Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 13
Chapter 13: The Authorities at the Rendezvous Point
Even if you are one with power
What do you have to do
To stand in a person's ground
Point Allocation (Overlooking)
The sky started to turn from the color of afternoon to that of evening.
At this time the sky’s blue lightly loses its hue, becoming a color not quite described by aquamarine or yellow.
Below that particular sky, there existed a town with a vast, flat surface at its center.
In the town, the wooden surface spread out as if hammered flat. Its four walls and surroundings all showed the following display: “NEW NAGOYA CASTLE ATELIER of MATSUDAIRA.”
New Nagoya Castle. The colossal workshop that occupied the majority of Mikawa’s streets.
However, at every entrance to the workshop and every cargo loading door automatons armed for security stood unmoving. Machines were everywhere.
Conversely, there were no people anywhere.
Between the workshop and town there lay a moat. And on the other side of the moat, there were also automatons patrolling and cleaning the roads of the town; but the majority of the town was devoid of humans. The entrances and shutters to the majority of the houses were closed.
And now, two figures were walking the streets where the long shadows of the houses lay.
They were Sakai and Sakakibara.
Sakakibara was walking ahead; but the one who did most of the talking was Sakai, who followed Sakakibara from behind.
“—So, in our Academy, it seems like there’s people who took names. Like Naomasa, and there’s Neshinbara, that you get if you take out one of the things in your name. …Also, are we going to your new place? I never come this far, since I always finish my business at the checkpoint. This place’s changed quite a lot too. The canal that everyone threw you in after you kept on complaining that it was hot that one summer was around here, wasn’t it?”
“That canal was buried because of the construction of New Nagoya Castle; I took the initiative to take command of that particular project.”
“Then, this was the place? Stop stepping all over my memories. You’re a horrible man.”
Sakai spoke. Uncaring of the fact that Sakakibara had hunched his shoulders up in anger and was walking quicker, he looked around the area while whistling.
His roaming gaze looked over the automatons that were maintaining the grounds and the walls of the road. Every one of them was…
“…I thought they were simply cleaning, but this… Words of blood due to the phenomena are pretty common, aren’t they? Like things from beyond, the holes in the floor; those were caused by claws, weren’t they?”
“Many things are coming out here, and not just things that had happened in past records. After this year began, the frequency and type suddenly increased. One night, black figures lined up and marched around the town. We think that it was one type of night wandering. Carriages drawn by headless horses, things that cannot be seen but whose footsteps can be heard…words of blood appearing on the wall and floor happens every day this year. That’s why I don’t go outside at night. It seems that Honda-kun does differently, though.”
“Does Da-chan still like that kind of thing like he did before? —Well, how’s the town’s defenses?”
“The Atsuta Shrine’s barrier is still effective when it comes to the houses. They need something on the level of a vital point, though.”
“Isn’t that for the use of a castle?” Sakai shrugged. In response, Sakakibara mirrored the movement.
“Well, the Atsuta style specializes in battle.”
So he said before suddenly looking up to the sky.
The sky’s color had faded, becoming thin, and there was the outline of a ship in the western reaches.
Sakakibara said this concerning the rectangular black ship:
“…Immediately after the ship of the Pope-Chancellor, that Tres España’s ship has come. They most likely plan to switch places with Honda-kun’s daughter’s advance ship and land in the port. That’s…”
“It’s Tres España’s Kraken class Inquisition warship. In essence, Tres España’s special squadron, well versed even against monsters. They transport the Andamio de la Ejecución, able to perform ether decomposition even on earth dragon levels. By showing it off, they display the measure of their power. Though it may be in a territory where P.A. Oda’s power extends, if there’s any incident, they will act without mercy.”
Outlined in black by the light shining behind it, the bottom of its stern carried a massive battle platform.
Seeing that, Sakai heaved a sigh.
“The user of the Logismoi Óplo should be riding inside that. That would be because Tres España’s user of the Logismoi Óplo, one of the Eight Great Dragon Kings, Tachibana Muneshige was the vice squadron leader of the the Inquisition squad. Maybe to escort the Pope-Chancellor? This is really bad…two of the Dragon Kings coming here? It’s almost like this is a war-torn territory.”
