Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 57
Chapter 57: Pair Lying in Wait
You have willpower
Where is it?
Point Allocation (Your Time to Shine)
Dudley began a high-speed rally with the Technohexen using the eight quarrels.
They both targeted the other’s body and face, so a single miss would mean death or serious injury.
They were approximately six meters apart, so their actions were taken at a point between close and long range.
They returned and sent forth attacks. When the attacks were sent back, they would hit them in backhand or volley poses. Sweat would fly eight times in a row and as many solid sounds would fill the air.
Dudley spun her body for eight backhands and then spun back for a series of forehand strikes.
…I-I-I-I-I can’t lose!!
She would not let herself lose.
She had said nothing, but if Cecil understood, that was fine.
There was something they both understood quite well without saying it aloud.
“W-w-we are the queen’s aides!!”
A loss was unacceptable. If the aides lost, it would mean they had allowed someone to approach the queen.
…We must not lose!
Before her, stars and the sun were being drawn in single strokes. She also saw the moon, the shapes of continents, trees, the ocean, mountains, clouds, musical notes, symbols, and even writing.
This was a skilled opponent and Dudley understood that. She had done well against Dudley in their previous encounter and an opponent like that would have polished and sharpened her skill before a revenge match.
And so Dudley spoke up.
“I-I-I-I will give this everything I have!!”
She fired the arbalests again to double the amount, so a total of sixteen quarrels were being exchanged on the battlefield.
In response, the Technohexen’s eyes opened wide.
She rolled up her right sleeve and changed how she held the pen. She pinched it near the tip using her thumb and forefinger and she pushed it up with the side of her middle finger.
That grip poured great strength into the pen. It was not suited for long use, but it was perfect for a short and quick battle.
Her drawings grew a bit forceful and included more straight lines.
“I-i-i-is that your true art style!?”
The Technohexen did not bother replying. She merely drew in the air with acceleration lines scattering everywhere. She did not even look at Dudley. Her gaze was entirely focused on the path of the quarrels and her own lines. Dudley then saw something in the Technohexen’s eyes that watched the number of lines grow in her strengthened drawings that now formed people, landscapes, dialogue, and symbols.
She was smiling.
Dudley knew that look.
…Jonson and Shakespeare get it sometimes!
She felt more frustration than danger and she knew exactly why.
She wanted the Technohexen to look at her, but another thought ruled her mind.
…I won’t lose!!
Just as the girl was more focused in drawing than intercepting the attacks, Dudley also had to grow serious. And there was something that would give her a smile as she did so: being with the queen.
In truth, the Fairy Queen had quite a few problems. She made inappropriate comments quite a lot, she made a fair number of mistakes in her work, and she made misunderstandings or grew defiant far too often, so an aide like Dudley was constantly busy cleaning up after her.
…I’m so busy I ended losing too much weight! Yes, when I weighed myself last, I had lost seven grams. Maybe I have some kind of health problem!
But just like Cecil and the others, she was intent on supporting the queen no matter what. After all…
…She saved me.
As Cecil floated in the air and rose further to pour down more weight, she looked away from Kimi who seemed unable to move and she turned to Dudley.
…Don’t lose. Don’t lose, Dudley. You’re really, really strong.
Cecil knew about Dudley’s past.
…She wanted to die.
According to the Testament descriptions, Robert Dudley had been Elizabeth’s lover.
During the rule of Mary I, he had been imprisoned for political reasons and he had sworn loyalty to Elizabeth when she had saved him, but a problem had occurred afterwards. While competing for Elizabeth’s affection to acquire more political power, his wife had suddenly died. People had speculated Dudley had killed her to make a marriage to Elizabeth a possibility, so he had been shunned, he had fallen into decline, and he had died.
He had his glory, but his fall was certain and he lost all his honor. As such, no one had come forward to inherit his name and it had been forced onto a girl of the bloodline that had already inherited the Dudley name. And that girl was…
When she was young, she had lost both her parents in the oppression brought on by Catholics and that had proved convenient. It allowed for the scenario in which she act as a member of the Anglican Church to oppose Mary and then be imprisoned.
The girl had been carefully raised while ignorant of her own fate, but at one point, she had suddenly learned of it.
And once she was imprisoned, she had learned a further truth.
