Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 08
Chapter 08: Doubters in the Depths of a Ravine
To go and to return is the path there and back.
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 at the mountain where "Kagamihara" 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 above its six-tatami structure.
Two people in crimson uniforms with the 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. Right now, the one wearing a senior uniform was looking to the mountain range.
"...As expected, today we had a lot of transport squads. Has the confusion in the checkpoint over here ended already?"
The boy watching Mikawa, that was at the foot of the mountain, nodded. Then, he looked at the base's checkpoint with his rifle's scope.
"...Right now, the foot is pretty packed. It's been said recently that it'd be quicker to detour over to the other side, at the western corridor which connects to the common use continental port where our squad is, but on the other side there are things like wooden bridges, 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. Thanks 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 angel's community fansite on the net."
The boy gestured towards the town of Mikawa with his rifle.
In response, his senior turned the 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 flat structure was covering a large portion of the center of said street. That 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 wooded 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 Leyline Reactors forbidden in all the Testament Tsirhcian territories since the Harmonic Unifiaction War. The previous Nagoya city was modified into that under the request of P.A.ODA ten years ago. That is a workshop born from the 'clearing out' national policy."
"The 'clearing out', huh..."
The senior who the upperclassman character 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, with the exception of a few important officials they made the automatons to inherit the remaining names to avoid the chaos that cames from that. That happened to your family too?"
"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 avoiding that topic, he peered at New Nagoya Castle through his scope.
"This 'clearing out' was not just about the automatons. With the four operational Leyline Reactors in New Nagoya Castle extracting ether from the leylines, strange phenomena became something very frequent in the town center. I'm talking about stuff like monsters wandering at night, roads warping and mysterious disappearances."
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 own 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 to the Sagami province, and even now they are operating it from the inside."
"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 there are Lord Motonobu and a few more individuals. The automatons are subjected to memory controls and if they try to break the protected confidentiality 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 words.
"All of them were found a week later being otaku at Nihonbashi with paper-bags in their hands, right? Not only they had no memory of what happened for some reason, but there was also the strange occurrence that they were totally naked with two-coloured tatoos of little girls drawn on their asses... After that, no other country sent more squads fearing the embarrassment."
He breathed again.
"The Tsirhc Testament spread rumours about 'the dangers of a Leyline Reactor Meltdown' because they considered them dangerous, true? They even remade the opera 'Sodom and Gomorrah have disappeared!', that was about a time where one of those meltdowns happened and everything in a ten kilometer radius was annihilated, into some mournful tragedy across all Europe. So 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 shoulder and pointed at the village with his finger.
"...Although it's the noon already, the smoke of people cooking is completely nonexistent and the vicinity of the city center is not even moving. In the villages, strange words of blood were 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 hunir figure pointed towards the mountain road.
"Ah, look there at the street road descending to the checkpoint. It's amazing to see two people there... they are the Musashi Academy principal Sakai Tadatsugu and the student council vice-president Honda Masazumi. Nimble even walking, just like the rumours, right? After that Academy Principal of Musashi was demoted and cut 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 checked that their baggage was heavy.
"One of the Four Heavenly Kings of Matsudaira, spared from the inherited name stripping by the automatons, Sakai Tadatsugu. His current position as Musashi Academy Principal 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."
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 the member of the Four Heavenly Kings of 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 she 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, right?"
"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 had a sex change operation to turn her into a boy... However, in the earlier stages after her breasts were removed and 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 as 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..."
Atop the mountain path, a path towards the checkpoint, which was a transportation relay base, Sakai and Masazumi walked.
If one looked at the checkpoint from the mountain, it was a wide standby vehicle point where cargo vehicles on standby waiting to take luggage were lined up, and a wide clearing with warehouses. The valley as a natural barrier, it performed the exchange of goods between the bottom and top. At the reception of the checkpoint, people were lined up into fives lines, but the place that Sakai was walking was not at a distance where their voices and the exchange could still be heard.
