Horizon:Kimitoasamade 4B Chapter 10
Chapter 10: Defenseless Girl in a Place of Skin Contact
Why am I tripping
So much today!?
Point Allocation (Below Your Feet)
Naruze was working on the furnace at Dangerous Waters’s women’s bath.
At the bottom of the drained tub, she was checking the heating element that was visible with the wooden frame removed.
…That said, messing with the boiler would be a pain, so I won’t do that.
Machines were Naomasa’s specialty and she was currently in the boiler room around back.
Smoking Girl: “It uses standard heat sterilization by boiling the water with spells and Musashi’s internal-combustion boiler. Suzu’s Bath focuses more on the spells, but that might be because Asama’s place is there on Okutama.”
Asama: “Yes. Okutama has the academy and a lot of student housing, so the internal-combustion boiler’s output is sent there. That doesn’t leave enough boiler power for a bathhouse’s water, which could be dangerous, so Okutama’s bathhouses primarily use spells.”
Bell: “Will it be…okay?”
“Yes, I can see the spell conduction rate from above, so it’ll be fine.”
Naruze spoke directly to Suzu who was scrubbing the tub floor nearby.
The girl wore a bathhouse swimsuit and a yukata and she was down on her knees for the work. She would touch the tiles with her fingers before using the brush, so she was likely sensing the filth there.
This floor was fairly difficult.
The floor was the big difference between Dangerous Waters and Suzu’s Bath.
Here at Dangerous Waters, the floor was tiled.
At Suzu’s Bath, the floor used wooden block tiles.
Dangerous Waters drained well and felt more luxurious. That was partially because important people lived on Musashino instead of just students, but…
…It has more to do with the previous owner’s tastes…or rather, their view of what a bath should be like.
Dangerous Waters had originally been owned by a representative of the Musashino Bathhouse Guild, but Suzu’s parents had taken over once that person retired.
Suzu’s Bath had been bought with the income from that and their pre-existing savings. It had gone out of business before, but they had remodeled and reopened it.
That difference meant Suzu’s Bath had the cheaper construction.
But because it had been remodeled, Suzu’s Bath had the newer equipment.
The floor was a good example.
Dangerous Waters’s tiles were luxurious, but the tile block pieces were half the size of a tatami mat and difficult to remove. After all, they were heavy.
And the flowing water meant the filth would gather in the gaps between tiles.
But because the large tile blocks were difficult to remove, you had to focus on the gaps and wash the filth away with cleaner. You had to do that for all the gaps and then rinse it with water once the cleaner got the filth off.
At Suzu’s Bath, the longish wooden floor blocks could be leaned up against the wall, allowing you to clean the entire structure. And if that was too much work, you could let them float in the tub overnight while the white algae creatures dealt with it.
Being able to go to that effort in keeping the bath clean was a way of showing your power as a representative of the Bathhouse Guild. And since Suzu’s parents had been given the bathhouse afterwards, that representative must have recognized their skill.
And sure enough, they had acquired Suzu’s Bath just a few years later.
“Wh-what is it…Ga-chan?”
“Eh? …Oh, I was just noticing how many incredible things you can find all around you.”
Suzu herself was pretty incredible too.
The way she was scrubbing the floor was not quite crawling, but it was similar to a push-up.
She gradually moved forward as she scrubbed. If she had been doing that daily since elementary school…
…I can see why she’s so skinny and has such perfect form.
Naruze also realized something else about Suzu.
Suzu looked back as if to ask what she meant, but just then…
“Oh, Suzu-san. I’ll do that part!”
Adele walked up in a yukata and lined up alongside Suzu.
She got down on her knees and tried to scrub the corner of the floor.
Like a clockwork toy, she dynamically rolled sideways.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow!!”
Naruze watched as Adele sat up and quickly fixed the bottom of her yukata. She then straightened up on the bubbly floor.
“This is slippery!”
“Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be?”
Naruze’s thoughts turned toward “balance” once more.
Suzu’s Bath, which stayed open longer and was primarily used by students, used easily-cleaned wooden floors and those were not very slippery. But Dangerous Waters used tile floors which became quite slippery with the cleaner on them.
Even water alone was enough to make you slip and fall here.
It was incredible how Suzu kept her knees together on that floor.
That would be a combination of her excellent senses and the balance supported by them. If she maintained her form, there was little noise in her senses and she rarely misread things. Which meant…
…How much does that synergy boost her senses?
Naruze did not really understand, but she had a feeling that ability would come in handy one day. But at the same time…
“This is so wonderfully slippery! …Two rotations!!”
“Stop skating and scrub the floor, Kimi!”
Asama’s group seemed to be enjoying themselves while cleaning the center of the floor.
After performing a turn near the wall, Kimi flipped the bottom of her longish yukata around and raised her right leg like a tail. In that scorpion pose, she reached a hand over her shoulder and took what she had grabbed with her right foot.
“Heh heh. Silly Asama, look at this!”
The idiot sister slowly slid over to Asama and Mitotsudaira and showed Asama what she had stepped on.
“A banana peel!”
“You’re getting the floor dirty!!”
“I can’t help it since I was running the cosplay teahouse without any food. You left me all alone when you rushed off to the theatre ship! Or what? Are you going to give me something to eat? Asama, are you letting me eat your boobs!? Or Mitotsudaira, are you letting me eat your, um, uhh…give me a second…your hair? …No, that wouldn’t work. That much fiber would make tomorrow morning a real challenge…”
“What are you even talking about!?”
