Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 34
Chapter 34: Swimmer on the Road
What can you not give up on
If you are to attempt that?
Point Allocation (Friend)
“Things are getting noisy,” said Scarred.
Tenzou looked around. They were near the Tower of London but had been unable to see Oxford as Scarred had wanted because it was sealed off.
…There are more people than before.
He had already noticed this, but it was different hearing someone else confirm that fact. However, he thought something felt off about how the crowd had grown. Normally, crowds in a city would grow as one passed by important transportation points such as large roads and carriage stops or as one approached important commercial or entertainment points such as markets or shows.
…But the crowds here do not seem to be using the main roads.
It felt more like people had been gathered here from the beginning and were now showing up.
Tenzou confirmed they were safe before speaking.
“Scarred-dono, why don’t we go somewhere else?”
He turned around and saw Scarred standing on the moat bridge leading to the Tower of London. She was speaking with the Lizardman guard, but that Lizardman eventually gave a generous smile and saluted. She smiled back and emulated his salute.
“Master Tenzou, it seems we can look around inside.”
“Eh? Isn’t this a type of royal palace?”
“It is partially open to the public during festivals and tours are held during normal days. It seems an elementary school will be visiting today. I did the same long ago, so how about I show you around?”
She crossed the wooden suspension bridge while Tenzou tilted his head. How unusually forceful of her, he thought.
They had cut across London, so why had he not seen any of England’s representatives or even any of his horrible classmates?
He had a bad feeling, but he knew those classmates could overcome any problem they were faced with even if they had serious problems with their personalities.
He followed Scarred into the Tower of London’s fortress and shadow covered him.
All the while, he anxiously trusted in the others.
John Hawkins of Trumps was battling Margot Naito inside the water that filled the air.
An underwater fight had a number of tricks to it. One of those was how difficult it was to change directions.
Hawkins solved this with help from Cavendish, his aide.
“Drop on Courses 1 through 4!!”
His mermaid colleague was in a ship flying high in the air above and she dropped live ammunition obelisks into the water along certain course numbers. They would block the Technohexen’s path, directly hit her, and provide turning points for Hawkins.
He performed a turn now and approached the Technohexen for a trident strike.
The Technohexen held up her schale besen to defend and a muffled metallic noise rang out.
But he used that impact to swim off in another direction.
As he swam, he thought about how unsuited he was for the position of Drake’s second-in-command.
He was the captain in charge of England’s privateers and one of the ship club’s leaders. According to the history recreation, he would later become admiral of England’s navy, but he was more concerned with his position in the current world.
…I don’t have to stand out that much!
He did not like conflict.
He thought of himself as a cold person.
To oppose the isolation in the water while swimming and to fight against his own previous lap times, he had to become one with the water.
However, he also felt England stood at a crossroads.
According to the history recreation, Drake was his relative despite being a different race. But after a few different battles, they had come to understand a certain fact: even if current history was modeled after the past, they were still living and taking action in the present.
…If we weren’t here, someone else would inherit these names!
While a pirate, Drake had achieved such tremendous results that he had been knighted. That was a historical fact and everyone had rejoiced when it had been recreated. Drake had rejoiced the most of all, but Hawkins’s cold self had wondered why they were so happy.
They were recreating history, so it was only natural for that to happen.
England would soon follow the history recreation in the execution of Bloody Mary, but that too was only natural. He had seen no reason to doubt what was already set in stone and he had felt those unnecessary emotions would only get in the way of history.
But about a month before, he had seen a certain event unfold.
That event was Mikawa.
The Far East’s representative city of Mikawa had been lost and the princess who succeeded it had been urged to commit suicide. Those involved had indeed worked to give that inherited name to the princess of the branch family. That was a means of correcting the flow of history, but it had brought a certain fact to Hawkins’s attention.
…Even the representative of the Far East can be replaced in the case of death!
They were nothing special.
Their position meant they had to recreate history, but that did not make them immortal. In fact, the Testament Union and other nations could force them to be replaced.
In that case, they could die at any time.
…I understand now.
He understood why Drake had rejoiced when he had been knighted according to the history recreation.
…He was rejoicing in his own survival and that he was doing a good job!
And that led Hawkins to realize that England stood at a crossroads.
Musashi of the Far East had arrived. Those representatives of the Far East had rejected the Testament Union’s correction of the history recreation and they were attempting to purify the mysterious phenomenon of the apocalypse that threatened to eliminate the history recreation altogether.
What meaning did they hold for Hawkins and the others? He and the others risked their lives to recreate history, but would these newcomers protect them or make them altogether meaningless?
