Horizon:Volume 2 Chapter 09
Chapter 09: Onlooker at the Crash Site
Is the speed at which your heart drops
Greater than gravitational acceleration?
Point Allocation (Sensation)
Musashi’s approach and turn were watched from England as well.
The approach of something as large as Musashi was dangerous, so it kept a low enough altitude for its deck height to be lower than England’s foundation. From the cities on the upper level of England, Musashi looked more like a moving city than a ship.
From the southwestern coast of England, each building on Musashi’s tilted surface was visible and they appeared to be flowing north at high speed.
However, the edges of Musashi’s deck and a few of the buildings on its surface were trailing curves of mist from its high speed turn. Even its buffering control could not fully eliminate the atmospheric disturbance, so England itself shook.
England used the slight operation allowed by the structure of the floating island. They lowered the crust structure of England’s four blocks and four levels to lower it to the east as much as possible.
The movement caused the shallow ocean surrounding the fourth level to spill off the western side. The scattered seawater formed a salty mist in the air at an altitude of two kilometers.
The mist of the atmosphere and the mist of the ocean mixed together and the air compressed between Musashi and England’s western side roared as it flew further up into the sky.
Several hundred meter pillars and curtains of mist rose into the sky and the floating city tore through them.
The ship seemed to be following an evasive line that just barely avoided a collision course.
But Musashi did not eliminate the tilt from taking the corner so tight and it shot to the north with panicking speed.
If its speed dropped and it straightened out, it would crash into England with all that momentum.
And so it did not lower its speed and somehow managed to move its trajectory to the west. All the while, the residents of the fourth level’s west coast watched Musashi. Those non-students lived off of what they could produce on the coast and nearby land. They stopped their work as Musashi approached and turned, but they could do nothing but watch.
And among them…
“Scarred! You need to get to safety! Even if Musashi is trying to evade and move around Ireland, who can say what fragments from the battle or the wind will do!”
A male voice cried out on the white beach where the horizon between the shallow ocean and sky was visible.
The voice belonged to a crow. Specifically, a crow with three legs. He wore the navy blue coat of a school uniform and hopped across the beach on his three legs toward the lean figure standing on the edge of the water.
This figure he had called out to had the Urban Name of “Scarred”. Scarred wore a green hooded cloak and wore a fetter with a chain connected to a metal stake.
The tide was very far out on the shallow ocean before Scarred. The sand and bedrock at the bottom were visible and the fish were leaping from the water’s surface. And in the sky…
Fish spilled over the outer edge and into the sky. They were then blasted up along with the sea mist where they ultimately fell onto the beach.
The crow turned toward the sporadic fish beginning to fall around them.
“My, my. This is an excellent catch, Scarred! This is quite an auspicious occas-…”
The crow trailed off because Scarred’s hood was turned toward him.
Scarred leaned forward and picked up the metal stake at his feet. He glanced at Musashi in the distance, used his empty hand to pull a thick book from his pocket, and opened the book.
“Judge. So they are travelling around England. I suppose Grace will be sent out. Not only does she use a high-speed ship, but the north is her land. I decided to fish before heading to the graveyard today, but…”
“Judge,” said Scarred with a nod.
The face visible below the waving hood had a sword scar travelling from above the nose to the left cheek. His neck as well as the hands and lower arms visible in the cloak’s sleeves all had a few white scars from cuts. Meanwhile, Scarred flipped through the pages of the book.
“Milton, I never thought Musashi would pull off the same fishing method I accomplish with spells. I suppose this saves me some Blessings. No…”
Scarred turned away from Musashi’s approaching city as the wind and noise shook his long cloak. He raised his right hand which held the metal stake. Several firefly-like bluish-white spheres of light clung to that hand.
“This method is not particularly smart.”
Scarred swung down the hand holding the stake and the floating spheres of light vanished.
As if in response to that word, the raging sea and wind behind him suddenly calmed.
In an instant, the sea and wind became as still as if Musashi were not passing by.
“Very good,” said Scarred and the gentle waves stopped at his feet.
Milton gasped as the ocean grew still before his eyes.
The pillars of water and visible ocean floor were gone and nothing but gentle waves approached. And this was despite the wind from Musashi still being present.
