Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 08

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Chapter 08: Doubters in the Depths of a Ravine[edit]

Horizon1A 225.jpg

To go and to return is the path there and back

If so

To descend and to ascend is a valley's path and...

Point Allocation (Life)

On the mountainside, bathing in the light of noon, there was a wooden structure.

It was a sentry house built on the surface of the mountain, where “Kakamigahara” was written with trees. It was beside the eastern mountain corridor which connects Musashi’s continental port with the streets below, so it was a building positioned to look down upon the mountain checkpoint.

The building had two figures atop its six-tatami structure.

Two people in crimson uniforms with Tres España’s emblem were holding their rifles and sitting in chairs.

They were exchanging words as one of them was watching the mountain and the other its base. At the moment, the one wearing a senior uniform was looking to the mountain range.

“…As expected, we had a lot of transport squads today. Has the confusion at the checkpoint over here ended yet?”

The boy watching Mikawa, which was at the foot of the mountain, nodded. Then he looked at the base’s checkpoint with the scope of his rifle.

“…Right now, the foot is pretty packed. Recently they’ve been saying that it’d be quicker to detour over to the other side, to the western corridor which connects to the common use continental port where our squad is; but there are things like wooden bridges there, and the roads are pretty narrow. Gods of war and large wagons can’t travel it, so they had to send out transport ships all the way to the western side.”

“That was quite detailed. Are you an immigrant from Mikawa?”

“Tes,” the boy responded.

“I’m a naturalized citizen of Tres España. Due to Lord Motonobu’s ‘clearing out’ ten years ago and the construction of New Nagoya Castle, I’m not Shinto but Catholic now. I’m even making an angels’ community fansite on the net.”

The boy gestured towards the town of Mikawa with his rifle.

In response, his senior turned his neck back, and at the end of his sight was the center segment of Nagoya City.

There was a street in the town that was facing the sea at the base of the mountain. A brown structure was covering a large portion of its center. The flat surface that extended almost the entire territory of Nagoya City was…

“With such a simple design you don’t really get its true size, but that wooden structure ranges ten kilometers from east to west and eleven north to south. That’s the ‘New Nagoya Castle’, a large atelier that uses one unified reactor and four ley line reactors which are forbidden in all the Testament Tsirhcian territories since the Harmonic Unification War. The previous Nagoya city was modified into that at the request of P.A. Oda ten years ago. It’s a workshop born from the ‘clearing out’ national policy.”

“The ‘clearing out’, huh…”

The senior, who had an upperclassman’s attitude, glanced at the side of his junior’s face.

“That’s such a crazy story… As the inheritance of names of historical figures is needed for the sake of the Testament’s history recreation, they made all names but those of a few important officials go to automatons to avoid all the chaos it results in. Was your family affected as well?”

“Well, we were at a very low position, so we did not have much trouble at first. After that, with the reduction of staff expenses and the protection of classified information, three thousand automatons took charge of the town’s business and administration over a period of three years; so that was when true ‘clearing out’ began, along with a lot of problems.”

The junior shrugged his shoulders, and trying to avoid that topic he peered at New Nagoya Castle through his scope.

“This ‘clearing out’ was not just about the automatons. With the four operational ley line reactors in New Nagoya Castle extracting ether from the ley lines, strange phenomena became very frequent in the town center. I’m talking about stuff like monsters wandering the night, roads warping and mysterious disappearances.”

“Those kinds of things,” the junior smiled bitterly.

“So with all of that, people left. That was the ‘clearing out’. That castle is messed up, you know? From its design and construction, the only ones managing and knowing all about it are the leader of the Matsudaira, ‘Yes-Man’ Lord Motonobu and a few of his closest subjects and officers. All the actual work on its construction was carried out by 1200 additional automatons ordered from Sagami province, and even now they are operating it from the inside.”

He breathed.

“The inside is segmented into several floors protected by barriers, so its scale is pretty big; but the only ones who know what is happening inside are Lord Motonobu and a few more individuals. The automatons are subjected to memory controls and if they try to break the confidentiality protection they will automatically erase their own memories.”