If her existence as Dudley would cause a scandal for Elizabeth, it had been decided that it would be best if she remained imprisoned and did not create such a blot on the queen’s reign.
That sort of interpretation was not uncommon. One’s glory was stretched out as much as possible and the inconvenient parts were pushed to the very end and dealt with quickly.
…That’s how it works.
In that prison she could never leave, Dudley had resented the queen and tried to commit suicide. But rumor had it she was healed and kept alive each time.
Cecil had heard from Dudley countless times how the cell door had suddenly opened one day. “A-a-a-a-and it was the queen!” she would say. However, the target of her resentment had not said she was there to save her. She had not apologized or otherwise tried to earn her gratitude. She had simply reached out an arm and said the following.
“I need you, Robert Dudley. It is with you that I can bring order to my land forces and it is with you that my palace will grow a bit livelier. I can get lonely, so the latter is more important.”
Dudley had asked if she was not afraid of the scandal.
“I don’t mind, so neither should you.”
Dudley had mentioned how much she resented the queen.
“Plenty of people resent me, so don’t worry about it. I don’t mind.”
Dudley had asked what she was supposed to do.
“Use your power and die whenever you wish. That is the ultimate luxury and not many people are granted it.”
Dudley had always looked so happy while telling the story. Cecil also knew why Dudley never ate and kept on the fetters from her imprisonment.
…She wants to remain imprisoned.
Otherwise, the Testament Union might force them to carry out the history recreation of the scandal. She was attempting to settle it with only a release on parole, but she was not doing it for the queen’s sake.
…It’s so she can be with the queen.
Cecil felt she was the same.
The Testament descriptions said William Cecil was Elizabeth’s friend and aide, but excessive eating made him synonymous with obesity in England. He was not someone whose name anyone would try to inherit and that was why a farmer’s daughter who loved to eat had been chosen.
She had been overwhelmed when thrown into the politics and education that she did not know the first thing about.
She had wanted to play rather than study. Those around her could do so much, but she could do nothing. However, she felt it was fine if she could not do anything. In fact, she felt that was normal. It was the others who were strange. Jonson for example would suddenly give himself injections, but that had to be some kind of sickness.
She had been even more overwhelmed once she had been thrown in with all those people who could do things. Her average of thirty-seven loaves of bread a day had dropped to thirty-three. Cutting back on her food and losing weight was a good way of losing her inherited name, but she had felt that would disappoint her parents back on the farm.
Thus she had tried to find something she could do, but she had failed. Some things were simply too much for people.
If she could not do anything, she had decided to at least keep up her eating. After all, eating was fun.
She was not sure when she had realized that she could stay with the others as long as she was having fun.
However, she had found the queen beautiful even before realizing that. Cecil had started clapping when she had first seen the queen’s wings shoot out. The adults around her had shuddered, but she did not know why.
She remembered the queen laughing when she had said that.
From then on, the queen had often consulted her. She had not known what to do or what was right, but she had still given an answer.
“I think this would make some money for the moment.”
“If it’s just for the moment, then you don’t have to do it.”
“Would doing this make the people unhappy?”
“If it’s a good thing, good things will happen if you do it.”
She only ever said what she found obvious, but that seemed to be enough. She did not understand why, but the others had started consulting her too.
She knew that William Cecil had received devoted care from the queen for a long period on his deathbed. She did not know when that would happen or how it would happen, but she felt it was all worth it as long as she would obtain that.
I don’t know what is so great about me, but that shows just how unskilled I am.
But it doesn’t matter if I don’t understand as long as the skilled people do understand. After all, it doesn’t matter to me what’s so good about me. That’s something that helps other people.
She understood. She usually understood nothing, but this was one thing she did understand.
Don’t lose, me. Don’t lose, Dudley.
And to do that…
“I won’t lose.”
The warriors in reserve heard a strange girl speak. The bending of her clothes and the indentation in the ground showed just how much weight was bearing down on her, but she remained perfectly calm.
“It seems everyone is saying they ‘have to lose’ because of the history recreation and it was growing tedious. Saying you can always make it an interpretive loss is just another side of being a loser.”
“How selfish can you be?” asked someone.
“It’s not like anyone has a choice,” said someone else.
However, the strange girl continued.
“I like women who refuse to lose.”
She took a slow step forward.
