Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 44
Chapter 44: Performers on the Stage
If both sides are the protagonist
How can that become a play?
Point Allocation (Mutual Understanding)
Masazumi took a deep breath within the silent stone hall.
The excitement had come to an end. She understood that her words had set the world in motion and that left only one thing.
…I need to preserve that moving world.
It was often said that things were ‘easier said than done’ and this was the same. Creating the motion was easy, but keeping that movement going or keeping things fixed in place after it ended were difficult.
War had not broken out, but Musashi was facing the possibility of all-out war with the other nations. Their right to war thrust that possibility into the forefront.
Do this carefully yet boldly, she ordered herself.
The queen replied, but not as a confident victor. This was the kindness of England. If Masazumi rushed this and attempted to take advantage of that kindness, England would use their justice to cut down Musashi.
“Musashi does not wish for a hostile relationship with England.”
The queen used as few words as possible so as not to hint at any possible promise. Nevertheless, she was likely interested.
…That means I need to step forward here.
If Masazumi did not go for the openings in England’s attack, there was a chance they would simply push back with their attacks.
…I need to warn her that they can’t force our hand with their military might.
But if she suddenly said that, England could take action to “prove their strength”. They could not allow themselves to be mocked while the other nations watched on.
Masazumi knew she had to be careful and she knew what she had to say first.
“England is not serious about its hostility toward Musashi.”
“Hah. Don’t be ridiculous. If my request to the other nations was a joke, it would bring shame to England. A sovereign nation cannot invite other nations for a mere jest.”
“Judge. Your request to them was likely serious. However…”
“England can allow the other nations to sink the Musashi, but you cannot allow yourselves to carry out the attack.”
Innocentius took a swig of water.
“The Fairy Queen really is a woman. If the bird in her pocket escapes, she’ll send the hunters after it, but as long as it’s in her pocket, she wants to hear it sing.”
“It bothers me how you occasionally become a poet.”
“I had excellent grades in literature class.”
“And I was a science teacher. I wasn’t even in charge of politics or economics,” pointed out Galileo. “At any rate, what does this mean? England intends to surround the Musashi. I understand that much. But why is Musashi’s vice president saying England alone will not attack them in an all-out war? And what is her reasoning for saying it here?”
“Women never play fair. I worked as a merchant on the lowest levels before becoming pope, so I know. They care about themselves the most. Even if they serve another, they still care the most about their servant self. That’s why we have to watch out for England even if we have no choice but to agree to their request.” He took a breath. “Look. The Fairy Queen truly is a woman who manipulates the entire world in order to look after herself.”
In preparation to reach the gap in her opponent’s military power, Masazumi further emphasized the topic.
“We both stated at the beginning that this would be an equivalent exchange. So if that exchange can be achieved, England will be our ally. Isn’t that right?”
“Testament. That is how nations and academies interact as equals. But so what? We have the Musashi completely surrounded as it has proved dangerous.” The Fairy Queen tilted her head. “So why do you say England alone will not attack the Musashi?”
“Judge. I will state up front why I would say that. To me, it seems England wishes to give another nation the credit for Musashi’s destruction.”
Segundo sighed as he peered into the cadena firma with Fusae.
“Musashi’s vice president gave England’s justification before they could.”
“What do you mean?”
“Testament,” he replied as he watched the Fairy Queen remain silent.
She neither affirmed nor denied that vice president’s allegation.
“England can’t say whether this is true or not. In which case, it probably is. They never intended to attack the Musashi and they planned to justify that by giving another nation the credit for sinking the Musashi. However, England has its own worries. Namely, they have to be worried the other nations will suspect they have some ulterior motive behind handing out that credit. In other words…”
In other words…
“Is England trying to preserve their strength by not attacking the Musashi?”
“It’s probably true. If they said it themselves, the other nations would have their suspicions after sinking the Musashi. They would suspect England had preserved their own nation while manipulating the other nations. But if a sympathetic nation or Musashi says it, it can be interpreted differently. England can say they wanted to take part as well, but they interpreted Musashi’s statement as a test of England’s humble heart. They would claim the need to prove the Fairy Queen’s nation was willing to give the credit to another nation. However, this means Musashi has given England another excuse to not attack the Musashi.”
