Horizon:Volume 2 Chapter 07
Chapter 07: Creators on the Battlefield
When one creates
Does one build up?
Or does one shave away?
Point Allocation (Molding)
Naruze questioned the sudden shaking and weight that came down from above.
…What kind of spell is this!?
The pressure from above had to be some kind of spell. Naruze’s pen was a spell focusing device as well as the summoning device for the Weiss Fräulein which was her spell tool as a Technohexen, but the Orei Metallo on the tip of the pen was dyed in red light. That meant the pen’s ether analysis defense spell had automatically activated.
While the others collapsed to the ground or to their knees, Naruze resisted the pressure and thought about the enemy’s spell.
What was this weight she felt?
Some power was affecting her as if pressing down from above. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see those behind her collapsed or kneeling, but one fact held true for all of them.
…Their hips fell first, so they landed on their knees.
She then focused on the pressure she felt on her own shoulders, head, and wings.
“Gravity has not been increased. Is every surface facing the heavens being ‘crushed’ from directly above!?”
As if affirming that analysis, the four British students other than Shakespeare stepped forward.
Naruze folded her wings to either side to divert the burden on her back to the left and right.
“Everyone, stand as vertically as you can! If you cannot manage standing, kneel on both knees and straighten your back! Focus on using incantation spells! Aim any projectiles above their heads!”
As she spoke, the weight only grew.
What kind of spell affects an entire area like this? wondered Naruze as she looked forward.
The four standing before her showed no sign of bearing the weight. However…
“God’s divine protection.”
Cecil was floating. Her arms were extended to the side and she lightly swayed in the wind.
“It can’t be…”
Naruze felt the pressure increase and Cecil floated up even further, so Naruze shouted out.
“That woman is ‘handing out’ her weight, isn’t she!?”
“Testament,” said Dudley with a nod. “H-historically, William Cecil was the queen’s Secretary of State and her good friend, but the stress of being envied and his hard work led him to regularly overeat. He became mocked as England’s representative of obesity. H-his may be an honored position, but the men backed away due to the dishonorable treatment. That is why she, England’s greatest competitive eater, was recommended. Her ability is…”
The lipstick-colored lips on that withered face formed a crescent moon. At the same moment, Cecil spoke in a chirping voice from over a meter above the deck.
“The wealthy should give alms to the needy.”
“No, thank you!” shouted Naruze.
Dudley moved forward while holding her right palm out in front. Her footsteps rang loudly as she moved closer.
“Oh-oh-oh dear. How can this fallen angel say that when she is so n-n-n-needy. Especially in the chest. Y-you should at least accept the weight any normal woman would have. Or is that enough to make you unsteady?”
“Kh! Th-that doesn’t matter!” Naruze raised her voice as her entire body trembled under the great pressure. “And I can embrace Margot and bury my face in her chest like this, so it’s perfect if there’s a little extra room here!”
As Innocentius listened to the voices picked up by the Hexagone Française broadcast committee’s parabolic microphone, he wordlessly closed the sign frame and turned to Galileo behind him.
“Okay, let’s get to Pisa like we planned. I bet we’ll scare some people throwing those balls down. Hm?”
“You need to grow at least somewhat accustomed to Musashi’s performance style, former boy.”
Back on the transport ship, everyone turned toward Naito as they focused on Shinagawa via sign frame or sight.
“Oh, my,” said Naito while scratching at her head. She put on her usual smile and said, “I can’t exactly bury her face in my chest even if she embraces me, so we don’t do that.”
“Y-yes, of course. Y-you do not do that, right?” said Mitotsudaira who was unsure what to say.
Naito nodded and said, “Right. It’s impossible with clothes on, so we don’t even try.”
“You mean you do it while naked!?”
Naito tried to laugh off everyone’s comment, lightly embraced her broom, and stared forward. Her eyes narrowed as she looked toward Shinagawa which was still wrapped in mist.
“But Ga-chan looks pretty irritated. I hope she doesn’t do anything reckless. She can get really, really reckless when she does.”
With an instantaneous movement, Naruze threw a new water bottle. She “replayed” the spell from before and threw it once more, but it required over twice the ether because the defensive spell protecting her from the pressure was still active.
She targeted Dudley who was now less than ten meters away. It was a short distance, but the weight caused the bottle’s trajectory to drop. Naruze had aimed well above the woman, but it flew toward her stomach.
“How reliable. According to our information, you are from M.H.R.R. and you certainly have that feel to you.”
As she spoke, Dudley’s opened right hand flew.
Immediately afterwards, a sound of impact was followed by a steam explosion.
However, something odd happened around Dudley’s right palm.
“You repelled the explosion!?”
It had been a casual action. She had swept her hand as if sweeping trash from a desk and the explosion itself had been pushed away from her palm just like a piece of trash.
The explosive noise was repelled and Dudley and the other three were unharmed.
Naruze, however, shouted into the steam explosion which was brushed to the side.
“Is that the ‘Repel’ Testament Sign!?”
“Y-y-y-yes,” rang Dudley’s voice. “We are to brush aside any difficulty.”
I see, thought Naruze.
This was the ability to repel any power, but all it could do was repel. To use it as an attack, it had to be slammed into the floor or wall with a quick snap. The burden from Cecil was of course meant to hold their enemy down, but it would also automatically slam that enemy to the ground if Dudley merely knocked them to the side.
