Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 15

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Chapter 15: Gathered Friends in the Confined Room[edit]

Horizon1A 361.jpg

Idiots are not cured even if they die

If even the flux of life, death, and rebirth cannot match them

Which part of contradiction is that

Point Allocation (Human Nature)

“We have arrived at the library.”

The three figures nodded in response to those words. They had been following Asama through the dark corridors of the Academy.

One of the figures, Naomasa, was shouldering a meter and a half long wrench used to maintain the interior of the ship. She had a bored look on her face.

“How is it, Asama-chi? We don’t have spirit vision, so unless somethin’ really massive appears, we won’t be able to see it.”

Adele, who had stuck an exorcism charm to the Support Knight’s spear she normally used for practice, also spoke, her voice half a sigh.

“I know, right…? It’d be nice if there were like rapping noises or something else that’s easy to understand…”

The final person, who had started to turn her head left and right after hearing the words “rapping noises”, was Suzu. She shuffled backwards a step, the chip under her shoes clicking on the floor.

“…No, that’s, wa, I-I, scared, sound…no…”

“It’s alright, there is nothing here. Konoha doesn’t see anything strange either.”

Asama pointed at her green eye as she spoke, and both Adele and Suzu’s shoulders sagged with relief. The two drew a breath, but…

“But well, there’s something over there.”

Asama suddenly nocked her bow and sent an arrow flying down the corridor. After a second…

“Alright.”

Asama nodded. Naomasa stayed indifferent and silent, but Adele was panicked and Suzu trembling.

“W-what? What is it? What’s going on!?”

“Ah, please don’t worry about it… It’ll be fine if you stay with me, alright?”

“How am I supposed to calm down!”

Adele’s scream echoed through the hallway.

The word “down” rang through the hallway, echoing back to them.

Hearing this, Naomasa spoke.

“If you shout so much, they’ll come to us. Even if they’re nice and quiet at noon, they start movin’ around at night.”

“N-Nao-san…y-you’re, quite, knowledgeable about this, a-aren’t you?”

“That’s ’cause I head to Asama-chi’s place to play quite a lot. Since you’re a Support Knight, you should’ve brought your mobile shell. You still can’t wear the mobile shell that you inherited from your father? All I ever see is the one that you use for practice, never the real thing.”

“Ah, I’ve finally become able to wear it~ But it’s somehow seriously heavy…it still doesn’t really feel like I’ll be able to make my debut with it yet.”

“I’d like to see it,” Naoamasa said, nodding with interest. Yet once again, she looked around at everyone and spoke.

“…But well, just like in the afternoon, we got ditched by Kimi and now we’re stuck.”

The three answered those words with dry laughter.

“Well, if you include that, tonight’s the ‘ghost hunt’, huh. Asama-chi’s just been shooting all day like it’s some sort of stress relief.”

“Mmm, I wonder. The small ones don’t put up a fight.”

“But still,” Asama said.

“Tomorrow morning, let’s invite everyone to come and intrude. After that, there’ll be the confession until we see them off and go home.”

“What’ll you do after you get home?”

“Who knows?” Asama turned her back to them. Her gaze rested on the sliding door to the library.

“Well, let’s talk about his antics after this and see whether we can view them in some sort of positive light. Also, I want to hear the details about what happened during Suzu-san’s entrance ceremony.”

Asama turned towards the library’s sliding door. As she did, Suzu spoke.

“Ah, um, wa-wait, i-if there’s r-really one there, w-what’re we g-going to do? U-um, g-ghosts, and, l-libraries, i-it happens a lot, in, s-stories. Ms. Oriotorai s-said, that, t-the library…”

“It’s alright. I’ve reflected on my failure the previous year and practiced exterminating monsters. And you saw, right? This year, Toori-kun went with the patrolling class, so the gold bodysuit incident that happened last year isn’t happening again. In short…”

Asama smiled at Suzu. Her lips, curved into a smile, gave color to her words.

