Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 27
Chapter 27: The Powerful Below Ground
Does the powerless body
Think about the strength outside it
Point Allocation (Sleeping Together)
Azuma came to his senses.
He recovered his consciousness after a moment of blankness.
Questioning his situation, his sense of sight finally caught up with him.
It’s dark, he thought; it was probably because his eyes were closed.
Before this he seemed to be in slumber, as if in hesitation. Realizing that, he came to feel the rest of his body. His body at present was in a lying position, turned to the right and lying on his face. A blanket, warm with body temperature, was laid over him; and he seemed to be tucked snug in a soft futon.
Something’s wrong. The bad feeling straightened his mind. The reason for that bad feeling was…
…This isn’t the usual futon…
It was soft, but dusty as well. His was soft and had a fragrant smell, but…
…That was in the quarters of the Testament Union…
Thinking up to that point, his thoughts linked with his memories and the rest of his mind.
Right now, he was back on Musashi, rooming with the girl called Miriam Poqou.
Azuma opened his eyes. In front of him was the figure of a girl, sleeping face up. However, this girl who slept under the blanket on the futon with him was not Miriam. She was a small child. She was not even the age to attend primary school.
Her body was transparent. The futon she was sleeping in, the wall on the other side of the room; everything could be seen through her.
The girl turned her body slightly and wrinkled her eyebrows.
She moved her arm, which was lightly holding down the blanket.
Azuma looked at the crumple between her eyebrows.
He was at a loss, but he held her right hand. That moment, the cold hand of the girl, translucent and with no color other than white, sank into his as if to melt. Still…
She was able to grip his hand. He was uncertain, but it could be seen. Her hand felt thin; holding a net made out of paper would feel this way, he thought, but nevertheless she was able to hold it.
“It’s going to be alright.”
Stating that to the girl, he returned the grasp as if to not let go of her fingers. Doing so, the girl took no more than one breath.
She loosened the tension between her eyebrows and returned to deep breathing.
In response to her relief, Azuma let out a breath.
At that moment, a voice came from the other side of the girl.
“So how does it feel like, suddenly becoming a father, Azuma?”
Eh? He raised his face and saw a wheelchair approach. Seated on it was a girl, her wavy hair overlapped over her stole. Looking at her, Azuma said…
“That is correct. Still, if you’re awake…what are you going to do? At this time.”
In response to the words she said with a long sigh and a hand on her chin, Azuma looked around him.
He was on the lower bed of a double bunk. The futon had a flower pattern, and there were girl things like clothes hung above by a string connecting to the tabletop.
“Ah, s-sorry, this was your mattress, wasn’t it!?”
To her words spoken with half-closed eyes, Azuma realized his mistake in choosing his words. However, he didn’t know how else to say it. He considered getting up, but the inside of his hand was still weakly held by the hand he grasped back.
“Yesterday, you couldn’t get that sleeping girl up to your bed so I lent you mine, you know? She won’t let go of you, after all. Do you remember? I was asking you about a lot of things, but you went right to sleep back then. With a speed as if you’d used a sleep spell as well.”
“No, that is…”
Trying to say something to change the topic, Azuma felt the need to apologize; anyhow, he thought about getting up to lower his head.
Then, as if to comb his hair, his raised head brushed against the clothes hung down from the countertop. Taking a short glance at them, Azuma panicked and looked away.
“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to look at your underwear or anything!”
“I didn’t need to hear that, you know!”
He was scolded with a reddened face.
Miriam looked at the flustered Azuma from inside the bed bunker.
Right now, the hand she had on her cheek had a sensation of warmth. However, rather than that…
“Azuma, there are lots of complicated things occurring right now, and I want some explanations.”
“W-what? D-did I do something wrong? Did I!?”
…I wonder why he is so scared…
Miriam was aware of the harshness in her personality, but she did not expect someone to be afraid of her even when she wasn’t mad. Her first impression may have not been the greatest; but in her defense, she was being careful at that time. Because there was no better choice than that for her, she ended up saying “Well, whatever.”
Miriam continued her conversation.
