Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 26

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Chapter 26: Refuter at the Execution Grounds[edit]

Horizon1B 147.jpg

Even with something thought up

Feeling the wellness of a meal is

Is it due to the quiescence of the meal

One can ponder in?

Point Allocation (Excuse)


In a dimly-lit room.

The entrance was open, but the windows of the cafe remained closed by curtains.

The bread stand over at the entrance had none to sell, with only two figures seen inside the store.

One of them, long-haired and in a male school uniform, was seated at the table in the middle of eating; the other was a woman standing in front of a pot in her kitchen, humming.

Stopping her light stirring of the pot with a large spoon…

“Masazumi-san, is it alright for you not to go to the Academy?”

In response, Masazumi paused in cutting up her bread and peeked into the kitchen.

“The people at the Provisional Council would rather not have me go there for now.”

“They’re keeping you close, huh?”

Masazumi swallowed her answer “Is that so?” back down her throat.

Then she continued to cut up the bread, put it in her mouth and washed it down her throat with water.

“Well, it seems like the parliament will finalize their decision regarding our course of action in the afternoon, so I’ll bring the results over to the Academy when they come out. Maybe…”

Masazumi thought about the story she heard from her father’s secretary this morning, in the Provisional Council building’s lobby.

“In order for Musashi to properly obey the Testament Union, they will have the powerless Academy follow the decisions of the King and the parliament.”

What unpleasant directions.

Recognizing Princess Horizon’s suicide and transferring Musashi, huh…

Neither her classmates nor her juniors would just sit there and obediently follow that course of action. Even if they did, it would not be with genuine intentions.

Still, without any power over at the Academy, they will have no choice but to listen to this side.

I don’t like this, Masazumi thought.

However, Masazumi already knew of her standing in relation to Musashi from when she was at the parliament building.

Under the Academy rules, the only one that can go against a student is another student, basically. Because pretty much all the student authorities on Musashi’s side were in the hands of the King, she was to represent the parliament and negotiate with the Testament Union.

She thought that it would be her time to come out, but the motives of the parliament as well as those of K.P.A. Italia made her hesitate.

Fearing the possibility that she would uphold her rights and speak for the students’ side becoming reality, their logic was probably to keep the parliament close to the Testament Union’s side through K.P.A. Italia and have her speak for them.

Being unable to face the students, the parliament could not come to a decision; in the end, it seemed that they will follow the Union after all.

According to the secretaries… If we were to oppose them, in the worst case, we would be at all-out war with the Testament Union.

She understood what that meant. That was why, even for Masazumi, she could sense the meaning in going to the Academy in the afternoon to carry out her thankless role.

“Still, at these times…”

She let a question slip.

“If it were Aoi and the other guys, what would they do? I’m not familiar with how things go here, after all.”

“Masazumi-san, girls hide a lot of things, so thinking about your position makes you think about a lot of other things, doesn’t it?”

But the female shopkeeper’s words continued piling up.

“Well, they are idiots after all; so they’ll immediately do what they are thinking of.”

Masazumi wondered at those words, but then quickly agreed.

Not even paying for what happened last night; their way of living has always been like that.

It was during last year’s swimming class, wasn’t it?

While the girls were changing, Aoi walked triumphantly along the poolside, directly opened the girls’ changing room and went, “Oh my, is this the girls’ changing room? I didn’t know!”

She seriously questioned his motive; what would he be doing if not peeking? Still, why the girls would then bring out their weapons and fire back at the same time was never known; she was only glad her group was out on a trip.

Thinking about the other things they did in the past, which she had heard about from the other committee members; like the library archived erotic literature lineup incident, the biological laboratory flask brewing incident, and the tentacle-type greenery project on the roof…

Rather than doing what they are thinking of, they’re more of the instinctive type.

Still, Masazumi thought. From last night until now, even as we speak…

“Only Aoi would think about saving her, wouldn’t he…?”

“…Horizon?”

“Judge,” Masazumi replied, thinking about how hard it became to talk about her after just one day.

“Shopkeeper, did you… You knew about her past, didn’t you?”

“Huh? Why would you think that?”

“Yesterday, I heard about how Aoi and his sister would always come to meet the girl around here.”

“Ah, I see,” a voice was heard from inside the kitchen.

“I see; Horizon was a good girl, wasn’t she? Still, it’s probably because I’m not that sensible in dealing with people, huh. Just maybe, I thought, the automaton that has always been beside me is that girl. …But my doubts were stronger, I guess. That’s just how adults think, huh.”

“I wouldn’t know about Aoi, but the others didn’t seem to hold that thought after all. Besides… Without memories, without anything, I’d think that she might as well be a different person.”

“Masazumi-san is kind, aren’t you?”

With a voice that held no sarcasm, a breath was heard.

