Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 35
Chapter 35: The Trumpeter at the Start Line
What happens if the world changes
When that plays?
Point Allocation (Battlefield)
Horizon read a book in a room of light.
The wall behind her and the tatami mats below her were covered in curtains of light and not even their color was clear at the moment.
The book in her hand was exposed to the backlight.
…Time-wise and light-wise, this will be the last book I can read.
The book that was sinking into the light was not a hard cover. It was a thin soft cover. She recalled Masazumi carrying these. She had always carried a different one along with her thick hardcover books.
…I believe the latest title Masazumi-sama held was ‘Metal Poetry Collection – Man-Yoshu: An Introduction’.
She was currently reading a Chinese warring states mahjong book titled “Ron-mance of the Chii Kingdoms”, but she wanted to ask why the military commanders had to remove a piece of clothing when they lost. Especially since they were all men.
…Oh, Guan Yu gave General Hua Xiong an instant strip. That is one of the special rules.
At that point, she heard a noise from outside the light.
It was a low noise of wind. A group of machines had started to move beyond the wall.
…It sounds a lot like the Musashi.
These noises were a lot quieter, but they were the same type of noise. She could hear the noises disappearing into the sky. And…
“A God of War?”
The sharp sound of something ripping through the air moved into the distance.
Just as she looked up from her book, the wall spoke. It was the voice of the female student who was looking after her.
“Is something the matter?”
“I heard noises outside.”
“Are you curious?”
Horizon thought for a moment and nodded.
“I honestly have no desire to go outside, so do not worry.”
“Thank you very much. It is impossible for you to get out and it would be dangerous, so um…” She paused for a moment. “Sorry.”
“I do not understand why you are apologizing. Either way, I cannot leave, correct?”
“Testament,” replied the girl. “The field that will dismantle you is currently being tuned within that room. However, a dismantling field wall has been created just outside the room as a side effect of the decoding spell used to examine you.”
“A dismantling field wall?”
“Testament. It is a type of shell that naturally occurs when a dismantling field is gathered inside an area. It has no strength, but the field wall will decode anyone who touches it and they will be devoured by their greatest sin.”
The student took a breath.
“Everyone has a memory of great regret which they cannot deny. The wall will reproduce it and simply ‘dismantle’ the person as a sinner if they are unable to deny it. Not even a beast or ghost can escape it because their sin is carved into their very being. And a sin from one’s past cannot be denied no matter what. After all, one cannot deny the reality of what one has done.”
“Then could I save you all a lot of effort by touching that wall now?”
“We do not simply wish to dismantle you. Your Logismoi Óplo must also be extracted.” Another slight pause. “Sorry, but please stay as you are.”
Horizon nodded and looked down at her book. She had been told to stay still, so she could only obey. Once she could no longer read, she would simply close her eyes.
She could hear quite a few noises in the distance.
She wondered when she would cease to sense those noises.
Once that happened, everything would be resolved in the best possible manner. And then there would be nothing left for her to think about.
…If only I had been nothing more than a worker at that snack shop.
“Ah. Now General Yan Liang fell victim to the special rule.”
A single white cloud formed a line through the sky. It disappeared to the north at high speed.
“That’s a Tres Españan Gran Muñeca. The aerial ships over there fired a while ago, so it’s probably here to provide reconnaissance. The next time it comes by, it will be equipped for an attack. That should be when their attack really gets going. I wonder if the ones hiding on the port-side mountain will be targeted by that Gran Muñeca.”
On the top deck of Musashino’s bow, Neshinbara spoke with several sign frames opened around him. His sign frames were linked to the sign frames of the students commanding the guard unit. With the support of Michizane, his Mouse, he created a shared information network with everyone’s divine transmissions. Rather than working through a shrine, he made a short-range Ley Line connection. After seeing connection confirmations from everyone, he spoke.
“How are things over there, Naito-kun?”
The sign frame produced Naito’s voice and displayed the chest of her uniform. Her large breasts shook with every breath.
“As you can see, I’m flying through the sky on my wooden broom.”
“Who is responsible for this camera angle that makes me want to call the night watchmen?”
“Oh, Ga-chan is holding the divine transmission spell while she sits behind me. …Um, Ga-chan? I recommend waiting until tonight to grope my breasts.”
