Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 38
Chapter 38: Users of the Plaza
What is it one must know
In order to come to a realization?
Point Allocation (Decision)
A stone plaza had a fountain in the center, was surrounded by tall buildings, and connected major roads.
Two people sat on the stone structure surrounding the fountain. One was a boy and the other a girl. The girl was a silver-haired automaton wearing a sleeveless English uniform and a feathered hat. The boy wore a black Far Eastern uniform.
The girl looked toward the festival stands surrounding the plaza.
“What do we do now that we have gone around and seen the center of the city, Toori-sama?”
“Judge. Listen carefully, Horizon. According to sis’s manual, I sit next to you like this, nonchalantly put my arm around your shoulder, and whisper something to put you in the mood!”
Horizon placed her elbow on Toori’s shoulder and stared at him with half-lidded eyes.
“The arm on the shoulder? You mean like this? …Well, Toori-sama? Is this fun? What mood has it put you in?”
“D-dammit. This is what you call the mood of a loser!”
Toori went on to pull the B5 size parchment of the date manual from his pocket and tilted his head.
“Strange. According to sis’s instructions, we should’ve kissed liked three times by now.”
“To be honest, I suspect Kimi-sama’s strategy is accurate and it is the application of that strategy that has failed. For example, it says here to ‘show off your good side at the live ammunition shooting range and increase her appreciation of you’, but a certain idiot could not hit any of the targets, peered down the barrel while wondering aloud if the gun actually had any bullets in it, and caused even the game runner to flee. Everyone thought you were committing suicide after doing so poorly at the game.”
“Huh? I thought they all loved the gag. The game runner even gave me a stuffed doll. Look, it’s the messy-eating version of Reddy the Evil Fairy Teletub.”
“I am amazed they recreated those fairies from the records found in some ruins. There is truly great depth to England.”
“Anyway,” said Toori as he checked the manual and the notes the girls had given him.
Unfortunately, most of those notes were honest advice along the lines of “do anything weird and I’ll punish you”.
He leaned back in thought, took a deep breath, and turned toward Horizon.
“With no tsukkomi or other intrusions, I’ve got a pretty good advantage here, don’t you think?”
“Judge. This means there is nothing to soften my blows and no one you can flee to. It takes a lot of naïveté to see that and think it gives you an advantage.”
“Huh? So to you…”
Toori started asking his question, scratched his head, and continued a bit awkwardly.
“To you, everyone’s my ally?”
Horizon responded quietly to Toori’s question.
“I have not been around them long enough to divide them into the category of ally. But at the moment, the only ones I have confirmed to be my friends are the brown algae creatures and Masazumi-sama.”
“What about my sis?”
“Kimi-sama has large breasts and is one of my caretakers. Although my #1 caretaker would be the shop owner.”
“I see.” Toori nodded and continued. “What about our teacher?”
“Judge. She has large breasts and is a teacher who loves meat.”
“Judge. She has large breasts and is a shrine maiden who likes shooting people.”
“You’re right on all counts, so why do I feel like I’m gonna have people mad at me later? …And why do you use breasts as the first criterion?”
“Judge. That is a standard theorem of the universe,” declared the automaton. “Listen. This is a very difficult concept. After all, Greek philosopher and mathematician Archimedes sought a formula to find the shape of beautiful breasts, but a great theorem of the universe would never produce a number mere humans can fully understand. Nevertheless, Archimedes found a tentative formula and named it pi. The people were so impressed that a custom was born of repeating ‘Oh! Pi! Oh! Pi!’ again and again. Thus whenever someone speaks of breasts they are touching on a great truth and mystery of the universe. By the way, this will be on the test.”
“Nwohhh! The joke ended before I could get a word in edgewise!”
Toori began cursing and punching the stone structure on the opposite side from her, but seemed satisfied as soon as he expressed his regret like that.
“Anyway,” he said. “Wh-who do you say has the biggest chest in the class?”
“Are you planning to grope their chest?”
“Yeah!” he immediately replied.
“That would clearly be Persona-kun,” she replied calmly. “And I will not forgive you until you grope his chest.”
“I-I walked right into that one! Right into it!”
But the idiot quickly recovered and asked another question.
“Wh-what about Shiro?”
“Judge. He has small breasts and-…”
“Y-you use that for the guys too!? Of course he’s got small breasts! With that logic, I’ve got a flat chest!”
“Judge. But there are well-endowed males such as Ohiroshiki-sama, so any decision about this must be made strictly and carefully. To continue my description of Bertoni-sama, he is also a stingy money-lover.”
“Yeah, you won’t find any argument on that one. So, um…what about Tenzou?”
“Th-that’s just mean! Or is it a compliment since he’s a ninja!?”
Toori continued asking for Horizon’s opinions of people and eventually came across a certain individual.
“What about Bell-san?”
“Judge. She has fairly small breasts and no ability to see, but she works hard to ensure it is not a problem. Oh, but it is not the small breasts part I am saying could be a problem. The same goes for Adele-sama.”