“Even so, there was a special squadron from Hexagone Française that sneaked inside looking for information, right?”

The junior gave a small laugh at his upperclassman’s words.

“And one week later they were found carrying paper bags as otaku in Nihonbashi, weren’t they? Not only did they somehow have no memory of what had happened, strangely enough they were also totally naked with two-colored tattoos of little girls on their asses… After that no other country sent more squads, fearing the embarrassment.”

He breathed again.

“The Tsirhc Testament Union spread rumors about ‘the dangers of a ley line reactor meltdown’ because they considered them dangerous, didn’t they? They even remade the opera ‘Sodom and Gomorrah Have Disappeared!’ which had been about a time when one of those meltdowns happened and everything in a ten kilometer radius was annihilated, into some mournful tragedy across all Europe. By now, nobody lives in the surroundings other than the automatons and Lord Motonobu. Yesterday I tried to descend to the outskirts, but…”

The junior tapped the upperclassman’s shoulder and pointed at the village with his finger.

“…Although it’s already noon, you can’t see any smoke from people cooking; and nothing in the vicinity of the city center is even moving. And in the surrounding villages, strange words were written in blood on the walls… I returned immediately, you know.”

“I see… Mikawa sure is a troublesome country.”

The instant the senior figure spoke that line, the younger figure pointed towards the mountain road.

“Ah, look at the road descending to the checkpoint. Amazingly, those two seem to be…the Musashi Academy President Sakai Tadatsugu and the Student Council Vice President Honda Masazumi. Nimble even walking, just like the rumors, right? After the Academy President of Musashi was demoted and sent away from Mikawa, he became a disgruntled and strange person.”

Just as he said, there were two people on the path leading down to the checkpoint. The senior confirmed them with the scope of his rifle as they passed by messengers, wagons and cargo vehicles and pressed past people with heavy baggages.

“One of the Four Heavenly Kings of the Matsudaira, spared from the stripping of his inherited name by the automatons; Sakai Tadatsugu, is it? His current position as Musashi Academy President sure is a demotion. And the other one, Masazumi…is dressed like a man but given the way he is walking…that’s a woman?”

“Tes. She may be dressed like a man, but actually…she should be a woman.”

“Should?”

At that question, the junior looked up at the sky once. Choosing his words, he talked.

“When I lived in Mikawa, there were ‘two Hondas’. One was a member of the Four Heavenly Kings of the Matsudaira, the Peerless in the East and user of the divine weapon Tonbokiri, Honda Tadakatsu. The other one was the brain of the Matsudaira, the lineage of Honda Masanobu. But when Masazumi was a child, an automaton stole the name of Masanobu’s son during the ‘clearing out’.”

“If that’s so, that girl can no longer inherit the name, can she?”

“Tes… But before that happened, she had an operation in order to inherit said name. To make sure she had the right to inherit the name Masazumi, she was supposed to have had a sex change operation to turn her into a boy… However, in the earlier stages, after her breasts were removed but before they began with the lower parts, the ‘clearing out’ happened. As she lacks breasts, female clothing does not fit her well, so she dresses like a boy.”

“When I was still in Mikawa, she was ignored and bullied. She was a year above me and I heard that since she was unable to get her inherited name, she was abandoned by her dad; but…”

While looking at the two traveling the mountain path, the junior slowly said this:

“Given that she’s now the vice president, she’s still doing her best, isn’t she… I wonder if I should make a fansite…”

Sakai and Masazumi were walking atop the mountain path towards the checkpoint, which was a delivery transportation base.

Looking at it from the mountain, the checkpoint was a wide parking lot where standby cargo vehicles were lined up waiting to take their goods, and a spacious area with warehouses. The valley was a natural barrier and the exchange of goods was performed between the bottom and the top. People were lined up into five queues at the reception area of the checkpoint, but Sakai was walking too far away to hear their voices and exchanges.