“Heh heh. I want to do it now, Margot. After all, we might all be about to die.”
“Naruze-kun, could you avoid any negative comments before battle?” asked Neshinbara.
“Oh, don’t worry. Margot and I will survive. But could you give me your skull if you die, Neshinbara? Edel Brocken is having a sale where they buy catalysts from you.”
“My life plan is to become an author, die in my home, and be buried in a proper grave.”
“Make sure to give your gravestone a proper epitaph. Something like ‘here lies four-eyes who was too attached to his skull’.”
Neshinbara decided to ignore the Technohexen’s nonsense and he moved on.
“Naito-kun, if I may speak with you.”
“Eh? Oh, are you sure you don’t need anything more with Ga-chan?”
…Quite sure. And can you do something about that chest-focused camera angle?
“How do things look up there?”
“Um, I can share map data from my Technomagie spell connection, right?”
Neshinbara operated a sign frame and transmitted the map from Michizane’s information bank over a Ley Line connection. Rather than a Shinto-specific divine transmission connection, he used the shared connection that Naito was sending her video from.
“I’ve sent the map. This is shared, so anything you write will be sent back here.”
“Okay. This is what I see.”
Naruze’s hand appeared on the screen and she produced a pen from her sleeve.
The pen was used for spells and it was divided between the tip and the shaft. As she held it out, the white emblem of Edel Brocken was visible.
“Right now, the Mikawa area looks like ▽ with south pointing up. The Musashi is at the bottom tip of the ▽.”
A red circle appeared around the Musashi’s land port on the map.
And then a red line extended from the circle heading toward the normal land port diagonally up and to the right.
“The central space of the ▽ is a mountain. There are mountains to either side as well. Heading up and to the right takes you through the western mountain pass leading to the normal land port. But about halfway to the land port is the mountain barrier. From there to the land port is the ‘western plain’ used to travel between the Musashi and the ships at the normal land port. The path up to there is dangerous and narrow, so Gods of War cannot traverse it. Trade with the normal port is handled by sending ships to the end of the western plain and traveling by foot and horse from there on.”
As she spoke, the red line continued extending. It was narrow along the mountain pass, but it grew thicker in the western plain and finally stopped at the open plateau of the normal land port.
“Horizon is at this land port. It is about seven kilometers away. That’s a long way, but it can be traveled quickly using acceleration charms. And…”
A line extended east from the land port. It moved from right to left along the top of the ▽.
“This path leads to the bay created at Mikawa. The abandoned outskirts of the city are there too.”
The red line traveled down the left diagonal line of the ▽ and toward the Musashi’s land port.
“This is the main eastern road to Mikawa that Masazumi and Principal Sakai used yesterday.”
Once that line was drawn, the ▽ shape was complete.
Then, two lines were drawn on the normal land port.
“At the top is the interrogation ship Horizon is on and on the bottom is K.P.A. Italia’s Regno Unito. Both have landed.”
Next, three lines were drawn next to each other on the western plain.
Two were on the normal land port side of the plain while the third was on top of the mountain on the western border of the plain.
“Tres España’s guard ships – namely, the frigates not shot down last night – are floating above the western plain’s western mountain. We were right not to send out any of the mobile transport ships. They would have been attacked the instant they rose into the air.”
“They saw our God of War fire earlier, so they can’t carelessly approach either. Of course, they can fire while outside of our range three times over.”
“What about their land unit?”
Before his question was answered, another line appeared on the western plain.
“A one thousand man unit has formed Tres España’s famous Tercio formation. They have eight mobile cannons. We’ve also spotted some troops numbering less than a company over toward the land port.”
“I see,” muttered Neshinbara. “You normally want three units for the Tercio, so they must be short on manpower as well.”
He then understood the meaning of the line Naruze had drawn.
“They don’t need to win. They just have to hold us back until Ariadust-kun’s suicide is complete. To do that, they need to do two things: seal off the land and seal off the air.”
Kimi then asked a question while leisurely drinking tea at the table behind him.
“Hey, doujin author. Will my foolish brother and the others really not be able to tear-cio through that Tercio formation?”