“Now, now.” The lunatic grabbed another banana peel from her other foot. “I knew you two couldn’t come back, so I swiped two extra bananas from the kitchen before coming here. …See, I placed one between my boobs like this, wrapped my fingers around the other, and ate them by carefully applying pressure with my lips… Do you know what I felt like while doing that!?”
“Like a monkey.”
“Silly Asama! Why are all of your thoughts so un-lewd!? I was eating bananas! So of course I felt like a neurotic monkey!”
What in the world is she talking about? Is “a neurotic monkey” supposed to sound like “an erotic monkey”?
But Naruze saw motion to her side.
The golden wings working on the tub next to her were gesturing her way.
It was Margot. Naruze turned that way and saw a small Magie Figur hidden in her hand.
“Asama-chi,” it said.
Naruze turned around and quickly saw what that meant.
Asama was scrubbing the floor while scolding Kimi. She likely did the exact same thing when scrubbing the shrine’s floor. She was down on her knees in a familiar pose for the work.
But this tile floor was different from the shrine’s floors.
While scrubbing and moving along the slippery floor, she had spread her knees to avoid slipping, so the bottom of her yukata had ridden up and gathered at her waist.
Asama scolded Kimi and continued scrubbing the floor like that, so Adele blushed when she looked her way.
“…You are far too defenseless.”
Naruze had to agree. Of course, in Asama’s case, her overly helpful nature and defenselessness would really only show themselves when she was around familiar people like this.
She normally seemed much more businesslike and Naruze had thought that was her natural state, but…
“Does it mean you trust us if you can be this defenseless around us?”
“Eh? Wh-what do you mean…?”
Naruze had no intention of answering that, but she did make a quick sketch for reference.
“Tomo…hey, your yukata!”
She had apparently noticed.
Too late. I’ve finished my sketch, so do as you wish.
Mitotsudaira grabbed the butt end of Asama’s yukata and she spoke to the shrine maiden with a sigh.
“You really shouldn’t be showing that off to everyone.”
When she pulled down, her Loup-Garou claws must have caught on it because the bottom of the yukata suddenly tore.
The downwards tug pulled Asama’s butt down on to the cold floor.
A very loud scream echoed off the walls.
“Kyaaaah! Tenzou-kun touched my butt!”
A fairly loud scream echoed off the walls.
The wood-floored room had a kitchen behind a counter.
“Aoi-kun, I’m glad you’re using the extra ingredients to serve us now that we’ve cleaned up the classroom, but you don’t have to take the girls’ place.”
“What’s the matter, Neshinbara!? You don’t like girls!?”
A nudist wearing a blonde playgirl outfit smiled while carrying two trays loaded with food.
He spoke to Tenzou whose upper body was collapsed on the table.
“C’mon, cheer up, Tenzou. You have training tomorrow, don’t you?”
Tenzou did not reply. Neshinbara responded for him from the window seat. He and Masazumi were checking through the photos of visitors and cosplay that they had taken during the day. They sorted them into different folders depending on who to send them to.
“Crossunite-kun must not have met any busty blondes today.”
“…You all really like that stuff, don’t you?”
“You don’t, Seijun?” asked the idiot.
“No, I don’t.”
Masazumi did not sound at all interested, but he still approached her.
“Then you can have this.”
“What is it?”
“…You’ve never had pizza before?”
“This has cream on it.”
“Sometimes pizza does.”
Masazumi removed a glove and took a slice with red jam on it.
She bit off just the tip.
“…Wow, this is sweet!”
Masazumi saw the idiot smile her way after beginning to serve the others.
“For a job well done,” he said.
“All I did was help carry some things around.”
When she indirectly accepted what he was saying, the crossdressing nudist held up a different plate.
“Would you prefer this fruit one?”
“This is enough. …Oh, but do you have anything more dinner-y?”
“Hm, I’ll figure something out. Tee hee.”
Don’t shake your butt at the end like that.
At any rate, Neshinbara picked up the slice of pizza he had been given. The dessert pizza had seemingly random things piled on top and each slice appeared to be different.
Neshinbara’s had a lot of caramel sauce.
Shirojiro’s had a lot of fruit. And…
“Tenzou, everyone was kind enough to leave behind the ‘busty blonde’ slice which has two custard puddings on top, so eat up.”
Everyone had obviously avoided that one because of the calories, but this was apparently one way of being nice.
At any rate, Tenzou slowly sat up in his seat and clenched his fists with his head still hanging.
“Toori-dono. Will I…will I ever meet someone I could call my destiny?”
“Pff!” said a voice over divine transmission. “Oh, sorry, Tenzou. I shouldn’t have laughed. To apologize, I’ll draw a doujinshi with you and a busty blonde. It’s fine as long as she’s female, right?”
“Wait, what does that mean!? I’ll accept it as long as she’s human or humanoid! And why is the divine transmission connected!?”
“Asama-kun prepared a real-time connection between all of us and the classroom so everyone could keep tabs on things in here. It was a time-limited thing, but the contract must not have ended yet.”
A glance at the clock showed it was just before 5.
…Asama and the others are cleaning Mukai’s bathhouse and then discussing the Gagaku Festival, right?
Naruze sounded excited, but that probably had more to do with the approaching Gagaku Festival than reaching Rank 1.
…That must be nice.
Masazumi had only just resumed thinking about becoming a politician, but some of her classmates had already started down the path to their futures.
Of course, she no longer felt like they were leaving her behind.
