Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 37
Chapter 37: Protector of the Plaza
Why do people
Force unwanted things on each other?
Point Allocation (Duty)
Mitotsudaira fought in the plaza.
The automaton named Walsingham deflected the silver chains Mitotsudaira sent toward her, so Mitotsudaira drew back two of the rejected chains and ordered two to continue attacking.
She did not have the attacking two wrap around. They instead grabbed broken pieces of wooden festival stands and used them as spears to directly stab Walsingham.
While the other two returned to Mitotsudaira, one of them grabbed and threw one of the stands surrounding the fountain. The other tore up and threw one of the stones around the fountain.
Meanwhile, Mitotsudaira herself fell back and circled the plaza that filled with water spray as the fountain water spilled out.
But Walsingham pursued her. She used her 120 blades to slice away the wooden spears thrust forward by the attacking chains. To stop the thrown stand, she smashed it with a swing of her left and right cross swords.
After sweeping away the stand, the cross swords combined and the barrel attached.
It was not as powerful as a siege canon, but the ether blast was enough to shoot through a house.
It fired in a straight line with no tracking ability, so its path could be predicted from the orientation of the barrel, but a direct shot for the center of the chest was still difficult to avoid. Mitotsudaira successfully avoided it by turning to the side, but her feet fell out of place and the pull of the chains destroyed her balance.
Walsingham ran forward with her long hair waving behind her like a tail.
They could both attack and defend at the same time, but Mitotsudaira felt somewhat impatient.
…I need to hurry.
After all, some enemy could have already gained the right to challenge the chancellor and could already be on the way there.
Allowing that would be a disgrace as a knight.
The Mitotsudaira family may have been new to Musashi, but it had more authority than any of the other families.
If she allowed an enemy to approach the chancellor here, she would be criticized.
…And by myself more than anyone.
She was still in battle, so she lightly pulled back her chin instead of using her hands.
She wore a small black choker on her neck. It was quite old.
After feeling the hard material against her skin, she checked where in the plaza she was.
“I’ve made three circuits.”
She took a large jump back and raised her right arm toward the fountain.
“Then it’s time!!”
After smashing the 18th festival stand, Walsingham decided her victory was nigh.
The enemy had just thrown the last stand from the plaza and all of the benches had been used.
With those primary weapons used up, the enemy only had the chains and stones, but Walsingham could deflect both of those.
Thus she would win. Meanwhile, she prepared to slice horizontally through the final stand falling from the sky.
She smashed it.
Her sight devices viewed her opponent through the scattering stand fragments.
The first step was to fire her cannon. That would cause her opponent to evade and she could use that moment to charge in.
Walsingham connected the cross swords as if folding her hands in prayer and she passed the barrel through.
But she paused at the last second.
The reason for this was simple: there was a fountain overhead.
Walsingham expressionlessly yet questioningly looked up at the stones that had surrounded the fountain.
The construction was about twenty meters across and it whistled through the wind as it slammed down from the sky.
When had the enemy prepared this?
Walsingham could only assume she had prepared the silver chains inside the water filling the area below their feet. The water flooding the plaza had been no accident. It had been to hide the destruction of the joints with the base.
Walsingham had to evade.
No matter how large the structure, it was no threat as long as it did not hit.
However, the water overflowing from the fountain to her left reached her feet and grabbed at her legs.
That left only one option: Abandon her knees on down and evade.
After leaving the bottoms of her legs behind, she tried to move left and away from the fountain.
But then she saw a stone. Mitotsudaira had thrown it from straight in front of her.
Instead of aiming for her head, it flew toward her escape path. Mitotsudaira had predicted her evasion and thrown the stone to stop her.
With her evasion cut off, Walsingham made a new decision.
Her only option was to destroy the stone structure falling from above.
The falling ring of stone tilted vertically and dropped toward her like a roller.
Walsingham’s sight devices accurately read the stone ring’s motion and structure. She targeted the gaps between stones using the cross sword cannon.
She fired and the white ether cannon tore into its target. The recoil was bad enough, but the sound of the blast as it echoed from the target was enough to shake her auditory devices to their core. The ripples in the water below turned into spray and she saw the blast hit the exact spot she had targeted.
But the stone structure did not break.
It cracked, but another shot was necessary.
She completely connected the cross swords to turn the cannon into a cross spear. She placed the bottom of the shaft on the ground like a pike and she made sure the stone structure would fall on the tip of the cross swords.
The target’s own weight would do the rest.