“What spell was that?”
“The spirits of the ocean and wind seemed troubled as they spilled over the edge. Spirits cannot take actions that exceed their rules, after all. I only had to call out to them with a spirit spell. The great number of sympathizers increased its effects, yet it used fewer Blessings than what I usually use fishing. But,” said Scarred, changing the subject. “Milton, I want to go to the graveyard now, but have you heard that odd noise for a while now?”
The crow named Milton held his wings above his forehead and twisted his three legs to look around, but he heard nothing beyond the low rumbling of Musashi’s passing.
“I have great familiarity with the wind, but I cannot hear anything beyond Musashi and its surroundings. Scarred, you often worry too much, so are you sure this is not an overreaction to Musashi’s approach?”
“Judge. You may be right. And…are you always this calm, Milton?”
“Ha ha ha.” Milton proudly puffed out his chest, clenched his right wing, and smacked his chest. “A man like me could not run this fourth level if this was enough to disturb him.”
“Judge. I suppose so. You were quite calm during the recent birth at Sail’s house. You began praying to the Testament in a corner of the room during the crucial part. The midwife said it helped a lot that you stayed out of the way.”
“Ha ha ha. I am quite popular!”
Milton laughed, but he looked up at something in the sky.
It was something that should have been impossible.
Three straight white lines suddenly became visible in the sky beyond Musashi. Milton realized what they meant.
Shells which were impossible for Musashi or England to have fired suddenly appeared in the western sky.
Three shots travelled toward England and Musashi which was trailing mist. They all produced the sound of lightly scraping at the air.
“Scarred!” shouted Milton.
Scarred quickly turned around and cried out when he saw the same thing.
“Low-speed anti-ship shells!? Only a large ship can secure the speed needed for those!”
But the doubt in his voice formed words of protest in the next moment.
“Has an enemy ship with stealth ability arrived near England!?”
As he spoke, a few different things happened. First, enemy attack sirens began blaring on Musashi and England.
And second, the anti-ship shells made to break through armor struck Musashi while its surface was expanded for gravitational cruising.
Two shots coming from an unknown ship struck from close range.
The various sounds of destruction combined into a single noise that exploded into the sky from Musashi’s port side.
In the instant the shells struck and damaged the ship, most of the ships’ command authority was transferred to “Musashi” for the gravitational cruising. The natural equality of the automaton’s nature made her slow to react to the emergency situation.
“I cannot deploy the gravitational barriers in time! Transferring power to the inner anti-shock buffering! Over.”
As soon as a decision was made in the automaton’s controlled common thoughts, the first two ships on Musashi’s port side were struck and the front port side was damaged.
The roaring and shaking indicated two shells had hit. The remaining one flew above them, but they had taken two direct hits.
As those two shells penetrated into the ships, the impact transformed and split open the ships. This destruction smashed the front port side on the outer wings that had been deployed in the switch from gravitational cruising to inertial cruising.
The front outer wing on Asakusa’s port side and the rear outer wing on Murayama’s port side had been deployed to act as a shield protecting Musashi’s side, but their shape was greatly distorted by the impact of the shells.
The outer wings were a dozen or so meters wide. The impact and destruction bent them, but their frames prevented the force of the shells from escaping. The giant wings bent in around the hole created by the shells and the inner frame bent and twisted. The people who had evacuated to the port side reacted to the advancing damage.
“Low-speed shells are big and heavy! Has Tres España built a stealth-capable ship large enough to fire them!? And did they send one here at high speed!?”’
No one could answer that question because no enemy ship was visible in the sky. But despite not having an answer, the damage continued.
The ship continued to be destroyed.
The distortion of the frame created cracks as if the outer wall and inner shell were being torn off the ship. This cut off the supply of ether allowing the ship to buffer against the impact. This produced an obvious result.
As the people watched, the inner shell and armor of the wings shattered like glass.
And once that armor and shell were easily destroyed, the wind burst inside, widened the cracks, and expanded the range of the destruction by blowing up the inner shell like a balloon.
“Get away from the port side! Here come the outer wings!!”
Air resistance caused the outer wings to dance like they were flapping and only the twisted inner framework remained.
“Brace for impact!!”
And the wings struck the port side.
