Horizon:Volume 1 Chapter 19

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Chapter 19: He who Dashes through the Air[edit]

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Do ideas come from courage or recklessness?

Point Allocation (Victory)

Sounds were heard.

Swords clashed, feet treaded on the ground, and breaths were taken.

Those sounds were sent via divine transmission and heard all over the world.

“————”

There were two warriors. One of the west and one of the east. One who was young and one who was old. One with a new weapon and one with an old weapon. There were several differences between them.

However…

“———!”

The music of battle they played together created equally loud cries which were broadcast in all places.

The sounds moved, flowed, passed by, and conveyed it all without stopping.

Someone standing before that broadcast spoke.

“What is going on?”

As a result of this, what would happen to Mikawa and what would happen to the world as it approached the Apocalypse? And…

“Which one will win?”

But there was one phrase none of them said: Please do something about this.

The one thing none of them could do was ask for help.

After all, this battle would not save anything.

Motonobu’s voice could be heard giving one reason why.

“Yes. Even if this battle ends, that alone will no longer be enough to do anything. After this battle ends, everyone will have to do something about the world.”

So…

“This battle is the beginning. Go, Honda Tadakatsu. Ensure that the people can do something about the homework that is the Apocalypse!”

His words rang out.

“Show them where your loyalty ranks on a national level!!”

“Sure thing!” roared Tadakatsu in reply.

Immediately afterward, Muneshige circled around behind Tadakatsu.

This was his high-speed movement using the Clásica Firma.

But Tadakatsu had already begun moving. He let loose a strike to cut Muneshige off.

I suppose this will not be easy!

Muneshige took action. He raised his speed further.

“…!”

He struck with Lypē Katathlipsē’s blade, moved back, and fired repeatedly.

However, Tadakatsu deflected all of it.

“You’re pretty fast! Can you go even faster!?”

“I can! The Testamento Firma has no limit!!”

And so he raised his speed.

Muneshige’s speed achieved acceleration with the Testamento Firma and was controlled with his body.

A Testamento Firma was normally carried out by using a spell contract obtained at a church.

A spell contract was obtained in exchange for Catholic-style devotions or an offering of Bless. By stamping the written seal of approval it would activate and disappear. Catholic contracts were disposable, but they were highly effective and did not consume any of the user’s Bless when used.

Muneshige’s spell contracts were compressed to the size of a postage stamp and tens of thousands of them were stored in a cartridge below the radiator on his back. This spell had two effects.

The first was to raise the speed of his physical body.

The other…

It creates multiple simultaneous footholds below my feet.

When he stepped on the ground in order to run, he would be stepping on those many footholds simultaneously.

Creating five simultaneously multiplied his speed by five. Ten at once multiplied it by ten.

Both of these were powerful spells, so they were not something that could be used in units of tens of thousands. However, Muneshige had used the fortune earned through the occupation he had inherited to alter the spell such that it was possible.

He had set the spell up so that it gave no thought to recoil.

Lessening the recoil would have made the spell more expensive, less effective, and more complex.

He had lowered the unit cost by eliminating that portion.

Also, he had shortened the active time so that the acceleration only lasted an instant. This had lowered the unit cost even further and allowed him to gather even greater numbers.

Those alterations allowed him to cheaply achieve high speeds with a great number of instantaneous accelerations, but his body took the full burden. It hurt his organs, affected his vision, and numbed his arms and legs.

However…

That is necessary for an opponent such as this!

He moved.

The spell contract cartridge on his back vibrated and the scraps of the used compressed contracts scattered from the ejection port of the device. The pieces looked like ash or scattered scraps of light. A shimmering of heat shot from the cross-shaped radiator on his back that was a part of his body cooling system. That shimmering rose like smoke made of light.

Each time the light scattered, his speed increased.

On the other hand, Tadakatsu had no speed. He was also injured.

However, Tadakatsu more than kept up with Muneshige.

This is…

Muneshige watched Tadakatsu’s movements.

