Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 48
Chapter 48: Decision Maker in the Heights
Why are the places
Where we make up our minds
Always the places that remain in our memories?
Point Allocation (Resolve)
The past few days had been filled with a single purpose for Mary.
That purpose was finding a way to fight the stress of being locked up.
She was not allowed to leave her room. A bath and bathroom were set up in a different room off the stairway landing, but it was not a hot spring so it would waste money on water and heating to take baths again and again.
Reading books made for a decent diversion, but it was not enough.
…I’m just too used to moving around.
Her days of constant walking and working had left her unable to relax without moving her body.
That was why she had asked the person in charge of her for a small loom.
She had used looms a few times in the fourth level village, but she had never done anything more than make fabric. This was her first time creating something for herself.
She manipulated the colored thread while moving the loom affixed to her desk as if hitting it. Once she got a set tempo going, the time would fly by. When she took an occasional break, she could hear the festival noises outside, but the fact that she was accomplishing something made her feel like she was participating in the festival.
She had spent her time on that today as well, but the commotion outside was different.
She heard charming and joyful shouts coming from Ex. Caliburn’s tower to the north.
Ex. Caliburn was being modified into an Andamio de la Ejecución and the work should have been continuing throughout the festival, but there seemed to be a large number of people and voices there now.
Wondering why, she peered out through the northern shutters and saw some familiar people.
First, she saw England’s mercantile guild celebrating with bottles of alcohol and a gathering of artists such as Jonson. They were all quite drunk. Shakespeare was only a bit tipsy, but her cheeks were red and she had trouble keeping her balance despite sitting still.
At the center of them all was Musashi’s fairy known as the Wet Man. He was naked expect for a skirt made of empty bottles and he spun around and around.
“Okay! I’m gonna pull it out now! I’m gonna pull out Excalibur!!”
A cold sweat covered Mary when she saw the surrounding adults give an excited cheer.
…Sh-should he really be doing that?
…They do say not even death can cure a fool.
Futayo thought to herself in front of the stairway entrance at the bottom of Excalibur’s northwestern tower. Three chairs were placed in the anteroom in order to block the entrance to the stairs. Sitting in those chairs were Futayo herself, Asama, and Suzu.
Futayo looked past Suzu and at Asama. Her hair was worn up just like Futayo’s and her cheeks were a bit flushed.
“Asama-sama, I did not know you could handle that much alcohol.”
“Eh? Oh, I can’t really. For the match, I used sacred sake which is made from rice. Sake has the power to purify, so it’s the same as water once my shrine maiden liver negates the intoxication. I couldn’t go that far with wine or beer. My limit then would probably be only about two dozen bottles.”
…She too is something else.
Suzu looked up and nodded toward the excited voices.
“They sound like…they’re having fun.”
“Judge, but they will probably get in trouble for it later,” said Futayo. “Anyway, why are you two here?”
“Well, I went along with Suzu-san to recover Adele’s mobile shell, but on the way, we ran across Toori-kun who was chasing the townsfolk around with his apatosaurus. And then…”
Futayo wondered why Asama continued speaking on the assumption that she would not ask about that last statement.
“And then when Toori-kun said he was going to try to remove Excalibur, I thought about how to lecture him, but thankfully Mr. Jonson was there. At the pub, that is. He was simply too weak compared to me, so it ended up being 16 straight matches against the mercantile guild. But to make a long story short, I accumulated a lot of Blessings through the self-purification substitution using refined sake and I think the god was happy too. Suzu-san was on her way here anyway, so it was two birds with one stone.”
Even as they spoke, some student guards wielding spears stood before them. They had likely been given orders, but they were confused by the girls’ presence, their fellow Englishman up above, and the joyful shouts.
A man who appeared to be their commander stepped out, faced Suzu, and raised his hand.
His sharp voice caused Suzu to tremble and cover her ears.
“Ah,” said the commander and booing erupted around him.
“You don’t get it! You don’t get it all, commander! Making her cry would be an international incident!”
“Testament! What are you gonna do if she cries, commander!? It’d be an international incident for my heart as well!”
“What are you even talking about? But I’m sorry. I’m really sorry, everyone!”