A great noise rang out and intense vibrations scattered everywhere.
The basic structure in the center of the ship was protected by the impact buffering that used gravitational barriers, but most of the inner armor bordering the outer wings had been destroyed.
At the same time, the contents of the ether fuel supply lines and other circulation systems spewed their contents out of the destroyed areas and into the air. The high speed and altitude caused those contents to transform into mist and smoke.
The wind danced and the sky let out a groaning cry. In an instant, Musashi’s port side was covered in trailing white mist and smoke, but something else happened overhead.
The third shell had passed by above Musashi. It was clearly targeting the middle portion of England, so England intercepted it. The ship-wide warning from “Musashi” described it.
“Ether reaction detected on Anglia, the top level of England! The output pattern matches their mainland defense spell sword, Ex. Caliburn! Everyone, brace for impact! Over.”
What those words meant arrived immediately afterwards.
It was light.
An instantaneous beam of light literally stabbed toward Musashi from England in the distance.
The light which swept through the sky was shaped exactly like a sword.
The blade that came from the center of England was about twenty meters wide and two meters thick.
However, it was long enough to cover the sky.
More than ten kilometers existed between the center of England and Musashi, but the light arrived across that distance.
The tip of the sword swept away the flying shell with a horizontal attack.
The wind pummeled Tama on the port side where Asama saw the light and muttered what she knew about it.
“Ex. Caliburn is the foundation of England’s defense and it can cut open any target.”
Its edge was not all that sharp, but that meant the sword itself and the massive shockwave it produced would smash apart the target. Plus, it had a spell effect.
“The target will not fall into England. It will be knocked away!”
Exactly that happened before their eyes.
The pressure from the sliced atmosphere ruptured and sent the attack toward Musashi rather than England.
The cascade of air struck Musashi as if raining from the sky.
An immediate decision was made concerning the body press from the sky.
“Musashi” lowered the altitude of the port ships which had been moved back for the turn. The explosive pressure coming from diagonally up on the right could be handled by sending the starboard ships forward and up.
That formation was meant to keep the shock from rolling Musashi toward England.
In the very next moment, the shadow of the long glowing sword passed over Musashi’s third starboard ship.
A white light appeared on the surface of that ship.
As the atmosphere was torn by Ex. Caliburn, it struck Musashi’s buffering.
The air was compressed by its own weight and momentum, so a massive and sudden explosion of mist appeared above Musashi.
The white mist appeared above the second central ship as well and the white pressure struck almost all of Musashi’s eight ships from above.
However, the white cascade appearing over the rising third starboard ship instantly grew in thickness and let out a roar as it spilled over the edge of the ship.
The mast split the flood-like waves of mist and the roofs of the city finally appeared as if rising from the depths of a flood.
The ship rumbled and let out a shaking roar.
However, the white tsunami flowing backwards split widely apart.
The school building of Musashi Ariadust Academy had broken through the white pressure.
And just as everyone thought they were through, the explosive pressure struck something else.
It struck the transport ship connected to the rear of Okutama by a towing belt. And something happened to that towing belt.
One of the lines holding them in place suddenly snapped. The belt that burst was the one Gin had attacked earlier.
With one point of support gone, the transport ship swerved erratically through the sky.
Many people let out cries of confusion as the ship quickly collapsed to the right.
“We need to straighten out! At this rate, the towing belt will drag us into Takao’s surface!”
The destroyed towing belt had been attached to their port side, so the transport ship quickly tilted toward Takao on the right.
Everyone exchanged a glance, wondering what to do.
“Chancellor!” cried Futayo’s sharp voice. “Do I have permission to cut the other towing belt!? I wish to cut this ship free of Musashi!”
Futayo left the decision up to Toori. That was the proper thing to do when a superior was present. However…
Futayo looked to the starboard edge to which Aoi had been tied with a rope.
However, Aoi was nowhere to be seen near the deck railing where the rope had been tied.
Only the end of the rope attached to the railing remained.
The other end was hanging over the edge of the deck beyond the railing. When Futayo noticed the rope swinging as if something heavy were attached to the other side, she frowned.
“I never thought I would be the first to discover the body.”
“Futayo!” shouted Masazumi from behind her. “What is it!? Is Aoi not there!?”