“The chance of nothing happening is high. Even if something does happen, I will be able to deal with it without problems. In conclusion, I’ll be able to handle it no matter what. So, please be at ease.”

Having said this, once again Asama turned to the library which had a shrine raised above its entrance.

She put her hands together and bowed once to the shrine above the sliding door. Clapping twice…

“Now then.”

Asama opened the door with a smile.

Inside the library stood two two-legged white clumps.

The two clumps 10 meters in front of Asama seemed to be made out of white cloth.

On the surfaces of both of of the clumps, there were pictures printed of the beautiful girl in “Magical (Celtic) Girl Banzok”, that had been recently released in Musashi. Asama knew this character. According to Asama’s knowledge, Banzok said things like…

“Yes, I will immediately flay the skin off my enemies’ heads. I love live sacrifices too.” And that was the extent of her knowledge. However, the difference in size between the two bodies was large. One was thin, the other was broad. In terms of size…

One was about the size of a hugging pillow, and the other was around the size of a bedsheet…

And both of them had feet clad in white tights stretching from the bottom.

The two of them wriggled around as they faced each other, breathing heavily. However…

“…”

They looked Asama’s way.

There were two black holes opened in the cloth, around where their eyes would be. Apparently because it had been opened in a hurry, the holes were pierced through the cheek of the beautiful girl printed on the cloth. But then again, Asama didn’t understand the sense of worth.

Still uncomprehending, she stayed completely still, and it was her opponents who started to change.

The slender one. The one whose contents were tight, if one had to pick from the two of them. From its nose…

“—Nn.”

Something crimson dyed the cloth from the inside. It happened with great force, such that the white cloth vibrated even as it turned red. Seeing this, the bedsheet next to him spoke out of worry with the soft voice of a man.

“Are you alright!? Are you alright!?”

“Nn, I’m fine, I’m fine Koni-tan…the iron just came out a bit…”

Asama ignored him.

Yes, I can’t hear anything. Can’t hear anything. Noooope, caaaan’t hear anything.

The white sheet and the sheet dyed half red looked her way.

Both of them ran straight towards her, their bodies tucked inside. They were shouting this:

“A new sense of worth…!”

Uncaring of their voices, Asama hammered in a shot.

A sound that could be nothing other than that of an explosion rang out from the southern side of the building at the front of the courtyard.

Next to the buildings towards the back, a row of people were walking down the first floor corridor on the starboard side. A majority of them were first years. Hearing the sound, they stopped.

“Toori, what did you set up? Does it have to do with money? Or are you going to die?”

“Hey, c’mon Shiro, don’t just suspect me all the time. I didn’t do anything.”

“Is that so? Really? Absolutely? Want to put some money down on that?”

“What!? What’s with you!? Are you doubting me agaaaain!?”

Toori thumped the floor with a textbook he had pulled out of nowhere and pointed at Shirojiro with the hand holding it.

“It’s aaalwaaays, aaaaalways me!! Isn’t that stupid!? Really, you just have the bad habit of suspecting other people all the time, huh! Like before, right after I stole some food from your lunchbox, you thought it was me right after! I was seriously sad! Suspect other people for once!”

“…Right, I knew I was correct. But this brain of yours can’t be fixed with even with money! Is it truly impossible!?”

Heidi came between the two. She looked to Azuma, who was standing behind them, bemused.

“Guys, Azuma-kun’s just transferred here and he can’t keep up, so let’s go back to what we were originally talking about, alright?”

“Can’t be helped,” Shirojiro said, looking at Toori. He spoke again.

“What did you set up? It’s something that’s going to have to be resolved with money, isn’t it!? If it doesn’t end there, I’m going to have to make you sit below the waterfall in front of the Academy and charge a viewing fee, got it!?”

“You really love money, huh. But seriously, I didn’t set anything up! Do you think that I had the time for that today!? I spent the majority of the day mashing the ‘next sentence’ button on the signframe of my eroge, alright!?”

“That half-day you wasted on 2D girls is a half-day that someone desperately desires!”

Heidi tapped Shirojiro on the shoulder. After he turned, she whispered this to him.

