Horizon:Kimitoasamade 4B Chapter 9
Chapter 9: Deceiver Before the Stage
Is reality so cruel?
Point Allocation (Too Much Dreaming)
Their strategy meeting began in the afternoon.
They were planning how to fully purify the Musashi.
At the end of the Gagaku Festival, the Gagaku would be used as an offering and the resultant purification would be used to tune the spherical ley line distortion surrounding the Musashi.
Eight storage devices would absorb the stagnation. Those devices were installed on the Fushimi Castle which was stopped 700 meters above the Musashi. That placed the Fushimi Castle at the center of the distortion, but it was also the Gagaku Festival stage. So according to “Musashi”…
“This will be the first time to hold the festival above the Musashi. That said, it is normally held off to starboard, so this is not that much different. Over.”
That left some problems. The “usual” ones like confirming the Musashi’s position when the stealth barrier was up and receiving an ether fuel supply, but also…
“It would be a major problem if the Fushimi Castle were to fall, so I recommend fixing it in place. Over.”
Based on that opinion from the ship captains, towing belts were extended from each ship to supply the Fushimi Castle with fuel and hold it in place.
The purification would be powered by the fuel from each ship, the songs from the Gagaku Festival, and the offering of the festival as a whole and it was predicted that several mysterious phenomena would appear on the deck, starting with the Hidden Dragon that had fled during the previous battle.
They could be purified with direct skill, but their “molds” could also be destroyed by containing the stagnation in the storage devices and tuning them. Thus, the front row of the “audience” onboard the Fushimi Castle was primarily made up of students with excellent combat skills.
The operation was named Emptying the Cup.
The spherical ley line stagnation was viewed as a cup and they were attempting to drink it dry.
…That said, we are making annoyingly little progress in this meeting.
Mitotsudaira wore a track suit and carried a small wooden container as she looked up into the sky.
She was on a transport ship approaching the Fushimi Castle outside the Musashi’s stealth barrier.
The sea and the sky visible horizontally to the deck were blue. The mainland visible to north and Aki visible to west were bright with sunlight.
It was currently 2 PM. It was currently samurai cosplay time in their classroom and Kimi would be in charge of that, but here they were holding the meeting for Emptying the Cup.
“Holding a meeting while helping setup the stage is a little much.”
She sighed and Asama gave her a bitter smile. The shrine maiden operated a sign frame as she replied.
“Sorry. You can blame the Testament Union for that. They said the Gagaku Festival is a school event but purifying mysterious phenomena is not, so we cannot set aside time for it during the Spring School Festival.”
The meeting was being held via sign frame while they prepared for the Gagaku Festival.
If possible, they would have liked to hold the meeting during the normal preparation time at night, but with the Gagaku Festival approaching, a lot of people had work shifts at night.
…So including a mock battle disguised as Gagaku Festival preparations, they’re going to be holding three different meetings during the day.
Mitotsudaira thought, This is because the Testament Union’s Aki is so close by.
But that thought led to another:
“Thinking like this just shows I really am a Musashi resident, doesn’t it?”
She was a knight sent here from Hexagone Française. As a result of the dealings between Hexagone Française and the Testament Union, she had provisionally inherited the name of Mito Matsudaira. She had been sent as part of Hexagone Française’s preparations for the future of the Far East, so it was politically unclear if she would ultimately belong to Hexagone Française or the Far East. But…
…I have made up my own mind on the matter.
That said, there was nothing she could do in this situation.
The mysterious phenomenon purification and the Gagaku Festival were indeed different things.
The Testament Union’s statement bordered on harassment, but it was true that mysterious phenomenon purification was not a school lesson.
They had apparently discussed harassing the Testament Union in retaliation by holding a mysterious phenomenon purification near Aki during some time other than the Gagaku Festival, but….
…That would only cause more conflict with the Testament Union.
And the Musashi only had a limited supply of fuel. Each year, they were assigned some amount of fuel for the Gagaku Festival and they would use the excess for the mysterious phenomenon purification.
If they did not do it now, who could say when the next chance would come along.
This is so much trouble, sighed Mitotsudaira as she adjusted her grip on the container.
“Here I go!”
Just then, she heard a voice from beyond the approaching transport ship.
It was Adele.
Adele was training.
It was combat training.
The vassal unit was practicing a charge in case a mysterious phenomenon appeared on the theatre ship. That way they could respond if a Non-God Sword or Hidden Dragon appeared during the Gagaku Festival.
Of course, the Testament Union had stopped them from holding any kind of official training. But…
Tadayo stood on the far end of the deck while wearing an engine division work jacket.
Adele was on the stern and Tadayo was on the bow.
Tadayo lightly spun around a metal spear, but suddenly stopped it and gave a shout.
Adele and the rest of the vassal unit nodded and moved forward.
It was not spears or shields they held below their arms.
It was metal scaffolding pipes.
There were piles of other materials in the supply yard set up at the rear of the ship. They were carrying all of that to the bow and other places.
…And it works as training…!
Today, Adele was practicing wielding a spear or wielding a shield. She was currently holding a metal pipe as a spear and moving forward.
Some of the others held a plywood or armor panel as a shield and others carried a toolbox as the rear guard.
And they were all running toward…
“A god of war!”
A god of war stood there in place of a Non-God Sword.
Everyone ran in and threw their burden at its armored metal feet.
…Here I go!
Adele went all out.
Fighting a Non-God Sword was an important experience for her. It had used wind slashes like projectiles and she remembered crushing or dodging those to move forward. That was the same as the later fight against the Hidden Dragon:
…I can be proud of what I did there as a Musashi vassal!
Combat was rare on the Musashi, yet she had helped defeat such a powerful opponent.
And that would help more than just her. It was important for the vassal unit as a whole.