“Last night, when you suddenly brought that kid in here, I was thinking about how there exists a naive kindness that surpasses human knowledge; but, Azuma, you…”
Miriam pointed to the closed door.
“The Far East’s Guard Unit is watching us from over there, in pairs, you know.”
“Eh…? The Guard Unit…?”
Miriam swore to herself not to get angry, showing a smile.
“I heard about it. They’re guarding a VIP, aren’t they?”
“Oh, a VIP, huh…”
“Yes, a VIP, you know? …But who could it be, I wonder? Is it me? Or is it that child?”
“…Eh? No, see, you know…”
At Azuma’s incoherent speech, Miriam clapped both hands to her cheeks because her smile was on the verge of breaking down. She reinstated her will to keep that smile on.
“You never uttered a single word about you being the crown prince yesterday, did you?”
“No, you see. That was before, you know!? I’m secularizing myself, now I’m just a normal person, see!?”
“Other people won’t see you as such, you know.”
Miriam broke down her smile with a long sigh. Placing her hand on her forehead, she rubbed between her eyebrows with her fingers to remove any formed wrinkles.
“Well, it’s not like I don’t understand your feelings. Taking care not to make it awkward between us or such; you’ve probably been burdening yourself with unnecessary problems after all. Still…”
Miriam once again pointed in the sliding door’s direction.
“I was pretty surprised when they suddenly came to stand guard and opened the door with the manager’s master key this morning, you know? You were completely out cold that time as well.”
“Eh? W-what happened? What is going on outside?”
Yes, Miriam made a smile once again and said.
“The people outside understood, you know? …That Your Highness the Crown Prince has brought a little ghost girl into his cohabitation together with a girl, I mean.”
While she was talking, Azuma’s face adopted a shade of blue.
Um, he prefaced, err, hanging his head.
“Should we, um, correct them?”
“Oh ho, why is that?”
To that question, Azuma’s head dropped so low it could reach the bed.
“It’s causing you trouble…”
Miriam lightened just a bit in her heart.
…So it’s not to clear their misunderstanding of him, is it?
I see, she then thought in her heart.
“I don’t mind, really.”
He would be the one affected the most by this misunderstanding, but he himself considered her more.
“You don’t understand, do you?”
Azuma raised his head to those words. By the crumple in his eyebrows, he didn’t seem to understand her words. She, the one who did, decided not to spoil herself. What she should say now is…
“I don’t mind you hiding stuff from me. Even for me…I’m a girl, so I have a lot of secrets as well.”
“No, but, I’m concerned about the conditions outside…”
“Outside? They’re making a lot of noise. The Chancellor guys have had their rights taken away, and Princess Horizon is sentenced to suicide, and furthermore Musashi will be transferred over to the Testament Union. But the craziest of them all is…the people from our class are standing up to the Provisional Council’s side, and facing off with the vice president associated with them.”
The look on Azuma’s face said “Huh?” Thinking that he’s the kind of person to show that expression a lot, Miriam pointed to the ceiling. Indicating the Academy on the surface up there she continued.
“For now, they seem to be holding a special student general meeting.”
Miriam relayed what the members of the guard unit outside told her.
“The official topic is ‘No Confidence in the Vice President’, but it’s also ‘Deciding the Course of Action regarding the Future of Musashi and the Far East’; attended by the two parties of the parliament-aligned vice president and the Academy’s side. The decision will become representative of the whole Academy.”
Then Azuma said, alternating his gaze between himself and the hand of the girl he was holding:
“We have to go as well…”
…What a difficult person.
At a loss for what to say, Miriam closed her eyes once and decided.
She will speak. Looking straight at him, with what wisdom she can.
“You see here. Your very actions may hold influence over the whole of the Far East, not to mention Musashi itself. Whatever the case, looking at the trend of this case, the Testament Union will move to take control of the Far East; at least that is what they are saying.”
“What a reckless thing…”
“Why do you think the guard unit is guarding outside our door? They want to protect you, prevent you from going out and showing the influence of you just being there to the outside, you know? The capital where the Emperor’s territory is belongs to the Far East; but it is a sacred territory separated from all political concerns, working only to keep the Ley Lines stable. That’s why, even if the Far East becomes completely ruled, the capital will still remain untouched. And your presence is of the son of the Emperor supporting this world, with a sound connection to the capital.”