Now she was only wondering if she could do the same thing.
That was why she was jealous.
But Naito and Naruze’s success had been the result of a duel that relied on considerable effort and skill. It would be disrespectful to envy them when she was not doing anything herself.
Asama had not relied on her family connection. She had passed the rank exams fair and square and she kept up with her daily training and life.
And Mukai helped manage the family business on a daily basis.
Realizing she had a long way to go may have been a sign that Masazumi was not putting enough pressure on herself.
…I can’t just expect my dad to help out…
In the A/V room below the Provisional Council Building, everyone was watching recordings of the new spring shows and exchanging their opinions. However, one man held a divine transmission sign frame to his ear.
“Huhhhhhh!? What did you say, Ina!? We all know you became an elementary school principal because you like kids younger than 13! So can’t you give Masazumi a raise for her part-time teaching job!? What!? You don’t want to because she’s 16!? That rounds down to 12!”
“Nobu-tan! Nobu-tan! Calm down!”
“Shut it, Koni-tan! …What was that, Ina!? You can manage it if she teaches the first period in the morning!? And how much would you be paying from your own pocket!? …650 yen!?”
The man glanced around the room and saw 6 of the 7 people there shake their head.
One of them, a chubby merchant, quickly produced a sum on a sign frame abacus. When the man saw that…
“Seven hundred and thirty yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen! …Surely you can pay that much. What!? You can’t!? You can’t!!? Is your name Can’t-sensei!? Fine, then! I’ll just have you fired and make Masazumi a part-time principal in your place! I swear I’ll do it! Got it!? That’s what I’ll do! …Heh, you should have just said that in the first place. That is acceptable.”
“Huh? Masazumi? I just received a divine transmission for you. The Musashino Elementary School wants you to know they’re giving you a raise for your part-time teaching job.”
“Ah,” said Masazumi when the divine transmission from Asama arrived. “I just started the other day, but they did say I picked things up quickly. And here I thought that kind of job just doesn’t pay well. …Ha ha ha. Leave it to a grade school to teach you about grades. Pay grades, that is.”
Masazumi watched as the idiot fell over, trays and all.
“What, did you think it was that funny?”
“That was a little forced, Seijun…!”
I’m not sure what he means, but he must have liked it. At any rate…
“I wonder if I have my dad’s name to thank for this. …It’s possible they forced this through, so I need to do a job worth the pay. Besides, I can’t even buy books the way things are.”
“Books? How about actually eating something once in a while? You’re so skinny.”
“There’s no point in trying to bulk up now.”
“That is true,” said Crossunite as he straightened up. “Masazumi-dono, based on my estimation of your activity level, eating too much would not lead to muscle mass. …Do you ever do any training?”
“No, not really.”
Her middle school years had been spent on more intellectual pursuits. And once she was on the Musashi, the surface area was nearly flat and not all that spacious, so she had not felt any real reason to exercise. So…
“Being able to live my everyday life is enough for me. Although I am interested in taking walks just for a change of pace.”
“But you always end up collapsing from hunger, don’t you?”
She had to confirm what the idiot said.
“Breakfast is the real problem. When I’m looking for somewhere to eat in the mornings, I end up feeling dizzy. I avoid eating anything at night, so I must use up all my energy the evening before.”
“Fine then.” The idiot sighed. “I doubt anything we say will change how you live your life, but if you’re gonna collapse, do it near the Blue Thunder.”
“Judge. They’ve helped me a few times already. Although I don’t like depending on their kindness too much.”
“If they’re willing to help, there’s nothing wrong with accepting that kindness, so don’t worry.”
She just about agreed with that, but she stopped herself.
She understood what the idiot was trying to say, but this was about her and the Blue Thunder. She could not follow his viewpoint and let herself be defenselessly swallowed up. But when she thought about it again…
“I’m always causing so much trouble for people…”
“Who are you comparing yourself to there, Seijun?”
The idiot asked that while walking back to the kitchen.
When she thought about that, she ended up comparing herself to Asama, Mitotsudaira, Naito, Naruze, Adele, the other girls, and the boys.
“Everyone else is doing just fine on their own.”
The idiot might seem like he could not do anything, but even he could cook like this.
She understood that this dessert pizza was not something he made on a whim. It was a test for tomorrow.
…Because the ovens we can bring into the classroom aren’t very powerful and are really only meant for keeping things warm.
If they tried to make a pizza normally, it would end up underdone. So he would instead make a dessert pizza that was fine with undercooked dough.
Over the past month, she had learned all too well that he was no good at academics, but…
“Even you have your talents.”
“No, I don’t. Everything I have is second-hand from my mom.”
“But you still think for yourself in how you use that.”
She said that while taking a bite of pizza, but she received a response from an unexpected place.
“That is an interesting thing to say. …Doing just fine on their own, you say?”
It was Bertoni.
Masazumi looked to the classmate who was occupying an entire table by stacking up coins and bills.
He took a sip of what smelled like tea from an insulated bamboo bottle.
“For example, my business requires customers. Even when I can supply the products and distribution myself, customers are still a necessary part of business.”
“Is this the abstract idea that people cannot live alone?”
“No, it is not. For example,” repeated Bertoni. “All the ninja things Tenzou does can be traced back to his father. Both the spells and techniques.”
“Ohiroshiki can run his own restaurant because of his parents’ company.”
“What’s your point?”
Was listing your examples first how merchants constructed arguments? So…
“I’m more interested in your thesis than your introduction.”
