Horizon:Volume 2B Chapter 67
Chapter 67: Where the One Damaged by Swords Belongs
Why am I
So very desperate?
Point Allocation (Same as Always)
The sound of cannon fire flew along a street in the moonlit city.
There were two streams of cannon fire which were being used by a girl swinging around cross swords with her two false arms.
She was Tachibana Gin and she ran through the business district on the rear port end of Tama.
Her opponent was Honda Futayo who ran while wielding the divine weapon and spear named Tonbokiri.
While using both guns and swords, Gin realized two sounds had vanished: the sounds of fighting on the starboard side and the roars of Fusae’s Michiyuki Byakko.
She understood what that meant and that the blaring sirens indicated the time limit.
The time to withdraw had passed and the Musashi would now receive shellfire from Tres España’s main fleet.
She could no longer leave the ship and seek rescue, but…
…I am prepared for that!
Gin had made up her mind.
She knew she was completely disobeying her orders, but this was necessary for her greatest objective.
…I will defeat Honda Futayo and return Master Muneshige’s inherited name to him!
She repeatedly attacked and defended within the wind.
As they exchanged attacks, she had a single thought about Futayo’s fighting style.
…She is an idiot with a completely defensive style of offense!
As Gin attacked head on, the other girl charged almost directly into the attacks.
It was pointless to ask if she was not afraid. She had achieved an ideal possessed by anyone who had reached a certain level. It was the simple idea to “move forward before the attack hits”, but it was extremely difficult to put to practice.
…Yet she is easily charging ahead of the shells!
It was less that she was confident she could evade and more that she was not concerned by Gin’s attacks.
Gin understood why. She was not letting the appearance of the attacks deceive her and she was dealing with them according to their classification.
…When looking at them head on, all attacks fall into three basic categories: piercing attacks or cannons are points, slashes are lines, and area spells are planes.
Gin’s father had taught her that. Even throws and grappling were points or lines before one was grabbed. According to her father, once one understood that everything fell under those two categories plus the planes created by spells, the rest was easy.
Points were fast, but one only had to shift the area that would be hit and move forward.
Lines were long, but one only had to duck under that path and move forward.
Planes were wide, but one only had to circle around outside their range and move forward.
The rest was an issue of size and speed, but there were only ever three things to do.
Thinking of it that way, shellfire and spear jabs were nothing but points. If one did not fear the sound of firing and took the shockwave into account, any of those attacks could be avoided. And…
Futayo arrived in a lowered posture by accelerating as if stretching forward.
Gin had a certain thought about that offensive girl.
…She is worth fighting!
While the two of them exchanged attacks, Futayo rethought her opinion of Gin.
When they had crossed blades during the previous attack, she had thought Gin was a girl who simply came in to attack, but now…
…She is an idiot with a completely offensive style of defense!
There was a single reason for that.
While Futayo attacked, Gin defended with interception fire, but she still evaded and attacked from every possible position and angle.
If Futayo did not keep moving, Gin would fire to keep her distance. And if Futayo approached…
Gin easily struck the thrust-forward spear tip with her double swords. And she did so such that Futayo would be sliced in two if she did not deflect it properly.
Normally, bladed weapons were not used to strike other blades. After all, the blades were made of metal. A blade of greater sharpness could cut through it and a strike from the side could bend it. Hitting another hard object could chip it and that chip could lead to a break.
But Gin did not care.
Futayo understood why. She used her double swords, but not to push back Futayo’s blade. She was using the recoil.
She would use the force of Futayo’s attack to jump over the blade and use the recoil to evade. Using her hands for that would be too dangerous, so she used her swords.
The girl was not taking simple evasive actions. She was selecting from three different interception options.
…She “receives” my attack to stop it, she “sweeps” away the attack to deflect it, or she “shifts” orientation to make me collapse.
When she used the recoil to jump, she was receiving. When she rotated around to evade, she was sweeping. When Futayo’s attack was stronger, she would shift and destroy Futayo’s balance.
She accurately observed the type and strength of Futayo’s attack and then took the appropriate action.
And she kept herself in a safe position by launching the attacks to keep her distance while also taking evasive action.
She did the same now.
Futayo saw the left double sword coming. To cut through that blade, Futayo lifted Tonbokiri up into the space between the two blades. She added an instantaneous pulling motion in an attempt cut through one of the blades halfway down.