“The people of the Far East will see meaning in your actions, even if you don’t want them to. You cannot ignore the influence your actions will have on the Testament Union as well as the other countries.”
“If that’s the case…”
“I think that the people on Musashi are lost right now, each forming their own resolve. If you were to move then, what do you think will happen?”
To that question, Azuma lowered his gaze. Looking at the space of his free hand…
“…There will be people coming out to support me?”
It wouldn’t be at as strong a level as for them to “come out”, but there was no point in correcting that mistake. Miriam thought about making her way of speech softer.
“What I think should happen is for everyone to come up with their conclusion as the students of the Far East. We should believe in their decision and hold solidarity towards whatever that will happen to us. If you were to join the fray, the decision will not be made by the students of the Far East, but because ‘the crown prince said so’.”
“At the very least, until the end of this special student general meeting, I don’t think you should act. Until then, it’d be best for you to think things through by yourself whether justice lies either on the Union’s side or on the Academy’s. The Broadcasting Committee just so happens to be recording this live, so how about you open a sign frame and watch?”
To those words, Azuma sighed and buried his face in the futon.
“I don’t like troublesome things…”
“It won’t be troublesome. Thinking by yourself, no more than what you can, is natural, isn’t it? If you abandon that, the ‘former crown prince’ of the world will behave strangely and won’t turn out well.”
“But,” Miriam said resting her arms on the armrest and showing a smile to the boy.
“Your Highness the Crown Prince of this room loves to complain, does he not?”
“Are you bullying me?”
“I’m just saying that you’re a person that will come through when needed no matter what anyone says, is all.”
Miriam deepened her smile towards the person whose body had sunk deep into the bed.
…You’re really a considerate person, aren’t you.
Azuma’s secularization was probably due to the request of the Testament Union; but because of that, Miriam thought in this way: He did not obey them just because they said so. If he were a person to just follow people’s orders, he would not have suggested joining in the dangerous movement the people at the Academy have agreed to.
Azuma still hasn’t realized his own importance; but if stuff like the Union’s request were to be brought up, he could understand the meaning of his presence and move.
And yet, if he were to think of something, he would act without regard for himself.
“What a difficult person.”
“You’re the more difficult one in my opinion, Miriam.”
“Oh my, there is no girl easy to deal with, you know?”
“How difficult are you, Miriam?”
Did he ask that without realizing what it meant? she wondered in her heart. Only a bitter smile rose to her lips.
“You’ll only shiver knowing how difficult girls are, you know. The men in the world possessing a woman may have thought that they have captured their partner. …But no woman would ever think of lowering her difficulty looking at the effort a man puts in.”
“I can’t win against you…”
Whispering, Azuma let out a breath and at that moment the girl on the bed suddenly twisted her body.
With a bundle between her eyebrows, Azuma held back her hand. Still, the girl said…
Her left hand reached out to thin air.
To that question, Miriam made eye contact with Azuma. With lowered eyebrows, he said:
“You’re raring to depend on other people saying ‘this child is mine from today onwards!’ aren’t you? …How about you sharpen your mind a bit, enough to consider holding both her hands?”
“But I’ll look like a criminal targeting little girls if I pin her down like that!”
“You won’t get off so easily if the guards outside see you like that…”
“You don’t intend to cover for me when that time comes, do you?”
Responding to the voice intervening in their conversation, Azuma looked straight at Miriam. The words she heard were…
“…Saying my name leaving out what you want me to do is unfair, you know?”
Still, Miriam reclined her wheelchair and made herself horizontal. As the leg section raised to become horizontal as well for balance, the wheelchair became a bed.
Moving her armrest in the bed’s direction as if to lead it there, she used her arms to lean out her body.
Turning over to look at the side, she gathered her disabled legs together with the hem of he skirt, held them up and pulled them.
It was an act she was used to doing, but with her disheveled hair and clothes, she didn’t look too good.
