Horizon:Volume 2 Chapter 08
Chapter 08: Herald on the Stage
People face each other
But what does one show another?
Point Allocation (Cheering)
…My text realization spell using prayers was negated!?
Shakespeare responded to Neshinbara’s doubts by pushing her thick glasses up her nose. With her mouth lying flat, she began to speak.
“You should write more. For example,” she began. But she quickly said the opposite. “No, I shouldn’t bring hypotheticals into such an important discussion. Doing so is based on the careless assumption that the other person thinks the same way you do. It will not help them understand your point of view. So…”
With that last word, light appeared. It was a small light and it appeared within her hair, but it quickly appeared as a long string.
It was a string of small glowing letters. Letters of the alphabet measuring only a few millimeters grew from her hair in the form of words and sentences. Their numbers grew and grew.
Shakespeare trembled as if the sentences leaking from her hair were tickling her. It started with about a dozen letters, but it quickly grew to dozens, hundreds, and beyond.
<However, the enemy was immediately struck by a second attack. A clear sound rang out and the strings of letters scattered.>
<<But it all returned to normal.>>
Wind really did whip up around her and a vibration really could be felt through the floor. Nevertheless…
<<She stood there as if nothing had happened.>>
“Don’t be so surprised. Just think of it as similar to the divine music spell you use,” explained Shakespeare. Her string of letters had already exceeded the thousands and continued to grow. “Do you know the difference between novel text and a mere sentence?”
“Novel text is meant to combine with other texts to express a story while a mere sentence is a standalone statement?”
“Testament. That is why novel text can optimize the description of what it is meant to express. Another difference is whether you want ugly text that perfectly optimizes the target of expression or if you want nice flowing text that does not fully optimize it. Words are abstract concepts that cannot perfectly express one’s thoughts, so there are many different ways of representing things.”
As she spoke, Shakespeare raised her lowered head.
At the same time, Neshinbara saw the string of text coming from her hair form a gentle curve. It seemed to circle around into a curve that supported her back and butt.
“This is a composite method of using Anglican Church Testament Signs. It is known as Lord Chamberlain’s Men. I spent the seven years until I moved from Stratford to London constructing this theatre spell.”
She went on to describe the principle behind it and its effects.
“Many different Testament Signs are broken down into strings of text and reconstructed based on the text I use to express the target. It is quite similar to your spell which brings about its effects by combining dedication copy-paste material. The primary difference is that you dedicate your text while mine is based in the Modern Signs of the Anglican Church. That means I must prepare spell charms.”
Shakespeare pulled a thick book from the paper bag sitting next to her.
A few dozen pages had already turned to light and scattered.
“This is the theatre script I prepared for today. I somehow managed to construct this theatre because Jonson and the queen wished for me to design this, but the queen is quite cruel. She told me I had to prepare the Blessings needed to activate the spell.”
“Wouldn’t that require a huge amount? Tsirhc doesn’t allow the use of Inner Blessings, right? Did you violate that ban and create an external pool somewhere? Or were you allotted some from England’s ether fuel tank?”
Shakespeare did not answer his question. She only stared at him.
“The curtain opens.”
As pages of the script turned to light and scattered, she held it to her chest.
Immediately afterwards, Neshinbara saw an attack stab through the wind directly in front of him.
The strike knocked him to the ground, but the striker had already circled around behind him.
“Oh,” he heard Shakespeare say. She spoke aloud her own script which she was revising.
<<Oh, that is Macbeth. The man who wishes to be king and whose ambitions are as high as a mountain peak, whose heart is as cold as the icy sky, and whose body is as solid as the noble crags of a cliff.>>
The string of letters formed a medieval knight. But this was not a magnificent armored knight on horseback who travelled across the plains. This was a knight of the highlands who wore light armor and leather clothes to keep out the cold. He was armed with a long and short sword.
<<Macbeth, go meet with the three Technohexen in the land of great wind. Oppose the Vikings as they attempt to land and meet the three Technohexen who gather souls on the battlefield.>>
There were three women on the battlefield: Cecil, Dudley, and…
…Shakespeare may be the author, but…
“You double as an actress!”
Neshinbara could see Shakespeare’s mouth moving out of the corner of his eye. The string of text coming from her hair continued to grow as the third Technohexen spoke. She looked past Neshinbara and toward Macbeth.