“I also like men who refuse to lose.”
She took a second step and then a calm third step.
“And when I refuse to lose, I am the most wonderful of them all.”
There was no slowing to her movements. Everyone wondered why because she supposedly had a massive amount of weight on her shoulders. Their vice president was already over twenty meters up.
“A flower cannot be beaten,” said the girl. “No matter how harsh the location and no matter how much snow and dirt pile on top of it, come spring, its stalk will extend and it will bloom toward the sun. And a flower will enjoy itself even if there is no one around to see it. Also, it may wither in the fall, but it will bloom again in the spring. There is no loss there. It is constant cycle of victory.”
“Even under a great weight, a flower will not lose. It will rise above it and achieve victory all for its love of itself. That is why people refer to flowers as ‘proudly blooming’.”
In that instant, a change occurred in the sky above them all.
After Cecil floated even further up, her altitude suddenly dropped.
Cecil noticed something happen each time the flashy girl down below took a step.
She was falling. It became obvious at around the third step. Each further step she took worked toward releasing Cecil’s spell.
She did not understand. Not understanding was normal for her, but when she had inherited the name of Cecil, the adults had given her this weight spell as a part of being a competitive eater. The queen had even praised it and said seeing it put her in a good mood.
Nevertheless, it was being removed. She wondered why and felt it was unfair.
This girl was the one who had danced at Mikawa, so she had placed the weight on her to keep her from dancing. The weight would crush her and prevent her from making dance steps or lightly spinning around. The tension in the girl’s skirt was proof of that.
So how was she able to walk and release Cecil’s spell?
“You’re a pretty good example of a woman, so I’ll tell you what’s going on,” said the flashy girl as she brushed a hand through her bangs. “Spinning and waving your arms are not the only ways to dance. Do you get what I mean?”
Cecil then realized she was hearing a noise.
“Judge. Well done. I see you’re the type to notice the small things that fools overlook. Yes. Judge. Producing footsteps, clapping your hands, and speaking out all go back to the rhythm of a drum and the origins of dance. And…”
Cecil listened to the footsteps of the approaching girl. They sounded almost like…
“The rhythm of your pulse. The origin of those rhythmic footsteps, clapping, and shouting is the most primitive rhythm. That rhythm is the wave-like music we all learn in our mothers’ womb. That is the basis from which music and dance were created. Did you know that both song and dance are said to delight the harvest? They are said to be an act of life.”
The strange girl laughed and then gave a bitter smile.
“But that’s enough for the lecture. It just doesn’t suit me.”
Cecil wanted to hear more, but she had a feeling the girl would not tell her the rest. She wondered if the queen would tell her.
However, she was currently dropping.
She decided to strengthen her spell. She focused herself and imagined herself gaining weight. With candy, cake, and cream, she could just use a giant mug. Milk would be good too. It was best with just enough sugar that it could be seen at the bottom. Add some fried meat and it would be irresistible. However, her imagination brought a change over her.
…It makes my heart race.
“This dance is inside you as well.”
She lowered and continued to lower.
…No. If I fall, the queen will be sad. So will Dudley. I’ll lose.
…I’m dancing too?
“Yes. The queen, that skinny woman, and everyone else are the same, so no one wins and no one loses. Just bring a hand to your chest and take a step.”
The footsteps synced up.
This racing of her heart was what happened when she was having fun. When it happened to Dudley, she would shout about her blood pressure and cause a commotion, but everyone’s standard reaction was to laugh.
If it also happened to the queen and everyone else, even if Cecil could not do anything, she and the others were all doing the same thing when they were having fun.
“We’re all dancing?”
“Heh heh heh. A politician needs to be able to make people dance as she wishes.”
The next thing she knew, even she had a smiling face of her own.
Oh, no, she thought. But she also thought she had been taught something important. She truly was an idiot. Her mind was in complete disarray and she could not make sense of anything.
However, she knew she could not let herself lose, so she tried to stay true to that.
She did not know who she was apologizing to as she tried to add on even more weight. At the same time, she wondered if the excited beating of her heart would vanish if she crushed the flashy girl.
“Going all out even against someone of lower rank. I can respect that attitude!!”
Dudley heard the Technohexen speak, but she continued nonetheless.
She fired her arbalests twice for a total number of quarrels four times the initial number.