Sakai and Masazumi walked the mountain path, hardened by the cargo vehicles. The two, traveling the mountainside where a wall of stone was to their left, would laugh at times, and at times they would exchange words whilst tilting their heads. Even now, Sakai was again forming a smile at the edge of his mouth-
"--speaking of which, it's about how tomorrow, Toori is going to confess. Then, what is Masazumi-kun going to do at night? Like I said before, it seems that Toori and company are going to make some noise over at the Academy, will you go together and even be the fire extinguisher smokescreen?"
"I am the Vice-President. If I did that kind of thing and it became known to the Testament Union--"
"It's alright. You'll just look like you're the same as them."
"Then, I can't do it, can I?--Generally, what is that, the Chancellor yet Student Council President suddenly announcing that he's going to confess and raising a racket at the Academy...even the other day, when we had the huge meeting for potluck in the dark, he ignited the experimental-use magnesium with the lab room's alcohol lamp and flask, and didn't it become 'Boom!'"
"Yeah, you can't make dark pot into light pot. Or rather, the pot paid its respects."[1I 1]
"No, it wasn't like that, was it..."
In response to Masazumi, who spoke as if troubled, Sakai laughed. Continuing like that for a few seconds, eventually he sucked in a breath-
"Well, I'm just saying that there's that way of passing the time too, you know."
'I wonder,' Masazumi folded her arms as if protect herself. Besides that, tilting her neck-
"The day before, he started some trouble at a restaurant on Tama's surface-section, covered one of Mitotsudaira's business partners, completely naked, in cream, and stuck an eel up his butt. It became a little bit of an incident, didn't it."
"That did happen, but about that."
Sakai looked at Masazumi out of the corner of his eye. That Masazumi pulled back slightly in response, he confirmed-
"--Did you know that that gourmet noble wanted the Mitotsudaira family and came to court Nate?"
"Whether he was from Hexagone Francaise or the Far East, I don't know, but aiming for the inheritance of a name, he tried to form a marital relationship with the Mitotsudaira family. With that, well, he tried to get in as a business partner. Nate is strong willed, but she's the type to think hard upon her position and family. I was consulted, you know."
'Then', Masazumi twisted her eyebrows.
"That mess was President Sakai's work?"
"Heyheyheyhey, don't suspect me. I didn't do anything--within those guys, somebody noticed, right? It's the small Musashi, after all...Well, it was probably a coincidence, but-"
"But, on the emotional front, Nate thanks everyone, right?"
'Then,' as if punctuating sound by sound, he made his introduction.
And suddenly, again he looked at Masazumi out of the corner of his eye and opened his mouth. While looking around the area-
"--Indeed, it's strange today. Has Masazumi-kun noticed?"
"Strange? If you say that..."
Masazumi, who questioned in response, looked the the surroundings, the flow of cargo vehicles and people.
However, after a little while, Masazumi tilted her head, as if saying: "I don't know", and Sakai pointed at the checkpoint, visible in the distance. Pointing out the cargo vehicles lined up, waiting to receive-
"--That it's all cargo vehicles that are mostly empty, you heard from Shirojiro, but do you understand what it means? Masazumi-kun?"
Surprised, Masazumi raised her voice.
"Even if there is cargo heading towards Musashi, there's no cargo coming from Musashi, right? In short, orders for purchase coming from Mikawa are little in number...This is the first time that I've seen the Mikawa checkpoint from the Musashi-side, but it's true that in this one year, the other checkpoints were different, I think."
"Indeed, normally, there's more cargo coming from our side. This time, there's strangely nothing."
At Sakai, who was frowning, Masazumi, who had advanced one step forward, spoke while turning back.
"...Is it because Mikawa has advanced the 'clearing out,' or is this the result of the reduction of people from Phenomena, that it has become such that goods aren't really needed? But despite that, sending goods to Musashi from itself, it somehow seems like--"
"--It seems like Mikawa is distributing mementos of itself before it dies, trying to isolate itself from the world, doesn't it."