His breath turned to a laugh.
“Musashi has protected England from the questions of the other nations if an all-out attack on the Musashi does indeed occur. That is a massive favor. England can preserve its power and exhaust the other nations’ power while claiming to hand over the credit as a sign of loyalty to the Testament Union. Musashi has just used us as bait in hopes that England will feel obligated to return the favor.”
“Testament. If that is true, shouldn’t the rest of the conversation prove it? Musashi needs to show why England won’t attack them now that they have claimed they have no reason to.”
“But once they show that, what does Musashi hope to gain from England? If England is not attacking them, what do they gain?”
“That depends on what their vice president is thinking. However, I have some doubts about this.”
Segundo tilted his head and Fusae peered at him with a questioning look.
“The conversation seems to be continuing at Musashi’s vice president’s pace, but this world is much crueler than that. As you probably already know, Fusae, this world is not that kind.”
“I predict this meeting will undergo several more considerable changes, so let’s keep watching while showing the proper concern. Fusae, can you bring over the beer bottle and the dried foods in that paper bag?”
Masazumi awkwardly sensed she was correct based on the Fairy Queen’s silence.
When attacking her opponent, she had to remember to follow through. England was not a large nation, but it was a powerful one. Crushing a powerful nation’s pride could only be dangerous. They were not merely facing a dispatched military force like at the Battle of Mikawa, so she had to calm down and maintain her normal presence of mind.
Gold Mar: “It’s just a storyboard, but do you want to see it? Should Ga-chan send it through?”
…Does nothing change the way you people act!?
Masazumi’s blood pressure briefly shot up, but she also felt glad the Far East had such a sense of freedom.
She reminded herself to at least maintain an appearance of calm before she spoke.
“Fairy Queen, in addition to giving another nation the credit for sinking the Musashi, I think you have another reason why you will not…no, why you cannot attack the Musashi.”
Her words were met by silence, but that was likely in order to not give any hints to the other nations. A careless reply could lead to interference based on unjust suspicion.
And so Masazumi gave a probing continuation in an attempt to read her opponent’s intentions.
“First, England’s newly constructed fleet still belongs to Holland who you can pass the credit to. Also, your older fleet is scouting out Tres España and will not return in time.”
“What about the ground forces? They are already deployed around the Musashi and here.”
That was fast, thought Masazumi.
But the Fairy Queen seemed to have a reason for trying to rush her answer.
…Does this mean England is hopeful of our answer?
She took a breath.
…Don’t rush this.
She was more nervous than she knew and the conscious focus on her breathing when speaking was proof of that.
But, she thought. Some people panic when they realize that and others don’t.
Which was she?
She was telling herself to restrain her excitement, so she would be the latter.
…I’m the type of person who is excited to stand in such a tense place.
And so she worked to keep the corners of her mouth from rising while using her words much like moving pieces on a chess board.
“The ground forces?”
The Fairy Queen listened.
…How much does Musashi’s vice president understand us?
When interacting with another nation, it was important to understand as much as possible about that nation’s situation.
In diplomacy, trade, and even the comings and goings of people, nothing one-sided would be accepted.
Even if sovereignty and the law allowed for it, interactions between nations could be similar to interactions between people. The Reformation had created some religious troubles in Europe, but some interactions overcame those troubles.
If both parties qualified as equal and both needed the interaction, it could take place.
For that reason, the Fairy Queen wished to know how much Musashi understood England and she asked a question to find out.
“Yes, England’s ground forces. They will attack you and the Musashi before it leaves port. How are we to give another nation credit for that?”
England’s ground forces were indeed deployed to the palace and around the Musashi.
However, Musashi’s vice president shook her head.
“Is that really enough personnel to secure the Musashi and attack before it leaves port? Let me make one thing clear.” She indicated her comrades with her right hand. “I made sure everyone accompanying me is capable of returning alive no matter what happens. What about you?”
“The Trumps are always perfect.”
The vice president nodded and then pointed behind her to the hall’s entrance.
“Then let me ask this: are the defenses there also perfect?”