The cannon bent and the joints twisted to the point of almost breaking.
But the cross spear stabbed deep into the stone structure.
The extremely heavy stone ring split in midair.
The cracks in the stone structure opened just as the cannon broke. The splitting of the stone created a tremendous noise.
Walsingham stuck her hands between the pressed-together cross swords as if opening a large door.
And she pulled them apart. The blades of the cross swords were inside the widened crack, so this split the stone structure in two along that crack.
The breaking stone created a harmony of solid noises and a hail of stone and other building materials scattered through the air.
But Walsingham saw her enemy attack beyond it all. Two silver chains slipped in amidst the scattering stone.
She deflected the two high-speed attacks with sixty blades, but those were not the enemy’s only attacks.
Walsingham spotted the two remaining silver chains.
Mitotsudaira had launched them from her arms and into the water covering the ground.
The water at their feet was already about twenty centimeters deep. The spraying water and falling stone stirred up that water, so the underwater area could not be seen clearly. The instant Walsingham frowned toward that water, two silver lights shot up from the water on either side.
She just barely managed to react to the water that leaped up as sharply as a spear. Her cross swords were held out to either side, so she rotated them forwards and upwards as if to close them. A metallic noise rang out.
The silver chains were knocked upwards.
All four chains had now been deflected and the enemy was left defenseless.
Walsingham returned the two cross swords to her sides and leaned forward in preparation to dash. She would chase down the silver wolf along with her blades.
But then she noticed the state of the two silver chains that had shot up from the water.
Those neutralized chains had an odd shape. The front seemed to hold a spear-like weapon, but the chains had simply bent and twisted around into that form.
That was not the end of the chains. The middle of the chains had simply made themselves look like spears.
Then where were the actual ends?
They would still be in the water.
Mitotsudaira silently launched the silver chains.
The launchers were the ends of the two chains hidden below the water and their target was Walsingham’s back.
The weapons were wooden spears and they were launched such that they would pierce Walsingham’s uniform. Even if this would not smash her body, an attack piercing through her clothes from back to front would interfere with her movement. The two silver chains were located about two meters apart and they attacked at different angles. Even if the automaton did turn around, one or the other of them would hit her from outside her field of vision.
If Mitotsudaira fired, she would hit.
But in that moment, she heard an unfamiliar noise.
…A mechanical noise?
It was the sound of Walsingham’s arms quickly flying behind her, but the automaton had not looked back. She was still facing Mitotsudaira.
Nevertheless, the two arms intercepted the two wooden spears.
Walsingham grabbed the wooden spears with the joint-less arms.
Why? asked Mitotsudaira.
That attack from behind should have been a complete surprise. With the gap in location, it should have been impossible to avoid.
…How did she know their location so accurately without looking!?
There was a reason for her confusion.
…She visually checked overhead earlier!
When Mitotsudaira had dropped the first festival stand, Walsingham had looked up, seen it, and then dealt with it. The process had been the same with the stone structure just now. The automaton’s vision was forward-facing and she observed her surroundings on that basis.
…So how did she react to that attack from behind!?
She did not understand. It was a complete surprise for the automaton to react only to something behind her.
“La la la la la la la!”
Walsingham’s blades reacted to her words. They flew toward the two silver chains submerged in the water.
With 48 blades on either side, they stabbed into those chains from above. Each link of the chain was hit accurately and held deep against the ground. She had stopped the chains by stitching them to the ground. Mitotsudaira was connected to the base of those chains, so her range of actions was now restricted.
She attempted to pull them out, but something stopped her.
A few small objects fell from the sky.
She looked up and saw the bright color of the falling objects.
Mitotsudaira watched the many lemons fall down from overhead. The yellow elliptical fruits had been sold at one of the plaza’s stands.
At the beginning of the duel, she had sensed danger and crushed that fruit stand first.
She had prioritized the fruit stand for one reason: a wolf’s sense of smell was strong.
She noticed the falling lemons all had Walsingham’s blades skewering them and there were 24 of them in all. While holding down the two silver chains, Walsingham must have carried these into the air and dropped them. The instant after Mitotsudaira noticed the falling scattering of yellow, the blades moved.
The lemons split open, yellow fruit flesh scattered, the juices sprayed out, and it audibly formed a mist.
Mitotsudaira felt a tearing pain spread from her nose to her mouth and from the inner corner of her eyes to the back of her head.
This was the irritating odor of citrus.