"Hey, hey, don't say scary stuff. It's just that Mikawa is under the locked country condition, exchange isn't allowed, and they're putting some distance between themselves and Musashi. But well..."
'I don't really know', the instant Sakai nodded.
Suddenly, a figure came from above. Above his head. Like a cloud, a large figure crossed the sky.
"That is--a boat?"
The figure of a boat which the two looked up towards was not but one. Almost directly above, several ships were coming. And at the west, above the mountains, a noticeably colossal white ship, sounding a deep noise and traveling, was-
"Belonging to K.P.A Italia, the Jormungandr-class Galley 'Regno Unito' owned by Pope-Chancellor Innocentius. The escort is Tres España's security squadron. The head of the Catholics came all the way here, a place where Mlasi's P.A. ODA's hands can reach, huh. The Pope-Chancellor came for the negotiations of armament development, was it?"
'Yes', Masazumi opened her mouth.
"It's because P.A. ODA is concentrating on their attack of Asai. In that opening, they're going to plea for the development of the new-model Logismoi Oplo, one type of Divine Armament. Carrying a fragment of the world's power balance, none but eight in this world, City-Destruction Class Personal Armaments. The armaments, designating the Eight Evil Thoughts of the humans whom were treated the original imprints of the Seven Deadly Sins as their motif, the users are called the 'Eight Dragon Kings'."
"You're well informed, aren't you. The Eight Evil Thoughts... can you say them?"
'Jud.', Masazumi said. And, Masazumi nodded-
"GluttonyGastrimargia, LustPorneia, AvaricePhylargyria, LamentingLypē , WrathOrgē, DejectionAkedia, VaingloryKenodoxia and PrideHyperēphania--in the sixth century, they were assembled as seven by Gregorious the First. Vainglory was included in Pride, Lamenting and Dejection were assembled as Sloth, and furthermore EnvyPhtonos was added, becoming seven. Because of that--"
"Now, the Deadly Sins of people are said to be seven, but originally, they were the Eight Evil Thoughts that were warned of by the greek Evagrius in Egypt. Now, The Seven Deadly Sins spoken in Latin is something of the world ahead, originally --the original recordings were the Greek's Eight Evil Thoughts."
Masazumi spoke. Starting to walk once again, whilst scraping the dirt stuck to her zōri-type slippers on the dried road-
"And, was it ten years ago?"
In the midst of the shadow of the ship traveling the sky, Masazumi remembered those days while looking at her feet.
"Right before Musashi's Grand Renovation, while concluding the end of the talks to make the provisional alliance with P.A. ODA a formal alliance, Lord Motonobu sent eight Logismoi Oplo to the countries belonging to the Testament, besides P.A. ODA. That was--"
● GluttonyGastrimargia: Holy Roman EmpireM.H.R.R.
● LustPorneia: K.P.A Italia
● AvaricePhylargyria: England
● LamentingLypē: Tres España
● WrathOrgē: Sviet Russia
● DejectionAkedia: Tres España
● VaingloryKenodoxia: Hexagone Francaise
● PrideHyperēphania: Hexagone Francaise
"Tres España and Hexagone Francaise hold two, but this was in response to the Sins which were grouped when the Eight Deadly Sins became the Seven Deadly Sins. In short, the output is at a low setting--however, it seems that Tres España brought it into the New World and pressured the feralized Mechanized Beasts into extinction. According to the rumours, it seems that they with a few kilounits, they drove in a large-scale destruction. Speaking in terms of power, the Divine Armament, using the Testament as a medium, is the same rank as the Testamenta Arma, but different from the Testamenta Arma, whose use is constrained by doctrine, Deadly Sin Armaments can be used freely. This is because Deadly Sin Armaments are also Reprimandative Armaments, used for the sake of informing the opponent of their sins."
