Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 34
Chapter 34: Those Running Toward the Borderline
How much do people
Make the past their peak?
Point Allocation (From Here On)
What would he do with the authority of king?
On the bridge in front of Musashi Ariadust Academy’s school building, Yoshinao thought about the Papa-Schola’s question he heard behind him.
…How should we respond?
If he clearly sided with the Testament Union he would be the only one with any real power in Musashi.
The previous battle had settled the conflict among the students. The authority of the Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council would return to Aoi Toori and the others.
They would be able to decide the future course of Musashi and the Far East.
However, Yoshinao remained. The Testament Union had given him the right to veto any decision made in Musashi.
Aoi Toori had asked him to transfer the authority of king to him, but that was impossible.
Doing so would leave no one to reject them.
Also, the King of Musashi had the authority to make practical decisions for the Musashi. Transferring that authority would give him full control of the Musashi as a ship.
If Aoi Toori became King of Musashi, no one could deny him anything and he could use the Musashi as he wished.
But the Testament Union viewed him as dangerous and they would use that as justification for opposing Musashi.
Yoshinao wanted to avoid that opposition if at all possible.
…And the words of the adults are generally correct.
He felt adventure was important, but he also felt one must not act rashly or despair due to a lack of experience. Even if he was to respect their wishes, he needed to stop any recklessness and urge them to be careful.
…But what would happen if Horizon Ariadust did return as a princess?
If she desired her power as ruler, she would come into conflict with his position as King of Musashi.
Transferring the title of king to her would avoid a revolution by the people, but that would once again leave everything to those inexperienced youths.
As he wondered what should be done, he asked a question.
“Aoi Toori, what will you do once you rescue her?”
“I will regain everything.”
They had heard that the Logismoi Óplo had been made with her emotions.
“And what will you do once you regain everything?”
“I will be with her,” he replied. He then continued. “After all, I don’t want to say goodbye. But…”
At that word, the tug of Yoshinao’s wife’s hand on his left sleeve strengthened.
“We, you all are telling me to leave her, aren’t you?”
Yoshinao started to speak but stopped.
…What are we doing?
What had he thought when he had left his territory to the Testament Union long ago?
He had more or less known what the Testament Union would do.
…But we thought it was better than letting them be destroyed.
If he was with them, the people would have relied on him and not feared making an enemy of a nation.
And so he decided the people would give up on fighting if he left. If he had not put them under the protection of the Testament Union while he still could, it would have all been over.
That land had completely changed and the people had scattered.
What did that mean?
He felt conflict was a bad thing.
But he also felt he should have remained in that land.
…What should we have done?
As he thought that, he heard the boy’s voice.
“We, the King of Musashi shouldn’t be worrying that much. A king’s gotta be dignified, right? Am I wrong?”
Those words helped Yoshinao make up his mind.
And he spoke his decision.
The people of Musashi saw the King of Musashi flip up his cape on top of the bridge.
The red cloth and gold staff moved. He let go of the queen’s hand and puffed out his chest while standing next to her.
“As promised, we will return the authority of the Chancellor’s Officers and Student Council.”
The king’s words brought a moment silence.
And it was quickly followed by cheers.
Yoshinao continued speaking so as to silence the cheers rising from the Musashi’s deck.
“We cannot transfer our authority as king! Not even when Princess Horizon returns. The Testament Union sent us to Musashi to be its king!”
That announcement silenced the crowd, but it brought a laugh from the sky.
“Ha,” said Innocentius within the sign frame. “Ha ha ha! That’s what I thought. Your fear of opposing the Testament Union won’t let you transfer your authority as king, but Musashi can never gain freedom like that. No matter what, you remain under the control of the Testament Union.”
The king’s continued words stopped Innocentius’s laughter.
In the silence that brought, Yoshinao spoke slowly.
“To bear the responsibility of gathering the Logismoi Óplo and resolving the Apocalypse, we will share our authority with two viceroys who will act as our assistants. The shared authority shall be split with us having two shares and each viceroy having a single share. Also, we appoint Far East Representative and Mikawa Ruler Horizon Ariadust as one viceroy and Musashi Ariadust Academy Student Council President and Chancellor Toori Aoi as the other.”
“King of Musashi!!” shouted Innocentius. “So you are effectively giving a portion of your authority as king to the students of Musashi!?”