“Masazumi… The chancellor is certainly there. But perhaps I should be using the past tense now.”
“What? Where did that idiot get off to!? Honestly, and I just saw him a second ago standing on the railing pretending to be sailor!”
“No, um, Masazumi. Please listen to me. Even if you have indirectly committed murder, I am on your side. I promise I will testify on your behalf in court.”
“Judge, judge,” said Masazumi who was looking around and clearly not listening. “He really has disappeared. Futayo, I will make the request as vice president. Please cut the port side towing belt. Aoi may be gone, but we can explain the situation later.”
“Judge. Please look over there for a moment, Masazumi.”
“Hm? Over there?”
The instant Masazumi looked to the stern of the ship, Futayo approached the railing with an acceleration spell and cut the rope’s knot using Tonbokiri without bothering to check below. Futayo nodded as she saw the rope dance through the air in its fall.
“The evidence has been destroyed. Problem solved!”
“Did something happen, Futayo?”
Not wanting to leave a scar on her friend’s life, Futayo gave no response. Instead, she turned toward the port side towing belt and swung up Tonbokiri.
The cutting power flew through the air and severed the towing belt. An instant later, the bent towing belt whipped back into place.
That and the inertia from Musashi sent the transport ship into a high speed swing to the starboard side. It was thrown toward England’s coast.
As soon as Musashi left the cascade of mist, “Musashi” rechecked the situation from the bridge in front of the academy.
The light of Ex. Caliburn had disappeared from the sky.
And the transport ship was falling toward England’s coast.
However, her processing ability was at its limit controlling the damaged port side and handling the buffering control against the atmospheric pressure wall striking the starboard side from above. She could not also save the transport ship, so she chose the best option given the circumstances.
“Musashi” sent data on England’s surface to the transport ship. On top of the data supplied by England, she added the area the transport ship could land at. That was…
…The coastal area on the fourth level!
She looked up and saw the transport ship shake and suddenly fly forcefully toward England.
The great pressure of the wind had hopped over the large wall that was Musashi and knocked the transport ship to the side. With the previous momentum of the towing belt swinging it around, the transport ship fell diagonally toward England.
“Musashi” understood she had no choice but to leave the situation to those aboard.
But she suddenly heard a voice from below.
Despite the wind and shaking of the ship, someone was climbing up to the bridge.
“Oh, Konishi-sama and the others from the Commerce and Industry Guild. What are you doing here? Over.”
Konishi was a representative of the Commerce and Industry Guild as well as a member of the provisional council.
He raised his eyebrows and spread his arms in protest.
“You have to ask!? What do you intend to do about the damages to our goods and barriers to future trading!? We do intend to cooperate with Musashi’s student council and chancellor’s officers.” Konishi spread his arms even wider as he stood at the head of the group. “But ‘Musashi’-dono, who is responsible for this battle!?”
Toori fell naked from the sky and into Konishi’s arms.
He had likely fallen when the transport ship had been knocked away earlier.
But when this naked boy with a rope around his neck fell with an audible impact, Konishi’s veins bulged out as he fell into a sumo wrestler’s crouch and struggled to catch him.
“Waaaaah! ‘Musashi’-dono! A naked boy just fell from the sky!”
“Oh? What are you doing here, Koni-tan!? And this is a repeat gag!”
“Musashi” determined Toori would have preferred a fresh gag in which Konishi failed to catch him. She then turned to Konishi.
“All responsibility lies with him. Feel free to send any complaints to him. Over.”
She then turned toward the corrected course she had sent the transport ship.
“Judge. They are on course for the coast on the fourth and lowest level. Over.”
“Eh? They’re crashing!? Where, where!? Wait, Horizon’s with them!”
“Judge. We can no longer see them from here,” said “Musashi”. “But judging from the time, they have two more seconds. And they have landed. Over.”
Just before the emergency landing, Scarred and Milton had noticed the transport ship falling toward the western cost of England’s fourth level. They were urging the residents of a nearby village to evacuate. There was a slim chance the ship would crash there, fragments could fly that far, and…
“An earthquake or ley line disturbance could create a fault in the grown crust! Just like always, hurry to the central plaza! Remember to turn off any sources of fire before leaving! Milton, you lead the way. I will check the site and return once I’m sure it’s safe!”