Sakai and Masazumi walked the mountain path, which had hardened from the wheels of the cargo vehicles. As they traveled the side of the mountain with a stone wall at their left, they laughed and exchanged words while tilting their heads. Sakai was forming a smile at the corner of his mouth.

“…Speaking of the which, tomorrow Toori is going to confess. What are you going to do tonight? As I said before, it seems that Toori and the rest are going to make some ruckus at the Academy. Are you going to go with them and act as the fire extinguisher smokescreen?”

“I am the vice president. If I did something like that the entire Testament Union would know about it…”

“It’s alright, it’ll just make you look like the rest of them.”

“Then I definitely can’t do it, can I? Anyway, what is even with the chancellor and student council president, suddenly announcing that he’s going to confess and cause a ruckus at the Academy like that… The other day we had a huge meeting for a potluck in the dark, and he ignited the experimental-use magnesium with the lab room’s alcohol lamp and it went ‘Boom!’ ”

“Yeah, you can’t make night potluck into a light potluck. I guess the glass pot of the lamp lightened everyone up, though.” [1]

“No, it wasn’t like that, seriously…”

Sakai laughed in response to Masazumi who was speaking in a troubled manner. Continuing like that for a few seconds, he eventually sighed.

“Well, I’m just trying to say that one can pass the time like that too, you know.”

Masazumi wondered about this and folded her arms as if trying to protect herself. After that, she tilted her neck.

“Yesterday he started some trouble in a restaurant on Tama’s surface when he covered one of Mitotsudaira’s business partners, who was completely naked, in cream and stuck an eel up his butt. That was quite the incident, don’t you think?”

“That did indeed happen, but you know…”

Sakai looked at Masazumi out of the corner of his eye and in response Masazumi pulled back a bit.

“…Did you know that what that gourmet really wanted was to court Nate in order to take control of the Mitotsudaira family?”

“…Huh?”

“I don’t know if he was from Hexagone Française or the Far East, but he was trying to acquire a name inheritance and wanted to marry into the Mitotsudaira family. With that objective, he tried to approach her as a business partner. Nate sure is strong willed, but she’s also someone who thinks hard upon her position and family. I was even consulted about it, you know?”

That means… Masazumi twisted her eyebrows.

“That mess was President Sakai’s work?”

“Hey, hey, hey, hey, don’t suspect me. I didn’t do anything; someone among them noticed, that’s it… After all, Musashi is pretty small, right? It was probably a coincidence, but…”

“But?”

“But, emotionally, Nate thanks everyone for that.”

“———”

As if punctuating sound by sound, he introduced a new topic of conversation.

And suddenly, he once again looked at Masazumi out of the corner of his eye and opened his mouth while looking around the area.

“—Indeed, today really is strange. Has Masazumi-kun noticed it?”

“Strange? What are you talking about…”

Questioning in her response, Masazumi looked at their surroundings and the flow of cargo vehicles and people.

After a while, Masazumi tilted her head as if she was saying: “I don’t know.”

Sakai pointed towards the checkpoint visible in the distance, at the lines cargo vehicles awaiting their goods.

“—As you heard from Shirojiro, all the cargo vehicles are mostly empty. Masazumi-kun, do you understand what that means?”

“That’s…”

Surprised, Masazumi raised her voice.

“There is cargo heading aboard the Musashi but none coming out of it, right? In short, we barely have any purchasing orders from Mikawa… This is the first time that I’ve seen the Mikawa checkpoint from the Musashi-side, but it’s true that a year ago the other checkpoints were different, I think.”

“Indeed, normally there’s more cargo coming from our side; but this time, there’s nothing, strangely enough.”

Masazumi took one step forward and spoke to a frowning Sakai while turning back.

“…Is this the result of Mikawa progressing with the ‘clearing out’ policy? Or is this a consequence of the population dwindling due to the increasing phenomena, so that the goods aren’t really needed? But even so, the fact that it’s just sending goods to Musashi makes it feel like—”

Masazumi continued.

