Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 03

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Chapter 03: Innocents at the Table[edit]

Horizon1A 143.jpg

To be indecisive is to think overmuch

And to question whether to stay silent or continue to speak

But then, where can you find the answer?

Point Allocation (Resolution)

A space existed, into which the light of morning’s end gently entered.

Two thick tables of wood were installed here. It was a café, with a kitchen installed deeper inside.

At the entrance of the store there was a wooden signboard with the symbol of Blue Thunder engraved upon it.

The sign that indicated that the shop was still in the preparation stage was hanging over the entrance-way, but there were two silhouettes standing inside the store.

One was the female shopkeeper, baking the bread that would be needed in the afternoon and evening in the kitchen deep inside.

The other was a student, who had brought one of the chairs placed upon the eating hall’s tables to the floor and was eating.

The student was wearing a male uniform.

Under the fairly long black hair, her fairly sharp eyes were fixed onto the table. Moving her hands, she ate breakfast.

Atop the table, the student’s meal consisted only of a few pieces of bread and a glass of water.

“Masazumi-san, I think it would be better if ya worked a part-time job with good pay and ate properly. Just doin’ scholarly things won’t let ya gain any experience, right? If a girl dressed as a man collapses, she’s not going to make any fans.”

The student, Masazumi, tore up her bread as she listened. She answered with a voice fairly high in pitch.

“Only my father’s acquaintances have realized that I’m a girl… And even at the Academy, only my teacher and classmates know. Even you didn’t notice until you took care of me because I had collapsed from the heat.”

“Nah, I’d been thinkin’ that you were a little strange for a while now… So, P-01s and I stripped you together.”

“…That’s something I didn’t need to be reminded of.”

Saying this, Masazumi was thinking.

It’s only because of that that I can come here without worry.

But still, I’d like to avoid talking about my gender.

Therefore, Masazumi said this.

“It’s true that to get my tuition fees and living expenses, other jobs would be better, but…”

“Ya parents’re making a fuss?”

Having been asked this difficult question, Masazumi did not answer. Thinking about what to do, she inserted a piece of bread into her mouth, chewing thoroughly. Drinking the water in the glass, she exhaled.

An embarrassed laugh escaped from the shopkeeper.

“I’m sorry, that was rude of me… Are you going to do more work for the student council now? Ya don’t have a break, do ya?”

Hearing this, Masazumi smiled a sad smile.

“You’re worrying about me, huh,” she said as a form of thanks.

“As the vice president of the student council I’ll be escorting President Sakai to Mikawa, all the way until the checkpoint. Well, despite saying that… I was thinking that I’d go visit my mother’s grave before I met up with the president.”

“Haha, even if ya head to the Academy now, ya won’t make it in time for class. But…could I ask why a young child would go visit a grave at a time like this?”

“My mother, who became a victim of a strange phenomenon, and I were born in Mikawa so… I thought that I should visit her before we disembark.”

“…A victim of phenomena? One of the side-effects of the Apocalypse that everybody’s been talkin’ about recently?”

“Judge,” Masazumi nodded. She tried as hard as possible to recall the events of that time from an objective point of view.

“…Well, the truth is I don’t know whether or not it was a phenomenon. The magistrate in charge said that she’d been spirited away. Just, she was suddenly gone; and where she was supposed to have disappeared, a large symbol was written with blood…”

Masazumi drew a circle with her fingers, indicating a line piercing its center.

“A design like this was left behind. The investigation said that it seemed to be a type of spiriting away, linked to a group of mysterious disappearances called the ‘Princess Disappearances’. However, there are numerous accounts of robbers tricking people using this, not to mention regular disappearances or elopements. Well…there was a lot going on in Mikawa, and it’s becoming a place where phenomena occur readily. Because of this, even though I call it a grave I’m just going to see the things that my mother left behind. Ornaments, mementos…”

“That so,” a voice tinted with relief could be heard to say.

“Even though everyone tends to get depressed about the Apocalypse…you’re still a good girl.”