Still, Azuma, who was looking at Miriam transferring herself over to this bed said:
He was looking at her with an expression of relief.
It was the first time she had shown him the way she moved to her bed. Still, without any surprise, he…
…Didn’t even offer to help me.
He was expecting her to help the girl who wanted to be saved from her nightmare.
Oh my, I have to be myself, Miriam thought, holding the translucent hand of the girl that looked so fragile. Then, fixing her hair with her free hand and looking at him, she saw a smile with eyes arched like a bow.
“Don’t mind me. This will happen a lot more from now on, after all.”
I’ve lost, Miriam whispered in her heart. Did I lower my difficulty, I wonder?
The sky was blue.
There were figures on both sides of the bridge hanging over the academy courtyard.
On one side, towards the campus, the figures were clad in school uniforms. From the windows of the academy, from the rooftop; even from the courtyard, the figures of students gathering could be seen.
In contrast, on the side towards the town, there were three figures.
In the middle, the one in a male uniform looked forward and took one step along with a gentle breeze.
“I will now offer my greetings once again.”
The person in uniform lightly raised her right hand, covered in a white glove, to touch her chest.
“I am the Vice President of the Musashi Ariadust Academy Student Council, Honda Masazumi. In regards to the special student general meeting you hold, I have come to offer a way for us, the whole student body, to settle this. Over here, the representative of the Engineering Club, Naomasa, and that of the knights, Nate Mitotsudaira, have also come to act as witnesses.”
Saying that, Masazumi looked around her.
…There are a lot of people.
Below the stairs. Outside the gates of the academy. Among the greenery and town spread out below them as well. Even on the decks of the ships to their left and right, people were there.
In front of her, one student came out from among the group of students on the bridge.
The tall, lean figure was…
“I am the Former Treasurer, Shirojiro Bertoni. I accept you proposal. The whole student body have already agreed to have me represent them. We will duel to decide the course of action of the Musashi.”
Saying that, Shirojiro pulled close by the inner collar a young man with an incomplete uniform, taking irregular steps due to his being pulled from behind.
“Ah, Shiro! I haven’t tightened my sash yet! Taking my clothes off before I even get to finish putting them on is boring, you know!?”
“Shut up. Toori, I need you for the sake of money for now. Do your job, Mr. Impossible. If you hadn’t gone and had our rights taken away this would all have been settled without any problems; now I have to hold this kind of thing by the stairs. …What a waste of money.”
…They never change.
Ignoring Toori’s wriggling body, Masazumi posed a question to Shirojiro.
“The topic for the special student general meeting was the vote of no confidence in me and the Academy’s decision for its course of action, was it not?”
“That’s right. Your side will be the Testament Union’s, and mine will be that of Musashi.”
“…The decisions of the Chancellor and Student Council President are absolute; internal conflicts are handled by them as the heads of students, with the general public not being able to participate. That is the structure of power in this world as it is right now.
“However, the Academy functions only to bring the people together; they will be the ones to receive the aftereffects of its actions. Do you understand the influence the decision we reach in this meeting will have on the people? Do you really think that we can stand a chance against the Testament Union?”
Shirojiro faced her in response to her question. Looking at the people behind her…
“More than twenty years ago, Headmaster Sakai protected Musashi from the advances of the Catholic religion by K.P.A. Italia. …That time, the Mikawa Chancellor’s Office Headmaster Sakai, with himself serving as its chancellor, started a fight using the rights of Musashi’s Chancellery which were under their care, didn’t they?”
“Right. Using the period of time when P.A. Oda’s arms trading fleet was coming to trade with Mikawa, the Union’s activity was restrained. Utilizing the fact that attacking the foreign Far East settlements in other countries would mean not being able to trade with Musashi to block their advance, Headmaster Sakai and several other people went to numerous battles in the coastal region of Seto Bay. …As a result, Mikawa was able to cut K.P.A. Italia and the Catholics’ advancements short.”
This event would have been detailed in political and related books; not only was it the incident where the existence of the Matsudaira Four Heavenly Kings appeared in this world, but it was also the major cause for the rise in Mikawa’s influence.