“Th-that subdued kind of cruelty is making me shudder, Horizon! So do you ever want to take Bell-san’s hand and help her out?”
“Judge. The desire to help people is natural for automatons.”
Toori smiled when he heard that and Horizon frowned.
“Why are you smiling? I do not understand.”
“I just realized again that you’re really Horizon.”
“Judge. Logically speaking, I cannot be anything other than that. But, Toori-sama.” Horizon asked a question. “What has caused that expression that I will call a ‘slight smile’ based on previous patterns?”
“It makes me smile that you’re Horizon. Is that not enough?” Toori continued smiling. “It’s the same as eating.”
Horizon tilted her head and then gave an extra tilt of the head.
“Eating? Once you eat something, it disappears.” She stood up, looked around at the surrounding festival stands, and nodded toward Toori. “This festival will not last forever either. It will end and then disappear. …In fact, I can determine that there is nothing that does not end. In the same way, even the closest of friends will grow estranged once distance is put between them from graduation or moving to a new home.
“And in those and all other things, losing them will only bring sorrow. What purpose is there in obtaining, doing, and participating in those things? I do not wish to feel sad, so the best option is to live a reliable life day in and day out. If I associate with the bare minimum of people and obtain the bare minimum of meaning in my life, isn’t that enough?”
She took a breath.
“Toori-sama, you stated that you wish for me to gain an interest in my emotions, but emotions are produced by an object or existence. They are based on the assumption that you will hold a relationship to something else. Sorrow, for example, is produced upon the loss of such a relationship. All relationships will be lost in the end, so it is unavoidable. In that case…”
In that case…
“I see no need for these ‘emotions’ that are needed to hold a relationship with something. Holding a relationship with someone or something will eventually bring the sorrow of parting. I do not wish to experience sorrow, so I will reject all else as well. I will reject my other emotions as well as my relationships with people or things. What do you say to that?” she asked. “If it will be lost and bring sorrow in the end, is there any meaning in possessing the other emotions and the relationships needed to feel those emotions?”
Horizon asked her question.
“Toori-sama, I have heard you almost lost me once and I can guess that you felt the emotion of sorrow at that time, so what about this?”
“If you are with me, you will eventually lose me again and feel sorrow. Do you still wish for a relationship with me despite that?”
She turned toward Toori, but he was no longer on the stone structure. Wondering where he went, she looked down and found him crouching by her right side. He seemed to be tying the stuffed doll to the right hard point at her waist.
“Please stop. I do not need that.”
“I will eventually lose it and it is not necessary for my daily life, so I do not need it.”
“Tch. If you just said you didn’t need things you’ll eventually lose, I was gonna negotiate you out of those clothes you’ll eventually lose.”
“Is that so?”
He finished tying the doll on and he stood up and smiled at her while she felt the slight bit of unnecessary weight.
“It’s true that this’ll be covered in dust in a month even if you take it off and store it. And after a while you’d stop looking at it and might even throw it out.”
“Judge. Then what purpose is there in obtaining such a thing? Are you forcing sorrow onto me?”
“Maybe so,” said Toori. “But you’ll remember I gave you this and that you wore it even after you lose it, won’t you?”
“Judge. An automaton’s memory is perfect. Yes, during the festival preparations, you would always look up at Masazumi-sama’s butt as she climbed the ladder. A total of 23 times, was it?”
“No, it was 25 times. The 7th and 15th times you weren’t there, so- I-I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Horizon-sama. …Huh, my memory’s pretty damn good too, isn’t it?”
“I see. So not only do you change the subject, but this is what you bring up.”
“Y-you were the one that brought it up!!”
“That is within the margin of error. …At any rate, what meaning is there in my memory?”
“Well.” Toori scratched his head. “I’m not quite sure how to say it, but I was really down when you died way back then and I recovered pretty well thanks to sis and those other horrible people. Anyway, I realized something back then.”
“Even without you around, I found myself thinking about what you would say or do if you had been there.”
“Judge,” said Toori. “Even if you’ve completely vanished, you’re still with me.”
Toori gave his answer.
“If I lose you, I’ll be sad. I’ve got the emotion of sorrow after all. But even as a kid, I had various types of relationships with you, I spoke with you, we touched each other, we spent time with each other, and I learned to a certain extent what kind of person you were. And because of that, I had more than just the sorrow after I lost you. Even after that, the version of you that I knew was still with me.”
He looked up in the air a little before continuing.
“Even as I got taller, I stayed an idiot, but the people around me got more mature. All the things the Horizon inside me could do or had wanted to do, I could do with all the others. And as we did them again and again, I started having a thought. I decided it was about time I let you go free. I’d kept the kid Horizon with me to keep me from being sad, but just as she couldn’t grow up with us, I also couldn’t change what she was for my own convenience. So once I gather the Logismoi Óplo and return them to the Horizon inside me, I decided to give my old self to you.”