“This is a strategy for in case they actually have to run for it,” muttered Sakai atop the academy bridge as the Musashi finished its preparations. “By indicating their route ahead of time, it actually makes the enemy less certain where they’ll escape. It makes sure the enemy has to defend everything. Also, can Masazumi-kun and the others see what we’re seeing?”
He was referring to the countless lights surrounding the Musashi in England’s land port.
The lights came from the torches of England’s warriors who were prepared to board the Musashi.
“Sakai-sama, what is the meaning of this? Each one is holding two torches. Over.”
Sakai turned toward “Musashi” who was polishing the railing.
“That makes them look more numerous. They’re probably well aware we’ve caught on, but they still need to show that attack-oriented attitude. However, the situation has reached a point where an attitude isn’t enough. Masazumi-kun most likely knows the level of their defenses, so she may have realized that England’s defenses are not focused on London.”
Hearing that, “Musashi” stopped polishing and tilted her head.
“How do you know that? Over.”
“It’s simple,” replied Sakai. “The coming armada battle has a certain unique characteristic. While trying to land on England, Tres España’s Grande y Felicísima Armada travels around England along with the English fleet. It begins with a confused battle, but Tres España is forced to retreat after receiving an attack from fire ships. However, it is thought Tres España will use that to their advantage. They will likely lessen their damages by fighting a high-speed battle while withdrawing. They can also continue their landing operation to panic England and show off their ability to invade to the other nations.
“Anyway, that’s why England’s ground units should be stationed around the coast. They will also be preparing their defenses, maintaining camp sites, training to familiarize themselves with the terrain, and working to store the food gained during the festival. They must have been doing this for months now. Otherwise, they would not have sufficient research into defensive tactics using the terrain or reached an understanding with the local people. All of this will leave the fewest men for London which has the Trumps and Ex. Caliburn. …In other words, here.”
“Yes, this city has the weakest defenses. Isn’t that right?” Masazumi pointed straight down. “The personnel here can’t attack Musashi. The best you could manage was the previous attack that was meant as an excuse to the Testament Union. The same goes for the Oxford personnel.”
She turned to Futayo and Futayo responded with a glance to the queen and the Trumps.
“Based on the footsteps, there are around 500 in all. If they divide them equally between each exit, I can likely secure a path for us. That will mean leaving the Trumps to everyone else, but-…”
“Thanks, Futayo. That’s plenty.”
Reaching the level of certainty would hurt England’s pride, so it was better for both sides if they left it up in the air whether it could actually be done or not.
…That brings this topic to an end.
Masazumi went in for the final point.
“Fairy Queen, I would like to ask one thing. You said you would take command and use Ex. Caliburn to sink the Musashi.”
The strength of the queen’s gaze did not change, but Masazumi continued regardless.
The final point was the reason why the Fairy Queen could not use Excalibur.
…For this one, we need to create a reason!
Normally, the queen would have no reason not to use it, but Masazumi would create a reason why she definitely could not.
Masazumi could only give this reason because she had seen the state of Excalibur today.
“If you use Ex. Caliburn now, wouldn’t it hinder the execution of Mary?”
…This is such a cruel thing to use as a bargaining chip.
Masazumi thought that as a fact rather than out of kindness.
Due to the history recreation, Mary’s execution was needed to begin the armada battle. Also, that execution was being carried out with the Andamio de la Ejecución.
…Ex. Caliburn’s power will be passed through the ley lines to return Mary to those ley lines.
She did not know how much progress had been made on the modifications to that end, but neither did the other nations.
That allowed her to use it as a bargaining chip.
“Mary’s execution using Ex. Caliburn is necessary for England’s history recreation, but its modifications do not appear complete and some from Musashi caused a bit of trouble there today. If you forcibly used Ex. Caliburn and a malfunction occurs, it would violate the history recreation, wouldn’t it?” asked Masazumi. “You would be forcing its use to do your duty as a Testament Union nation, but wouldn’t not using it and preserving the history recreation be the better option if you are to look to the future?”
“Are you criticizing me?”
“No.” Masazumi placed a hand on her chest and lowered her head toward the Fairy Queen. “It is all for the history recreation of the armada battle that will occur in one week. That is why England cannot attack Musashi. It is the obvious conclusion based on England’s sense of justice.” She took a breath. “All I have done is impertinently point out something so obvious anyone would notice it, Your Majesty.”
