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 "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 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..."
Sakai and Masazumi were walking atop the mountain path towards the checkpoint which was a transportation delivering base.
Looking at it from the mountain, the checkpoint was a wide parking lot were standby cargo vehicles were lined up waiting to take their goods and 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 fives rows at the reception of the checkpoint, but Sakai was walking too far to their voices and exchanges to be heard.
Sakai and Masazumi walked the mountain path full with cargo vehicles. As they traveled the side of the mountain with a stone wall at their left, they laughted and exchanged words moving their heads. Sakai was forming a smile at the edge of his mouth.
"...Speaking of the devil, tomorrow Toori is going to confess. What are you going to do at night? Like I said before, it seems that Toori and the rest are going to make some ruckus at the Academy, you can go with them and act as the fire extinguisher smokescreen."
"I am the vice-president. If I did something like that the Testament Union would know it..."
"It's alright, if you do that it will seem like you are the same as all of them."
"I can't do that, right? What we are even talking about, the chancellor an student council president suddenly announcing that he's going to confess and cause a ruckus at the Academy... The other day we had a huge meeting for a pot luck in the night and he ignited the experimental-use magnesium with a lab room's alcohol lamp and flask and didn't it went '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, seriously..."
Sakai laughed in response to Masazumi who was speaking troubled. Continuing like that for a few seconds, eventually he sighed.
"Well, I'm just trying to say that one can pass the time like that too, you know."
Masazumi wondered about it and folded her arms as if she was trying to protect herself. After that, she tilted her neck.
"Yesterday, he started some trouble at a retaurant on Tama's surface, when he covered one of Mitotsudaira business partners that was completely naked in cream and stuck an eel up his butt. That was quite the incident, don't you think?."
"That surely happened, but you know..."
Sakai looked at Masazumi out of the corner of his eye and in response Masazumi pulled back a bit.
"...Did you knew that what that gourmet really wanted was to court Nate to control the Mitotsudaira family?"
"I don't know if he was from Hexagone Française or the Far East, but he was trying to adquire a name inheritance and tried to form a marriage relationship with 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 that', Masazumi twisted her eyebrows.
"That mess was Principal 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, on the emotional side, Nate thanks everyone for that."
As if punctuating sound by sound, he made an 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, today it's really strange. Has Masazumi-kun noticed it?"
"Strange? What are you talking about..."
Questioning in response, Masazumi looked the surroundings and its 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?"
Surprised, Masazumi raised her voice.
"There is cargo heading towards Musashi but not coming out of it, right? In short, we almost don't have 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 during this year the other checkpoints were different, I think."
"Indeed, normally there's more cargo coming from our side, but this time, there's strangely nothing."
Masazumi advanced one step forward and spoke to a frowning Sakai while turning back.
"...Is this the result of Mikawa advancing in the 'clearing out'? Or is this the consequence of the people reducing their numbers due to the rising phenomena so goods aren't realy needed? But even so, just sending goods to Musashi, it feels as if——"
"—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 the conditions of a locked country so exchange isn't allowed. They're putting some distance between themselves and Musashi. But well..."
'I don't really know', the instant Sakai nodded...
Suddenly, a structure came from above his head. Like a cloud, that large shape crossed the sky.
"That is... a ship?"
The ship's shape they were looking up was ont alone, as almost directly above several ships were coming. 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, escorted by a Tres España's 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 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 plea for the development of a new Logismoi Oplo, one type of Divine Weapon that represent a fragment of the world's power balance, in other words City-Destruction Class Personal Armaments. These armaments have as their motif the embodiment of the Eight Evil Thoughts of humanity, the original prototypes of the Seven Deadly Sins and their users are called 'Eight Dragon Lords'."
"You're well informed, aren't you. The Eight Evil Thoughts... can you name them?"
'Jud.', Masazumi said. And then she nodded...
"GluttonyGastrimargia, LustPorneia, AvaricePhylargyria, LamentingLypē , WrathOrgē, DejectionAkedia, VaingloryKenodoxia and PrideHyperēphania—In the sixth century, they were assembled to seven by Gregorious the First. Vainglory was included in Pride, Lamenting and Dejection were combined as Sloth and EnvyPhtonos was added, becoming seven. Because of that..."
She left out a breath.
"Now, the Deadly Sins of man are 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 spoken in Latin are something of the present world. 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 proyected by the ships traveling in the sky, Masazumi remembered those days while looking at her feet.
"Right before Musashi's Grand Renovation, concluding the talks to make the provisional alliance with P.A.ODA a formal alliance, Lord Motonobu sent the eight Logismoi Oplo to all the Testament countries with the exception of P.A.ODA. Those were..."
