Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 32
Chapter 32: Man and Woman in the Plaza
What are the possibilities
Produced by the circumstances
Of this pair?
Point Allocation (Up Down)
The sky reached the end of midday and entered the afternoon.
While watching the noisy crowds, a ninja walked through the stone streets with a girl.
He wore a Far Eastern uniform as a ninja outfit and the girl wore a white shirt with an inner suit that resembled jeans.
Her skin was covered in scars. The large one running from above her nose to her left cheek was the most noticeable, but several other glossy scars were visible on her wrists, hands, and the part of her chest visible through her shirt’s collar.
Nevertheless, she smiled and let the sunlight wash over her body and blonde hair.
“Master Tenzou, how about some fried haddock and apples for lunch? That stand over there has some fried fish prepared so we can eat it as we walk.”
“Actually, Scarred-dono, I will buy it. The yen is a common currency.”
“But can you speak enough English to buy it?”
After a moment of thought, Tenzou hung his head.
“…I’m not really hungry.”
“That would make our trip to the festival meaningless.”
With a slight smile, Scarred walked lightly over to the festival stand.
“Not good. It’s like I’m trying to be unpopular,” commented Tenzou after being left alone.
Having the girl pay for me might be even worse than splitting the bill, he worried, but then he glanced at her back as she quickly made an order and waited for it to finish.
…I’m glad I came.
Tenzou recalled what had happened less than half an hour ago.
After finishing their work in the field, she had gone off to change but returned in her usual cloak and hood. He had assumed she was self-conscious about the scars on her face, but then they had arrived near the carriage station.
“Excuse me a moment,” she had said.
To his surprise, she had suddenly removed the cloak.
He had seen the white of her light shirt and the color of the inner suit covering her legs.
“This deep sky blue is popular in Genova of K.P.A. Italia, so it is known as Genova blue.”
He had been unsure how to react when she showed him her legs, but she had gone on to fix her braid and place a white water lily in her hair.
“What do you think?”
He had been left with no choice but to give an answer, so he had focused on the simple color scheme of white, blue, and the gold of her hair.
…But calling her “clean” would be strange.
He had gone back and forth between several different descriptions because he had felt they all fit her, but he had finally summed them all up in one statement.
“It suits you very well, Scarred-dono.”
Her eyebrows had risen for just an instant, but she had formed a smile a moment later.
“Thank you very much.”
He had not known why she was thanking him, but he figured he had not said anything wrong. After they had entered London, her excitement had remained steadily high. She seemed to know the area well because she not only knew about the buildings around but she had been able to tell him the origins of streets and the reason certain trees lined the streets. She had also informed him how the culture and civilization enveloped the city.
“Um, you see the flowers decorating some of the doors to houses? Those are from the Celtic spring festival of Beltane. In Europe, May 1 is known as May Day, but England mixes in Celtic traditions and the May Bircher leaves flowers at people’s doorstep like that.”
“Are they still there because they are seen as a sort of protective charm?”
“Unfortunately, that is because of the trouble with Tres España.”
Tenzou had lowered his head slightly at her reluctant comment, but she had replied with a smile and said that spring would arrive soon enough.
As their conversation had continued, he had realized something.
…This is who she really is.
She smiled and she spoke. She may have done both of those before, but he had simply overlooked it because she was hidden by the hood.
In the present, she returned and held out a bundle of old paper wrapped like a bouquet.
As Tenzou took the bundle of paper, she smiled bitterly.
“This is for both of us. It’s actually meant for one, but I don’t eat very much. And if I brought two separate servings, you would have insisted on paying me back later.”
…Sh-she hit the mark so closely I can’t argue at all!
At any rate, the paper was stained with grease, so he opted to hold it for the two of them. She said it was proper to grab pieces while walking, so he did so.
“There is quite a bit in here.”
“I ordered a half, so this is half of a haddock. In England, this is not considered very much. We don’t have much bread and the like, so we primarily eat fish, other meats, fruits, and vegetables. Oh, and here are the apples.”
“I see they are fried.”
The apples had been wrapped in a wheat breading and fried, so they somewhat resembled tempura.
“The breading is made by mixing beaten egg whites with flour and spreading it with milk. You could call it a fried pie.”
Tenzou knew from his few days in England that they were known as fritters. He remembered eating them for snacks during past stops at England and other places.
“Do you eat so many fried foods because of the lack of wheat?”
“What we farm is stored as flour. We normally make scones so it will expand as much as possible or make foods like this to efficiently use what little we have. Also, you used to have to pay your feudal lord to use the oven to bake bread, so people would fry things at home instead of using the oven. In the same way, it is dangerous to use an oven on a ship.”