A wolf’s sense of smell was equal to a dog’s and ten thousand times as sensitive as a human’s. The same went for a member of a werewolf family like Mitotsudaira. It could come in handy for the mixing and selling of perfumes, but it meant she had to avoid sharp and irritating smells. She had an especially hard time with the smell of citrus fruits.
Not even humans liked the undiluted smell and it hit her senses with ten thousand times the concentration. The itching and piercing pain was too raw to call “stabbing” and it seemed to squeeze at every nerve in her body.
Her sense of smell numbed over in an instant, but her body’s rejection caused all of her senses to cry out in pain.
Her vision blurred with tears, a powerful ringing filled her ears, and a cramping heat filled the back of her mouth.
Her footing grew unsteady and she could not tell if she was even still standing, but her sense of touch grew sharper.
As soon as she started emptying her mind of all thoughts, a piece of cut lemon fell on her shoulder.
That light impact produced a shudder of rejection. She attempted to raise her arms, but the chains were still held motionless below the water. She lost control over the two in the air and they fell powerlessly down.
She was currently bound to the waterside by the two chains and her body would not stop trembling.
She shook her head in frustration, let everything spill out that would, and coughed repeatedly as if about to vomit, but none of it solved anything.
That was when Walsingham charged in with 24 blades ahead of her.
The silver chains falling from the sky reacted to the blades targeting her body and face. They acted autonomously to protect their master. They moved slowly, but they did indeed move.
They could manage nothing more than the bare minimum.
One used the center of the chain to grab a stone fragment from its master’s waist pocket and threw it.
That stone saved Mitotsudaira’s life by deflecting the blade flying straight toward her face.
A moment later, strength suddenly returned to her gaze, but not just because of the harsh noise of blade against stone.
That stone was the one her king had sat on.
Her powerful sense of smell awakened as it sought that relief to overcome the previous scent of rejection.
With a single shake of the head, she knocked away the tears and reactivated.
“Too too too too late, you tamed wolf.”
With those words, the remaining 23 blades stabbed into every part of Mitotsudaira’s body.
Mitotsudaira felt more heat than pain.
She had twisted her body to prevent a direct hit to her heart or gut, but that had increased the heat around her collarbone and thighs. She felt a weight pressing down on her from all over and the chains on her arms were stretched taut.
She could see the blades stabbing into her and blood was already leaking out between some of the blades and her skin. That meant her nerves had been severed. After an instant of delay, pain reached every part of her body and it did not stop.
The pain of having her body torn apart came from 23 different parts of her body.
The blades had no barbs, but they were small enough to not fall out under their own weight. Instead, Walsingham used her gravitational control.
Another strike reached all 23 areas as if hammering them in and out the other side.
Mitotsudaira gasped in pain, arched her back, and thought.
…I have to move!
She could not move her body, so she moved her hands despite the blades stabbing into them.
Mitotsudaira launched her primary weapon toward Walsingham who charged forward with her arms still behind her.
She swung up the two silver chains that flew weakly through the air and then swung down the tight arms at the end of the chains.
The metal fists countered Walsingham’s charge.
But before they arrived, heat gouged into every part of her body. It was obvious what had happened: all of the blades inside her body had been forcibly removed, some of them ripping through flesh along the way.
The silver chains in the air intercepted, a sound of impact reached Mitotsudaira’s ears, and the two chains were deflected. That left the two in the water. At the moment, Walsingham was controlling all the many blades, the cross swords, and herself. While controlling so much, her gravitational control would be weaker than Mitotsudaira’s physical strength.
Mitotsudaira pulled on the submerged chains and tried as hard as she could to return them to her.
But before she could, Walsingham slammed her two primary weapons into the water.
She had brought the twin cross swords up high and then swung them down like driving a stake into the ground.
…It can’t be…
The cross swords hammered down on every single one of the blades holding the chains to the ground.
This caused the blades to dig deep into the holes of the chains.
Before she could even shout out, silver fragments burst up through the surface.
Two of the silver chains had been severed and smashed.
Two silver chains had been destroyed.
That fact brought Mitotsudaira’s movement to a stop.
Meanwhile, the 96 unharmed blades rose wet from the water and turned their tips toward her.
They raced through the air.
The ends of the severed chains had lost all strength. The tight arms that had been using wooden spears to struggle against Walsingham’s arms let those wooden spears slip down.
The quickly spinning cross swords smashed them.
Two of the four silver chains were lost and the remaining two had been deflected into the air. Walsingham would arrive before the surviving two returned.