“That isn’t it at all. For school too, even though I’m paying my own tuition, I’m at the point where I think it’s fine to take a break from working… Well, once I reach the checkpoint today I’ll be able to hear about Tres España and K.P.A. Italia. They’re coming to inquire about the Logismoi Óplo, so I was thinking that I could learn something from it.”

“That’s really troublesome… Ah, also, thank P-01s for the meal this time.”

“Okay,” Masazumi answered. She looked towards the entrance.

Nobody was at the counter, and neither did it seem like someone was in front of the store.

Despite this, Masazumi still turned away and spoke.

“It’s already been a year, hasn’t it…if I hadn’t been saved by her, I would really have died.”

“Doesn’t it seem like yer gettin’ along with her well recently? Ya lent her some books, right?”

“Judge, mostly about general knowledge…the day before, I lent her my transcript of the history teacher’s lecture. As expected, it seems that she hasn’t read through it, though.”

“I see, ya really want to be a member of the provisional council. Ya have quite a lot of books.”

“Not that many,” Masazumi responded with a wry smile, though she thought differently.

If only I had the money to buy more.

“I’d read a whole lot more if I had the money… Well, I’m sorry for causing you trouble so often. I’m just freeloading right now, but I’ll return this debt in the future. I’ll become a great politician.”

“If ya become a member of the provisional council ya won’t need our bread anymore, right? If ya say that ya want to repay the debt, then…could you investigate P-01s’s origins for me like you did last time? Ya managed get a lot done.”

Hearing this, Masazumi folded her arms. It was true that a while ago she had investigated P-01s.

“Even with my authority as the vice president of the student council, I didn’t really learn anything in the end… Well, I think that being Musashi’s vice president doesn’t really lend much authority.”

“Why didn’t ya become a candidate for the student council president? The chancellor is recommended by the Testament Union, but the student council president is elected by a candidacy, y’know?”

Asked this, Masazumi thought. Immediately afterward, she uttered the words that made up her response.

“…Because, Aoi, the chancellor, declared his candidacy for the position of student council president.”

It’s hard just to criticize people like this, Masazumi thought. But despite this, it was meaningless to stay silent.

“Since he was born on Musashi everybody knows what he’s like; far more than what they know about me, a newcomer who’s only been here one year. The Testament Union’s also got an idea, having seen Aoi’s grades when he enrolled.”

“Well, he’s an idiot. In the past, he burst into the ceremony hall where the matriculation ceremony was being held, smiling like an idiot while clutching a bundle of lit ceremonial firecrackers.”

“Yeah, he chased all the new students around. The ceremony hall was in panic; but in the end the new students worked together, brought Toori down and launched the fireworks… A moving ending, even if rather forced. Speaking of which, President Sakai gave a closing speech. ‘Everyone, remember this day well,’ he said…like anyone would forget.”

“Well,” Masazumi said, folding her arms.

“…Because he, the chancellor, was elected to be the student council president, things ended without the Academy being split into two: a faction supporting the student council and another faction supporting the chancellor’s officers. Speaking from the Testament Union’s point of view, it’s easier to control the Academy if Aoi is the leader of both sides.”

“That so? Um, right now, it seems that he’s nicknamed ‘Impossible’; but can he really not do anything? Before, he was pretty…no, he was an idiot back then too, but what’s he like now?”

“Now?”

Masazumi tilted her head to the side. Because the shop served snacks and bread, opened early in the morning and had low prices, this shop was popular with students. Toori and his classmates could be seen here pretty often.

“I see them here quite often, but…you’re asking about what he’s like now?”

“Yeah, Toori had stopped coming for a while, stretchin’ from ten years ago till about a year ago. Before then, Toori, his sister Kimi, and a child who lived close by would eat breakfast together here.”

“…That was more than ten years ago? Then, it would’ve been nine years since Toori came last year…”

“That’s right, Toori only started to come here again since last year. When Masazumi-san came to Musashi, when P-01s started working here. Now, he comes every morning, just like he used to.”

“I wonder why?” the shopkeeper’s question floated out from the kitchen, but Masazumi could not answer her question.

