Horizon:Kimitoasamade 4B Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Expert in a Hidden Place
I meant to have fewer thoughts
Than I thought
But I hid more thoughts
Than I thought
Point Allocation (Maturing)
A festival began in the two large aerial cities of Musashi and Aki.
It was their combined Spring School Festival.
Since they could not use Aki’s theatre ship, they had abandoned the idea of holding the opening ceremony at the midpoint between the two cities.
Instead, the ceremony was held at both sites with a simultaneous divine transmission and commentary.
On the Aki side, the Pope-Chancellor gave a speech at Itsukushima Shrine:
“Starting this year, K.P.A. Italia will work to increase its national strength and to renew its role as ruler of the Mediterranean and representative of Catholicism! That is one more reason to give this year’s festival our all so that our glory might never end.”
According to Neshinbara:
“The Pope-Chancellor probably intends to visit the other nations for direct negotiations. Some will scoff at the idea of the pope visiting to bow down to others, but he used to be a powerful merchant. To nations with little obvious negotiating power, his presence will be nothing but a threat.”
Meanwhile on the Far Eastern side, Torii had gathered everyone in the schoolyard for her opening greeting.
“Everyone. I brought one of those fireworks that were going off overhead. It’s already been lit, though.”
Everyone panicked. And then a nudist spoke from the academy gate.
“The one I brought is even bigger. It’s also already lit, though.”
He cut off the fleeing people’s escape route, so their mission was now to eliminate him.
“Honestly, why do they keep doing these things?”
Asama sighed and made sure she could activate an emergency barrier at any time. Kimi tapped her on the back and Mitotsudaira watched the two criminals being carried to the guard station.
“So another year’s spring festival has begun…”
As a reward for the successful mission, two fireworks went off in the sky.
That signaled the festival’s beginning.
Tenzou was in his classroom: Class 2-Plum.
But he was not just waiting there or taking supplementary lessons.
He was helping with his class’s part of the festival.
“In a way, doing a Blue-Thunder-sponsored cosplay teahouse is a pretty safe option.”
“But we can’t run it properly without getting Aoi-kun released from the guard station.” Neshinbara crossed his arms while viewing his costume spread out on a desk. “Mukai-kun’s sewing skills are incredible… This is a custom version of the uniform used in the popular cooking show Cooking With Fine China.”
“Oh, that one that could be making French food or Alaskan food but always makes it Chinese-style?”
“The trick is that’s always Chinese ‘style’ and not the real thing. Last time they said, ‘Okay! Today we’re going to turn a baumkuchen into Mapo Doufu! Don’t worry! It’ll probably taste good on rice!’ and then it mysteriously turned into a show all about rice.”
“I can imagine.”
Then Tenzou looked to his own costume.
“But with that nudist involved in this, I was expecting us to be crossdressing.”
“Yeah, there was a crossdressing set in the clothes basket earlier. There were a few others, but I didn’t ask if they were for the girls or us because I was afraid of getting involved.”
“That was a wise decision.”
“Judge. But, Crossunite-kun, do you have some ninja techniques to help out if it comes to that? Oh, but not for me to use. As material for my novels.”
“I actually do…”
Tenzou searched through his uniform’s pocket.
…This is it…no, wait, is it this? No, maybe this…
“You can’t find it?”
“Oh, sorry. I never use this after all. …Oh, there it is. This is it!”
He pulled out a charm painted a flesh color.
He read off the instructions on the back.
“Let’s see… Um, ‘After spreading your legs in a pose of resignation, attach this from below your navel and down around to your butt. Removing it is a pain.’ That’s what it says.”
“Isn’t that just tape painted a flesh color? Isn’t there anything more dramatic? Like a ninja technique that turns you into a Technohexen girl?”
“I’m supposed to end up like Naruze-dono and Naito-dono?”
Without warning, something flew in through the window, grazed the back of his neck, and hit the hallway-side wall.
The wall shook and a round mark was left by the 10-yen coin bullet.
“Oh, sorry, Tenzou. I borrowed Margot’s and was test-firing it, but my hand slipped. …And after I aimed so perfectly too.”
“Wait! That’s not what your hand slipping is supposed to mean!”
At any rate, they were apparently being bugged. Inquiring further would probably get him sniped, so he returned to the previous topic.
“If you want that kind of spell, I imagine Toori-dono would be your best bet.”