Good, good, thought Futayo as she nodded twice. I am glad they get along so well.
Still, she wanted to avoid any conflict here.
…But I have my duty to meet Masazumi.
However, if she left the situation to Asama, it would quickly lead to an international incident caused by arrows.
The chancellor was an idiot, but he seemed to understand that. He had told her, “If anything happens, just talk it out. In other words, keep talking and buy me some time.”
…I must talk it out.
She did not have the same special skills as Masazumi, but she had something to talk about.
And so she began to speak to the gathered guards.
“Calm down, you bastards.”
“Is that any way to talk to someone you want to calm down!?”
“Do not worry about it. Anyway, this is an excellent opportunity. There is something I have been wondering about ever since arriving in England and I was hoping you could give me an answer.”
The men tilted their heads in confusion and she nodded once.
“Are you listening?” she began. “While in England, especially while protecting our ambassador, I have indicated I have no intent to fight by following the standard custom and fastening the top of my skirt so it is harder to move my legs.”
“Wh-what about it?”
“Judge,” said Futayo. “When I sit in a chair like this, the men who pass by all give a quick but definite glance inside the fastener. Why is that? It is merely the bottom of the inner suit that is usually visible. Why do you wish to see it so badly when there is a fastener over it?”
The men slowly hung their heads and fell to their knees.
…H-huh? Did it just get quieter down below?
Mary saw spirits of the emotion of repentance on the first floor of the northwestern tower. Meanwhile, spirits of joy were surrounding the rooftop. Even in her limited view through the cracked open shutters, she could see the shimmering spirit effect.
“Okay! Time to try and pull it out!”
Eh? she thought as the naked boy began to move.
His actions brought two images out from her memory.
The first was when she had once tried to pull out Excalibur.
She remembered the color of disappointment that her sister had been unable to fully hide. The memory was still strong enough that she wanted to apologize.
And the second…
That boy had helped her maintain the graveyard and do many other things. And most importantly…
…He said “it must be tough” for Mary.
Whenever she had been thanked for her actions, it had contained the assumption that she had no choice as it was her duty. However, he had been different. Instead of saying “it’s tough, but do your best”, he had said “it must be tough even though she’s doing her best”. That slight difference in nuance had been enough to make her cry. She may have been imagining it, but it had been too much for her.
Currently, the naked boy made the same pose as Tenzou had in the graveyard.
He was pushing down on the sword to widen the hole before he pulled it out. She wondered if the Wet Man had been watching back then. As if to answer that question, he spoke up.
“This is a technique our ninja showed me.”
He pushed down.
“Let’s try it!”
He pulled as hard as he could.
Everyone watched the naked boy put all his strength into standing up on his tiptoes and arching his back as if measuring his back muscles.
He could not pull it out.
He still could not pull it out.
Even when he changed his shout, he could not pull it out.
But as he gave those strange cries, he lowered his hips into a weightlifting stance. Instead of pulling, he tried to lift up.
But he could not pull it out.
And so while grabbing the guard from either side and pushing up, he held the blade between his thighs.
Nevertheless, he could not pull it out. However, he did not give up. He made several more attempts which resulted in holding Excalibur in his crotch and grinding up and down on it.
“Kwohhh! What!? What is this thrill!? The name of the sword that threatens to split my crotch just like my butt is Excalibur! D-dammit! Don’t think I’m going to lose in an Excalibur competition! But I still can’t pull it out! I can’t pull out my Excalibur! Wait! Which Excalibur are you talking about, dammit!? Am I gonna die of ecstasy!? Am I!?”
Mary was unsure what much of anything outside the conjunctions and interjections meant, but the naked boy suddenly let go. His shoulders rose and fell as he caught his breath and he turned to the others.
“Okay, that ends today’s practice. The real deal begins tomorrow and continues until-…”
“This isn’t happening again!!” they all shouted back.
Mary clenched her fists and nodded in agreement with them, but then she saw a certain scene.
The naked boy stood behind Ex. Caliburn and faced her. The sword hid his crotch as he struck a pose to point at her.
“Are you listening!?”