“Well, no continental port bars like the one in the outskirts are currently in operation, so they won’t be coming here. They’ve probably come here to hinder us while showing their forced loyalty to the Pope-Chancellor. Tres España, being the great power that it is, won’t have any plans of giving K.P.A. Italia, who wants to come back from the ashes, a new Logismoi Óplo, will they?”
So Sakai spoke. He looked at New Nagoya Castle, its flat shadow coming into view.
“Mikawa’s this popular with every country, but needless to say, no countries can have any exchanges with Musashi, huh. With the clearing out of the populace and the many phenomena, there isn’t anybody here — Is that really alright?”
“If I said that it was?”
“—I’d say: ‘You can’t be hiding something strange that you’re doing, can you?’ ”
He took a breath.
“Our students said this. It’s true that the flow of goods from Mikawa is strange. ‘It seems like they’re distributing mementos,’ I think they said — What’s going on with Mikawa right now? What are you thinking?”
Starting up his feet again, that had stopped at some point, Sakai asked. Sakakibara had stopped as well. Tapping him on the shoulder, Sakai hurried him to start walking.
“What’s wrong with Ii? He was in charge of politics and innovation, wasn’t he? I want to hear his response…”
“He was spirited away.”
Suddenly yet softly, he said this.
“Do you know of the person who’s said to have started these spiriting away cases…the ‘Princess’?”
Beneath the sky where the sun was starting to set, Sakai and Sakakibara continued to walk. And as they did, Sakai asked Sakakibara a question in return.
“Ii’s spiriting away…and the Princess?”
“Have you heard about it? It’s an existence that started to be spoken of around thirty years ago. At that time, it spread around as an urban legend amongst the children; but more recently, it seems that it’s been spreading around a little more.”
“Then or now, if it’s among the children’s generation, then it’s way out of my jurisdiction.”
Sakai smiled wryly while saying this.
“This ‘Princess’ refers to the daughter of the Chinese royal family… And if I know about the Princess Disappearances, then it follows that I’d know about it. Even recently, Musashi’s Asama and Masazumi have been involved with it. When Masazumi transferred to Musashi, her mother had been a victim of a Princess Disappearance; and there’s a mention of it amongst the phenomena Asama occasionally talks about.”
“Judge, I see. Then, this will be quick.”
With that, Sakakibara cleared his throat.
“Let me say one thing in advance. Now, Mikawa is extremely different from what it was when you were here.”
“Please try to hunt down the Princess. For the sake of learning everything.”
“Judge. I’m talking about the person who’s leaving the words of blood and carrying out the most spiriting away amongst all the other phenomena. I don’t know who chose this name, but we call them ‘Princess’ or even ‘Princesses’. Well, according to rumor their true identity is that of a noble’s illegitimate child, or that the perpetrator’s actual name is Koushu Tachi. There are many other explanations.”
Bathing in the wind that had started to blow through the town, Sakai asked a question to Sakakibara’s back as Sakakibara walked ahead of him.
“Why do you know that someone like that exists? Weren’t the Princess Disappearances a type of spiriting away?”
“When Ii-kun’s whereabouts became unknown, there was something in the study where he was supposed to be.”
Sakai watched as Sakakibara looked back, even while walking.
However, he couldn’t see Sakakibara’s expression. His face had fallen into shadow due to the sun’s light from the mountains.
Sakai listened to Sakakibara’s voice, which could still be heard though his face remained wreathed in shadow.
“ ‘Playtime is over’ was written on the sliding screen of the study from where Ii-kun disappeared. The inkstone and pen that he would have been using up till that point were left as they were. The paper he had opened up was untouched.”
“…And the perpetrator? If the perpetrator was there, the guard automatons must have seen someone, right?”
“Isn’t passing through automatons’ defense a simple thing for you and I? Also, Ii-kun’s study was slightly apart from his main mansion. Even the automatons patrolling the gardens have blind spots.”
A wry smile.
“The Lord said that: ‘It’s because Ii’s naive.’ Now, I think that way as well.”
Sakakibara suddenly stopped.
However, he was still making noise. It came from his feet. The sound was of Sakakibara drawing a diagram in the sand with the toe of his grass slippers.