However, the Technohexen smiled.
“Here it comes! This is trouble! Miss Naruze’s in trouble! What’s this!? Is she bringing this to a dead heat just before the deadline!? Is this the same as ordering manga on the divine network despite only having half an hour to finish her manuscript!?”
The Technohexen’s brain was experiencing the same high as one did late at night. With no concern for her reputation, she began singing divine anime songs with a serious expression as she continued her work. Meanwhile, Dudley prepared the next rally.
She removed the Testamenta Arma from her left hand.
The power to repel attacks was her own ability. She had gained it in order to reject anything and everything while in the darkness of that prison cell.
It was technically not a Testament Sign and there were several vertical scars on her left wrist. She had gained the repelling ability as compensation for those. When she had tried to spill her own blood, her tension had tightened and closed the blood vessels, so she had swung her arm in an attempt to open them.
The scattering blood had connected with the dimly-lit fairies hidden in her cell and they had protected her.
The Fairy Queen had said the following about that power.
“Do not forget that negotiation requires both rejection and compromise.”
For that reason, the queen had allowed her to hide the scars with the Testamenta Arma. Dudley had therefore chosen to only use her one hand and she would never use them both at once.
But now she would.
This was not a site of negotiation, so no compromise was needed. She merely needed to strike back.
Her enemy was using her full speed to desperately hit back the thirty-two quarrels.
But this was likely her limit. After all, drawing a picture was not the same as striking with a snap of the wrist. That was why her drawings had gained a lot more small objects such as writing and symbols. It was to prevent them from becoming weapons, but it could not have been easy to keep it up this long.
Meanwhile, Dudley swung both hands. And…
She targeted the Technohexen’s left side. The girl was right-handed, so she would have more difficulty hitting them back from there.
She could always evade them, but…
“I-I-I-I fired one last time.”
She had fired the arbalests for the fifth time. She had sent the instruction at the very last moment while removing Brachium Justitia. It had been a gamble whether it would reach the weapons or not, but it seemed to have succeeded.
With a sound much like bursting springs, eight additional quarrels were fired. These eight would arrive shortly after the thirty-two that were already difficult to return. Something would clearly be wrong if none of these hit.
And so they would hit.
But just before they did, Dudley saw something drawn in front of her.
The Technohexen had drawn numbers a few times before, but this one had a unit after it.
In that case, she had not been drawing pictures all this time. It had merely taken the form of a picture.
“You mean it was a spell!?”
The Technohexen gave a shout in response while making one last leaping motion of her pen.
A moment later, a magic spell expanded before Dudley’s eyes. It used all the pictures, writings, characters, backgrounds, frames, dialogues, and symbols the Technohexen had drawn to form the framework of a story.
…A story of an impertinent girl who came to her senses once a friend slapped her!
It was a repelling defense spell.
Before Dudley could think anything more, the solid sound of the quarrels being repelled rang out like an instrument. The Technohexen gave a selfish pose of triumph toward the heavens and collapsed backwards.
Dudley understood what that word meant: her opponent had done everything she could do.
That meant it was Dudley’s turn.
She held both hands up toward the total of forty quarrels. She believed she could return them, so she clenched her teeth and faced the approaching wall of quarrels.
In that instant, she recalled the time when she had been freed from her cell.
It truly had been a sudden occurrence. After all, no one had come to drag her out. Instead, a girl had broken through the wall from the outside. To her utter surprise, it had been the Fairy Queen who had said the cell had been kept a secret from her. From that point on, everyone had chosen not to hide anything from the queen.
…But that was quite a thrill.
The power to repel in order to protect herself was an important power that could be called her very identity.
However, it seemed she needed someone else to provide the power that dispersed her own darkness.
In the present, she faced the wall before her.
She decided that she had longed for that ever since that moment.
Two actions filled the next instant.
One was Dudley’s repelling hands sweeping through empty air.
The other was the approaching quarrels being struck forcefully from above and stabbing into the ground. There was only one reason why the quarrels would fall so suddenly.
Cecil had placed her weight on the quarrels rather than her enemy.
That could mean only one thing: she was no longer specifying a single target for her weight.
Dudley turned around and saw Cecil begin to fall from a height of about five meters. A normal human was unlikely to be too harmed in a fall from that height, but the situation was different for Cecil who could not move very well. The damage her weight would do to her bones would go beyond dangerous.