Milton bowed and Scarred parted ways with him and ran out of the village. The fetter and chain on his right leg rattled as he did. In the sky, the transport ship was falling with white mist trailing behind it. However…
“House #23 here is the last one. These temporary evacuations would be easier with someone who could use a sign frame. Not that I’m one to talk,” said Scarred in self-derision.
He continued on past the final house of the village.
Several bulges appeared on the ocean next to him and water-colored horses poked their heads above water. It seemed they were evacuating from the area the ship was falling toward, but a few turned back toward him, shaking their manes made of seaweed.
“Judge. This is a bit dangerous, so go play over there!”
“Okay. Scarred. Honest.”
“Scarred. Always. Listen.”
The young horses began to climb onto land to play with Scarred, but the parents bit their manes to stop them.
Scarred smiled a bit at that.
But as he ran on, he heard a sudden voice from behind. He turned around to find the resident of #23. She was a banshee with wet, messy black hair and her white face was even paler than usual.
“Scarred! My children are over there!! They have yet to return from the other side of the hill!”
Hearing that, Scarred ran even faster. The banshee’s voice seemed to follow him.
“They said they were capturing crabs where the water gushes out!”
“Judge,” said Scarred with a nod and a glance at the metal stake in his right hand. This was enough. He hurried to the other side of the beach and a hill rose up to the right.
“The other side of that hill is just in front of the inlet graveyard. Will I make it in time? It’s been a while since I used spells for anything other than fishing and healing…”
He ran up the hill while the ship seemed so close overhead he could reach out and touch it.
And as he ran as quickly as he could, he saw something.
“Is that them!?”
He ran down the hill and arrived at a beach where the rocky ground was exposed in places.
“The rocks around here grow quickly. It has a lot of leaks and caves that water passes through, but it also crumbles easily.”
On maps, it was labeled as a dangerous area.
However, an area too dangerous for the adults to go had a way of becoming a hunting ground and playground for the lighter children.
And the children who could be called small hunters were there.
Below the falling shadow and above the sand were three small forms frozen in fear as they looked up.
A loud voice could be heard from the falling ship.
The ship would have known this was a dangerous area that people avoided. That was likely why they had chosen it. From how tilted the ship was, they must have used their limited time and position to desperately steer the ship away from the nearby village.
However, three children had been playing in the blind spot created by the hill.
The ship was trying to do something about it, but there was no time to steer the ship out of the way.
“In that case…!”
As he ran, Scarred held the metal stake forward in his right hand and pointed it toward the falling ship. He held a thick book up in his left hand and read through the text.
“Sorry, but I will blast you out of the way!”
The transport ship was filled with confusion.
Everyone had noticed the children on the coast below them and they were all reacting in their own way.
The first to react was Ohiroshiki who had been forcefully brought along to play the role of a tank.
“Ahhhh, little girls! Ahhhh, little girls! That’s two out of three! 66.666666…”
“What are you talking about!?”
“N-no, it is much too rude of me to get so excited just from seeing the little girls! C-c’mon, Tenzou-kun! You’re a ninja, so use your explosives to self destruct and blast this ship to smithereens! All the old hags and men must die! The little girls must live! Oh, but make sure I survive!”
At least a dozen nearby fists struck Ohiroshiki.
Meanwhile, Mitotsudaira opened a sign frame and tapped on Futayo’s shoulder.
“What is it, Nate-sama?” asked Futayo as she turned around. “Do you wish to schedule an assisted suicide concerning the coming scandal?”
“Far Eastern feudal knights really like bloodshed, don’t they? At any rate, Naomasa sent me some advice from Musashi, so let’s do what we can on our own. I don’t know if we can actually pull it off, though.”
“We will see that when we try.”
Futayo took a step forward to lead Mitotsudaira, but then she turned around.
“Where are we going?”
Mitotsudaira smiled bitterly, passed a sign frame to Futayo, and quickly explained the process. The two of them then ran toward the bridge.
They opened the front hatch in the bridge and made their way to the staircase leading into the ship.