“Well, the Tercio is a major formation with a thick oblong layout of pikemen surrounded by musketeers. It is a fortress-like formation with the musket units placed at the four corners. It is slow, but it is excellent at defending and it does not require great skill from the soldiers. For a combined K.P.A. Italia and Tres España unit, this is probably the safest and most effective formation. They also have cannons, so…”
“Just cut to the chase: is there any way to break it?”
“In Holland and Sweden, they have managed to oppose it in a quick attack with low numbers by using increased firepower and rapid fire. But that’s just the standard. There are plenty of other ways.”
“Dropping a ship from the sky. The transport ships accompanying the Musashi would do the trick. Fortresses and cities have protective barriers, so it usually won’t work on them, but it would be plenty for a closely-packed formation out on a field,” said Neshinbara nonchalantly. “But that won’t work here. Their aerial ships are prepared to fire on any ship we send from the land port.”
“They will fire on a transport ship just for rising into the air? How intolerant. If this is a confrontation between students, shouldn’t they only target the Musashi and Okutama since the academy is there?”
“I think they’ll start firing on other ships in addition to the transport ships. Have you ever heard of ‘stray shots’? Those can be intentional.”
“Of course I know about that. That’s a shot that leads to marriage via pregnancy. You’re more indecent than you look.”
“That is not what it means!!” He took a breath. “Anyway, once they start firing, I predict that God of War will be back with its full equipment. Our port side is blocked from their view by the mountain in between the land ports, so that God of War will likely be in charge of attacking and holding us in check. Naito-kun, Naruze-kun, I need you two to hold off that God of War. The Musashi can’t move right now because we are preparing for unified control over the ship holding the people of Mikawa.”
“How long will that last?”
After Naruze’s question, a new divine transmission intruded on the sign frame. It displayed a staticky image of “Musashi’s” face.
“The residential ship from Mikawa is currently attaching to the center of the port side. The ship’s balance calculations can be done instantly, but it cannot actually fly until the basic complement of water, fuel, and supplies are loaded. The current expected completion time is 6:02 PM. Over.”
“Then we’ll leave as soon as we rescue Ariadust-kun.”
Neshinbara sighed. He displayed a diagram of the Tercio on a sign frame while giving a few instructions to different people.
“The soldiers have it tough. No matter how powerful the God of War, mechanical dragon, or hero, they can’t seal off a large space or occupy a city. That means each academy needs to prepare a large number of soldiers, but modern battles are too harsh for them. The days when the heroes could settle everything in one-on-one battles were a lot safer.”
While drinking tea at the table set behind him, Kimi turned toward him.
“Heh heh heh. That is not your problem, four-eyes. That is why you people on the Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers exist. How about you write a novel with you going at it one-on-one with your equal in K.P.A. Italia or Tres España? In a homoerotic way, of course.”
“Could you stop asking me things I can’t agree to?”
He took in a breath and placed his fingers on his sign frame’s divine transmission device.
“Can you all hear me? With some information and advice from the guard unit, I’ve put together a basic plan. I will send it to you, but I have something to say as the tactical leader.”
“I doubt any of you like war. That may just be my naiveté talking, though.”
Those helping the people of Musashi evacuate below the surface heard his voice coming from the loudspeakers on the walls.
“But if you accept that there is value in living life to its fullest, you should find plenty of value in a battlefield where doing anything less will get you killed. I do not know whether you are freely taking part or if you were forced into it, but let’s look at this positively. If you only focus on the value for yourself, war can be wonderful entertainment.”
Others listened while leaving the Musashi and running down various routes with acceleration charms in hand.
“Well, everyone? Have you raised all your death flags? Have you laid all your foreshadowing? Are you prepared to follow through on that foreshadowing? Do you have a friend who will save you when you are in danger? Do you have a name to shout when you despair? Do you have a secret technique to turn everything around at the last second? Do you hold the cheap yet grand belief that you are a hero? And most importantly…”
“Do you have somewhere to return to, you cast of characters?”
“Then I’ll explain the plot. I hate stories where nothing happens. I love stories with ups and downs and where everything grows more and more exciting. So…”
Everyone watched the sign frames opened near their faces. The route for them to take from the Musashi appeared on the battlefield maps there.