“Your old self?”
Toori nodded as she asked what that meant.
“I’d place my monument next to yours and then continue on as the next me somewhere else. I wouldn’t be redoing it; I’d be continuing on. I’d make sure to say thanks to the old me and to you, but then I’d find a new person like you. …Don’t tell anyone else,” urged Toori. “I haven’t told anyone about that part. Although there’s a good chance they’ve caught on.”
“Judge. I understand. This topic is no longer necessary.” Horizon continued. “But does that mean you are maintaining this relationship with me so that you can memorize all of my behavior patterns and thus have no problem with losing me? Are you ensuring you can create a mental replacement for me if I am lost?”
She touched the doll at her waist.
“Then it should be enough to show my reaction to each set of circumstances once and maintain the bare minimum of a relationship. And once you have gathered all of those patterns, you will be fine with me dying.”
“That isn’t it.” Toori was still smiling. “I’m not having fun with you so I’ll be fine with you dying. It’s the opposite. If we have fun, there’ll naturally be something left over even if you suddenly die.”
“But,” said Horizon. “How can I obtain the emotion of ‘fun’?”
“The Logismoi Óplo has given me the negative emotion of sorrow. It has not given me a positive emotion. In that case, gathering the Logismoi Óplo will only provide me with negative emotions.”
In that case…
“I do not need that.”
Those direct words were accompanied by something.
Tears spilled out.
In saying she did not need that, she determined that she was weak. The Logismoi Óplo were made from her emotions, but she did not want that part of herself if they were negative emotions.
She felt it was right to reject herself, yet she wondered who would need her if even she did not want herself.
“That’s why I’m bringing back your emotions, Horizon.”
She wiped away her tears and saw him buying a few skewered roast apples from a nearby festival stand and placing them in a bag.
She took the slice he held out toward her and she placed it in her mouth to hide that she was crying.
“Is it good?”
“Judge.” She nodded and thought about how to answer his question. “It is strongly acidic, but the cooking brings out a strong sweetness as well. I have determined it falls in the category of delicious.”
Toori gave a thumbs-up to the old man running the stand. The man returned the thumbs-up, grinned, and pulled a fresh apple from below the stand.
“Here, if this is your first time tasting it, try one that isn’t cooked. If you like it, head to the market. Raw, they’re more suited to salads, so buy some vegetables to go with them. Also, don’t make a lady cry.”
Toori caught the thrown apple, tapped Horizon on the shoulder, and pushed on her back so they could slowly walk across the plaza.
“Do you dislike negative emotions, Horizon?”
“Judge. Sorrow alone is painful enough.”
“Then you do have a positive emotion.”
“Because,” he said. “If you only had the negative emotion, you’d accept it without opposition and you’d give yourself into it. But you’re opposing it. That means you have positive emotions.”
“Then…” Horizon threw her question out to him while placing a hand on her own chest. “What are positive emotions!?”
She took a breath.
“What is the positive emotion I gained along with the emotion of sorrow?”
She received a definite answer to her question and it came as he scratched at his head.
“I don’t know that either.”
She truly considered punching him there.
Toori sensed a sort of killer intent coming from the automaton standing next to him.
She silently glaring at him as usual, but he felt this was especially bad. It was bad enough to bring an odd sweat to his back.
“Horizon? Um, uh… Horizon?”
“You do not need to say it twice. What is it? Yes, what is it?”
He tried to think up an excuse, but she said something else before he could.
“Are you saying you want to die? Is that it? Oh? Is that sweat on your brow? Are you returning your moisture to the atmosphere before you die? How ecological of you.”
…I-I shouldn’t have said anything! I’ve been turned into an experiment in death ecology!!
He mentally began sweating blood and tried to think up an answer to the question that had started this.
…But I can’t possibly know the answer.
He felt trying to hide his ignorance was the worst thing he could do. He would rather be known as an idiot than someone who pretended to know more than he did. After all, that way he would not be lying.
“Toori-sama, have you been taking me along with you over something you did not understand yourself?”
“W-want some more roast apple?”
Ah, I’m trying to avoid the issue, he realized, but his life was at risk here.
After a few seconds, Horizon’s expression remained the same yet she spoke up.
“Judge. I will take a slice.”
As soon as she took the slice of apple, she became enveloped by the color white.
It was a flock of doves. The white doves began picking at the skewered roast apple in her hand.
Horizon did not know what to do.
Toori had transferred ownership of the skewered roast apple to her, so it was hers. However, the doves were already pecking at it.
…From both a sanitary and quantity perspective, I am at a disadvantage.
She came to the following conclusion about the current situation.
…The doves approached for the food I am holding.
She wore an English uniform and the hat had feather decorations. Her hair color was also similar to them, so she had enough for them to let down their guard.
However, the word “but” entered her thoughts. After all, this was something that had never happened in her normal life. There were only a small number of birds on the Musashi and there were certainly not this many white doves.
…And do birds really get this close?