Could someone as cold as himself rationally determine that?
“I will test the determination and strength you showed at Mikawa!”
While performing a Vassallo-style charge after his turn, Hawkins shouted from his heart inside the virtual water created in the sky.
…I will finish this in a single strike!
Swimming was done in a straight line. The water resistance made it difficult to travel in a curve and turns were normally done using walls. For that reason, it all came down to a single strike. It was an unthinkable strategy in a ground or air battle, but the enemy’s movements were also weighed down in the water. Also, his opponent had fallen into the water, so she was a perfect target that lacked the initial speed needed for swimming.
And so he charged toward her. He would strike the Technohexen head on. As she attempted to escape the trident, he would catch her with the three prongs and pierce them into her.
The clear sound traveling through the water resembled something hard breaking.
The trident bent for a moment and Hawkins felt it strike something.
But he gathered strength in his abdomen to correct his posture and cut through the water.
If his opponent was still alive, the moment after attacking when he had slowed was the most dangerous. As such, he activated the accelerator installed in the trident. It used a Protestant holy spell to eject oxygen for thirty seconds.
The trident produced a water current from below the cowl that doubled as a kickboard shield and he quickly accelerated.
Suddenly, a muffled sound came from the tip of the trident.
A cold mass flew into his mouth and it was cold enough to stick to the warm inside of his mouth.
Before he had time to think, the sensation at the end of his trident vanished.
In its place, overhead fragments scattered and fell down while reflecting light.
It was a mass of ice. He felt repeated cold impacts and the black form he thought he had skewered flowed backwards. Those black objects were the Technohexen’s three-corner hat and skirt.
…She created a decoy!
He understood what had happened. She had created ice with the reduction of Schwarz Techno and she had wrapped it in her hat and skirt to use as a shield.
Her Weiss Hexen partner had created a heated steam bomb to use against Dudley, so a spell to turn water into a mass of ice would simply require copying that spell and using the opposite type of magic.
Hawkins followed the flowing path of the black cloth and looked toward his feet. He had to check back there even if it meant lowering his speed.
“The Technohexen is down there, isn’t she!?”
When he looked down, his enemy was indeed there.
She was clinging to her cowl-covered broom and following him in a straight line.
She had lost her skirt, sleeves, and hat, but that had lightened her as she pursued him.
She had folded up her wings and hunkered down her body to lower the water resistance as much as possible. Two speedometer Magie Figur were opened on the front of the broom and three on the back as she speedily pursued.
She was desperate.
However, she was using an acceleration spell meant for aerial use and it was a non-incantation spell stored in the schale besen’s Orei Metallo.
Water resistance reduced many different things. When this Technohexen had fired at Mikawa, she had used a simple acceleration spell, but the water resistance would quickly rob her projectile of all speed. Unless she created a new attack spell that reduced the water resistance, she could not attack Hawkins.
…And she doesn’t have the oxygen needed to make an incantation.
That meant the Technohexen had no means of attack.
He understood why she was still pursuing him despite that. While swimming, he could not attack her if she was behind him.
But she was at a serious disadvantage with her wings and her own posture on the broom creating resistance. She also did not wear goggles, so she could not open her eyes as much as she might want.
But she did not give up. To ensure mobility in the water, she had cast aside all that was unnecessary and stopped worrying about appearance.
This battlefield benefited Hawkins, but she continued to pursue. That fact brought a feeling to his gut that was even colder than the ice he rolled around in his mouth.
This was a conflict between those related to the history recreation.
“We can’t afford to lose.”
If they did, they and many other things would be lost.
The pursuing Technohexen likely had things important to her.
In that case, he thought. Do I have something like that too?
The battle was continuing and he had a method of winning prepared. However, being pursued by the Technohexen was not a step in that plan.
From what he had seen of the Battle of Mikawa, her primary weapon was coin bullets. She could likely fire them underwater, but the water resistance would quickly sap all speed from a single coin. Even a roll of coins would be meaningless except at close range.
For that reason, he had to put some distance between them and attack after performing a turn at an arbitrary point.
But Hawkins realized that plan was negligent.
…Cool down. Cool down and think it over properly.
Why was the enemy pursuing? This battlefield put her at a disadvantage and she could not breathe to perform an incantation.
…But she “can’t afford to lose”!
Hawkins gave instructions to Cavendish via his sign frame. Instead of speaking, he opened the curved sign frame keyboard on his trident’s grip and made a request with as few words as possible.
As soon as he saw Cavendish nod in understanding, a new movement occurred toward his feet.