Everyone from Musashi heard the queen’s silence, but the divine chat was not silent.
Flat Vassal: “U-um… What does this mean?”
Silver Wolf: “Judge. By saying this is obvious for England and insisting it is all for the history recreation, she is making it easier for England to agree. There are a number of justifications, but the Testament Union’s history recreation is at the base of them all. By bringing it all back to here, England is protected.”
Gold Mar: “Ohhh, Mito-tsan! You sound almost serious!”
Asama: “Almost? Well, I suppose putting that way is safer.”
Silver Wolf: “Wait. I always try to be serious. …Does it not seem like it?”
Marube-ya: “Oh, the queen just said something.”
Silver Wolf: “Y-you’re ignoring me! You’re all ignoring me!”
Elizabeth took a breath and faced Musashi’s vice president who stood ahead but below.
She had only one thought on her mind: This girl will become truly troublesome one day.
The vice president had little experience and her words lacked polish. Her knowledge seemed patched together or like something a child was using after just learning it. Also, it may have been an act, but she had a way of speaking as if she understood everything. It mostly came down to being irritating, but one point in particular was the most troublesome.
…She’s enjoying this.
That girl undoubtedly thought of herself as the protagonist of this place.
She was troublesome.
After all, once that sort of person gained actual skill, her downsides would change to favorable idiosyncrasies.
As she gained strength, the irritating aspects would become something reliable.
That was how a protagonist worked.
…I was the same!
With a mental nod, Elizabeth recalled how much of an idiot she had been in the past.
As she thought about the past, she recalled a certain scene and an individual within it. It was her sister back when they were younger and had often played together.
…We made a promise.
At that point, she shook her head. She saw her vice chancellor and vice president give questioning looks from either side, but she waved a hand to say she was fine.
However, a few words escaped her lips. They were the words she had once exchanged.
“Save you from anything.”
The words may have reached Musashi’s vice president because she frowned.
However, this was nothing for her to worry about.
…This is a reminder to myself.
The Fairy Queen then corrected her posture and faced her opponent.
The girl before her irritated her horribly, but whether she grew further in the future or not, the trouble would fall on the other nations. Her foolishness would likely be at least somewhat healed by the time the Musashi completed its circle of the Far East.
At any rate, the girl seemed to understand England’s situation.
England could not attack Musashi. The biggest reason was England’s need to preserve its strength for the armada battle and beyond.
They knew Tres España intended to use their retreat to give themselves an advantage in the battle. The attack on Musashi with a stealth ship had been more than enough of a warning to the English fleet that would pursue them. To damage a fleet of that power and yet not suffer what amounted to a defeat, England had to preserve its strength.
…From that perspective…
Musashi’s vice president had been right when she said Excalibur could have a dangerous malfunction at the moment, but there was another reason not to use it.
…Musashi’s ability to trade is indeed appealing.
If possible, the queen wanted to keep the Musashi around.
…That is Phylargia.
While thinking about the Logismoi Óplo given to England, Elizabeth asked a question.
“Let me ask something before making my decision. You said this was an equivalent exchange, didn’t you? Then what can Musashi offer us that is equivalent? You will continue on and spread chaos through the other nations with your inexperienced ideals. If you wish for us to accept that and ally with you, what will you give us in exchange? What can you give us to make up for the damage of political and trade interference that the other nations are sure to begin if we ally with you?”
She asked her question.
“Answer me. What will Musashi offer England?”
“Judge,” replied Musashi’s vice president. “England will become Musashi’s primary trade port.”
“That’s just playing dirty!”
“You sound delighted to me.”
Innocentius ignored the glare Galileo was giving him and opened a cornice firma. It displayed a map of the Far East and he drew a red circle around England where it floated north of Hexagone Française.
“Listen. By making England their primary trade port, Musashi will end their practice of travelling around the Far East once a year and instead create a system of leaving England to trade and returning to England afterwards! That means England can use the giant trade system that is the Musashi to amass wealth whenever the Musashi moves! And because the Musashi travels through every nation, every nation’s wealth will gather in England! Doesn’t that seem unfair to you? Hm, hm, hm?”