However, the crazy girl stood below Cecil.
“Heh heh heh. I’m not sure I can manage this one.”
It’s no use, thought Dudley. That strange girl’s spell is meant to deflect, not to catch.
And so Dudley tried to rush over there.
…My spell repels too.
That meant there was nothing she could do.
“Show your willpower!!”
In that moment, a group charged in from a different direction. A group of warriors rushed below Cecil.
They caught her and lowered her speed, but…
They were crushed.
Dudley was dumbfounded as they all fell over, but they all gave thumbs ups while flattened beneath Cecil. Dudley gave a sigh of relief and looked to her left arm.
A bit of heat had gathered in the scars on her wrist and they turned a pale red.
…This power is meant to protect me and only me.
So how was she to protect others? That’s a question to think about, she told herself while looking around the area.
She saw enemies and allies.
She needed to form an official confrontation using that arrangement.
“W-w-w-w-we have done what we were meant to do, but I suppose it ended in a no contest due to intervention.”
“Heh heh heh. So you’re going to get out of it with that excuse?”
“I-I-I-I-I will take you on any time. As long as there is a reason worth risking our nation for.”
Dudley turned north toward the Tower of London.
“Now, perhaps the queen while bring an end to this!”
About one hundred meters down the road and to the right, he could see the Tower of London.
He was on his way to the northwestern tower, but he could not see the top of that tower from his current position.
He breathed heavily while wishing it had been the closer southwestern tower.
He continued on. It was just one more road. Just one hundred more meters. Once he crossed the moat and climbed the wall, he would have arrived.
And so he ran.
But a group of warriors was guarding the moat in front of the tower.
They did not move toward him. That was only natural as they were fortifying that one position, but Tenzou remembered that this was the spot where he had parted ways with her.
He simultaneously threw three kunai into the shadow created by some eaves up ahead.
In that instant, the shadow rose.
It took on human form and performed a swift slash.
It was Walter “Trident” Raleigh.
As he stood up, he had already struck with a large gravity sword measuring over six meters. He did not name himself or take a defensive stance. He merely attacked.
It was a falling iai attack from the right shoulder yet performed with only the left arm.
There were no gaps in it and yet it had speed.
A horizontal strike targeting the waist cut quickly through the air and yet it seemed to linger. Even if Tenzou tried to flee to the side, an attack from a second blade on the left would reach him. Even if he fled under the eaves to the right, the large gravity sword would likely cut through the columns holding up the roof.
…In that case…
Tenzou made the correct decision.
He accelerated and lowered down to slip beneath the large gravity sword.
A shadow was falling on the road. It was cast by the gravity sword’s hilt and the area below that straight line was a safe zone, so he charged just below it and spun to match the sweeping motion of the gravity sword.
The movement would bring him behind Walter’s back.
However, he saw the man let go of the large hilt.
The gravity sword hilt struck the front of the house under the arcade and began to roll, but Walter used the lack of that excess weight to spin around even faster.
The movement would bring him in front of Tenzou to block the boy’s way.
He spread his legs and extended his left arm to tell Tenzou to stop.
At the same time, his right arm made two movements. First, a snap of his right hand tossed a gravity sword hilt from his left side and down his left sleeve.
Second, he grabbed a different gravity sword with his right hand.
He pressed it against his own chest. This was his seppuku-style clone technique using a gravity sword.
Another hilt had already fallen from his sleeve and into his left palm and the two Walters attacked at once.
As the twin attacks arrived, Tenzou gave a shout. His heart decided on the right and he swung his body in that direction.
“Don’t use my old name!!”
Something burst from the back of his collar like a bullet.
It was the crow named Milton.
The black crow charged toward the right Walter that was in the process of swinging down his blade.
The crow spread his wings and legs but did not stop himself.
“You don’t know how to settle anything, do you!?”
He collided with Walter’s face as if embracing it.
“Go, young ninja! Go and abduct Scarred! I will take over everything the two of you leave behind!”
Walter may have divided into two, but he was still a single person. In that case, how would he perceive the collision from Milton? With a division-type clone technique, only one had to be blocked.
“That’s enough to throw off his senses!!”