“—It feels as if we’re taking keepsakes of Mikawa before it dies, as it tries to isolate itself from the whole world, don’t you think?”

“Hey, hey, don’t say scary stuff. It’s just that Mikawa is under sanctions, so exchange isn’t allowed. They’re putting some distance between themselves and Musashi. But well…”

I don’t really know, thought Sakai as he nodded…

Suddenly a structure flew by, high above his head. Like a cloud, that large shape crossed the sky.

“That is…a ship?”

The ship’s shape they were looking up at was not alone, as almost directly above several ships were incoming. In the west, above the mountains, a noticeable colossal white ship traveled making a deep noise…

“That’s the K.P.A. Italia Jörmungandr-class galley ‘Regno Unito’, owned by the Pope-Chancellor Innocentius and escorted by a Tres España security fleet. So the head of the Catholics came all the way here, where the hand of the Mlasi’s P.A. Oda can reach. He is here to negotiate the development of a new armament, right?”

“Yes,” Masazumi opened her mouth.

“It’s because P.A. Oda is concentrating on their attack on the Asai. Using that opening, he’s going to plead for the development of a new Logismoi Óplo, a type of divine weapon that represents a fragment of the world’s power balance; in other words city-destruction-class personal armaments. These armaments have the embodiment of the eight evil thoughts of humanity as a motif, and the original prototypes of the seven deadly sins and their users are called the ‘Eight Dragon Kings’.”

“You’re well informed, aren’t you? The eight evil thoughts…can you name them?”

“Judge,” Masazumi said. And then she nodded…

“Gastrimargia (Gluttony), Porneia (Lust), Phylargyria (Avarice), Lypē (Lamenting), Orgē (Wrath), Akedia (Dejection), Kenodoxia (Vainglory), and Hyperēphania (Pride)—In the sixth century, they were condensed to seven by Gregorius the First. Vainglory was included in Pride, Lamenting and Dejection were combined as Sloth and Phtonos (Envy) was added, becoming seven. Because of that…”

She let out a breath.

“The deadly sins of man are now said to be seven, but in the beginning they were the eight evil thoughts warned of by the Greek Evagrius in Egypt. So, the seven deadly sins in Latin are what we usually speak of in the present world. But originally…their prototypes were the Greek’s eight evil thoughts.”

Masazumi spoke starting to walk once again whilst scraping the dirt stuck to her zōri sandals on the dried road.

“And, was it ten years ago?”

In the middle of the shadow projected by the ships traveling in the sky, Masazumi remembered those days while looking at her feet.

“Right before the Musashi’s Grand Renovation, after concluding the talks to make the provisional alliance with P.A. Oda a formal alliance, Lord Motonobu sent the eight Logismoi Óplo to all the Testament countries with the exception of P.A. Oda. Those were…”

Gastrimargia (Gluttony): M.H.R.R. (Holy Roman Empire)

Porneia (Lust): K.P.A. Italia

Phylargyria (Avarice): England

Lypē (Lamenting): Tres España

Orgē (Wrath): Sviet Rus

Akedia (Dejection): Tres España

Kenodoxia (Vainglory): Hexagone Française

Hyperēphania (Pride): Hexagone Française

“Tres España and Hexagone Française possess two because their sins were combined when the eight evil thoughts became the seven deadly sins. Their outputs are set to low settings…but it seems that Tres España brought their weapons to the New World and drove the feral mechanical beasts to extinction. Going by the rumors, they created such a large-scale destruction just with a few kilounits of ether. Just in terms of pure power, these divine weapons are of the same rank as the Testamenta Arma that are based on the Testaments; and different from them in that while the Testamenta Arma are limited by doctrine, the Logismoi Óplo can be used without restrictions. This is due to these Deadly Sin Armaments being reprimanding weapons used to lay bare the sins of the opponent.”

Masazumi looked at the western sky, to the white-armored ship that was facing towards the continental port, the “Regno Unito”.