“Futayo, if this works, our respective rulers should be happy.” Mitotsudaira took a breath. “Everyone is doing their best! We will do the same!”
By the time Futayo and Mitotsudaira ran inside the ship, everyone aboard was preparing for the impact of landing.
They were fixing the objects on deck in place with rope and carrying the injured to the stern.
They had little time, but everyone moved quickly as the ship shook and tilted. Masazumi placed a hand on her mouth as she carried Horizon to the bridge.
“Ten more seconds! Everyone, brace for impact!!”
The ground was visible down to the front and left of the ship. The children on the beach were now hidden from view by the ship.
Masazumi wondered what was going to happen, but she decided to trust Mitotsudaira and Futayo.
On the starboard edge of the deck, Tenzou was tightening the stay supporting the mast. As he did, he noticed movement down below.
Someone was running in from the starboard side on the ground.
The figure wore a long hooded cloak.
Ether light was visible around the staff-like object the figure held up in their right hand.
…Are they planning to use a spell or something? From the ether light, it must be quite a powerful spell. But…
The spell would have to cause a great impact to either knock the children out of the way or instantly knock the transport ship out of range. An inertial control spell would also be ended, but a high level combination of spells like that would need the help of a charm or multi-step preparations.
However, the running figure did not appear to be using either. Most of England’s fourth level was treated like a slum, so most of its residents had not received religious divine protection.
“In that case, is this one of the ancient spirit spells passed down within England?”
It was a primitive method and the user did not have strict control because it borrowed the power of spirits which were ether with a will of its own. However, certain spirit spell users could draw out tremendous power.
“Are they planning to hit the ship and knock it off course!?”
The instant Tenzou grasped the figure’s intent, he took action. He knew what he had to do based on this person’s decision.
Scarred ran toward his target location as the sand seemed to grab at his feet.
He sensed the shadow and pressure of the ship overhead and the thick atmosphere between the ship and the ground created a wind that gently pressed against him.
But Scarred did not hesitate as he ran toward the children about twenty meters away.
“Get down!!” he shouted.
He adjusted his grip on the metal stake such that he grasped the very bottom and held it up as if trying to stab it into the crushed bow of the falling ship.
But in that instant…
Scarred first noticed that his body was floating as he tried to carry out the activation ceremony.
For an instant, he did not know why.
But understanding came a moment later.
“Who are you!?”
Scarred realized someone was carrying him away.
He did not recognize the person. A boy in black clothes and a hat had tackled him in the gut.
It was as if the boy wanted to say Scarred’s actions were dangerous.
Scarred flew a few meters along with the boy.
The ether light in his right hand swelled a bit but quickly burst and vanished.
Just as that wordless voice leaked from his throat, he was pushed further through the air. His back struck empty air and he reached out his hand, but he could not reach the children or the ship. He could only see the children standing motionless on the beach and staring toward him. The children suddenly looked up and…
The transport ship crashed into the crust of the coast.
It began with an intense sound of stone striking stone. Next came two sounds of destruction.
The first was the sound of the transport ship’s bow bending and breaking as the bow slammed into the ground like it was stamping a giant seal.
And as the ship was destroyed, the other, slower destruction could be heard.
The crust crumbled.
As the ship stabbed into the ground, the grown earth was initially smashed in the shape of the ship’s bow. Cracks ran from there and passed by the ninja who was hurrying to a hill while carrying someone in a green cloak.
The ground crumbled.
The entire ship lowered as the bow stabbed further into England.
The beach was smashed apart, the rocks on the surface were ripped up, and the foundation below them split and crumbled.
The ninja ran while lifting and carrying the person in the cloak. He kicked off the ground that began to flow backwards.
He threw his body and the cloaked person to the stable hill.
The ship finally came to a stop while shallowly standing up on its bow.
All it left behind was a wholly changed landscape. The beach and the shallow ocean were gone. In their place was a slanted area of exposed bedrock several meters down. Water was beginning to flow into it.
And the children were nowhere to be seen.
From the beginning of the destruction to the very end, Tenzou had not taken his eyes off of it.
Even as fragments of wood had flown through the air and fallen nearby while spinning vertically, he had stood perfectly still while holding the hilt of the short sword on his back. If he took any careless action, harm could come to the civilian he was protecting.