But Gin moved. She jumped up, rotated her mechanical left wrist, and grabbed Tonbokiri’s blade between the twisted double swords like they were chopsticks.
She lifted Tonbokiri with those sword chopsticks while charging in toward Futayo. At the same time, she thrust in the right double sword.
With Tonbokiri lifted up, Futayo was pulled in toward the other girl. Gin’s right double sword was just about to reach her unguarded left side, but she activated Tonbokiri’s extension device.
The device would extend Tonbokiri and the recoil would send her backwards where she would scrape low along the ground.
Except that did not happen.
Gin returned her chopsticks wrist to normal and freed Tonbokiri. Nothing now prevented the spear from extending forward, so Futayo was not carried back and the double swords flew straight toward her left side.
In a split-second decision, Futayo returned the extension device to normal while using the strength of her hands to throw Tonbokiri into the air above so it rotated around. As for herself…
She just barely ducked underneath the twin swords.
While the twin swords were pulled back, Futayo stepped back a little and held her hands overhead to reach Tonbokiri’s shaft. With the weapon raised overhead, she swung it down while standing up and moving forward.
In that instant, Gin brought her left wrist to something while still clenching the double swords like chopsticks.
That something was one of the Arcabuz Cruz floating in midair. By pressing her wrist against the back of the gun, she forcibly aimed the muzzle toward Futayo.
Just as Futayo leaped to the right, the Arcabuz Cruz fired. It tore diagonally into the deck and Gin used the recoil to jump.
She rotated her entire body diagonally to move to the right side of a Western-style house bordering that major street on Tama’s port side.
Futayo was half impressed and half shocked. She would evade with pure speed, but this girl used her nimble agility. It truly came down to skillful use of her own body.
And most of all, the fact that she always had an escape path…
…Really pisses me off!
Futayo pursued her. She rotated Tonbokiri in her hands, added in acceleration on her second step, and pursued Gin.
She charged into the side road between the Western-style house and its neighbor on the left of the main road.
Futayo continued on. She charged diagonally into the side road to the right of that Western-style house.
As she did, a shell came from that side road.
Gin had waited for her to enter the road to fire, but Futayo did not care. She extended Tonbokiri into the ground behind her.
The recoil brought her to something.
As if pushed forward into the air, Futayo’s diagonally-running body collapsed leftward so her feet landed on the wall.
And she ran. She raced diagonally up the wall of the neighboring building.
As she ran along the wall, she spotted her enemy at the intersection between the side road and a back road.
She kicked off the wall and leaped over Gin’s head. Instead of taking a falling trajectory, she made a straight jump that passed over Gin.
While passing overhead, she swung Tonbokiri down below to slash at Gin.
She did not land to attack. Even showing that much of an opening was dangerous with this opponent.
But Tachibana Gin moved nimbly as if dancing and did not even look up at the other girl.
However, her action did not form an attack.
She moved left as if pulling the Arcabuz Cruz along with her and she ran down the back road behind the Western-style house.
It was nothing but an escape with no attempt to counterattack.
She had run away, but…
Well done! thought Futayo. She got me.
The only counterattack Gin could perform when Futayo was in midair was using her Arcabuz Cruz, but firing overhead would send the gun’s recoil toward the ground and prevent her from immediately moving.
If that happened, Futayo only needed to cut through the shell.
If she then swung her blade down toward Gin, it would have all been over.
However, Gin had not cornered herself with that simple counterattack. She had predicted what would have happened and escaped.
And that meant…
…Now I’m the one in trouble while in the air like this!
Gin would put some distance between them and then fire safely.
Sounds of scraping came from Gin’s surroundings as she travelled down the road behind the Western-style house. As she ran down the road, her cross swords and Arcabuz Cruz caught on the wall of the house.
But Futayo saw Gin turn around at the next corner and the Arcabuz Cruz was looking up toward her.
Futayo pointed the bottom of her spear toward the neighboring house behind her and extended the weapon once more in midair.
She flew through the air to pursue Gin.
Futayo launched herself toward the roof of the house behind the Western-style one. It was a straw roof.
As soon as she landed, the shell was fired from below.
Gin used the recoil of the shallow diagonal shot to leap into the side road returning to the main road.
She was completing her circuit of the Western-style house.
Futayo kicked off the straw roof just before it burst open and she made a great leap. She jumped over Gin’s head and to the roof of the house left of the Western-style one from the perspective of the main road.
She began running as soon as she landed and Gin ran toward the main road down below and to her left.