Neshinbara removed his finger from the sign frame in front of him.
He had just finished drawing the route with his index finger.
“It’s a straight line.” He took a breath. “This will be a group battle fighting over the control of the battlefield, but it will also be an individual battle between the heroes who try to destroy the other side’s control or protect their own side’s control. And this battle will also include powerful machines such as mechanical dragons or Gods of War. The powerful nations of K.P.A. Italia and Tres España have prepared a sturdy formation, great heroes, aerial ships, and Gods of War. If we can destroy them, take back Horizon Ariadust, and secure the Logismoi Óplo, every nation will be forced to focus on the real power the disarmed Musashi possesses.”
“Will you be going, you cast of characters? Go for the sake of my book of ideas rather than that boring history book known as the Testament. You only have to rescue the heroine and we’ll reach our happy ending. Just head forward without hesitation, create an exciting story, and pave the path to the sequel. And how about you say something, protagonist?”
A group stopped near the exit from the western mountain pass muttered to themselves.
They were just another hundred meters from the barrier forming the exit from the mountain pass. The western plain was just on the other side. The barrier’s gate was open, three aerial warships were floating in the sky on the southern end of the plain, and closely-packed soldiers were visible below those ships.
That was the Tercio formation.
The students of K.P.A. Italia and Tres España formed a group of a thousand. The students in front wore black uniforms and the ones in back wore vermillion uniforms, so there was a clear divide of color despite being so closely packed. The center was colored vermillion and the left and right were black.
The main unit of pikemen was surrounded by musketeers and larger musket units were gathered at the four corners.
The Musashi students viewing them from a distance were the combat members which primarily meant the guard unit. Tenzou was there, Noriki was there, Adele was there, and Persona-kun was there.
“What a pain,” said Adele next to Tenzou. “We have about two hundred, but they have five times that. They predicted that we would use a concentrated attack to open a path.”
She wore thick armor and Tenzou turned toward her.
“Adele-dono, I had never seen your mobile shell before. …It is very thickly armored.”
“Unlike the high-speed assault units popular these days, this is a heavy armor unit based on an extremely old type. The engine is made so it can only walk. My father left it for me, but it’s so hard to use that this is my first actual battle in it. I apologize in advance for any problems.”
Everyone lowered their head at that last comment.
“If only Naomasa and Mitotsudaira were here,” sighed Noriki.
“This is out of range for the God of War and Mitotsudaira-dono said she had to prepare for later. …Also, I don’t think even Mitotsudaira-dono could handle this head on.”
Tenzou looked at the Tercio formation. The musketeers were already holding up their guns. The pike units at the front of the main unit were starting to produce white glowing cross-style shields measuring two meters square.
“Those are the Catholic impact- and slash-resistant spell shields. The musketeer club sometimes fires on those during after-school practice, but they’re really, really hard to break through.”
“I see,” said everyone in the guard unit. They all checked the various types of armor they wore. “Well, leave this to us. We may not be able to form as tightly packed a formation, but our smaller numbers give us greater mobility. We can accomplish something as a diversion. The rest of you should refrain from fighting until you reach the land port.”
Tenzou’s worried comment produced a laugh from the second in command.
“This is far better than fighting fellow Far Easterners on someone else’s command.”
As he said that, Noriki spoke up while standing casually.
“Where is the protagonist that Neshinbara mentioned?”
Hearing his quiet voice, everyone exchanged a glance.
They all suddenly realized Toori was indeed missing. But that was why they all looked in a certain direction. They turned toward the 100 meter wide valley known as the western plain.
He was there. Toori defenselessly passed through the barrier gate, stopped, and turned toward the rest of the group.
“C’mon, what’re you doing? Hurry it up. They’re waiting for us over there.”
“Waaaah! What are you talking about!? And why are you going on ahead!?”
“What do you mean ‘why’? That’s where we’re headed. Why are you all hiding?”
Toori pointed toward the Tercio formation about three hundred meters away where all of the enemy soldiers were exchanging a glance. They all looked to the commanders of their respective units. And before long…
Just as a trumpet sounded and a volley of gunfire began, the aerial ships began firing from the air.
Those loud noises indicated the start of the battle.
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