Masazumi looked at the western sky. Looking at the ship wrapped in white armour, facing towards the continental port, "Regno Unito".
"The rumour is, the Pope came all the way here this time is because he's trying to have 'Phtonos' of the Seven Deadly Sins made. In any case, currently, K.P.A Italia is hurrying against the appearance of the Protestants and the decline in Middle-Eastern trade." that
"The Pope-Chancellor is also a wielder of a Deadly Sin Armament, so he is one of the Eight Dragon Kings, but he's the head of the Catholics, so it seems he hates that name...Even though that's the case, he desires a new Deadly Sin Armament, so even if K.P.A. Italia is making a profit in international lending like Lombardia, it's rather troublesome."
"Fundamentally, lending is forbidden for Catholics, so other than being able to take the money as taxes, it has to be maintained by irregular races and the irregular Testament for which this circulation of money is possible, and more than anybody else, the Far East's lending businesses. The direct lending and borrowing of money is strict, so we act as a mediator for things like the borrowing of land mortgage, don't we. The Pope-Chancellor is in a really tight spot."
Sakai, who said that, formed a drooping smile at the corner of his mouth.
"What is it?"
The instant Masazumi relaxed her shoulders and took a step forward.
"Masazumi-kun--the rumours attached to the Deadly Sin Armaments, do you know them?"
"The attached rumours...?"
'Jud., Jud., Jud.,' Sakai nodded three times. At that point, he stuck his index finger up and said this.
"--The rumours that Logismoi Oplo uses humans as its components."
At Sakai's words, Masazumi slightly lost hold of hers.
The rumour which Sakai had spoken of just now had been heard by Masazumi before. That rumour was this.
"To weaponize the power of the Deadly Sins, humanity's original sin, it is appropriate to use humans as components..."
"Right, right, something like, 'wasn't the reason that people have disappeared from Nagoya actually because they've been made into components of Deadly Sin Armaments?'"
"Th-there's nothing like that."
Masazumi recalled the memories of living in Mikawa.
"If it wasn't a rumour, it would be a problem. Generally, when I was there, the citizens would properly give out a notice of change of residence before leaving, and if it wasn't that, when their whereabouts become unknown in a similar manner as the recent Phenomena, there should be an uproar."
'Right?' said Sakai. However, continuing to look up at the sky-
"Will things related to this end as a rumour? Masazumi-kun?"
Sakai spoke. Looking this way, he formed a broad smile at the edges of his mouth-
"I--thought that it would be interesting if Masazumi-kun also came over to this side."
"By saying 'this side'..."
"The side where we would be able to calmly talk about things like my past."
Past, that is-
"Just for example, the reason for me being demoted to Musashi--that I, adhering to the descriptions of the Testament, made the person who had inherited the name of my lord's heir commit suicide. The side where you would be able to smile and bring those words to your lips."
That which Sakai was saying. I know the reason of his demotion. It is something which anybody would know if they were a resident of Mikawa. That one of the Four Heavenly Kings had, even if having obeyed the Testament's description, made the heir of his lord commit suicide.
Once the lord of Mikawa, Lord Motonobu had no wife, and he had no heir.
...Therefore, Lord Motonobu let his little brother inherit a name as his heir, but--
According to the descriptions of the Testament, he had committed suicide due to trouble with the Oda family.
Was it because there was that too? Around fifteen years ago, because Mikawa had no inheritor of the name Nobunaga in P.A. ODA, they refused alliance, and it seemed they tried to overcome the Testament's description with 'Broad Interpretation', but-
...Because of P.A. ODA's encirclement, a provisional alliance was formed, half under duress.
In those circumstances, as a proof of loyalty, they pressured for the lord younger brother, having become his heir, to commit suicide.
Sakai, the protector of the lord younger brother, was demoted for the reason of being unable to stop the suicide.