After arriving within ten meters of him, the Technohexen’s speed suddenly dropped.
He wondered why, but immediately arrived at his answer. She had opened two acceleration spells on the front of the broom and three on the back.
…She was using the two on the front to gather the oxygen emitted by my spear’s accelerator!?
The oxygen that scattered and dissolved into the water was held between the two acceleration spells on the front of the broom.
The wake held between opposing gravity had solidified into enough air for half a breath, so the Technohexen opened her mouth and almost seemed to plunge her face into it.
With that shout, several Magie Figurs appeared around the broom.
There were eighteen in total. Six on the front, ten on the back, and two to secure another breath from the trail of oxygen Hawkins created.
…She put together a method to force her way through the water with nothing but acceleration spells!?
Hawkins saw the Technohexen quickly approach.
She moved in a straight line as if ignoring his acceleration.
She lined up alongside him and simply continued accelerating to rush along.
The water pressing in could not completely fill the hole opened by the moving object, so a vacuum was created. The flowing water struck it and produced a tearing sound. Her hair danced about and her wings produced constant muffled noises as the water pressed in on them.
Hawkins could tell her method was highly wasteful, but she still managed to force her way forward.
She shook and vibrated while cutting through the water and the Magie Figurs on the back of the broom created two pairs of serial accelerators. Rather than spreading out each individual acceleration spell, she lined them up to maintain thrust.
She clung to and accurately controlled the cowl-covered broom to raise her speed as much as possible.
She had to move in front of Hawkins.
…After all, her final attack during the Battle of Mikawa came from the brush.
The brush was primarily an accelerator, but it could also be used as a cannon. In this case, she would need to overtake him to fire on him.
Her acceleration was greater, so she would eventually circle in front of him and shoot.
Then what could Hawkins do? He chose the best answer from his different pre-prepared options and he sent instructions to Cavendish.
Naito pushed the broom’s accelerator backwards with the backs of her thighs and clung even closer and lower down to Schwarz Fräulein. The water felt like colliding with a thick blanket and she could no longer open her eyes.
However, she was moving forward. Once she made it far enough forward, she had to fire the attack to defeat her opponent.
…I must win!
She felt like she was causing trouble for her classmates. If she did not protect Toori and Horizon’s date, they could not determine their foreign policy and that would greatly affect Musashi’s future.
…But I’m just as worried about Ga-chan!
Lately, Naruze had been trying to behave the same as normal. She had lost Weiss Fräulein and she was trying to keep that from placing a burden on Naito, but trying to keep her efforts from showing had created an unnatural version of herself.
That proved that she was still not completely open in their relationship and that she sensed danger in this kind of situation.
…And if I lose here, Ga-chan will blame herself.
She would accuse herself of placing too much of a burden on Naito. And the more she accused herself, the more boring a person she would be after they smoothed things over.
Naito did not want that.
And so she had to win. She would use her attitude and results to prove that she was fine even without Naruze’s concerns.
…Doing it this way is a pain, but I don’t have the guts to say it in words.
She was afraid Naruze would think she was the one putting distance between them, but she also hated that she was worried about that.
It meant she did not fully trust in their relationship either. That suspicion was proof of her own immaturity.
She was being unfair.
She had noticed Naruze’s worries and attempt to hide those worries, but in her own worries, she was unable to say anything about it.
…I’m no different, but I’m acting like I’m better than her.
It was unfair of her to act like she could do things any better.
Someday she wanted to be able to relax. She wanted to have enough trust to know their relationship was okay without having to say anything, even if they were far apart.
She thought about what would be the first step in that direction.
…I need to win here!
With that thought, she surpassed Hawkins and accelerated further.
She pulled out ahead.
Immediately, she rolled Schwarz Fräulein halfway to the right. She felt the pressure of the wall of water scraping along her cheek and heard a low creaking sound, but she managed to circle in front of Hawkins.
…I’m in position to fire!!
They were close together, so Naito determined her acceleration spell bombardment would cause enough damage even if it was not made for underwater use.
She had only one thing to worry about.
…I need to hurry!
She pulled a roll of coins from the mobile safe attached to the hard point part at her waist.
But she sensed a shadow as she saw Hawkins accelerate toward her.
The shadow fell down from above like someone had placed eaves up there.
…What is that?
The current prevented her from turning her head to look up, but she managed to see what it was that fell at high speed through the water.
Eight identical objects were falling.
The stone pillars were five meters long and had square bases with fifty centimeter sides.
They had the numbers 1 - 8 written at the top.