…So if these two are working together…
“Qu-quite the clever fallen angel, aren’t you?” muttered Dudley, cutting off Naruze’s thoughts. “A-a-anyway, w-w-we don’t have time, so let’s keep this short. I wanted to show I could make it through without using this. I had hoped to be praised by Her Majesty the Queen, but at this rate, I will not even be praised for stopping Musashi.”
She held her left hand up so it crossed her right hand. That left hand was decorated with a hard object.
“Th-this is one of England’s Testamenta Arma, the great gauntlet Brachium Justitia – Vetus.”
Naruze saw a giant silver gauntlet on Dudley’s left hand. It was wrapped in bluish-white light in a pattern that resembled feathers and that light trailed after the gauntlet as it moved. A few crosses contained in boxes appeared on its surface and it wholeheartedly worked to make its presence known. Finally, Dudley raised the gauntlet in front of her chest.
“Wh-wh-wh-what do you think of this? One of England’s Testamenta Arma is pretty r-rare, don’t you think? And the power granted by the Brachium Justitia – Vetus is…” She pointed the gauntlet toward the floor. “…remote control of the battlefield’s weapons. As a Testamenta Arma, its effective range is not as large as a Logismoi Oplo, but it still works over several dozen meters.”
As Dudley, spoke, Naruze heard countless noises.
Many archers around her had been crushed under Cecil’s weight and they had all held bows and arrows.
…They’re turning toward me!?
“Do you get it now?” said Dudley. “R-r-r-right now, you are a hostage.”
The word “humiliation” floated up in Naruze’s gut. She heard the straining of drawn bows behind her as well as the voices of those holding the bows.
They could not let go of their weapons. Out of the corner of her eye, Naruze saw everyone moving to take aim. And it was not just the bows. The spears, swords, and everything else were pointed her way as well.
One person allowed Cecil’s weight to crush her down onto her bow. However…
…It’s still aiming this way and she can’t let go?
Several female students allowed themselves to collapse, but they grimaced when they realized their bows and arrows were being drawn even tighter than before. They gave anguished groans and shed tears.
“N-Naruze-sama, I-I’m sorry! What am I supposed to do if I end up killing you!? Then you couldn’t draw any more of ‘Asama-sama Shoots’ featuring Asama-sama and Suzu-sama!”
“What!? Whaaat!?” said Asama over a sign frame. “Why Suzu-san and me!? I thought Naruze only drew guys!”
“The guys are my trade. This is for the money.”
“No, it isn’t.”
That final comment may have been spoken using male language, but the voice belonged to a girl.
Behind Jonson, Shakespeare sat in her white coat and with her backpack sitting next to her. She spoke with her face buried in a paperback novel.
“Malga Naruze. You aren’t the type to create something for money.”
Naruze heard clear-toned male language come from Shakespeare’s lips.
“Malga Naruze, you are the head of Musashi Ariadust’s manga research club and have gone by the penname of Black Hair & Wings. You use romances that transcend gender to illustrate your primary theme of physical interactions being a means of accomplishing mental interactions. That theme has not wavered whether the characters are original or based on real people. In other words, drawing people regardless of their gender is your Fides.”
Naruze began to mentally sweat as Shakespeare began reading once more without even looking over at her. This sensation could be described as a slight chill, and there was a good reason for it.
…Black Hair & Wings was my penname in elementary school.
“Oh, right,” said Shakespeare as if she had just remembered something. “I pray you will eventually be able to draw the perfect form of your Fides that uses you and your partner as the model.”
Naruze felt herself give a hard gulp.
…I hadn’t even told Naito I wanted to draw that someday!
Naruze felt something a bit different than simply having a secret exposed. This was something she had not told anyone. It could only have been read in the foreshadowing of what she was doing with her current works.
Naruze did not know if this was her opponent’s intention, but she felt this was a method of “unbalancing” her. And so Naruze spoke into the sign frame which had opened near her face.
“Asama, how about we make a virtual experience doujinshi using spells? By using coordinate gravitational control, we could even manipulate things inside people while not hurting them. And if you have a partner, it could be made mutual.”
“Sh-shrine maidens don’t do that kind of thing.”
“Don’t be stupid. That’s why you make it an unofficial doujinshi. Asama, listen to my speech carefully: If you join, you can start with things that are more elementary. And as a club, you can make the excuse that it’s part of school. We’ll make sure to give you a grand entrance. You can learn a lot and it will make a nice break from the shrine and all its ceremony.” Naruze gave a small smile. “I know. How about we call it ‘What I Want to Do’?”
The sign frame silently disappeared. Meanwhile, Dudley stopped at five meters away.
She looked over and sighed.
“I-I-I see your pointless chatting is over. In that case, I have a demand for Musashi’s officers and student council.”
With a smile on the corner of her mouth, Dudley opened that mouth. Instead of looking toward Naruze, she turned her sharp gaze toward Okutama in the distance.
“A-a-a-acknowledge that Musashi is now under England’s full control.”
Place Musashi under England’s control.
Naruze’s mind jumped up at those words.
…Don’t be ridiculous!!
However, she also heard something else. Some solid mass struck the deck to her right.
At the bottom of her vision, she saw one of the water bottles she carried for spells. It was meant to be made into a steam bomb, but it should have been nothing but a water bottle as long as she did not put a spell on it.
But something was wrong.