His footwork looked relaxed as he swung his body and drove Tonbokiri into Muneshige’s path.

Tadakatsu was constantly moving slowly backwards. However, he would lure Muneshige in to circle behind him and then turn in the opposite direction. He was moving in a repeated S pattern.

“…”

The repeated circular motion of this S movement pattern allowed Tadakatsu to circle behind Muneshige by using Muneshige’s own attempts to circle behind him. And…

He keeps getting closer!

It was a bit too late to activate Lypē Katathlipsē’s overdrive.

Pulling the trigger and waiting for the virtual cannon to appear would take three seconds. Once he fired it, it would be unavoidable even if the results would only arrive after about a dozen seconds. That was why the first three seconds were what mattered.

At the moment, he would never be given those three seconds.

He wanted to do something about it, but…

“Lypē Katathlipsē! Normal drive!”

The normal drive was a small activation that scraped off anyone whose name was on the blade.

The system was the same as Tonbokiri’s, so it was unavoidable for anyone reflected in the blade.

Muneshige was able to avoid Tonbokiri’s slicing because he could use his speed to escape the reflection range of the blade.

However, Tadakatsu had no way of moving at high speed, so he could not avoid it.

Or at least, he should not have been able to.

“Bind! Lypē Katathlipsē!!”

As soon Muneshige gave that cry, Tonbokiri moved.

This is…?

Tadakatsu calmly pointed Tonbokiri toward Lypē Katathlipsē’s blade.

That was all.

“…!!”

With a sound like someone scratching at glass, light burst from Lypē Katathlipsē’s blade.

Lypē Katathlipsē’s normal drive had been neutralized.

And why?

Lypē Katathlipsē’s blade was reflected in Tonbokiri’s blade!

It was a mirror.

He had used Tonbokiri’s blade as a mirror to reflect the image of Lypē Katathlipsē as it activated its normal drive. That caused Lypē Katathlipsē to lose sight of its target and to cancel the effects of its normal drive when it almost sent that power into itself.

It sounds simple enough.

But he could not do the same himself.

After all, it required reflecting the tip of the spear being swung at him. Tadakatsu had to have perfectly read Muneshige’s every action. If the angle had been off even slightly, he would have been struck by the technique.

But Tadakatsu had pulled it off.

“Kh!”

The word “skill” appeared in Muneshige’s mind.

That is not something one can do with speed alone!

Muneshige had the greatest combat speed in Tres España.

According to the Testament descriptions, Garcia de Ceballos whose name he had inherited had been a man of the postal system. Muneshige viewed that power as being one of high-speed movement and actions. While studying the military arts, he had also earned a fortune supported by the Testament descriptions by working as a mensajero.

However, after many twists and turns, he had trained as a warrior and gained Tachibana Muneshige as a double inherited name.

For that reason, Muneshige had possessed the power of speed before he began fighting.

With his speed, he could move to a more advantageous position.

With his speed, he could increase the force of his attacks.

With his speed, he could instantly evade any attack.

After training both his speed and combat skills, he had appeared on countless battlefields and learned to control that instantaneous speed so that it did not destroy his body.

His results in battle were appropriate for the man the Testament descriptions called the Peerless of the West.

However…

The man before his eyes was handling him without that speed. That man had no spells or anything. In that case…

What is this!?

Muneshige had obtained a single thing to live up to being the Peerless of the West.

“Kh!”

He raised his speed.

The shimmering of heat rising from the radiator grew thicker and the amount of scraps from the compressed contracts grew.

He felt as if his feet were stepping on thick books. It felt as if those books were sticking to, sinking into, and staining the bottom of his feet. The multiple footholds interfered with each other and vibrated but still produced their effects.

Repeated metallic-sounding noises came from the bottom of his feet and produced speed.

“…!”

As he accelerated as if struck, his bones creaked. The flesh on his cheeks, upper arms, thighs, and calves was all pinched and tugged backwards.