“In truth, there would be one thing I would say to you, Masazumi-san. Why didn’t you save that girl that night, or something like that. The me in the old days would have immediately lashed out at you.

“But now, the helplessness at the thought of her becoming a monarch came first, huh. There’s a trend of people of higher positions existing only to cut their stomachs in these times, after all. I must be getting old.”

“…”

After a short while in silence, along with a sigh that resembled a little smile, the female shopkeeper spoke up.

“Horizon, you know?” she began, using that person’s old name.

“That girl had a lot of complications surrounding her. She was a child born between Lord Motonobu and a different person. I don’t know more than that, only that she was living on Musashi along with her mother. Her mother was a person with quite the good mind. …Well, she died when Horizon was five years old.”

“…She died?”

“Judge,” the shopkeeper stated from the kitchen.

“I didn’t know the details because I wasn’t around here then. Still, because of that it became easy for Lord Motonobu to be recognized. There was the suicide of his younger brother as well…”

“No way…”

Masazumi listened to the shopkeeper’s words.

“According to the rumors, when Horizon died ten years ago in the Remorse Way, Lord Motonobu was apparently starting to go about the proceedings of having his legitimate child succeed him. If that was the case, this would be the second time for Toori; losing Horizon as the legitimate child of Lord Motonobu, that is.”

“…”

Masazumi was in silence.

A lot of things were on her mind. About this case, especially about Horizon Ariadust; she was thinking about whether or not she could be saved.

Still, the key to securing the safety of the people lay in her suicide, as well as the subsequent transfer of Musashi.

In politics, one was to cast aside his own feelings and work to secure the decisions that would most benefit the public.

From that standpoint, the choice was clear. Choosing the best compromise of recognizing Horizon’s death and transferring Musashi, she would then promise the safety of the people that would become its residents.

That was the best decision. Still…

That idiot would think otherwise.

She remembered Aoi from last night. What was he trying to say at that time?

I-…

I wonder. She felt like hearing it as well.

Of course, that chance has long passed on. She will die at six in the evening after all.

I want to save her, but…

At the same time as that thought, Masazumi heard a sound.

A bell rang from inside the pocket binder on her hips. It was a cheap handheld for formal business use, but it was notifying her of an incoming call. Holding it in her hand and looking, the caller was…

“…Masazumi. It’s me.”

Her father.

Without even waiting for a reply, he said this:

“Right now, on the messageboards, it has been reported that the students at the Musashi Ariadust Academy are planning to raise an opposition.”

“…Opposition? Shouldn’t Musashi’s side be unable to carry out such a thing?”

“It’s a special student general meeting. They are planning to vote for no confidence in you.”

“If they were to do that…”

Musashi would take matters into their own hands.

The matter of saving Horizon or not.

If they were to decide to save Horizon…

We will be in conflict with the Testament Union. At worst, we’ll be at all-out war with them, you know…?

If they save Horizon, the Far East will come to possess a Logismoi Óplo; furthermore, the responsibility for Mikawa’s destruction will not be taken. The act of ignoring both the nationwide rule and the Union’s directions will surely become a just cause for them to declare war, and the presence of the Logismoi Óplo in Musashi’s hands as well as their spells and trading power would become a worthy enough incentive for the other countries.

It would not be surprising for the world to become the enemy.

No way…

Masazumi reached for the inside of her pocket binder. She felt the memo, the piece of paper that contained all her thoughts in writing in case she was to oppose the Testament Union, in that place.

“Opposing the Testament Union is no more than a childish thought.”

It definitely would be; thus Masazumi gripped the piece of paper inside the pocket binder in her hands.

Closing her eyes, she crushed the paper as if kneading it, then leaked a breath.

“So you want me to go…and persuade them out of that, is it?”

“Judge. Right now, using the library as the meeting room, the vice commander of the Guard Unit is having a meeting as the representative of the students left behind. In short, the problem here is the situation. Do not do anything that will become a problem in the future. Go.”

To that one sentence, Masazumi’s body shivered.

The words continued.

“You understand your duty, no? To negotiate. You have already been informed about our intentions from the secretaries, so go.”

Is this the first time since coming to Musashi that her father has placed any expectation on her? Or is she just carrying out her responsibility?

Before she could know, after the next few words from her father the line was cut.

“Go on. Negotiate with everyone so that Musashi will receive the greatest benefit.”


There were several figures in the library, located on the starboard (right relative to the ship front) of the front building of the Musashi Ariadust Academy.

They were in the space inside. The self-study tables were moved aside, and chairs were prepared.

Seated by the window were students who had medium-grade armor on top of their school uniforms. They were the Far East’s Guard Unit.

Behind the seat in which the well-built vice commander sat were a female student and a slender-built male student.

On the other side, by the corridor, were Shirojiro and Neshinbara in their school uniforms.

