Horizon:Volume 1B Chapter 36
Chapter 36: Communicator between Two People
What kind of communication
Can be achieved in a fistfight?
Point Allocation (New Sensation)
The battlefield began to move.
Voices shook the air and footsteps shook the earth.
Gunshots rang out, smoke scattered through the air, and those who were hit fell to the ground.
Some moved out of the way of the collapsing people, some continued forward, but no one stayed still.
In the western plain, the Musashi forces split into two groups: a small formation mostly composed of Musashi’s guard unit and a scattered diversion unit led by Tenzou. Those two groups began to battle the Tercio.
Musashi’s formation started toward the front left of the Tercio. They were targeting the seam between the corner musket unit and the primary pike unit. They lowered down, activated their defensive charms, and advanced along a zigzag route.
However, the amount of Blessings given to the charms decreased each time they purified the speed of the enemy bullets. Each student had about five charms, but that was not enough.
“Don’t fully rely on your charms! Lower down, bring any bulletproof armor to the front, and spread out!”
While lowering down to the point of almost falling over, they advanced. And they were supported by Tenzou’s diversion unit.
Tenzou and the others move in an arc along the front and center of the Tercio and they repeatedly approached and fell back. They threw weapons such as kunai and quickly fired small bows as they moved. They were not expecting their attacks to accomplish anything. They were merely meant to prevent the column at the front of the Tercio from focusing.
But all they were doing was approaching and creating a diversion.
They were not eliminating their enemies.
Musashi’s guard unit was primarily equipped with spears and swords, so they could only fight once they approached.
As one student took too long swapping out charms, he was shot in the right shoulder and blown backwards.
Someone clicked their tongue toward the enemy, tossed an activated charm toward the collapsed student, and continued forward.
They could only continue on.
Meanwhile, Tenzou and his dozen or so companions fell back while throwing kunai. They could hear the bullets flying through the air nearby.
“Do not fall back too far!” said Tenzou.
An enemy ship was visible overhead. The giant ship waited above the Tercio formation. It was intended to handle any transport ships sent from the Musashi, but it was equipped with cannons that could fire down on the ground.
“Go too far and that will fire on us!”
Tenzou glanced back toward the barrier at the entrance to the western mountain pass. The gate was destroyed.
It had been fired on the instant Toori had been spotted. They had frantically charged into the western plain and avoided the danger.
…But they were not trying to hit us. They were trying to destroy the barrier behind us.
That would prevent any reinforcements from arriving through the mountain pass and cut off their escape route.
The enemy was attempting to completely destroy them. If a knight or God of War showed up now, the enemy likely thought they could restrain them with defensive spells.
They were sure of their victory. As such, K.P.A. Italia and Tres España’s Broadcast Committees were likely broadcasting the situation to the world.
…And then there is our situation.
The Musashi could not move as it secured the energy needed to depart. It was an unpleasant period of time. The transport ships accompanying the Musashi were also immobilized while the enemy aerial ships were targeting the Musashi.
Every nation in the world would be watching that scene. The Musashi could do nothing due to its size and it was faced with the closely-packed formation that the nations of Europe were still using.
…It is a solid formation and a terrible match for us!
It could be worn down bit by bit using long-distance attacks, but the Far East avoided possession of firearms due to their required disarmament. Bows were allowed for sports, but firearms were only allowed for the clans or forces with legitimate historical reasons.
The Matsudaira clan was allowed the possession of firearms, but it was not enough to put together an official unit.
And so they needed to get close. If they could not, there was nothing they could do.
That was why Tenzou supported the Musashi formation that included Toori. He threw kunai, drew the aim of the enemies targeting the others’ defenses, and watched as his fellow students were shot.
The formation approached within one hundred meters. They only had one option.
They all cried out as the head of the formation crossed the hundred meter line.
In that instant, Tenzou saw the enemies take a sudden action.
With the sudden sound of a trumpet, the Tercio slowly but surely began to move.
They fell back.
As he heard the rumbling of their footsteps, the Tercio most definitely moved away.