“We retain the royal right to veto, your holiness. After all, with our upcoming duty, there will be times when an immediate decision will be needed even if something were to happen to us. It is only logical to create a viceregal position to act under us. By our reckoning, this will not interfere with the role of ‘guide’ that the Testament Union gave us. If you insist we are opposing the Testament Union in this action, please explain why so that we may do our best to remove any misunderstandings.”
“Have you gone mad!? No, have you grown intoxicated on sentimentality and taken the students’ side, King of Musashi!?”
“Your holiness.” Yoshinao lightly bent his knees and lowered his head. “Even one as low as us is the king of the small nation of Musashi. We cannot directly face you as we are not a student, but our position is still equal to yours. We will ignore that comment as a mere jest. After all, we are still the King of Musashi. …And as king, we must never leave our people and we must share in those people’s suffering and hardships so that we might do our best to resolve them.”
“Your holiness, you are the head of the Tsirhc Catholics, you are the representative of K.P.A. Italia, and you are one representative of the Testament Union. …However, you are not the Testament Union itself. If you wish to say the Testament Union finds fault in our actions, you must first hold a Testament Union Representative Council with representatives from all the Testament Union academies.”
“A Testament Union Representative Council is a type of international council. To hold a council in this era, we must use the history recreation of the ecumenical council or something similar. However, the Testament shows no further ecumenical councils since the end of the Council of Trent which displayed the Counter-Reformation against the Protestants.”
“There is one council you can use.”
Yoshinao looked down at his hand.
He held a piece of paper soaked in ink. It had been crumpled up and a brown algae creature had brought it to him.
However, the creatures spoke as they hopped up from the bucket Toori held.
“Important. Masazumi gave it.”
Yoshinao nodded and looked at the text on the note. It was wet with ink, but he could still read it.
“Someone has already planned where you should hold the Testament Union Representative Council.”
Yoshinao glanced to the port side where he saw someone standing in the schoolyard.
It was Masazumi.
She took a step forward, placed a hand on her chest, and spoke clearly.
“There is one council given in the last Testament description before it ceased updating. It is not an ecumenical council, but it could be called Europe’s very first political international council. That council is the Peace of Westphalia.”
She took a breath.
“That council brought an end to the religious war between the Protestants and Catholics known as the Thirty Years’ War as well as other wars. It also created several international laws. Due to the Apocalypse, people are viewing that council as accepting the destruction of the world; but how about you use that council to determine whether Musashi and the Far East are in the wrong or not?”
With Kimi returned, all of the students except Toori were gathered on the port side. They had gathered around to discuss what Masazumi had said.
“What is the Peace of Westphalia?” asked Tenzou.
Neshinbara answered as he produced a sign frame to display historical material.
“As Honda-kun said, it is a peace council for the Thirty Years’ War and some other wars. It began in 1644 and includes the council for both the Treaty of Münster and the Treaty of Osnabrück. The decisions were written up in the Treaty of Westphalia which was signed on October 24, 1648. The treaty gave structure to the national sovereignty which Honda-kun mentioned earlier, it defined national borders, and it gave independence to Holland and Switzerland.”
“What did the peace treaty say?”
“Hexagone Française and Sweden expanded while the principalities within M.H.R.R. gained sovereignty and the power of the emperor was weakened. That’s why people are discussing whether it can be used to crush P.A. Oda which is working along with M.H.R.R.”
As he spoke, Neshinbara looked up at the king’s back on the bridge as well as Masazumi’s back in front of him.
“The early battles of the Thirty Years’ War are already beginning, so the representatives of the academies will have to gather in the M.H.R.R. region of Westphalia to question the justice of our actions. …At the very least, we are not just or evil until that happens.”
“That’s right,” agreed Masazumi with a glance back toward the group. “It may be odd for me to say something here, but…”
“Heh heh heh. Flat chest worshipper, my foolish brother has given his approval, so we can’t have you not giving your political point of view.”
Kimi’s comment caused Masazumi to smile bitterly toward the ground.
“By leaving this to the representative council, we gain a justification for Musashi’s safety.” She nodded. “We are relying on the Testament Union’s decision concerning our existence, but the Testament Union is an organization. No matter how much a single member shouts at us, it does not qualify as a decision. And so each nation will need its own justification if it is to oppose us.”