The one in the center of the room, acting as a witness, was…

“Umm, I myself don’t know why I am here, but I’m Sanyou…”

Sanyou looked forward. Directly in front of the library was the broadcasting committee. Supporting their communicative electronics which would become their recording equipment, they gave the OK sign to everyone.

They were on air.

As if to follow through, Shirojiro first opened his mouth.

“Well then; right now, we have here with us the vice commander of the guard unit which is entrusted with the role of protecting Musashi, but…”

“You should cancel this proposal of opening the special student general meeting immediately.”

The vice commander faced towards Shirojiro and Neshinbara and showed a slouching posture.

“I understand what you want to say. That’s why I came here as soon as I could. The conversations your class had before have also been reported to me.”

“What do you think? And please don’t make it unprofitable.”

“Judge, this is what I think. I know what you people are aiming for. Still, if we’re going to collide with the Testament Union, the worst case scenario will lead to all-out war with them and the control of the whole of the Far East will be affected.”

It was not a scream of anger, rather just a clear, straightforward manner of speech.

“Our chief commander, who was taught by the strongest of the East, Honda Tadakatsu, and is practically the strongest among us, could not even win against an injured opponent. Furthermore, the other side has numerous kinds of weaponry, and there is no age restriction on their students. We will surely lose if we fight.”

He stated.

“We are people who know that we cannot win. You people would not understand that. That is why I challenge you; if you care about Musashi and the Far East…you should cast aside all your recklessness.”

“Judge. Then that makes it easy. As one that goes by the rules of negotiation, I will say this.”

Lightly sitting down on his seat, with yet another straightforward tone of expression, he said.

“Vice commander, if I may. We still do not possess the material that would determine whether or not we will lose to the Union. Therefore, vice commander, we cannot include your opinion in our consideration. And I know that our making our own decisions is because of the need to resolve this situation.”

That’s why…

“We will open the special student general meeting.”


“What an outrageous thing…!”

The vice commander raised his voice. Opening his right hand as if to hold it out, he turned to face Shirojiro.

“If you could not even win against us, what could you do to the opponent with their resources!? Is it not clear that you will lose!?”

“Then let’s ascertain what we do not have, right here on the negotiation table.”

Shirojiro let a moment pass, then quietly said.

“What power do your forces have, on the negotiation table you call the battlefield?”

“That is…”

“The best merchandise you have is your leader. Is that right?”

But…

“Is that product, truly, the best you have?”

The female member of the force standing behind the vice commander leaned forward and spoke up.

“The commander’s trump card is her speed; it was the best we had in that situation. Still, Garcia, who should not have recovered from his injury…Tachibana Muneshige exceeded it.”

She showed a hint of shame while speaking.

“I will say that fighting speed plays a big role in hand-to-hand combat. His exceeding her speed meant that he was an opponent who would easily have her back wide open.”

“Judge.”

Shirojiro nodded.

“Then, what if…the commander uses a weapon?”

“That is…”

Before the female member could say anything, the vice commander held his right hand up to stop her before slowly putting down the hand.

“This is just an assumption, but she will still not win.”

“Why?”

“In regards to her weapons, the strongest she has would be the one Tadakatsu-sama used: the Divine Weapon, Tonbokiri. However, when they fought last night, with Tadakatsu-sama using that weapon, Garcia returned alive.”

“So you’re saying that it is impossible for his daughter at her present level to catch up to him?”

To that question, the vice commander did not immediately respond. Finally, drawing a breath…

“If it’s to persuade you people, I will say this: Judge.”

“Then, what if you guys back her up?”

“——”

At Shirojiro’s words, the vice commander paused his breath. Still, after a while…

“That would be an act of foul play. …The warriors of the Far East will not accept that.”

Of course, Neshinbara nodded.

Not affected by everyone’s gazes, he brought out his Mouse and a sign frame. On top of that…

“But, you see? That was how it was during the period of the Kamakura’s shogunate. There’s still the custom of introducing yourself on the battlefield, but mostly in melee fights. Still, there was a breakthrough in spell research by those with Lord Masashige during the recreation of the Mongolian Invasion and the Onin War which led to the use of long range weaponry right now. P.A. Oda has made a shooting force, and King Gustav of Sweden has used the same tactics to improve his fighting force, no?”

Then…

“King Gustav died on the battlefield from a stray bullet. Right now, a battlefield where a king fighting a melee battle could by chance die by the actions of a soldier is the latest development. Why would you people not jump on that development as well?”

“Wait.”

The vice commander turned his body away. Turning his neck a little to the side, he moved his gaze from Neshinbara to Shirojiro.

“To bring up other countries like P.A. Oda and Sweden would be…”

“You are misunderstanding us.”

Shirojiro leaned his body forward. He placed his elbow on his lap to support his body.

As if to peek into him, he looked upwards at the vice commander.