What he drew was a circle with a a line crossing horizontally through it.
“—This is called the Double Border Crest. A double boundary line formed by the boundary line of the circle as well as the boundary line piercing it. When the Princess appeared, it was a symbol they always left behind. It was also found in Ii-kun’s study.”
He drew a breath.
Once again, Sakakibara turned to face forward.
Once again, he started to walk.
Once again, all Sakai could see was his back.
“The Princesses exist. To be honest, I didn’t believe it myself, but…the people who follow the incidents of spiriting away as well as the other phenomena should have noticed its existence. The existence of the symbol that is always left behind by this phenomena.”
“Do you know about this?”
“Ii-kun told me about it. The Princesses are trying to save the world by kidnapping people, giving the world a warning. And every time…they intentionally finish with a symbol.”
Having been told this, Sakai noticed something. The automatons were wiping off letters of blood from everywhere in town, but…
…Were there any among them that were written by the Princess?
The phenomena don’t exhibit any kind of clear will, and it’s rare that they have any kind of continuity. However, the Princess Disappearances have that trait. If the Princesses that Sakakibara had spoke of further were a part of this…
…They’re an organization?
In this age, organizations are limited to faiths and Academies. Judging from the name “Princess” they should be related to China, specifically the Far East; but there are kingdoms in Europe as well, so if you think of the lords there as “Princesses”, the possibilities suddenly widen. So, I shouldn’t be asking about the country, but I should be asking…
“Who…are they? Are they people from some Academy or faith? How are they related to the current situation in Mikawa!?”
“I plan on giving those materials to you.”
Sakakibara’s feet halted.
In front of him there stood a single residence. A mansion surrounded by a bamboo fence.
In front of the small gate, Sakakibara raised his right hand slightly.
“There’s a teashop over there. It’s a shop run by the automatons that control my district. I’ll have them bring the documents there at 8:30. Please wait a little bit.”
“Hey, c’mon, let me wait inside your house.”
“—My house is in the same neighborhood as Honda-kun’s, you know? It seems that Honda-kun doesn’t want to talk to you about Ii-kun… I think he doesn’t want to make you worry.”
“So that means that you want to make me worry? …You’re a disgusting man.”
Sakakibara did not immediately respond to those words. He stayed silent for a few moments, eventually smiling and lifting his head.
“I don’t want the Four Heavenly Kings to lose a comrade.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” he said. His tone lightened, as if to change the topic.
“This is a little off-topic, but regarding P-01s, who you asked about earlier…it’s just like what you think.”
“If that’s so…”
Sakai inhaled, tensing his body. Sakakibara waved his hand at him lightly.
He started by saying, “You’re getting ahead of yourself.”
“The Lord will tell you the reasoning tonight. Please wait for that.”
“Tonight… Mikawa is celebrating with fireworks, right?”
“It will be an interesting festival. I’ve only till it starts to go home, so please wait at the teashop there. I’ll have the automatons bring the documents over.”
“Then…we part here?”
Sakakibara smiled. It felt like he smiled.
Shoulders trembling from suppressed emotion, Sakakibara lowered his right hand, cast in shadow due to the light behind it.
“This isn’t a parting—we are the Matsudaira Four Heavenly Kings. I believe that we, Ii-kun included, are always together.”
A ship traversed the sky.
As if in answer, another ship came.
This location was southwest of Mikawa, in the skies close to the open-air continental port meant for common-usage. The wooden ship of the security squad, boasting Musashi Ariadust Academy’s school emblem on its sides, was headed towards the west. In its place, a black rectangular ship marked with the emblem of Tres España’s Alcalá de Henares, representing that country’s emblem, came.
The two ships took a course that would take them past each other’s right side, heading towards their respective destinations with great turns.
The wooden ship took a trajectory that rose up and to the west. The black ship took a trajectory that descended down towards Mikawa’s continental port.
The rectangular black ship lowered its altitude. It had kept the Andamio de la Ejecución, which was like a folded scaffold, below the prow. There were several figures riding atop the black deck, but the majority of them were sailors signalling and running final checks for their arrival at the port.
Close to the prow, on the part of the deck further forward where they worked, there was a boy and a girl.