“But that means you must be prepared for conflict with the Testament Union until the Peace of Westphalia,” said Innocentius. “After all, that conflict will continue until the peace council ends. Each nation will act out of its desire for the Far East until you arrive there.”
In other words…
“Musashi will be in an all-out conflict against the Testament Union until Westphalia.”
“If there is an end in sight, there is meaning in persisting. Our goal is to arrive at Westphalia, to prove to the other nations that siding with us is in their best interest, and to gather the Logismoi Óplo in order to save the world from the Apocalypse.”
Masazumi raised a finger toward the image of the pope-chancellor’s face in the sky.
She raised her eyebrows in a smile.
“We will return the Logismoi Óplo to their rightful owner. Then the nations in conflict with us will merely be hindering us from resolving the Apocalypse.”
Everyone followed her gaze as she looked up toward the bridge.
Yoshinao, his wife, and Toori stood there.
Toori seemed to want people to focus on him because he danced around behind Yoshinao and hid everything but his arms behind the man to make it look like the man had four arms.
“What are you doing?” asked Innocentius.
“Is that any way to talk to me, pope!?”
“You’re one to talk,” muttered everyone else, but Toori ignored them.
Everyone started whispering amongst themselves.
“There’s a lot alike about those two.”
“I think the only difference is their position.”
“No, I think the pope-chancellor would excommunicate himself if he groped someone’s breasts.”
“I am growing very sick of this, so I will keep it short,” said Innocentius. “As a representative of the Testament Union, I sense danger in Musashi’s decision. You possess a Logismoi Óplo, you are interfering with the recreation of the history descriptions, and Mikawa must be restored. K.P.A. Italia insists on an immediate resolution to these three issues.”
“As initially planned, Horizon Ariadust will commit suicide, the Logismoi Óplo will be extracted, and Musashi’s authority will be transferred to restore Mikawa.”
“I see. Then you go do your thing.” Toori’s voice filled the air. “And I’ll go confess to Horizon.”
“Shut up. I’ll say it again!”
Toori pointed directly at the face displayed in the sky.
“Old man, what do you think you’re doing right now!?” he shouted. “You’ve captured my (or soon to be my) Horizon and are executing her!? But right now… What was it? Um… Oh! Right now you have her stripped naked and bound with chains! Ahhh, and you’re torturing her in all sorts of wet and messy ways, aren’t you!? Dammit, you have a really perverted religion, you know that!?”
“We are doing nothing of the sort!!”
As everyone watched the cadena firma next to the Tres Españan tent, they turned toward their commander.
As they glared at him, he frantically shook his head.
“W-we really aren’t doing that.”
“No, you definitely are!” continued the boy on the screen. “I know you are! I’ve studied enough porn games to know that! The Catholic witch hunts and princess tormenting are entire genres, you know!? That’s a standard!”
“What does that have to do with anything!?”
“Shut up!” Musashi’s chancellor bent his body and struck a pose. “Listen! You’ve set a fire in my lewd heart!! I won’t forgive you now!!”
Gin then spoke.
“I do not understand what he is saying, but he has brought momentum to his side.”
“Gin, you do not need to force a compliment,” said Muneshige. “But this is going to lead to war.”
Meanwhile, the Papa-Schola spoke once more.
“I will give you a warning. We will act as planned. If you interfere, it will produce a confrontation between students as per the academy rules. I do not feel like saying anything more.”
With that, the cadena firma vanished.
In its place, the high-pitched noise of a whistle sounded.
The whistle continued for a long while and traveled far into the distance. It was followed by Oriotorai’s voice.
“Musashi Ariadust Academy’s side has won this confrontation! Everyone involved, please act in accordance with the initial agreement! This has been carried out with the Testament Union’s approval.”
She took a breath.
“And so rescuing Mikawa Ruler Horizon Ariadust is the official decision of the Far East!!”
People could be heard crying out. Some were cheering and others sounded uncertain or determined.
But those voices communicated a certain fact.
The confrontation meant to determine Musashi’s will had come to an end.
As the wind indicating the end of the afternoon blew through and as people’s voices filled the air, Yoshinao heard Toori speak from next to him.
“Now then. It’s time to get going.”
Yoshinao wanted to ask him how he could be so lighthearted, but Toori turned toward him before he could.