They had publically demonstrated that Musashi could fight.
So Adele held her spear at the ready and moved forward in a long slide.
“Let’s carry these supplies!”
Adele felt the speed on the soles of her feet after a few steps.
She went for it.
The theatre ship’s deck gave them approximately 200 meters to run. With their body reinforcement spells, they could clear that in about 15 seconds.
The god of war at the supplies destination was 10 seconds away.
They would arrive in no time. Or they should have.
A figure moved near the stage being constructed up ahead.
1st Special Duty Officer Watanabe stood atop the wood piled up in front of the stage.
She lightly waved her hand.
“1st Special Duty Unit…go take those supplies!”
It happened suddenly.
A few dozen figures appeared on the seemingly-empty deck.
The unit that worked for the 1st Special Duty Officer was primarily made up of ninjas and they had been hidden there. They were unarmed, but as soon as they lifted their hips…
They charged toward the vassal unit.
Oh, dear, thought Mitotsudaira as she watched the mock training.
The 1st Special Duty Unit had just made a counterattack on the charging vassal unit.
They all took curving paths on their way to clash with the vassals.
Mitotsudaira recognized those movements.
“Those are the Non-God Sword’s slashes.”
The reports on the battle and the damage to the Tanigawa Castle must have been used to work out the trajectories of the Non-God Sword’s slashes. She did not remember everything about it, but were there more slashes toward the center because that was where she had been?
This time, people in black made a counter charge in place of the slashes.
It was the 1st Special Duty Unit.
Those ninjas were generally unarmed and fought with ninja techniques and martial arts.
Their ninja techniques were wide ranging – including throws, rolls, and feints using the momentum of their approach.
Thus, their approach was a fast one. When the vassals stumbled in surprise from the sudden counterattack, they were knocked away, blocked, or stopped after the surprise of a feint.
“Ah, s-sorry, I didn’t mean to hug you like that! And it definitely had nothing to do with you being a black-haired girl! Ah, no weapons! Please no! I prefer love! I prefer peace!”
“Shobahhh! Shubahhhh! Oh, those are slashing sound effects! I had to make them up, but they’re pretty cool, aren’t they?”
“Hi! Now, will I go right? Or will I go left? Ah ha ha! Just try to catch me. …Why would you straight-up ignore me!?”
The 1st Special Duty Unit seemed confident, but the vassal unit had also been trained.
The vassal unit mercilessly sent the ninjas flying, just like the Non-God Sword’s slashes had been destroyed.
Of course, they did not actually carry weapons. Nor did they have the mobile shells that most vassals wore or the gauntlets that helped them grip their weapons.
When they came into contact, the pipes being used as spears flew through the air and plywood panels broke or slid along the floor.
Those who had finished their encounter exchanged looks with the others to check on their results, those who had dropped materials picked them up, and those who had not continued forward. However…
…The 1st Special Duty Unit only has so many people, so the number of slashes is limited.
So once they finished “carrying” those materials, each group would form up on the opposite ends of the ship as before and begin another clash.
But before that could happen, some of the vassals were still headed for the god of war.
Mitotsudaira saw a familiar face among them.
“That’s Adele, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” agreed Asama next to her. Her sign frame displayed an overhead map of the Fushimi Castle. The image of the 200m field showed the paths and results of the people moving back and forth from bow to stern.
Adele was in one of the groups that had not been stopped and was still running.
And Asama said something.
It happened just as the transport ship rocked lightly from arriving at the Fushimi Castle.
“Tenzou-kun is charging in from the very back of the ship.”
Tenzou had joined the last row of those reproducing the slashes.
He had not done so for any real reason.
…I was just running late because of the mess at the cosplay teahouse!
At the end of the shrine maiden time, the entire class had finally gotten the hang of their assigned roles and was picking up on what they excelled at or had trouble with.
He had needed to prepare for this “supply carrying”, so he had needed to leave with Adele.
His plan had been to be back at the end of the samurai genre which was the time after the next. The Technohexen genre came after samurai and Naito and Naruze would handle that, so he could work in the back and let them work out front.
The problem was the idiot.
Yes, it was that idiot’s fault, thought Tenzou.
Just as they were preparing to leave, the idiot and his sister called over Adele who was trying to change out of her shrine maiden costume and into her uniform.
“Hey, Adele, Adele. I have something weird here.”
“Eh? What is it, Toori-san.”
“Silly girl, I am Aoko-san right now! Don’t use my real name! Got it, Adele? Now, what’s my name!?”
“Nope, too bad. My name is Toori. Aoko is who I am right now. Tee hee.”
“A doctor! Is anyone in here a doctor!? And I mean a brain doctor! A surgeon would work too, I think! …Oh, Asama-san, can you take care of this!?”
“Wh-why are passing this off to me!? I have to get over to the theatre ship with Mito!”
At any rate, the idiot had gotten a little too into character, so he really did look like a girl.
But the idiot sister placed a hand on her cheek and spoke to Adele.
“Listen, Adele. I have this set I brought in order to get Neshinbara to crossdress.”
“I will never wear that!!”
“Heh heh. You’re an amateur author and you can’t even crossdress!? Do you even have a dick!?”
“I have no idea what that is supposed to mean,” said Tenzou. “But what is going on?”
“Huh!? You don’t get it, Tenzou!? I want Adele to try on the giant boobs attachment from this Ootsubaki crossdressing set as an experim-…so she can experience what it’s like to be busty!”
“K-Kimi-san, you let your real motivation slip in there, didn’t you!?”
“Adele!” Kimi placed her hands on Adele’s shoulders. “Listen! Motivations and pretext aren’t what matter! It’s all about the result! Yes, anything goes if it’s funny!”
“That’s what I mean by your motivation!!”