These obelisks were dropped down to allow Hawkins to turn. Most likely, Cavendish was firing them while also managing the pool.
The obelisks for Courses 1 - 7 fell in a circular formation around Naito. The stone pillars sank with bubbles trailing after them and they had buoys attached to the top to prevent them from falling too far.
However, this seven-part stone circle was positioned to cut off her escape.
And then the eighth and final one arrived.
It fell above her head as she held Schwarz Fräulein. As if to crush her, the stone pillar dropped in a straight line toward her with a trail of bubbles behind it.
Naito realized the bottom was going to hit her.
Great trembling fell across the street and shaking spread out in all directions.
Two racing motions produced great roars with a quick tempo.
One of the racing motions was a white and blue half-dragon and the other was a child holding a giant hammer.
The hammer contained the Trumps emblem and the opposite end of the striking surface had a square-cross virtual vector nozzle created with a Modern Sign. That vector nozzle allowed it to freely accelerate in any direction.
Occasionally, the striking surface would swing down toward the half-dragon who ran along the street.
“Ahhhh! Why do you have to dodge it!?”
The hammer missed and the power of the nozzle caused it to rotate three times in the air. It was held by a boy with crests saying “8” and “Nicholas Bacon” on his large coat.
“Um, you’re called Urquiaga, right!?” he asked the half-dragon. “I saw you in the chancellor’s officers almanac! You can fly, right!? Then fly! Fly! I’ll knock you out of the air!!”
Nicholas smiled as he spoke, but Urquiaga simply continued running without speaking up in return.
…This is dangerous!
As far as possible opponents went, one using an impact weapon was better than most. He had the armor of his outer shell and his great physical strength. He was confident he could take a blow from a hammer this size without missing a beat. Even after he saw the spell light from the nozzle accelerating the hammer, his confidence did not waver. If he was hit, he would simply have to dig in with his feet or fly in the direction he was hit. Given the thrust of his wings and other parts that let his giant body dance through the air, a hit from an accelerated hammer was nothing.
But Nicholas’s hammer was a bit different.
“That is the Great Seal, isn’t it!?”
Urquiaga heard Nicholas say “Testament.”
“Yes, yes! Tes, tes! I’m the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, after all!! I give a nice solid hit with this for all of England’s important, important decisions! With this, everything is a deciding match in England!”
But what mattered was what that meant.
“In other words, this is England itself!”
That was why it meant something else to be hit by that hammer. The striking surface with Far Eastern for “England” carved into it struck the air.
“You can let loose, Seal of the Queen!”
With a roar, the characters for “England” spread out in the form of light and fragments of light surged out.
The street shook and the emblem of light shattered.
Urquiaga had enough spell knowledge to know what had happened. The emblem of England that expanded from the striking surface had contained England itself for just an instant.
If he struck near the ground, the instantaneous force of the strike would contain the weight of England’s entire landmass.
After rotating once from the reverse thrust, he smashed it into the air. The emblem of light struck very near Urquiaga’s face.
The impact tore through the air and a shrill trembling raced into the distance.
…Did that give him all of England’s air for an instant!
Urquiaga jumped back to evade, but his outer shell resonated with the vibration and his muscles stirred.
The Seal of the Queen was a divine weapon that could alter phenomena. What it expanded around itself changed depending on what it struck. Specifically, it depended on what the target was in relation to England. It was unclear how much variation it had, but it was definitely dangerous.
If it struck him, he would likely be hit by “that which was foreign to England”.
…In other words, all the “outsiders” in England.
He made a general estimate of the number of Musashi residents inside this barrier.
…From what I saw in the sky, at least three or four thousand!
Each individual would not create much of an impact, but it was an entirely different story when thousands were collected into a single instant.
I need to do something, he began in his heart. After all, his opponent was Anglican. He was a complete heretic. As a hopeful inquisitor, he could fight freely with no reservations.
Various delightful interrogation plans filled his head.
…But there is the race issue.
According to the data he had seen, Nicholas Bacon was a spirit. That was not unusual in England, but different types of spirits had to be dealt with in different ways. For example, water spirits would absorb water and were weak to fire while fire spirits were the opposite.
…I believe he is a standard spirit, but I do not know the details.
At any rate, he would use the spirit interrogation tools. Unlike those meant for humans, these used moonlight, catalysts, and ceremonies to cause certain effects in the spirits. Their use had to be more carefully planned because they could only be used once before needing to be prepared again.
He decided what tool to use first and then spoke from approximately twenty meters away.
“I have a question!”
“Hmm!? Tes, tes, tes. Go ahead, go ahead! What is it!?”