“But wouldn’t that make it feel less real?” asked the other Technohexen. “He does it so well you almost can’t call it crossdressing.”
“Maybe so, Naito-dono, but the rest of us are amateurs, so it’s going to seem a lot rougher.”
“Is that how it works?” asked Neshinbara. “Well, we should probably get changed, Crossunite-kun.”
“Yes. I’ll get that over with real quick.”
Tenzou changed his clothes.
“That was fast.”
“I used a ninja technique.”
Then the starboard door opened.
Tenzou and everyone else tensed up when they saw Naruze standing there.
She looked around the classroom and her eyes stopped on Tenzou. She held a Magie Figur, but…
“Ah! Why are you already done changing!? And you’re not crossdressing! You leave me no choice…”
She continued staring at him while redrawing everything below his head as a busty crossdresser. Once she was done, she closed the door.
After a bit, he received a divine mail with that sketch attached.
“Here’s the rough. I think I’ll send it to the porn game team.”
“What are you planning!?”
“That’s up to them. Don’t worry, though. They’ll probably go with a genderbending game.”
“That’s plenty to worry about!”
But he knew no one was going to listen.
When he thought about it, he realized a busty body with a ninja face was something of a new genre.
…That could provide some work for the illustrators who have trouble with faces.
He thought he might be on the verge of a major business opportunity.
“Then again, ninjas can’t show their faces.”
“Crossunite-kun, what do you do on infiltration missions?”
“Judge. There are two types of ninjas: disguise types and stealth types. I am the latter. Well, if I had to, I might show my face for a disguise, but only somewhere where my identity isn’t known.”
“But,” said Ohiroshiki who was fixing his costume’s collar in front of a mirror. He looked to Tenzou using the edge of the mirror. “Tenzou-kun, what does it feel like to be busty, even if it’s just in an image?”
“Hm.” Tenzou placed a hand on his chin while viewing Naruze’s rough illustration. Then he grabbed his imaginary breasts. “If I actually had those as a part of my body, I imagine they would be heavy. …If I ever get a busty blonde bride, I would make sure to help her support them, but I doubt I’ll ever come across someone with this fantastic a size and shape. Dreams are always so distant and out of reach, aren’t they? What I mean is…”
The sea was visible in the sky.
That was the scene from a beach on a giant floating island.
Two people were on that white sand: a green-hooded figure and a crow.
“Scarred!? Are you getting a chill!?”
“No, Milton. …Didn’t I tell you before? There is a jinx that makes you sneeze when someone is talking about you.”
The hooded figure moved her hand near the chest within the hood.
The crow tilted his head to the right in midair and drifted a bit rightward.
“Scarred? What is it?”
“Judge. When I sneeze, my chest feels so tight. It may be inappropriate, but with the cloak hiding me, I should be fine loosening it some.”
There was a small, troubled smile below the hood.
“Because someone might talk about me again.”
“Anyway, that is my answer, Ohiroshiki-dono.”
“Oh, sorry. I’m playing a game with Persona-kun right now.”
“Wh-what is with your attitude!?”
Tenzou looked over and saw that Ohiroshiki had indeed finished adjusting his costume and was sitting across a desk from Persona-kun to compete against him in a sign frame rhythm game.
He had no intention of looking Tenzou’s way.
But Neshinbara did respond while completing the inspection of his costume.
“Crossunite-kun, you changed the topic from busty crossdressers to busty blondes and then spent 7 minutes talking nonstop. Are you okay in the head?”
Did I really talk for that long? thought Tenzou, feeling afraid for himself.
But at the same time…
“That would be because I have not talked about them for a while.”
Neshinbara removed his uniform’s jacket, undid the inner suit that acted as a shirt, removed that, and reached for his costume.
“The inside is made so you can swap out the lining. This is really well made.”
“We do have to wear them for a few days straight.”
“Is anyone not wearing one?”
“Mukai-dono didn’t know how to make one for Uqui-dono, so she made him more of a cloak.”
“She prepared well for this.”
Neshinbara put on the top of the costume’s inner suit. He wore it like a sleeveless vest and then closed the front.
“So it’s the same as a standard one. You can remove the air to make it skin tight.”
Then the starboard door opened.
Tenzou and everyone else tensed up when they saw Naruze standing there.
She looked around the classroom and her eyes stopped on Neshinbara. She held a Magie Figur on which she sketched Neshinbara while he changed and then she closed the door.
After a moment, a sign frame appeared.