“However, the school rules have been amended so as to not allow such a thing to happen freely. The times have changed. It’s best for you to cease the thought of opposing the Testament Union and thinking you can win.”
“Then, whether our course of action right now opposes the Union or not; the special student general meeting is to determine that.”
Masazumi made a bitter smile.
She looked around the background. At the end of her gaze, on both of Musashi’s ships to each side and on the one in front, assembled in the roads or at the edge of the ships’ decks, figures of people observing them could be seen. Even at the lower end of the Academy’s staircase and right in the middle of in front of her, people were gathered.
Masazumi looked at them, and said…
“Well then, shall we start our duel? We’ll have three representatives from both the Union’s and the Academy’s sides, and the first to two wins will be the victor.
“The result of this duel will decide the consensus opinion of the Academy. If the Union’s side wins, we will recognize Horizon’s suicide and Musashi will be transferred. If Musashi’s side wins…”
“We will head out to save Horizon. That is all. The methods of dueling will not be limited to anything. Battles, negotiations, or any other competing methods; anything can be used. Through these methods, the Union’s side will indicate that opposition is futile and ours will show that we can stand up to them.”
Judge, Masazumi affirmed Shirojiro’s words.
“Then, the first participant…”
Who will it be? The moment when these words were about to be said, Naomasa at her side fixed the position of the pipe in her mouth.
“I’ll have the pleasure of going first.”
“Eh? Naomasa, what are you planning to…”
Mitotsudaira, herself already taking a step forward, asked Naomasa.
That moment, Naomasa breathed out some smoke with a smile on her face and looked back at her.
“We, the Engineering Club, are aware that if we were to abide by the Provisional Council’s side we would lose our workplace that is the Musashi. …If we have to choose, we are taking the Academy’s side.”
However, Naomasa made eye contact with Mitotsudaira, holding her left hand out to her.
Her tightened fist lightly beat against Mitotsudaira’s chest.
“The club’s uncertainty is a simple thing: standing up to the Union or whatever, our concern is what will happen if the Musashi is sunk. We’d like to avoid that. Then…no, therefore, I’d like to hear it: If worst comes to worst and we’re going to go on an all-out war against the Union, how the Musashi, with no clear weaponry, will fight.
“…Going to war with insufficient means to fight is asking for the impossible after all.”
She then looked in both the town’s and everyone’s direction while drawing her breath.
“Among the military might of a country, what do you think will represent it the best on a battlefield? Airships? Aircraft? Mechanical Armor? Or is it knights? No, what the Engineering Club wants to say is this: They are not.”
Naomasa raised her clenched fist upwards puffing out smoke from her mouth.
“Old man Taizou! Send it over!!”
As if to respond to those words, a voice resounded from below the stairs in front of the Academy.
“Leave it to me!!”
The one who let out that loud, husky voice was an old man in working clothes. Around his white-haired, lean figure, there was a group of people in similar clothes. All of them raised their left hand, just like Naomasa did.
That moment, in front of Naomasa and each of those people, a torii-shaped, teal-colored sign frame appeared. The characters written in bold lettering on it were…
Naomasa and those people slammed their left fists onto the sign frames.
The sign frames, beaten in midair, distorted and broke into pieces.
The sound of glass breaking echoed with a definite creak below the blue sky.
Right after that…
From below the back section of the middle front ship, by Musashino’s Engineering division, something soared into the sky.
Flying through the sky leaving white trails of mist, even those who caught sight of it could not describe it. What they could see was just, for a moment, a dark shape.
While someone whispered “What’s that?” Naomasa let out a large amount of smoke and spoke.
“My Mouse is a bit special. …Well, you’d understand if you think about it; but you’re wondering the same thing, aren’t you? Why a young girl like me is associating herself with those at the Engineering Club and stuff, and… How I will use this absurdly big mechanical arm I have on this enormous ship. To answer that, how about all of us go on a little field trip?”
Saying that, it arrived from the sky.
It crashed to the ground.
Falling down from the sky like a wall to block the wind, something dropped behind Naomasa with a thunderous roar.