They did not move far.
But the entire formation moved far enough to bring something else to the forefront: a cannon.
As Tenzou watched, a great noise rushed toward Toori and the rest of the charging Musashi formation.
The cannon fired from only one hundred meters away.
All but one of the people making up Musashi’s formation reacted in time. The second-in-command and the rest of the guard unit got down on the ground as they had been trained to do, Toori had his head held down by Noriki, and Persona-kun frantically leaped to the side after seeing everyone else’s reactions.
“Eh? Ah? What is everyone doing? Huh?”
As Adele arrived at the very back in her mobile shell, she saw everyone else getting down on the ground.
“What? Are you…sliding?”
Just as she looked forward, the cannon hit her head-on.
A metallic noise reverberated throughout the western plain and into the sky.
An instant later, everyone there heard Adele’s voice.
It was a scream that could not exactly be called a scream.
But the Musashi group on the ground and the Tercio’s soldiers all looked toward the mobile shell whose waist had fallen to the ground.
Even if it was a field cannon, it was made to destroy barricades, buildings, and rock walls.
Rather than a bullet or cannonball, it used a smooth shell with a streamlined front end.
It used a normal Testamento Firma charm to fire the shell with compressed air and a single charm should have been enough to pierce a twenty centimeter stone wall.
“Ow ow ow ow…”
For a bit, the blue mobile shell shook its helm back and forth as it trembled from the impact.
“Ow… What is wrong with you!? Why would you fire a cannon at someone out of the blue like that!?”
Inside the helm, Adele’s glasses had partially slipped from her face, her bangs were in disarray, and a bit of snot dripped down her tearful face. However, her tears were more from surprise than pain.
“Th-that’s dangerous! I can’t believe you!”
The first to react to her protests were those in the Tercio.
“A heavily armored vassal?” said the commander next to the cannon. “How outdated can you get!?”
The confusion remained on his face as he gave direct instructions to the student operating the cannon. Three charms were loaded into it. After some hesitation, a fourth was loaded.
“Eh? Um, uh… Owww!!”
With a great roar, the second shot hit as well. The intense sound of impact filled the air and sparks flew.
“W-wah! Th-that scared me! It really, really scared me!”
As she shouted, the shell spun through the air and fell into the small mountain forest to the east.
Meanwhile, Toori opened a sign frame.
“Neshinbara, Adele’s looking pretty invincible here. Any idea what’s going on?”
On the bow of Musashino, Neshinbara tilted his head at Toori’s question.
“I’m not sure. Normally, a direct hit would do a lot of damage.”
But someone else was watching him from a short distance.
Yoshinao sat at a table as he listened to the battle reports.
He recalled what Adele had said earlier.
“Come to think of it…”
…There was a vassal with a rather old mobile shell in our territory.
The man had referred to himself as the Eternal Vassal and his vassal family had long protected that territory surrounded by Tres España and Hexagone Française.
…He supposedly protected that territory even when there were no knights.
Constantly modifying the mobile shell to handle any kind of enemy had led to a certain result.
“It is nothing but heavy armor to act as a wall.”
Thick armor that could repel any attack was given the mobility of a mobile shell so that it could just barely move.
It was not all that useful on the battlefield. If it could not move, one could simply ignore it or get close and attack at a weak point. Modern battlefields focused on mobility and modern mobile shells could fly and charge at the enemy ranks. This old-style mobile shell focused on defense so much that it could only walk and could barely move its arms, so it could not keep up with the speed of the battlefield.
Even when protecting a castle or city, the individual defensive power of a vassal or knight was not as important as the spell defenses of the castle or city as a whole.
Due to a need to protect, that obsolete device had not been thrown out and had been further specialized as the generations went on. The result had been the Eternal Vassal’s mobile shell.
The girl named Adele had said her father had given her the shell. In that case, the design principle would be the same: it could not move at all, but it could protect.
…And it is also a feminine model. How very interesting.
Feminine mobile shells tended to be given feminine body lines and shorter heights. Its ability to deflect enemy attacks, especially those from the front, would be greater than that of her father’s generation.