“If we were to go at all-out war with the Tsirhc-type Divine States, we should also consider the possibility of fighting other influential forces like P.A. Oda. In the worst case scenario, the whole world will become our enemy. The reason would be Lord Motonobu’s words last night… Do you remember them?”

“If all the Logismoi Óplo are obtained, one will gain the power to interfere with the Apocalypse, huh…”

“Do you understand?”

Shirojiro said.

“The Logismoi Óplo are not simply ‘gathered’; Lord Motonobu precisely stated their being ‘obtained’. If I were to speak from a business standpoint, the countries will not assemble the Logismoi Óplo together to face their crisis; it will be an arms race among them for those armaments. …There must be someone to possess all of them, after all.”

Then…

“The Far East will be engulfed in a global-scale war before long.”


Shirojiro looked at the vice commander and the two people behind him.

The vice commander was staying still, looking his way. He intended to listen to the end of the story and decide everything. However, as if to cease their breaths, the two people hardened their bodies and looked in this direction.

Well, for the most part, everyone should have known that we’ll be talking about this.

Even more, as a military organization the guard unit should have already confirmed such a thing.

That’s why they wouldn’t be so easily agitated by this conversation.

Precisely because of this, Shirojiro thought of them as valuable people.

If they were to become our allies, that would be because they have understood everything and chose to take our side. A partner who understands the circumstances and shares his agreement is the most reliable thing a businessman can have.

Shirojiro continued.

“According to the Testament, the whole of Europe will soon be caught in the Thirty Years’ War; the Osman in the Middle East will make advancements toward Europe and India, the Qing will rise in power in Central and Russia will begin their expedition. And finally, for the Far East… The Unification War between the Oda, Hashiba and Matsudaira will occur.”

Do you understand? Shirojiro said.

“The incentive to scramble for the Logismoi Óplo is already present. The greatest cause: ‘Adhering to the Testament, going to war under the premise of history recreation.’ For all the countries, the course of the Far East’s recreation of history would be an unwanted hindrance to their own activities. That’s why…”

“Having Princess Horizon commit suicide here… The Testament Union will usurp the rights of the Far East, is it?”

“That’s right,” Shirojiro answered.

“P.A. Oda has already used the Hashiba and taken control of M.H.R.R. from the Far East’s perspective. The M.H.R.R.-Hashiba allied forces will mobilize their upcoming joint European-Far Eastern campaign under the premise of the Thirty Years’ War.

“The Hashiba are P.A. Oda, but in order for M.H.R.R. to cooperate with them they will ignore the influence of the Mlasi and recognize the Tsirhc Testaments. However, the Union’s forces in Europe will not be able to avoid having to concentrate their forces to repel the invasion of the Hashiba under the rule of the Mlasi Testament driven P.A. Oda; and the very people that will bring the collapse of the Hashiba are the Matsudaira. In order to earn their right to cause such a thing, the Union would most definitely want to take control of the Far East and completely secure all the rights of the Matsudaira.”

A moment passed.

“They will use those battles as a premise to start the arms race for the Logismoi Óplo. That’s why…”

“We should, as the Far East, secure Princess Horizon as a Logismoi Óplo?”

“Why would you think that?”

Shirojiro posed the question, to which the vice commander immediately replied.

“That is exactly what the Testament Union is planning to do. If Princess Horizon does not commit suicide, the Logismoi Óplo along with the Matsudaira clan will remain with the Far East and we will become the deciding factor against P.A. Oda and the Apocalypse. These two potential factors…the casting vote for the fate of this world will be in the hands of the Far East.”

Still, turning his neck to the side the vice commander said.

“…How idealistic.”

Saying that, the vice commander turned again, as if to shake something off.

Furthermore, he slowly posed a question to Shirojiro.

“What do you plan to do? The possibility of all-out war with the Testament Union, Musashi’s finances and management were that to happen, the safety of the people…there will be countless problems. Even to secure Princess Horizon as a Logismoi Óplo, there must be a reason in itself for us to stop her suicide.”

“In order for us to obtain the answer to everything…we require your cooperation.”

“Why?”

To that question, Shirojiro affirmed from the bottom of his heart.

Finally, the negotiations have begun.

The other party has inquired about the need for their cooperation.

If we can agree on a reason for their cooperation under these circumstances, they will respond.

This is a business transaction.

Right now, the Far East is approaching two roads: to move forward and crash, or to stop and sink.

If we stop, until we sink we will enjoy a period of safety. However, if we move forward, what will happen after we crash, we will never know.

That was the reason for their inquiry. They wanted us to show the reason we could still protect our safety even after we move forward and crash.

Shirojiro leaned his body forward.

“The only one that can face a student is another. Thus, the Provisional Council and king are sending the only one among us with authority, the Vice President, over to us to act in their place. That very person is associated with the Provisional Council, but…her political skills are most likely the best among us students.”