She wondered what this was about. She was forbidden to approach those outside, so she could not reply. Also, he would not be able to see her because she was looking out from the shutters.
Nevertheless, he smiled and spoke.
“Let me tell you something.”
“Tell me what?”
Without thinking, she muttered to herself and his smile strengthened.
“My Urban Name is Mr. Impossible, so it’s 100% correct that I can’t pull out Ex. Caliburn. If I managed to do that without really trying, the Testament Union and Old Man Innocen would never shut up about it. But…”
“Someone other than me… That is, one of my comrades will definitely pull out Excalibur.”
“After all, it sounds like it’ll be tough for England otherwise.”
That reminded Mary of an important memory. And the return of the memory reminded her of what had happened to her then: tears had spilled from her eyes and her vision had blurred.
The person who now stood before her had spoken to England.
The one who had been with her back then had spoken to her.
She wiped at the corners of her eyes while thinking about the difference between the two and what it meant.
The naked boy then looked to the southeastern tower to her right.
“Oh, or is she over there?”
…D-does he not know what he’s doing!?
Mary was completely dumbfounded for a moment, but she soon smiled bitterly.
That just had to be the kind of spirit he was.
She was thankful and she watched him leave along with the others.
“Retreat! The queen is coming down the school’s front staircase and is on her way here!”
Everyone gave panicked shouts and began leaving more quickly. After watching them leave, Mary looked at Ex. Caliburn which remained and she slowly nodded.
…They can enjoy themselves even with an execution so close.
“It’s not possible.”
It would not be possible for someone to pull out Ex. Caliburn.
“Or for me to see it happen.”
By the time Elizabeth arrived on the scene, the culprits had already escaped.
All that remained were the student guards collapsed on their knees in the anteroom.
“What is going on!?”
That question brought tears to the men’s eyes.
“But…but… How could she say the part visible from the fastener while sitting is the bottom of the stomach and not the crotch? There’s no blood, tears, dreams, or anything in that answer!”
“What in the world are you talking about!?”
Dudley and Cecil’s hesitant attempts to calm her allowed Elizabeth to restrain her angry shouts.
“Dammit.” She crossed her arms. “What is this!? All of you have been acting strange since the Musashi arrived!”
“Judge,” calmly replied Masazumi after catching up. “That’s because the Musashi brought some strange people with it.”
“Another strange component. This is clearly a set of handcuffs, but who asked for them?”
Tenzou muttered to himself while looking at the components packed inside the leather bag he used to transport them. He had a lot of questions, but the inside of the bag had several divisions and the tools, screws, adhesive, etc. were separated into them.
Occasionally, he would transport food, drink, or charms that reduced fatigue or strengthened one’s abilities. It was not a safe workplace. At set intervals, IZUMO engineers would arrive with shrine workers to apply spells to alleviate heat and other things from the corridors, but most of the accidents occurred outside the main corridors. Once, a pipe had burst and the hot air from the boiler had leaked out. It would have been dangerous if those within range had not had defensive spells.
At the time, Naomasa had calmly held out her false arm and tightened the heated valve.
…Why is Naomasa-dono so manly?
He was a little impressed by this new side of his classmate as he filled the bag with components. This time, there were flowers as well. They were an offering for someone who had died in an accident. They were also used to mark the dangerous areas and had spells applied to tune the area and display a sign frame with information on the accident.
The thought of a flower offering reminded Tenzou of the loss of someone who naturally followed the idea of flowers.
He shook his head.
…I mustn’t let myself be trapped by my thoughts.
She had left of her own free will.
It was necessary for England’s history recreation and it meant something different from Horizon’s execution. No one was trying to misuse the history recreation to kill Mary.
She was prepared for this and that was why she had enjoyed that last time available to her without revealing any of it.
…I hope she enjoyed it, but…
He had no way to know if his spirit of service had been successful, but he could not help but wonder.
How much of a salvation had he been before her execution? Had he been any help at all?
This isn’t good, he thought.
He began thinking about her at the slightest provocation.
…That was just a brief dream.
“Yes. In the end, I’m nothing more than an unpopular guy.”
As he reached for the tools and other items he was to transport, he felt a sudden pull on his left hip.