She frowned as the water inside the bottle began to bubble.
…It’s started to boil!?
Before she could wonder why, Jonson shrugged beyond Dudley. He took a light step and the printing incantation device installed in his shoe printed a letter.
However, this letter was not printed on the deck. It was driven into the air and was wrapped in ether light.
This was a spell.
He leaped into the air, swung his arms to his chest, and lightly spun a full 360 degrees.
“Heat dances through the water while its heart is trapped in a cage.”
As he spoke, he typed the same words into the air using the soles of his shoes and the number of bubbles in the bottle increased. Jonson landed and spoke without typing the words.
“You, what did you think of the athlete poet’s poem to the spirits? I cannot do it in a single second like your spell, but it should explode in…let’s say thirty seconds. So…”
The sounds of bows being tightly drawn grew louder around Naruze. The bowstrings started to sound metallic.
And Dudley’s trembling voice could be heard over the straining of the bows.
“S-surrender, students of Musashi. Wh-wh-wh-what is it? I thought the students of Musashi Ariadust made an enemy of the Testament Union to protect a single princess. …Your primary defender is now our hostage. So what kind of performance is this?”
Dudley held up her gauntlet and raised her eyebrows slightly.
“W-will the leaders of this academy abandon one of their own?”
However, Naruze heard an immediate response.
“C’mon, c’mon. Don’t look down on us like that, ladies. We haven’t abandoned her.”
This voice came from a new sign frame.
“M-M-Musashi’s chancellor and president, Aoi Toori!” cried Dudley with a frown. “Wh-why are you naked!?”
Dudley saw the naked boy displayed in the pagan sign frame.
He looked at her with his arms folded, but Musashi’s vice president and vice chancellor could be seen behind him retying a rope around his neck. The naked boy looked back at the two girls.
“Eh? Hey! What are you two doing this time!? I’m not gonna run away!”
“Shut up. We don’t want you wandering around and being a bother while we’re busy rescuing people. And we can’t have you doing anything to Horizon while she’s unconscious. At any rate, hurry up and say what you have to say.”
“Chehh,” muttered the naked boy below his breath. He then frowned toward Dudley. “Well? Um… What is it you want? Hurry up and tell me.”
“Y-you contacted me!!” shouted Dudley as she felt somewhat dizzy.
…Ah, my chronic high blood pressure.
Her excessively low weight gave her somewhat high blood pressure, so she tried to avoid getting too angry. She could handle slow-going types like Cecil, but not everyone was like that in reality.
Lucky for them, I am a very helpful woman, she thought.
“I-I was asking if you are willing to abandon your friend.”
“Eh? Oh, don’t worry about that. Listen up, okay?”
Just as he struck a pose, the vice president tied the rope to the deck railing behind him and tugged twice to make sure it would not come loose.
“The way I see it…kh!? The way…keh!? Are you not going to let me speak!?”
“Eh? Oh, sorry, sorry. I’m done. You can talk now.”
“O-okay! In that case, listen up!”
“Oh, it has come loose over there, Masazumi,” cut in the vice chancellor.
“As I was saying, I…gh! I…kh! …Keh!? Did you have to pull it a third time!?”
The Weiss Hexen fallen angel visible beyond the sign frame nodded twice. She turned toward Dudley with the ends of her eyebrows lowered in a look of pity.
“Don’t talk to him too much or you’ll catch his stupidity.”
“Don’t lie, Naruze! You can’t catch that just from talking to me! Touching me is a different story, though!” The naked boy took a Y-shaped pose of protest, but soon got back on topic. “Listen. I’ll never abandon anyone! You can count on that!”
“What? Really, Aoi? Even if it was Tenzou?”
“Wh-what kind of question is that, Masazumi-dono!? Your personality really has taken a turn for the worse lately!”
“Calm down, calm down.”
The boy in the Y-shaped pose and Musashi’s vice president restrained the ninja with their hands.
“Whatever’s going on in Musashi, the Far East, or the world, I will never abandon anyone,” said the naked boy as he folded his arms. “And listen. Naruze there has more willpower than you think she does. At the very least, she isn’t the type to just let someone take her hostage.”
As those words left the sign frame, something happened.
The fallen angel in front of Dudley swung up her right hand.
…What is she trying to do!?
What did she hope to do against the arrows and the time bomb?
Dudley did not know what the fallen angel was doing, but there was nothing she could actually do. Dudley gave a command using Brachium Justitia – Vetus on her left hand. She instructed the arrows to shoot the girl.
She had already warned the girl, so it was the girl’s own fault for moving despite the warning.
And so Dudley let out a cry. She had already sent the command mentally, but vocalizing it seemed to drive the meaning home.
As soon as Dudley gave the command, she saw a bitter smile appear on the fallen angel’s lips.
“Too bad. I suppose I will be leaving now that I have exposed the abilities of three of you.”
The fallen angel spoke those words at almost the exact same moment as the arrows were fired behind her back.
Several dozen arrows flew to pierce that fallen angel’s body in an instant.
But something else arrived before those arrows. A line of light flew from the center of Musashi to their right. That white trailing ether light was…
No, it was a thick cylindrical arrow with the tip crushed down.
Wondering what it was, Dudley followed the line back to where the thick arrow had been fired. Her gaze moved faster than her body and she saw a female student standing atop the towing belt travelling between the front center ship and the second starboard ship.