“I seem to recall that K.P.A. Italia used to do the same with trade on the Mediterranean and in the Middle East.”
“As did Ancient Rome. Also…”
Innocentius drew a few red lines with England in the center.
“These are the trade routes to the Logismoi Óplo nations. Look, if you exclude England, that’s Tres España, Hexagone Française, M.H.R.R., K.P.A. Italia, and Sviet Rus. They can travel to all of them from England without much difference in distance. And with England as their primary port, Musashi can choose to travel a certain route any number of times in a year rather than the single time of their current schedule. By making England their primary port in exchange for allying with them, they are telling other nations they can achieve an equal status in trade if they also join the alliance. To prevent all the wealth from gathering in England and to take their own cut, the other nations – especially those along the main routes – will want to join. By doing that, the allied nations can communicate and negotiate together in addition to trade.”
Innocentius thought for a moment before continuing.
“Fairy Queen, accept this alliance. Then we can use that as an excuse to do the same.”
“Can you really say that after going to such lengths to make an enemy of Musashi, former boy?”
“They would still be an enemy even if we formed an alliance. Also, the more nations join the alliance, the more complicated the Musashi’s course will grow and the less wealth will go to each allied nation. In the end, it will be no different from now. And once every nation has advanced their aerial ship technology far enough to trade with neighboring nations without relying on the Musashi, we can follow the academy rules for trade and more easily trade amongst ourselves. Once that happens, everyone will break their trade alliance with Musashi and become their enemies once more. But I’m sure Musashi will still make the proposal despite understanding all that. In which case…”
He erased all the red lines on the cornice firma.
“When we become their enemy, it will happen all at once. There’s no reason to hesitate to build up our strength for that moment.”
“Your justice can be hard to follow because it has a way of switching between what lies on surface and what is hidden. Aren’t you afraid of misunderstandings?”
“Justice is always found in history. Catholicism can be said to be history itself and I am its representative, so I can only be justice. Whether on the surface or hidden below, justice is justice.”
Innocentius opened a divine mail cornice firma.
“Let’s contact the industrial committee and have them consider whether K.P.A. Italia can use that trade system in regards to the other nations. If any nations not allied with us form an alliance, we can destroy that connection by bringing this system to even one of those nations. Also…”
He displayed the situation in England and spoke to the images of Musashi’s vice president and the Fairy Queen.
“Don’t think you can move the world with only two nations. Freeing this world is surprisingly difficult.”
Elizabeth gave a mental nod.
She knew very well what the Musashi vice president’s suggestion meant.
The suggested trade system would be effective in the early stages with few allied nations, but the effects would ultimately fade away and disappear.
And since the Musashi traveled around the Far East once a year, they would be forced to break that rule if they were to use England as its primary trade port.
By shrinking the time between trades, the rate of earnings would drop.
…But changing Musashi’s annual visit to several times or even a dozen times a year would mean a lot.
If England could secure the production and emergency reserves they needed, the trade could be used to increase their domestic industries and they could use intermediate trade if they simply needed money.
The ideal system would be to gain money through intermediate trade, use that money to maintain their domestic facilities, and export goods made with those strengthened domestic industries.
If a victory in the armada battle and their influence at the Peace of Westphalia was added to all that, they could rise above the other nations in a very short amount of time.
Before the benefit of the trade grew meaningless with the addition of the other nations, they could also use the obtained funds to strengthen themselves and begin a large-scale settlement of the New World.
I see, thought Elizabeth once more.
She then spoke to Musashi’s vice president.
“Your ultimate objective is not long-term success. You intend to give a powerful nation the benefits of short-term success to incite us to settle the outer world.”
“Judge. I knew the Fairy Queen would catch on.”
The girl bowed her head and spoke from that position.
“The Logismoi Óplo nations are powerful, but their economic situations and wars have left them unprepared and unequipped to settle the outer world. As such, I hope to have Musashi travel to England and then the other Logismoi Óplo nations in order to assist them using our trade. If the most powerful nations are equally prepared to begin settling the outer world by the time of the Peace of Westphalia, the world can return to its original form. To put it another way…”
Musashi’s vice president raised her head and looked directly at the queen from below her black hair.
