butter and cream through her nose instead.
Mitotsudaira was staring at her mouth with her own mouth spread horizontally.
Her expression was easy to read.
“U-um, you don’t have to hold back. You can have some if you want.”
“Eh!? Um, n-no, I’m not that much of a glutton! I can wait until you’ve had as much as you want.”
This is getting to be a pain again… thought Asama as Kimi smiled into a sign frame on her other side. It looked like Naito, Naruze, and Adele, who had finished her training, had joined Suzu already. Kimi narrowed her eyes and exchanged a few words.
“So what are you three doing there?” asked Naruze.
“Yes! That’s right! Mitotsudaira just took Asama’s first time! Heh heh heh. I bet you wish you’d seen that, Naruze! Mitotsudaira grabbed her thick thing and held it out for Asama. And then Asama used her tongue to peel back the extra bit at the tip and then – just like this! – took it in her mouth all the way back to the throat! Then with her mouth all sticky from the white stuff that came out, she said, ‘Ah… It’s so thick and delicious. Heh heh. Mito, there’s no need to be so nervous. You don’t have to hold back.’ That’s exactly what happened!!”
“Yessss!!” shouted Naruze.
“What do you mean ‘yes’!? And what kind of explanation was that, Kimi!?”
“Um, A-Asama-san…wh-what are you…doing?” asked Suzu.
“To choose my words carefully, I guess you could say she was acquiring some nutrients, right?” answered Naito.
“That might technically be true, but it isn’t very healthy with all this fat and sugar.”
Oh, was that response too strict? worried Asama, but that was just who she was.
They approached the underground atrium park using a path along Okutama.
“Mito, you can have Kimi’s portion too, so let’s hurry to Suzu-san’s place.”
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