“This should be enough to sell on Oku Auc. Can I redden your cheeks?”
“Eh!? If I wait, I can sell it!? How many seconds!?”
Does this Technohexen think the world revolves around her?
…Is she still excited after reaching Rank 1?
But Neshinbara spoke into the divine transmission.
“Naruze-kun, are you sure you want me leaking the doujinshi you drew back in elementary school?”
“What was that? …I just leaked the first 3 pages of Masako-san: Youkai Prison, that Youkai novel you wrote back in middle school. Let’s see: ‘One day, Masako thought, I must use my dark power to unite the samurai families———!’ What is that ‘———!’? Is it supposed to be funny?”
“Waaaah! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
“You sure lost in a hurry, Neshinbara-dono!”
That was too formidable of an opponent.
Then a sign frame opened in front of Tenzou.
“Um, it’s Asama. …Tenzou-kun, are you normal?”
“A-Asama-dono, you’re pretty bad yourself!”
“Well, it’s just that Naruze drew a pretty realistic image just now, so I thought it might mean you had entered the same zone as Toori-kun. If so, I can help you use it to earn Blessings, so don’t let it end as a simple hobby.”
Tenzou had figured out the rules: If he responded, he lost.
And Asama had more to say:
“The guards showed up about getting Toori-kun released, so I’m going through that process. He should be able to manage the teahouse in half an hour, so free the classroom up for the girls, okay?”
Just as he said that, the starboard door opened.
“Open sesame! Oh!? You sure are slow! Do you want to see me changing that badly!? Then take a look at this! I brought some charms that grow a dick, so I’ll be pasting these all over the place! Don’t worry! They’re based on the data I took from my foolish brother’s God Mosaic and they have gravitational control built in! Now, who wants to have one pasted backwards on their ass for some fun!? Or should I put them on the chairs so a moment of inattention gives you a surprise kanchou!? …Oh, Ohiroshiki!? You look like you want that!”
“Asama-dono, chaos has just descended upon the classroom.”
“Yeah, she was carrying a bundle of Ootsubaki original spell charms, so be careful.”
She clearly thinks this is not her problem, thought Tenzou as Kimi began chasing Ohiroshiki and the others and strange screams filled the classroom.
Mitotsudaira came to a stop partway up the stairs to the third floor where Class Plum was located.
Her Loup-Garou hearing had picked up on a familiar voice and some screaming.
…Danger lies ahead.
She had gone to greet the Knight’s League before coming here, but she still seemed to be a little early.
Everyone was preparing for the festival, so there were plenty of voices and noises coming from each classroom and students were walking around carrying supplies or wearing costumes. Some were decorating the stairs and hallways with colored paper chains and rings made from weaving branches and flowers together.
…We really are in school festival mode.
But Kimi’s voice could be heard over all of it.
“Oh, Neshinbara! What’s that costume? Suzu made it for you, didn’t she? It looks great! So let’s make it a crossdressing costume! Not to worry! I’ll do your makeup. Yes, it will make for excellent doujinshi material and draw in the customers! …Huh? Where will your dick go? Don’t be silly. One of my spells can warp it to a general-use shared space. The other crossdressers will also have their dicks shoved into that space, so there might be some near misses, but you’ll be fine. It’s midday on a school day, after all.”
Mitotsudaira knew one thing for sure: there was no escape for the boys.
It was awkward how the people walking through the hallways and putting together signs were focused on Class Plum.
Some of the students knew she was from Class Plum, so they kept their distance from her.
…Ah, those awkward stares…!
The Cerberus nearly barked on her head, so she stopped it with a hand and made a quick retreat to avoid a nervous sweat. She did not know what would arrive from the top of the stairs, so she walked backwards while descending them. And then…
How did she know I was approaching?
“Don’t you want my foolish brother’s dick!?”
…Wh-what does she mean by that!?
Is she giving me usage rights?
Or is it removable?
Does he have a portable di-…that was close. I just about thought a very dangerous term. But if that kind of system did exist, guys wouldn’t get so worked up over size. Yes, and if a similar swappable system worked for girls, the entire size-based mental caste system wouldn’t exist. Yes. Wh-why am I on the verge of tears?
They said crazy people loved a festival and Kimi did indeed love the school festival. The idea of crazy people having inhuman strength seemed to fit here, but her voice passed right on by without stopping.