“That Vice President…Honda Masazumi, is it?”

“…Do you know her?”

“Yeah,” the vice commander nodded, putting his hands deeply together.

“She was always the best in ancient Japanese literature and culture when she was enrolled in Mikawa.”

“Not surprising,” Shirojiro returned in affirmation. Furthermore, pointing to the floor that is this Academy…

“We are planning to do something to get that person over to our side. She will then act as a representative of the students…”

“A representative?”

“And face the Testament Union.”

Shirojiro leaked out a sigh. He was more aware of the recording equipment the broadcasting committee held than the vice commander in front of him.

It’d be for the best that our voices reach the people listening to the broadcast, he thought.

“The vice president is, right now, under the control of the king and Provisional Council associated with the Testament Union. However, we also know that that itself is the weak point of the Union’s side. That’s why if we were to face the Vice President and pull her over to our side…”


The people listening to the broadcast in their houses and on the roads all over Musashi, thus heard the next few words.

“…We would have among us the person that will be able to overthrow the Testament Union’s excuses.”

Do you understand?

“If justice lies absolute on the other side, the vice president will just defeat us in our special student general meeting and everything will end. However, if we were to win against the vice president…we would also have a chance to defeat the Testament Union.”


Shirojiro said, while pointing to Neshinbara at his back:

“Neshinbara over here is an expert in historical knowledge. I myself am part of the management for Musashi’s Trading Party, and I have connections with IZUMO. If we include the political aspect of the vice president, it will be possible for us to consider most of the problem. With only that capability along with Horizon’s rescue, it will be good enough if we can obtain what we wish for in the conclusions we make dealing with the aftermath. If that cannot be done…”

He raised up his body and shrugged his shoulders.

“You can hang both me and Neshinbara here by the neck. That will probably be how the Provisional Council and the king will handle this ‘internal problem of Musashi’ after all. …It will be enough for you guys to protect the residents of Musashi in the wars that will come and the collapse of the Far East, even if just a little bit.”

“In other words…your conclusion is that this matter will not be settled here, but when you face off with the Provisional Council and king via the vice president? That if you were to pass the confrontation with the vice president acting in the Testament Union’s place, you would obtain a just cause to save Princess Horizon?”

“Judge.”

Shirojiro nodded.

“Right now, the parliament and king are doing no more than slowly closing the store even if they are acting in the safest intent. In contrast, what we wish for is to look for the possibility for the store to continue to be open.”

I am a trader after all, so I am aware of the existence of the borderline between the possible and the impossible.

“If the consequences of our actions outweigh their benefits in our confrontation with the Provisional Council and king, we will not follow through with them. If that time comes, I will have shown no business insight as a trader; so I won’t mind even if you slip the noose onto my neck.”

Shirojiro said this, and the three people in front of them affirmed.

“No, you mustn’t!”

A voice. The sharp feminine voice came from inside the room.

As Shirojiro turned to look, in front of the blackboard on the teacher’s seat he saw Sanyou, eyebrows high on her reddened face as she raised her shoulders.

“…What you’ve been saying before, h-hanging yourself is not something you can say lightly!”


Sanyou’s raised voice reached her own ears, and she realized she was screaming.

Ah.

Now I’ve done it, she thought.

Staff must not be involved in students’ disputes. That was determined according to the Academy rules. Still…

Just now was different. That was not a dispute, but a mistake in principle.

Thinking that, she recovered from her drop.

I must not panic.

I must calm down, Sanyou thought while looking at Shirojiro and Neshinbara.

“Being fine with dying for the sake of your actions…did Makiko-senpai teach you that way of life? Her usually thrashing the streets and running around inside the school, from morning to after class, even having dangerous discussions like ‘Today’s topic will be overthrowing the nation~!’ with a voice loud enough to surprise me in the other classroom; all of that wasn’t for you to die, but for you to live on, wasn’t it!?”

That’s why…

“I-I don’t mind, whatever you are planning to do. In conflicts between you students…we teachers cannot say anything. However, what we are teaching you are the things you need in order for you to live on. If you could say that it’s fine to die…just what have we taught you? Just what have you learned, coming here? I do not remember saying that we live only to prepare for death!”

Haa, Sanyou sighed after yelling.

She lowered her hips, which had raised from the chair without her realizing.

“Ah.”

While arranging her disheveled hair back to her cheeks, tears fell from the corners of her eyes.

I mustn’t, Sanyou thought, wiping them with her sleeve.

I must not cry. That is not what adults do.

As a teacher, as a person who teaches what is needed to live, what I should say now is…

I wonder what?

She didn’t know. She didn’t know what to say here herself. It was her third year as a teacher; she was still lacking experience. She couldn’t drive home the point like Oriotorai could.

