Horizon:Volume 2 Chapter 29
Chapter 29: Pilot in a Preparatory Place
How do you do.
Why so nervous?
Point Allocation (Happiness)
“…? What is this odd atmosphere? It’s like a stillness.”
Once the festival began, excitement had gently filled the city.
And as the different parts of London grew busy, Masazumi was tilting her head in the plaza to the side of Westminster Abbey.
This plaza bordered Soho’s nature park. It contained a number of warehouses which contained various festival events both on the outside and inside. Masazumi was interested in one in particular.
“There’s nothing like a used book market. Buying books so cheaply is wonderful.”
After the opening ceremony had ended, she had come here to kill time until she met with her comrades to discuss the party and meeting that evening.
She decided the atmosphere she sensed was just her imagination, so she continued walking through the aisles of books. She narrowed her eyes and already carried a full paper bag under one arm. She stepped lightly as she wandered through the warehouse and she was ultimately drawn to the outdoor sales area. She figured she had already gone over her monthly book budget, but…
…This will help me learn English!
Her excuse was perfect. If she could not trick even herself, she could never become a politician. She just barely managed to resist reserving copies of all the major titles, but she could not help but buy up the books that had not been translated into Far Eastern or had the translation stop partway through the series.
As she searched about, she thought.
…I wonder if Aoi and Horizon are actually discussing their stance for the future.
She trusted them enough to not assume they were simply messing around. After all, Musashi had a meeting with England after the party that evening. Trade and political deals would be discussed there, so it would act as the basis of Musashi’s future dealings with other nations and the Testament Union.
“If possible, I hope to form an alliance with England.”
But before she could think about that, she needed Aoi, who was their leader, and Horizon, who was a Logismoi Oplo holder, to decide on their stance. And if the meeting with England would determine Musashi’s future direction…
…This is our last chance to hesitate on this decision.
If those two did not come to a decision, the meeting would only discuss trade, Musashi would accomplish nothing on the political front, and they would either continue on to the next port or remain in England. They would then lose the time and power they needed to make allies before the Peace of Westphalia.
And so Masazumi wanted those two to reach their decision by the evening.
“But their first date in ten years is important on the personal side of things.”
Masazumi realized she had a tendency to think about this from a public position because she had not known those two for long. But the others were a bit different. Kimi, Asama, and Mitotsudaira had parted ways with her, but it had seemed they were planning to tail Aoi and Horizon.
…What are you, their parents?
But as Masazumi wandered through the aisles of books, she felt a bit disappointed that she had missed out on that.
The surrounding voices were louder outside than inside the warehouse.
…That’s probably because of the people in charge of guiding people into the warehouses.
She listened in and heard one person near the abbey.
“Okay, okay, okay! Next up is a rare item! This used doujinshi is titled ‘Musashi Vice President’s Coming of Age Ceremony’!”
“Is this some new kind of harassment!?”
She ran toward the voice, but she heard a noise from the sky as she did.
It was the ringing of a bell. It came from a giant white building visible nearby. The abbey was known for its great height, so just looking at it made one want to tilt one’s head up.
…The bell sounds like a school’s chime.
As she thought, a sudden trembling tickled at the right side of her neck.
It came from her Mouse. It seemed the chiming noise had startled the young anteater inside the hard point part on her neck. But instead of coming out, it restrained itself and stopped moving
…I’m still not used to this.
She slowed her pace as she wondered if the shaking of her body had startled the Mouse. She might miss her chance to confiscate the doujinshi about her, but she had no other choice.
And so she walked alongside the bookstore stands set up in front of the abbey. The stands in question were positioned across from the abbey’s entrance. There were stands by her and in front of her and she could hear the bell ringing through the sky.
Something seemed odd to her.
This was Masazumi’s first time in England or any place like this, but her heart sensed something uncomfortable that did not have to do with being in a foreign land.
…What is this?
A festival was underway and she was in a used book market. The people were checking the products at the different stands whether they intended to purchase something or not, but something else bothered Masazumi.
…First of all, something is odd about the abbey.
Westminster Abbey was the headquarters of the Anglican Church, England’s Protestant church. It would only be natural for people to line up there during a festival.
“But no one’s there.”
The abbey had a few different large doors on the front and she currently stood in front of the central one, but it was closed and she heard no noises or voices that would indicate people inside. And…
She looked around at the used book stands set up around the plaza.
…Something isn’t right.
Why were there even more customers outside?
“Why are they looking toward me? And wouldn’t there usually be more people at the center of the market than outside?”
She initially thought she was being overly self-conscious about the people’s gazes, but it became abundantly clear once she moved a bit. Every single one of the customers at the stands was looking her way and they turned their heads to follow her slightest movement.
As she wondered what was going on, the bell stopped ringing.
As the lingering noise vanished, Masazumi realized the customers at the stands and the people in the park had all stopped moving and speaking. Silence and stillness had fallen over the area. No, it was not completely still. The unavoidable movements of nature remained. The wind rustled through the grass and the clouds flowed through the sky.
…Everyone is looking at me.
Their faces were not expressionless. They had a cross between a smile and the expectant look of someone who thought they would smile soon.
Masazumi wondered what was going on. Why was this happening, when had it begun, and how were her comrades? With that last question in mind, she pulled out her handheld shrine. The Aoi sister, Mitotsudaira, and their group would be nearby, so they could quickly meet up if they decided on a meet-up point and ran. But a certain ink-like text appeared on the handheld shrine’s display panel.
The loss of any means of contact sent a chill down her spine. The Mouse at her neck had not grown attached to her yet, so it could not form a proper link with her.