But Adele must have always wanted to try it out once. With a “I might as well” atmosphere, she stepped out of the changing space with a much greater “size”.
“Wh-what do you think?”
She had even changed into an inner suit for large breasts. Ohiroshiki, whose senior priest costume bore the words “Life Worshiper”, looked at her and elbowed Tenzou.
“What is it, Ohiroshiki-dono? Are you shocked that Adele-dono has become a busty loli?”
“Huh? Any age in the double digits is an old hag, so Adele-kun is as much an old hag as anyone. Old hagginess is equal to all. What are you even talking about? Anyway, Tenzou-kun…isn’t this your genre? Busty blondes?”
Tenzou gave Adele another look. And…
He placed a hand on his forehead and spoke up without thinking.
“Eh? What do you think as a busty blonde sommelier, Tenzou-san?”
“Judge. …When you walk, hold your shoulders a little stiffer like this. …Yes, and catch the jiggling on your curved breastbone… Yes, yes, yes. Just like that.”
“Those are undeniably fake.”
“Th-that is the worst! That is just the worst thing you could have said!”
“That’s right!” said the other girls as they took Adele’s side.
“Tenzou-kun, couldn’t you at least compliment Adele after having her pretend to be busty for your own amusement!?”
“That’s right! And after she did something so humiliating not even I could do it in public!”
“Hey, Adele. I really don’t think you should have done that.”
“Wh-why am I being attacked by everyone who took my side!?”
That was when the two Technohexen entered through the window. They were both riding Naito’s broom. Naruze gave Tenzou and Adele a surprised look and then looked to Tenzou again.
“I see.” She nodded. “You are the worst.”
“Th-that was sudden!?”
“…Then I’ll compromise and call you scum.”
“That’s even worse!”
“Now, now,” intervened High Priest Neshinbara. He gave a solemn nod. “Crossunite-kun.”
He must have found a good compromise. He lightly swished his costume that bore the words “Dream Big” and placed a hand on his forehead. There was no purpose to those actions. He probably just thought it looked cool.
And he took a breath before continuing.
“Listen, Crossunite-kun. At times like this, you should start by complimenting how Balfette-kun looks. After all, she is wearing something different from normal. Otherwise, she will not be able to enjoy crossdressing like this.”
“I-I am not crossdressing! I increased my bust size!!”
“You are the worst.”
“W-wait, Naruze-kun! By those standards, if I accept that Balfette-kun has increased her bust size (fake though it may be), will I become ‘the best’!?”
“…Then you would be a creep.”
“You could stand to be less harsh, Naruze-dono!”
That led into the usual pattern of everyone snapping at each other in turn.
It ended with Itoken and Nenji’s opinion of Adele’s increased size.
“Adele-kun, it is best to be yourself.”
“Indeed. You do not grow from taking in more liquids like I do. So instead of seeking dramatic change, you should live each day to its fullest. What matters most is not growth; it is health. You are quite healthy from running with those dogs every day and what could be better than that? In a way, you have achieved what is best for yourself without even noticing, so that may be why you are looking for something else.”
After some applause from the customers, it came to an end.
The customers may have thought it was some kind of skit. But did that make it all acceptable or not?
Is our class really okay acting like that? wondered Tenzou as he accelerated his charge and looked ahead.
The opponent in front of him was a 3rd-year vassal. It was a girl and she was charging toward him.
She was 2 meters away.
And upon closer inspection, this opponent was blonde and…
…She just barely qualifies as busty…!
That assessment put Tenzou in an entirely different mood as he dashed forward.
Tenzou checked to either side as he ran.
No one else was headed for this target.
That meant no one was watching him. So…
…Ninja Technique: Staring Mode!
He mentally shouted the technique name and looked ahead to see what he expected.
…They are jiggling!
Yes, natural giant breasts did not jiggle along a central axis like in games. The breasts were attached by the entire surface area, so they would not jiggle as a separate object.
He was glad to be alive.
And his current mission was to stop the vassal unit’s charge. So…
“I will stop her…!”
He would stop this charging opponent as part of their training. Not because of his personal interests. Not for any personal benefit either. This is crucial training for handling mysterious phenomena at the Gagaku Festival.
He had an excuse.
But he wanted to avoid knocking her down or sending her flying when he stopped her. They might be in different years, but they were comrades from the same academy, regardless of how she might see things.
He could see the others going all out on this, but given his faith and interests…no, solely to ensure she could do her duty in the upcoming mission, he wanted to avoid the possibility of injury.
But he would stop her.
So how was he to do that?
…Can I use my hands?
…Can I grab her tight with both hands?
…Can I then knock her down onto the deck with me?
I can!!! …I might get in trouble for it afterwards, though.
“But this training is important!”
He used a step to match their pace and the distance between them and he charged in.
…Wait for me, busty blonde!
“Scarred? Sneezing again?”
“Eh? …Oh, yes. A wind spirit just tickled my nose. I think it is a sign of good things to come, but since spring is already over, maybe it’s talking about something coming next year.”
Tenzou ran with his hand at the ready.
He would hit. He would make it. He would grab them.
But just then, the approaching large breasts suddenly jiggled to the side.
It was a feint.
Wait, he thought.
Leave me not, big boobs.
…Ah, I think I’m turning into a poet…
Regardless, his opponent had definitely shifted her path.
She had never been planning on hitting him. She had been drawing him in before dodging.
He should have been able to read that in her movements, but he had been too distracted by the diversion in front of him. Also, he was supposed to be a slash, so there was no point in reading someone’s feint.
She had shifted to the side, so if he kept going like this, he would run right past the busty blonde with his hands held at the ready.
Farewell, big boobs.
But he had to decide whether or not he would pursue those big boobs to reproduce the homing aspect of the slash.
If he forcibly leaned over now, he could go after her.
What would he do? What should I do?