Animals that could fly and escape her grasp were drawn in by food. This could be easily recreated, but was it worth remembering? Not only was there no purpose in remembering it, but losing food like this was a negative.
What was she supposed to do now? She only knew one thing for sure.
“Hm? What is it? Actually, are you okay buried under there? Oh, come to think of it, this is dove play, isn’t it!? D-damn! I want to become a dove and peck at your breasts as a messenger of peace!”
Her punch landed even through the flock of doves, so all was well.
However, the doves did not leave her. Horizon decided to give up on the apple because Toori still had two skewers left that they could split between the two of them.
She began using her arms to manipulate the flock of doves. The largest dove that was likely their boss was near her hand and it would occasionally kick away the other doves.
But that was wrong. The doves likely had their own procedure for who got the food, but Horizon did not care.
…This is my space, so even the boss dove must obey me.
She held the skewer in her right hand, warned off the boss and other larger doves with her left, and gave some space for the smaller doves that flew to her arm. The boss and other larger ones wandered around down below to grab the pieces that fell from the skewer, so the flock was split into an upper and lower group.
“Oh, there you are.”
The idiot caught sight of her from the other side.
…He has done nothing despite my troubles with the doves, so he is less Mr. Impossible and more Mr. Incompetent.
“What is it?” she asked while listening to the flapping of dove wings.
“Are you sad now?”
Horizon tilted her head at that question. She was nowhere near sad at the moment, so why would he be asking that?
“I am not sad, but why do you ask?”
“Because, Horizon,” he said with a smile spreading horizontally on his lips. “If you aren’t sad, it means you’re happy.”
Toori himself was not sure if that was the case.
“You probably haven’t noticed because you started from nothing. Nothing is normal for you, but that’s not actually the case. People normally have all sorts of emotions in reaction to things.”
“It catches you off guard. You’ll be walking beside me with your breasts shaking and boom! I’ll spot the side of your breasts from under your arm and wham! You’ll crouch over and your legs- I-I’m sorry! I got carried away!”
“Fine, fine,” said Toori while cautiously prostrating. “I don’t know if the deadly sin emotion is giving you this emotion of rejection or if something that was left inside you is reacting to the deadly sin emotion, but you have a desire to resist the deadly sin emotion.”
“And the emotion in opposition to sorrow is…?”
“That’s right.” Toori thought about the past and answered Horizon’s question. “It’s the desire for the happiness of not being sad. It’s a ridiculously luxurious emotion that lets you feel happy with nothing at all.”
He could not put it to words well, but he tried.
“You could call it the status quo.”
“The status quo.”
It was not the easiest explanation, but Horizon understood what he meant.
He was referring to the feeling of ease when released from a state of sorrow.
She had once felt pain upon gaining the emotion of sorrow and realizing what it meant to lose her father. Toori had been by her side then and he had helped her with it.
…But can I really say I endured it?
Even now, she would occasionally think of her father and criticize herself for not thinking anything or doing anything when they had crossed paths or even before that.
She raised her arm to lift the flock of doves and she asked a question with their flapping wings hiding her expression.
“Am I a cruel person for not feeling the same pain as before and not crying when I think about my father now?”
“The truly cruel one is any parent that wants to bind their kid by having them never stop crying. Parents are the people who tell you not to just cry forever.”
She heard his words through the white feathers.
“You’ve stopped crying because you’re resisting the sorrow. And your dad didn’t die to make you sad. He was telling someone to gather your emotions and save the world from the apocalypse.”
“Don’t rush things, Horizon. A performer who immediately jumps at any new material will never master any material. …Wait. Does that apply to me and how I immediately jumped at the new material of the Logismoi Óplo at Mikawa!? It does, doesn’t it!?”
“A-are you mad!? Don’t get mad, Horizon!”
“I do not have the emotion of anger. Stop deciding things for me.”
“You seem really mad to me!!”
“Anyway,” she muttered.
The apple must have lost its shape because the doves began settling down and the flock felt much heavier without all the flapping.
“Are you saying I have positive emotions to oppose the negative emotions I might obtain and I have simply not noticed because I started with nothing?”
“Judge. If you suddenly tell an amateur to laugh, he can’t do it. This is the same.”
He then changed the subject.
“By the way, Horizon, once you’ve calmed down some, let’s make a grave for your dad. To say it again, he didn’t die to make you sad. It can wait until you aren’t sad anymore, but we’ll be super busy with all the fun stuff we’ll be doing and we’ll need a reminder to make sure we don’t forget that cruel dad of yours. When you have it in you, you can go look at it and feel sad. And once you stop feeling sad, we can greet him during the Bon festival or New Years. I can tell him what fun stuff we’ve been up to. Or is ‘stuff’ too casual for that? I’m sure it’s fine when telling him I’m his son-in-law, right!? I can call him d-dad!!”
That boy would sometimes enter his own world and not return. This was one of those times.
As Horizon stared at him along with the doves, he finally returned.