With a smile on his face, he looked at Yoshinao and his wife.
“We, you can be surprisingly reckless. I thought you were just the obedient type who always does the safe thing and chooses the glasses girl from the library committee when he plays a porn game.”
Yoshinao’s wife brought a hand to her lips and laughed.
“But I was on the athletics committee.”
“Oh! Way to go, We! You have a hidden side to you! Are you actually a wild beast!?”
His crest had once been a wild beast and he did not feel like arguing the issue.
But then Toori faced forward.
He said nothing more and simply began walking.
“Wait. Do you not need help?”
Yoshinao had assumed he would call out to someone else because he could do nothing himself. However, Toori spoke to no one in particular while walking down the stairs alone.
“I can’t do anything. …But there’s a little something I want to do.”
He took a breath.
“So I’m gonna head out for a bit.”
Everyone listened to him speak as he descended the stairs.
“Listen. All of you taught me that we can rescue Horizon if we work together.”
“You don’t have to rescue her. I’m the one that wants to. You don’t have to stick with me any longer.”
“Despite what he said, that old pope guy won’t do anything if all of you don’t do anything. If I go and get scolded a bit, that’ll be the end of it.”
“For me, just knowing there’s a way to save her is enough. Horizon isn’t someone who can only die. She isn’t someone who has no option besides being killed. Just knowing that is great. At the very least, I know Horizon wasn’t born just to die.”
“Even if I can’t do it, all of you can. So remember this: if you ever have someone important to you and they’re in trouble, you can save them.”
He continued walking.
“You all can do it. As someone who can’t, I guarantee it.”
Yoshinao started to call out to Toori as he walked down the stairs.
He was doing the same thing Yoshinao had long ago. He had once thought that his absence would protect his territory, but that had not happened.
He hesitated to say it because it would reveal a mistake of his past.
Just as he started speaking, his wife tugged on his sleeve.
…She is trying to stop us?
Wondering why, he looked around in surprise.
He heard a noise.
Among Musashi Ariadust Academy’s Chancellor’s Officers, Student Council members, Aoi Toori’s classmates, and the guard unit on the port side, some people began walking, some began jogging, and they all started toward the stairs leading down from the bridge.
All of them had exasperated looks or bitter smiles. Some of them were using their handheld shrines to presumably contact their families.
“Yeah, sorry. But I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do this.”
With comments like that, they all arrived at the staircase. And as Yoshinao watched from above, they turned their backs to him and began following Toori.
The crowd gathered below watched Toori and the group gathering behind him.
They let out voices and opened a path. It looked like a canyon forming to create a straight path along the earth.
And the group traveled down that path. Yoshinao viewed them as moving toward something rather than leaving.
“They intend to retrieve the princess.”
As he spoke, Yoshinao thought.
…We have a feeling the people of our former territory were like this too.
He had decided to leave them in an attempt to protect them because he had been trying to protect them all on his own.
…That is not how it is done.
They were meant to work together to protect the place in which they could be together.
He belatedly realized that a king was meant to make everyone want to do that. He had tried to protect them but had only convinced himself that he had done so.
And then he heard a voice from behind him.
“Oh, I need to take them back.”
A short figure arrived with loud footsteps.
He saw a girl wearing glasses, a uniform with hard points too large for her body, and a vassal’s mobile shell connection parts as shoes. He was fairly certain her name was Adele.
She picked up the bucket containing the brown algae creatures in her right hand and she held something else in her left hand.
…A vassal’s heavy spear?
He had occasionally seen her with a training spear for a mobile shell. She had used the same the night before. However, this was his first time seeing this one with an actual blade attached.
And he saw a beast crest on the handle of the old heavy spear.
…That is the crest of our territory.
“Eh? What is it, king?”
She frantically turned around. It seemed she had not expected to have her name called. Worried he had frightened her, he worked to restrain himself.
“Where are you originally from?”
“Eh?” she replied with a sidelong glance toward the others going on ahead. But she soon nodded and smiled. “Well, I was born on the Musashi. My father moved around a lot, though.”
“Is that so? And your father?”
“Judge.” She nodded and the ends of her eyebrows lowered a bit. “He has passed away, but I hear he was from Hexagone Française.”
His wife tugged on his sleeve, but Adele continued speaking without being asked.