“But even if he comes here, he doesn’t have a proper meal; he just buys bread to go, so it can’t be that he wants to get employed here when he graduates…and about that, well…”

“What is it?”

As she stretched her hand out to a piece of bread, she asked this question.

The shopkeeper’s voice could be heard.

“I’d been thinking that there was no way, but I’ve started to wonder.”

“…? What are you talking about, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Hmmm, maybe it’d be easier to get it across to you if I say it like this.”

The sound of frying oil echoed from the kitchen. Audible inside this chain of sizzling noise, was a voice.

“Toori probably likes P-01s.”

“…Huh!?”

Masazumi’s hands, which had been tearing up bread, paused. Tilting her chair, she turned her gaze towards the kitchen; the shopkeeper’s back, visible across piles of kitchen tools, did not turn around.

“…Idiots that fall in love with automatons…that isn’t just a fairy tale, I guess.”

“Ah, no way, that’s…”

Automatons do not have emotions. Automatons instinctively serve people as living beings, but this is different from emotion. They do not understand the workings of emotion; and even if they were questioned concerning this they would not be able to answer.

Therefore, they are “dolls”.

If what the female shopkeeper says is true, I can only think this of Toori’s behavior.

“It’s in vain, or rather…obsessive.”

Masazumi described what most would take as common sense. However, following the timing of a conversation, Masazumi heard the female shopkeeper’s voice.

“It’s fine, though it be in vain…”

“…Eh?”

She asked, but there was no answer. However, something came in its place.

“How’s Toori doing in school?”

Having been asked this, Masazumi realized that they were splintering from the conversation they had been having up to this point. So after thinking for a moment, Masazumi tore up her bread, retrieving the original flow of their conversation.

“By the Testament Union’s judgement…he has no capabilities at all, his academic ability is average, and it seems that they’ve judged that his athletic ability is below average in terms of stamina. Especially when it comes to his body…”

She framed this fact in vague words. However, a voice spilled out from the depths of the kitchen.

“Long before, he cut his left shoulder, and he’s bad at athletics because of it.”

“Y-yes.”

For the residents of Musashi, it is normal that I would hesitate?

“Haha, the fact that ya know… Masazumi-san, ya’ve seen Toori stripping right?”

“Saw or was shown… The first time I went to school, for some reason he, with ‘Underdog’ written in huge letters on the front of his body, was being chased around by a pack of dogs, running around inside the school building.”

“He can’t use swords very well because of that injury, huh.”

She was telling Masazumi what she already knew, seeking confirmation. Therefore, Masazumi also nodded.

“…Because of this, the Testament Union gave him the nickname ‘Impossible’.”

What she said was just the truth, exclusive of personal opinion.

“Even as a Musician of Shinto, he worships an Entertainment-type God said to focus upon fun and games… He appears to have passed the high-rank examinations, but it seems that he hasn’t yet applied for any blessings. I’ve been told that it’s because the blessing he can use isn’t useful.”

“What kind of blessing is it?”

“Judge, ‘Power Propagation’.”

Masazumi recalled the story she had heard from the Testament Union’s representative at the inheritance ceremony, where she became the vice president.

“—When Amaterasu was hiding in a cave behind a rock door, the laughter of the Goddesses dancing outside passed through the rock door and were conveyed to Amaterasu; and it became an opportunity to entice Amaterasu to come out. In short, the technique of the God of Entertainment is a technique that uses emotion as a medium, transmitting something to its receivers as a means to share it. Just like sharing laughs with everyone by dancing.”

Despite this, it was not useful.

“Included in this technique is a form of equivalent indemnity, which takes the form of ‘impurity’. When using laughter as a medium, there can be no sadness. If this is violated…the power which was propagated using laughter as a medium will conversely be taken away.”

“Taken away…which means?”

“The transmitted power will no longer be shared, and instead it will be thoroughly stolen away. Luck, emotion, even power…it depends on the contents of the contract; but as impurity, they’re mostly exorcised as impurities and won’t return for a long period of time. The reason that entertainers and artists whose careers fail experience psychological depression is because after failing in their works of art, the emotions of joy and laughter are lost from within themselves.