<<Rejoice, for you shall become king,>> foretold the Technohexen. <<Ah, but Macbeth…>>
She then turned to Neshinbara. He clearly saw her eyes staring at him from behind her thick glasses.
<<You are a usurper who shall kill the king. And you shall kill your friend for peace of mind.>>
The words and gaze turned toward Neshinbara brought doubt to his mind. After all, Macbeth had been made real with Shakespeare’s spell. However…
...Why is she speaking Macbeth’s prophecy to me!?
The answer came to him in the form of a motion. The string of text forming Macbeth came apart and bent toward him like countless paper strings. They leaped toward him with wavelike motion.
Neshinbara realized it was a curse from the play.
Shakespeare’s spell alone could construct the play, but it seemed she could also assign roles to people just as she had given herself a Technohexen role.
…Her words can give people the same fate as the role in the play!
It was a word-based curse that was similar to binding someone or forcing them to do something. Most likely, the spell influenced ones words, actions, and reactions in accordance with the contents of the play. Just like one felt like moving after reading or watching a book or play with lots of action, this indirectly led one to a similar destiny.
…What happens in Macbeth again?
Before he gave that any thought, Neshinbara began to write.
<The strings of letters were destroyed by an impact. This impact was a reconstruction of the spell and was made with ether, so the strings of text made from ether were crushed.>
The knight made of letters was defeated, but the Technohexen spoke another prophecy.
<<Macbeth, you shall not die.>>
<<Macbeth, you shall become king.>>
<<However, be careful, ambitious king. You are lord of the freezing sky. The darkness of further winter falls even upon the isolated land of constant winter. Even you who seek to usurp the throne will eventually confront darkness omens. So I say this to you as a spectator.>>
Before she could finish speaking, the knight began to reconstruct.
<<You cannot be defeated by anyone born of a woman.>>
Its body came apart once more.
<But another strike hits it.>
And it was destroyed. The meaning of this was obvious. Macbeth was one of the four great tragedies Shakespeare had created in accordance with the Testament descriptions. In the play, the Technohexen’s prophecies about the ambitious Macbeth ultimately came true.
…He assassinated the king, killed his friend who knew, and…
He was killed by his friend’s child as revenge because this friend’s child had been born by Caesarean section. And there had been one other prophecy.
<<Until Birnam forest moves, you will have peace.>>
When his friend’s child’s army arrived while camouflaged as the trees of the forest, Macbeth made up his mind and a new king was born after his defeat.
What if that story was applied to Neshinbara as a member of the student council?
…I am destined to destroy the king!
He did not know how much of an effect it would have, but a curse caused by a spell would have a real effect. This was no superstition. Now that the curse had been applied to him, some power would surely cause him to harm his king.
He was a member of the student council and a strategist. If he was being manipulated by a destroying curse without realizing it, he could invite in enemies or set up traps.
In that case, he had no choice but to win here. He had to eliminate the curse.
<No matter how many times the enemy tries to stand back up, he has decided to crush that enemy.>
However, the smashed strings of text immediately stood back up.
<<Macbeth, you shall not die.>>
“There’s no end to this!”
Meanwhile, Dudley suddenly raised her hand mirror while standing next to the hole in the floor.
“C-C-C-Cecil! Can you see this?”
The mirror reflected something in the hole that she wanted Cecil to see.
“C-c-c-c-can you directly ‘hand out’ the weight to that vassal’s mobile shell?”
“Eh? Ehhhh!? A direct hit without using the arrows!?” cried Adele.
A moment later, the weight let up for an instant.
And Shinagawa violently shook up and down.
The shaking of the ship was accompanied by sounds of wooden containers being destroyed at the bottom of the cargo opening.
The ship trembled and a moment later alarms began ringing.
“Adele-sama has broken her way down to the third basement! Over!”
Things would not be too bad if she had merely fallen that far down. However…
“I! Can’t! Move! I-I’m stuck in the cargo frame!”
Neshinbara clenched his back teeth as he heard Adele’s voice from below.
…This weight spell…
The spell normally added weight evenly to everything from above and the weight could be separated between people and their possessions. Now that Adele had fallen down but could not move, the impact would pass through her and directly into the ship’s frame.
Fortunately, Urquiaga continued to advance, so Cecil could only release the weight and slam it into Adele once more.
That meant Dudley was the key to the situation. The moment Dudley captured Adele’s location with her mirror, the battle was over. That meant Noriki or Neshinbara had to go.