Bertoni sighed when he heard that.
“It will be less persuasive, but fine.” He pulled a single coin towards himself and stood it up with his fingers. “Techniques, family reputation, assets, and everything else are inherited from your predecessors and history and they are made useful by making customers seek them out. Nothing can be done without that unbroken line of inheritance.”
“…That’s all abstract.”
“Then,” said Bertoni while giving her an expressionless look. “What are you trying to do on your own?”
“You are trying to receive no help and you seek nothing from anyone. If you ask me, that is much more abstract. So let me say this.” The merchant asked a question. “If I asked you for an example of that, could you give me even a single one?”
“An example?” she asked back.
…What am I trying to do as myself and no one else? What am I trying to do on my own?
…Oh, I get it.
This had to be the merchants’ tactic with Heidi as the opening act.
They had already asked her a few questions as tests.
And now this merchant was searching for her “value as a product”.
In other words, that question was a test to see how she would answer as a politician.
Something she alone could do without relying on anyone.
It had to be a one-and-only desire and answer that would normally seem entirely abstract.
One thing did come to mind. It was a desire that assumed you were all alone. It was a hope that could not rely on anything and that no one wanted, but it was something that a politician could create.
That answer filled her mind.
…To rebel against the world.
Masazumi thought about it.
If asked how serious she was, she could only say she was answering the question she was asked.
But it was indeed an answer to Bertoni’s question.
The Far East was under provisional rule, so they could…
…Rebel against the world.
The provisional rule had continued for 160 years. No one would want this.
Even if she did advocate that goal, she doubted anyone would follow her.
So, she thought. This answer clearly won’t help anyone and no one wants it.
Still, it was the perfect answer for Bertoni’s question.
So she opened her mouth.
“I have no intention of answering in the form of an example.”
She had to say it. There was only one answer.
Tenzou listened to Masazumi’s response. She straightened up as she spoke.
“I hope to be a politician. …I will stand with the people and speak for the nation formed by those people. So,” she continued. “No matter my personal opinions, I will not do anything the nation does not wish for. Or to put it another way, if the nation does wish for it…”
If it does…
“I will act even if I have no help and no one wants it.”
That was Tenzou’s assessment of Masazumi.
By replacing the will of the people with national policy, she gave the nation a personality. That was the most recent form of political science. That was the root of the parliamentary governments that had rejected the authority of kings but also shut out the influence of the people.
The choice Masazumi was trying to make was a political act guided not by her personal opinions but by the nation’s personality.
…Doing things “on your own” is the ultimate form of acting on personal opinion.
She would have failed if she had answered Shirojiro’s request for an example as a government politician.
So she had instead stated what she must do as a politician.
“If the nation wishes for it, hm?”
If the nation wished for it, she would choose to do things “on her own”. That was her idea of a politician.
That did not mean she would simply accept the people’s demands. She would consider the best form for what the nation needed and select that.
In some cases, that would place a burden on the people.
In some cases, she would choose something opposed to the will of the people in order to preserve the “nation” that protected the people.
Those were the cases she referred to when she said she would have no help and that no one would want it.
And what she said did not reject what Shirojiro was saying.
To move a nation as a politician required inheriting many things.
She was saying those lonely choices were an option even after inheriting things. Or as Shirojiro put it…
“So in some cases, your politics could make an enemy of anything and everything.”
“Again, it’s all abstract,” said Masazumi. “With the Far East under provisional rule, I doubt I will ever be in a situation that requires that kind of choice. …But if the nation wishes for it…no, if I cannot save the nation without doing it, then I will.”
“A good answer,” said Shirojiro with a nod. He placed the raised coin on top of another like he was building a tower. “You need not remember this, but I will give you one free piece of advice. Listen, let’s say you do become a politician and are prepared to make an enemy of anything and everything.”
Everyone listened to him.
“At least one person will undoubtedly support you.”
Masazumi smiled bitterly at Bertoni’s words.
“Still abstract. …Are you talking about that pattern in human psychology where you can always find a dissenter in a group?”
“You need not remember this. It is fairly unimportant.”
He moved his left arm as if to cover the tower of coins he had built. And…
All of a sudden, all the money on the desk was gone, both coin and paper.
It was a spell. A white fox Mouse had appeared by his neck and it had opened a money-gathering sign frame. That meant the money had been stored in an alternate-dimensional safe.
Bertoni and Heidi were always at work as merchants.
…They’re the real deal.
And just as she thought that…
“Here you go, Seijun. I made it so you can bring it home with you.”
The idiot left the kitchen with a large, open bento box in his left hand and both a cloth wrapper and the lid in his right hand. Four glasses were lined up inside the bento box and when she looked inside from above…
“Is this jam?”
She knew what those were.
That English dessert was made by layering leftover ingredients in a container.
“You went to the trouble of making these?”
“Well, we had extra ingredients and I could more or less guess how much that would be.”
The idiot held up one of the glasses so she could see.
“From the top, they have jam, cereal, thick cream, more cereal, more jam, and then adzuki beans at the bottom. The jam at the bottom is pretty far down, so when you reach the halfway point, mix it all up before eating the rest, okay? …Your house has an ice room, right? Put these in the refrigerated area and they’ll last long enough for you to eat one a day.”
She grew curious when he put the lid on the bento box, but that may have been her childish side’s interest in hidden things.
But the idiot skillfully wrapped the cloth around it.
“Here, take it with you.”
She took it. She had no reason to refuse. But there was one thing she had to say.