“Shhh, don’t get carried away, Shiro-kun. If you do that you’ll get pulled into his pace.”

“Yeah, I was nearly reeled in. I’ve got to be careful or I’ll end up wasting money.”

“H-hey, don’t go off and have a battle plan over there! You guys just have the most horrible atmosphere.”

Just for a moment, Shirojiro looked at the ceiling of the corridor and the dust falling from the vibrations.

“You…really didn’t do anything, did you.”

“Of course! I didn’t do anything! …I just asked someone to do it for me!”

“Whoooooooo!?”

Shirojiro turned, his eyes half-closed. Standing half a head taller than Toori, he made to tower over him.

“Listen closely. Who did you ask? It’s someone that will be alright with money, right? Not somebody honest, right? That’s the thing that’s going to hang around the longest. What’re you going to do if something happens? Die?”

“Shiro, if you tell me all that all at once, I’m not going to understand a thing. What should I do?”

“Just talking about the outcome…you pay and then die.”

“Whaaat—!? Why’s the ball rolling in such an unexpected direction!?”

As he was talking, the sound of another explosion resounded from afar. Hearing this, Azuma frowned.

“You really asked them to do a lot…”

“My room’s below, right? I’m thinking it won’t be damaged, but it might be.”

“Yeah,” Azuma nodded at the shaking vibrations.

“Ah, but, Poqou-san’s probably going to get angry. She’ll probably ask what we were doing.”

The moment he spoke. The school shook as a massive roar sounded out from the floor directly above them. There was even the sound of glass breaking.

Also audible amongst this was Naito’s voice.

“Wahaaa—!!”

It was a voice that could have been a scream of either joy or terror. Hearing this, Shirojiro looked up at the ceiling again.

“…Just like I thought; on this, money’s going to be spent.”

“Wow, it’s awesome how your sentence structure was totally flipped! Ah, I’ll do it too! Your sentence structure, it’s awesome; in other words, I—!”

“Yes, yes, yes. Anyway, shouldn’t we go take a look? It seems like it might get pretty dangerous…”

Heidi said. Azuma drew a step back from her. He pointed at the ceiling, which was shaking again from vibrations.

“…Eh? We’re going? …W-we’ll die, won’t we?”

Hearing those words, the two merchants cast their eyes downwards. Despite this, Toori flashed an idiotic, brilliant smile.

“Well then, leave this place to me and you guys head there! I won’t let anyone through! H-hey, c’mon, the atmosphere’s getting really heavy! Super heavy! If I don’t support the air, this atmosphere’ll really get bad…!”

“Shut up.”

The two merchants hooked their elbows on Toori’s throat, coming from the left and right. Doing this, they dragged him off.

Toori kicked and screamed as he was dragged off.

“Eh!? Ah, hey, y-you guys, you can’t treat people like this! Be more gentle, like a mother’s touch! Like I said, heyheyhey, why’re you drawing targets and points on my back, Auge-chan! Don’t raise the points even more! …No wait, my face shouldn’t be a hundred points, it should be the committee head! Ah, I’m the chancellor!!”

As that voice got further and further away, Azuma stood there, left behind.

“Um… I’m…”

“Azuma, there should still be people retaining their sanity, so for now, once you walk around the places where nothing stupid is happening and meet up, please evacuate to the courtyard. I can’t pay you, so please do this voluntarily.”

Shirojiro’s voice, mixed with a sigh, continued to echo about.

“Seriously…” saying this, he continued.

“—Why is it that my friends are my biggest embarrassment?”

A single man stood within the pale and fleeting light.

Clutching documents in his arms, the man was Sakai.

His breath ragged, he was standing in a corridor lit up by lamps.

“Sakakibara…”

It was inside his colleague’s home.

The maid-type automaton that had followed him here was behind him.

“Judge, that is my master’s study.”

On the other side of the sliding screen, which had been left open, there existed the space called the study.

It was a room floored with six tatami mats. Further inside, there was a paper sliding window, half opened in order to look upon the garden.