“The play is not over yet.”
Macbeth stood up and Dudley spoke.
“Cecil! Fly up even further. Fly high enough to sink the ship if you so much as scratch her! And Jonson! Hurry up and cover for Cecil. …We don’t have much time left!”
“Mate, as long as you understand what that means.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Neshinbara saw Jonson take a leap back from Noriki and open the long cases hanging down from either waist. The white vapor of cold air escaped and Jonson stuck his hands in and pulled something out.
“Audience, do you know what the miracle that creates finalists is?”
Jonson held up the objects before he could land.
“Humans can travel 100 meters in less than ten seconds. This was possible even during the Age of the Gods. Afterwards, humans began to wonder what methods they could use to improve on that record while still using the human body. This is one answer to that question.”
He held the answer in his hands as he flew through the air. In one hand was a liquid-filled glass cylinder over a meter long. In the other was a long piston that resembled a sword.
Jonson inserted the piston into the cylinder and leaned forward as he landed. He spun around the syringe he had created and placed the bottom of the piston against the ground.
“This is my 100-Meter Poetry.”
He leaned forward into a crouching start. The motion pressed on the cylinder and the liquid was injected into the poet’s body with a dull noise.
Every blood vessel on Jonson’s body bulged as they were pushed out by the bundles of muscle swelling out. Sweat poured across his body in an instant and the steam of high body temperature rose from his body and flowed from his mouth.
“Overflowing lyrical inspiration!”
He deepened his forward crouch and removed the empty syringe. Immediately afterwards, Jonson took a seemingly gentle step forward and used his entire body to launch himself forward.
“Energy explodes within the language center of my brain!”
The bottoms of his feet printed countless words referring to speed and running.
“The heart instantly burns with passion.”
He seemed to fly forward.
Each step was a leap taking him several meters and he swiftly twisted his body around as if leaving it to the steam rising from his entire body. He spun backwards as he threw a roundhouse kick toward Noriki.
“Break through, youth!”
Noriki held his piece of lumber up to block the kick.
But Jonson’s youth destroyed the lumber. It was not simply smashed. He threw his kick as if using his foot as a blade and opened a perfect gap in the center. Jonson circled around a second time and threw another roundhouse kick into that gap.
“You, that is outside the course.”
The jabbing strike knocked Noriki toward the cargo opening.
Jonson used the recoil of the kick to jump forward and rushed toward Urquiaga without bothering to turn toward the sound of Noriki crashing into the outer wall of the hole. Jonson then heard the voice of the enemy strategist coming from behind him. The strategist gave a simple instruction.
“Urquiaga-kun! Get out of here!”
Neshinbara thought. Urquiaga could not move properly due to the weight and any injury from Jonson would be a meaningless loss. It was best to have the half-dragon evacuate, but that left only Neshinbara himself.
…Is there any way to break free of this situation?
There was. He wrote up his thoughts.
<The approaching curse and the words were smashed.>
He could not completely destroy the curse, but he could create an opening. That just left quickly attacking Shakespeare and…
…I have to stop Dudley from finding Balfette-kun with her mirror!
He turned toward Shakespeare, but saw a new light.
<<Foolish Lady Macbeth. Once married to her husband, his ambitions resonated with her and burned within her. She assisted in the assassination of the king, but…>>
<<She feared the king’s ghost and ultimately sank into the darkness and died.>>
A shadow clearly shaped like a woman stood between Shakespeare and Neshinbara. It stood there as if mocking him, came apart just as Macbeth had, and rushed at him as if trying to drape over him.
Neshinbara attacked this new enemy, but he did not end there.
<He continued striking all of his enemies. The barrage never ended or let up.>
He added in a description to set the attack as continuous. Macbeth was behind him and Lady Macbeth before him, but the repeated attacks prevented them from standing. With his enemies unable to move, Neshinbara began to run toward Dudley.
However, the light had yet to disappear. The light came from behind Shakespeare who blocked the barrage of attacks with a barrier of words. Those glowing letters created a certain form.
Neshinbara saw a great number of shadows. This was not just ten or twenty; there were hundreds of them. They all resembled trees but held swords and shields.
“The army of Birnam is targeting you, Macbeth.”
“Macbeth? But the curse hasn’t…”
Before he could say “reached me yet”, Neshinbara realized something. Words were spreading out in a spiral at his feet.