Urquiaga leaned forward in preparation to charge and shouted his question.
“Do you have an elder sister!?”
Urquiaga saw Nicholas puff out his cheeks.
“No! And it’s super rude to be thinking about girls in the middle of a battle!”
“Judge. I see. So you don’t.”
Urquiaga turned to the side, planted his feet on the road, and pointed at Nicholas.
“Nicholas Bacon! You have committed two sins!”
“Being a heretic?”
“No! That is an issue of your very existence that goes beyond a mere sin!”
He pointed at Nicholas with both hands now.
“First! You have no elder sister!”
The spectators clenched their fists and let out a cheer of understanding. Urquiaga nodded and continued.
“And second! You are not the younger brother of an elder sister!”
Standing on the road twenty meters away, Nicholas smiled and launched an attack at the air.
Urquiaga took a defensive stance while preparing to charge forward.
An impact of air shot toward him. All the wind and air pressure of England’s sky had been compressed into this one strike which the Seal of the Queen’s emblem of light had sent toward him.
But he was already moving with the initial speed of his charge.
The outer shell thrusters on his legs opened. His physical strength had provided his initial speed and the accelerating Dragon Breath fired to push him even further.
He leaped over his opponent’s strike of air and continued onward.
Even twenty meters was close range for an aerial half-dragon with preparation time.
He planned to circle above the boy just outside of the hammer’s range and launch a full burst tackle as soon as he landed behind him.
He cut through the wind, but then he saw Nicholas smile and take action.
Having already hit the air, the hammer accelerated even further and struck the ground.
In that instant, Urquiaga noticed a certain fact about the Seal of the Queen.
…The nozzle isn’t producing the acceleration light that prevents recoil!
The strike into the ground would cause great recoil in the hammer, but the acceleration light meant to suppress that was missing.
Nicholas and the hammer hopped up toward Urquiaga’s trajectory.
Nicholas flew up toward Urquiaga’s path in the sky.
And the hammer rotated as he held it overhead.
“This is a collision course, right!?”
The steel pick hidden in the sides of his shoes’ heels drew Protestant box crosses in midair and then stabbed into the air.
This secured Nicholas’s footing, so he remained stationary in the sky. But he bent his body and accelerated the hammer’s under swing with a smile on his face.
“Into the sky you go!”
The sky of England was fired toward Urquiaga’s face.
A great sound of impact rang out and the sky struck Urquiaga.
The sound of the sky ripping open and an explosion of steam occurred ten meters in front of Nicholas.
The boy used the nozzle’s acceleration to swing the hammer around, stepped on the hammer portion himself, and rotated himself around.
“This makes me the first to gain a higher confrontation right!”
He had felt the blow hit.
After all, the strike of England’s sky was an attack that caused all of England’s airspace within range to be present in an alternate phase. A massive amount of air was compressed inside the attack range and it produced enough pressure to crush stone.
He only controlled the theatre stage’s space at the moment, so he could only compress that smaller region of air, but it should still have been enough to smash the half-dragon.
…Research shows aerial half-dragons can withstand the shockwaves of supersonic speeds.
When they had been deciding who would face which opponent, he had practiced on armor three times as hard as a half-dragon’s external shell.
From that, they had learned his strike could completely smash a half-dragon’s body and he had been given Urquiaga as his opponent.
When he had crushed the test armor, Shakespeare had made the following comment with a serious expression.
“You smashed that to a pulp. I wonder if half-dragons have something like a crab’s brown meat.”
Jonson had praised her for being poetic, but it bothered Nicholas how they would occasionally outdo even a trickster like him.
He could not check for brown meat now, but he had definitely smashed the half-dragon to a pulp.
After all, this had been a counter hit. The intensity would have been even greater than the blow on the unmoving test armor.
Nicholas let out a joyous cry and rotated himself and the hammer around.
To prepare for his landing, he removed his feet from the hammer and hung down from the handle.
But then a white form burst from the steamy mist wrapping around in front of him.
That was exactly who charged toward Nicholas, so Nicholas’s smile stiffened.
“How!? That should’ve been a direct hit!”
He truly could not believe it.
He began to wonder if his memories of the destruction test had been lies. He also wondered if half-dragon armor was far tougher than research had suggested.
“If that air pressure had hit me, I would not have escaped unscathed!” roared Urquiaga. His external shell had several injuries and cracks in it. “But being struck by air while in flight is a normal part of life for a species that can reach supersonic speeds! And even when compressed, the sky is still the sky! As long as I can read England’s air currents, I can ride them!”