Hm? he wondered as he turned around.
There, he found two familiar people.
One was Toori who was naked with a towel around his neck and the other wore work clothes despite being a king.
“Vice Principal We!!”
“Do not think we will sit idly by and let you call us ‘we’!!”
Tenzou received a lecture.
Naomasa and everyone else turned toward a sudden voice in the transportation area. They found a ninja being lectured by a king in front of a naked boy.
They all sighed.
“Oh, right. Those up top sent a divine transmission saying the chancellor had done something so we need to hide him here.”
“We can ignore that breast sommelier, but the Musashi King sure comes by for inspections a lot. Although he hasn’t as much recently because he was sent as an advisor for England’s agriculture.”
“I’m just glad he doesn’t try to help where he isn’t needed.”
The others nodded in agreement while Naomasa watched the exchange between the naked boy and the other two. Tenzou nodded again and again while Musashi King Yoshinao talked on and on about something with his arms crossed.
“Honestly, your class has no sense of manners! You could learn a thing or two from Azuma-kun!”
“B-but, vice principal, Azuma-dono has recently been saying se-…saying an inappropriate word a lot.”
“I have no idea what you are trying to say, but even if he is a former imperial, there is nothing wrong with casually abbreviating the word second to ‘sec’.”
“Wh-what if it was the plural of ‘sec’?”
“It would not be. No one abbreviates it when using it as an actual unit.”
“Nwooooh! Why do I feel like you got away from me on that one!?”
That idiot’s got a surprising amount of energy, thought Naomasa.
Yoshinao then handed Tenzou what he held in his right hand.
Naomasa could see it was a hand-drawn map with a good bit of detail.
“What you have here is one of the foreign maps that Musashi’s ninja guild keeps in secret, isn’t it? The other nations are forbidden to hand over maps for fear of invasion, but the Musashi can be useful when it comes to surveying. The ninja guild falls under the PR committee, and they are left in charge of the documents when the Musashi is used to create those maps. Of course, those maps will be returned upon leaving England and spells can detect if an illegal duplicate has been made.”
“Look. Xs have been added to a map of England and they seem to approach London and Oxford. Also, this looks like a hand-drawn copy. Can you explain this?”
Naomasa’s comrades exchanged looks around her.
They understood what this meant and she understood the double and triple meaning as well.
It was most likely an infiltration route leading to the Tower of London. It was a nearly straight line along the shortest route. The Xs were likely the locations of the guard units. He had said nothing about Mary for the past few days, he had remained silent, and he had seemed to distance himself from the others, but…
…Don’t you know that no one likes a guy who doesn’t know when to quit?
However, a nearby middle-aged woman resting her arm on a large wrench rejected that thought.
“A guy who doesn’t know when to quit is only hated after you’ve broken up.”
She hoped that was true and she thought about helping him out, but he spoke up before she could.
“That is…um…the location of the guar-…”
“Ah, you idiot,” someone muttered.
But a moment later, the naked boy suddenly shouted out.
“Ahhh!? For real? Tenzou, don’t tell me you’re gonna attack the Tower of London!”
Yoshinao shuddered at the loud voice of the idiot who had followed him in here.
…That could cause an international incident, so do not shout it so loudly!!
From what he had heard, that idiot had also done something stupid in London and then run away.
He had asked the idiot what that “something stupid” was and the boy had replied “I tried to pull out Ex. Caliburn, but it was surprisingly cold when I held it in my crotch!” Yoshinao had considered killing the boy on the spot, but he had decided against it because it would have only caused more trouble.
He had allowed the idiot to accompany him until the commotion died down, but the boy had stripped off his clothes “because it’s hot”.
…And now he is cornering us with his words!
Yoshinao was prepared to settle this peacefully, but the idiot was making that difficult.
“You can’t do that! Right, We!? Isn’t an attack on the Tower of London a really bad idea!? Do you think this ninja is gonna use his trick from the graveyard and bend back in surprise at how cold Ex. Caliburn is on his crotch!?”
“I am not going to do that!”
…Quiet down both of you.
However, there was something he had to say.