But Gin was too slow. As nimble as she was, she was short. As much attack power as she had, her weaponry was too heavy.
And that meant Futayo could circle around ahead of her.
With the height difference of side road and roof between them, Futayo caught up with her on her second step and moved ahead on her third.
On the fourth, she dug her foot down into the roof and launched herself into the air. She was aiming for the center of the main road directly in front of the side road.
But as soon as she tried to land on that main road, she heard a shot fired toward that landing point.
Futayo was confused because the shot would bring recoil. Firing into the main road would bring Gin further back into the side road.
In that case, why had she started running toward the main road in the first place?
…Is she adlibbing? No, were all of her previous movements leading up to this one attack!?
Futayo did not know, but she purposefully fell over as soon as she landed.
She did not come to a stop.
She maintained the momentum of her leap while rolling a few meters along the ground. The road surface she had passed by a moment before was torn apart and the shell hopped back up and collided with the opposite house.
The sounds of splintering wood and splitting household belongings filled the air, but all of the wreckage left the back of the building and none of it came to the main road.
While listening to the racket and feeling the reverberation, Futayo stood up and faced forward.
Before her was the Western-style house of which they had made a complete circuit, but she noticed a certain change to that stone structure.
The left and right edges of the wall had long slices at waist height as if to cut through the house.
She had noticed Gin scraping her cross swords along the house while travelling down the side roads, but now…
“It can’t be.”
Futayo frowned just as the house in front of her exploded as if jumping up into the air.
The house had exploded due to the shockwave of the shots Gin had fired into it from the back entrance.
Two Arcabuz Cruz shells pierced the inner walls from behind and exploded at the main entrance. The shockwave pushed the wall outward from within and caused the house to burst.
Just before that force exploded, the house swelled up and extended upwards.
But Gin saw the deep cut she had made in the house’s walls. While running around the house, she had cut it all around the sides and back of the building.
The explosion of the shockwave escaped through those cuts and lifted open what remained.
As if answering Gin’s cry, the Western-style house was torn open at the “score” she had made and it was lifted up from within. However, the building pitched toward the untouched front wall, tore from the other three walls, and collapsed toward the main road.
It was blasted toward Futayo.
Gin approached the house that showed its ceiling to her and collapsed toward the main road.
…How about that!?
Until then, they had been exchanging line and point attacks, but she had sent in a giant plane attack.
The only way to avoid a plane was to circle around it.
That normally meant right or left, but she had a different prediction.
…I heard her move forward.
She had heard Tonbokiri’s extension device and she also saw a spear shaft extending toward the heavens beyond the collapsing house.
She therefore ran forward. She would move directly below her opponent’s leap and make a counterattack from that blind spot.
Anything else was too dangerous. After all, it was possible this falling opponent would use her cutting power in midair if faced with an enemy directly ahead.
Gin therefore ran inside the collapsing house and aimed overhead with her back to the house.
This will restore your inherited name, she thought. No enemy is more powerful than you who gave me these false arms.
She looked overhead at the moons and something flew by with those two pale disks behind it.
It was Tonbokiri, but it was not the entire weapon.
…Just the shaft!?
No one was holding it and it had no blade. Just the shaft of Tonbokiri flew through the air.
She questioned it, but she could not sense her enemy to the left or right either.
…Then she must be…
As soon as she sensed danger, the front entrance of the fully collapsed house moved behind her.
The front door of the collapsed house was kicked open from the ground.
“Pardon my intrusion!!”
She ducked through the entrance and onto the floor and she accelerated toward Gin’s back as the girl tried to turn around.
…I will defeat her!!
That girl had a certain conviction. She believed that only she, the wife, could save her husband.
Cutting down a completely unique conviction was not easy.
It could not be done without going all out and Futayo needed to settle this in an instant.
To put it another way…
…I cannot let anything be lost!
Whoever the enemy was, Futayo’s master had cried at a loss and told her to stop any future losses.
She wielded Tonbokiri’s tip and the meter-long base it was attached to.
She dashed around to Gin’s right side and swung down the blade with her left arm.
From behind, she severed Gin’s false arm at the right shoulder.
And as she rushed from Gin’s right side to her front left side, she passed Tonbokiri to her right hand, rotated it down and behind her, and then swung it upwards.
She felt the blow land and sever Gin’s left false arm from the armpit and through the shoulder.