There was an enemy in front of him.
It was not that the busty blonde had moved back to her original path.
There was someone behind her to crush the slash after the vanguard escaped it with a feint.
This other person was also blonde, but there was a major difference from the other girl.
She was not busty.
Asama saw something as she and Mitotsudaira crossed the bridge to the theatre ship.
Near the god of war at the bow of the theatre ship, Tenzou suddenly lost all motivation.
They were training and she had seen him making an incredible dash on her diagram.
But just now, his legs slowed to a walk and his shoulders drooped.
“Tenzou?” asked Mitotsudaira with a questioning tone.
Just then, Adele sent Tenzou flying with a direct hit from her metal pipe.
At the same time, a whistle blew at the bow. Tadayo picked up and swung her spear.
“Okay, that ends the first round of supply carrying! You, ninja over there! What in the world are you doing!?”
After being knocked away and rolling thrice, Tenzou got up and lowered his head.
“S-sorry! The great sense of loss shined a light on my shameful actions!”
“I-I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean,” said Adele. “But I feel like I should be angry at you for that complete lack of motivation. I should be, shouldn’t I!?”
“Yeah, I don’t really get it either,” said Tadayo. “But you survived the charge, Balfette, so take the back row next time.”
They were going to continue the supply carrying.
“Mito, you’re going to join in now, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Tomo, you’re going to fire some arrows to ‘take some measurements’, right?”
“Yes. Only some preliminary ones, though.”
The supply carrying would continue periodically until the Gagaku Festival. That allowed as many people as possible to participate, and all of their actions would be retained as data which could be shared in a virtual space.
That way even those who could not participate in the supply carrying could still learn from it. That was the best way of ensuring nothing unexpected occurred on the day of the festival.
The first day was being used to reproduce the appearance of the Non-God Sword.
The next day would be used to reproduce the appearance of the Hidden Dragon.
The day after that would be used for practicing the Gagaku Festival plan.
They had limited time, but they would gradually come to understand their opponent and confirm what they could do themselves.
That was the basic idea. Still…
“We have the School Festival as well, so this is a lot of work,” said Asama.
“For tomorrow’s supply carrying, we will only be participating after the fact using everyone else’s combined data, right?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“That’s right. The Hidden Dragon is large, so we figured it would be best having everyone reproduce its actions without us. …We’ll join in after the cosplay teahouse closes for the day, so we need to…”
She wanted to say “work hard at the teahouse”, but she felt the need to put it a different way.
“Keep Toori-kun and Kimi under control at the teahouse.”
Asama gave Mitotsudaira a look of “of course you too” as they finished crossing the bridge to the theatre ship.
This ship would be a battlefield soon.
And not just for the mysterious phenomena purification. For the Gagaku Festival as well.
“Hi, how’s it going, Watanabe?”
Watanabe turned back toward a voice coming from the stairs climbing up from below the stage.
“Judge.” Oosuga held large bundles of what looked like thin paper in both hands. “Back when it was the Tanigawa Castle, the ship was apparently used in place of a shrine since it’s a theatre ship. The storage below deck is full of doujinshis meant to be burned for purification.”
“You sure they aren’t just for ballast?”
“They’re pretty old for that. I mean, here’s a Ronin Troopers one. We were in elementary school when that was popular.”
“The earth element guy was useless in that one, right? I remember arguing with the girls in our class over who the best one was.”
“When you see this, don’t you want to see if the officers at the time were like us?”
“No, I don’t,” replied Watanabe with a bitter smile.
Hearing that, Oosuga looked to the deck where he saw Tadayo and…
“Hey, the vassal unit is headed back next, right? Have them carry these too.”
“I have a feeling some idiot will take them home with him.”
“If a boy finds himself with the chance to take a book filled with naked women, most of them will take it.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” said Oosuga as he stepped down from the stage with the doujinshis.
He looked straight ahead into the distant sky.
“Those who have awoken to their faith will not be stopped by any old temptation.”
“…What if it was a wife doujinshi?”
“I would follow my faith and take it home with me. I mean, obviously.”
“Addressing that properly would be way too much work, but what if there was a wife one among those you have there?”
“I removed it.”
“Interesting use of the past tense.”
“Hey.” Tadayo glared at Watanabe. “If you have something to say, just say it.”
“Nothing I say could fix you.”
Watanabe was not smiling, but there was no sarcasm or gloominess in her expression. That briefly stopped Tadayo from speaking.
And after a moment…
“Well, that is true.”
“And you used to be so pure.”
Tadayo listened to Watanabe.
“When you would notice an abandoned porn magazine by the river in the nature district on the way to school, you and Torii-kun would run to grab it afterschool.”
“I do have to wonder why Torii was so into it,” said Tadayo. “But what you described is far from pure.”
“But he didn’t go on and on about wives.”
“Didn’t you say nothing you said could fix him?”
Watanabe followed Oosuga’s back with her eyes. She saw him pile the bundles of doujinshis up with the supplies and materials by the stage.
“Okay, we have an extra job for the vassal unit. …Tadayo-san, can you do that?”
“Oh, judge, judge.”
Tadayo opened her mouth with obvious disappointment in having her question dodged.
“When did we start keeping secrets from each other?”
“I’m not keeping any secrets.”
“Should the 1st Special Duty Officer really say that?”
“Judge,” said Watanabe. “Some things just aren’t worth saying. …So what am I supposed to do when someone claims I’m keeping secrets just because I didn’t say something that isn’t worth saying?”
“Call them a stalker or overly possessive?”
“Judge. Besides,” said Watanabe. “I’m the odd one out in our group, so you haven’t told me anything about that, have you?”
“Ohh,” said Tadayo as she chose her words carefully.
She knew what Watanabe meant in terms of the current situation.