Naomasa heard Yoshinao give a sudden shout. He made an announcement as the King of Musashi that was loud enough to drown out Toori’s voice.
“My goodness! Is this a strategy map for a date, Tenzou-kun!?”
Tenzou was clearly taken aback and the Musashi King spread out the map in front of him.
Toori smiled and the Musashi King gave a groan before tapping at the map without waiting for Tenzou’s response.
“These Xs represent popular festival stands, don’t they!?”
“Wait a second, We! Aren’t they guard units!?”
“No! You do not understand, you fool! These are the locations of high society festival stands! We can see why a teenage boy would be embarrassed to have looked into all this. We cannot blame you for making a hand-drawn copy for your own purposes. You intended to dispose of it after the date, didn’t you?”
“Eh? Oh… Judge.”
Tenzou frantically answered and the Musashi King nodded.
“Good. Then let us give you some advice to make your date a success.”
He pulled out a red pen and added some marks of his own.
“When we went around with our wife, the stands were stationed…here, here, and here. And Tenzou-kun, you seem to be avoiding the central plaza where the children are, but the children will no longer be there when you have your date.”
“Wait a second, We! Aren’t you being a little too nice!? A living date map like this is like a national treasure!”
“Do not be ridiculous. It is only natural for the King of Musashi to help out the people of Musashi.”
He drew another line on the map.
“If you are going, do so boldly yet stealthily. That is the trick to a secret lover’s rendezvous.”
Naomasa saw Tenzou take the map. The others exchanged looks, but those looks contained small smiles.
However, Yoshinao clapped his hands.
“What are you all doing!? Work! This is the time for work! The King of Musashi loves hard workers! Faithfully carry out your respective duties!!”
Tenzou stored the map in the slim case attached to his waist hard point and sighed.
…They must know.
Everyone knew what he wanted to do deep down.
But, he thought as he restrained his leaping heart and placed the items for transport in the leather bag.
…I must not go.
…First, Mary-dono might find me to be a bother.
Second, if he did go, it would undoubtedly cause an international incident.
…A ninja follows his orders.
If someone wanted it and ordered it of him, he would definitely have to go.
But if they did not, he must not go. That was the law of the ninja.
If Mary, the one to be saved, did not want this as he suspected in his first condition, he had absolutely no reason to go.
He wished he had asked or told her. He wished one of the two of them had made it clear how they felt about the other.
…I regret that.
Belatedly, he thought about one of his horrible classmates.
…How did he manage ten years with this kind of regret?
He wondered if he would end up doing the same. He had a plan for rescuing her yet valued his identity as a ninja, so would he not go rescue her and then continue to feel this pain?
He could not abandon his identity as a ninja. That was where his family was and, more importantly, that was how he had spent his time with her.
He felt he could not forget that he had gained the trust he had because he was a ninja.
And so he had no choice but to give up.
He carved that conclusion into his heart and managed to calm his leaping heart, but a naked boy suddenly walked up next to him with a smile.
“Wait a second, Tenzou. Are you seriously going on a date? Can you really do it? Don’t mess up your line, okay?”
Tenzou thought about what Toori had said.
…It would be so much easier if he just told me to go rescue Mary-dono.
But he doubted that would happen. No, that boy’s actions were always unpredictable, so it was possible he would give that order on a whim.
…But then the others would stop me.
He lowered his head when he realized he was only thinking about all this because he had yet to make up his mind.
The Musashi King’s words had been filled with things he had been avoiding, but that had placed his original worries right in front of him.
Again and again, he wondered what to do, but he could not find an answer and he always returned to the same question he had no answer to.
…How does Mary-dono feel about me?
In that instant, Toori spoke up while looking at Tenzou’s back.
“Tenzou, you said Scarred healed the wound on your back, right?”
“Isn’t this it? Behind your right shoulder blade? …But from what I can see, the wound has healed, but it’s left a nice scar. You sure this was healed properly?”
Tenzou looked toward the back he could not see. The right shoulder blade Toori had mentioned was there.
The wound he received protecting Scarred was also there, but she had supposedly healed it.
She had also said she could heal without leaving a scar.
“Is there…a scar?”