“Don’t worry about it. …The containers are Mitotsudaira’s and the bento box is Asama’s, so make sure you return them later.”
“You all can do pretty much anything, can’t you?”
“N-no, I can’t find a busty blonde girlfriend!” protested Tenzou.
Don’t be so quick to say that.
…Well, I don’t know if they expect anything from me, but they probably are rooting for me.
Masazumi nodded while thinking about the weight in her hand and Bertoni’s earlier words.
“I guess I’ll head home and study.”
“Ohh, you sure are studious, Seijun.”
“That’s about all I have going for me. Besides…” She raised the wrapped box to eye level. “Someone who isn’t studious and has no one rooting for them can never become a politician.”
She glanced at the wall clock and saw it was past 5.
The classroom’s divine transmission contract would have ended. The transmissions from Asama and the others had disappeared.
…They must be busy in their own ways.
“I’ll be heading home. …Until tomorrow, everyone.”
“Sure,” said the crossdresser as Masazumi stepped out into the hall.
It was chilly.
Once she entered the hallway, Masazumi realized it was evening.
A faint scarlet light passed through the stealth barrier to fill the sky.
There was no one else in the gently scarlet-dyed hallway.
The stillness and chilliness she found there told her just how much heat and energy had permeated the classroom.
And she found her thoughts rapidly returning to their normal shape.
Once she returned home today, her job would to be to carry her father’s messages to other politicians and government offices. After that, she would study and read, but…
…Right now, all I’ve done is decide what I want to do. I haven’t actually done anything yet.
This was a time of preparations.
She would study how to be a politician and receive real-time lessons in what the world and Musashi were doing.
She doubted she would have a good grasp of the state of the world and Musashi unless she continued doing this for at least a year. A lot of events would occur during a year.
“In that case, I still have 11 months to go.”
Don’t rush this, she told herself while gripping the weight in her hand.
…Even if I make a lonely decision, at least one person will support me, hm?
That was not something worth remembering.
She knew it was just a play on words or a jinx.
But she could not help but think about it. Some of her classmates were already working in their fields and it was possible all of them were prepared to make their own lonely choices after inheriting so much. In that case…
“I may not be alone.”
She had just gotten a late start and needed a lot of preparation.
Of course, those who had gotten started ahead of her would continue to achieve results.
The Gagaku Festival was one of those.
Masazumi gripped the weight in her hand as she thought.
…Is it disrespectful to see my future self when I look at the others who have already gotten started?
“Would it still count as studious if I went to see the Gagaku Festival?”
She decided to think up an excuse. An excuse that would convince her father.
“Okay, the tub is full again, so how about we take the first bath!?”
Adele dumped a bucket-full of bathwater over her head, turned toward the others, and made a light hop into the center of the tub. Waves and spray soon followed.
“Oh, Adele, you shouldn’t make waves,” said Naito while she sat down in the tub with her wings submerged vertically into the water.
Naruze did the same and nodded.
“That’s right. It’s filled pretty much to the top at first, so whatever overflows is lost.”
“Eh!? Oh, s-sorry. I’ll pay for what overflowed!”
Adele stood up from the center of the tub.
The waves from her jump did reach Suzu who sat on the edge, but…
“D-don’t worry. It won’t…go over the edge.”
“Oh, I get it.” Naito sighed. “You don’t displace enough water. Because of your volume…”
“Wh-what was that ‘because of your volume’ at the end supposed to mean!?”
Naito shook her head.
“Adele, you forgot the ‘…’ at the very end.”
“Y-you’re right! And that only expresses more astonishment!”
Just as Adele stood up, Naito prepared herself for the water level to lower and alter her balance.
Changes in water level would shake her submerged wings, so she had to make sure her position was not changed.
But it did not happen.
The water level should have lowered, but it instead rose. And it actually surpassed its expected height and overflowed into the washing area.
Naito turned around and spotted the cause of the overflowing.
That cause was the person by the tub’s entrance: Asama was soaking in the water there.
…Yeah, that size will do it…
Her overall size. Not just her breasts.
But Asama, who was unaware of Naito’s thoughts, sighed.
And Kimi entered the tub behind her.
The bathwater overflowed once more.
Naito watched as Kimi swam halfway across the tub toward her. Asama stretched out her body to relax with her back against the tub’s inner wall.
“Nn… Huh? Why are you looking at me? Did you need some divine transmission help?”
“No, um, I was just thinking about physics.”
While Asama tilted her head, Naomasa finished washing herself off and entered from Naito’s side of the tub.
She first sat on the edge and soaked her legs, so Naito and Adele both viewed her silhouette.
“Boobs float, right? So that means…”
“Wait a minute,” said Adele while turning back toward Naito. “Are you saying the boobs of the well-endowed will have more of an impact than me jumping in?”
Naomasa’s amount of water overflowed as if to answer the girl’s question.
“Nh,” groaned Adele when she saw it. “How many people’s worth was that!? It must be a quadratic equation! Oh, but if you include the boobs-like ‘w’ in addition to ‘x’ and ‘y’, it would be a cubic equation! Drat!”
“Wouldn’t you use ‘z’ instead of ‘w’? And, Adele, it isn’t just their boobs displacing the water. Doesn’t the rest of their body have more volume?”
“Ho ho? You mean their butts? So that’s part of it too!?”
“Ohh, I see you’re digging in your heels, Adele. But if anything, I guess it would be the whole volume that is made up of those individual parts.”