Mitotsudaira’s primary weapons had been halved in number and the remaining ones were unusable. More blood flowed from her body and strength began to leave her. The entire situation caused her to hesitate for a moment, but she quickly came to a certain decision.
…I mustn’t think about this!
Most likely, thinking would only bring unpleasant thoughts. She had enough sense to know that. She was not like her horrible classmates, so growing negative here would only apply further pressure to herself.
Once Walsingham arrived within a few steps, something passed by over her shoulders.
They were arms. With the silver chains dealt with, the two arms spread their hands and grabbed Mitotsudaira’s wrists.
Blood spilled from her wrists as they were forced outwards.
Walsingham prepared to attack the center of her chest as she was held in a cross-shape.
As if flapping nonexistent wings, she swung the cross swords from behind to bring them together. The instant they joined, they would pierce into Mitotsudaira’s chest.
Mitotsudaira determined the automaton was only three steps away. The combination of the swords would complete at the second step and the finishing blow would be dealt a step after that. A glance showed a great number of blades approaching from behind.
As soon as the deadly attack struck, those blades would crucify her.
Due to the histories of the two countries, England would not hesitate to execute a French non-human.
But, thought Mitotsudaira. I can still move.
She was soaked with blood and her mind was still shaking from the citrus, but there was one thing she could still move.
The silver chains deflected into the sky had yet to adjust from the impact, but that only applied to the parts that had been deflected. The portion at the base was still usable, so Mitotsudaira made a certain decision.
The two chains at her waist that had been broken in the water were abandoned along with the obelisks at her waist and that portion of her skirt.
With only the two at her shoulders remaining, Mitotsudaira quickly pulled the chains from the supply device and manipulated them.
The portion she pulled out wrapped around her own arms and legs and she poured all her strength into the palms controlling them.
She could not move her body as she wished, so she wrapped the chains around it and used them to move it. She used her fingers, grip, and will to send instructions to the chains.
She forced herself to lean forward and threw her entire body in that direction. She also wrapped the chains around Walsingham’s arms and ripped them from her wrists.
She moved forward.
She would slip between the two cross swords and reach Walsingham past them.
The swords were closing quickly, so timing her passage between them would be difficult.
But Mitotsudaira did not care.
Just before the swords closed, she used the chains to turn her body ninety degrees to the left and raise her arms.
…I can make it through!
Her thin body shot by in a straight line. The closing swords grazed her slightly, but she still made it between them.
…Tomo or Kimi would never have made it through there!! Masazumi would be about the only other one who could pull it off.
While calmly analyzing her technique, she faced forward and found Walsingham’s widened eyes.
Everything slowed down yet felt sped up. She heard the swords close behind her.
“Bite,” muttered Mitotsudaira as she slammed into Walsingham’s body with her right shoulder.
She continued pushing against the automaton with the entirety of her momentum.
She moved forward as if grabbing and shoving her. Her speed remained strong and she travelled toward the area behind Walsingham. Countless blades waited there in preparation to crucify her.
Musashi’s knight charged toward those blades and her blood-soaked sprint would grant her wish.
In her fading consciousness, Mitotsudaira saw the blades begin to evade while Walsingham continued looking directly at her.
The enemy had not looked behind her, but the blades behind her had accurately avoided her.
Walsingham could see behind her.
As Mitotsudaira wondered why, a certain possibility occurred to her. And if that possibility was true…
…This attack won’t knock her into the blades!
Convinced her guess was correct, she took a certain action.
She leaned forward as if tackling and slammed the two of them into the water.
Her arms were squeezing Walsingham’s clothes more than her actual body, but it was enough to keep the automaton from escaping.
“Silver chains! Wrap around both of us!”
With that shout, Mitotsudaira held down the doll as if slamming her into the ground.
Water wrapped around her body and the sound vanished from her surroundings. She could not breathe, but she did not care.
Convinced this would be her final decision in the battle, she sent one last instruction to the silver chains.
…Embrace the doll with all your might!
She would squeeze her until she broke. Her own body tightened and the doll below her chest began to creak. While listening to that sound and feeling her consciousness fade due to oxygen deprivation, Mitotsudaira smiled.
…Honestly. Will this at least slightly make up for ten years ago?
As she sank into the water with no air to breathe, she passed out as if falling asleep. She could smell her own blood in the water, but she had another thought before completely passing out.
…Was I of some use to you?
…I’ll be really mad if the two of you don’t have a proper date after all this.
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