Up front, Neshinbara tilted his head.
“Knight and vassal armor has been mass-produced lately, but they used to be custom made. To be honest, I don’t really understand this, but I think the era has come full circle.”
“What do you mean?” asked Tenzou.
“This extremely heavy armor design was made to block any kind of shell back in an age before everything became so high-speed, but that same design has suddenly become useful again. Of course, something that cannot move will not be useful as a fighter in the modern high-speed and high-mobility battlefield.”
“But it can function as a wall.”
“A-a wall?” asked Adele. “What do you mean by that!?”
“Honey, what has you so happy?”
“Nothing,” he replied to his wife. He straightened his back and returned his expression to normal. “We must not say we are happy. Not while Musashi’s representatives are fighting!!”
As Adele staggered from the second hit, she was half in tears.
…I-I have to persevere! You withstood it. You put in a good effort. You did well. Good job.
While praising herself, she stood firm.
Her father had often said that perseverance was an important job of a vassal.
When she had heard that, she had assumed he meant it could be hard to go along with what one’s knight superiors said.
…I-I never thought he meant physical perseverance!!
She then realized that the others had vanished. Huh? she wondered while unsteadily looking around.
“Why are you all behind me?”
“C’mon, don’t worry about it, Adele! We’re all supporting you!”
“Oh, thank you for that kind of moral support… Wait. Don’t tell me that support is also physic- Oww! A-a third shot!? Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!”
“Bow wow wow wow wow! Are you a dog or something? Anyway, that’s amazing. You’re getting hit pretty good, but you still deflect it. You’re like a God of War.”
“N-no, the armor is being worn down quite a bit! The upper armor will be destroyed after another twenty shots!”
The estimate of twenty put a grimace on the faces of the Tercio students.
Huh? thought Adele as the others began whispering behind her.
She had a bad feeling about where this was headed. She tilted her helmet in suspicion and saw Persona-kun peering at her.
…Oh, come to think of it, we’re helmet brothers right now.
“Um, Persona-kun? Why are you looking at me like that? Oh, and sorry, but why are you, uh, putting away the nail-covered bat you took from your personal armory? You’re lifting me up from behind? Um, uh… a shield? You’re using me as a shield, aren’t you!?”
As she was lifted into the air and pointed toward the Tercio, she heard Toori’s voice behind her.
“Okay, Pe-yan can handle the mobility, so don’t worry about being so slow, Adele. Your value lies in something other than speed right now.”
“Ah! That was actually pretty good! …Um, why are you running forward? Wait! They have two cannons now! They’ve doubled their motivation and…uh…I’m a pacifist, so…don’t shoot! L-look, I can’t protect myself right now!! I can’t resist!”
A short moment passed.
But something drowned out her shout.
The aerial ship floating overhead suddenly began to fire.
The many noises and shaking of the air were pointed north.
“Are they trying to keep the Musashi from sending anything here!?”
As they all groaned worriedly, “Musashi’s” voice came via divine transmission.
“Do not worry.” She took in a breath and regulated her breathing. “We will stop this bombardment. Over.”
That statement was followed by intense noises coming from the direction of the Musashi.
The sounds of fired shells led to repeated sounds of impact in the air above the starboard side and center of the Musashi.
But they were not the sounds of the ship being hit. They were the sounds of the shells fired by Tres España’s guard ship being deflected above the ship. Clear sounds rang out, sparks flew, and the shells fell after either shattering or being crushed. Newly created gravitational barriers stopped a few of the falling fragments and lowered their speed.
Those barriers were being operated by a maid standing on Musashino’s bridge.
It was “Musashi”.
She was as expressionless as ever.
“The academy rules say only a student may confront a student, but they likely intend to interpret the shells falling on the city as ‘stray shots’. Over.”
She spread her arms in the air and controlled the production of gravitational barriers.
She stopped the shells.
Noise filled the air and sparks scattered.
As multiple shells arrived at high speed, she moved her fingers as if playing a keyboard.