As Futayo leaned forward and looked back below her arm, she saw the two false arms fly through the air.
Gin lost control of the two Arcabuz Cruz, so they slowly but surely fell to the floor.
When Futayo heard that dull sound, she took a few more steps and slid to a stop.
Behind her, the house could not withstand its own weight and further collapsed on top of the main road.
With her back to all that destruction, Gin slowly went limp and fell to her knees.
Futayo stood up while listening to the quiet creaking and sounds of falling objects that could be called the lingering remnants of the collapse.
She took a breath.
Her entire body felt heavy. It was the loss of tension more than exhaustion that horribly dulled her speed.
She honestly felt sleepy and wondered if she would be able to rouse herself in time to save her comrades on the next battlefield.
To do that, she moved her heavy body and walked over to pick up Tonbokiri’s shaft.
Just as she grabbed it from where it had landed near the back entrance and placed it on Tonbokiri, she realized her mind had grown sharp.
She wondered why, but there was only one reason: she had heard two solid sounds behind her.
The two metal cases on Gin’s shoulders had fallen to the floor.
That alone was not worth questioning. It was not hard to see why they would slip down once the false arms bearing them had been severed.
But as Futayo turned around, she distinctly saw the cases open from the shock of the fall.
They resembled human arms, but they were technically not. The connections of the muscles were black and cross emblems were embedded at the shoulders. They moved up alongside Gin’s shoulders and rotated the connection shafts themselves to attach themselves.
And the instant they had connected, the crosses on the shoulders glowed red.
The fingers moved. They did so wildly at first, but soon they softened and formed fists.
Gin spoke quietly.
“This is what happens when I try new things.”
The short girl slowly gathered strength in her knees and stood.
But she was not all that rose. The pulsating light in the crosses on her shoulders caused the large false arms on either side to float up into the air and the Arcabuz Crus were brought with them.
On top of that, her new arms drew something out of empty air.
They were a third and fourth Arcabuz Cruz, but they were longer and larger than the previous ones. Even the larger false arms holding them from behind were not even half their length.
She now had a total of four cannons floating in the air and her new arms grabbed the cross swords.
“Honestly,” said Gin once more. “I never thought I would have to use equipment equivalent to when Master Muneshige defeated me.”
Futayo’s question received a quiet laugh in reply.
“Don’t tell me you thought what I was using just now was the same as back then. These are my arms. At the time, I still had my original arms and I controlled the large false arms and the Arcabuz Cruz using the gravitational control device installed in the cross swords.”
She took a breath.
“This is meant for a swift and decisive battle, so my father and Master Muneshige restricted me from using this equipment, but I was right to bring them now so I would have no regrets. I never thought I would use them against another human again.”
She raised her head and revealed a smile on her face and tears spilling from her eyes.
“Tear into her, Cuatro Cruz.”
After those words, a section of Tama exploded.
She used the extension device to jump to the roof of the house behind the collapsed one.
But after she landed, she next demanded that her body run.
The roof exploded. And it did not happen just once or twice. While she tried to run counterclockwise along the roofs surrounding the collapsed house, the set of four drum-like shells crashed into them.
She was pursued by an uninterrupted series of cannon blasts.
She jumped from roof to roof as she ran.
She was keeping ahead of Gin’s rotation, so she thought she was safe.
Once she reached the road, she would find the wreckage of the collapsed house. It no longer retained the shape of a house, but it had walls and columns. Those might be meaningless against the shells, but they would hide her from Gin’s vision.
She ran along the roofs and toward the main road.
And just as her foot was going to step on the edge of the final roof, Gin placed her right hand on the back of the small Arcabuz Cruz to the right.
Firing the cannon outwards created leftward recoil that accelerated her rotation toward Futayo.
And that was not all. She raised her left knee while rotating, placed the leg on the large Arcabuz Cruz on the left, and forcibly rotated it even faster.
The muzzle was going to catch up to her and fire, so Futayo made a split second decision.
The Arcabuz Cruz down below was blocked by the roof so her blade could not reach it, but she was cutting something else.
…The edge of the roof!
With a slicing sound, the edge of the roof she was to step on slipped down.
As soon as her diagonal cut created a gap, she rotated as if throwing herself forward and she sent her body into that gap. An instant later, Gin’s shell flew by her back near her butt. If she had continued to run, it would have hit her waist.