“It seems our Balfette family was originally from a small self-governed territory near the border with Tres España. According to my father, the king was a good person but he was a bit too considerate. When the territory was trapped between Tres España and Hexagone Française, that king ultimately sold himself to the Testament Union in exchange for the promised safety of the territory. …Of course, the Testament Union didn’t keep up their end of the bargain.”
“My father would always say he wondered if the king sold himself because he and the other people didn’t do a good enough job. He said the king could have been braver, but they still should have done more themselves. And that’s why he would always tell me to protect my king.”
“Ah ha ha.” Adele laughed and raised her baggy sleeves. “But I still can’t properly use the mobile shell he left for me.”
“And what are you going to do now?”
“Judge.” She immediately responded to his question. “I am on my way to protect our king.”
She smiled before continuing.
“That you were so brave just now. I think my dad must have been glad he came to Musashi.”
Hearing that, Yoshinao took in a breath. He felt a trembling on the edge of his cheek, but he still puffed out his chest.
“Of course! The King of Musashi must be brave!!”
“Judge. I’ll be going now.”
He started to see her off by saying “testament”, but he stopped.
“Judge,” he said instead. “Did I pronounce that correctly?”
“Judge. Now go protect your king.”
His wife grabbed his hand rather than his sleeve. By the time he squeezed her slender fingers in return, the vassal with the beast crest was already starting down the stairs.
“Who is that?”
The crowd of people split along a side road on the starboard side. They formed a path for someone who was meeting up with the others.
As the people took a step back, the person came into view.
“Now, then. Things have gotten noisy again up above.”
Two figures sat on a wheelchair in a small room with no walls.
Miriam held a small girl whose naked body was partially transparent.
She operated the wheelchair.
“Can this thing enter cradle mode? It’s pretty old.”
She was unsure, but the wheelchair did its job. It began shaking like it was being rocked by very, very gentle waves.
As it shook with the rise and fall of breathing, the girl placed her head on Miriam’s chest.
“Are you sleepy?” she asked.
The girl shook her head and got up again.
“Is mama not good enough?”
The girl thought for a moment and shook her head.
“Why do I feel so humiliated? Does that boy emit some kind of charismatic power that only works on little girls?”
She thought for a moment and looked up at the ceiling from which distant cheers could occasionally be heard. She then turned to the door which no longer had any guards outside it.
And then the girl in her arms spoke.
“Mama? You aren’t going to papa?”
“Eh?” Miriam looked at her own body, the wheelchair, and the girl in her arms. “Well, there are a lot of issues and I’m fine with being here for the time being. As things are, I can’t even open the door or go out. …And none of my classmates are going to stop by today.”
She lightly embraced the girl and let the rocking of the wheelchair take over as she looked up at the ceiling and smiled.
“Do your best, everyone. I’ll be waiting.”
As soon as she said that, a sudden knock came to the room’s sliding door.
“Um, Miriam Poqou-san? This is Sanyou from the teaching staff. Oriotorai-sensei told me to bring you a report on today’s events in place of one of the students. May I come in?”
At that very moment, the little girl suddenly got down from the wheelchair.
“I’m coming in, okay?”
The girl ran toward the sliding door, leaving Miriam behind.
As she spoke, a glasses-wearing teacher slid open the door and peeked inside. Miriam held her head in her hands when she saw the translucent naked girl raise her hands in greeting.
This would further spread the misunderstandings about Azuma.
“Hey, Azuma. Should you really be out here?”
As Azuma joined the group of walking students, he heard Toori speak without turning around.
…He’s worried about me. But…
He had made up his mind after speaking with Miriam and thinking about all sorts of things on his own.
…There are people my presence here will influence.
The emperor had great influence, but he wanted to help his friends. He had spoken with Miriam and decided to make his appearance after the political decision had been made. For those attempting to act on that decision, he could convince anyone who opposed their decision and act as a landmark if they had to make an emergency retreat.
As he walked, Heidi spoke from next to him.
“What happened with that girl from yesterday?”
“Once everything settles down, I plan to go to a police box to discuss the issue. Right now, Miriam is…” Realizing he had just used her first name, he frantically corrected himself. “Poqou-san is looking after her.”
“Oh? Poqou-san is? Is that so?”