● 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 Française
● PrideHyperēphania: Hexagone Française
"Tres España and Hexagone Française posess two because their sins were combined when the Eight Evil Thoughts became the Seven Deadly Sins. Their outputs are set at low settings... but it seems that Tres España brought their weapons to the New World and forced the feral Mechanical Beasts into extinction. Going by the rumours, they created such a large-scale destruction just with a few kilounits of ether. Just going with pure power, these Divine Weapons are in the same rank as the Testament Arma that use the Testament as a basis, and different from them in that while the Testamenta Arma are limited by the doctrine, the Logismoi Oplo can be used without restrictions. This is due to these Deadly Sin Armaments are reprimanding weapons used to make noticeable the sins of the opponent."
Masazumi looked at the western sky, to the white armoured ship that was facing towards the continental port, the "Regno Unito".
"The rumours say that the Pope came all the way here in this precise moment 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."
"The Pope-Chancellor is also the wielder of one of the Logismoi Oplo, so he is one of the Eight Dragon Lords, 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 for the Catholicism so in addition to being able to collect money with taxes, they have to be maintained by the unconventional races and the non-Testament regions were the monetary circulation is permitted and more than anybody else, by the Far East's loans businesses. The regulations on money lending and borrowing are really strict, so we are like their mediator with 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.
"What is it?"
That instant, Masazumi relaxed her shoulders and took a step forward.
"Masazumi-kun... Do you know the rumours related to the Logismoi Oplo?"
"The related rumours...?"
'Jud., Jud., Jud.,' Sakai nodded three times. At that point, he stuck his index finger up and said this.
"—The rumours that the Logismoi Oplo are composed of humans."
At Sakai's words, Masazumi slightly lost hold of herself.
The rumour that Sakai mentioned just now had been heard by Masazumi before. It went like this.
"To weaponize the power of the Deadly Sins and humanity's original sin, it is only appropriate to use humans as components..."
"Right, right, so is something like 'the reson why the people have disappeared from Nagoya is actually because they have been used as the components of the Logismoi Oplo'".
"Th-there's nothing like that."
Masazumi recalled the memories of living in Mikawa.
"If this wasn't just a rumour it would bring problems. When I was still there, Usually the citizens properly gave notice before leaving if they were changing their residence. If their whereabouts became unknown just like that in that 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 rumour, Masazumi-kun?"
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, made the person who was supposed to be the heir of my lord to commit suicide. The same side where you will be able to and bring that words to your lips."
I know about what Sakai was talking about, the reason of his demotion. It's just something that anybody would know if they were Mikawa's citizens. How even if obeying the Testament's decription, one of the Four Heavenly Kings made the heir of his lord to 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 a name as his heir.
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 of the 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 too those circumstances and as a 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 when he was unable to stop the suicide.
The rumours said that Lord Nobuyasu wished his own death and when Sakai run to help him, it was too late.
That was the reason that Masazumi knew to Sakai be demoted.
'I can't simply bring those words to my lips', I'm really that naive?
Inside my vision and without never 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 do if that had a continuation?"
"...Eh? A continuation?"
'Jud. Jud.', Sakai said twice.
"What if actually Lord Motonobu... 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 the information she just received and she had the feeling that her mind was still not stabilized, she asked to confirm truth for fiction.
"No way. If that kind of child existed..."
That would mean that as the lord's younger brother that inherited his heir 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?"
"If you want to know about it, step inside and come to our 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 taking one step inside, don't you think?"
'But,' Sakai added.
"I like being bullied, you know... So, why won't you step in to 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 tanto at the back of his waist shook.
"—Well, let's keep this conversation like that... shall we?"
Masazumi chased Sakai with her gaze as he merely headed towards the checkpoint's wide area and was passed by a single horse-drawn climbing carriage. Masazumi, a little panicked, moved her feet in order to catch up with him, and accompanied by the sound of her footsteps she went out into the wide clearing.
The sound the received goods being delivered, the murmurs of people, the sound of cargo vehicles marching and the unobstructed sunlight drowned Masazumi's body. The two traveled the footpath separated by a rope under pedestrian priority.
"Well then, Masazumi-kun. Once we get all the documents proving that you have sent me you can return and have some fun."
"Okay. Also, Principal Sakai, as you are one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Matsudaira you probably know it, but me and Lord Tadakatsu's daughter 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 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 had to be one step inside,' she thought.
When she said that Sakai showed a simple reaction before her eyes.
He just laughed.
Masazumi lost all her words against that sudden laughting 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 and the Academy this night. Also, the crown prince Azuma-kun has thrown away his position and powers and restarted his life at Musashi from today onwards. At last, under the instructions of the lord teacher, there is going to be fireworks and a festival tonight. All of it seems unconnected... but all of them are new activities and also celebrations.
After a single breath, Sakai continued his words.
"It would be nice if learning about the 'Remorse Way' would be your new activity, Masazumu-kun."
He left out another breath.
"There is a lot of stuff that I don't know but, I hope that Masazumi-kun ends being at Toori's side along all the people with him."
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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