She held a giant white bow that had just been fired.
“Th-th-th-the rumored sniper shrine maiden!”
“Who are you calling a sniper!?”
While taking her follow-through breath, Asama waited for the feedback of a hit.
She had accurately read location, distance, and the wind. The divine purification protection had successfully taken the arrow through the area ruled by Cecil’s gravitational burden and Dudley’s strange Testamenta Arma. She had gone to all this trouble for one reason.
…Blow Naruze away!
It had started with the divine transmission earlier. Naruze’s response had told Asama what she should do. The meaning had been hidden in Naruze’s speech.
…If you join, you can start with things that are more elementary. And as a club, you can make the excuse that it’s part of school. We’ll make sure to give you a grand entrance. You can learn a lot and it will make a nice break from the shrine and all its ceremony.
Without being told, Asama had known to take the last word of each sentence.
“The elementary school entrance ceremony!”
And Naruze had followed it up with the title “What I Want to Do”.
In that case, thought Asama.
There had been a few different people she had failed to shoot that day approximately twelve years ago. Naruze was one of them. If that was what Naruze wanted, this was a good chance to somewhat make up for her failure twelve years ago. And so Asama had prepared a non-penetrating anti-shock arrow.
“Hit!” she cried as white light exploded above Shinagawa.
Her arrow had crashed into Naruze.
The girl with six black wings was blasted to the starboard side.
The arrow burst the instant it struck and its light expanded with a pressure that pushed the girl out of the way. Due to Cecil’s weight, she did not float well, but she was still knocked a few dozen meters away.
She had wrapped her wings around herself in advance, but she still rolled quite a bit.
An instant later, the arrows flew into the spot she had just been in, but now their trajectory took them toward Dudley.
Just as Dudley’s cheeks bent in a frown, the steam bomb exploded in front of her.
The white steam hid the arrows and Dudley could not see for a moment.
However, the countless arrows instantly stabbed through the steam. They crossed paths at the spot Naruze had been in, but they continued on to Dudley.
Dudley therefore swung the Testamenta Arma on her left arm.
The command just barely arrived in time. Only a dozen or so centimeters in front of her, the arrows stabbed into the ground like a thicket with sharp leaves and branches.
However, it did not end there. Instead of breaking through the steam in front of Dudley, something with giant wings blew the steam away altogether.
“2nd Special Duty Kiyonari Urquiaga is here!”
A giant body covered in a blue and white exoskeleton charged toward Dudley.
Despite Cecil’s weight, the half-dragon charged forward while partly running and partly flying.
“I will give you a warm welcome, heretic!”
He held no weapon, so he faced Dudley simply by charging forward.
He filled the distance in no time at all, so Dudley did not have time to swing her right hand.
However, someone managed to move in that time.
“Mate, I hope this is not enough to give you trouble.”
Those words were accompanied by the movement of legs covered in white tights and thick shoes. Behind Dudley, Jonson instantly accelerated from a crouching start.
On his third step, Jonson swung his right leg up and struck the half-dragon’s right shoulder with the sole of the shoe.
“Express yourselves, oh words!”
The printing incantation devices on the bottoms of his feet wrote printed words in the air using light.
“As she stands still, oh wind, pass by her in human form!”
An attack that was not a restraint or a kick struck the half-dragon and knocked him to the left.
As a sound of impact rang out, Jonson landed and clenched his right fist.
Just as he spoke, a figure suddenly appeared before him. It was a boy who had jumped down from the half-dragon’s back.
With a calm look in his eyes, he carried a piece of squared lumber that could be used as a support.
“You are Noriki who defeated Professor Galileo, are you not!?”
“If you know who I am, why bother mentioning it?”
“I see,” said Jonson as he looked to the left.
There, he saw a certain sight. The half-dragon had used the momentum of being knocked away in order to pick up the black-winged girl who had rolled away earlier.
“I see. That charge was a decoy allowing you to rescue the Technohexen and transport a warrior.”
“I’m no warrior,” said the boy with a calm look in his eyes. “I’m a laborer.”
Naruze’s body was unsteady due to the impact and the tumble, so she could only watch the battlefield.
More in front of her than to the side was Urquiaga who stood between her and the British force. The 2nd special duty officer obstructed her view quite badly, but he made excellent cover. Naruze managed to stand up behind him.
“Well done getting here,” she commented.
“We could not have done it without you exposing their abilities.”
“Any more praise and I’m going to feel humiliated, so could you leave it at that?”
“I see Technohexen these days are terribly conceited.”
Urquiaga then moved forward. Naruze tried to follow, but…
Her wings felt heavy. She could feel heat in the flight muscles exclusive to winged races which were located on her shoulder blades and the lower portion of her trapezius, and she could not gather strength in them. She felt the same heat above her right knee and in the front lower portion of her shoulders.
Those muscles had been tense under the heavy burden of Cecil’s weight and the previous impact and tumble had caused that tension to collapse.
To make matters worse, that weight was still affecting her because she had not escaped its effective range. Each time she moved her body, that heat seemed to produce more weight, so she felt as if her body was hanging down from her bones.
Like this, I’m only in the way, she muttered in her heart.
Urquiaga seemed to understand how she felt because he moved forward without speaking a word.
The half-dragon loosely moved both shoulders around in a circle and took a large step toward the British force.
As Naruze watched, she took half a step back.
She felt a thick weight over her entire body below her inner suit, so she took another step back.