“Judge. Calling it ‘nice’ might be a bit weird, but…it’s perfectly white and clearly different from the other scars.”
Tenzou gasped at Toori’s confused comment.
When they had parted, he had asked Mary what kind of guy she liked and she had given the following answer:
“If I did meet someone like that, I would want to be someone who leaves a lifelong scar on him.”
She had left the scar.
And that had been before the festival and back when he had seen who she truly was in the graveyard and exchanged words of reconciliation.
“Hey, what is it, Tenzou?”
It sounded less like Toori was legitimately asking and more like he knew the answer but wanted Tenzou to say it himself.
Tenzou clenched his teeth and silently gathered the items for transport.
…I am a ninja!
As a ninja, he would start by completing the mission given to him.
“Yeah? What is it?”
“Judge.” He nodded. “I will probably make an important announcement on the final day of the festival!”
He carried the filled leather bag over his shoulder and stood up. He glanced toward Toori, the Musashi King, Naomasa, and all those who had accepted him while he did nothing but hesitate.
…Yes. Mary-dono must have felt this same comfort in that fourth level village.
“I just remembered I have another mission to take care of.”
“I previously made a promise without realizing it.”
Naomasa watched the three guys speak and begin to part ways.
The Musashi King began his inspection, Tenzou ran up the wall, and Toori began wandering around.
…Guys don’t get as selfish, but they can get completely out of control when they start working together.
She then saw two people walking down the corridor the guys had deserted. One was someone not often seen here.
“Mito? What’s a knight doing here? We can’t fix your silver chains, you know?”
“Judge. I know that. I wanted to ask you to help with some training today. You aren’t attending the academy and you don’t seem to be reading your divine messages, so I came directly.”
“What, does it bother you that much that you lost to the Trumps’ hound?”
“Judge,” replied the knight without hesitation. She also held up the handbag in her right hand. “Can I reserve some training time? I am still not one hundred percent recovered or healed, so I will be training alongside my recovery until the festival ends.”
“Is that some venison you bought from Heidi? Do you always eat that when you’re injured? I can’t stand it because it tastes like liver.”
“I view it as a type of medicine. Venison has a lot of blood and little fat, so it is perfect for healing. I eat a lot, train a lot, and sleep a lot.”
“Judge, judge.” Naomasa nodded twice and narrowed her eyes as she looked the wolf in the eye. “Do you have a plan for getting stronger?”
“It’s hard to say.”
“What do you mean?”
Naomasa frowned and Mitotsudaira smiled.
“After all, it’s nothing more than peeling an apple.”
Naomasa tilted her head in confusion. She wondered if the girl had finally gone insane, but Mitotsudaira’s smile grew bitter.
“Judge. If it surprises my own classmate, I should be fine. I’m sure it will surprise her as well.” She gave a quick nod. “I will be leaving then. I have the divine transmission open, so contact me if anything comes up. Adele is putting together a strategy for the armada battle right now, so I have to supervise.”
“Neshinbara isn’t putting together the strategy?”
Mitotsudaira raised her right hand and shook her head.
“There really does seem to be a curse. Naruze isn’t healed yet either, so there’s a lot to worry about with this battle. Adele and I both work with land battles, so I don’t know how well we can plan for a naval battle. We are having a meeting about that with the guard unit and Futayo.”
“Do your best. We’re trying to come up with what ideas we can as well.”
“What are you planning?”
“Well,” said Naomasa.
…What we’re doing is less planning and more working out what’s possible with the Musashi’s technology.
They had used the gravitational cruising while travelling from the attack to England, but that had all been done completely by the book. It sounded good if one said they did not do anything reckless or strange, but…
“Everyone is thinking about what we should have done or could have done back then. We’re asking ‘Musashi’ whether it’s possible and, if so, we’re making any alterations needed for it. This probably has a lot to do with your planning, so how about we work together more closely from now on? Also…”
She then pointed behind Mitotsudaira and sighed.
“I asked IZUMO headquarters for an engineer to repair Jizuri Suzaku, but they sent you?”
“Hey, hey, hey. Is that any way to talk to me?”