“Oh, fine then! I’ll just stick it in Asama’s desk! Ah, Tenzou! You crossdress too! Why do your hat’s eyes look so displeased!? Are you going to miss out on a chance to become busty!?”
Now’s my chance, thought Mitotsudaira as she completed her retreat.
Once down in the 2nd floor hallway, she thought about what to do. While the boys were changing, Asama was taking care of things at the guard station and the others were carrying over ingredients and other supplies.
…Then would they be at the front building’s first-floor entrance?
She opened a sign frame while turning toward the passageway to the front school building.
“Hm? It’s Koumon-chan.”
Hearing a voice, she looked forward and saw Chancellor and Student Council President Torii with Tadayo.
Since they held a higher office than her, Mitotsudaira bowed. Tadayo responded by smacking Torii on the back of her head.
“What did you do?”
“Huh!? I-I didn’t do anything! She’s being virtuous! The Chancellor is an important position!”
“That’s not being virtuous, you idiot. She’s just being polite. …And she’s provisionally 1st in line to ruling the Far East and a Knight’s League Rank 1, so she’s more important than you.”
“Then.” Torii looked to Tadayo. “Why aren’t you bowing to her?”
“I’m Vice President, so I’m more important.”
“You’re so unvirtuous, Tadayo.”
Tadayo smacked the back of Torii’s head again.
Mitotsudaira did not even question it because it was so normal for them.
And Tadayo looked her way.
“Rank 1. …Oh, and this isn’t Chancellor’s Officers business. I’m just reporting something about the school event.” She opened a sign frame. “ ‘Musashi’ just released a bunch of information about the Gagaku Festival. We have the order of performances, so you can check on that.”
She turned a sign frame so Mitotsudaira could see and lightly tapped the back.
It zoomed in on a list of around a dozen band names.
Mitotsudaira scanned it from top to bottom.
…Oh, Margot and Naruze are near the end.
And Torii’s band was second to last.
“I had a feeling the Chancellor’s band would get a good spot…”
“Yeah, judge. But, Rank 1, look at the one below that.”
She did and saw the name “Kimitoasamade” written at the very bottom.
…Oh, that’s us. We’re here.
She was relieved to find they had been accepted and given a position in the lineup.
She looked again, but that was definitely the very bottom.
She looked a third time and then asked a question with a smile.
“Does this list start from the bottom?”
“No, from the top.”
After receiving that calm rejection, Mitotsudaira felt a nervous sweat pouring from her body.
…That means we have the last performance, doesn’t it?
She tried asking.
“If I had to guess why, it would be because Asama-chi’s band is purifying the mysterious phenomena.”
Naito sat on the edge of Okutama’s large windbreak barrier that looked like a ship’s tower.
Naruze was checking the performance order on a Magie Figur next to Naito.
“Yeah, we got a decent position. We won’t be forgotten but we won’t be seen as too important either. That’s just right. And none of the performances close to ours are anything like us.”
“Yeah. So the Chancellor’s band gets what amounts to the main performance and Asama-chi’s follows on after that to purify the mysterious phenomena.”
“Kimi will probably get really excited when she sees it, but I bet Mitotsudaira will feel shaken and Asama won’t really know what it means.”
“Probably so,” agreed Naito as she looked behind them.
Several people were sitting on the wide wall back there.
They were from the delivery business.
…Everyone’s gathered here.
They were discussing the rank change.
The previous changes had been handled via divine transmission, but that was not going to cut it this time.
This was a change of Rank 1.
The others lined up with their flight devices, flying ships, and brooms and Almirante crossed his arms in the center.
“Okay, um, how should I put this? This isn’t really going to take effect until next year, but our Rank 1 has changed from Wild Kamelie to Zwei Fräulein.”
The two Technohexen heard some cheers and sensed a few people turn their way.
But most of them were still looking at Wild Kamelie.
The woman said nothing.
And Almirante continued speaking.
“Wild Kamelie was made our representative for the year during the ceremony, so she’ll keep that job until the next Walpurgis.”
Wild Kamelie made that quiet but definite correction.
“Judge.” Almirante nodded. “Wild Kamelie has been our representative for a very long time. Um…about 200 years, I think?”
“5 years, you moron.”
When Wild Kamelie smiled, Marine raised her eyebrows and slowly turned around.
“Who are you calling a moron, moron?”
“I don’t want to hear that from someone who was beaten first.”
“The order doesn’t matter.”
Marine refused to back down, but no one argued the point.
…They are the former Rank 1 and 2, after all.