A few black feathers scattered as she moved away from the battlefield.
Even as she left the noises, movements, and wind of the battle, Naruze kept her back to the rear of the ship and made sure Naito could not see her.
She wiped the corner of her eye with the back of her right hand.
She could hear the sounds of the battle beginning once more.
The battle took the form of martial arts underneath extra weight.
Cecil floated and added that extra weight while Shakespeare was immersed in a book. Ahead of those two, Jonson and Dudley fought Noriki.
England’s goal was to stop Musashi and leave it unable to fight. Musashi’s goal was to stop England from doing so.
However, the situation would come to an end once Musashi entered its course around England.
“Just two more minutes! Please hold them off that long!” Masazumi’s voice filled Musashi via Mitotsudaira’s sign frame. “Once we begin circling England, Musashi can reach them! That will mean Trumps failed to keep England untouched. Even if they stop Musashi then, it won’t be a complete victory. Any further fighting will become a matter of pride rather than actual use!”
“You are giving meaning to this battlefield, aren’t you? Your words give different meaning to the situation and point the spotlight away from who wins and who loses,” said Jonson as he took a step away from Noriki, leaped lightly into the air, and wrote words as he spun around. “A very poetic method. There is more to a situation than what meets the eye. You retain the dignity for the ones who created this battlefield by betting on our win or loss, but rather than let those creators speak for themselves, you express that result with different words.”
He took a breath as he landed.
“Fly into the sky.”
The instant Jonson both finished typing his spell and landed, the large wooden container under his feet flew up.
Despite the extra weight being placed on the battlefield, the twenty meter tall container rose with ease.
Dudley then struck it with her open palm. With a sound of impact, the box spun around and flew through the air.
“How very light.”
The container fell to the deck and was smashed to pieces along with the furniture loaded inside.
Sounds of cracking and snapping wood rang out as the fragments flew into the air and disappeared. However, no one looked in that direction. All focus was on Dudley.
“C-c-c-can you see this?”
She held one of the arrows that had been fired and stabbed into the deck earlier. She held the arrow vertically over a cargo opening.
“Cecil. F-f-f-focus your ‘handing out’ on this.”
In the next moment, two things happened.
First, the weight bearing down on Shinagawa vanished for only an instant.
Second, the arrow in Dudley’s hand disappeared.
An intense vibration came from the bottom of the opening at her feet.
The ship shook as if jumping up and “Shinagawa” gave a ship-wide announcement.
“!? An unknown object of extreme weight has penetrated the fourth underground level!! The suspension frame and wide block #9 of levels 1, 2, and 3 have been damaged! Beginning native control to prevent secondary damages during cargo transport!” She took a breath. “I have determined this attack is very dangerous! Over!”
Everyone heard “Shinagawa’s” words that could be taken as surprise or a scream.
And in response, two members of the Musashi side stepped forward.
Noriki stepped forward to confront Jonson.
“Noriki, you handle that poet. I will take care of that floating gravity source,” said a voice to starboard.
A single giant form walked toward the battlefield. It was…
“The half-dragon from before?”
“Indeed. I am Kiyonari Urquiaga the Inquisitor.” He calmly walked through the weight bearing down on him. “I have two things to tell you. First, my ancestors were the race that explored high gravity areas. We have become a bit rare as a race, but we have not lost that ability. This much weight will have no effect on me. And second…”
Without nodding, Urquiaga pointed at Jonson.
“Men should not read poetry.”
The silence and motionless brought on by Urquiaga’s words was eventually broken by someone.
It was Dudley. She glanced over at Jonson and slowly nodded twice.
“S-s-s-sometimes his light, conceited style gets on my nerves. I’m left wondering what he is talking about.”
“Mate, wh-whose side are you on!?”
“I’m light, too,” added Cecil.
The weight suddenly increased and the deck lowered a bit. The wooden containers making up the deck were beginning to warp.
That weight was passed on to the ship’s frame, so Shinagawa creaked as the sides were pushed out from the center. The weight of course affected those on the deck as well.
Noriki fell to his knees, but held onto his piece of lumber to stay upright. However, Jonson was not affected by the weight, so he sighed and stared at Noriki.
“You are done for either way. We only have a little more than a minute left and that half-dragon’s endurance is a threat, but Cecil can provide more weight and Dudley can throw more arrows. So…”
“You – and I mean that as the plural ‘you’ – are done for.”
“I hope everyone is okay,” said Asama as Kimi walked up next to her on the thick rope passageway connecting the rear of Shinagawa to Musashino.
Kimi observed the warping of Shinagawa that was visible from outside and listened to the ship-wide announcement.
“During the age of the gods, half-dragons were modified as a race to survive in high gravity areas and on high gravity planets, right? They may be a rare race now, but they make an excellent trump card for moments like this.”
Kimi then tapped on Asama’s shoulder and wrapped her left arm under her own chest.
“More importantly, you have nothing to do here, so why don’t you go elsewhere?”
“Heh heh heh. As a sniper woman known on an international level, I know you want to shoot people left and right and make some victims bleed, but this is no longer a situation in which shooting will do any good. You need to leave.”
Asama initially wanted to deny most of that yet agree to the ultimate conclusion, but…
“You aren’t going to do anything, Kimi?” she asked instead.