But that was the evidence of his speed.

He circled around Tadakatsu to the left and drove his sword toward the man, but…

“…!”

Tadakatsu rotated around on his S path and swung Tonbokiri backhanded from his right shoulder. That strike moved right toward Muneshige’s back as he circled around.

It was the same pattern as before. The swing of the spear was gentle and looked like it could be easily knocked out of the way, but it had definite power contained within. By the time Muneshige had avoided the attack, Tadakatsu had already rotated his body around in his S path such that he was standing behind Muneshige.

And then the S path began anew.

Muneshige could not allow it to repeat again. The more it repeated, the more time would be taken.

Tadakatsu has only one goal, thought Muneshige.

That was to stall for time.

He wants to let the ley line reactor run fully out of control.

And so Muneshige had to stop this pattern.

But how could he stop this repeating S shape?

Muneshige thought back to his ability: speed.

That speed would not work on Tadakatsu as things were.

In that case…

Muneshige took action as Tonbokiri was swung backhanded toward him.

He took the action he had thought up.

In the next instant…

“———”

Tadakatsu saw it.

This is…

He saw Muneshige’s idea.

He saw Muneshige’s new action meant to cut off Tadakatsu’s footwork which was sealing off his speed.

Muneshige took action to create a foothold.

This was the foothold he used for his acceleration. This foothold would allow him to reach high speeds in an instant. What he used was…

“Tonbokiri!?”

Muneshige stepped on Tonbokiri’s blade as it was swung backhandedly.

It was a light step.

Tadakatsu felt no more movement than if a single feather had been laid on top of it.

But that foothold gave Muneshige one hundred times the counterforce.

And a noise rang out from below Muneshige’s foot.

It resembled a metallic noise.

It was the sound of a Testamento Firma. As the noise came to an end, the acceleration spell activated.

A sound rang out for an instant.

And as that sound rang out, Tadakatsu thought.

An excellent decision.

Tadakatsu assumed Muneshige intended to circle behind him like this.

Yes, truly an excellent decision.

“But!” shouted Tadakatsu. He gripped the socket portion of Tonbokiri’s extension mechanism. “Don’t think a common method like that will work in this day and age!!”

As his body swung to the right, Tadakatsu dropped down with all his strength.

The spell Muneshige had chosen multiplied the counterforce of the foothold he placed his foot on.

In that case, the foothold would disappear if it was lowered down before he could step on it.

And that was exactly what Tadakatsu did.

Immediately afterward, a space was created between Muneshige’s foot and Tonbokiri.

“…!”

Light ran across the bottom of Muneshige’s foot and that light scattered through the air. A sound similar to shattering glass could be heard.

That proved Muneshige’s spell had been neutralized.

And Tadakatsu opened his mouth.

“Bind! …Tonbokiri!”

Long, narrow sign frames opened around Tonbokiri’s blade one after another.

Those sign frames were filled with writing in an instant.

And this produced the power of cutting. He was targeting Muneshige as he floated in midair.

He took action.

But in that instant, Tadakatsu heard a new sound.

It resembled a metallic noise.

It was the sound of a Clásica Firma. It was the sound of the acceleration spell.

“…!?”

A roar came from the bottom of Muneshige’s airborne foot.

What had happened? What was about to happen? The answer to both questions came to Tadakatsu.

He realized what Muneshige had done.

“You used the air as a foothold!?”

Muneshige stepped on the air.

Stepping on the blade had not been a feint. If his acceleration had succeeded at that stage, he would have used it. However, Tadakatsu had not allowed the fight to remain at that level.

And so he had gone further.

He carried out an acceleration method he had never used before and had never even thought of before. He stepped on the air to accelerate in midair.

The method was simple.

The air was not completely empty. It had the moisture of humidity and it had the minute pieces of dust. The ley line expression and Lypē Katathlipsē’s earlier overdrive had left an abundance of dust in the air.

But that was far from being enough to use as a normal foothold.