The half-dragon thrust forward the front wings of both arms and his sharp nose as if to show them off.
“My race views the sky not as a means of attack but a place to fly! Your excessive pride in England led you to hastily assume its sky could bring down a half-dragon! The blue sky may be harsh to all, but that is why it is equal to all! In which case…”
In which case…
“This only applies to the sky, but England’s sky is my ally!!”
With a cry of fright, Nicholas began moving back, but the half-dragon threw a pair of rings toward his arms. The metal rings attached to his wrists and the hammer’s handle.
“You carelessly underestimated me! This is what you get, Protestant child! Be a good boy and accept your interrogation! Inquisition set #182! Spirit heretic arrest tool ‘Esposas de Mudo’!”
Nicholas could not move his arms as he dangled down from the handle.
In front of him, the half-dragon placed consecrated gloves on his hands and extended a gentle reverse U-shaped spike from the sole of his right shoe.
Just as Nicholas wondered what he would do, he grabbed Nicholas’s legs and spread them.
“Crotch splitting torture #17! Electricidad Massage!!”
Urquiaga performed the torture technique in midair and was urged on by the crowd’s cheering.
But he suddenly stopped.
After a moment, the crowd looked up into the air in confusion as Urquiaga let go of Nicholas’s legs, removed his own leg, placed a hand on his chin, and tilted his head.
“What’s this? I do not feel anything there.”
While he thought, Nicholas raised his eyebrows and blushed with tears in his eyes.
“You’re mean! You knew I was a spirit, didn’t you!?”
“Yes, but you are not a girl.”
“That’s not it!” shouted Nicholas while grabbing the Seal of the Queen’s handle. “I’m a solitary unit, so I’m sexless! It’s pretty common with spirits!”
Wait, thought Urquiaga.
Being sexless and a solitary unit was a trait of a microscopic or faint spirit. Even kobolds had differences between the sexes and even low-level spirits like sylphs that could not be seen by normal people held either male or female features. Possessing a sex was a way of preventing oneself from scattering.
…Spirits with an identity usually model themselves after a living creature in that way.
Nicholas had human size, he had a sense of self and memories, and he could be touched. A spirit of that level would have a fixed sex to prevent himself from breaking apart.
However, he had nothing of the sort.
…I know what kind of spirit he must be!!
Before he could express his surprise, Urquiaga made a certain decision.
He opened the thrusters on his waist and tried to escape into the air behind him.
He had captured his opponent’s wrists and was preventing him from moving, but that would have little meaning. He had only managed to capture him due to the surprise.
…Once he calms down, he can escape it!
“Nicholas Bacon! I know what you are!”
“You only just figured it out? You’re so slow!!”
Nicholas disappeared before his eyes, but he appeared again right afterwards. With nothing left to bind, the bracelets fell along with the handle.
As for Nicholas…
As the Seal of the Queen began to fall from the sky, something rose from the top of the hammer as if being peeled up. It looked a little more like a girl than a boy.
“Will you be kinder if I look like this? But you know what I am now, right?”
His smile was formed once more.
“I, Nicholas Bacon, am the Seal of the Queen’s guardian spirit!”
Urquiaga understood what that meant. Nicholas had not been given the Great Seal of England. He was the Great Seal.
If anyone tried to steal it or take it away, the guardian spirit would resist. If it was attacked, he would prevent that power from manifesting.
But the Seal of the Queen was manmade. Nicholas was a type of Tsukumogami, a spirit connected to an old tool, but this tool was newly made and did not contain the history needed for a spirit to reside within it.
“Are you a manmade spirit!?”
Nicholas did not answer.
He simply smiled and held the hammer while turned to the side.
Sensing danger, Urquiaga immediately tried to fall back despite his external shell’s thrusters not having fully gathered his Dragon Breath.
However, a hard sensation suddenly hit his chest.
To protect him, his reflexes caused his entire body to tense up and pointed his vision downwards.
He saw a metal bracelet had hit his chest. It was the one he had used to bind Nicholas earlier. Swinging the hammer had knocked it from the handle and launched it much like an underhand throw.
His combat training had caused him to reflexively act, but that had created an opening.
His slight pause had allowed Nicholas to complete one full rotation of his hammer.
“Time for a direct hit!!”
A direct hit would strike Urquiaga with something other than England’s sky or land.
“I’ll cram the power of all of England’s ‘outsiders’ into a single point!”
The power of all the “outsiders” in that theatre space would strike him.
Of the tens of thousands of Musashi residents in England, three or four thousand were here.
What would happen if all of that was concentrated on a single point?