Still, she murmured, wiping her eyes with her sleeve.

“If…”

She drew a breath. Her shoulders twitched once, breathing out.

“If you are students of mine or Makiko-senpai’s…”

Sanyou thought about everyone’s future. Their course of life and how they will live.

It’ll be fine if there are lots of fun things, she thought. There will be bad things, but it’ll be fine as long as we can find more good than bad things. Whether it would be careers or wealth, that is a different story.

“Looking up at the sky, thinking about what will happen to the world, listening to a song, reading a book and having your heart moved, raising your money and buying things, properly greeting people in your part-time jobs… Thinking that tomorrow will be the same, but looking out at night, the lights by the window reminding you of someone. Continuing to do things like these is the least I want out of you.”

She didn’t expect to be able to teach people how to live well. There is only one thing she teaches them to be aware of. That is…

“For that sake as well…to not die. For you to absolutely not cause your own death. …Please remember that.”

Stating that, Sanyou let out a breath.

What she expressed, she herself didn’t quite understand. What she knew didn’t quite replace the importance of studies and future plans, but just to be able to think about that a little…

Realizing the sleeve she wiped her tears with had dried, Sanyou raised her head.

In front of her were Shirojiro, Neshinbara, the vice commander and the two people in the corridor.

None of them were looking in her direction.

“Ah…”

Now I’ve done it, she thought in her heart as she looked down. She must have selfishly cut them off and gone off about unpleasant things.

Therefore, Sanyou straightened her seat looking away from everyone.

“U-umm, sensei really is interrupting everyone…”

But the moment she tried to walk away…

“If that’s the case…”

The slender-built male member behind the vice commander spoke in a small voice.

“…What of Princess Horizon, whose desire for her own death is required of her?”

“——”

At the end of his gaze, lost for words, Neshinbara nodded.

He didn’t return the gaze; but, showing a smile on this face, said:

“At least…it conflicts with the teachings of the Musashi Ariadust Academy, does it not?”


Judge, everyone in that place affirmed.

“She is not a student of our Academy. She is not required to follow the policy of our Academy, but…”

Shirojiro said; and as if to respond, Neshinbara continued.

“Then, we can think of this as the Testament Union taking away the princess from us without any education, no? It may just be an accusation, but…”

Shirojiro and the vice commander acted to substitute the last word.

“However…”

Both of them stood up. Shirojiro took one step forward.

“…the princess may not know about all her possibilities. At the very least, she does not know of ‘the least’ that we should.

“How about it, guard unit? In order to save the princess…would you not consider finding out about the many more possibilities we could have?”

“How unfair.”

With a small laugh, the vice commander took a step forward as if to respond to Shirojiro.

“Borrowing the power of a staff member at the very end, I mean.”

“It was free, you know? The people at this Academy must not have that good of a business sense.”

“Judge,” the vice commander nodded, shaking his shoulders.

“We will make sure of your reliability until the end of your confrontation with the vice president. If we can find out about what is best for the Far East and Musashi, then there would have been worth in doing so. Of course, if you are able to win the argument against the vice president, that is. Still, if that cannot be done…”

The vice commander held his hand out to Shirojiro.

“I will at least prostate with you in front of the Provisional Council and king, begging to be pardoned from hanging. Trusting a businessman with no business sense would be my mistake as well, after all.”

To those words, Shirojiro nodded and returned the handshake.

That moment, a member of the guard unit opened a window from the outside and leaned in. With a ragged voice, he said:

“Vice commander! …The vice president of Ariadust is heading in our direction!”

“Oh,” the vice commander raised his voice.

However, that wasn’t the only thing the voice expressed.

“Others… Two people are converging to meet at that place as well! The details are jumbled up, but both of them seem to be people with influence on the Musashi!”

“People with influence?”

At the vice commander’s words, Neshinbara made a hardened face.

“Woah…those two are meeting up with Honda-kun, huh?”

“Those two…?”

“Judge,” Neshibara murmured.

“…The highest two in rank; the strongest two people in our Academy.”


Masazumi was quickly walking down a path where no figures could be seen.

The sunlight on her back indicated that it was almost noon. However, neither the sound of cooking nor the sight of people passing by on the road were there. The only movement, that was to say, was the preparation for the arrival of Mikawa’s refugee ship; and, as if in response, the separation of a passenger ship from the Musashi. However…

Will those people without the status of residency here be left in the care of the Testament Union?

On both the left and right second ships, as well as the front ship in the center, there were blocks for diplomatic or tourism use in every sector. Around those regions, people who could not become citizens of the Far East as well as those involved in diplomatic or trade relations were residing. However, even among them Catholics would be guaranteed safety by K.P.A. Italia or Tres España once they arrived at the land port.