To step on that dust and accelerate would require thousands or even tens of thousands of accelerations in an instant.

Muneshige’s acceleration spell used charms. They produced massive and instantaneous effects, but put a great burden on his body.

If he went too far, it would damage his body.

But…

I must do it!

Muneshige estimated the necessary level of acceleration on instinct alone.

“Seventeen thousand times acceleration!”

Seventeen thousand steps’ worth of burden was placed on his right leg all at once.

A cross-shaped Cadena Firma appeared to the right of his face. It displayed a warning about the excessive burden. It said the administrative church held no liability if the spell was used like this.

He ignored it.

“…!!”

He heard a snapping sound come from his right leg.

It was the sound of his muscles splitting and bursting.

It was possible the bones and tendons had been taken out as well.

But the limb had not been severed. And as proof…

“Ohhh…!!”

Muneshige kicked off the air and accelerated.

He leaped while wrapped in the shimmering of heat and a band of light.

It all occurred in a succession of instants.

Muneshige traveled diagonally down and forward. He struck the ground and slid across it with his momentum.

He landed on his left leg. His heel struck and dug into the ground and he bent backwards to turn toward Tadakatsu.

He was there.

Tadakatsu had his back partially turned to Muneshige.

The tip of Tonbokiri was pointed the other way.

That blade could not reflect Muneshige.

Muneshige was convinced he had won.

“…!?”

The bottom of Tonbokiri jabbed back toward him with the force of a rapid-firing gun.

Attached to the butt end of the spear was a weapon developed by the Houzouin brand to attack behind oneself while using a spear that could not be turned around quickly. It was nothing more than a piece of metal for jabbing with the bottom of the grip, but it eliminated the opening behind the wielder.

Hitting someone with it would drive the entire weight of the spear into them, so it could easily break bones.

And that was now flying toward Muneshige’s face.

It flew straight toward his position diagonally down.

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Tadakatsu had not turned toward him, so this attack had to be based on nothing but experience and prediction. However…

Such accuracy!

He could never have seen that midair acceleration before and yet he had been able to see through how Muneshige would handle the landing.

How much experience did one need to build up to pull off something like that?

“Kh.”

Muneshige twisted his body and sank down. He lowered his hips and his upper body to bring himself down against the ground.

However, not all of his body lowered. The reason for this was readily apparent.

My right leg!?

His right leg would not move. He could not even tell if the knee and toes were touching the ground. He simply felt the weight of a hot mass attached below his right hip.

His right leg failed to move and its position prevented him from lowering his hips properly. His body pitched forward.

The bottom of the spear was on a direct course for his forehead.

And so Muneshige made up his mind.

“Left foot acceleration!!”

Because of his attempt to lower himself, his left knee was bent. Because his right leg would not lower, his hips were raised.

He was in a crouching start position.

And so he shot himself forward with his left leg.

Before the back of the spear could strike him from diagonally upwards, he slipped below it.

“…!!”

The back of the spear suddenly jabbed into the left side of his angled head just above the ear. He heard a sound similar to someone scratching at his head with their fingernails. The sound traveled in a straight line to the back of his head and his flesh felt the chill of the air.

However, he made it through.

As Tadakatsu stood diagonally to him, Muneshige moved right up to the man.

He held Lypē Katathlipsē’s blade in preparation to stab Tadakatsu through the gut.

But Muneshige heard a voice.

“Bind and cut. Tonbokiri.”

What?

Tonbokiri’s blade was not turned toward Muneshige.

So what was he going to cut?

The answer showed itself before him.

Tadakatsu disappeared from before his eyes.

“!?”

How? wondered Muneshige as his eyes opened wide before sensing a presence to his left.

Charging at him from that direction, the north, was Tadakatsu with the automaton in his left arm and Tonbokiri held under his right arm.

Muneshige wondered when he had moved there, but then the answer came to him.