“Amazing! A perfect score! …Anyway, that’s what we can do! What do you think!?”
“Even when you emphasize it like that, I do not understand.”
“That’s fine, that’s fine.” The idiot held out a hand to stop her and spoke. “You’ll be fine, Horizon. I know you can oppose any negative emotion. After all, your dad was cruel, but he had a heart of opposition on top of it that led to that second rebellious phase. All that’s left is to see whether you want to oppose those negative emotions.”
“What will happen if I oppose them?”
“Remember what I said before? Once you regain everything, you’ll have only happy things left.”
…Is that really the case?
Would she really be able to overcome the pain of sorrow and everything else?
She did not know. They were discussing nothing but transitional stages and speculation with no real conclusion behind it all, so she could not make the decisions necessary to find an answer.
“Can I really bring war to the world for my own selfish desire?” she asked.
“I don’t really know about that one either. If we gather your emotions in the Logismoi Óplo, we can save the world from the apocalypse, and that seems a good enough reason for you to take part in the struggle for them.”
“You want to avoid having people die or nations destroyed just because you want emotions, right?”
“Judge.” Horizon nodded. “That would mean my own selfish desire was bringing others the same pain I felt in my father’s death. I have determined the thought is not contradictory.”
“See? So think about it a bit.”
“Judge. What if? What if gathering the Logismoi Óplo would save more people from sorrow and other negative emotions than if you didn’t gather them?”
He took a breath.
“Then you could go to war.”
Horizon was left speechless, but the idiot did not seem to really understand what he had said and he continued speaking as if it was just a casual idea.
“It doesn’t matter when. If you ever feel you can do that, then tell me. Until then, we’ll be going to war on our own. If you can ever convince yourself and fall into step with us, then fight alongside us. When that happens, we’ll truly be together.”
She did not immediately reply.
Could she save something by desiring war?
What would it take for her to be certain of that salvation?
She did not know.
She did not know, but she still spoke.
Based on what she had thought here, her method of opposing sorrow, the positive emotion she held, and this leeway to think about the meaning of war, should she accept or reject the offer?
“I will put off my decision for the time being, but what will you do, Toori-sama?”
“I’ve decided. It kind of came to me just now.”
“What have you decided?”
“I’m going to war.” He smiled. “After all, you won’t lose to those deadly sins, so I want to see you after you’ve got all your emotions back.”
“Even if I do not wish for that?”
“Don’t be silly,” he said. “That’s fine too. If it makes you hate me, then I’m just back to square one. I’ll return everything to you and continue on as the next me. I’ll think how much fun the short time I had with you was, I’ll thank you and the idiots who helped me out, and I’ll go find someone new who’s like you. …Listen. I’m doing all of this no matter what you say. I’ve already made up my mind. I made up my mind back when I killed you and back when I met you again.”
“That’s how I can purify my greatest sorrow.”
Horizon said nothing.
Nor did he. The only motion was the doves lowering from her shoulder and arm.
Their gazes naturally met and Horizon gently nodded.
“What a selfish fool you are. Are you trying to make yourself look good? You’re laying it on far too thick. If this was a video, you would be adding in slow motion and softening it with a gentle light. How cheap.”
“D-dammit! I was actually thinking that myself, but you didn’t have to say it!!”
“Well, whatever.” Horizon sighed. “Thank you.”
“I will not say it again. I am an automaton after all.”
“Oh… Hm… I see…”
She glared at him and he fled three steps back with a shriek, but Horizon ignored it.
“Everyone will be delighted to hear you have decided on your policy.”
“Well, I more or less decided on this ten years ago, so you can wait another ten years to make up your mind.”
Horizon was unsure if that was meant to be considerate.
“I hope that I can make my decision at some point. That is the best decision I can make at the present time.”
“I see.” He smiled. “Thanks.”
Horizon nodded at his smile but then let out a breath.
“Toori-sama, aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Eh? D-did you want me to grope your breasts!? I-I’ll get right on it, so wait there!”
She swung up her right fist and the idiot once more fled three steps back.
“Anyway,” she continued in exasperation. “Please do not forget that the others have been brought inside some strange space. They are likely fighting to allow us to speak like this and our conversation is now complete. That means we should go save them.”
Toori tilted his head and asked a pertinent question.
Horizon’s glare intensified as she asked him a question.
“Do you not have a means of saving them? Surely you do. Before you were acting as if this was not a real problem.”
Her quiet voice led the idiot to move back another step.
“W-wait a sec! I’m not an arrow-obsessed barrier expert like Asama and I can’t do anything in some forceful way or another like my sis! Oh, I know! With Asama and sis, that space doesn’t stand a chance! Hey! Sis! Asama! Please help!”
With the sound of tearing paper, several figures appeared out of thin air while wrapped in wind. Asama and Masazumi appeared, Naruze was being carried on Asama’s back, and a final girl led the way.
Horizon saw the girl stand calmly to the side and brush her hair into place.