And “Musashi” was not the only one intercepting the shells. Several figures stood on the derrick masts of Shinagawa, the first starboard ship.
“That must be the Musashi Ariadust Academy archery club and the others with sharpshooting spells. Over.”
They used a standard method for anti-air interception.
They would first target the shells so they could be tracked and intercepted.
To do this, those on the second mast from the front spread spell curtains over the dangerous airspace the shells would pass through on their path to the ship. Over a wide space in the air, three vertical and four horizontal curtains of light were created. They came from a spell that would track any shell that passed through them.
Next, the different firing squads atop the masts at the back of the ship were tasked with different expanded frames. They were to shoot down any shells that passed through those frames.
Lastly, any missed shells, ones considered dangerous despite passing outside the frames, or ones that were not wholly destroyed, would be handled by “Musashi”.
The students’ voices were audible in the sky.
All of them had been too nervous to fight on the front lines. In fact, most of the normal students were lacking in combat training and had insufficient physical and mental strength. But even they were able to handle defense or other work on the ships.
“Musashi” looked starboard where the students were intercepting the shells from the masts of Shinagawa.
…I have determined this is most welcome.
They were protecting their own everyday lives and thus the Musashi itself. As such, she had no objection to helping them.
But she received a report just as she caught an attack that slipped through.
“ ‘Musashi’-sama! I have detected a high-energy ether change from the Tres Españan guard ship!” “Asakusa” communicated via a simple sign frame. “It is coming from their main ether cannon! It is 25cm/38 calibers and is spell operated! Over.”
A moment later, light burst from the southwestern sky.
Those in the western plain saw the light in the sky.
The Tres Españan guard ship floating in the air – a frigate – fired the light that demonstrated it was a warship. The light came from an ether cannon that transformed ether into “destruction” and fired it along with a shell.
With a noise like the sky being torn in two and a massive explosion of steam, the beam of light shot toward the Musashi.
That light flew in a curving trajectory as if it had been thrown. Unlike a normal cannon, this ether cannon could be given various effects via spell manipulation. Homing shots and mid-flight directional changes were entirely possible.
The light continued stabbing through the sky even after enveloping two of the tracking curtains of light deployed by the students.
It maintained its energy and flew over Musashino to reach Okutama.
“Musashi” made an instantaneous decision as the ether-enveloped shell arrived. She repeatedly opened gravitational barriers in the air.
An ensemble of crashing, bursting, and shattering sounds was created.
The gravitational barriers were destroyed and the last one ultimately shattered.
But the ether shell’s trajectory altered slightly so it passed just barely above Okutama.
While leaving a burned color in the air behind it, the light struck the mountains beyond.
With a great roar, the mountain was destroyed down to the roots of the trees over several dozen meters.
“Musashi” did not turn back toward the uprooted trees or the dirt and sand rising like smoke.
She silently remained on guard while “Asakusa” spoke from the sign frame.
“ ‘Musashi’-sama! Well done! Over.”
“No, that was due to their poor aim. They must not be able to see us at the base of the mountain. I have determined the next shot will be a direct hit. However…”
A pale light was visible in the southwestern sky. The ether cannon was preparing its second shot.
It was going to fire.
The second shot would fly in a chopping trajectory that would certainly hit Okutama.
Once it was fired, there was no chance of avoiding it or deflecting it.
But “Musashi” turned forward toward a girl standing on the front mast of Shinagawa.
She wore a white and red outfit with a red binder skirt on either side of her waist.
“Asama-sama. Please handle this. Over.”
“Okay,” said Asama over divine transmission. “The Asama Shrine will use its power to protect the Musashi.”
With the evening sky behind her, a figure in red and white stood in an elevated place.
This was Shinagawa, the first starboard ship of Musashi. The one standing atop the first derrick mast with her black hair whipping in the wind was Asama.
To avoid air resistance, the top of the mast was shaped like the cross-section of a leaf. Her left and right binder skirt, which functioned as a shrine maiden’s red hakama, expanded.