Tenzou nodded and realized there was a lot one did not understand until actually living somewhere.
He grabbed a stick of fried fish and felt the salt and vinegar permeating his tongue. The apple fritter’s breading smelled nice and the inside was melted and sweet, but the flavor of the fried breading changed in places which made each bite interesting.
As he realized how much he was enjoying himself, he had a sudden question.
“Scarred-dono,” he began. “Is it just me or is there a surprising lack of people at this festival?”
…How very strange.
There was no one on the streets or the plazas. There were stands and people along the arcades, but it seemed the number of stands lowered the closer to the city center they went.
…But I can hear the music and cheers of a festival coming from somewhere.
Tenzou began to wonder if the festival was moving.
“Later, can we stop by the doujinshi sale being held at a warehouse near Covent Garden? I know Neshinbara-dono will be there.”
The way she answered while weakly looking toward the ground made Tenzou feel oddly worried. He wondered if he had said anything wrong, but she gave him a smile before he could say anything more.
“What is a doujinshi?”
He used the term so often in his everyday life that he had assumed she knew what it meant. This could be described as a type of Musashi disease. A sticky sweat covered him as he realized he had to explain it somehow but also knew any explanation would sound like a pathetic excuse. Even so, he gathered up his strength and started.
Just as he started, he heard a high-pitched noise in the distance. It was quiet yet distinct and he recognized it because he had heard it many times before.
“Metal… That was the sound of a sword’s guard or something similar being deflected.”
“Judge. Perhaps they are having a play for the festival. I am a bit curious too, but there is somewhere I would like to take you first.”
The white water lily and her hair shook as she nodded.
“Master Tenzou, there is something I wish to show you and this festival is likely my last chance.”
She began walking north. That was the same direction as the sounds of sword fighting and the direction of Oxford and the Tower of London.
Two figures faced each other on a grassy area.
The male and female warriors were in Oxford Academy’s large courtyard and they both held weapons. The girl held a spear and the man held a giant sword hilt over his right shoulder and lightly shook the left hand near his chest.
The former was Honda Futayo and the latter was Trumps “1” Walter Raleigh.
A hilt lay at Walter’s feet. It was a sword hilt, but it had no blade. Several identical white hilts were attached to the belts on his uniform’s shoulders and waist. One of those was dropped at his feet.
Meanwhile, Futayo held Tonbokiri low and watched his swaying left hand.
…What a troublesome way of keeping tempo.
Walter’s techniques were based in iai and, at least for the time being, his weapons were the blade-less hilts attached to his uniform.
Futayo knew exactly what those bladeless hilts were. Mikawa had been one of the places in which those weapons were produced, so she had seen the prototypes.
…I believe Ii-sama made them.
They were gravity swords.
When the hilt’s cap was removed, the safety was removed from the device inside the hilt and a pair of repelling gravity bands would be ejected as a thin board. The pair of gravity bands would pull things outwards.
…So anything the blade hits is ripped apart by the two gravitational pulls.
Ii had said the trick was seeing how narrow the gap between the gravity bands could be made. Futayo recalled her conversation with him.
“How narrow can you make it?” she had asked.
“If we narrowed it down to the monomolecular level, the Testament Union might get mad.”
“The monomolecular level? How narrow is that? As narrow as my fingertip?”
“No, that would be even narrower than your fingernail.”
Ii had pressed his fingertip against it without thinking, spewed blood everywhere, and had to sterilize the entire workshop, so it was a good memory. Memories of the deceased are always lovely, she thought while casting her gaze down.
The hilt on the ground had been knocked there by her.
…But it was surprisingly light.
What a pain, she muttered in her heart.
She had been taught about iai more by Kazuno than her father, but the focus on speed in her fighting style posed a problem.
…This is a poor matchup.
Futayo viewed it as an issue of compatibility.
After all, one did not move with iai. One would focus on the range of their sword and send out a high-speed strike as soon as the enemy entered into range. It was a waiting game.
For her to move in and attack was to charge right into the enemy’s attack.
“This is troublesome.”
She moved a half step to the right. Walter stood in a sideways stance, so that direction brought her toward his back.
But he raised the toes of his left foot and pointed them toward her. He then slid his right heel to face her with the smallest possible motion.
He viewed himself as the center of a circle and would always keep himself facing her.
…He is acting like a turret.
He would maintain the optimal attack position and constantly face her.
The difficulty this made her feel was his intention. She had knocked his hilt to the ground in a light exchange earlier.
…But he was targeting my Tonbokiri.