She forcefully extended her left leg in midair to distort her rotation and thus alter the timing of her landing. She used her now elliptical trajectory to give herself the time needed to lift her body upwards. She landed precisely when her center of gravity was not shifted too far down.
She looked forward from her crawling stance and saw the wreckage of the house.
Gin was still rotating toward her after firing toward the roof.
Having fired diagonally upwards, the gun would have recoiled back into the ground, especially with the larger Arcabuz Cruz. The giant cross cannon would prevent her from rotating any further.
And so Futayo charged forward. She stayed low in order to hide behind what remained of the house’s walls. Once Gin turned toward her, she would not immediately see her.
Meanwhile, she could see the large Arcabuz Cruz extending diagonally above the wall. Even if Gin did target her, she could determine the shell’s trajectory as long as she could see the cannon’s movements. So…
…I will win!
Something was different about this opponent.
Perhaps it was that she was oddly insistent on victory.
Futayo was the same, but she focused exclusively on defeating her opponent.
However, this opponent was somehow different and Futayo did not know what it was.
But despite not knowing, she continued on.
She would defeat her. That was all she could do, so she would do it. She twisted the tip of her big toe into the collapsed straw roof as if to run up a vertical surface, but this was on a horizontal surface.
And she ran.
She had already activated her acceleration spell.
She had speed, so she continued on.
But she saw something.
The large Arcabuz Cruz up and to the left was rotating her way. It would not arrive in time to target her, but Gin’s arm suddenly stretched toward the sky beyond the wall.
Gin placed the back of one small Arcabuz Cruz against the front of the large one.
“Here I go.”
With those words, she fired and the large one was pushed so it rotated toward Futayo.
However, Futayo determined even that was not enough. She had made her way in even closer than the barrel of the gun. She knew she would win if she continued like this, so she accelerated.
But an instant later, the small Arcabuz Cruz fired again which created new motion.
The large Arcabuz Cruz acted as a high-speed strike from the side that destroyed the house Futayo ran through.
To Futayo, this was like a giant blow from the left.
…Are the large Arcabuz Cruz not meant as guns?
“Are they striking weapons with cannons installed!?”
Futayo realized they were meant for attacking fortresses.
Their shells and physical strikes could pierce the defense spells of a fortress’s outer walls and gates.
But she also realized what former Peerless in the West Tachibana Dousetsu, a man with the same level of skill as her father, had given and taught his daughter.
…Those weapons may be made to attack fortresses, but she is using them to protect the fortress that is herself!!
She was protecting the name Tachibana.
She was not the same as Futayo who had been given the freedom to choose whether she would inherit the name.
While Futayo went to battle to compete for victory, this girl had lived a life where loss was unacceptable.
Is that why? wondered Futayo as she blocked the blow with Tonbokiri’s shaft.
She identified the difference she had felt in this opponent.
…It is rejection!
This was not two people who desired battle lifting each other to greater heights in their exchange of blows.
When Gin fought, it was a girl who had trained all on her own rejecting any who approached her.
All this time, she had continued firing yet not hit, carried out many forced movements, and persistently evaded and attacked, but those things were not being done with defeating her opponent as her top priority. Her countless and unending attacks were meant to do something else.
…Her attacks fill in the gaps to create the fortress walls!
That thought was immediately followed by a blow from the left.
It came in from the side to scoop her up and knock her into the air, but in the instant of impact, she pulled back the arm guarding with Tonbokiri and absorbed the force. She then forcefully extended that arm.
With a breath, she jumped on her own.
She rotated once in midair and landed in a side road to the right of the main road. She stood in front of the building to the right of the collapsed house.
She tried to raise her stance while landing, but two shadows arrived from overhead.
The two large Arcabuz Cruz fell as if being swung by the two false arms.
The two muzzles lined up directly in front of her. She tried to evade to the right or left, but the small Arcabuz Cruz had already lined up alongside them so they could fire and cut off her escape.
…I have nowhere to go!
Just as she instinctually tensed her body, she heard a voice from beyond the muzzles.
“Tear into her!”
The cannons fired.
Gin watched as the two large Arcabuz Cruz fired directly ahead.
However, she saw the spear-wielding female warrior throw herself forward to charge headfirst into the large Arcabuz Cruz.
It looked like suicide, but the small Arcabuz Cruz prevented her from evading to the left, right, or above and she did not have enough time to crouch down.
In that case, her choice was the best possible one. After all…
…This blast is…
Both of the large Arcabuz Cruz were solid enough to use as striking weapons.