Before Urquiaga could reach his answer, it was demonstrated for him.
At the same time as the Course 8 obelisk struck the Technohexen, Hawkins strongly kicked the nearby Course 4 obelisk.
He switched from Vassallo-style swimming on his back to a face-down dolphin kick. That allowed him to raise his head and check on his opponent and it let him ride his speed.
He moved forward using the strong acceleration from the kick.
He could see the Technohexen before him.
In the pale wavering color of water beyond his goggles, he saw her knocked toward the bottom of the water by the Course 8 obelisk.
The impact had put her on her back and aimed her weapon toward the sky.
The acceleration Magie Figurs had vanished from around her schale besen.
He could see her roll of coins sinking away from her.
However, she still tried to right herself and aim toward him again.
But the hit to the solar plexus had knocked all the air from her lungs and into the water.
She had breathed out all of the oxygen she had gathered with the opposing acceleration spells.
She had no way of performing an incantation and she had lost her roll of coins to use as a shell, so fleeing was her only remaining option.
“I won’t let you escape!”
Hawkins accelerated toward victory.
He held his trident out in front as he travelled directly toward the Technohexen.
But he saw her move beyond his goggles.
She could not breathe and had no means of attack, but she bent her body and moved.
…What else can she do!?
Even so, she moved.
She brought her freed left arm to her throat and loosened her scarf.
“It can’t be…”
She forced her collar open and a clump of air spilled out.
…She trapped some air between her breasts!
With her collar opened, the Technohexen gulped in the oxygen and let out a cry as she aimed her weapon toward him. She gave a short, sharp incantation and then shouted a single word.
Her close-range counter blast was made of ice created with her reduction spell.
She fired a fist-sized chunk of ice as soon as it was created. That was the result of her incantation.
But Hawkins reacted accurately to the ice shell fired right before him.
The trident’s cowl doubled as a kickboard, but he removed it and used it as a shield.
He forced the shield forward and the ice struck it.
A dull, low sound rang out and the shield trembled, but the force of the blow was uneven.
…Has she still not created a spell for underwater firing!?
The top half of the shield broke off as he deflected the attack.
He had no intention of allowing the Technohexen to stock up on that spell and he would not give her the time to make any other manipulations or setting changes, so he charged directly toward her.
He dove under the Course 8 obelisk where she continued to sink.
She no longer had the breath needed to emit a spell and she was simply holding up her schale besen.
She had no further means of attacking.
He charged in, but then he heard a voice from Cavendish in his sign frame.
He heard the hint of danger in her voice.
“Course 8 is falling again!!”
An instant later, an extremely heavy weight struck his back.
The Course 8 obelisk had fallen on him as he accelerated with his dolphin kick.
Hawkins sank about a dozen meters as damage reverberated throughout his body.
He could not stop his sinking, the impact had knocked the breath out of him, and he could see the ground below.
…What in the world happened!?
Once he cooled himself down, he quickly found the answer.
When the Technohexen had been struck by the obelisk, she had instantly set her own acceleration spell.
…And she set it to supply acceleration to the Course 8 obelisk that hit her!
She had done so for a single reason: to reaccelerate the stopped obelisk so it would hit him.
That meant the previous ice attack had been to match his attack to the timing of the obelisk’s fall.
“And so I would let my guard down!”
Hawkins slammed into the ground. Like a strike from a hammer, the obelisk pounded him into the ground and stopped sinking.
All the air left in his lungs left his mouth and his mind grew dim, but he had a sudden thought.
…Why do the others continue to test their fulfillment in their inherited names?
He felt it resembled something else, so he answered his own question.
“That sense of fulfillment…”
As he lost consciousness, he spoke.
“…is like a sport!”
Just before the Seal of the Queen produced its impact, the crowd grew excited over the reveal of Nicholas’s identity and Urquiaga’s danger.
But someone found it strange.
It was Noriki. His younger siblings were to his left and Ohiroshiki and someone else were to his right.
He ignored the curry and felt something intensely off about the composition of this festival.
The feeling was clear enough to put to words, so he spoke to himself while looking up at the half-dragon and the spirit that looked like a small boy or girl.
…Why is Ohiroshiki rooting for Urquiaga?
Next to him, Ohiroshiki was also looking up into the sky.
“Uqui! Uqui! Uqui! Look over here!!”
It was strange.
However, it was a normal strangeness. That strangeness was not what mattered most.
…Why isn’t he rooting for that spirit!