She was essentially asking if Kimi did not want to help given the situation. However…
“No. I am a normal student, remember?” said Kimi casually as she looked toward Shinagawa. “Then again, so is Noriki. But I have no actual combat abilities. And…”
Kimi raised her right hand and placed the index finger on Asama’s forehead. Asama looked up slightly from beyond that finger.
“You are a shrine maiden, so you are not supposed to participate in combat either.”
“If you feel the need to do something and force yourself to take part, you will only make things more painful later. In your current state, my foolish brother and the others are hesitant to include you in combat. A proper woman should not force herself into the middle of it all where she will accomplish nothing. Try inviting them over to you without trying to win their favor.”
“I-I’m not forcing myself into-…”
“Don’t bother lying.”
Kimi forcibly cut her off. Asama tried to resist, but she realized growing stubborn would not help.
“You miss out on a lot being a shrine maiden,” lamented Asama.
“Yes. You aren’t allowed to shoot people.”
“I-I think your view of me is a bit off, Kimi!”
“Heh heh heh. The fact that I was only ‘a bit’ off is making me shudder.”
“Huh!? Wh-why is everyone being so harsh with me today!?”
Asama hung her head down upon realizing how useless she was, but Kimi opened her mouth to speak once more.
“Aren’t there others things you can do? All the blood will make you want to shoot something, but you can go heal Naomasa and listen to her complaints. And. Another. Thing,” she said with clear distinction between each word. “You need to trust the others more. They are more than just idiots. After all, they are all people my foolish brother fully trusts. And you fall under that category as well.”
Kimi lowered her finger and lightly pressed in below the edge of Asama’s uniform’s chest band. Immediately afterwards…
Just like a grape skin being peeled off, the black chest band slipped around below her breasts due to the weight from above. With the band slipped down, her breasts pressed down on the center fastener.
This weight split open the fastener, opening the suit wide from within.
With her body and skin fully exposed from the neck down to below her breasts, Asama frantically wrapped her arms around them to hold them in place.
“That’s quite the energetic scream for someone hanging their head like that. Did you not notice I was supporting mine from below?”
“O-of course I didn’t!!” shouted Asama.
She saw injured and non-injured boys gathered on the edge of Musashino and Shinagawa, all with giant grins and pointing their right thumbs upwards, so she fired arrows in both directions.
The screams and other sounds produced by her arrows were accompanied by a metallic groaning.
Shinagawa was creaking under the weight being placed on it.
Everyone frowned and turned cautiously toward Shinagawa.
But they quickly let out confused voices.
The mist above Shinagawa had been sinking down under the weight, but it was now gently floating up and beginning to produce convection.
“Is the weight lessening!?”
As Jonson fought with Noriki over his location, he saw something.
The half-dragon was advancing.
Step by step, that giant form with solid wings approached Cecil despite the weight bearing down on him.
The weight was definitely there. The half-dragon’s feet were breaking out of his shoes and he was leaving definite footprints on the wooden deck.
However, those footprints also meant that he had not stopped walking.
“You really are a half-dragon!”
As far as Jonson could tell, the half-dragon could not freely fly while under Cecil’s weight and he could just barely walk.
“Concentrated attack,” said Cecil lightly.
That meant she was placing the weight such that the half-dragon was in the center.
Cecil’s eyebrows rose, her altitude rose, and the half-dragon’s exoskeleton began to creak. However…
“Not nearly enough!” roared the half-dragon as he took another step forward.
Cecil arrogantly poured the weight on, but it took time to raise the weight over the entire area. Instead, she diverted the overall weight toward the half-dragon. And so…
“Are you going to ignore me?”
The boy named Noriki began to move more lightly.
Jonson had a single thought concerning this laborer warrior who opposed him.
…This boy is dangerous, too!
Jonson faced the opponent who he alternatively attacked and defended against.
Due to the weight, Noriki had sweat on his brow and was relying on pure strength in his movements. Jonson, on the other hand, raised his attack speed with a spell. Noriki chose a certain strategy when faced with that situation where his opponent had an overwhelming advantage.
“You’re focusing solely on defense!?”
“It’s kind of pathetic, so don’t say it out loud.”
The lumber he had used as a support now functioned as a shield as he focused on defense. His arms, legs, and movements stopped, deflected, or evaded attacks. He seemed to take some attacks as feints, but…
…Even those are throw-away delaying actions used as defense!
Those feints had meaning. They sealed Jonson’s actions as he stood between Cecil and Dudley.
Noriki did not have to win. He only had to keep Jonson from helping the others.
…This boy is good for someone who is not an officer or student council member!
Jonson observed his opponent as he started mentally writing poetic praise.
He saw Noriki with his hands full simply defending and moving his wooden support in and out of place. He was covered in sweat and baring his teeth, so it was difficult to think of any word except “desperate”.
He made up for his lack of skills by going all out. He had stamina and speed, but his arm strength was average for his age. That was his weakness.
One could call him unbalanced and awkward.
It was poetic.
“To choose a defensive focus in this sort of short-term battle, you must be on the level of the chancellor’s officers or the student council!”
Jonson received no response. He raised his speed, so Noriki wordlessly worked at his own speed. The boy truly had his hands full now, but he still managed to force his defense through.
He was dangerous.
And so Jonson turned toward Dudley.
“You! Can you fire another arrow!?”
“I-I-I can! More importantly, C-C-Cecil!?”