According to rumour, Lord Nobuyasu wished for death, and when Sakai had ran to his side, it was all too late.
The reason for Sakai's demotion which Masazumi knew of, was that.
'I can't simply bring those words to my lips', is the me who thinks that naive?
But, inside my field of vision, Sakai, without erasing the smile at the edge of his mouth, said this.
"Then, Masazumi-kun, you seem to be thinking a lot of things, but if there was a continuation to that conversation, what would you do?"
"...Eh? A continuation?"
'Jud. Jud.', Sakai said twice.
"If actually, Lord Motonobu...had an illegitimate wife, and had children outside?"
Masazumi lost all words for an instant. However, she forcibly opened her mouth. She shouldn't even be able to understand the information which she was suddenly told of, and there was also the feeling where the core of her mind was not firm, yet as a measure to confirm truth or fiction-
"No way. If that kind of child existed..."
Because the lord younger brother who had inherited the name of his heir had committed suicide, that child would become the heir, wouldn't he? However-
"Now, where is that child, and what is he doing...? Why doesn't he come out into the open?"
"That's why, I said this earlier, didn't I?"
"If you want to know, step inside, come to this side, Masazumi-kun--You wish to be a politician, and you also seem to be thinking of grand things, but you're bad at taking one step inside, aren't you?"
'But,' Sakai said.
"I like being bullied, you know--So, won't you step in to me?"
Sakai, who spoke those words, suddenly sped up his gait.
The wind moved, the sound of clothes rustling resounded. As if being surreptitiously held by Sakai, the tanto at the back of his waist shook-
"--Well, let's keep the conversation to that. Then...shall we?"
'Eh?' Masazumi chased Sakai with her gaze, and passing by a single climbing horse-drawn carriage, he merely headed towards the checkpoint's wide clearing. Masazumi, a little panicked, had moved her feet in order to catch up, and together with the sound of her footsteps, she went out into the wide clearing-
The sound of the delivery of received cargo, and the murmurs of people, the sound of cargo vehicles starting as well as the unobstructed sunlight drowned Masazumi's body. The two traveled the footpath, separated by rope under pedestrian priority-
"Then, Masazumi-kun, when we first of all get the documented proof of you having sent me, afterward you can return and have some fun."
"Ah, yes. Also, President Sakai, if you were one of the Mastsudaira Four Heavenly Kings, you might know, I think, but if you meet with Lord Tadakatsu's daughter, please speak to her nicely. Before, she and I were in the same grade."
"Ahh, she was...Will she come today? Well, if I meet her, I'll speak to her."
While saying, 'thank you very much,' Masazumi thought. Of what she had been told by Sakai just now, 'step inside'. There was a memory of being told something close to that today, by another person. Therefore-
"Today, there's something that I was thinking of investigating, so I'll be focusing on that."
"Hmm, what is it?"
"'Remorse Way'. If I investigate it, I'll understand everyone, so I was told."
Masazumi nodded in her heart. 'This too is one step inside,' she thought.
With that, before her eyes, Sakai showed a single reaction.
Masazumi lost all words against that sudden voice of laughter, and Sakai gave a smile in farewell.
"That's good--preparing for the event of Toori confessing tomorrow, everyone is also probably preparing for that celebration or something, and they're having a festival party at the Academy at night. And Azuma-kun, who was the crown price, has thrown away that position and power, restarting his life at Musashi from today onwards, and Mikawa is, by the instruction of Lord-sensei, going to have fireworks and a festival tonight. Everything seems to be unconnected...they are new activities, and activities of celebration."
After a single breath, Sakai continued his words.
"It would be nice if learning of 'Remorse Way' would be Masazumi-kun's new activity."
"The things that I don't know are still many, but even so...that Masazumi-kun comes to the side of Toori, all those with him, and I, I pray."
Translator's notes and references
- 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. Magnesium burns at up to 2200 degrees Celsius; water makes it flare. Don't forget the alcohol lamp.
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