Things were already in motion and they were doing everything they could about it. So…
“It’s not like you could do anything even if you were told.”
Watanabe tilted her head in slight disappointment and pointed forward.
She pointed at the doujinshi bundles at Oosuga’s feet.
“If I couldn’t do anything even if I’m told, then asking isn’t going to do me any good either. So that just leaves preparing for the result. …Please hurry up and carry those away.”
“What does that mean, Neshinbara? Why is Watanabe different from the other officers and name inheritors in the third year?”
Naruze asked a question through the classroom changing area’s partition curtain while she helped Suzu remove her samurai costume.
“That 1st Special Duty Officer uses a metal spear, so she has the same weapon type as Ookubo and her cowling spear. …The only thing I can think of is her blonde hair.”
“No, no. It’s not about her appearance. …Oh, do you have a Technomagie hat over there?”
Suzu moved to the wicker basket at the back of the partition.
“Oh, dear. You’re still topless,” said Naruze as she held the left side of Suzu’s removed samurai cowling in her left hand and opened a crop mark frame Magie Figur in her right hand. She then began sketching Suzu’s butt as the girl leaned over to reach inside the wicker basket.
…Oh, so that’s how such a slender body sways when wearing the heavy skirt of a tassets cowling…
Being able to learn new things needed for drawing and to be able to immediately check on them was nothing less than a joy for an artist.
Excellent, Suzu. Just stick your butt up a little more… Oh, good, good. Yes, yes. Now tense up a little…yes, yes, yes.
“Ga-chan, what has you all excited?”
“Eh? Oh, judge. Well, Margot, why wouldn’t I be excited with the school festival going on?”
“Th-there it is. It was right on…top.”
Eh? she thought as she turned around to find Suzu holding a white boy’s Technomagie hat.
She had not yet finished sketching Suzu.
“Neshinbaraaaa!! Why was your hat found right away!?”
“Huh!?” he shouted from beyond the partition. “These absurd accusations are hardly new, but did I even do anything!?”
The changing boys saw a Weiss Hexen slip past the curtain and walk in.
“Wah!” Itoken took a half-step back. “Naruze-kun! We’re changing in here, so we’re naked!”
“You’re always naked!”
“Calm down, Naruze!” said Nenji. “Neshinbara might be at fault, but intruding on our changing room is not rational!”
“Wait! Why are you saying I might be at fault!?”
“Huh!? You just prevented me from growing as an artist! I had a rare chance to sketch Suzu seminude! I mean, when am I ever going to have another chance to draw a seminude samurai Suzu!?”
“Someone! Someone please! There’s a pervert in here!!”
“No one’s going to come,” said Noriki who had already prepared his white mage outfit.
“What’s with you?” asked Naruze. “You just wrapped some bandages around your stomach and put on a Techno Mage jacket? Do you like showing off your body?”
“The inner suit top restricts your movements and it’s expensive. I can’t spend that much money on a costume.” Noriki sighed and sat on the desk they were stacking things on top of. “In all seriousness, even if you send someone to the guards, most of the 1st Special Duty Unit and other enforcers are on the Fushimi Castle right now. A Public Morals Committee member might be able to do something, but Asama is over there too.”
“And I bet our teacher is at the cafeteria having a feast on everything the cooking club is putting out with nearly-expired ingredients.”
The Weiss Hexen passed Neshinbara his hat as if to hide his sigh.
“Well, aren’t you lucky. Sounds like you won’t have to visit the guards. …But did we really have the budget for all these costumes?”
He took the hat and frowned at Naruze’s question.
“We all pitched in, remember? We even discussed whether Honda-kun would be able to pay her share.”
It seemed to come back to Naruze.
“She started looking for a part-time job after that, didn’t she? …Sorry, I was drawing up a manuscript back then, so I wasn’t really listening. Did I actually pay my share?”
“You paid three shares just like Augesvarer-kun told you to. Were you too busy with your manuscript to notice?”
“Curse that girl…”
The Technohexen bit her nail and clicked her tongue and Neshinbara sighed.
“Anything else you want to ask?”
“What? You’ll let me draw it?”
“Not that. About Watanabe.”
“Oh, I completely forgot. …So how is she the odd one out?”
“I knew it,” muttered Neshinbara, but he soon stood tall once more.
He pushed his glasses back up his nose and donned the white mage hate he had been given.
“Think of the current officers: Torii Mototada, Ookubo Tadayo, Oosuga Yasutaka, and Watanabe Moritsuna. Of them, only Watanabe Moritsuna survives to the Battle of Sekigahara.”
Naito focused on Neshinbara’s voice beyond the curtain while she helped Suzu change.
…Samurai fashion sure is flashy…
Suzu’s was mostly handmade, so it was of course not meant for battle. But it still took time to change in and out of, so Naito was impressed that people used to wear things like this.
“Okay, Bell-rin. It’s all off.”
Meanwhile, she heard Neshinbara’s voice.
He was talking about their upperclassmen. They were familiar faces at the meetings about the Gagaku Festival and during the recent mysterious phenomena incidents. Except those upperclassmen probably did not know them very well and they did not know those upperclassmen on a personal level.
That was who Neshinbara was talking about.
…I’m not really sure it’s worth listening to.
“In the Testament, the first of them to die is Oosuga Yasutaka, the second is Ookubo Tadayo, and the third is Torii Mototada. They die before the Battle of Sekigahara, so they do not see their lord, Matsudaira, begin his reign.”
Naito pulled Suzu’s Schwarz Hexen costume out of the wicker basket. She handed it to Suzu in order, starting with the inner suit, while speaking.
“Bara-yan, can I cut in?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
“Then…does that even matter to our upperclassmen? It’s pretty common to fudge the years for name inheritors and history recreations.”