The girl smiled and began stroking Horizon’s hair.
“Heh heh heh. Foolish brother and adorable Horizon, no matter what trouble your inexperience lands you in, do not forget to call for your wise sister. No matter how far apart we are and no matter what stands in the way, I will always arrive to save you. That is the duty of an older sister. Your wonderful sister delivers!!”
“Stop that.” Asama struck Kimi’s back and did not bother to fix her bangs. “The space only connected here because I managed to use Toori-kun’s call as a handhold. No matter how much I tried without that, it felt like the spatial wall was simply being pushed away from us.”
Horizon nodded and turned to Toori while letting Kimi embrace her from behind while the girl laughed.
“It really is all about relationships, isn’t it?”
“Just accept it, Horizon. It’s all pretty amazing.”
“Heh heh. What’s all this? If it’s something you can tell your wise sister, then tell me.”
“Wait, wait,” cut in Masazumi.
She had lost her coat and she was covered in dust and dirt, but she ignored it and looked between Toori and Horizon.
“You managed to talk, didn’t you?”
“We talked plenty!”
She frowned, but Horizon spoke up.
“I have decided to put off my decision, but Toori-sama seems to have made his.”
She felt Kimi’s breathing settle down a bit behind her, Asama nodded next to her, and Masazumi’s expression changed.
“In that case, all our efforts were rewarded. Musashi has decided what path it will take.”
She turned toward Naruze on Asama’s back. The girl was unconscious, her clothing and wings were battered, and parts of her were soaked in blood, but Masazumi took a breath and continued speaking.
“This is what we wanted. If Aoi had been unable to decide on his policy and it was all left up in the air, it would have led to an even more horrible ending.”
Masazumi breathed a sigh of relief in front of Aoi and Horizon.
…This was definitely worth doing.
She would learn later what it meant for Horizon to put off her decision, but Aoi’s decision would resolve a good number of problems and worries. He had decided how Musashi would interact with other nations all the way up to the Peace of Westphalia.
…We can make it through the meeting this evening.
With that in mind, she moved to take Naruze from Asama.
“If we managed to leave the theatre space, the others might have as well. Asama, can you contact them?”
“Yes. From what I have been able to monitor, Mito is a little injured but asleep. I will go see if she is okay right away. The others seem to have finished their duels as well and I already have divine texts from Naito and Urquiaga. It seems they can meet up with us. Also, Heidi and Shirojiro are negotiating with Lord Howard outside the theatre space. They have contacted me and seem to be fine, but…”
Asama responded to everyone’s question with a troubled look.
“I have no word from Adele, Suzu-san, or Futayo on the first level.”
Adele and Suzu lay in a narrow, dimly-lit space. Toward their heads were some snacks covered in a handkerchief and their foreheads were held together. Adele spoke to Suzu who blushed and squirmed.
“Ah, Suzu-san. R-right there. Use your index finger. Nhah… I-I can’t stay quiet. Amazing…”
“L-like this? I-I’ve never done this before. I-is this right?”
“J-Judge. R-right there. I-I can’t last much longer… Y-you take care of the rest!”
“Judge,” answered Suzu as she squirmed and brought both her hands to the sign frame. “I-I’ve never played…a music game before. …It’s fun.”
“Sorry I’m so bad at this. I trip you up when we play together and use up all of our extra lives. You have super fast reactions, you know that?”
Suzu tilted her head while arriving at the final stage of the music game installed on the sign frame. Her cheeks were flushed as she felt the tension the game tried to provide.
Adele could feel the other girl’s body heat as she watched.
…I’ve never seen Suzu-san like this before. I’m glad I had this game in here.
She did not want to play games on her own while in a sightseeing area, but her official position meant she could easily have long periods of time with nothing to do. Before leaving, she had used Musashi’s Catholic Stand to downloaded some multiplayer games Suzu could play with her.
…But I never knew I was this bad at music games!
When waiting on her own during the past four days, she had earned some okay scores, but Suzu had easily surpassed those.
Adele missed those past days when she thought there were four stages. It turned out there were thirty-two in all. On the final stage, Suzu was cleaning up a riot to the beat of a festival drum. The standard process was to carry their heads to display on the prison gate, but she would occasionally enter a stampede of burning them alive in straw coats. As the judgments of “good” continued, the umbrella roulette of responsibility would spin and all the criminals would be dealt with in a joint responsibility fatality. Suzu’s accurate control created a high-speed rap from the noises.
“Ahi! Ahi! Ahiahiaaaaaahi!! Ma-ma-ma-ma-magistrate! Strawwwww cooooooat! Coat coat! Spin the umbrella even more than usual!”
Just as Adele saw the fatality roulette activate for the fifth time, she noticed a new color on the console above her head.
At the same time, Suzu spoke while beginning repeated taps to hammer in the stakes for the human sacrifices.
“Do you…hear something?”
“Hu-hu-hu-hu-huma-huma-human sacrifice! Sacrifice sacrifice!! Thank you very much!”