When they were placed side by side, the thickness of barrels doubled in the center.
That was why the female warrior leaned forward and placed her head between the muzzles.
The roars and shells passed by either side of her head and her tied black hair came loose and flew through the air. And beyond that black hair dancing in the night, the opposite house burst.
Gin then saw the look on Honda Futayo’s face. This evasion had clearly been perfectly natural for her. She then tried to grab the large Arcabuz Cruz with her hands.
Gin had the large false arms pull back the large Arcabuz Cruz and had the small Arcabuz Cruz fire.
Meanwhile, the black hair leaped toward the road to the right.
Gin turned. She used the push of the small Arcabuz Cruz and of her own right leg to quickly turn the cannons. She pursued and fired on Futayo who jumped into the air and circled around on the roofs and side roads.
They made three rotations.
Gin spun her own body as the axis of rotation in the center of the roaring, the shaking, the wind, the moonlight, and everything else. After one more light spin of her body, she looked around.
Nothing above waist height remained for fifty meters around her.
Nothing, that is, except for a single standing figure. It stood beyond a row of collapsed houses with the main road to their right. And that figure was rushing directly toward her.
Oh, thought Gin. This girl had me destroy the city so I would create a direct line for her to accelerate down.
The shells fired with those words were easily evaded by Futayo as she charged onwards.
She has guts, thought Gin.
…Did she have me fire at extreme close range earlier in order to dispel her fear?
She most likely had. What she had assumed were cannons had been used as striking weapons. To rid her of her hesitation and to rethink her tactics, she had come to learn the large Arcabuz Cruz’s attack at close range.
Gin found this opponent unbelievable. Fighting was a dangerous thing to someone with an inherited name. Muneshige was proof of that. He was going to lose his name, his relationship with Gin, and many other things.
And so Gin did not want to fight if she could avoid it. And yet…
That quiet thought came to her.
Gin had once fought a certain young man several times.
When her father had first handed her a wooden sword and told her to fight the young man, she had thought the following.
…Why do I have to fight someone so obviously weak?
And he had been weak. He had been knocked down without even lasting a few strikes.
Afterwards, her father had informed her that he was the student working part-time as the local mailman.
She had been confused why she had fought someone like that. After all, he had been tall and the colors his hair and eyes had been different from what she was used to. Also, he had talked a lot. She had honestly found him creepy. That feeling had changed to hatred once her father had told her he wished to inherit the name Muneshige.
Someone completely different from her would become her husband.
She had felt as if her father had betrayed her. She had seen it as a selfish plan between men.
And her hatred and suspicion had made her harsher than usual. She had broken his ribs and other bones several times. But after a week, he had arrived more calmly. He had apparently inherited the name of the leader of the postal system and he had started earning significant amounts of money, so he had said he could be defeated as many times as it took.
Gin had feared sullying her name and did not like to fight for fear of losing her inherited name, so why would this person so readily throw himself into that position?
Eventually, the wooden sword had been replaced with a metal pole and then a real sword and his wounds had grown more severe.
However, she had gradually come to understand something.
His methods of attack and evasion were similar to hers.
But even so, he had been unable to win. When he had started thinking after a certain loss, she had said the following to him.
…You cannot defeat me by being the same as me. After all, our bodies and builds are different.
Thinking back, she realized she had given him the answer there.
He had started to learn attacks that used acceleration spells and mastered the fundamentals of combat from her example.
Once the most she could manage was to endure his attacks, she decided to bring it to an end.
…I tried to go all out and reject him.
Even while injured, he had calmly charged forward. When she had sent the strike that would bring it to an end, what was it she had said to him?
…I told him to “watch out”.
But he had surpassed her expectations. He had evaded the attack, severed her arms, and embraced her bloodstained body. He had brought his embracing hands to the stumps of her shoulders and pressed in to stop the bleeding. She vividly remembered the clawing sensation of his fingers directly embracing her nerves and bone.
Whenever she removed her false arms and had him embrace her with his hands sticking into the connectors, it would all come back to her.
She would lose all strength, but she would feel the overwhelming relief of someone embracing the core of her being.
It was a dependence that gave everything over to that feeling of being protected.
She wondered why he had continued to battle her.
She had never asked and she was still too afraid to do so.