“I see. In that case…”
Adele looked past Asama’s head.
Someone was preparing to enter the bath there: Mitotsudaira.
Adele nodded and spoke while watching her.
“Now, a question. How much will it overflow with that slender body?”
Naito thought, I feel like this is turning into a combination of philosophy and math.
Wasn’t this something from Greek mathematics?
…A long time ago, Archimedes was asked to find out how much of an impurity there were in a royal crown that had been made, so he came up with a method that involved submerging it in water.
The method was to submerge the original weight of pure gold and the impurity-filled crown in separate containers of water and compare how much water overflowed. Due to the relationship between volume and relative weight, the difference in overflowed water would tell you the amount of the impurity.
According to the Testament, Archimedes had come up with the idea in the bath and he had been so excited that he ran naked through the streets shouting “Eureka!”, which created a lot of chaos.
For the history recreation, the people in charge had discussed the matter:
“We can’t exactly have him running around in the nude.”
“And it would be even worse if he does it while chasing around women and children shouting ‘Eureka!’ ”
“Then let’s give him some clothes.”
Since they did not want him getting cold after leaving the bath, they had allowed him to wear a coat.
In the end, Archimedes had become the world’s first trench coat nudist who opened the front and chased around the women and children shouting “Eureka!” That had created a lot of chaos, so what went wrong there was a common discussion topic in ethics classes.
If you looked in a textbook now, Archimedes was clearly a pervert holding his coat open, but…
…Modern math and philosophy were built on the foundation provided by people like that.
And little had changed since.
This problem had two types of people: the well-endowed with large frames vs. the slender athletic ones.
“I think I get it,” Naito said to Adele. “On the one hand you have the busty ones whose boobs will shrink a bit from the water pressure, but on the other hand you have the slender ones who are dense enough to resist the water pressure. Now, who will displace more water? …The answer is pretty obvious.”
“D-don’t make up your mind so soon, Naito-san! The Extra Special Duty Officer is our shining star of hope!”
“Well, I’m more like Asama-chi, so aren’t I your enemy?”
“Ehh!? You were tricking me all this time!?”
About what? she wondered, but Adele was probably having brain problems after flying through the air and rolling around so much lately. It would be best not to ask questions.
But Mitotsudaira looked up when she noticed the two girls watching her enter the bath. She started by stepping into the bath on Asama’s side.
“Wh-why are you staring at me like that, Margot and Adele?”
“Oh, um…I think your volume is a little different, Mito-tsan, so don’t worry about it.”
“What is that supposed to mean!?”
With that, Mitotsudaira slowly lowered halfway into the tub.
Just then, Asama spoke up while measuring the water level with her hand.
“What…?” She frowned. “The water level just went down.”
Naito questioned what Asama had said.
“Eh?” said everyone else at the same time.
Naito knew why everyone, including Mitotsudaira, exchanged a glance.
Naomasa frowned and explained.
“A volume entered the water, but the amount of water receded instead of rising?”
There was a clear gap between the top of the bathwater and the bottom of Asama’s raised hand.
Next to Naito, Naruze raised her pen vertically and measured the difference from a distance.
“That’s more than 5mm. …What does it mean? Is Mitotsudaira so flat that the water went inside her chest?”
“Ga-chan, if that was how it worked, the water should have vanished as soon as Adele jumped in.”
“What!? What!? Why are you talking about me again!?”
“Now, now,” said Asama while waving the hand she had used to measure the water level. “Um, Mito? There isn’t anything weird about your body, is there?”
“Just out of curiosity, what do you think my body is doing here?”
“Heh heh,” said Kimi. “I just remembered those toys that grow to 30 times their size when you soak them in water.”
“Oh, yeah. I remember those.” Asama nodded with a straight face. “Toori-kun once brought a roach-shaped one to my place and subsequently lost it. The next morning, it had grown giant inside the hand-washing station and caused a panic among the visitors. He came with his mom to apologize and she hit him with a super-high dropkick.”
To-chan is always up to something, isn’t he?
“Right, right.” Kimi nodded while sitting down in the center of the tub. “I remember that. He bought it at a festival stand.”
She then turned toward Mitotsudaira.
“But, Mitotsudaira? Do your boobs grow when you soak them in water or something?”
“No. They. Do. Not!”
“Then,” continued Naito while tilting her head toward Mitotsudaira. “What made the water level drop, Mito-tsan?”
“Eh? Um, that’s right…”
“Heh heh. Mitotsudaira, try sinking further into the water.”
Kimi laughed quietly as she slapped the tub.
“If Adele’s theory was correct, the water level should fall.”
Mitotsudaira responded to Kimi by sighing and sinking down to her shoulders.
She could not rid herself of the feeling that she was being used as a spectacle, but that could be an honor at times.
She really did exist, so they had to be mistaken that the water level had dropped when she entered the bath.
So now that she was sinking further down…
…The water level has to rise.
It felt ticklish to have everyone’s eyes on her. Some parts of her body were lacking, but she was still fairly confident in it. So she felt no fear.
“Please watch this.”
She sat down.
Before her butt even reached the bottom, the bathwater suddenly overflowed from the tub.
Mitotsudaira saw the bathwater overflowing from the three sides of the tub that did not border the wall.
“Ohh,” said Naito and Naruze as their wings were lifted up by the force of the water.
Asama’s hand was also moved up as she measured the water level with it.
The overflowing stopped, but Mitotsudaira had yet to fully sit down in the tub.