“Oh, you beat the game. You can type your name in. Go there and, um…the S is there…the U is…”
As she gave the instructions, Adele wondered when she would ever beat that score.
…I can’t distract her any longer.
She nodded and answered Suzu’s previous question.
“They’re trying to force open the mobile shell from outside.”
Adele heard Suzu reply after a short pause.
“Can they…open it?”
“Well, a purge can be forced from outside in case the pilot can’t move and someone has to rescue them, but the method is secret and only the health committee of the academy knows it. I doubt Musashi’s health committee would reveal that to England and Principal Sakai and Vice Principal Yoshinao are at the academy. Even if England requested it, they would never hand over a secret like that.”
Either due to what Adele had said or some other reason, Suzu gave a small smile and nodded.
“But…is what they’re doing…okay?”
“Hard to say. It sounds like they’ve been hammering away for a while now. I really doubt that will accomplish anything, though.”
The joints were completely closed off and most of the armor was fixed in place on the inside, so it would be difficult to remove it from the outside. In the mobile shell’s current state, the inside was completely sealed off and the temperature was stable.
Knights and vassals had come about during the age of conflict known as the Middle Ages and the continuing evolution of their ways was seen in Adele’s mobile shell.
“Well, I don’t actually know how a lot of it works, but we should be fine. My family can be overprotective.”
In the off chance that England did get it open, Adele knew it was all over.
…But is there really a way to open a mobile shell that was closed from the inside?
Suzu then tilted her head.
A faint and repeating metallic noise could be heard from the back of the shell. It sounded almost like the ticking of a small clock.
Adele could only guess what was going on outside, but Suzu had a different idea.
“Can I…use this?”
She held out a cable from her rod-shaped sensor named the Noise Neighbor.
She was hoping to amplify its auditory information using the mobile shell’s sound system.
Noise Neighbor was made by IZUMO, so shared divine transmission settings would be needed for it to operate along with a mobile shell created with Hexagone Française technology.
Adele glanced at the sensor’s connector.
“Let’s see… That’s a standard plug shape, so… Judge. It’ll work. Are you ready?”
“Yes,” answered Suzu with a nod.
Adele took the sensor and plugged it into the socket inside the shell’s chest that she usually used for a divine radio. As soon as she did, a sign frame appeared next to Suzu’s face.
The outside voices appeared as text.
“Lady Dudley! Please wait another three minutes! The shape was different than expected.”
That meant Dudley and the others were handling the mobile shell in some way and their next words explained how.
“Th-th-that is fine. That is fine. Yes. No need to hurry. Three more minutes is just fine. Yes. Good! Only that much longer…”
“And this mobile shell will have been transformed into a weapon.”
Dudley watched the others work in the large guest room.
…Turning a mobile shell into a weapon.
Musashi’s mobile shell was a defensive armament, so they would modify it into a weapon and thus allow Dudley to control and open it with her Testamenta Arma.
“I-it’s a reversal of ideas. Turning armor into a weapon. H-h-h-h-how very interesting.”
“Lady Dudley, whose idea was this?”
“Te-te-te-te-testament. Our queen’s.”
The group nodded in approval and continued their work. Dudley was delighted to see that comment had changed their posture and speed of work.
…I love the queen!
Robert Dudley narrowed her eyes and spoke once more.
“I-i-it’s been three minutes now, hasn’t it?”
“I-it’s only been just over one, Lady Dudley!”
It must be due to my high blood pressure giving me such a full life! concluded Dudley as she waited for the work to finish.
A giant grip and spike were being connected to the mobile shell which was stretched forward and backwards while leaning back.
That vassal had been used as a shield during the Battle of Mikawa and on the Musashi. Thus, the queen had reached the idea of making it a spiked shield which was both a shield and a weapon. That would allow Dudley’s Testamenta Arma to open it.
But due to its size, the modifications had to be made with god of war parts. They had hurriedly brought in equipment and tools for gods of war, received advice from specialist technicians and pilots, and were now continuing the work.
While waiting, Dudley looked out the window.
The window faced south and gave her a view of the Tower of London.
As Dudley narrowed her eyes toward the fortress tower, the female student recording the work process asked a question.
“Lady Dudley, you have been inside the Tower of London, haven’t you?”
“Te-te-te-testament. I have. I was imprisoned in that tower and rescued by the queen.”
That was the truth.
According to the Testament descriptions, Dudley had been the queen’s lover and aide.
“A-a-a-after all, the original Dudley was imprisoned for a political offense.”
Dudley had adored the queen for rescuing him and had fought with Cecil and the other leaders for the queen’s affection, but that had led to suspicions that he had assassinated his wife and his power had declined.
His glory and fall had both come suddenly. At first, quite a few people had hoped to inherit the name for the initial glory despite the ensured dishonor later on. But due to the pressure of the war with Tres España and the strict monitoring of the history recreation from the Testament Union, those hopefuls had all vanished. That had led to a woman inheriting the name.