“The rumors say that the Pope came all the way here this time because he wants to get the ‘Phtonos’ in the seven deadly sins made. Currently, K.P.A. Italia have to hurry against the strengthening of Protestantism and the decline in the Middle-Eastern trade.”

She sighed.

“The Pope-Chancellor is also the wielder of one of the Logismoi Óplo, so he is one of the Eight Dragon Kings; but being the head of the Catholics he really hates that name… Even so, he wants a new Deadly Sin Armament as there are some problems even if K.P.A. Italia is making profits thanks to Lombardia’s international loans.”

“Basically, loans are forbidden under Catholicism so even though they are able to profit from them by the way of taxes, they have to be maintained by the unconventional races and the non-Testament regions where the monetary circulation is permitted; and more than anybody else, by the Far East’s lending businesses. Their regulations on money lending and borrowing are really strict, so we are like their mediator regarding loans and land mortgage. The Pope-Chancellor is really in a tight spot.”

Sakai, who said that, formed a drooping smile at the corner of his mouth.

“But well…”

“What is it?”

That instant, Masazumi relaxed her shoulders and took a step forward.

“Masazumi-kun… Do you know the rumors related to the Logismoi Óplo?”

“The rumors…?”

“Judge, judge, judge,” Sakai nodded three times. At that point, he stuck his index finger up and said this.

“—The rumors that the Logismoi Óplo are made from humans.”

At Sakai’s words, Masazumi slightly lost hold of herself.

The rumor that Sakai mentioned just now had been heard by Masazumi before. It went like this:

“To make weapons of the power of the deadly sins and the original sins of humanity, it is only appropriate to use humans as components…”

“Right, right, and also something like ‘the reason why the people have disappeared from Nagoya is actually because they have been used as the components of the Logismoi Óplo.’ ”

“Th-there’s nothing like that.”

Masazumi recalled her memories of living in Mikawa.

“It’d be a problem if it wasn’t just a rumor. When I was still there, the citizens would usually give proper notice before leaving if they were changing their residence. If their whereabouts became unknown just like that, like in recent phenomena, there would be an uproar.”

“Is that so?” said Sakai while he continued to look up at the sky.

“Do you think that the things related to this will end being a rumor, Masazumi-kun?”

“—Eh?”

Sakai spoke and looking at her he formed a broad smile at the edges of his mouth.

“I…just thought that it would be interesting if Masazumi-kun also came over to this side.”

“By saying ‘this side’ you mean…”

“The side where we would be able to calmly talk about things like my past.”

The past, that is…

“For example, the reason why I was demoted to Musashi… How I, following the Testament description, allowed the person who was supposed to be the heir of my lord to commit suicide. The side where you would be able to bring those words to your lips with a smile.”

“——”

I know about what Sakai was talking about, the reason of his demotion. It’s something any citizen of Mikawa would know: How even though it was by the Testament’s description, one of the Four Heavenly Kings let the heir of his lord commit suicide.

There was a time when the leader of Mikawa, Lord Motonobu, had no wife and no heir.

Therefore, Lord Motonobu let his little brother inherit the name of his heir.

Matsudaira Nobuyasu.

According to the Testament’s descriptions, he had committed suicide due to some trouble with the Oda family.

Was that also the reason? Around fifteen years ago, there was still no inheritor for Nobunaga’s name in P.A. Oda, so Mikawa refused an alliance and tried to overcome said Testament’s description using a ‘broad interpretation’ of it, but…

As P.A. Oda encircled them, a provisional alliance was formed under a bit of coercion.

Subjected to those circumstances, and as proof of loyalty, the Lord’s younger brother was forced to commit suicide after he became the heir.

Sakai, who was supposed to be the guardian of the Lord’s younger brother, was demoted since he was unable to stop the suicide.

The rumors said that Lord Nobuyasu wished for his own death and when Sakai ran to stop him, it was too late.

That was the reason that Masazumi knew for Sakai’s demotion.

However.

I can’t simply bring those words to my lips, am I really that naive?