When she had seen through his intentions and attacked, he had released the gravity sword hilt and escaped.
He was not afraid to lose his gravity sword. He had drawn back without the slightest hesitation. If he had, Tonbokiri would have cut off his hand or at least grazed him.
After analyzing the situation, Futayo thought.
…He is an expert at handling an enemy with a spear in single combat.
Not many people would regularly wield a spear as a personal weapon.
After all, a spear was intended for a large area like a battlefield.
It was a powerful weapon, but it was heavy and unwieldy.
That was why most warriors used swords instead, but that would also mean they were not accustomed to opposing an enemy with a spear.
However, Walter was different. He used a sword with iai techniques, but once he had seen he could not fully stop her previous attack, he had caught it on the guard, dropped the hilt, and drawn his hand back.
It was the correct method for handling an opponent with a spear and he would have needed training and actual battle experience to gain that sort of skill.
Futayo began imagining what situation would be needed for him to obtain the training to so accurately oppose a spear in single combat.
…That would be…
She began thinking and so she held her right palm toward Walter and spoke.
Futayo saw Walter’s mouth open in surprise, but she did not mind. This was a rule her father had often used. He had told her that attacking someone during thinking time was a cowardly act.
…I believe he received a lecture from Kazuno-sama behind the house afterwards, but my father would never lie. This must be common knowledge among Far Eastern warriors. I am leaving no openings.
Having declared thinking time, Futayo placed a hand on her chin and thought about Walter’s possible origins.
…What situation would let him wield a sword and face an opponent wielding a spear, a weapon meant for a large battlefield?
She could think of only one possibility.
…Retreating from a losing battle?
He could have lost a battle and lost all weapons but a sword, and yet had the enemy continued pursuit in the hopes of being honored for fighting so valiantly.
In the history recreation of the Far East, that situation was still quite common.
But a question remained in Futayo’s mind. How many battles would he have to live through to put together iai techniques against spears? And where would he have experienced those battlefields?
“The Amako clan. I mentioned it earlier, didn’t I?”
Walter remained silent, so she continued speaking in order to gather her thoughts.
“The Amako clan had a group known as the Amako Ten Braves who continued working to revive the destroyed clan. The Oda clan had been assisting them, but Oda followed the history recreation and treated them as expendable without providing any chance for direct negotiation. Seven of the ten died and one went missing, but two continued resisting until the very end. One was Yokomichi Masamitsu. And the other…”
The other was…
“Yamanaka Yukimori. Or Yamanaka Shikasuke as he was also known.”
Futayo spoke questioningly to the man before her.
“He caused several battles with small armies and escaped through the castle sewage when he was captured. He sounds more like a ninja than a warrior.”
She knew that a ninja’s primary weapon was the sword and they would only use the initial strike before fleeing.
The man before her was the same.
She then recalled what her father had told her about Yamanaka Yukimori’s battle history.
During the days of the Amako clan, he had thrice won in single combat against enemy generals. After the fall of Amako, he had successfully taken castles several times and had cut down several enemy commanders.
His Urban Name had been the Genius in the Shade of the Mountain.
With all that in mind, Futayo spoke.
“You are known as ‘Trident’ Walter Raleigh. I had wondered why a sword-user would be known as the Trident, but it seems to be a play on words. The three prongs of the character for ‘Yama’ and the straight line of the character for ‘Naka’ form a trident. According to the history recreation, you were assassinated because you could not be killed on the battlefield, but it appears you survived and moved to a foreign land.”
Walter did not reply, but Futayo looked up and stared at the face hidden by his bangs.
“Did you find something here that is of equal value to the clan you were willing to risk your life for?”
Walter still gave no answer.
Futayo did not know if that silence was affirmation or denial, but she had a thought.
Yamanaka Yukimori had a famous quote. When he had sworn to restore his master’s clan, he had looked up at the crescent moon and said these words.
“I pray that you give me many hardships.”
If one took the crescent moon in hand as a blade, a curve of darkness would remain in the sky.
…Is that the source of his insistence on using gravity swords?
Futayo took a deep breath.
…I’m glad I traveled out into the world.
She had never expected to meet someone like this in a foreign land. If her father were still around, she could brag about it. She could almost hear him saying “I-I’m not jealous at all! At all!” with his voice growing high-pitched toward the end.
…Now that I think about it, that was probably a joke he created along with Sakai-sama and the others.
At any rate, she felt a Far Eastern warrior should stick to his or her own style while in a foreign land. She had no way of knowing the truth of the Age of the Gods, but she knew what the truth was to her now.
…I have found something here that will bring me to a new world!