“I had a feeling someone would say that, but this is more than just gossip. …There is one thing that has my attention about this, but it is something I believe I have already told you about.”
Naito frowned at that.
…Has Bara-yan told us anything about our upperclassmen?
“That you want their signatures?”
“Yes,” replied Naruze from the boys changing room. “You’re gathering signatures of pre-Sekigahara commanders and post-Sekigahara commanders separately, aren’t you? The ones who took over the world and the ones who didn’t.”
“If I based it on taking over the world, I wouldn’t have much to collect.”
“Then what is it?”
When she asked that, Naito sensed Neshinbara’s attention shift from Naruze to her. And…
“I told you about the Siege of Fushimi Castle, didn’t I?”
“That’s when Suzuki Magoichi, who is currently visiting Musashi, kills Torii Mototada, right?”
“Right,” he said. He continued without a moment’s delay. “The Siege of Fushimi Castle is one of the battles leading into the Battle of Sekigahara. If anything like that happens on the Fushimi Castle,” said Neshinbara. “It will mean the Far East is the very first nation to do a history recreation immediately preceding Sekigahara. …Of course, Watanabe Moritsuna was at that battle too, but that upperclassman is currently the 1st Special Duty Officer.”
She understood what Neshinbara was trying to say. Or she thought she did.
“So,” began Naito. “Watanabe’s job is to stop Magoichi from doing anything like that?”
“Now.” Watanabe called out to the 1st Special Duty Unit that had returned from the stern. “Next, split up into two groups and perform the supply carrying one group at a time. …Watch how the other team moves and use that to inspire and correct your own actions.”
On the distant stern, the vassal unit was down on their knees catching their breath.
Tadayo swung up her cowling spear as she walked over to them.
“Okay, everyone! Back on your feet!”
She’s pretty strict, thought Watanabe as she spotted someone past Tadayo’s back.
It was the Asama Shrine Representative and the provisional Mito Lord.
They stood on the open-air bridge where they were speaking with “Musashino” who was managing the Gagaku Festival.
They were likely confirming some things about the supply carrying and other work. The Asama Shrine Representative would occasionally raise her lightly-clenched left hand toward them, so she may have been keeping track of the firing timing.
She would be joining them soon.
“Now,” said Watanabe quietly. “Are you ready to do some things that aren’t worth telling anyone about?”
Tenzou built his resolve after completing his return trip in the supply carrying.
…I will do it right next time.
He would stop a vassal.
Specifically, the 3rd-year busty blonde vassal.
She was the one who had slipped past him with a feint and allowed Adele’s attack to hit him.
This was not for vindication, but while some of the 1st Special Duty Unit had been dodged or knocked over in the initial clash, none of the others had been dodged and then sent flying like he had.
He could not allow that.
Since his father was a ninja instructor, people saw him as a star student whether he liked it or not. He wanted to say he did not really care, but…
…This is my father we’re talking about…
That morning, he had woken up to find a note from his mother saying “I have gone to the nature district river with your father” and all of his father’s hidden porn games stacked up on the table. I wonder how she is going to punish him this time.
At any rate, he had to focus on the challenge before him.
The vassal unit had reversed their formation to the left and right on the way back.
And on this second time across…
“Have they reversed it front to back?”
Adele was directly ahead of him. So the busty blonde third year would be behind her.
That girl was his true target.
But he could not see behind Adele at the moment.
That was due to the shield she was carrying.
She no longer held a metal pipe meant to look like a spear. This time, she carried a large and flat piece of scaffolding.
He had seen the records of the battle against the Non-God Sword and he recalled that Adele had moved forward while using a spell defense barrier as a shield. She had even smashed the Non-God Sword with the shield.
On this second time across, Adele was moving forward to provide an example.
That meant he would have to stop her.
…I have to defeat Adele-dono!?
Just as he thought that, he realized something.
Adele was providing an example that the others were to follow.
So wouldn’t it be more helpful if he let her defeat him instead of defeating her? If he did go out and defeat her…
“Wh-why are you so bad at reading between the lines, Tenzou-san!?”
“That’s right. This is the supply carrying for fighting the Non-God Sword.”
“Now, now. It’s Tenzou-kun, so he can’t really help it.”
“Tenzou, you are the worst.”
“That he is. I’ll have a surprise for him at the next event.”
He ended up imaging people who were not even here, but it all seemed frighteningly accurate.
He tried to figure out what to do, and…
Watanabe was blonde too, but she was not all that busty and fell outside of his range. Besides, she had Oosuga, which placed her in the wife genre.
So he asked his question without any anxiety or nerves.
“Is Adele-dono demonstrating a technique for use against the Non-God Sword?”
She tilted her head and cupped her hands around her mouth.
She sent her voice to Tadayo on the far end of the deck. However…
He could not hear what she said. She must have been using either a ninja technique or a spell to alter the directionality of her voice so that only Tadayo could hear.
Tadayo turned toward them on the bow and answered with her cowling spear resting on her shoulder.
“Do you think that would be a good idea!?”
Her voice was loud enough to shake the deck. She was apparently using some kind of spell.
A ninja needed to covertly provide instructions to individuals.
A knight or vassal needed to provide commands to the entire group.
The black-haired knight held a cowling spear and the blonde ninja held a metal spear.
They had their similarities and their differences, but they worked well as a team.
Watanabe sent a few more words and Tadayo answered.
“Then that sounds good to me!”
What sounded good to her?
Watanabe nodded and lowered her hands from her mouth.
“Tenzou-kun, she is not demonstrating anything.”
“I-is that so!?” He tried to hide his true intentions here. “Then I do not need to hold back?”
“Oh, but, Tenzou-kun, if you lose next time, that’s two losses in a row against Adele-san.”
He looked out ahead and saw Adele rolling up her track suit sleeves and tucking them up with bands. She then started spinning her right arm around and looking straight at him.