Everyone turned fairly scornful smiles toward him and then exchanged a glance.
“Who would have thought the crown prince was that sort of character.”
“S-stop it! You’re being rude to Poqou-san!”
They all laughed. The surrounding people opened a path, but there was more than just confusion on their faces. Some looked doubtful, but others looked hopeful and others even nodded toward them.
They walked down the stairs and headed for the road. As they did, a familiar face appeared in front of them.
Beyond a crowd that had already split down the middle, Sakai stood with “Musashi” by his side. He raised a hand.
“Hey. Are you on your way to battle?”
Sakai’s greeting was answered by Toori at the head of the group.
“Hey, principal,” he said with a smile. “If you were here, you should’ve helped us a bit. Seijun was about to cry.”
“I was not.”
“Ha ha. I’m not a student anymore. Also, it would have just irritated the pope-chancellor to see me. That’s why I’ve been hiding.”
“Are you going to stop my classmates and I, principal?”
“That would be ‘my classmates and me’.”
After responding to Asama’s comment, Sakai took a pipe case out of his pocket.
“I’m not going to stop you. I had my own fight with the pope back in the day.”
He placed the kiseru in his mouth.
“This is difficult. I’m not sure what to say at times like this. …I like saying things like ‘work hard’ or ‘do your best’. After all, doing those says nothing about whether you succeed or not. I’m not telling you to definitely achieve something. As long as you work hard and do your best, it doesn’t matter whether you actually achieve anything or not. I like that kind of lenient way of doing things.”
“Those who can achieve something will do so. They know the trick. But those who don’t know the trick need to work hard and do their best in order to buy time until they can learn the trick. In other words, don’t work hard or do your best in order to achieve something. Do it to learn the trick you need to achieve something. After all, once you know the trick, you just have to pour all your energy into that.”
“The time you spend working hard and doing your best is a break. It’s an early mock exam.”
“When you’re taking the actual exam, don’t work hard and don’t do your best. You don’t have time for that there. Simply use everything you’ve accumulated up until that point. And if you use all of that and it still isn’t enough…” He took a breath. “Then just make sure you come back alive.”
Adele asked a question as she caught up with the others.
“Is that how it was for you, principal?”
“Well, I wasn’t the principal back then. …But I had a trick to getting by on the battlefield. And that let me just barely survive.”
He smiled bitterly and breathed smoke from the corner of his mouth.
“The Far East’s academies don’t teach combat, but your teachers have done the best they could. You should have the knowledge necessary. Also, you’ve thought for yourselves about how to fight. So gather everything you have and give it your best shot. We managed and we taught you, so you should be able to manage even better.”
He indicated behind him with his chin and a sign frame appeared next to him.
“Toori, I’ve sent you Horizon’s enrollment recommendation. Take it with you. And make sure all of you come back, Horizon included.”
He received a single word of response from all of them.
And with that word, they started to walk once more.
A group watched from above as the students walked through the crowd of people on the street.
That group was the Provisional Council gathered on the starboard side of Musashi Ariadust Academy’s schoolyard.
While resting their elbows on the schoolyard fence or puffing on kiseru, they watched the people of Musashi open a path for the students. The people almost seemed to be avoiding them.
“So they really are going with them.”
True to that muttered comment, the students on the staircase and road followed the others. Almost all of the students in the academy were following them now.
Some of the normal people began to follow them to as if seeing them off or as if being sucked in.
“This will be a conflict between students. We and the other normal people can no longer do anything directly. This is the first true battle for Musashi.”
“It isn’t fair that the students get to settle everything. The other nations have no upper age limit on students, so it isn’t so bad. But in the Far East, seeing them off like this is so irritating.”
“I will do everything I can to profit here. I will use everything available to me. Young Bertoni and the Mitotsudaira family will make a fuss, but nothing says the normal people must cooperate on all fronts.”
“True,” agreed a man in a suit.
A merchant with a cross hanging from his neck spoke with a smile from next to that man.
“Masanobu-kun, how do you think your daughter, Masazumi-kun, did?”
Masanobu, the man in the suit, was not the one to answer. He had a cigar in his mouth and the men and woman across from him answered instead.
“You’re too cold to that cute girl. She’s always doubting herself. It just makes me want to protect her!”
“The secretaries even got into a fistfight over who would see her home last night, but she ended up leaving on her own.”