Everyone was silent, but not because they were cautious.
If a fight broke out here, everyone could enjoy a fight between those two without having to worry about the rankings. But if they tried egging the women on, Almirante might stop it.
However, Wild Kamelie backed down first.
“I’m going to temporarily drop out of the rankings. Once I give up my rights as an Edel Brocken tester, I don’t know what will happen to my Hexen Frau, but I need to get a new start no matter what happens.”
Wild Kamelie cut off Marine.
“Since I’m dropping out, you remain the provisional Rank 2. Zwei Fräulein is the barrier blocking your way forward. Right?” she added to no one in particular. “Listen, everyone. You’ve worked as Technohexen and deliverers on the Musashi, so you should know a lot about the other nations. …You know P.A. Oda is starting to act and the Thirty Years’ War is starting to intensify, right? Once that happens, it will mean a lot for Musashi that I lost to some students.” She spoke to Naito and Naruze behind her. “So continue on, Zwei Fräulein. …Continue on to a place where you can demonstrate your strength and protect Musashi.”
Almirante spoke up as if to add to her words.
“Wild Kamelie. Are there even greater heights?”
“Whether you want to move forward or higher, you will always find somewhere to go. And that’s true for social status, for enemies, and for your own pride.”
“I see,” Naruze heard Almirante say. “That’s a good assignment for those students. Besides, Zwei Fräulein are still only provisionally Rank 1 until the start of next year. Those of you ranked below them need to keep aiming higher. …I’ll be watching you all work at it.”
“No fair, Almirante!”
Everyone laughed and said that, but he responded.
“Wait.” He held out a hand. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll join in once Marine loses.”
“That’s a lot of responsibility…” sighed Marine.
Naruze had a thought when she saw that.
…That’s kind of oppressive.
You could call it solidarity or a familial atmosphere, but she felt like she needed to spend more time with them before she could join in like that.
Would she have that kind of time once she graduated as a student?
…I’m not sure.
While she thought about that, she saw Almirante look to everyone and speak.
“Zwei Fräulein are the provisional Rank 1, but I doubt anyone is going to challenge them anytime soon. So for now, there’s something we need to prepare to make them our new face.”
“Huh? Something to prepare? What’s that, Almirante?”
It was Wild Kamelie and not Almirante who turned around to respond.
“The ad song for Musashi’s delivery union.”
“…Oh, that annual one.”
“Right,” said Wild Kamelie. “That. The tradition is to have it made by the provisional Rank 1 and whoever they beat.”
“Eh? Wild Kamelie…you can write songs?”
Margot turned around when she heard that question.
“If it’s ‘whoever they beat’, wouldn’t it be all the others too?”
“That’s right. And…the provisional Rank 1 doesn’t get any say in the music or lyrics.”
“Well, if you did, it would be nothing but praising yourself…”
“Also,” said Wild Kamelie. “It’s the provisional Rank 1 that sings it. Since my win lasted so long, I had to start changing up the instrumental parts to make it sound fresh by the third year.”
Naruze had a bad feeling about where this was headed.
“Wait a second, all of you.”
“…You aren’t going to make us sing some bawdy song, are you?”
“We’re not going to play something like that for our ads, idiot.”
“But,” said Wild Kamelie while narrowing her eyes. “Malga Naruze, listening to your songs, you never use the word ‘love’ in your lyrics, do you? Why might that be?”
She wanted to say that she could not use such an embarrassing word in front of people, but she forced down the complaint. Unfortunately, her silence was all the answer anyone needed. Margot had a look of “oh, dear” on her face.
Then Almirante opened a sign frame.
“Listen. While listening to the opening theme of Armored Warrior Monks: Bhikkhus, a historical show my grandkid watches, I wrote up some lyrics to use as a jumping off point. I wanted to add a chorus that repeated the phrase ‘Oh, Zwei Fräulein’ over and over, but I couldn’t fit it in.”
“Well, thank goodness for that!!”
Naruze replied on reflex and the others turned her way.
“So you wouldn’t like that!?”
“Then let’s do it!”
“Yeah, let’s do it! We’ve gotta do it…!”
“Let’s make these lyrics the kind of thing we’d be way too embarrassed to sing ourselves!”
Margot tapped her on the shoulder.
“This is fine. It means they’re celebrating our win.”
Before Naruze could ask “are you sure?”, Margot continued.
Me too, thought Naruze from the bottom of her heart.