The story about Musashi already being transferred to the Union had already spread among the people. Over on Musashi’s intranet which the shopkeeper had shown her, people were talking about nothing except that on the notice board and whatnot. Among those who were posting there seemed to be people sending various opinions flying at each other.

Right now, the people who weren’t residents had already perceived the notion that they could no longer continue to reside on the Musashi; and those whose safety has been guaranteed have started to evacuate.

Seeing those people move out would likely have caused unrest among the people of Musashi.

Their neighbors were gone. That, along with the departure of ships, indicated the continuing inclination among the people to escape.

The people will eventually see Musashi’s transfer as an inevitable thing.

Thinking up until that moment, Masazumi…

“——”

She turned her head to the side.

Isn’t that fine? So she whispered in her heart, as if to persuade herself.

That would be the best way to end this with minimum damage.

However, Masazumi thought.

“There will be those not going along with this, huh.”

She was to go and persuade them. In other words, she was their enemy.

Thus she thought. At times a number of gazes were set on her figure, still quickly walking down the road.

Inside the stores of the shopping district. Through the gaps of the police station entrance. Behind the windows of the houses. She saw the people realizing her presence and looking at her.

Masazumi had neither the training nor the spells to read people’s gazes. However, she felt the very meaning itself in the quiet, expressionless faces continuing to look at her.

She was holding a paper bag from the cafe on her side, but she thought of it as if it were a shield from them. As if to hold it out, showing that she was a resident of Musashi as well; as if to run away.

In front of her lay the natural park leading to the Remorse Way.

She went in.

At that moment.

On the roads to her left and right, there were figures converging to meet her.

Two of them. The first, coming from the right, was…

“Naomasa.”

“Judge,” the girl said as she raised her right mechanical arm in greeting. Smoke rising from the tobacco pipe held in her mouth, the girl turned her gaze to the left while skipping over to this side.

“Oh, you’re with us as well, Mito?”

Turning her head as if to follow after that question, at the end of Masazumi’s glance over at the left side of the road was Mitotsudaira in her uniform, holding two long black leather cases on her back.

Looking over at Masazumi and Naomasa, she sighed.

“What do we have here? …Are the representatives of Musashi’s knights, political group and the engineering club going to talk with everyone making noise at the Academy from now on?”


At the end of Masazumi’s glance, waving her silver hair, Mitotsudaira joined Masazumi’s quick walking with her own light steps.

A knight from Hexagone Française, if I’m not mistaken. She’s from a werewolf family, huh.

As if to confirm her thoughts, the girl’s golden eyes turned to look at her with a look of discontent.

“The Musashi’s feudal lord group has shared our opinion of facing the side of the Academy. If the Provisional Council and king were to take care of this, ownership of the streets would be lost. However, we are not aware of the intentions of the Academy’s side. Therefore, being a student, I have come as a representative. For all the knights in Musashi.”

Is that so? Naomasa affirmed.

“The Engineering Club over here is the same as well. If Musashi’s transfer is confirmed, they will give all of us the sack after we’re done with the work, after all.”

“Is that the case? …I was under the impression that you and the others will stay because they need engineers for the Musashi.”

That’s wrong, Masazumi thought. Then, as if to interpose between the two…

“The engineering club is essential to Musashi’s operation. If it’s left to the remnants of the Far East…there will be conflict in the future. That’s why, after their work is done, Musashi’s engineers will all be kicked out of the ship. That’s what the engineering club is thinking, no?”

To that question, Naomasa showed one reaction. She let out a long trail of smoke from her mouth with an expression indicating a smile on the tip of her mouth.

“You understand, don’t you? Masazumi. This is the first time we’ve talked, but you seem to know a lot. Well, at least you’d understand us lower classes better than the honorable knight over there.”

“Ah, even if you don’t understand us as well?”

To Mitotsudaira’s hurried words, Masazumi let out a small laugh.

“Mitotsudaira, you dislike noisy and intimate people, huh?”

To those casually uttered words, Mitotsudaira widened her eyes. Then, immediately turned to gaze at Masazumi with a pointed look.

“W-what are you saying? As if you know people’s preferences.”

“It’s just a guess. Whatever the case, in the case that Horizon Ariadust commits suicide, the head of the Matsudaira will be one of the Mito… In other words, it’ll be you, Mitotsudaira. Still, Horizon’s suicide has not yet been carried out and congratulating you for such a thing would not be appropriate here…but a part of the non-citizen population of traders and families should be able to remain on Musashi under your care.”

Mitotsudaira did not immediately respond to those words.

After she drew two breaths of air…

“In a Far East under complete rule of the Testament Union, something like the head of Matsudaira will be no more than a ‘yes man’ of a puppet, huh.”

Saying that, she touched her neck with her right hand.

Touching the red necklace resembling a choker adorned there…

“I am more fit for the country as a knight than a king, after all. I am here to ascertain that.”