“She really surprised those secretaries, although she didn’t realize it herself. All of us hold different positions and our secretaries blathered on and on trying to show off to her, but she managed to combine all of it together and understand it.”
“Yes,” said Masanobu. “But she is completely useless as a politician. Conflict should be avoided, so what kind of politician causes it? Her debate essentially ended in a tie, so she has achieved nothing.”
“She avoided having us go along with what the Testament Union and K.P.A. Italia say. Also, she gave us our justification. If K.P.A. Italia refuses to back off, we can always use that justification.”
Masanobu then replied to the merchant next to him.
“But it disqualifies her from being a politician. Or at least, from being a Musashi politician like those of us on the Provisional Council.”
“I am saying she should aim to be something other than a Musashi politician,” said Masanobu plainly. “She failed to inherit a historical name and she is not sure who she is, but that inexperienced daughter of mine instinctually chose to be something other than a politician like me. Do you understand? Even a merchant can handle compromise and calculations. And we can provide advice on political decisions. In that case, what Musashi needs right now is not a Musashi politician like us or a bureaucrat council member.”
“Musashi needs a politician to act as a prime minister with absolute authority. It needs someone who will provide their king with the answer and the absolute justification he needs.”
“Konishi, do not forget that we did not interfere today. We are no longer students. So if they do not realize they hold the special privilege of being a student, we will keep it that way. And if we do not…” He brushed a hand through his hair. “How ridiculous. If they had gone with what we recommended, all responsibility would have been forced onto us.”
“Masanobu-kun, I think your expression of love is a bit too twisted.”
“That’s right. That’s right,” agreed the others.
“You’re always being mean to our secret idol. It makes me want to protect her!”
“Ho ho. Personally, just seeing a girl who looks so good cross-dressing cheers me up.”
As he was showered with boos, the corner of Masanobu’s mouth loosened.
“Are you jealous?”
As the booing intensified, Konishi spoke from next to him.
“But why didn’t you come here sooner?”
“Well, I wanted to see who Musashi’s next chancellor would be. It is unfortunate what that delay meant for my wife.”
“I heard an interesting story from Sakai-sama when he assisted me in Mikawa. This was about ten years ago and he said there was a dumb boy in Musashi.”
He took a breath.
“And that boy had a girl he liked.”
While breathing out smoke, he watched the departing group that included his daughter.
“Due to the circumstances surrounding that girl’s birth, others were always looking out for her. Soon after entering the academy’s elementary school, she was asked to write about her dream in class.”
“Everyone in the class wrote about their dream. The class had a variety of dreams: ‘I want to be the world’s greatest merchant’, ‘I want to be the world’s greatest author’, ‘I want to become a knight and protect people’, ‘I want to fill the world with curry’, ‘…’, ‘I want to be the best woman in the world’, etc. Now, this girl gave the following dream: ‘I hope everyone’s dreams come true’.”
“All of them knew their dreams would not come true. After all, they were residents of the Far East. As long as they lived in the Far East, they could have wonderful dreams, but those dreams would never come true.”
“But the dumb boy said the following: ‘I will become a king’.” Masanobu smiled. “ ‘I will become a king and create a kingdom where everyone’s dream can come true’ ‘I will become a king and create a kingdom where Horizon can have her own dream’.”
He smiled as he watched his daughter and the others.
“He probably just wanted to look good in front of the girl he liked. But that idiot was hopelessly blunt. If he wanted to make everyone’s dreams come true, becoming a king was the only way. A politician, a merchant, or an engineer wouldn’t be enough. He would have to do what the people of the Far East were not allowed to hope for. He would have to defy the Testament Union and become a king that took back the entirety of the Far East! And only that boy was able to say it.”
“I heard that the others made an oath. They said that idiot was truly an idiot, but they vowed to help him become king if he remained an idiot. And they asked him to become a king and create a kingdom where all their dreams could come true.”
“Didn’t I say it was interesting? We just might witness a king born from the Far East.”
“A part of it may have been my desire to escape from Masazumi and how horribly honest she is. But…I’m glad I came. When that boy showed his desire to be chancellor, I did everything I could to make it happen. But then Masazumi came along, was completely useless as a councilor, and started to become something else…”
“I too am inexperienced. I saw that it would end like this, so I hesitated. I wanted it, and yet I tried to push it away. …But this way is a lot more fun, isn’t it, Masazumi?”