A short girl appeared from behind Mitotsudaira’s hair. She wore a work cloak and her hair was worn up high to disguise her short height.
Mitotsudaira glanced over at the girl who wore the uniform of Qing-Takeda’s Kakura Academy.
“Um, who is this?”
“I can tell you that without an introduction. She’s Mishina Hiro. Old man Taizou’s granddaughter.”
Naomasa glared down at Hiro.
“I assumed you were still being an idiot in Qing-Takeda, but I see you were visiting IZUMO’s headquarters on their floating island and have finally made it here.”
“If I want to mess around with gods of war and aerial ships every day, the headquarters and Musashi would be the best places, right? And you don’t let people touch Jizuri Suzaku often, Masa.”
Hiro showed her teeth off in a smile.
“I transferred to a Far Eastern Academy on Izumo’s floating island this year, but I never thought I would get to help out on the Musashi so quickly. I’ve discussed it with my grandpa and I’m thinking of transferring here, so try to beat Tres España if you can.”
“Oh, dear.” Mitotsudaira looked at Naomasa with a smile. “That’s a lot of responsibility, ‘Masa’.”
“Judge.” Naomasa shrugged. “I feel like crying with all this trouble piled up on me. …But whatever. Hiro, go look around the ship a bit. This will be your workplace in an hour. You can touch Jizuri Suzaku for two hours each night. That’s enough, isn’t it?”
“Testament,” replied Hiro. But she soon smiled bitterly and corrected it to “judge”.
She then produced a folded bundle of papers from her dirty cloak.
“I’ve already come up with a plan, so I just need to bring it all together and check where the lines connect. It’s a pain that you’re up against Michiyuki Byakko, but I’ll make sure you aren’t too worn out.”
“I’d like it if you won and came to get me.”
“It is a shame you could not come out to greet me, Master Muneshige, but there is a joy in being made to wait. My short trip also taught me that work feels different depending on if you have a daily routine or not.”
In a white hospital room, a girl in a vermilion uniform spoke to a boy sleeping in a bed.
Her armband said “3rd Special Duty – Tachibana Gin” and she pulled something from a paper bag she had brought with her.
“I thought about bringing food back from England as a souvenir, but nothing had enough of a punch to it. That is why I searched for something that would make for a more lasting memento and also be practical.”
She placed the item on the bedside table.
“This is an English cursed doll. It is a joke product, but some say it gives you a nightmare of having turned into a scarecrow. …Oh? Master Muneshige, you do not seem to be sleeping well. Is your anesthesia running out?”
Gin spoke to Muneshige while checking on the cross-shaped heavy charms for holy spells that were stabbed into his body. They were all fine.
He also had a restraining spell to keep him from moving carelessly if he were to wake.
Gin recalled the keyword for releasing that spell.
“Testament. If you shout ‘I love Gin! Amore!!’ five times, it will be released. However, no one expects that from you.”
She then brought her own face to that face she had been away from for too long. She remained like that for several seconds.
She finally moved away with a flush in her cheeks and took a breath.
“Honestly, this is pathetic. Three months for a full recovery? In that time, I must take back everything in the armada battle that we must lose.”
“It has been a while since I had time to feel unease and hope, Master Muneshige. I will probably be unable to visit or contact you for a while…so please wait for me.”
Her light tone belied her words and she turned toward the window where the sun had started to set.
“When will we be able to view this sky together in our own home? After three months, the hydrangeas in our garden will be gone.”
As she spoke, Gin suddenly looked down.
She tilted her head in confusion as she looked at the person sitting on a bench in the plaza in front of the hospital. The person had her back to a tree and her hair was blowing toward Gin.
Gin noticed the woman’s long ears were drooping and that she was writing a letter in pen.
Gin realized a certain fact while looking down at the movements of Juana’s hand from above.
To check on that fact, she bowed to Muneshige, made some quick adjustments to the bed, and temporarily left the hospital room. She muttered to herself while walking down the hallway and still holding the paper bag.
“Why would Lady Juana be writing that letter?”
She had clearly seen the movements of Juana’s hand as she wrote the recipient’s name.
“Why would she be writing one of the letters that girl sends to the chancellor!?”
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