“Time for a second win!”
I need to stop her, realized Tenzou.
Adele liked to run.
She always thought so when she ran, but the thought had been more prominent lately.
After all, she was not running just for fun or for class.
She was running to fulfill her role on the battlefield by offering up her whole self.
She could not do that when walking the dogs.
…Then again, by running out ahead, I do make sure the pack doesn’t scatter.
She could describe that as having a role to play in a team working to accomplish something.
This was the same.
She ran out ahead after hearing Tadayo’s shout.
She was not demonstrating how to fight the Non-God Sword. Nor was she taking the lead to recreate the circumstances of that fight.
This was simply her first turn at the front of the formation.
Her equipment was modeled after a spell shield, so everyone would be focused on her actions.
She wanted to do a good job so they could see how it was done. But…
She knew how skilled a ninja he was.
She often saw him demonstrate his prowess in stealth, reconnaissance, infiltration, delaying, and information management.
“When we’re running late, the classroom infiltration missions he leads while avoiding the teacher are incredible.”
There were also the mock battles they held in gym class. During the battles held in the city, he could use his leadership, guidance, and diversions to give them all more time.
It was based on Neshinbara’s eye for strategy, but the behind-the-scenes work bringing them closer to the ideal was mostly reliant on him.
A vassal also supported those on the battlefield, but…
…My role is more in the open.
A ninja generally guided their allies or sabotaged the enemy on the battlefield, so her role was to be the first one down the path he had paved.
A ninja paved the path and guided them down it.
A vassal traveled down the path to prove its validity and support the others.
The two roles had a give-and-take relationship.
And the person on the other end of the scales was now coming for her.
He was fast.
Adele recalled that Tenzou was the only one in their class who was faster than her.
His endurance was probably also greater than hers. He was even superior to her as an athlete.
Then, thought Adele.
…How is he any different from a Non-God Sword!?
A Non-God Sword’s power, height, and speed were all greater than hers.
So why had she defeated it?
“Because I wasn’t alone!”
She moved to directly intercept Tenzou while she opened her mouth and raised her voice.
“I can’t lose if my opponent is single!”
She is using a psychological attack, thought Tenzou.
…I never thought Adele-dono would use diversionary tactics!
A type of kotodama attack known as an Eloquence Attack was a shrine maiden’s specialty. It was a mystery why most of the girls in their class could use it, but that may have been Asama’s influence. But it was impressive that Adele could use it in combat.
He realized the girl running to his right had slowed her pace. She must have taken a direct hit.
He heard the voice of the boy holding his chest and running to his left.
“Hey! If the hit didn’t affect you, then say something back!”
Tenzou gathered his strength and responded. It is true I wouldn’t be affected by that. After all…
“I am not single!” he shouted back at Adele. “Because I have a wife I’m in the process of winning in a porn game!!”
Smoking Girl: “Huh? …What did he just say?”
10ZO: “You don’t have to say that with such disgust, you know?”
Flat Vassal: “…Um, sorry, everyone, but Tenzou-san just said something weird to me. Is this his form of coming out?”
Me: “Also, Tenzou, the girl you’re going after in that game only has a bad end. You can’t keep her from being executed.”
10ZO: “D-don’t give me spoilers in the middle of training! And in that case, I’ll have to write the developers and have them put out a new edition with an extra scenario!”
Asama: “Um, sorry. This line is just for testing the system, so everything you say is being recorded…”
At any rate, Tenzou made his charge.
His opponent was Adele. She was blonde and flat-… No, a ninja needs to show mercy… She is a classmate and we have known each other a long time…
So he made his way straight toward her.
She removed the scaffolding material from her back and held it out like a spell shield.
If she hit and stopped him with that, she would win.
If he deflected it and made it through, he would win.
But he had a handicap here.
At the moment, he was a Non-God Sword slash rather than a ninja.
That prevented him from using any intricate tricks.
…But come to think of it, Adele-dono could not use that kotodama attack against a Non-God Sword.
I also doubt a Non-God Sword would respond to it with a porn game wife, but perhaps one might understand the glory of busty blondes. Yes, I must not reject the possibility.
The shield was right in front of him.
It was large. The scaffolding material was 120cm tall and 60cm wide.
It pushed at the wind as it approached him. And…
…Such splendid movement!
Its speed did not drop as it thrust toward him.
When making a shield attack during a high-speed run, it was only natural for the wind pressure to slow it.
But Adele was different. She thrust it forward at an angle that erased the powerful wind pressure hitting the shield.
She converted the momentum of her run into a blunt weapon blow.
From his perspective, the attack seemed to scoop up from the ground.
…That’s a counterattack aiming for my solar plexus to my lower chest!
A hit from that would not end well for him.
It was a shield attack, but he would be hit by the top instead of the flat surface. It was like being hit by the vertical edge of a book.
Tenzou thought, Huh? Is Adele-dono serious about this?
But the attack from below was an immediate one.
He had to react.
The Non-God Sword’s slashes tackled their opponent and detonated themselves.
Dodging was not an option for him. If he did so, it was only if he collided with her but was not broken.
He would have to knock Adele away and keep going.
So what was he to do?
When an opponent made a shield attack, one normally dodged it or jumped over it to attack while passing them by. Shields were heavy, so there was little chance of them making another attack once you were passed it.
But what if you could not dodge and had to hit it?
…You attack somewhere they can’t cover with the shield. Like at their feet!
In that case, thought Tenzou as he charged in.
He moved straight toward Adele as she made her shield attack from below.
And he of course went low.
He tried to force his way below the counterattacking shield.
Adele saw Tenzou’s movement.
He charged in at her while somewhat crouched and turned with his right shoulder forward.
His hips were very low, but…
…The shield isn’t high enough for you to get under it!