He blew smoke from the corner of his mouth and faced forward. He looked toward the group containing his daughter and the boy who wished to be king.
“How nice.” He breathed out more smoke. “If only I were still a student!”
Konishi lightly tapped his shoulder.
When Masanobu turned around with a frown, Konishi nodded and loosened the fastener of his clothes.
“It’s not all bad. We can still take part in our own way.”
Konishi showed off the shirt under his clothes which had the face of a savage magic girl printed on the chest.
When Masanobu saw it, he and the other councilors brought a hand to their chests and closed their eyes.
“It’s a good thing they didn’t realize who that was last night.”
Toori walked with the others and entered Remorse Way.
With no fear, panic, tension, or anything else, he walked down that road, passed by the stone monument, and thought.
…Oh, that’s right.
He scratched at his head.
“My remorse is nothing compared to how thankful I am now.”
He heard the footsteps of all the people behind him and that noise seemed to push at his back.
“Neshinbara, you work with the guard unit to put together a strategy. And…Honda Futayo.”
“What do you need?”
Toori heard that voice and the sound of armor rubbing together, but he did not turn around.
“You join our school. Could you be our vice chancellor? We can deal with the formalities later, so help us out now as a temporary vice chancellor.”
“As a samurai, I serve my ruler, Horizon-sama, and not you, but if you think that would be best.”
“If you’re doing it for Horizon, that’s good enough for me. …Also, Asama.”
Asama herself was not the only one to react to her name being called.
Everyone there cowered down. Tenzou, Urquiaga, Mitotsudaira, Suzu, and even Kimi gulped as Asama’s name was called here.
But Asama lightly twisted her body to settle the breath she had gulped and then took another breath.
“What is it?”
“It looks like everyone else is scared, but don’t worry about it. Anyway, you know that thing I left with you? The thing you forbade me from using? I think I’ll need it before long.”
However, it was not Asama who responded to that.
It was Kimi. She raised her shoulders a bit, crossed her arms, and gave an expression that could be seen as a smile.
“Heh heh heh. Foolish brother, you have not forgotten something important, have you?”
“No, I haven’t, sis. I can’t do anything on my own. If something happens, I have to rely on everyone else, but I don’t blame all of you for that. Also, I will never again…”
“Think I should die.”
He turned his head to show Asama a smile.
“So could you make the preparations to put that through, Asama?”
Asama finally closed her eyes and gave a clear reply.
“You wouldn’t listen even if I said no.”
Toori then called for his sister and that sister’s voice arrived from a few steps behind him.
“Heh heh heh. Foolish brother, what is it? Are you scared? Or what? Are you giving me the right to use you as my slave for a day!? Nice!”
“Sis, have you forgotten that I always buy you a drink within three minutes? That isn’t it.”
While aware that the smile remained on his face, Toori took in a breath.
And he quickened his pace.
“If I’m rejected, could you make me breakfast just like old times? The one without all the salt.”
As he smiled, he continued speaking at the head of the group.
“Okay, let’s go, everyone. I’m relying on you.”
As the evening sun began to set over the western mountains, the K.P.A. Italia and Tres España troops deployed to the Mikawa land port sent out flight-enabled Gods of War to scout out Musashi’s group. At the same time, they began to send their front line forward.
In total they numbered 1427. Of those, approximately one thousand gathered at the western plain near the western exit from the mountain corridor. There they formed a closely packed fortress-like formation known as a Tercio. In conjunction with the aerial ships overhead, they would stop the Far Eastern forces from advancing.
At the same time as those troops advanced, the Tres Españan interrogation ship began to fill its Andamio de la Ejecución with light. That light would lead to the suicide of Mikawa Ruler Horizon Ariadust. The light would reach its peak at precisely 6:00 PM and the light would dismantle her body.
And at 5:22 PM, Musashi’s formation exited Mikawa’s mountainous region and arrived at the barrier connecting to the western plain forming the shell of the eastern mountain corridor. There, they checked over their respective equipment.
None of them spoke much, but they all understood a certain fact.
The student conflict in Mikawa and the longer conflict over the Logismoi Óplo and the Apocalypse it would lead to were about to begin.
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