It can’t be…

“All I did was cut the ‘north’! Lypē Katathlipsē’s tearing can’t do that! Only I can do it with the superior drive of Tonbokiri, the divine weapon of cutting!”

Tonbokiri’s effective range was thirty meters. By cutting the direction of north from his perspective, he could travel the distance he had cut away, 15 meters.

“Cutting a phenomenon uses a lot of output. But it was necessary, so that’s fine.”

That’s ridiculous!

But it was the truth.

The dragonfly-pattern fuel system on the side of Tonbokiri at the base of the blade was almost empty and had lost its color. Even with the normal drive, he only had a few uses left.

But it was enough.

This was the same.

That technique had used the special characteristics of the divine weapon Tonbokiri as a Logismoi Óplo prototype and as the possessor of a superior drive. And now Tadakatsu charged directly toward Muneshige.

“Tonbokiri!”

Sign frames were already surrounding Tonbokiri’s blade.

It was targeting Muneshige. However, he could avoid it even with just one leg. If he took a step with all his strength, he could escape Tonbokiri’s cut.

And so Muneshige took that step of acceleration. A metallic noise rang out.

“Go!”

His body blasted forward.

In the next instant, an impact struck Muneshige’s entire body.

It was too soft to call a strike. It was more like the vibration of running directly into a wall.

“!?”

What happened? he wondered in his shaken head.

He turned toward the impact that had struck his entire body. And he found…

“This is…?”

It was a wall.

A wall had appeared where there had not been one before. The wall was made of the road he stood on.

“Tadakatsu-sama!”

It was the automaton. With Tadakatsu embracing her, the automaton had its arms free. Her right hand was pointed toward Muneshige.

Her power was gravitational control. What she had created was…

“I will surround you!” she shouted just as a dome-shaped wall surrounded Muneshige.

A sealed oblong space with no path of escape had been created. And piercing through that wall that blocked off even the sky was…

Tonbokiri’s blade!?

Just as Muneshige realized what it was, he heard a voice. It was Tadakatsu’s voice coming from the other side of the wall.

“Bind!!”

Tadakatsu held Tonbokiri as it stabbed through that oblong dome-shaped wall.

“…”

He silently pushed it in with great strength.

This was necessary to pull the blade out of an object.

By pushing it in, he would widen the hole in the object enough to easily pull the blade out. By doing this, he ensured that he did not bend the blade or bring the stabbed object with the blade. When stabbing into flesh or bone, the tension could cause the flesh or bone to constrict, so it was especially necessary in those cases.

But Tadakatsu tilted his head before pulling Tonbokiri out.

Kazuno nodded slightly in his arm.

“I apologize for being so presumptuous as to interfere.”

“That’s a special function of my armor, so don’t worry about it. He’s swinging around the finished product, after all.”

“Judge. It must be difficult being so inferior.”

“Damn you,” muttered Tadakatsu.

And then light appeared before their eyes.

“!?”

It came from within the wall as if to act as the opposite of Tonbokiri.

Kazuno frowned and spoke up.

“The virtual cannon of Lypē Katathlipsē’s overdrive!?”

An automaton like her was describing the truth before her eyes as a question because there was something she found baffling.

Kazuno spoke the question even an automaton like her could not determine the answer to.

“How did he survive Tonbokiri’s cut!? Was I right and you really did screw it up!?”

“What do you mean, were you right!?”

As if in response, the wall collapsed.

The wall made from the road peeled apart from top to bottom and fell down as if it had lost its strength.

And Muneshige stood within.

However, his body had not been cut anywhere.

Instead…

“Tonbokiri’s blade is…”

Muneshige had stabbed Tonbokiri’s blade into the right side of his chest up to the base.

Tonbokiri’s cutting power activated when the target was reflected in the blade.

Muneshige had used a method to seal that power. By stabbing the blade into his body, it could no longer reflect anything.

To drive the entire length of the blade into his body, he had stabbed it in diagonally from his right armpit and toward his back. His ribs and lung had to have been pierced, but his digestive organs and heart would be fine.