Asama was in their classroom.
It was past noon. Their school festival teahouse was already open for business and it was currently the shrine maiden time.
…Changing costumes depending on the time really is well thought out.
On the first day, the order of costumes was apparently original→shrine maiden→samurai→Technohexen→knight. There had been other ideas like executioner, grave keeper, or god of war, but those genres had been a little too far out there.
During the shrine maiden time, the girls waited tables and the boys worked in the kitchen.
With Ohiroshiki there, she had thought the menu would expand when the girls were waiting tables, but…
“I guess they can’t leave all the cooking to Ohiroshiki.”
She could hear the boys’ voices from beyond the partition.
“Okay, Noriki-kun, set the heat to low! …No, not like that! When I say low heat, I mean just a whisper of a flame! Yes, in terms of little girls, think of it as a 3 year old! How about that? You understand it now, don’t you? …Hassan-kun! That is supposed to be an apple pie! Don’t turn it into curry!”
Will they be okay?
But strangely, the customers were mostly girls. There were some upperclassmen there, but…
“I thought there would be a bunch of upperclassmen boys here when the girls were waiting tables.”
“Yes, people do have some preconceived notions about upperclassmen. A lot of girls see them as more mature.”
Asama had seen that on the divine network and in manga. But…
“Our class doesn’t have much of that, does it?”
They did not give much thought to school year.
After all, they were often out on official duties or working real jobs. In that case, it did not matter if someone was an upperclassman or not. You would scold them if they got in the way of work and you would give them instructions to “utilize” them.
Their class had a lot of people with a clear plan for their future. That was probably the reason.
She wanted to think it meant they all had professional attitudes, but…
…Is that really true?
Asama had had a certain thought on that matter recently. She wondered if there was a kind of synergy working between them all.
In her case, everyone knew so much more about music and working than she did and she found that incredible, so she tried to catch up to them.
It was not that she was afraid of losing. She simply wanted to be able to do it herself. That was likely because the idea of Shinto purification was at the foundation of her thoughts.
Everyone else probably had things like that as well.
…So if we all find each other incredible and try to catch up with each other…
She guessed they were in the process of doing that.
There were also some third years like that, but when they met Asama’s class in a place like this, they would approach using their on-the-job relationships.
So when Naomasa served a third year she knew from the engine division…
“Team leader! Shouldn’t you be keeping an eye on the engines!?”
“Don’t you have anything to say about how I’m dressed?” asked Naomasa.
“Yeah! It doesn’t have many pockets for storing stuff!”
So according to Mitotsudaira…
“This is less a teahouse and more of a place for our various connections to visit and counsel us.”
“But the two of us haven’t been waiting any tables.”
“Do you really think anyone is going to call over the Asama Shrine Representative or the provisional 1st in line?”
Asama thought of Kimi and him, but they were waiting tables at the moment.
“This and the Technohexen time are the only costumes that restrict it to just girls. But,” said Mitotsudaira as she looked to the entrance. “I think that is one of the reasons the upperclassmen boys are only watching from a distance.”
A shrine maiden was serving drinks to a table by the entrance.
Even with the tail ballast attached, the shrine maiden used practiced motions to not bump into anything.
“Toori-kun, you’ve gotten a lot better at crossdressing…”
“Tomo! You really shouldn’t encourage him!”
“But it’s true.”
Frighteningly enough, all of the 3rd year boys who had entered during the shrine maiden time had been fooled.
Shrine maiden cafes were fairly common on Musashi, but their class had a lot of famous people like Asama and the first ones to wait on the tables had been Kimi and him, who were used to this kind of thing as entertainers.
…That was really well done…
Since a lot of the people here knew the class, they had apparently thought the crossdresser was “a new face here to help out”. When they realized they had been so thoroughly duped, they had become beings who only held a tilted teacup that they endlessly stirred with a spoon.
“Would anyone be willing to come if they knew that in advance?”
“Most of the girls don’t seem to mind. But if you’re talking about boys…um, there’s that boy from Naruze’s manga research club. He’s supposed to be sketching some material, but he’s so nervous he can’t keep his drawing hand moving.”
Asama made a mental note to check with the event sponsors to make sure nothing that used them as a model was released.
Then a cry came from the table of girls he had been waiting on.
He had removed his wig to reveal who he was.
It was amusing how the girl who had already visited said, “See, I told you!”