Walter did indeed hesitate slightly. Milton had blocked the vision of the one to Tenzou’s right and he briefly moved to tear Milton away with his right hand. However, the Walter on the left made the same motion despite having nothing over his face.
The two of them were the same body.
Realizing he could make it through, Tenzou accelerated. He seemed to throw his body forward as he raised his speed.
However, Walter took action in return. He used the motion of the hips he had lowered in his confusion.
And he performed a large and quick back step.
He fell back a good bit in order to retry his attempt to capture Tenzou. He also spread his legs with a twisting motion to throw a solid iai strike in the instant he landed.
However, Tenzou fearlessly charged on.
…This is the action I wanted!!
He continued forward, but he did so by throwing his legs forward, falling to his butt, and sliding.
“Here I go!!”
He slipped through the legs Walter had spread to support his attack.
It only took an instant.
Walter had not even launched his iai strike.
There was a simple reason why Tenzou managed to pass by so quickly. Even if Walter was an iai master, his balance would be tilted a bit toward his back after a jump backwards. Even if he tried to land in a forward stance and launch an iai strike, his stance would rise up a bit in the front.
As a result, his legs were spread a little more and his body raised a little more than with a standard iai strike.
That was why Tenzou was able to slip through.
Showing an obvious intent to accelerate while Walter’s sight was impaired had been Tenzou’s way of luring the man into doing this.
And so he continued on.
Nevertheless, Walter pursued him. The man swung his wrist as if to punch the ninja slipping beneath him and he tried to forcibly bring his sword directly down.
In response, Tenzou reached out a hand while sliding. He reached toward the hilt Walter was swinging down, placed his hand on the guard, and forcibly tugged it over his head.
This pulled Walter’s balance forward, but he let go of the gravity sword before he fell.
However, Tenzou used the downward-swinging motion of Walter’s arm to accelerate his slide.
He passed through.
He left the iai warrior behind him and began running as he rose to his feet.
The ninja tilted his body forward and accelerated all at once.
However, someone turned around behind him.
He knew the man would pursue him. After all, this enemy had experienced the collapse of his master’s clan, so he would do whatever it took to stop an enemy attempting to approach his new master.
For that reason, Tenzou began his run by swinging both arms to throw his coat behind him.
He only had to rob the man of his vision. He only had to slightly obstruct the movement of the gravity swords.
He heard the sound of tearing cloth behind him, but he did not look back.
He felt a chill strike his back from the top left to the bottom right, but he paid it no heed.
He had received yet another wound on his back, but he could tell one thing from the sensation.
…This one is not deep!!
His most precious scar was on his right shoulder blade and this had not cut through it.
The ninja quickly raised his speed.
He ran directly toward the warriors in front of the Tower of London.
Arrows flew toward him and the ether light on their tips proved they had homing spells applied.
The spell was likely a combination of a kinetic detection spell that followed movement and shape and an ether detection spell that followed the target’s very existence. Such a spell would be expensive, but this much was to be expected when so close to the queen.
However, Tenzou continued straight ahead.
The flying arrows were drawn to him and he saw them right in front of him.
He accelerated his body and used all his strength to throw it down low.
These homing arrows would not lose track of their target for something so simple, but now that he had dropped down, there was something with his lingering scent that retained his form and movement even more than him.
That was his coat that he had thrown into the air behind him.
The black garment had been cut through the back, but it still had the general silhouette of his upper body and it naturally contained traces of his existence because he had been wearing it.
The coat acted as chaff for a homing countermeasure.
…This is an application of what our teacher did with her hair!!
He had changed his silhouette by lowering down, but his coat had retained his shape.
The dozen arrows shot by over his head.
He ignored the sound of them tearing through the air and threw something toward the warriors as he stood back up.
“A gravity sword!”
It was the one Walter had let go of as Tenzou slipped between his legs.
The warriors would know how powerful a weapon it was. It could cut right through their shield spells.
However, this final group of warriors did not budge.
They were prepared to fight to the death as the last line of defense, so they remained motionless and readied themselves to receive the gravity sword.
The gravity sword hilt struck one of the shields.
But it did not cut through the shield and it was deflected into the night sky.
It had not been switched on.
That had been the obvious choice for Tenzou, but the enemy had not expected it.
Their surprise was as great as their resolve had been.