Noriki knew it was strange now. Ohiroshiki was a strange boy. He was so strange that Noriki had felt it was a good idea to stand between Ohiroshiki and his younger siblings. It was unthinkable that he would abandon his faith and root for Urquiaga. Noriki’s many long years of knowing the boy told him that for certain.
Anyone of their classmates who saw Ohiroshiki now would say “Eh?” He was sure of that. He understood that very well.
And if he understood it, he did not need to say it.
He tried to stop thinking by shaking his head.
But he found he could not move his head.
…What is going on?
He was cheering.
But he could do nothing else and he found it difficult to think. He could make excuses about being nervous or focused on something else, but another possibility occurred to him.
…This is some kind of spell.
That would explain it.
He could remove the spell by punching it thrice with his own spell and destroying it.
…But I don’t understand this spell. I don’t even know if it really exists.
If he could not recognize the target of his punches, he could not perform the three strikes that started with the created spell named March.
Also, his spell was based in physical impacts. The only way to break the spell was to punch someone under its effects.
He understood that he did not want to punch himself, so he gave no more thought to the idea of doing so.
He could not yet recognize his opponent’s spell, so that was another reason to avoid punching himself.
But then what was he to do? He managed to gather strength in his fist and listened to the voice next to him.
“Uquiquiquiquiquiquiquiqui!! Uqui-chaaaaan! Uuuuu!”
…I know. I’ll return Ohiroshiki to normal.
Ohiroshiki had gone crazy. While his behavior might indeed be viewed as strange by some, it was normal in a certain sense. But it was strange for Ohiroshiki. It was not his normal kind of crazy. Someone had to return him to the proper type of crazy.
And so Noriki prepared his right arm.
“Internal Connection: Suwa Shrine. Spell: Creation Registration 031: Confirmed.”
Green torii light appeared from his elbow to his fist.
“Created Spell ‘January’: Activate.”
He opened his mouth and spoke not words of support but a comment he barely managed to squeeze out.
“With three punches I will return Ohiroshiki to normal.”
The Seal of the Queen’s direct hit against Urquiaga produced a high-pitched reverberation and the radiated annihilation of the emblem of light.
This strike carried the power of outsiders.
It hit and the crowd cried out as if swallowing their expectation and surprise.
But the half-dragon was undamaged.
The attack had indeed hit.
As proof of that, he had tried to guard and had not done so in time.
The hammer was pressed against his chest, but he had not moved in the air.
The hammer had been stopped by his chest.
As a whole, the crowd seemed to be asking how, but a single voice rose up from the center. It was Ohiroshiki’s confused voice.
“Eh!? Huh!? …Ah! What are you doing, Uqui-kun!? Why are you fighting the target of my faith!? Do you want me to poison your food!?”
Urquiaga looked at the hammer pressed against his chest.
…It did no damage?
That was exactly what had happened. He had felt an impact, but it had only been the normal force of the hammer with a slight addition. It had not contained the gathered strength of all the “outsiders” on the battlefield.
The wide-eyed look on Nicholas’s face made it clear that the Seal of the Queen had not produced the desired effect.
“A fellow Far Easterner escaped this theatre space’s spell.”
The concept of “outsiders to England” only applied to the theatre space.
Normally, it would have gathered the strength of all outsiders inside the theatre space, but something else had happened this time.
“There was an even more obvious ‘outsider’ in this theatre space version of England.”
That was Ohiroshiki and only Ohiroshiki.
…The damage reduced from several thousand people’s worth to just an Ohiroshiki’s worth.
Urquiaga then heard something down below.
His gaze turned toward the people’s surprised looks and the glowing strings of writing disappearing into the sky from the people, the ground, and everywhere else. The spell creating the theatre space had started to come apart once the spell was removed from Ohiroshiki.
Nicholas also watched as the glowing words ascended into the heavens.
“It hasn’t broken yet, but it might be dangerous to fight in here. If this place becomes even slightly linked to the outside, my attacks would have the power of all of England’s sky or land.”
He lowered his shoulders and sounded disappointed.
“I need to give Shakespeare some advice. If she’s gonna do this right, she can’t just pitch a tent. She needs to make a building that won’t be shaken just because a single guest loses interest.”
He suddenly moved away from Urquiaga.
The spirit flipped around in midair and began to land with the Seal of the Queen still raised.
“If we continue, my power would get too dangerous, so how about we call it a draw?”
“Judge. I did not intend for it to happen, but I did destroy the stage.”
“Testament. Then I’ll be leaving!”
Nicholas landed in the center of the road, spun the hammer around, and bowed to everyone.
“I hope you can enjoy the other performances!”
|Back to Chapter 33||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 35|