The girl was short and the boy was tall. The girl had black hair and the boy was blonde. The girl was looking towards the continental port with the binoculars she was holding in her prosthetic arms.
Both of them were clad in the uniforms of Tres España, and they were wearing the school emblem that signified that they were past their third year.
In the midst of the gentle wind, they felt the sunlight of the afternoon’s end as it streamed towards them from the west. As they did this, the boy lightly dipped his blonde head towards the nearby sailors. The ends of his eyebrows curved downwards as he smiled.
“I’m sorry for disturbing your work.”
He said, and the sailors smiled back at him while continuing their work.
“When Muneshige, the vice squadron leader, goes to a place all can see, the attitudes of the ships around are different—after all, you’re one of the Eight Great Dragon Kings, Muneshige-san, able to wield the Logismoi Óplo and hold your own against the Papa Schola.”
“My Lypē Katathlipse is just one of the two given to Tres España. Its relative priority has fallen compared to the one that the Pope-Chancellor carries, Stithos Porneia, so whether or not it would go through if I were to fight him is unclear.”
Still looking through her binoculars, the girl said this in response to his self-deprecating words.
“Muneshige-sama, please refrain from treating the Tachibana name as something for show. You, the ‘Peerless in the West’, have the skill to make up for the difference in weapons; and your double inheritance of the names Garcia and Tachibana means—”
“Tes, I understand, Gin-san. I was just talking about our weapons.”
She took a breath, pulling her face away from the binoculars in response to his words. Hanging the binoculars around her neck, she looked at Musashi’s advance ship. It flew the skies to the west of them, leaving.
“It seems that the daughter of the ‘Peerless in the East’, Honda Tadakatsu, was riding that advance ship.”
“I’ve never met either of them, but I wonder if Honda-sama is thinking of passing on his name to his daughter.”
“I wonder. When you think about it, it is a bit of a waste.”
Speaking those words, Gin narrowed her eyes and lightly hugged herself with her two prosthetic arms. While doing this, she looked at Muneshige.
“Please go to a place where you can be seen even from below the ship earlier. If he knew that a user of the Logismoi Óplo had come, the Papa Schola would hurry the production of new Logismoi Óplo made at Mikawa. He will know that he will be unable to do this using brute force.”
“Even though I can’t do anything but fight, I’m used quite often in a political manner.”
“Well.” Gin turned to Muneshige’s back, pushing him towards the prow. Muneshige scratched his head and nodded in acknowledgement as everyone watching the scene unfold gave a small chuckle.
“Yet, the Tsirhc faith places heavy weight on the Commandments. It’s strange that the leader of the Catholics, the Pope-Chancellor, would come to hurry the manufacturing of the Logismoi Óplo, since they take the deadly sins as their motif.”
“That would be because men are all idiots that want to go: ‘I are super strong!’ ”
“…Gin-san, you say some amazing things once in a while.”
“Yes, I do.”
She did not refute him.
“Well, the Logismoi Óplo are different from the commandments and the Testamenta Arma, which are restricted to a certain area. They are weapons that aim to teach through bad examples, weapons whose usage embody the idea that, ‘humanity’s deadly sins are this terrifying.’ …They are weapons surrounded by mystery.”
During the latter half of her speech, her tone dipped slightly, becoming low.
No longer being pushed from the back, Muneshige stood on the prow. He turned to look at Gin over his shoulder.
“Gin-san, do you really believe in the rumors surrounding the Logismoi Óplo?”
“Tes. There are some rumors that have raised some doubts. Such as the one that says the Logismoi Óplo are weapons that hold humanity’s deadly sins as their motifs, but the materials for their creation are humans themselves…”
Gin breathed in, the sound tinged with a slight fatigue.
“If possible, I’d like to think that it’s a lie. I don’t want to think that the strength of the Tachibana name is built upon the sacrifice of human lives.”
“Yes… But well, I can understand why such rumors would circulate.”
Held implicitly within Gin’s gaze was that question. As the end of that gaze, Muneshige was at a loss for a moment. However…
“The deadly sins are things that humanity will always possess. They cannot be separated from us… By a certain definition, it is because they exist that we can say that we are human. Therefore, it’s obvious that it would be thought that to make weapons with the deadly sins as their motif would require humans as raw material. And even if it were true…”
He took a breath.