What does this mean? she wondered with a tilt of her head.
Then she heard Naomasa’s voice.
“Oh… Hey, Mito? Could you stand up real quick? That will solve the mystery.”
“Eh? Oh, judge. I can do that.”
If that will solve it, thought Mitotsudaira as she stood up from the water.
Then something happened.
The water level quickly lowered.
Asama heard Mitotsudaira’s surprise.
She understood why the girl was so surprised. There was a nearly 1cm gap below the hand she had held out to measure the water level. However…
…What does this mean?
Could it be? she wondered just as Kimi gave a deep nod and spoke.
“I know what this is.”
“You do, Kimi!?”
“Judge. …Mitotsudaira has massive but hidden boobs, so her spiritual ‘mold’ as a Loup-Garou gives her the volume of the boobs she should have. …But she is still flat in reality, so it is all for naught.”
“Please don’t invent weird things about my species. Even if we are created from the ‘mold’ of people’s fears, our hopes can’t actually change that mold. If we could do that, we would be the strongest species out there.”
“Eh?” Suzu tilted her head. She was sweating from the steam while sitting on the edge of the bath. “But isn’t fear…things people…think? S-so if someone wished for…Mitotsudaira-san’s chest…wouldn’t it…grow?”
Mitotsudaira thought about what Suzu had said.
“Heh heh. In other words! Get someone to massage your boobs and they’ll grow!”
“W-wait just a second! How did you reach that conclusion!?”
“Oh, dear.” Kimi narrowed her eyes toward Asama. “Doesn’t it sound plausible? As the romance of Loup-Garous?”
“My, my. Honey, why are you half in tears again? This is just the way it is. I had my body grow to be a perfect match for you. …Yes, Loup-Garous are spiritual beings, so we can change how we grow to a certain extent. And since there is a circulation between us on a daily, hourly, and minutely basis, you could say my body is growing the way you want it. …Yes, and I want to prey on you as much as possible, so if anything, maybe it’s less my body adapting to your desires and more my body adapting to my desires now that I know your desires. …Oh, dear. What’s wrong? Why are you arching your back like that? You can’t escape into the bottom of the bed, you know? Hee hee. I’ll be taking plenty more, okay?”
…That does sound plausible!
Mitotsudaira’s mother’s ridiculous proportions made a lot of sense if you thought of them as the result of a synergy between both her parents’ desires.
But as she listened to the others, she recalled that her mother had apparently always been like that.
…So is the original body type what really matters?
The more she thought about it, the darker the future looked, so she decided to stop.
The next thing she knew, everyone was giving her curious looks, but she really wished they would stop. She cleared her throat, raised her eyebrows a bit, and spoke.
“Um, a-anyway, can we change subjects now!?”
“Calm down,” said Naomasa. “I think I know what this is. …Suzu, how many divine protections does this water have compared to the other bathhouse?”
“Eh? Um, compared to…Suzu’s Bath?”
It was Asama who responded.
“This is Musashino, so it’s closer to the European style than anything. Due to that, the Asama Shrine only supplies divine protections for sterilization, disinfection, and heating. If you want a bath with more effects, you need to have a natural one prepared at Suzu-san’s place.”
“That settles it. Kimi, can you give Mitotsudaira’s hair a squeeze?”
“Hm? Like this?”
Kimi circled behind Mitotsudaira and squeezed a roll of hair like she was embracing it.
A bunch of bathwater immediately burst from the hair.
Asama said something while brushing up bangs wet with the scattered bathwater.
Naomasa smiled bitterly and Kimi squeezed the other rolls of hair. Even more bathwater flowed from Mitotsudaira’s hair and splashed into the tub.
Naomasa smiled a little at the sound.
“Mito’s hair has a grooming divine protection, but it’s surprisingly incompatible with Shinto divine protections. It’s to the point that Asama makes a nonhuman adjustment to the Asama Shrine’s spring for her. But the water here is closer to natural. So…”
“The water rapidly soaked into my hair, didn’t it?”
“Your species gives your hair a natural divine protection for weight reduction, so you probably didn’t feel the weight. So when you first entered the water, it soaked into your hair and the water level lowered, but when you submerged your body, all the water in your hair pushed the water level back up. And when you stood up just now…”
“The hair that had stayed dry the first time had soaked up the water while I was sitting down.”
I see, thought Asama, while running her fingers through her own hair to see how much water it had soaked up.
…My fingers run through it just fine, so I must be imagining any effect I thought I had seen.
She searched on a sign frame and saw that she did have beauty divine protections for her hair and skin. That meant she would not harm her hair by soaking it in the bathwater. But another thought occurred to her and she looked over.
“Naito and Naruze, are you two okay?”
“Oh, they do feel a little heavy,” said Naito.
“But they’re buoyant, so it isn’t much different from Suzu’s Bath if we don’t try to move them,” said Naruze. “But we did come here a few times during elementary and middle school. …We just got used to using Suzu’s Bath once it opened.”
Those two lived on Okutama. So did Asama. The others also tended to use Suzu’s Bath since it was conveniently located when heading home from the academy. However…
“Mito, you came here a few times in the past too, didn’t you?”
“I did, didn’t I? I don’t think my hair soaked up so much water back then.”
“Your ‘mold’ has changed.”
The Cerberus on Mitotsudaira’s head barked in response to Kimi’s voice.
And Kimi responded by continuing her explanation.
“In the past, rejection was a big part of your personality, so you could keep out even bathwater with weak divine protections. But now you’ve softened enough that you can only keep out bathwater with strong divine protections.”