At this rate, the upper edge of the shield would hit him in the face.
That would do a lot of damage. And his acceleration toward her would only add to the damage.
But, she thought. Tenzou-san must have something up his sleeve.
He was not the type to recklessly rush in without a plan.
A ninja’s role was to prepare and guide everyone to victory. That would remain the same on the individual level.
But, she thought again. He does sometimes get lost in his own plans.
He would sometimes confess to a busty blonde and get shot down, but those failures were almost certainly caused by him overthinking things. He would essentially set himself up for defeat.
That was not a good thing.
But what about this time? And…
“I’ll do it too…!”
She would do everything she could.
If he was trying to slip below her shield…
…I’ll go even lower!
She further lowered the shield as she swung it along a pendulum-like trajectory. That was easily done by lowering her hips. She was shorter than Tenzou, so she had the advantage when it came to getting lower to the ground.
She would hit him.
She did not hesitate to work toward that goal.
Asama turned around at about the same time as she heard Adele’s scream.
The first thing she saw was her vassal classmate flying through the air.
But Adele had not simply been sent flying.
She was practically sitting on the shield she had been using.
The shield flew through the air with her sitting on it and ultimately made a full rotation.
That was when she was thrown off.
Tenzou was below it all.
He had collided with Adele as one of the slashes, but…
She saw he had lowered his body by sliding with his right leg in the lead.
But simply lowering to the deck like that would not have allowed him to respond to Adele’s ultra-low-altitude shield attack.
He had used a trick to pull off that seemingly-impossible response.
…A ninja sword?
He normally carried it on the back of his waist.
It was now held in the toes of his leading right foot.
Asama understood what he had done.
He had kicked the ninja sword to strike Adele’s legs as she made her shield attack.
Timing-wise, it had knocked her legs out from under her half a step in advance.
She had shifted her center of gravity forward, so the unexpected attack had knocked her off balance.
When swinging forward something as large as that scaffolding material, your body tended to stray forward.
And when lowering her body to hit Tenzou more quickly, she would have leaned forward even more.
Adele had had her legs swept out from under her through the shield obstacle.
“He must have moved underneath the shield when Adele-sama accidentally lifted it along with her own body. Over.”
“Musashino” was correct and the rest was simple.
Tenzou slipped below the lifted shield and placed it on his hips to launch it upwards.
Adele had been on top of it and could not stop her own momentum.
So she was sent flying before crashing back down to the deck.
Next, Tenzou stood up.
His actions as a slash were not yet over.
Tenzou had a chance at victory.
The 3rd-year with blonde hair and boobs would be behind Adele.
He had knocked away Adele, so…
…Can I interpret that as earning the right to a grope!?
I can, can’t I? Yes, it’s fine every once in a while, right? I couldn’t do it before and this is the supply carrying, so it should be fine. Besides, this would all be meaningless if I didn’t stop her and just let her go past.
Also, he was crouched low right now.
That placed him in the blind spot of those large breasts. There were times when Asama had to look for the cokepen on her desk because her breasts blocked it from view, but the same situation was occurring on the battlefield.
…I must act like a cokepen here!
He moved forward so the large breasts would be overhead.
Or they should have been.
For some reason, Mitotsudaira was there.
Asama saw Tenzou freeze up and get hit by Mitotsudaira.
It was a solid blow that made her wince just watching it.
The material shield dug into the ninja’s gut and sent him flying while doubled over in actual < shape.
She heard the impact, Mitotsudaira continued to run, and…
“Here we go!”
Upon seeing the Rank 1 Knight’s results, the vassal unit ran forward.
…Placing Mito behind Adele was meant to better reproduce the battle the other day, wasn’t it?
“Tenzou-kun, what were you doing back there?”
“Tenzou… You mean the son of Ninja Instructor Crossunite-sama? Over.”
“Musashino” had apparently referenced her shared memories as she watched Tenzou fall head-first toward the deck.
She tilted her head.
“He seemed entirely defenseless for a moment there. Why? Over.”
Asama was not sure herself. However…
“His motivation seemed to rapidly vanish as soon as he saw Mito.”
“Should we assume he intentionally took the hit to give Mitotsudaira-sama that result? Over.”
That was the nicest interpretation and would probably be best for Tenzou.
So Asama nodded and decided to join in next time. And…
“Okay, that completes the second run across!”
She heard Watanabe’s voice and turned around to see Mitotsudaira waving from the stage.
The Cerberus was mimicking the action on her head, so it seemed to be in a good mood.
Asama bowed toward “Musashino” and walked out onto the deck. She pulled a cord from each sleeve and tied back the sleeves.
“Asama Shrine Representative Class 2-Plum Asama Tomo. …I am here to inspect the ‘supply carrying’!”
The first day of the Spring School Festival functioned as practice for the days to follow.
They followed the same schedule each year, but the events were different each year. There was some confusion inside and outside the academy as time approached, but “Musashi” had the following overall assessment:
“I have determined everyone has settled down a fair bit. Over.”
In Class 2-Plum, Shirojiro counted their sales on his fingers.
“Huh? What is your problem, Toori? Counting on your fingers is best. Are you too stupid to understand!?”
He was being his usual self, but he predicted that their costume budget would last until the afternoon of the second day, so Suzu was relieved since she was in charge of costumes.
They all prepared for the second day and left for personal matters during the evening, but a few of the girls gathered at a certain location: Dangerous Waters, the Mukai family bathhouse in the Musashino underground area.
Her parents had figured Suzu would be exhausted today, so they were running the Suzu’s Bath on Okutama. Dangerous Waters was the main bathhouse, but it was half closed for the day.
“We’re here to help with the maintenance and cleaning!!”
They were using the place as a practice studio for the Gagaku Festival.
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