“It would be a martyrdom to die in order to bring balance to the world as well as to let the world know of the deadly sins, so it was concluded that it was a trivial matter by a conference in the past… Well, I would be one of those to hate it if it were true.”
“Tes, all I wanted to hear was what you said last. Also, Muneshige-sama…”
Gin stood within the wind, that had begun to contain the scent of surf. She did not push on Muneshige’s back, but supported it.
“…Please don’t lose. I’ll be able to ignore all the excuses and distrust if you do.”
“The Lypē Katathlipse isn’t responsible for Kenodoxia (Vainglory) and Hyperēphania (Pride), though.”
“It’s alright. You would lose if you slack and don’t perform at your best, and I would be sad if you lost. So, in order to keep me from being sad, please give your all, Kenodoxia (Vainglory) and Hyperēphania (Pride) included.”
“Tes.” Muneshige nodded. He looked at the wide continental port, which had come into view as they descended, and the ships anchored there.
He saw the colossal white ship in the midst of them…
“Papa Schola Innocentius is aboard Regno Unito. He’s wearing white. And also…”
Beside the white, long robe, there stood a massive crimson frame. It was one of the irregular races, goat horns sprouting from its head.
“The former professor, Galileo the demon. I heard that they restored him as a student in preparation for the Apocalypse. Now, he’s K.P.A. Italia’s second special duty officer… It seems like everyone wants to show off that ‘I are super strong!’ ”
“No matter how you think about it, I was definitely pushed to stand out here by Gin-san.”
“That’s within the error range. It’s alright. Tes, because Muneshige-sama is the strongest.”
Saying this, the two looked.
They looked at the man clad in the white robes of clergy, standing there on the deck of Regno Unito, anchored below them.
His black hair rustling in the sea breeze, the man with a slender frame held down his papal hat so that it would not be blown away. His face, past middle age, and crooked smile were directed their way.
Now, the black ship started to heavily turn to the west.
“A ship of the Tsirhc faith cannot look down on the Pope-Chancellor and make port… There’s only space to the south, quite far away from Nagoya.”
“It’d be troublesome if there was an emergency… Well, Lord Motonobu is holding a fireworks festival tonight, or something.”
Taking a breath, Gin looked up to the heavens. Staring at the twin moons that floated in the sky, she said this.
“—A celebration for whom and of what, I wonder…”
“Then, everyone. The festival will be starting now.”
A voice echoed through the empty town.
The town, bathed in the crimson remnants of daylight, was devoid of people. That which was there was…
“Automatons of Mikawa. Begin your respective activities.”
The automaton announcing this was Kazuno. And around her, things ground into action. Beyond the shadows, several movements set the wind spinning before dispersing and fading away.
Simultaneously. A torii-shaped signframe opened up before Kazuno’s eyes. Displayed on it was…
“Lord Motonobu — It has begun as scheduled. As for New Nagoya Castle’s ley line reactor—”
In the middle of the signframe, Motonobu smiled and nodded. He brought his glasses up to the bridge of his nose.
“Just as scheduled. The celebrations will only be leaked after eight. I’ll leave it to you until then. Tadakatsu is armed and heading towards the first location… But about him, is that really fine with you, Kazuno?”
“Judge. He was able to enjoy himself. Just like ten years ago. I have given a sufficient farewell.”
Saying this, Kazuno dipped her head.
“We do not know what Lord Motonobu is thinking, but as one who serves, I will be together with Tadakatsu-sama; I will protect him, staying with him to the last. You may start whenever you wish—”
She drew a breath. She raised her face, devoid of all expression. The object of her gaze was New Nagoya Castle, the square building that housed four ley line reactors and a unified reactor. She nodded in its direction.
“As the host, please enjoy this. It will be starting now…the last festival of Mikawa, who chose to face the world.”
- 榊原 (Sakakibara) as opposed to 神原 ([Ne]shinbara). The 木 is removed.
- Koushu is the pronunciation of 公主 (Princess) Tachi is a word that establishes plurality, so it is used in the case of the name ‘Princesses’.
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