The process only took an instant. Each piece of the skirt’s hem moved and the tips displayed torii-shaped emblems. As those emblems displayed, each binder fixed her position in space and stopped moving.
Then the picks on either side of her white and red shoes drove in the floor. As soon as they did, the two tail binders stretching from the back of her waist auspuffed a shimmering of heat.
Hanami danced lightly atop her shoulder and spoke.
“Position purification complete.”
“Thanks. …Now, then.”
Asama’s next action was a well-practiced one.
She pulled two bows from behind her waist. After lining them up left and right, she raised them in front of her.
She removed the left bow’s string from the top and bottom and removed the right bow’s string only on the bottom. She then grabbed and pulled the string hanging down from the right bow and attached it to the bowstring reel at the bottom of the left bow.
This attached the left and right bows together top and bottom. The right one was on top and the left on bottom.
“Shirasago Enterprises ‘Umetsubaki’.”
The wrist of the gauntlet covering her left arm had a hole on the thumb side and the little finger side. She stuck a bow into each hole and fixed them in place.
With the two bows connected vertically, she created the single large bow named Umetsubaki.
With a light shake of the wrist, the top and bottom bowstring reels spun and the tautness was automatically tuned.
It was finished in an instant.
Asama’s actions seemed casual or natural as she held up the large bow.
And the arrow she pulled from her back could easily have been called a stake.
She nocked the meter-long stake that was covered in a white outer shell.
She let out a breath and raised the bow to shooting height.
When she took in the next breath, she quickly drew back the arrow.
The sound of the drawn bowstring reached its limit and then stopped.
But that was not all. As Hanami clapped atop her shoulder, she spoke.
“Hanami, I want to purify any impurities on its path that will lower its speed or cause its trajectory to stray, so set it to use two Blessings for five hundred meters.”
As Hanami clapped, Umetsubaki began to change. The upper and lower bows began to transform such that the bow portion protruded forward around the original grips.
The tension increased and the burden on Asama’s fingertips and arm increased along with it.
She clenched her teeth and raised her eyebrows as she endured it.
She ignored the sweat on her brow while strength gathered in her eyes.
As Umetsubaki formed an upper and lower V shape as if bending in the wind, her green eye looked into the distance.
In that instant, the light arrived.
The beam from the ether cannon arrived before the sound did.
But even as that light drew near, Asama did not waver. She withstood it all until she heard the metallic noise of Umetsubaki completing its transformation. And at that point…
She released it.
Umetsubaki’s tension was released as if repelled and both the bow and bowstring split the air. A slicing sound rang out, the great speed created a mist around her, and the mist became a wave decorating her red and white outfit. The mist danced in the wind, Asama’s red and white was visible through it, and it finally vanished like scattering flowers.
By the time she finished her follow-through pose and took a breath, the arrow stake had already reached its target.
An immense shattering of light filled the sky.
The ether cannon’s attack was purified and smashed to pieces.
Cheers rose from within and atop the Musashi.
They expressed praise for Asama and relief that their safety was assured.
And two people heard those voices from the sky.
Naito flew above the Musashi on a wooden broom with Naruze riding tandem with her.
She turned toward the Tres Españan guard ship, which did not fire a third shot.
“The Musashi is an aerial city ship, so its defenses are on the level of a fortress city. During its Great Renovation, the Testament Union didn’t allow installation of anti-air equipment to use against pirates, but they did allow defensive barriers. Shrine spells like Asamachi’s are also allowed as long as they are for monster extermination or defense, so we can withstand a fair bit. Of course, it’s because they know that that they aren’t approaching and are just making sure we can’t move.”
Naruze looked toward a spot near the bottom surface of the Musashi. On the back of each ship was a spell shaft driver that the engine division used to eject materials. One of those was currently activated.
“Naomasa making a show of preparing to send out her God of War seems to have done the trick. She can also adjust the angle to a certain extent, so a Kraken-class frigate isn’t about to fly above us.”
“Thanks to that, they’ve been indecently poking at us like this. What about K.P.A. Italia’s white one over there?”