“Masazumi, don’t mind her. The wolf girl over there is just hiding her true feelings thinking that it’s cool.”

In response to Mitotsudaira raising her eyebrows, Naomasa only breathed out smoke through her mouth.

With those conversations, they entered the Remorse Way. Briefly thinking that the sky seen through the trees was blue, Masazumi spoke again.

“What’s wrong, you two?”

Those two were…

“Naomasa is the Sixth Special Duty of the Chancellor’s Officers. Mitotsudaira is the Fifth. …From here on out, I am going to face off with your superior, the chancellor, as a representative of the Provisional Council and king. In other words, I am the enemy.”

“Still, I do think that our objectives match in general.”

Mitotsudaira said this in a quiet voice, combing her forelocks upward.

“Their course of action will very likely cause the Far East to plunge into war with the Testament Union. If that becomes the case, the knights and retainers enrolled in Ariadust Academy will have to fight to protect the people and land of Musashi.”

“So you want to avoid as much damage to the people as possible, is it?”

Judge, both Mitotsudaira and Naomasa nodded. First, Mitotsudaira said:

“Going out and passing down the decision for that sake is my task.”

I see, Masazumi nodded, looking then to Naomasa on her right. Naomasa, receiving her glance, said “that’s right” and scratched her head with her mechanical right arm.

“For the engineering club, not transferring Musashi over to the Testament Union will keep our jobs stable. It’s just that we will have to fight the Union instead, in that case. Thus, I am here to ascertain whether we have the strength to rise up against the Union.”

“…In other words, both of you are concerned about power, huh.”

“Even for you, that would become quite the element in your decision; am I wrong? I mean, if you’re going to face the Testament Union, we will become part of your military strength as well.”

Is that so? Masazumi was going to say, but she panicked and changed her words.

“I am part of the Provisional Council. I don’t have a decision nor do I have anything else.”

Naomasa didn’t answer; she only breathed out smoke form her mouth. Then it felt like Mitotsudaira, on the back of her line of sight, drew a faint smile.

In front of them, the stairs leading to the Ariadust Academy could be seen.

On their left, near the end of the forest, was a small stone monument.

The girl whose slumber of death was memorialized by that monument was, right then, over by the execution grounds (Andamio de la Ejecución) a great distance behind them.

What will“become” of this? Masazumi thought, but she changed that line of thought.

What will we “cause to occur,” huh? For me, for the others as well.

Then Masazumi saw it.

Up ahead, atop the stairs, there were four figures. The moment right after she ascertained this…

“——”

She, along with the other two, simultaneously halted their steps. Looking up the staircase from the end of Remorse Way, the four people could clearly be seen against the blue sky.

The first was Neshinbara.

The second and third were Heidi, standing by Shirojiro, and the last one was…

“…What’s with that lump of cloth that looks like Toori wrapped in curtain, you guys?”

“Aah,” Shirojiro said from on top of the stairs.

“This is…”

The bundle of cloth extended straight to both sides. Looking at the figure of what still looks like a rolled-up mat, Shirojiro slowly affirmed:

“It’s a spring roll right now.”


Right after Shirojiro’s words, the spring roll moved.

At the end of Masazumi’s gaze, standing still at a loss for words, the spring roll panicked and twisted itself near its “neck” to one side. Then, the muffled voice coming from inside it.

“You’re wrong! It’s a sushi roll! The seaweed is rice paper because it’s white! You don’t understand, do you!?”

To that familiar voice, Masazumi turned to glance at both Naomasa and Mitotsudaira.

“That voice is…”

Those two people were already looking away for some reason at that moment.

As I’d guessed.

While she was thinking that, the protesting sushi roll on top of the stairs leaned, then shook.

“Ah.”

The sushi roll tumbled down the stairs.

Midway, it bounced a few times down several meters and rolled around.

Bouncing down and hitting the corner of the stairs, the sushi roll didn’t scream things like “Gya!” or “Nuo!” Instead…

“Fugu.”

Thus, with that shallow voice, the roll loosened; and as if to lay a carpet down the stairs, the white cloth acting as the seaweed spread out.

Following the movement with their eyes, the expanding cloth reached to their feet with a rolling movement.

“——”

The seaweed ran out right in front of those three.

At the same time, in a swastika-like pose, a naked Aoi gushed out in front of them.

However, realizing their presence, he looked up to them with a huge grin on his face and immediately raised up his right thumb.

“…Ah!? Hey, you guys, what are you here for!? Oh well, I’m a bit unrolled out here and I’d like to become a sushi roll again, so can you guys help roll me up!?”

The person himself, still lying down near the seaweed, turned to face his back to them and straightened himself up and shivered with nervousness.

“As kindly as a mother…!!”

Masazumi, along with the two on her sides, dug their toes into him without saying a word.