She had not abandoned herself. While thinking about what that meant, she spoke.
“Thinking time has come to an end and I will now face you as Honda Tadakatsu’s daughter, Honda Futayo.”
But despite all her thinking, one fact remained: this was a troublesome opponent.
And that troublesome side of him was no deception. This was the ability that had supported a nation, so she began thinking once more.
How was she supposed to handle an opponent who used the unmoving techniques of iai?
She thought and thought and finally reached an answer.
From a distance of eight meters, she used the cutting power that did not require her to approach.
Futayo used the projectile cutting power against the “waiting” of Walter’s iai. She did not think of this as unfair. If that was unfair, then the “waiting” of iai would be unfair against normal swordplay.
And more importantly, there was a tactical gap between projectiles and “waiting”.
…More often than not, the projectile won’t get through!
And so she stepped forward while firing the cutting power.
In iai, it all came down to a single strike. But when that single strike was made, both sides had to pour in every method available to them.
And so Futayo moved. She fired the cutting power in a horizontal line so it would be difficult to evade and she circled around to the right which took her to his back.
However, something strange happened before her eyes.
…Tonbokiri’s cutting power vanished!?
She took a few steps forward while wondering what had happened and she saw the source of her question as she accelerated.
There was a distortion.
Tonbokiri cut its target by gathering the name of the target reflected in its blade.
But she saw a distortion around Walter’s chest in his reflection on the blade.
It looked like a thick shimmering. The light was being bent in odd directions.
“Is that the pair of gravity bands from the gravity sword!?”
…Can that gravity sword spread the output of its gravity bands outward!?
That was his defense against optical weapons and projectiles.
However, he had been forced to swing his left arm in an initial iai strike. Before he could launch a second strike, he would need to fix his posture and return his left arm to its original position.
If Futayo could close the distance in that time, she would win.
She faced straight forward as she ran. She stared at Walter past the shimmering and she prepared to use Tonbokiri to knock the gravity sword up and to the right.
As she watched, Walter moved, but he had not fixed his posture yet.
He used his left arm to continue swinging the blade around and to his back while he also rotated toward Futayo.
…It can’t be.
She understood what he was about to do. He would rotate to the left using the momentum of his left iai strike.
…And then he will use the large gravity sword on his right shoulder!
The instant she realized it, Walter performed a tornado rotation.
He rotated his upper body first to accelerate and then the rest of his body spun around. As she charged in, he swung the large raised gravity sword at high speed.
White mist drew a diagonal arc through the air.
Futayo saw the invisible blade slice through the air and leave a white trail behind it.
Its range was six meters.
The high-speed attack arrived from diagonally up and to the left. She could attempt to jump to the right, but her forward acceleration would prevent her from gaining enough distance. If her ankle or shin were cut, it was all over.
She finally realized that his iai worked as a perfect countermeasure for a spear or gun.
The left iai was for defense or to cut the spear’s shaft. Then his opponent would be forced to attack or defend.
The large gravity sword on the right allowed him to intercept a spear at a decent range.
…Based on the range of that large sword, he developed this in order to kill several enemies all at once!
When he had been in the Far East, no gravity swords like that had existed there. After arriving in England, he must have trained in defeating large groups in large spaces to add to his experience in defeating individuals while retreating.
This shift in tactics meant one thing.
…There is someone here in England who he must do all this to serve!
Futayo had not seen the Fairy Queen Elizabeth over the past few days. Howard and Jonson had come for the initial greeting, but Dudley and Cecil had not shown themselves.
She understood why the queen and the others had been absent. They had been planning this the entire time.
In that case, thought Futayo. It is the vice chancellor’s duty to overcome this danger.
She moved toward the sword swinging down from her left.
She intended to reach her opponent before the gravity sword’s blade reached her.
But her acceleration could not match the heavy and accelerated instantaneous strike.
Also, her acceleration spell was the cumulative type. It was a slow starter, so its initial speed was weak.
“This is enough!”
She fired Tonbokiri.
She hit the switch for its extension device and sent the tip toward Walter.
Tonbokiri was normally about two meters long, but the six parts making up the shaft could extend as far as approximately six meters. That was just as long as Walter’s gravity sword that he had prepared for fighting spears.
The fact that she was in range of his gravity sword meant one thing.
…The end of the spear can reach him if I extend it to six meters!
Her own speed as she ran was added to the extending spear as it flew toward him.
But she saw him jump up lightly with both legs.
This was not a jump to bring him into the air. It instead brought the twisting of his body to its limit.
…That jump adds to his rotation speed!