“The Regno Unito is the pope-chancellor’s ship, so its weapons have been quiet. Its closer to being a galley and the spell cannon on the front is its main cannon, so it has to face the Musashi to fire on us. It’ll probably head out if the Musashi begins to fly.”
Meanwhile, the shellfire grew more numerous once more.
Gravitational barriers appeared and disappeared between them and the Musashi. Every time they did, a clear sound raced through the air.
“It feels like having our head forced down. I don’t like it.”
Naruze used the white pen in her hand to draw on a manuscript crop mark frame floating in the air. A still image of Neshinbara appeared in the top right corner of the frame. She surrounded his face with lines to form a panel. An image of him looking to the side appeared next to it and she surrounded it with a panel as well.
“Neshinbara, how are things there?”
A speech bubble appeared to provide his answer.
“Our preparations are going well. We should be in position soon. Urquiaga-kun must have nothing else to do because even he’s helping out. The work in elevated places is dangerous, so his help is most welcome.”
“You make a long storyboard.”
Someone then intruded on the line. A panel in a small frame appeared with “Musashi” inside it.
“Naito-sama, Naruze-sama, our sound detection picked up on the engine of a God of War just now. It is the clockwork-conversion engine of the Gods of War made by K.P.A. Italia’s Fino Alba brand. After the current covering fire, a single craft is likely to attack. Please intercept it as planned. Over.”
“That cross-legged guy must be pretty motivated to come here on his own.”
Naito gave a small nod.
“We’ll have to do something. It would be very bad if it slipped past the gravitational barriers and fired on the surface. After all, the Musashi’s living areas are made light and divided into blocks, so they’re pretty fragile. And if the people panic, more problems will come. We need to do something, Ga-chan.”
Naito’s voice had a slight low tone to it.
Meanwhile, a shimmering appeared from the land port.
The red and white four-winged God of War wore aerial combat armored clothing.
“Here it comes, Margot!”
Naito nodded and prepared herself along with Naruze.
She placed her hands together on the wooden broom she rode and pressed her forehead against it as if crouching down. Behind her, Naruze held out the pen in her hand.
“I never thought we would end up fighting Tsirhc as Technohexen.”
Naito gave no response.
Naruze smiled while watching her back and raised wings.
“Sorry, Naito. I see us as us, so let’s work together, keep living, and show them what we can do.” She took a breath. “Technomagie are the spells shared in secret that cannot be sufficiently studied because the Tsirhc religion fears them, views them as an enemy, and prioritizes their destruction. Musashi has been an excellent hideout.”
As she spoke, they watched the enemy approach and they moved in opposite vertical directions. Naito and her broom moved up into the air. Naruze and her pen threw themselves toward the earth.
“And so there is meaning in exposing our status as Technohexen in order to fight for Musashi’s safety!!”
The two joined voices in the air.
And with metallic noises, their Technohexen equipment was summoned behind them.
Naruze spread her black wings.
Naito spread her gold wings.
Their Technohexen outfits opened like flowers in midair. Naruze’s was white and Naito’s black.
The center of the development was the wooden broom and the pen.
A yellow light flashed in the stone embedded in their respective tools and an alarm sounded.
“Expanding allotted space. Everyone, please be careful.”
White and black witch outfits spread out in midair. They both looked like spiders with their legs spread, but as they expanded, they also looked like butterflies or birds. They quickly wrapped around the two of them.
At the same time, their current uniforms carried out an automatic hard point disrobing.
A field built into the witch outfit expansion process removed and stored the uniforms. The space opened by the summoning stored the uniforms and removed or filled in the unnecessary empty space.
Their skin was exposed for just an instant. The very next moment, the white and black inner suits forming the foundation of the witch outfits had wrapped tightly around their bodies.
The inner suits had a simple shape, so there was almost no difference in their coloration at this point.
But that quickly changed.
The hard point parts which acted as base points for equipment and fixed the inner suits in place attached around their necks, on the sides of their chests, and on the sides of their waists. They were all rectangular or square, but black-winged Naruze’s were white and gold-winged Naito’s were black.