Just in front of him there were bookcases containing texts to his left and right, with two on the right and one on the left. There was alcove to the left where a bookcase had not been placed, but it had been filled in with boxes containing brush cases and paper.

There was a writing desk in the middle of the room.

On the side of the writing desk facing Sakai there was a futon made for sitting.

If you sat on the futon, you could work while looking out at the lantern-lit garden. That was how the study was laid out.

However, its owner was not there. In his place…

“The Double Border Crest…”

On the floor from the desk to the wall and partway up a large crimson-black design had been drawn. It was facing the window, barely reaching up to the paper window, and there were letters written on the plaster of the wall. The words marked there were, as Sakai read…

“ ‘What are you doing?’…”

There were papers in the room.

But not Sakakibara.

No…

He had disappeared somewhere.

Sakai had noticed this when he took the documents from the automaton.

The automaton said this: “Judge, before he went to work, I received an instruction to take what was lying on his table and bring it to you afterward; so I fulfilled it.”

That meant it wasn’t an instruction given after he finished his work.

Furthermore, the papers that had been lying on his writing desk were now in his hands, but…

“They’re blank…”

There was no way Sakakibara would hand over a bundle of blank papers. However, the fact that the automatons brought it meant that he had finished his work. Regarding this, the automaton spoke.

“—My master was not here, so I judged that he had finished his work. I was considering whether or not to start cleaning this room…”

Sakakibara was nowhere to be found.

On the writing desk was Japanese paper, laid atop black cloth, and an inkstone sprinkled with nothing but water.

It was as if he stood up from his seat just as he was about to rub it with ink.

Sakai walked a step into the room, checking for signs of Sakakibara.

Doing this, he noticed something strange. Water was dripping from the inkstone.

This…

Was he repelling the water with ink? No, Sakakibara’s the type to be anal with writing. He would be strict with the usage of the tools. He shouldn’t use them in a disorderly fashion.

“Then…”

Taking his second step into the room, Sakai saw it:

The black cloth as well as the Japanese paper, held down by a paperweight, on the table. There was a crease in the paper.

The signs of a water stain on the paper, which had then dried.

The result showed that the handwriting was like a brush being dragged across the paper, writing something.

Two things.

One of them was…

“The Double Border Crest…”

The second one was a word. It was a word that Sakai knew. It was…

“—Pursue.”

The mumbled word ended there.

As if reaffirming what his next step was, Sakai looked at the bundle of papers he was clutching to his chest.

The bundle of papers where nothing was written.

However, on the sheet on the top of the bundle there were slender creases. Water stains.

It was something that Sakakibara had marked before writing on the paper that he had held down with a paperweight. Something that lay on top of the stack of papers.

Written there was this.

“ ‘The Genesis Project’…!?”

The words that seemed to have been written in advance, the meaning of the symbol, the words that came next… Sakai lined them up and muttered them.

“The Genesis Project, the Princess… Pursue.”

I know that he’s telling me to pursue the Princess. However…

The Genesis Project is… P.A. Oda’s countermeasure against the Apocalypse, right? Why would he…

I don’t understand. These things before me…whether or not Sakakibara knew that he would disappear, the contents of the water stains he hurriedly left with his brush, the fact that he himself disappeared… I don’t understand any of it.

What does this mean!?

Everyone has heard about the phenomena of spiriting away. However, if my colleagues have all been subjected to it recently, then we’re talking about something else entirely. Even as it happens before my eyes, I keep thinking that I can’t believe it.

Ahh… Sakai thought.

He wished that Sakakibara would come from behind him and say that everything was just a joke.

“Yet…when Ii disappeared, did you think that as well?”

That which he asked, the paper with water stains, was beginning to dry; and the creases were beginning to fade.

To disappear.

At this fact, Sakai felt the needlessness in staying any longer.

The instant he tried to take one step back.

He could hear a sound. A sound that came from beyond the opened window in front of him.

A low rumble that sounded like distant thunder.

A sound that spoke of an explosion.