Shaking the impact shock absorbing torii-type crest (which had expanded above the bridge) with a loud sound, then landing and standing with an imposing stance was a feminine-type iron giant, clad in red and black.
A heavy-type God of War.
It was a red shape resembling a woman, no less than ten meters in height. It didn’t possess any wings.
“…The Heavy-type God of War ‘Jizuri Suzaku’. When I was on land, I gathered the pieces of a God of War I found on the ground around my homeland that became a battleground. I was planning to use it for farm work, but a lot of things happened and now my Mouse is in there using it for work. With a battle-type line of origin, no one in the Engineering Club’s heavy God of War operation group could win against it.”
“Yet again…you love to show off in strange ways, don’t you, Naomasa?”
“Getting it through narrow roads to bring it to the surface of the Musashi would only be a bother, so I’ve had it modified with anchor launch equipment and blasted out to here. It’ll be taken back hanging from a ship; and in order to increase the accuracy of its landing position, the launching equipment can only fire it to a limit of about two kilometers.”
Saying that, Naomasa raised her mechanical right arm.
As if to respond, light shone from the God of War’s eyes; and Naomasa let out a small laugh.
“It’s a cute one, isn’t she? A proper 10-ton class, remotely operated by this right arm of mine. Because of the priority of torque considerations in interchanging parts for work, the armor has been removed; but it’s quite wise to think of its power as on par with that of other countries’ heavy Gods of War. So who can stand up to this one among you guys? Show me your methods and your results; whether or not the disarmed Far East still has a way to fight.”
“The only people who can go head-to-head against a God of War are the hero-class of a country…like Tachibana Muneshige or the Pope Chancellor on the other side, the Eight Dragon Kings, or Galileo’s class type. On our side, it’ll be Mito, huh. Still, if we’re going to oppose the Testament Union, we’ll be in trouble if those kinds of people are not normally around.
“How about it? Is there anyone who can fight it?”
At Naomasa’s voice, everyone was silent. Even the people in the town had their heads turned to look at the standing huge frame of red.
It’s impossible, a few small voices started to rise.
However, there was a voice in response to Naomasa’s question. It was in front of her. The one who raised his voice was not Shirojiro standing there, but Toori, who was sitting on the floor. What he said was…
“…Then, you go, Shiro.”
At those words, everyone raised their doubts.
Among the people who were gathered at the entrance to the Academy, Tenzou came out in a panic.
“T-Toori-dono! Why are you having a complete businessman like Bertoni-dono go up against the likes of Naomasa-dono as if you don’t mind getting someone killed!? Just what are you planning to do!?”
“Ah. …You know why, don’t you, Tenzou? It’s revenge.”
“T-the worst! This guy is the worst!!”
“It’s ’cause this brute of a businessman is always saying cruel things to me every time, you know? Get yourself tattered. Mess yourself up and reflect on your actions, alright?”
“Oh ho. In other words, if I win, my actions will be justified, is that it?”
Shirojiro patted Toori’s shoulders once and stepped forward.
“How cheap. I’ll make you regret this for your whole life.”
“Eh, you seem to be quite into this, aren’t you?”
“Even with a big risk, it carries a big collateral, after all. …With the trust of the Engineering Club and proof of us being able to take on Gods of War on sale, this duel is a steal. I have the further privilege of making a fool out of an idiot as well.”
In the middle of everyone’s gazes, Shirojiro opened a hardpoint by his neck and called his white fox out.
Then he faced in Naomasa’s direction with an expression of flat eyebrows.
“Naomasa, in regards to my spell’s contract, I require Heidi to support me as an intermediary. You have no problems with that, right?”
“Judge, it’s how you always are after all. Still, Shirojiro, you’re a treasurer and a businessman, aren’t you? I’d like to see how you’re going to fight against a God of War as well.”
With those words, Naomasa moved; jumping as if to ride on the left hand which Jizuri Suzaku behind her held out.
“Everyone, move for a bit!”
Moving Jizuri Suzaku to stand off against Shirojiro…
“…Let’s do this with a bang!!”
With those words, Jizuri Suzaku suddenly broke out and rushed into a smash blow towards the businessman.
The sound of a crash resounded far and wide.
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