Each part contained the Edel Brocken emblem and either the words “Weiss Fräulein” or the words “Schwarz Fräulein”.
White and black waves then raced around the two of them. The wind flipped up the skirt, stole, and other parts of their witch outfits. As all those attached to the hard point parts, they both spoke.
“Come out, Schwarz Fräulein!
“Come on, Weiss Fräulein!”
Steel parts appeared around the broom and pen they held up.
These were the Verstärken Schale for Technohexen equipment.
The brush portion of Naito’s broom was surrounded by a vernier nozzle and the rest was wrapped in a long and narrow ship’s hull.
Meanwhile, Naruze’s pen was surrounded by a long spear-like collection of parts.
Bolts were fired into the air to fix all the parts into place.
The rest finished in a series of instants.
They were both wrapped in black and white witch outfits, Naito was given a black three-cornered hat, and Naruze was given a white bonnet.
The bolts assembled the specialized Verstärken Schale around their respective tools.
With metallic noises, white and black ether light ran through the air and the joints to complete the process.
Gold-winged Naito held a narrow ship-like wooden broom as a Schwarz Hexen.
Black-winged Naruze held a long spear-like pen as a Weiss Hexen.
The two Technohexen exchanged a glance.
They both straddled their weapons and looked up into the sky.
“Draw some speed, Weiss Fräulein!”
“Accelerate, Schwarz Fräulein!!”
The two of them raced into the sky to pursue the flying God of War.
A giant white ship had the emblem of K.P.A. Italia on the side.
It was Regno Unito. On the bow, which was shaped much like a rectangle, a table had been set up and a man in a white cloak sat at it.
He wrote a letter without listening to the steel noises from the north or looking toward the ships producing them. He was writing to the kings and chancellors of various lands and other influential people with an interest in Catholicism. He signed one of them as he spoke to himself.
“ ‘I hope to eventually visit you up north.’ …I really am terrible at polite language.”
Innocentius finally looked up into the sky dyed with the colors of evening.
“What is going on, hm?”
“Oh, yes,” replied the female student underneath the nearby tent.
She appeared from next to the desk covered in divine transmission equipment because an upperclassman pushed her out.
“A first year? What city’s academy are you from? I can’t believe they would send someone like you to the front lines.”
“Oh, I, um, your holiness… Genova.”
The girl standing between him and the divine transmission desk seemed to wither before him, so he spoke with no change of expression.
“It doesn’t matter here that Genova tried to get rich by using Sion non-humans escaped from Tres España as financial agents. We are here as K.P.A. Italia and thus a representative of the Testament Union. Also, it was thanks to cities like yours and Lombardia that we avoided the hell of debt that Tres España has found themselves in.”
“Y-you do not have a problem with Genova?”
“As long as you keep it to the foreigners or stay within what is allowed to recreate the Testament descriptions. Any Catholic that goes beyond that will be punished. I do understand the meaning of money.”
Innocentius emphasized his last statement which seemed to relieve the girl because she gave a small sigh and approached.
She produced a senicale fiamma.
“Tres España’s God of War has engaged Musashi’s Technohexen in combat above the Musashi. The three Tres Españan guard ships in the western plain are firing on the Musashi while receiving backup from the supply ships.”
“Given that they still have to return home, they’re lucky they can send out that many main ships and supply ships. How are they doing?”
“The three ships are fixed in place to provide the concentrated firepower needed to shoot down any of Musashi’s transport ships before they can reach the western plain. They are currently firing on the Musashi’s three starboard ships and two central ships. The bombardment is also reaching the farthest back port ship, but…”
“The Musashi’s front port ship is a cargo ship, isn’t it? Could they send a transport ship from there?”
“Testament,” replied the female student. “Their two front ships, Asakusa and Shinagawa, are cargo ships, but a mountain exists between them and us. They would need to fly over that mountain to send a transport ship here.”
“But our ships could fire on them as they did? I went to check the barrier to the eastern mountain path today, but the valley wasn’t wide enough for a ship to fly here while hiding behind the mountain.”