And he himself felt a dull warmth near his right shoulder blade. A fragment from earlier had hit him and made a shallow stab wound. He was likely bleeding.
I am injured, but I am a ninja, thought Tenzou. A ninja’s primary duty is to gather intelligence from other academies and to return alive from any situation, but protecting important people is another one of our duties.
Preventing people from other countries and other academies from coming to harm due to Musashi’s participation would avoid future trouble.
…This is all part of my duty.
Tenzou checked on his surroundings.
…Things have quieted down. The destruction of the ship and the primary collapse of the crust have come to an end.
There was a danger of a secondary collapse, so the area was off limits to anyone without specialized knowledge.
…Well, that too is the duty of those with my specialization.
Tenzou took a deep breath and gathered strength in his body. He released the hilt on his back and stood up while holding his back.
And without taking his eyes off of the ship, he took an additional breath and spoke.
“Are you okay?”
As he stood up, he reached a hand down.
He reached a hand out to the person he had protected who wore a long cloak and had charged into danger on their own. However…
A sharp pain and noise came from his left cheek hidden below the brim of his hat and behind his scarf.
He had been struck.
With this sudden turn of events, he finally turned toward the person.
They wore a long cloak, but Tenzou gasped when he saw the hand which had stuck him and the person’s cheek and neck below the hood.
He saw scars on the back of the person’s hand, their wrist, their lower arm, from their nose to their cheek, and on their neck.
…Those are from swords.
Not all of the scars had been made with sharp blades. A lot of them were from tearing lacerations made by dull blades. The person’s palm also had countless scars as if it had been torn by thorns.
…Is this person in charge of protecting this area?
He tried to say something. At the very least, he felt it may have been rude to reach out his hand and ask if they were okay. He opened his mouth to speak, but the other person spoke first.
“What have you done!?”
That sharp cry left Tenzou speechless.
He also noticed something glittering as it flowed down the person’s cheek below their hood.
Instead of saying something, Tenzou sensed the meaning of the hot pain coming from his cheek. He sensed what that slap had meant. But before he could grasp the details, the person quickly turned toward the ship and began to run toward it.
The person then saw the state of the ship and the beach. They slowed their pace when they saw the beach beginning to fill with water from the ocean.
They came to a stop and stared at the ship. About a third of the ship was sticking into the crust and it gave off a slight creaking sound, but no one moved aboard the ship for fear of causing a secondary collapse.
The children were not visible where the bow had been.
The transport ship merely stuck up into the sky and Musashi could be seen continuing northward beyond it.
The person in the cloak watched that for a moment.
And they began to collapse to their knees with a sigh of resignation.
But in that instant, Tenzou cried out toward their back.
“Look more closely!!”
The ninja’s shout brought strength back to Scarred’s knees.
The instruction from behind was telling him to “look”. That could hold several different implications in the language of the Far East and the liberal translation provided by Scarred’s divine protection made it hard to tell which this was.
But Scarred saw something from underneath his hood. First, he saw the ninja circling around to block his path. The towering form of the ship was visible over his shoulder.
On the deck of the ship standing vertical in the morning sun, five figures could be seen standing on the mast which extended horizontally.
A samurai girl carried a boy over her shoulder.
“We saved all three British lives!!”
A silver-haired girl carried a girl under each arm.
Scarred did not know what had happened, but the children were unconscious.
Those words escaped Scarred’s throat and the ninja before him nodded.
The ninja merely looked toward him.
“That’s certainly good,” said the ninja with a sigh of relief.
Scarred felt his inner thoughts had been revealed, so he felt a meaningless impatience in his chest. Scarred looked back and forth between the unconscious children and the ninja.
He was unsure what to say. Should he give his thanks for saving the children? Should he express his anger over crashing the ship here? Or…
…I slapped him and cried despite not knowing the situation.
He may not have known the situation, but he had still been hasty.
The ninja had to have seen the ether light from the spell in Scarred’s hand. He had to have predicted what kind of spell it would be.
…So why did he stop me?
With that thought, Scarred frantically shook his head.
No, thought Scarred. It is wrong to doubt him.
The children had been saved.
Scarred took a breath and shook his head again. He knew what he had to say.