Not knowing brought anxiety and so she had targeted his life many times afterwards, but he had calmly accepted it all. When she had served him poison, she had assumed he would resent her and leave, but he had gone right ahead and eaten it. When she had frantically nursed him back to health afterwards, she had once more realized that she was completely hopeless.
When she thought back, she indeed remembered an odd student who worked part-time as a mailman.
She had always stayed at her house to protect her inherited name and preserve the name of Tachibana the Peerless in the West, but this odd person had always given her a greeting and a smile. The background behind him had always been filled with what lay beyond the Tachibana gate and walls: the cherry blossoms, the sea, the autumn forest, and the snowy plains. But she had never imagined he would grab her hand and take her to see those things.
Someone had severed the connection between them and she now fired on that individual.
She sent out her rejection by firing again and again.
Futayo forcibly moved forward.
Merely evading was no longer enough, but she could not defend. The most she could do was deflect, but Tonbokiri would not last with any normal method.
And so she thought.
…Someone once defeated this enemy!
That was Tachibana Muneshige, but how had he done so?
She had a hint. During their encounter, he had used a Logismoi Óplo taking the form of a large sword. And now Gin was using two cross swords. In that case, the sword was likely the common weapon between the two of them.
If she assumed her speed and evasive ability was equivalent to Muneshige’s, she knew he had to have deflected these shells just as she was having to. So how had he done it?
…Was this it!?
She jabbed Tonbokiri’s shaft toward the flying shell at a shallow downward angle.
The impact rang through her hands and the shell tore into the surface of the shaft, but it was deflected upwards.
This was the same principle used in angled armor. In other words, deflecting diagonally was better than receiving it head on.
…Just like Adele-dono!!
And as she received the shell, she realized something.
…This is most likely how Muneshige-dono defeated her!!
She looked to Gin’s cross swords.
She had two swords on either side for a total of four and Futayo knew what that number meant.
She shouted as she charged in at around fifteen meters away.
“You have such wonderful love between husband and wife!!”
The enemy charged swiftly in directly ahead of Gin.
It was difficult to target that position with the cannons on either side because aiming at the absolute center would cause the shells to collide.
That was why Gin shifted the large Arcabuz Cruz so they lined up vertically along the center and then fired.
This allowed the large Arcabuz Cruz to fall back using their own recoil while Futayo moved toward one of the small Arcabuz Cruz on the left or right. Gin also had the large Arcabuz Cruz push her back.
The cannon fire shook the air, but the dancing black hair moved to the right from Gin’s perspective.
She was fast, but the small Arcabuz Cruz on the right was already targeting her.
But just before it fired, Gin saw the girl raise her right arm.
It was Tonbokiri’s dismantled shaft. It created six pieces when dismantled and she connected and extended two of them.
As soon as the small Arcabuz Cruz fired, she threw it deep down the weapon’s barrel.
By the time Gin realized what had happened, she had already fired.
The small Arcabuz Cruz on the right burst into flames and exploded.
She had lost one of her cannons, but it was clear what she needed to do.
She placed the end of the other small cannon on the left side of one of the larger ones and produced a sideways strike at the female warrior.
She fired while falling back further. Only the bottom one of the two vertically aligned Arcabuz Cruz gained the acceleration from the left, so a giant sweeping motion attempted to strike Futayo from the waist down.
However, the girl made a quick jump.
She jumped between the large Arcabuz Cruz that opened like a pair of scissors and she tried to slip through to the left.
Gin lowered the upper Arcabuz Cruz as if sending a punch.
However, it would not lower.
She saw two of the spear shaft parts standing below the large Arcabuz Cruz as supports. They bent under the weight and finally broke near the center.
However, Futayo had already circled around to her left.
But Gin was prepared for a counterattack.
She would fire the remaining small Arcabuz Cruz while falling back. They were not as close as when the other one had been destroyed, so even if Futayo attempted to throw the shaft into the barrel, it would not travel far enough and would be blasted right back out.
But the enemy threw the shaft regardless.
That idiot, thought Gin just before realizing something: the pieces of Tonbokiri’s extending shaft were all of different thicknesses.
Before, she had thrown the thinnest portion that was located near the back of the spear.
…But this is a thicker portion near the front!
The shaft travelled only a little bit into the barrel and Gin had already fired.
But Futayo let out a cry and used all of her strength to turn that shaft.
The movement of the shaft twisted and changed the aim of the small Arcabuz Cruz it was sticking into.
The weapon now targeted the large Arcabuz Cruz that was not moving after having just fallen to the ground.