“What a terrifying spell…”

“Yes,” Masazumi said. She continued to speak.

“But for Aoi, it’s a meaningless technique. His abilities in academics and athletics are both average, so it’s meaningless for others to share them. And even if he had more power, the risk if it’s stolen away is far too high. Not being able to become sad…”

Things like that happen quite often.

If something was stolen away almost like a follow-up to the sadness, it would be intolerable.

The moment she thought this, a soft laugh could be heard from inside.

“Haha, Masazumi-san, just as I was wondering whether ya hated Toori, ya were worrying about him, weren’t ya.”

Having been told something that she had not given the slightest thought, Masazumi flushed.

While drinking the water in her glass, she calmed her breathing.

“…If something happens to the student council president, the responsibility will fall on me.”

This is a fact. The student council and chancellor’s officers are the officials with the highest authority in all countries; but in Musashi the king who was sent by the Testament Union has the authority to make the final decision. Acting as the intermediary between the students and the Musashi King was the work of the vice president.

I myself think that it’s a lot of trouble, but there’s something else.

What would it be like?

Masazumi hopes to be a politician. Her father is a member of the bureaucratic organization that aids the students, the provisional council; he ponders and amends the student council’s decisions, brings suggestions from the citizens, and furthermore has the duty of managing the city from out of his personal budget.

When I’ve graduated from the Academy, I was thinking of starting on the road leading there.

But recently, a single question had come to life.

…As she was born in the Far East, wouldn’t everything be useless?

In the Far East, where it was decided that the age limit for students was 18 years of age, no one can have anything to do with the government after graduation. Therefore the adults, or in other words the provisional council members, were nothing but bureaucrats. Even if they had wealth, they were nothing more than wonderful taxpayers.

Furthermore, in Musashi, the Musashi King sent by the Testament Union holds the authority to make the final decision. He can even veto the student council and chancellor’s officers. Because all of Musashi is under his jurisdiction, it is impossible for Musashi to achieve autocracy. And because it was only able to fly above the tentative borderlines of all the other countries, it was unable to freely choose its flight path.

Even if I wanted to try and do something, it isn’t my choice.

I’ve come to realize this very well in this one year. Looking at the circumstances after Aoi was chosen to be the chancellor, and the circumstances when he became the student council president, I was forced to fully realize this.

No one acknowledges our power.

If so…

Wouldn’t it be fine to make a cursory job of everything?

If we become dependent upon the other countries’ occupation, there are certain privileges that we might receive. For example, Aoi receiving the positions of chancellor and student council president, becoming a celebrity within Musashi in the process.

And suddenly, Masazumi thought of her father.

Her father had left Mikawa ten years ago and moved to Musashi, where he had been a member of the provisional council for ten years.

Masazumi knew why. It had been a year since her father had called her and she had come to Musashi. She knew that many businessmen, real estate managers and ground transport managers went to her father. If you thought of this as a privilege, the meaning in becoming a member of the provisional council in Musashi, a politician, and her destination as a political hopeful…

“…”

Thinking about many things, Masazumi shook her head.

It was said that the Apocalypse would be coming this year; and as if indicating this, the frequency of phenomena was actually rising.

It was a present age where the immediate future could not actually be seen.

Therefore, Masazumi thought that at least during meals she would not think of the dark future.

At that moment:

“Your hands have stopped moving…was the bread not to your taste, Masazumi-san?”

Hearing the shopkeeper’s voice, Masazumi reined in her thoughts. Startled, she drew a breath.

“Ah, no, I was just daydreaming.”

“Haha,” she laughed, but she herself felt that it was forced.

There are just too many things to think about.

Her mother disappearing was the impetus for her to come to Musashi, but many things had happened in the year after.

She suddenly spoke.