“Even if the role itself cannot possess you, someone must take on the role once it has been defeated,” muttered Shakespeare. “When the time comes, the spotlight will choose the next actor.”
Neshinbara was illuminated by a ring of light and he turned toward the army of Birnam that took a step toward him.
“How did you obtain enough Blessings to use a spell that emits so much writing!?”
Shakespeare casually pulled something out of her paper bag. Its silhouette resembled arm armor, but it was actually a shield made of white and black objects.
Neshinbara gasped when he saw the form of that shield which was wrapped in dull bluish-white light.
“A Logismoi Oplo!?”
“Testament,” replied Shakespeare. “This is England’s Logismoi Oplo ‘Aspida Phylargia’. I have no intention of calling myself one of the Eight Great Dragon Kings, but it is a nice weapon. After all, the normal drive simply acts as a shield and the overdrive is quite simple as well. It merely takes all of the bearer’s pain and suffering and provides it to them in the form of ether.” Shakespeare nodded. “That of course applies to the attacks you send my way, but I am constantly receiving a much, much greater attack. Yes, you too have taken part in that attack before.”
“Testament. I refer to criticism.” Shakespeare suddenly raised her chin and looked into the sky. “Neshinbara Toussaint, you were born in Tres España, lost your parents in a battle with Hexagone Française, and for a variety of reasons, moved to Musashi before entering elementary school. During your second year of middle school, you entered a contest for a student novel prize held by the Testament Union. You won the prize for short stories and gathered attention for setting a record for the youngest winner. Your story was published in a Testament Union literature magazine,” she said. “But ever since, you have never released a book or had another short story published in a magazine. All you do is create doujinshi and write as a critic. Why do you no longer write?”
That question caused Neshinbara to gasp.
He wanted to say something. He had been busy with school. Creating doujinshi was still writing. He had been especially busy with the student council lately. There was a lot he wanted to say. However…
That word came from a face expressing no emotion. The spotlight illuminated her as she stood in front of the army of Birnam.
“Without ever seeing how I work or how much preparation I put into my setting, you said the settings of my stories are weak. You said my stories include contradictions, plot holes, and other problems, but you never explained where or how. You simply made your criticisms without letting anyone question you. And…” She took a breath. “You said my methods are wrong. You denied the fact that I make a living like this. This is how I live.”
Wait, thought Neshinbara. Why is she discussing criticism here?
She lightly raised her glasses and stared at him through the lenses.
“You are free to feel however you like about my works. When you get down to it, reviews are nothing but logical descriptions of the critic’s thoughts on the work. They simply give themselves more persuasive power by speaking logically about the emotions the work created within them. Reviews give a logical explanation of the portions that drew out some kind of response, so they only show one side of the work. However, I doubt you would agree with that. I doubt you think your reviews are just one possible correct answer. Yet you use words which are an imperfect tool for expressing one’s thoughts, so you had to have initially understood that everyone who reads a book will feel differently about it. Of course, when pursuing the perfect description of something, you cannot give up and use vague statements that could mean anything. That is one hard part of being an author. Do you understand, Neshinbara-kun? This is what I’m trying to say.”
She held up Aspida Phylargia.
“Your attacks supply me with power and your writings will not reach me.”
As Shakespeare gave what sounded like a declaration, the play began to move.
<<Macbeth, the time has come to make up your mind.>>
…She’s trying to shake me!
She was inside the play she had set up. This was Macbeth. She had given that discussion on criticism in order to make him the same as Macbeth who made up his mind, attacked, and died despite knowing he could not stand up to his foe.
According to the Testament descriptions, Shakespeare’s style was to include a lot of the characters’ mentality and psychology. By doing the same here, she had wrapped him up in it. However…
Neshinbara did not think it was over yet. The situation was still progressing and there was something he had to do.
Shakespeare’s words would likely cause people to doubt him. He had plenty of excuses for only acting like a real author, but what she had said was true. He would have a hard time clearing away those doubts.
…But this is no time to worry about that!
Neshinbara shouted in his heart and tried to move. However…
“Oh, I forgot to say one thing. …Or rather, I forget to ask one thing.”
What was it?
“Did you know Tres España’s previous chancellor and student council president Carlos I left behind a secret religious institution to raise children before they reach school age? It had connections to Henares’s special department, it was split between athletics, culture, and religion divisions, and it gathered orphans from across the country to prepare for Tres España’s economic crisis and decline.”