“It’s hardly a surprise when you see it every day in our class…”
“My, my,” said Kimi as she walked over. She must have been doing a love fortunetelling at another table because she had a love prayer charm in her cleavage. “Are you showing off how you know my foolish brother better than them?”
Asama thought about that.
Kimi’s accusation was accurate. It was true Asama knew him better than those other girls. Thanks to his contract, spells, and divine protections, she knew a lot about how he lived his life.
But at the same time…
“If anything, I was saying they’re lucky he isn’t being even worse than that.”
The way they lived their lives was just too different.
But Kimi bent her eyes in a smile and said more.
“But how do you feel about that kind of person?”
She had thought about this in the early morning the other day.
“I would call him a hopeless person.”
Mitotsudaira listened to Kimi’s reaction to Asama.
Kimi breathed a quiet sigh and tapped Asama’s shoulder. But…
“Quite a strange ‘lid’ you have there.”
That expression of confusion came from both Asama and Mitotsudaira.
What did that mean? But while Asama tilted her head in confusion, Kimi moved away to wait on another table.
Mitotsudaira watched her leave and thought about what Asama and Kimi had said.
A hopeless person.
That was the obvious way to describe her king. Watch how he acted on a daily basis and anyone would say the same.
Then how did that act as a “lid”? Mitotsudaira thought about it.
And something occurred to her.
…Tomo knows my king better than your average person…
In that case…
Something was odd.
Something was contradictory and out of place.
If he was hopeless, then he was a nuisance and should just be left alone.
But she knew him well and he was certainly a nuisance, but she simply called him “hopeless”.
Mitotsudaira felt like she had realized something important.
It was something she would have trouble putting to words, but if she managed it, it would become a powerful truth.
“Hm? What is it, Mito?”
When Asama responded so casually, Mitotsudaira became painfully aware of what Kimi had meant.
Asama did not notice anything off about what she had said.
So her “lid” was something that put a lid on everything, including the realization that something was out of place.
There should have been a great variety of feelings and thoughts there, but she put a lid on all of that by summing it up with the word “hopeless” in a way that only made sense to her.
She was probably the only person who thought “hopeless” worked as a description.
So if Mitotsudaira led her to realize the truth, she might open that “lid”.
But in doing so…
…I would be interfering with Tomo’s feelings and thoughts.
That was why Kimi had left it alone.
Mitotsudaira did not know what Kimi thought would happen here. But…
Mitotsudaira swore to herself she would not trample on and disturb her friend’s feelings as if she knew what she was doing.
She decided to think the same thing as Asama.
So she spoke to her friend with a smile.
“He really is a hopeless person.”
“He really is…”
Mitotsudaira smiled bitterly when Asama placed a hand on her cheek.
Asama’s eyes were on Kimi’s and his backs. And…
“Well, hopeless may be a good description for all of us.”
Mitotsudaira nodded at that and the Cerberus barked on her head.
The girls here as customers turned around and cried out as they looked at the Cerberus, but Mitotsudaira had no intention of going over to let them see or touch the creature.
After all, she was a part of Mitotsudaira. Also…
…She can finally leave.
Most likely, started Mitotsudaira. That will happen during the festival’s mysterious phenomenon purification.
The Cerberus had no way of knowing that, but she wanted to pamper the creature while she could. That thought made her smile bitterly in her heart.
She too liked making excuses.
She made sure to add that excuse of “because the Cerberus is going away”.
But that was not it.
That was not why she was pampering the Cerberus.
She wanted the creature to enjoy herself so she would feel satisfied whenever the time might come.
That sounds like something my king would say, thought Mitotsudaira.
Nine years had passed since that loss from his past. The remorse still gnawed at him, but she knew he would not let it stop him. She also hoped that would allow him to keep his promise with her, but…
“Nooo, no, no. How my boobs work is a secret. …I couldn’t possibly give away an Asama Shrine secret technique like that!”
He seemed to be getting carried away while chatting with the customers. But as Mitotsudaira watched him…
…Oh, I’m also thinking they’re lucky he isn’t being worse.
She had also thought of him as hopeless.
…That’s a “lid”, isn’t it?
It was possible she would eventually be more aware of that, but for the moment, she watched Asama walk over to correct him and Kimi walk over to tease her. And…
“Honestly, what are all of you doing?”
Mitotsudaira joined in as well. Times like this were always so much fun.
And while she moved to join the others…
Suzu turned toward the window while sitting at the register counter.