Cecil was attempting to hold back the gradually approaching half-dragon. She had both palms stretched out toward him and her face was red, but she managed to speak.
“Testament. I can do it.”
“Testament! W-w-w-wonderful, Cecil!”
The fletching of Dudley’s arrow vibrated as if shuddering. This showed that Cecil had reset the distribution of weight.
Dudley released the arrow as if placing it in midair.
“Arrow #2! G-g-go all the way to the primary frame!”
To make doubly sure, Dudley struck the arrow down with her right hand.
The arrow immediately vanished, the weight instantly vanished, and everyone braced themselves for the coming vibration.
After a moment of silence, a loud noise reverberated from the hole the arrow had vanished into. However, it was not the creaking of metal or the roar of destruction. It was a human voice.
Dudley looked down toward the source of that scream which had been accompanied by a loud impact.
“Wh-wh-what is that round thing!?”
She could tell it was a vassal’s mobile shell, but why was it being held by a half-naked macho man wearing a bucket helmet and why was it staggering unsteadily.
“A-ah. W-wait! Um…Wh-what was that thing that just fell on me!?”
Dudley dropped the next one, but the macho man swiftly placed the mobile shell in the spot the arrow dropped toward.
“Eh? I just have to stand here? Okay, but… Oww!?”
With the sound of a direct hit, the mobile shell floated up lightly from the rebound. However, the arrow did not pierce through.
…That mobile shell’s anti-impact structure and broad feet are dispersing the impact!?
The ship still creaked, but it only shook lightly.
“I can’t believe it,” muttered Dudley while beginning to sweat.
She recalled seeing that vassal acting as a shield during the Battle of Mikawa. It had not been noticeable then because the mobile shell had only been fired on horizontally, but the anti-impact structures of each part were made to almost perfectly stop even impacts from above. The way the mobile shell bounced up in the rebound was proof of that. Its defenses were set quite high.
The one wearing the shell would have a hard time moving, but their safety was ensured by the perfect defense.
And so Dudley leaped to the port side to her right.
And she fired another arrow.
However, she saw immediate movement below. Down in the cargo opening, a nude and muscular incubus gave a refreshing smile from the port side wall.
“Ha ha ha! Over here, Persona-kun! Come on over!!”
The macho man named Persona-kun picked up the mobile shell and moved to the port side.
“Eh? Ah? Owww!?”
“Kh,” groaned Dudley.
This time, she leaped to the starboard side and fired an arrow, but a slime was attached to the starboard side wall.
“Yes, now you must come toward me!”
“Ah, wait… Eh? Owww!”
A great vibration and noise exploded out and wind blasted up through the hole, but the arrow did not penetrate any lower and the mobile shell only staggered a bit.
“S-s-s-stop pissing me off!” shouted Dudley with veins bulging on her forehead and an arrow between each of her spread fingers. “It’s time for rapid fire!!”
The noise and impacts of the mobile shell stopping the arrows were transmitted by the recording devices in the cargo area.
The students on the transport ship used a sign frame to watch Persona-kun move left and right while Dudley dropped arrows from above while also moving left and right.
“Tenzou, doesn’t seeing this scene on a sign frame make you want buttons for moving them left and right?”
“Judge. I used to have a black and white handheld charm game like this. It was made by a Kyou corporation and I had the Giant Octopus and Fire games.”
“This is more like the Insane Monkey Man game that had two screens. You move Persona-kun back and forth on the bottom screen while Noriki moves up and down on the top screen to hold the poet back.”
“Oh, I can hear you!” said Adele from within the mobile shell. “That kind of video game is…owww! W-wait! You’re rattling my brain! My brain! My brain!!”
“What do you do when the damage builds up, Tenzou?”
“Judge. You recover by tapping the right button as fast as you can to drink the goop Nenji-dono hands you.”
“You two need to take this more seriously,” said Futayo with a sigh.
“That’s right,” agreed Masazumi.
“Listen,” began Futayo as she pointed at the sign frame and raised her eyebrows. “The two of you need to worry about what comes later. After all, the true challenge begins when you reach 100 points and enter high speed mode.”
“You need to take this more seriously, too!” shouted everyone.
“I-if I get hit by 100 of these, I’m staying home from the academy tomorrow!” said Adele through the sign frame.
“A day off would be enough?” someone muttered, but the impacts and screams continued.
Toori would occasionally give comments like “Pe-yan, not there!” as time passed.
Whenever the arrows were fired, the weight holding Urquiaga down would lessen and he would walk forward. Eventually, he made it within ten steps of Cecil.
Someone shouted out in response to that situation.
“Shakespeare! Help Dudley with the arrows!”
But Shakespeare did not respond to Jonson’s voice. The sign frame footage showed her with her face buried in a book.
“Heh heh. ‘Whose tentacle is this!?’ So they’re bringing back the tenta-collector joke here.”
“Listen to me, you!”
That shout finally caused Shakespeare to raise her head, but she did not close her paperback book.
“Shut up,” was all she said.
She turned back toward the book and closed her covered long ears to shut out the surrounding noise. However, she gave one offhand comment as she immediately losing herself in the book again.
“That’s a pain, so I’ll just write it. That’s fine, isn’t it?”
Dudley’s voice caused the sign frame’s voice device to tremble. She stopped firing arrows and turned toward Shakespeare with her eyebrows raised.