“What about it?”
“Thirteen years ago, that institution was destroyed from within. The teachers in control of the three divisions put their children through harsh training, argued over who should have overall control, and fought each other in an attempt to correct the other divisions. However, all of this was set up by some of the children.”
“What happened to those children?”
“They ran away, but most of them were caught and executed because they were said to be possessed by demons. The remaining children managed to escape and moved to the slums or to other countries.” She took a breath. “The institution was known as the 13th Mutsugoirei Academy. So have you heard of it?”
Upon finishing her question, Shakespeare’s expression changed for the first time. The corners of her mouth bent up like bows.
“Neshinbara Toussaint. Neshinbara is your family name and Toussaint is your given name. And the register of names spells that given name in kanji to indicate you belong to the Far East,” she said. “It is spelled with the kanji for thirteen.”
<<Prepare yourself, Macbeth, for you have lost all of your divine protection.>>
The strings of text undulated as they were crushed by the repeated attacks Neshinbara had set up.
A clear sound rang out and the sign frame Michizane was using scattered through the air as fragments of light. Michizane moved in surprise, but Neshinbara could not turn around. He could only focus on the smiling girl before him.
“I finally found you. Can you remember our time back then, No. 13?” Her voice rang in his ears. “You hurt me back then too!”
In front of him and behind him, Macbeth and his wife stood up. The army of Birnam began to loudly advance. Army boots and armor formed an ensemble of noise and Dudley’s voice joined it.
“I see her…”
“Eee! There’s nothing to enjoy about looking at me!”
As Dudley set Cecil’s aim, Neshinbara made up his mind. He shouted out to an automaton he had sent a divine text to just before arriving here.
“ ‘Shinagawa’! Do it now!”
At the same time, he typed.
<He fired an impact.>
<He fired it into his own left side.>
The string of text which had been Macbeth wrapped around his right arm, but he tried to shake it off.
The impact he himself fired knocked Neshinbara through the air.
His body creaked and a few of the fingernails on his left hand split or even came off entirely. Even so, he blasted himself to the right, toward the open hole a piece of cargo had come from.
“Judge!” came the reply. “Reaccelerating and turning to the left! Over!!”
With those words, everything moved. A great enough acceleration and turn occurred that everything was thrown through the air.
Musashi entered a cruising formation with Shinagawa at the front and it used the gravitational acceleration to turn to the left. This was all according to Neshinbara’s instructions. On his way here, he had sent divine texts with instructions for “Musashi” and the other automata.
“By reaccelerating to approach England and forcing ourselves into a turn, we can begin our circle around England earlier than scheduled!”
This action was similar to overturning the game table. To put it another way…
“We invalidate this match before the enemy can bring it to an end!”
This last resort eliminated the idea of winning or losing.
On Neshinbara’s signal, Musashi took forceful action and the eight ships began turning to the left and to the north at high speed.
Even with the buffering control, low screams of the atmosphere rose from the eight ships and white cirrus clouds occasionally trailed behind the pointed edges of the ships.
On the battlefield on top of one of those ships, Neshinbara fell inside the diagonally tilted hole as if it was welcoming him inside. With steam rising from his entire body, Jonson ran to the starboard side and loudly clicked his tongue.
“You! How dare you use such a forceful method!”
Jonson thought with the clearly heightened thought speed the doping gave him. England had won each individual match, but this high speed turn was forcing Musashi into its circle around England.
…We didn’t do enough damage to stop the ship!
It would be dangerous for them to remain on board. Even if it was for a short period of time, Musashi was accelerating, so it could slip away from Grace’s ship. If that happened, they would have no way to escape and would essentially be prisoners of war. If they were carried around England like that, they would bring shame to the entire country.
“Mates! We need to withdraw! At this rate, Musashi will slip away from Grace’s ship!”
As he spoke, the ship turned to the north. They would soon gain control of the ships sliding to the right and turn them forward. After that, they only needed to continue north to gain their path around England.
England was clearly visible and well within reach.
They were approaching so quickly they could crash into it.
Everyone aboard Musashi, including those on the transport ship being towed behind, evacuated to the rear port side of their ship.
“Do whatever little you can to fix the tilt of the ships!!”
The eight ships of Musashi began a high-speed midair drift as they charged into the sky to the west of England.
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