And when the others looked that way too…
“Heh heh. The sky is opening up.”
The white stealth barrier opened from the bow end, like a wind blowing through. The motion and intensity were similar to a tent being stripped away in a single breath.
“That would be the official beginning.”
The daytime bell rang and the sky opened up to reveal the blue.
Mitotsudaira saw a shape there.
A single large aerial ship floated in the sky starboard of Musashi.
It was Theatre Ship Fushimi Castle.
“Shinagawa” stood in Shinagawa’s cargo plaza as she watched Theatre Ship Fushimi Castle approach from starboard.
The Fushimi Castle had been made by modifying the Tanigawa Castle and it was 300 meters long. Its approach was smooth, but the top surface was normally used as a transport ship and it was towed like a floating warehouse.
So for its approach…
“This is no different from a transport ship. …In fact, we have dealt with it as a transport ship quite often, so just do the same now. Over.”
According to the port management data on her sign frame, the laborers had already secured the ropes thrown down by the Fushimi Castle. Shinagawa would attach a towing belt to the ship, but another automaton was managing that.
She soon received the authorization sign frame indicating the connection was complete.
From there, the Fushimi Castle only had to move down lower than Shinagawa. The conduction pipes connected along with the towing belt would use the height difference to transport things like fuel and water to the ship.
There were also some other supplies to send over:
“Are those large storage devices? Over.”
A red and white Kraken-class transport ship with the Asama Shrine emblem on the side moved above the Fushimi Castle.
The Asama Shrine transport ship had a transport pallet attached to the bottom.
The box-shaped pallet was made to unload its contents from the front or the back and it contained three storage devices.
Those were used to absorb ley line stagnations.
They were nearly five times larger than the ones installed on the previous theatre ship. Eight of them would be placed below the theatre ship’s deck to call in the mysterious phenomena surrounding the Musashi.
“The loading work will now begin. It will take eight hours to complete. Once the inspection and tuning are complete, it will be time for mysterious phenomenon summoning and purification training. Over.”
She sent those words to every automaton on the ship. She had already checked the schedule thousands of times, but actually taking action was different somehow.
“I must apologize, ‘Shinagawa’,” said “Okutama”. “Sakai-sama has asked me to check the contents of a Black Disk box set, so I will not arrive in time for the inspection. Over.”
“A box set of what? Over.”
“Judge. It is a Taiga Noh Play of the Tale of Heike titled ‘The Bells of Onomatopoeia’. Everyone keeps yelling, ‘The sound of the bells!? The sound of the bells!? Gonnnnng! Gonnnnnnnnng!’, and every single enemy’s name ends in ‘Mori’, so it is very hard to follow. Over.”
“I have determined that is a waste of your time. Skip watching it, look up a summary on the divine network, and use that for your report to Sakai-sama. Over.”
“I see. I didn’t think of that. Over.”
“Judge. Yes. Although recently, they will often put spoilers like ‘a masterpiece of the everyone-dies genre’ right below the title and then preface the actual summary with ‘the following contains spoilers’.”
Another sign frame appeared, so “Shinagawa” checked it.
It showed “Musashi” giving her an expressionless look.
Without a word, “Shinagawa” faced the first sign frame again.
“ ‘Okutama’. …Make sure you actually watch it. Those were Sakai-sama’s instructions. Over.”
“Eh!? Why did you suddenly change your mind!? Over.”
Instead of answering the question, “Shinagawa” closed the sign frame from “Okutama”.
Then she faced the one from “Musashi”.
“Do you need something? Over.”
“Judge. The Fushimi Castle has settled on a list of participants for the Gagaku Festival. The list of participating bands is not new, but there are around 2000 in the standard participation block. Over.”
“I do not know what will happen with the mysterious phenomena, but there is a risk of a Hidden Dragon or such appearing again. And yet so many have chosen entertainment over danger. Humanity makes such baffling decisions. Over.”
“That is exactly why we must support them,” said “Musashi”. “Generally, the Chancellor’s Officers and the students trained in combat will move out front with the vassal unit. …The rear guard will be formed from a Technohexen unit and a shrine maiden unit. Their training will be held on the Fushimi Castle this afternoon. Extracting mysterious phenomena with a god summoning is a ritualistic affair, so the defense unit’s role is to respond to any mysterious phenomena created as a side effect of the extraction. Over.”
- The Gion of Gion Shoja can also mean onomatopoeia.
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