“Th-th-this is an order as vice chancellor! Do not use that power without restriction outside of the mainland! We only brought you with us because you agreed to that, so…”
“I only wanted to go to Musashi’s bookstores after we took control. …Including the used bookstores. Seeing my books with ten yen stickers is quite thrilling. More importantly, Dudley, do your job. Do it for the queen.”
That last sentence seemed to affect Dudley more than the rest.
She gave a snort and a final parting glance toward Shakespeare.
“Y-y-you are an impertinent child, but I will forgive you as you have not forgotten about Her Majesty the Queen. E-e-even if it was a blatant attempt to manipulate me. And in that case…”
Dudley swept her hand across several arrows to fire them.
“Th-th-th-three at once!”
Three arrows. They could not defend against that with Adele as their only shield.
Everyone knew the triple attack would reach the bottom of the ship.
But in the next instant, everyone saw a certain sight.
<The arrows were swept up in the wind and fell to the ground.>
As if swayed by the words which reverberated through the air, the three arrows moving at high speed suddenly lost their speed. It looked like they were swaying in the wind.
No one there had the ability to do that.
If someone had done it, it was a newcomer to the battlefield.
The first to notice the newcomer was Shakespeare as she looked up from her book. She quietly looked beyond the lines of large wooden containers and spoke.
“There he is.”
The person to whom Shakespeare referred arrived on the battlefield.
“Sorry I’m late.”
He released a few divine texts into the air, lightly raised his right hand, and gave his name.
“I am Musashi Ariadust Academy’s secretary, Toussaint Neshinbara.”
As Jonson fought Noriki, he handled his enemy’s attacks with his feet and turned toward the newcomer.
Musashi’s secretary, Neshinbara, ran over from the opposite side of the cargo opening.
A civil official Mouse stood on his shoulder and his hands typed on a sign frame keyboard.
As a literature type, Neshinbara was out of breath. However…
<His breathing slowed and his running legs reliably brought him toward his enemies.>
Jonson saw the bluish-white light of ether scattering above Neshinbara’s head and around his shoulders. As the ether scattered like snowflakes, Jonson realized what it was.
…Cecil’s weight spell is breaking apart.
Cecil’s spell was not affecting Neshinbara. This was because…
<With less than thirty seconds remaining, he finally arrived at his enemies. And he spoke.>
“Sorry I’m late. I’m just a slow runner is all.”
While dealing with Noriki, Jonson realized something from what Neshinbara said and the feeling it gave him.
“Shakespeare! He is-…”
Jonson trailed off before he could say “an author”.
Shakespeare had stood up with her book in hand.
…That capricious girl stood up!?
But Neshinbara took action before anything more could happen.
<As the enemy stood up, she was suddenly slammed to the deck.>
Neshinbara typed those words into his sign frame keyboard.
<He had broken up and stored the weight bearing down on him, so he was able to strike her with it.>
The text became reality.
“It’s a type of prayer. In Shinto, it can be used as a spell. You just need a god that can pull it off, but with intermediaries, most anything is possible. In my case, it’s Sugawara-style Itsuru, the god of writing.”
“My spell is named Mountains of Words. I pray that the writings I have dedicated will be reproduced in reality.”
<With a great roar and a creaking of the deck, the enemy crumbled to the deck. The falling weight became an impact that struck the enemy and the space around her and produced a powerful explosion of wind.>
An explosion blossomed in front of Neshinbara and a great noise burst out.
<And that left one less enemy.>
Neshinbara took a breath.
…I’m glad I could finish that quickly by taking the first move.
Once the strategist defeated one of the enemies, the people’s image of the battle would change greatly. That fact would demonstrate that the strategist had put himself in danger on the front lines and that he had the power to handle that danger. And by proving the strategist was useful, opinion of him would be more positive. So…
…Well, that should be good enough.
The battle was not over, but he needed to focus on covering for the others because Mountains of Words was a slow spell to activate.
The god of writing enjoyed being entertained, so he loved reading the novels and other writings of his followers. Anything entertaining one wrote could be dedicated, but it was not an immediate judgment like money was for the god of commerce. A high quality text was needed to entertain the god of writing. And to use the powers of other gods using the god of writing as an intermediary, the conditions necessary for that god’s power had to be written in novel form. All in all, it took time.
Neshinbara had undergone a semi-high level contract, so he could use his past writings as dedication copy-paste material. That allowed him to abbreviate a lot, but reusing the same text like that caused the dedication efficiency to drop. That was why Neshinbara had his Mouse, Michizane, automatically create copy-paste material from the doujinshi he had written. This gave him a stock of unused dedication copy-paste material.
He had just used dedication copy-paste material from the manuscript he had prepared for a spring event. He had not used his entire stock during the Battle of Mikawa, so he had several doujinshi’s worth to spare.
“Well, that should do it…”
Neshinbara began to turn to the starboard side. He began to turn to look at Dudley, Jonson, Noriki, Cecil, and Urquiaga.
But before he could, he saw someone standing in front of him.
It was a skinny long-eared girl wearing a white coat. It was Shakespeare.
She stood within the wind as if nothing had happened. It was as if she had ignored his attack.
And she opened her mouth to speak.
“Quite an interesting spell,” she said as she slowly nodded and stared at him through her glasses. “You could say this is author vs. author. Surely you didn’t think you could burn down a fellow author with expressions at that level.”
|Back to Chapter 06||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 08|