“I see. So that’s why it felt a bit odd.”

As Tadakatsu watched, Lypē Katathlipsē continued its overdrive in Muneshige’s raised right hand.

Muneshige’s pale face was turned toward Tadakatsu. However…

“He’s unconscious…”

Blood spilled from the corner of Muneshige’s mouth and his right chest by the armpit. Not long before, Tadakatsu had loosened the wound in his chest to pull Tonbokiri out. In sync with Muneshige’s pulse, blood spilled from his right chest and would not stop. However…

“Tadakatsu-sama.”

“Yeah,” said Tadakatsu with a nod.

Kazuno nodded as well.

“Lypē Katathlipsē was fired. It merely has not converged yet.”

“Yeah,” said Tadakatsu again. And then, “Judge. I suppose so. He’s already aimed it, so Lypē Katathlipsē will probably let loose its greatest output. That will destroy the ley line reactor behind us and bring the ley line back under control.”

“Could you cut a direction as you did before?”

“Unfortunately, I can’t fire the superior drive again.”

“Judge. You really are a useless person.” Kazuno looked up at Tadakatsu. “In that case, we must hurry. However, my gravitational control in this state is not perfect, so I cannot use the same method as before. At the very least, I cannot alter its direction in the time it passes through my arm to my chest. So…” Kazuno narrowed her eyes. “You know more or less what must be done, do you not?”

Kazuno closed her eyes without waiting for Tadakatsu to answer. And she opened her mouth.

“Nn.”

She stuck her tongue out over her lower teeth and toward Tadakatsu’s face.

And that exposed a wet artificial tongue with a single blue jewel embedded in it.

Tadakatsu glanced at the blue jewel.

“I made my wife’s ring into the soul and…well, her sharp tongue sure stuck around.”

Having said that, he pulled Kazuno toward him. He embraced the automaton and their lips met. He ran his upper and lower teeth over her tongue, pulled back, scraped its moisture off with the back of his teeth, and filled the area below his own tongue with it.

“…”

As if plucking it off like a fruit, he bit off Kazuno’s jewel.

With the sound of fibers breaking, Kazuno’s eyebrows moved slightly and her throat moved once.

“…Nn.”

Their lips parted and their faces moved back.

Kazuno narrowed her eyes. Artificial blood flowed from her lips, so she licked it off with her tongue that was also wet with blood. Her gaze met Tadakatsu’s.

“This automaton is running in economy mode off of reserve power. If you require anything, please ask quickly.”

“Just something simple. Take care of the last order I left with Kazuno.”

“Judge.”

The automaton looked over her shoulder.

Muneshige stood there unconscious and motionless, but the light of the virtual cannon continued to grow stronger.

“Here it comes!”

Having experienced it once, the automaton was able to sense when it would fire.

In the very next instant, the automaton released her arms from around Tadakatsu’s neck.

At the same time, Tadakatsu took action. He threw the automaton into the air.

“Tonbokiri!”

As he spoke that word, it came.

“It” being soundlessness.

All that existed was a faint darkness produced from Lypē Katathlipsē’s muzzle.

This was the suffering silence before the crying and tearing.

But the automaton moved. She held her right hand up toward the muzzle of the virtual cannon.

“…!”

It was in the very next moment that a hole was opened in the palm of that outstretched hand.

The automaton frowned while twisting her body in midair. A great creaking rose from her body.

“Tadakatsu-sama!”

In response to the automaton’s cry, Tadakatsu nodded, shortened Tonbokiri, and swung it.

“Bind!”

Hearing that word, the automaton’s eyes narrowed in a small smile.

And Tonbokiri began to perform its cut.

It had a single target.

“Once the bullet is contained within the automaton, I cut the automaton with the bullet as a part of her body!”

Immediately afterward, the cutting power split the automaton in two.

“…!”

Lypē Katathlipsē’s overdrive, that power of tearing, activated over a large area.