The rotation of the large gravity sword was launched around like a top.
As his giant iai strike was given even more speed, Futayo made an instantaneous decision.
As soon as she realized Tonbokiri would not make it before his rotating blade, she adjusted her grip on the extending spear as if to pull it back.
The extension process now sent Tonbokiri both forward and backward. As the blade extended toward Walter, the butt end extended away, but what if she grabbed farther up toward the tip and tilted it so that butt end was pointed toward the ground?
…The back end will gouge into the ground and the extension process while send me forward into the air!
If she used that momentum to jump…
“I will arrive overhead!”
And she did just that.
Walter looked up at the female warrior who circled overhead in an instant.
While charging, she had used her spear’s mechanism to leap high into the sky. He had seen the instantaneous decision that had led her there, and it brought a single thought to his mind.
He was still rotating, but the female warrior spun in midair and held the front end of her spear’s shaft under her arm in order to target him. She then launched the butt end of the spear toward him.
This attack from midair was unavoidable and she would likely use the recoil of the impact to leap yet again.
But Walter made a single decision.
Anyone in Trumps could accomplish an equivalent attack.
And so he took action.
He used his accumulated experience to take the action necessary to cut his way to victory.
Futayo saw what Walter decided to do.
While rotating, he had twisted his body rather than evading.
“Is he trying to catch my attack with his left arm!?”
He was trying to wrap his arm around this high-speed strike so he could stop it barehanded.
She felt this was reckless, but based on his identity, she was certain he could manage it.
And what would happen if he did catch the butt end of her spear?
…While I am stopped, he will attack with the large gravity sword in his right arm!
On the other hand, if she let go of Tonbokiri, he would not hesitate to cut the spear to pieces.
But, she thought in her heart.
Tonbokiri was a famous spear and a memento of her father.
…But my father would not want for me to die. Yes.
She always tried to view things in a positive light. If she apologized to Tonbokiri, that would settle the problem, but she could not apologize to herself if it was her own life that was lost. That leaves only one option, she thought, but Tonbokiri protested.
If the spear was going to be that insistent, she had no choice but to find a different solution, so she forcibly swung her body. She more or less embraced the spear’s shaft, twisted her entire body around, and altered the spear’s trajectory.
She wanted to divert it toward Walter’s face, but his left hand could still reach it, so she chose a different target.
“The hilt of the large gravity sword!!”
Her actions resulted in destruction.
From Walter’s perspective, the attack came from diagonally up and to the left, so the bottom of the spear struck the large gravity sword’s hilt.
The blow was not exactly heavy, but it was also not exactly light either.
However, Walter’s strike veered off course once the balance of his iai was thrown off.
The trajectory of the gravity sword bent and it cut into the ground.
Rather than gouging into the ground, it sank in and sliced through the earth like it was made of butter.
Dirt flew into the air and the courtyard ground exploded.
The sound was damp, heavy, and repeating.
Futayo rotated her body while embracing Tonbokiri and searched for a location to land.
The torn area of ground spread out in a ten meter fan shape. The effects of the large gravity sword had left the area soft enough that her feet would sink in when she landed, so she shrank down in midair to gain more flight distance.
And she landed beyond the area of torn earth.
She took a step back while standing and looked beyond the ten meters of destruction.
But he was no longer in a battle pose. She wondered what was going on, but then she saw him face her and suddenly lower his head.
As soon as Futayo questioned his sudden bow, he faced the main entrance and vanished an instant later.
She initially thought an attack was coming.
…His presence is growing more distant?
But the slight motion of the wind produced by his presence was gone.
All that remained was the stench of dirt produced by the torn and exposed dirt.
“Has he left?”
The grass blowing in the wind seemed to be her answer.
She checked the area to make sure he had left, but she noticed something in the spot he had been standing in a moment earlier.
She saw the glowing remnants of something. A panel of light was vanishing at the same height as his face.
…The lingering light of a sign frame?
The sign frame in front of Futayo was a Protestant one.
That meant someone had contacted Walter.
…Has he left this battlefield?
She found it hard to believe. A battle was fought to achieve an objective, so a significant reason was needed to abandon it.
But she then recalled why she assumed Walter was here in England.
“He found something here that is of equal value to his former master’s clan.”
She began hearing noises around her. People had heard the commotion and destruction in the courtyard, so they were rushing out to see what had happened.
While wondering what excuse she could make, Futayo rushed over to the remnants of the sign frame floating in the air. She could just barely make out the name of the one who had sent the divine message.
She recognized that name.
“That is a survivor of the Amako Ten Braves who went missing.”
|Back to School Rules||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 33|