He prepared to say those words that held a number of meanings, but the ninja suddenly disappeared.
It happened so suddenly that Scarred did not even have time to say “eh?” All of a sudden, the ninja had vanished from the hill and could be seen running across the seawater beginning to fill the beach down below. He sent water splashing into the air with each step.
…Was that the ninja art of escape!?
Scarred understood why he had left. This was England and Musashi was in a delicate situation with the Testament Union nations. If the ninja disembarked without permission, it could be used as a negotiating card.
But Scarred called out for a different reason.
“Wait!” cried Scarred.
He had yet to apologize for acting hastily or thank them for saving the children.
However, the ninja was already running across the coast and back to the ship.
A shallow ocean had already formed around where the ship had sunk into the ground. It was cut off from the land.
As the ninja’s footsteps on the water’s surface approached the ship, Scarred took a step toward his back.
I look like a child left behind by their parent, thought Scarred.
Scarred had something he wanted to say. He just had to say it.
But he could not form the words.
As Scarred walked across the grass, he noticed a certain color at his feet.
It was red. A trail of red dots led toward the ocean.
…Is this from that ninja!?
Scarred quickly looked up.
The ninja had protected Scarred from injury and then Scarred had made a hasty misunderstanding. But…
The figures on the ship were gone as well. Instead, an emergency escape boat was floating in the seawater filling the area below the ship.
The three unconscious children were aboard the boat.
The only people remaining were Scarred on the grassy hill and the children.
Musashi’s steam whistle could be heard in the distance to the north.
Musashi circled England and sent out a ship to aid the crew of the transport ship and to carry out special negotiations.
While slowing down, Musashi completed a full revolution in half a day, but England instructed them to remain in the air south of England until they received permission to enter port.
But there was a reason Musashi could not respond simply by heading on to their next destination.
In the name of “investigating the damage to British territory”, England demanded the crew of the crashed transport ship remain onboard. England even cut off the nearby land with a concealment barrier.
This essentially took Horizon Ariadust, Honda Masazumi, Honda Futayo, and the rest of the crew as hostages. Musashi also had to repair its damaged ships, resupply with food and other goods, and carry out the trade with England they had agreed to, so most of those on Musashi agreed they should go along with England’s demand to wait.
But with the coming war with Tres España and Musashi’s anti-Testament Union position, England’s representative council could not agree how to deal with Musashi. The Trumps had been spread out across various areas of England, but the council decided they had to be called together.
Musashi’s negotiations earned them the assurance of the human rights and protection of Musashi’s ruler as well as the removal of the barrier around the transport ship after three days. However, ley line protection prevented the transport ship from being contacted by divine transmission and those aboard were forbidden to leave England so that further investigation could be carried out.
England provided supplies for the transport ship, but because “England is short on goods with the approaching war”, “England feared an uprising aboard the ship”, and “the distribution could be left to those inside”, the supplies were kept to the bare minimum. For the most part, it was only food and clothing.
The transport ship could not contact Musashi and those on board had to make use of their survival training. However…
“They’ll be fine. I’m really worried about Horizon and I want to tell someone to do something about it, but most of the people I tell to do something about stuff are over there. There’s no point in trying to do something about it from here. We just have to do what we can so they don’t get too lonely and hurry up our negotiations to land in England.”
Those instructions from Aoi Toori led to a few different actions aboard Musashi.
First, the school announcements were played over Musashi’s external speakers to provide the transport ship with a link to their normal lives. They also attempted a unique communication method based on a code using Musashi’s steam whistle.
Next, they completely eliminated the transport ship’s existence as a negotiating card as they negotiated with England for the right to land.
And a week after the transport ship’s crash, the transport ship finally sent back an awkward transmission using a light. Once Musashi knew everyone onboard was safe, they decided to grow more assertive in their negotiations.
But at the same time, the Trumps were gathered from around England and Tres España prepared for the war with England.
Musashi and England both received two pieces of information from their respective information networks.
First, Tres España had finished assembling their invincible fleet known as the Grande y Felicísima Armada.
Second, the large stealth ship which had attacked Musashi had not been seen within it.
Time was already approaching two weeks since the transport ship’s crash.
|Back to Chapter 08||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 10|