The shell tore apart the shaft from the inside, but it also tore into the armor on the side of the large Arcabuz Cruz. It did not destroy the other weapon. It simply tore off a large chunk of its armor. However, the weapon’s security temporarily locked it down in case the impact would cause a malfunction.
Futayo used that opening to move straight toward Gin as she continued to fall back.
But Gin had not stopped the large Arcabuz Cruz that had spun around to sweep out Futayo’s legs.
As the weapon rotated in midair, it attempted to target Futayo.
But something flew from behind Futayo’s left shoulder with even greater speed. It was now only the base and the foremost portion of the shaft.
A sound of cutting filled the air and the rotating Arcabuz Cruz was split into a top and bottom half.
And it exploded.
Gin reacted as Futayo continued her swing of Tonbokiri and charged in.
Not even she knew who she was speaking to as she swung the two cross swords toward Futayo.
Futayo continued on. As Gin swung down her left arm, Futayo slipped straight under it.
The twin blades came to strike her, but she threw Tonbokiri’s shaft after swinging it around backhanded
That was the sixth and final piece.
The hollow shaft caught one of the swords inside it.
Futayo then grabbed the shaft to grab the sword and swung Tonbokiri.
At the exact moment that the twin swords on the right were sliced in two from guard to hilt, Futayo ran behind Gin and circled around.
Gin turned around and swung the other pair of swords in a backhand blow.
It was a swift strike, but Futayo had predicted it. This opponent constantly attacked as a form of rejection.
…So Muneshige-dono must have predicted this attack as well!!
With perfect aim, Futayo jabbed Tonbokiri into the top blade of the cross sword.
She pierced right through the blade.
With a sound of scraping, the twin swords reverted to a single sword and Futayo leaped high into the air with a forward flip.
She jumped over the single sword’s backhand strike and used the momentum of her flip as she landed.
She rotated her spear and broke the final remaining sword.
…That does it.
All of Gin’s weapons had been taken from her.
Most likely, thought Futayo as she circled around in front of Gin. Most likely, the flow of battle was similar when Muneshige defeated her.
Gin used two cross swords, but those four swords were enough to neutralize the four Arcabuz Cruz. Muneshige’s acceleration spell could be used over short distances, so he would have been able to drive in the swords more efficiently than she had.
…And I used my cutting power for the final strike, but Muneshige-dono must have used a burst of his full strength.
He would have had to bring himself to his limits, much like when he had kicked off the air.
And now, Gin stood unarmed before her.
Futayo wondered what to do, but…
She once more accelerated toward the girl.
Not good, thought Gin as she saw Futayo approach. I am going to lose at this rate.
But this was not her loss.
…It is Master Muneshige’s loss!
She recalled that precious time when her arms had been severed.
But if someone other than him severed these false arms that were made from her original arms…
…This girl would be on the same level as him.
And so she made a certain decision as her single means of resistance.
An instant later, her arms flew through the air.
Futayo stopped moving.
She stood one meter in front of Gin.
Everything had come to a halt and she was stopped while crouched down and breathing shallowly.
In front of her, Gin’s arms fell to the ground as if being placed there.
They had not been severed. The girl had dropped them herself.
She lowered her head and her bangs hid her expression, but…
“This is my…”
She fell to her knees and then the broken stone rang out as her hips fell to the ground, but she reworded her statement.
“I have lost.”
Futayo nodded and straightened up. She took a breath and realized what Gin’s words and actions meant.
…I did not reach Muneshige-dono’s level.
Her father had not taught her to cut someone who had no weapon or power, but Muneshige had once severed her arms when she had held no weapons. However, that had not been an inhuman act. Regardless of what Futayo’s father had taught her, Muneshige had determined that Gin herself was a weapon.
I doubt that has changed, thought Futayo.
But Gin had cast that aside at the last moment and Futayo thought she knew why.
…Could she not cast aside what Muneshige-dono had taught her?
In that case, victory here more or less went to Tachibana Muneshige.
But what would it mean to say that?
Futayo knew what loss meant for one with an inherited name. Her father had often ignored Ii and Sakakibara when they had asked what he would do if he lost his inherited name. The man had always thrown the other men into the canal afterwards, but Mikawa’s rules did not apply in most places.
And in order to use her right as victor in a way that did not dishonor the loser, Futayo gave a shout.
“The enemy commander, Tachibana Gin, has been defeated!!”
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