“It’s all happened so fast. In a year, we’ve already gone once around the Far East. We’re arriving at my hometown, Mikawa. Even though Mikawa is the Far East’s representative, recently it’s become on good terms with P.A. Oda; so the Testament Union’s glaring at it. Also, because of New Nagoya Castle’s ley line reactor, the number of phenomena is overflowing… I wonder if my friends from before are doing well. People like the daughter of the other Honda family, Lord Tadakatsu’s daughter.”

“My, my, talking about friends from your hometown? Are ya homesick?”

“No,” even as she answered, she felt a little masochistic. Therefore, she spoke.

She spoke of something that she had been thinking of for a while. She spoke of one of the reasons that she often went out to do part-time jobs that started in the morning.

“…Our Academy, Ariadust, is really the Musashi residents’ Academy. I don’t really fit in. Or rather, the fact that I’m someone who competed for and failed to receive the inheritance of a name is also an issue; the fact that everyone…”

The fact that everyone was showing her care was evident

Her lips, which were on the brink of saying this, stopped.

“Do ya want to try and become friendly with everyone?”

A question came.

Uncomprehending, she pondered. After a while, Masazumi frowned.

“It’s not like they aren’t friendly…”

“Then, do ya ever feel that ya’d like to get along better with them? If ya do…”

She heard this.

“Investigate ‘Remorse Way’.”

“Remorse…Way…?”

Muttering this, Masazumi tilted her head to the side. If the name she had heard matched the image in her head, she knew the road the shopkeeper spoke of. Indeed, that she knew it was a matter of course.

“Um, it’s the large starboard way in front of the Academy, isn’t it? It passes through a park, going from the right starboard till the bow…”

“Do you know why it’s named ‘Remorse Way’?”

“No,” Masazumi answered. She does not clearly know the reason.

What she does know is this:

The stone slab at the entrance of that passage, the one that belongs to the girl named Horizon…

A grave-like stone slab was made ten years ago. It prays for a girl’s happiness in her next life. What meaning does it hold? If I investigate, will I learn the origins of the name that everyone normally uses, “Remorse Way”?

“What could it be?”

“It’s simple… There’s a fact that Masazumi-san does not know, but over half of Musashi’s residents do. If you investigate…yeah.”

With that, the noise of the shopkeeper in the kitchen turning around could be heard.

“Ten years ago, durin’ Musashi’s Great Renovation, a certain incident happened.”

“…An incident? Does it have anything to do with that stone slab? Horizon, the name of a girl, is written on it…”

“If ya’ve noticed that, then this’ll be quick. Just a step further. Have a look. If ya do this, more of Musashi’s various facets’ll become visible to you.”

Along with the sound of her voice and footsteps, a scent came. Turning around, the female shopkeeper, plate in her hand, was walking her way with a smile on her face.

“Each of Musashi’s residents remember why the name ‘Remorse Way’ was given to that road. So, ya should investigate. Yer worries’ll definitely lessen… Also, this.”

Atop the tray was a paper bag and a piece of bread. On top of the bread was spinach fried in butter, ham, egg and carrot.

“Before, Toori and the girl who lived close by would put what we sold on a piece of bread. With the addition of soup, our mornin’ menu… Well, rather than mornin’, it was already noon. If yer goin’ now to visit a grave and Mikawa, I’ll wrap it together with a tightly sealed paper cup so ya can take it away.”

As her voice echoed outward, the bell that indicated the time rang out. It was the noontime bell.

Hearing this sound, Masazumi suddenly turned her gaze outside. The voice of the female shopkeeper, while putting the meal into a paper bag, continued.

“Is there somethin’ with the Academy yer interested about?”

“Judge, since today, Azuma-sama should have been returned from the Testament Union.”

“Ah, if that’s so the king’ll be with him. The Academy’ll be busy, won’t it? So yer interested, then?”

“Well,” Masazumi said and stood up. While listening to the sound of the female shopkeeper arranging the paper bag on top of the table, she spoke.

“Once in a while, I take a guess about why that place would be busy.”

My plans today: visiting a grave and going to Mikawa.

But if I investigate Remorse Way afterward, will I learn something?