“The provisional rule of the Far East exists because of the inability to settle the outer world. That is something that did not exist in history and Musashi wishes to bring back the world as it was in history. I want to help bring the world back to its original form so the history recreation can be carried out properly. We will return the world to its rightful form in order to stop the Apocalypse and continue past it.”
She once more made the action the queen had earlier rejected.
She reached out her right hand.
“Fairy Queen, will you move forward as the nation that will take the first step toward the proper world?”
Almost all the people of England heard those words via divine transmission.
“England. You were once the land of the Gaels. They were invaded by the Celts and the two reconciled, but then the Normans of Hexagone Française invaded. That Norman Conquest created England.”
“So?” asked someone listening. “What’s your point?”
The voice continued as if to answer that question.
“Even the Normans who arrived as conquerors eventually became English due to war against Hexagone Française and civil war.”
She could be heard taking a breath.
“You could travel to new lands, you did not fear traversing the ocean or the sky, and you possessed a love of independence. Has that vanished from England? Can those things not be found in a small, inexperienced nation? You are the nation of the ley lines which can defeat history or anything else and you are the nation of the Fairy Queen born of those ley lines,” she said. “If times have changed and that nation cannot take a great first step in history, is that not a sign that the Apocalypse is truly upon us?”
Silence fell. Quiet and stillness had filled that hall several times already, but it contained something different this time.
The one holding out her hand did not pull it back.
That action moved nothing, allowed nothing to move, and acted as the starting point for the next action.
Eventually, the one waiting received an answer to her thoughts and action.
However, it did not come from the words or actions of the Fairy Queen.
A noise came from the left-hand corridor on England’s side.
Sounds of moving metal equipment and quiet voices of suspicion were overpowered by approaching footsteps.
“Hey, could you wait just a minute there?”
Two people casually entered the hall. The man and girl both wore vermillion uniforms.
“Hi there. I’m Secretary Velázquez of Tres España and this is 3rd Special Duty Officer Tachibana Gin. As Tres Españan diplomats, we have a special objection concerning this meeting.”
The tall, slender, and mustachioed long-lived man faced Musashi’s vice president and lightly raised his right hand.
“Nothing personal, okay?”
Toori: Sis! Sis! Tell me about this armada battle that everyone’s been talking about! I want to know all about it so I too can be popul-armada! Sorry, that wasn’t a very good joke.
Kimi: Heh heh heh. Foolish brother, it’s important to recognize your mistakes when working on new material. Anyway, the armada battle is the naval battle that occurred when Tres España’s Grande y Felicísima Armada arrived to land at and conquer England and England repelled them. However, Tres España had a lot of transport ships and their ships were inferior to England’s since England had constant contact with the ocean. The Grande y Felicísima Armada made it to the ocean near England, but they were unable to land and they retreated while circling England. This is what it looks like on the map. Keep in mind that the whole thing took an entire week.
1: Hostilities Begin off of Plymouth at Southwestern England
The English fleet attacks from behind. Tres España’s vice-flagship is destroyed and their treasury ship is evacuated due to an accidental fire.
2: Second Round off of Portland at Southern England
Tres España’s fleet forms a defensive formation while England’s fleet pursues and destroys ships one by one.
3: Resupply Time
Tres España attempts to resupply at their mainland, but England interferes.
4: Third Round off of Southeastern England
Off of Calais on the Far Eastern mainland, England’s fleet crashes eight fire ships into Tres España’s fleet to throw them into confusion.
5: Fourth Round off of Gravelines near Calais
From here, Tres España begins retreating north and around England. England’s fleet begins pursuit.
6: Pursuit Ends off of Southwestern England
Upper left: Ireland
Lower left: Wales
Upper right: Oxford Academy
Middle right: London (Anglia)
Lower right: England
Kimi: Once their treasury ship was sunk in the early stages, I doubt they could have survived for long even if they landed, but it’s still plenty thrilling because they get really, really close to England. That tour around England will still happen in the history recreation, so all of England is on high alert. Also, the Grande y Felicísima Armada is known as the “invincible fleet” because England began ironically calling it that after the battle.
Toori: Isn’t the English fleet just harassing them for most of this?
Kimi: Why do you always have to go right out and say what everyone’s thinking?
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