Inside her field of vision and without erasing that smile at the edge of his mouth, Sakai said:

“So, Masazumi-kun; as you seem to be thinking a lot, what would you think if that story had a continuation?”

“…Eh? A continuation?”

“Judge, judge,” Sakai said twice.

“What if Lord Motonobu actually…had an illegitimate wife and had a child with her?”

“——”

Masazumi lost all words for an instant. She forced herself to open her mouth. As she was not able to grasp what she had just been told and felt like her mind was still not stabilized, she asked something to confirm whether this was truth or fiction.

“No way. If that kind of child existed…”

That would mean that as the Lord’s younger brother who had inherited his heir’s name had committed suicide, that child would become the new heir, right? However…

“But where is that child and what is he doing…? Why doesn’t he come out into the open?”

“That’s why I said that earlier, didn’t I?”

Sakai spoke.

“If you want to know, step inside and come to this side, Masazumi-kun… Your wish is to be a politician and you seem to be thinking on the grand scale of things; but you are failing at stepping inside, don’t you think?”

“But,” Sakai added.

“I like being bullied, you know… So, why won’t you step in with me?”

Speaking these words, Sakai suddenly sped up his gait.

The wind moved, the sound of clothes rustling resounded. As if being surreptitiously held by Sakai, the tantō at the back of his waist shook.

“—Well, let’s end this conversation at that…shall we?”

Masazumi chased Sakai with her gaze as he headed towards the open area of the checkpoint and was passed by a single horse-drawn carriage. Masazumi, a little panicked, moved her feet in order to catch up to him; and accompanied by the sound of her footsteps she reached the wide clearing.

“…Oh.”

The sound of the received goods being delivered, the murmurs of people, the sound of cargo vehicles moving and the unobstructed sunlight drowned Masazumi’s body. The two traveled the footpath designated by a rope as being under pedestrian priority.

“Well then, Masazumi-kun. Once we get all the documents proving that you have delivered me you can return and have some fun.”

“Okay. Also, President Sakai, as you are one of the Four Heavenly Kings of the Matsudaira you probably know it; but Lord Tadakatsu’s daughter and I were in the same grade in the past, so if you meet with her send her my regards.”

“Ahh, she was… Will she come today? Well, if I meet her I’ll speak to her.”

After saying “thank you very much,” Masazumi thought about what Sakai had told her just now about “stepping inside”. Something similar to that was also said to her today by another person. Therefore…

“There’s something I want to investigate today, so I’ll be focusing into that.”

“Hmm, what is it?”

“The ‘Remorse Way’. I was told that if I investigate it, I’ll understand everyone.”

Masazumi nodded in her heart. This has to be one step inside, she thought.

When she said that, Sakai had a single reaction before her eyes.

He laughed.

Eh?

Masazumi lost all her words against that sudden laughing and Sakai smiled to her to bid his farewell.

“That’s pretty good. As everyone is getting ready for Toori’s confession tomorrow, all of them are probably preparing for the celebration or something given that they are going to hold a party at the Academy tonight. Also, from today onwards the crown prince Azuma-kun has thrown away his position and powers and restarted his life at Musashi. And lastly, there is going to be a festival and fireworks under the instructions of the Lord Teacher. All of it seems unconnected…but they are all new activities, and celebrations too.”

After a single breath, Sakai continued his words.

“It would be nice if learning about the ‘Remorse Way’ could be your new activity, Masazumi-kun.”

He let out another breath.

“There is a lot of stuff that I don’t know about, but I hope that Masazumi-kun ends up being at Toori’s side along with all the people now with him.”


Notes[edit]

  1. This is a reference to 闇鍋 (dark pot), a potluck (stew variety) eaten in the dark (as entertainment). 光鍋 (light pot) is used, due to the rather bright reactions of lit magnesium. The following sentence uses 光臨 (to show respect), but this is a pun with 光 (light), saying that the pot welcomes everyone. This was changed to something that actually makes sense in English.