“Doesn’t that mean I’ve regressed?”
“Heh heh. It’s the same as falling in love. Those feelings are important.”
Kimi hummed cheerfully and opened a few sign frames in the bath.
She activated Turning Point.
“Kimi, is that…?”
“Judge. You could call it a boob-growth prayer for Mitotsudaira. …C’mon, Mitotsudaira, sing the song you didn’t at the Asama Shrine before. We’re practicing here today, so get us started with that.”
That sounds nice, thought Naito as she extended her main wings back along the bottom of the tub. The water resistance was bad for the wings, but it was fine if she created the currents herself. She was submerging the wings like a knife through the water rather than parting the water.
“I want to hear you sing this time, Mito-tsan.”
“Same here,” said Naruze who stopped drawing a storyboard long enough to wipe sweat from her brow. “I want to see what you can do. We’ve mostly shown you our hand. And doing this will allow us to plan a performance that isn’t too similar to yours.”
“That is a good idea.”
Mitotsudaira took a microphone sign frame from Kimi.
When she looked up, there was none of the hesitation or dejection seen on her face the other day.
She had a song ready.
And she nodded to confirm that fact. She faced the two of them, and…
“To be honest, I think it was very helpful to hear your song. At its core, yours was a Technohexen Song with its roots in Eastern Europe. And it was a song about your lives on Musashi as Technohexen. But my song is a knight’s song that also had its roots in Europe. And it is a song about my life on Musashi as a knight. …Knights and Technohexen are from the same time period, so there is a good chance that some elements will be similar.”
“Yes. We plan to keep the Technohexen elements limited to our fashion, but if we’re going to be similar to anyone, it would be you. …So let us hear it.”
“…If you insist.”
They watched as Mitotsudaira prepared to sing with the Cerberus still on her head.
Mitotsudaira heard an “oh” from Naomasa and applause from the others.
She was finally able to receive that applause. She had been unable to do that at the Asama Shrine the other day because she had not decided on the talking portion yet.
But she was glad she had heard Kimi’s Dance of Joyful Awakening there.
…That let me know how much of the words inside me I could let out.
Needing to follow Kimi’s lead felt somewhat shameful as a knight, but she was still unaccustomed to being part of a band.
Now that I have finished it up and remade it, will I be able to stand alongside her? she wondered.
“Heh heh. What’s that grin about?”
“There’s nothing wrong with grinning. I’m just tuning my mood a bit.”
Being teased did not really bother her right now. Even that simple exchange could never have happened a few years ago.
So, she thought. I may not be able to forget about that time, but I do need to set my own standards now.
And at the same time…
…It is true I haven’t begun anything new.
She had shut out who she had been and made it a thing of the past. It felt like a striking difference to her, but what did her king think?
Nothing with him seemed to have changed since that time and he was making moves on another girl.
Kimi had said she was his knight and she should relax because of that relationship, but…
I’m trapped by these thoughts, she felt.
She could not let these thoughts trap her.
Thoughts were meant to decide on a course of action and urge her to take that action, not to trap her.
Was she right to wait for her king?
She did not know the answer to that question and that was why she had to think about what to do.
The song she had prepared here contained her thoughts on a possible answer to that. In other words…
“This is a fairly formal song. It is a song of a triumphant return.”
Mitotsudaira heard some impressed voices.
Naito nodded once and gave her a thumbs up.
“Mito-tsan, if it’s a knight’s song, then it’s gotta be that, right?”
Hearing that put her at ease.
It meant her “color” had gotten through to everyone.
And Naruze said, “A song of triumph. That sounds good. Or at the very least, it doesn’t sound bad.”
“Did you have to twist that around?”
“I’ve always been like that. This is as straight as I get.”
Mitotsudaira could only smile when the girl said that with a smile and raised eyebrows.
Then Adele sat next to Suzu on the side of the bath. She spread her hands in front of her.
“Should we clap to the beat?”
“This really isn’t that kind of song. Also, there’s a part I still can’t decide about.”
“Can’t decide? So it isn’t just that you haven’t gotten around to it?”
“Judge.” Mitotsudaira nodded. “I can’t decide what to do about the end of the talking portion. …I tried making a talking portion to keep the Gagaku Festival exciting, but I can’t decide on the very last part.”
It was a song of a triumphant return. So…
“I think I should praise my king in the end.”
Hearing that, Kimi placed a hand over her mouth and laughed a little.
She then twisted around to avoid the others’ gazes.
Mitotsudaira knew exactly why Kimi had laughed.
She had shown Kimi the lyrics and the talking portion she had made.
But she was singing it here, so there was no need to hold back. She would be singing it at the Gagaku festival too, so…
“Ah.” Mitotsudaira had an idea. “I’ll keep the music playing at the talking portions and you can tell me what you think.”
“Heh heh. Too many corrections and your individuality will fade away, so be careful.”
That’s true, thought Mitotsudaira.
She thought about starting the song, but…
She had to say something first. It was something she had thought before.
“I am going to sing a triumphant return song. After Naito and Naruze’s victory, I let Kimi see the lyrics, so she did influence it somewhat.”
She looked away from Kimi as she continued.
“So I’m thankful. …Just a little.”
Everyone gave her a “what is that about?” look, but it was not something that could be explained in words.
These lyrics included a few of the reservations inside her. And its title was…
“Howling Below the Moon. …Here I go.”
|Back to Chapter 9||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 11|