…I did not exactly want the name. It was forced onto me.
Those around her had decided giving the name to a woman would avoid the lover issue and the scandal surrounding it.
“I-i-i-it happens all the time.”
Her muttered comment drew everyone’s attention, but she ignored them and looked to her feet. The ball and chain attached to her legs were from her time as a prisoner.
…These are an important connection between the queen and me.
She had decided to keep those heavy metal balls chained to her legs and she had never told anyone why, not even the queen. Once the others turned away from her and those metal balls and began working once more, she spoke.
“N-n-n-now, how well-made is this? Is it enough to delight the queen?”
“Testament,” replied all those working.
The student testing the durability of the connection turned toward her.
“Lady Dudley! The preparations are complete! Even the god of war pilots are praising it with comments like ‘that should do it’, ‘that looks sturdy as hell’, and ‘are you sure you didn’t mistake a giant shield for a mobile shell?’!!”
Dudley raised her right hand and spread the fingers of Brachium Justitia – Vetus.
In that instant, Adele used a powerful kick to operate the pedal in the mobile shell’s foot space.
Her action frightened Suzu.
“Uh, this is gonna get a bit bumpy.”
Adele removed her glasses and embraced Suzu.
“I’m using the emergency escape device.”
Adele nodded toward Suzu’s tilted head and checked the sign frames that appeared around her.
…The output is good for everything. In that case…
“Um, Suzu-san, let me explain. This uses all the mobile shell’s strength for a giant leap. It’s meant to let the pilot escape without assistance if they’re buried in rubble while defending a castle or fall off a ship and sink to the bottom of the water. The great strength means it can’t be used while someone is fully wearing it and it uses too much power to use more than once or twice. We have plenty of locator and divine transmission technology these days and this method puts a huge burden on and can even crush the person inside, so it tends not to be put in modern ones.”
She adjusted her grip on Suzu and spoke with no hint of self-deprecation.
“But my family can be overprotective and this vassal’s divine shell was created based on a book on Middle Ages technology. Let’s use this to break through three floors’ worth of ceilings and escape.”
“Wh-where will we go?”
“The roof of the Tower of London’s northwestern tower has the smallest difference in height, so it would be safest. It stands out with Ex. Caliburn there and we can defend the tower-top position, so England will have to be careful.”
Once Suzu nodded, Adele kicked the foot pedal.
“Here we go!”
The mobile shell harshly vibrated up and down, broke through the fortress’s ceiling, and soared into the sky.
All that goes up must come down.
The giant shield-like armor floated in England’s sky, slowly rotated, changed its trajectory to the south, and arrived at the apex of its parabola. After that, it gently began to fall.
It fell between the first and second levels where the Tower of London’s northwestern tower was.
People watched it fall from all over. There was an especially large number around Oxford Academy.
A lot of people were waiting at the academy’s entrances as they had been sealed off due to the “collapse of the courtyard”.
There were also the people gathered to see Mary show her face from the Tower of London.
Some had gathered because they heard the noises in the courtyard and assumed it was part of the festival, but then a giant mass of metal had appeared overhead.
They all looked upwards in surprise.
They let out cheers of joy when their expectations were met.
“Did you see that!? They cleared the wall with armor! This has been another amazing year!”
Drawn by that shouting, a single figure dashed across Oxford’s courtyard.
It was Honda Futayo.
“That strange shape! Is that Adele’s mobile shell!?”
Futayo saw Adele’s mobile shell fly past the southern side of the fortress.
However, a group of Oxford warriors was waiting ahead. They had entered the courtyard to prevent Futayo from meeting up with those outside.
A few units had already created walls to seal off her movement.
Nevertheless, Futayo ran straight forward. The group of warriors next to the southern wall was seven-men thick.
Someone on the front row realized what she was doing and shouted out.
“She’s planning to jump over us and the wall! Prepare yourselves, everyone!”
They held long spears from England’s ArchsArt and shields of light produced by Anglican Testament Signs.
Futayo saw the EOTA logo of the England Old Technique Academy on the spears. That meant they likely had added reinforcements from spells but had a basic structure based off of IZUMO spears.
…Those are the same design as the Stabbing Bamboo series, so they should attach to the hard point under the arm and essentially become a part of their body.
Futayo thought as she ran and used a movement spell to up her speed.
She used her running motion to step over one of the spears as it was thrust toward her and she kicked downwards.
The spear provided the proper reaction to the downwards kick from above.
That step gave Futayo the force she needed to launch herself upwards and she fired Tonbokiri’s extension device toward the ground. She spoke as she felt it shoot out.
“Let us fly, Tonbokiri!”
She leaped toward the passageway on top of the fortress. She landed on the edge, cut across the passageway, and accelerated. She would use her momentum to leap toward the Tower of London.
Without fear, she kicked off the edge of the fortress and jumped into the empty space beyond.
Cheers rose up from below.
- Using the Japanese word “oppai”.
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