Tenzou saw the slight disturbance to their breathing. He kicked off the surface of the shield, kicked off the tip of a spear one of them frantically thrust upwards, and continued straight forward from an elevated position.
As soon as Tenzou’s feet landed on the water of the moat, he began to sprint.
Walking on water was a standard ninja technique, as was running up walls.
However, he wondered what he should do once he climbed the wall.
Even if he was going to confess, he had stupidly failed to prepare anything. And that was despite all the confession advice he had so self-importantly given at Mikawa.
Yet oddly enough, he had always been prepared in the past, but none of his classmates had helped him back then. It was true that was partially related to Musashi’s new policy Horizon had decided on.
…But is that really all?
He did not know what had happened to those who had stayed with him part of the way. They had told him to continue on and not to worry about them.
They had likely wanted to do those things. They might have been using their help as a justification to accomplish something they wanted. They were horrible people, so they might have only wanted to let off some steam or the spring weather might have ignited some kind of destructive urge hidden within them.
But whatever the reason, their actions had brought him to this spot.
In that case, the reason did not matter.
He was exhausted, he was injured, he was bleeding from his back, and he had lost most of his equipment, but he had made it here. He had been brought here.
As he continued in a straight line up the wall, he almost clung to that wall order to avoid some arrows fired from the fortress.
And he arrived.
He was at the top of the northwestern tower. As he stood on the immersion-style Andamio de la Ejecución that was decorated in white, he could see the starry sky and its twin moons.
He also saw blonde braided hair and an English uniform turning toward him.
He faced the girl and her lips parted as she turned his way.
“Who did you think I was?”
There were no scars on her face or body.
The wind blew.
A girl and boy stood atop a tower with a white sword less than a meter long between them.
The boy glanced toward the courtyard to the right. A waiting area was prepared in the lawn covered by the Tower of London’s shadow. A group of warriors had arrows at the ready there, but someone stood in a chair behind them. She had a scar on her face.
Her voice was directed at the ninja. At the same time, the door into the courtyard opened and more warriors appeared. They aimed and drew their bows and more of them lined up atop the fortress and around the moat down below.
“You can’t! I will smooth things over here, so please leave!”
But after hearing the girl shout up from the courtyard, the ninja took in a quiet breath.
He then slowly faced forward.
He took in another deep breath and spoke to the girl who was looking back at him.
“You should stop lying, Mary-dono.”
The girl grew flustered at the name he used.
She shook her head, regained the strength in her gaze, and spoke more loudly.
“Why do you say that!?”
“Judge. It is a simple matter. Well, I can guess more or less why you’re doing this.”
He looked at the other girl down below and the scarred girl returned his gaze.
“What are you saying!? She’s dangerous! So…”
“Indeed she is dangerous. After all, I risked my life quite a bit making it this far.”
“What are you-…!?”
“Silence, impostor!!” he shouted.
After pointing at the girl down below, he faced the girl before him.
She jumped and shrank back at his gaze, but he only nodded and spoke.
“Mary-dono has slightly larger breasts!!”
The ninja took a breath and struck a pose. He formed a new pose with each statement.
“A blonde! With! Giant breasts! That is what people call the truth! And that truth will not allow a poor disguise fool me!”
On the now peaceful transport ship deck, Masazumi fed the young anteater on her shoulder and turned her smiling gaze from the sign frame to the Mouse.
“How about we stop watching this!? Right? Right? We can turn it back on in about five minutes, don’t you think!?”
Horizon nodded twice while watching Toori’s sign frame and she spoke to the naked boy next to her.
“I would have thought such a unique skill of perception would be completely useless, but here it is influencing a national decision.”
“Just so you know, the clincher in saving you was my sexual carelessness. Keep that in mind.”
The boy atop the Tower of London heard someone laugh.
The continuing laughter came from the girl in the courtyard waiting area.
No one else knew how to react, but that girl removed the scars on her face and body as if wiping them away.
This revealed the Fairy Queen with her eyebrows raised in a smile. She crossed her legs in her chair.
“Interesting. I never knew there was a clear difference other than the scars. You managed to see through this game that no one else could, so you must be the real deal. Mary, you win the bet. I’ll give you five minutes before your execution.”
The other girl took a breath and similarly wiped away what was hiding the scar on her…on Mary’s face.
“Five minutes. Enjoy your final stage.”
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