“Testament. We have decided the port side poses no threat. And it seems the ground unit has clashed with the unit containing Musashi’s chancellor.”
“Clashed? Taking this slow, are they? Tell the special duty officers in charge to crush them.”
“Oh, Testament. Sorry.”
“Very good. Now hurry. What are those special duty officers doing? The strong are not supposed to gradually injure the weak until they eventually collapse. The strong crush them in an instant with immeasurable power.” He took a breath. “Crush them right this instant.”
In the western plain, the charge continued with Adele at the head.
The Tercio students saw them running forward.
They began to back away, but it was too late.
The charge approached the left side of the Tercio, at the edge of the pike unit surrounding the musketeers. They were targeting the gap between the different units. Approaching there meant being fired on from the front of the Tercio and from the musket unit at the left corner.
But Musashi’s formation split into small groups. First, it was a group of ten.
That group split into two columns and ran.
As they ran forward, those in front would let the bullets hit until their charms had been consumed to a certain extent. They then circled to the back. This rotation allowed them to maintain their speed.
The enemy hurriedly took aim.
But another group of ten split off after a short pause and ran as if pursuing the leading two columns.
A moment later, a new group of ten split off. They all took different routes, but their destination was narrowed down to a single point.
As they split into several groups at such close range, the front line of enemy musketeers was unsure where to aim. The commanders of the enemy platoons used their swords to point out the group for that platoon to target, but Musashi’s students were lighter and quicker than before.
The musketeers could not immediately target them and the gap between them shrank.
The leading members of Musashi’s guard unit held their defensive charms in their left hand and their spears in their right.
As they continued forward, they noticed a sudden movement.
A trumpet blasted from within the Tercio and the earth rumbled.
And then everyone on Musashi’s side saw the Tercio rapidly fall back despite being so closely-packed.
Tenzou saw it happen as he continued his diversion at a distance.
The Tercio rapidly retreated.
“No! This is just a trick to make it look like they are!!”
The Tercio moved in his vision, but they were not simply moving away.
The Tercio was splitting in two. One group fell back while the other advanced.
As a group, that sort of closely-packed formation was highly defensive and kept losses to a minimum, but they lacked mobility.
However, that meant high-level orders were not needed and warriors with little training could be used.
And as a major formation often used in training, the Tercio was a simple way of gaining a consensus in a group containing warriors from both Tres España and K.P.A. Italia.
Tenzou had assumed that was the purpose behind the Tercio.
…I was wrong!
It was a simple matter. The enemy had split the Tercio between the Tres España unit and the K.P.A. Italia unit. K.P.A. Italia had moved left and right while Tres España remained in the center.
On top of that, the enemy divided their chain of command in three.
Rather than moving the entire giant formation, they would split apart when needed.
They were three phalanx-like formations that had merely taken the overall form of a Tercio.
And due to the division by academy, they could quickly and surely create the split.
The left edge unit that Toori’s group was charging toward had split off and fallen back, but they were replaced by two units that came forward from the right.
Rather than simply falling back, two units moved forward to fill the gap.
“Toori-dono! They are coming from the side!!”
At the sound of a trumpet, the two advancing units turned ninety degrees to the right and faced Toori’s group.
Toori’s group was obstructed by the retreating formation to the front and now had great pressure from the side.
Bullets flew toward them. But rather than from the legion in front, it came from the western mountain to the right.
“It can’t be,” said someone as everyone turned toward the western mountain.
Lines of red uniforms could be seen descending the slope with spears and guns in hand.
They slowly yet surely approached the western plain from the tree-filled slope.
“Did they come from the ship up above!?”
They must have traveled in small groups through the forest from behind so that the Musashi group could not see. It had taken time, but it was proving extremely effective. They were already forming ranks between the trees and they were clearly attempting to drive the diversion unit toward the eastern slope where Toori’s group was.
Tenzou raised a hand and waved to the east. He was instructing his diversion unit to retreat and regroup with Toori’s group to the east.
The battlefield was beginning to corner Toori’s group.
They were on the verge of being crushed.
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