…What is going to happen? …No, what should I do?
As she worried, the central double-doors to the abbey forcefully opened behind her and a hoarse voice shouted out.
“Ladiiiiiies aaaaaaand gentlemeeeeeennnnnnn!!”
The person who had opened the large doors with enough force to whip up the wind went on to raise his arms to either side.
…A Living Bones!?
He wore an English uniform. The Living Bones wore a cloak over the uniform and he shook the priest’s hat on his head while ignoring the sound of the doors slamming into the wall on his left and right.
“Have a nice deeeeath! I am Lord Chancellor and Trumps 3! Christopher Hatton at your deadly service!!”
As Lord Chancellor Christopher Hatton introduced himself from a distance of about ten meters, Masazumi was temporarily left completely speechless.
She had never seen him before, but she knew about him. Christopher Hatton had begun as one of Queen Elizabeth’s guards and risen to the position of Lord Chancellor, a religious judge with extralegal authority. He had been a dandy who enjoyed dance and his name had been inherited by one of the Living Bones elite in the modern world.
Currently, Hatton was sliding forward through the air with his head tilted slightly upwards and his arms spread. He looked like someone giving a speech.
“Hello, auuuuuudience! On this wonderful day, I would like to act as the MC and preach a killer sermon to you unsaved people!!
He seemed to be completely ignoring Masazumi, but he continued his sliding motion toward her. He continued looking up into the sky rather than at her or the other people, but his bony hands suddenly shot down toward her shoulders.
She was not trained in combat, so she was slow to react. She was unable to defend in the slightest and his strike to the shoulders half-forced her to turn toward the plaza.
While giving off a hollow and cold presence behind her, Hatton spoke.
“Now, people! I and everyone else who live in the Fairy Queen’s England are ecological pigs who still use the streets and buildings from the long-dead Roman age! But we are also nice pigs, so I would like to call us gentleman pigs and lady pigs! But if I did that, we would be here until you were in your graves, so I will end that now!!”
As she wondered what was happening, Masazumi raised her hands to show she was not trying to resist. She made sure not to drop the bag of books under her arm while she listened to Hatton.
“Buuuut! Pigs, listen to meeeee!! I know the truth! The pigs of the other nations of Europe are also dead-set on taking care of and relying on the Roman age!”
That’s true, silently agreed Masazumi.
A lot of the cities, streets, and waterways made during the Roman age were still used and the large cities of different areas across Europe were based on those things. This remained the same even after the collapse of the harmonic world. The cities and structures within the nations’ harmonic territories had been referenced when recreating those nations on Far Eastern land.
But Hatton added to his previous words. And his addition began with a word of denial.
“But, but, but, buuuuut! I know something else as well! Our nation of England values the Roman age, but we should become new age shamans as well! …Oh, but a holy man shouldn’t use the word shaman! Forget I said that! Put the memory to death!!”
Masazumi wondered if it was a bad thing that her strongest reaction was hoping she was not infected by his way of speaking. As she mentally tilted her head, she heard Hatton raise his arms a bit.
“England is newwwww! But what about it is new, hmmmm!? Shout out the answer! Make it a bloodcurdling scream!”
The workers and customers at the festival stands all swung up their right hands in unison.
“The Anglican Church!!”
“A deadly good answer!!” shouted Hatton. She heard him spread his arms wide. “Let’s get divorced!!”
Masazumi heard everyone let out a shout.
The cheer was quite loud, but Hatton clacked his hand bones together as if to say it was not enough.
“Divorce! In less than a second’s time, the bonds between husband and wife can be put six feet under! Buuuuut! There is no sadness, no crying, and no suicide! By severing those legal bonds, you, me, and all the other pigs and non-pigs that god has overpopulated this world with can hold hands in deadly harmony!
“Divorce! In the old age without it, the only bonds were those between husband, wife, child, and descendent! Buuuut! With divorce, once can form bonds with many, many more people! Nice job, Henry VIII! Buuut! Does this mean death for the bonds between us!?”
…That is a good point.
Marriage was a bond with legal meaning, but people could join together even without that legal meaning. And on top of that, England had used the Anglican Church to give people the ability to cut the bond of marriage.
That was why the Lord Chancellor was asking if this meant the end of people’s bonds.
“Hah hah,” laughed Hatton behind her. “That is not the caaaaase! They are everywhere around us! The fatal mistake lies in using the term ‘bond’!!”
“Laws! Contracts! Leases! Even without such things, there are always bonds between people! Even if you try to cut them, you will find yourself unable! After all, we do not even forget those who are dead! We cannot forget an idiot even if they die!”
He loudly clapped his bony hands once.
“But the people were amazing lost lambs! And so they made documents, made contracts, and got so narcissistic that they would not believe it unless their father did karaoke at the wedding! But the Roman age is long dead! The amazing lambs passed through the age of pigs and will eventually become cows! They will ultimately reach the age of judgment and they will achieve victory when the referee judges on the side of the home team! After that, the age of pork will be overcome and the age of beef will arrive! Once they achieve that wonderful marbling, everyone will believe in the bonds between people even without a word spoken! With the introduction of divorce, England has now brought death to the lamb and carried the pork out to the marketplace! Now is the pork age! But after the difficulties of haggling down the price just before the shop closes, tomorrow it will be beef for sale! And what has England gained in this new age!?”
Well… thought Masazumi.
And as soon as she came up with the answer, Hatton shouted it out.
“A new lawwww! Brought to you by me, the Lord Chancellor! Unlike the civil law that Europe has used since the old age, England’s laws have had a deadly unique feature! Just like in the Roman age, the countries of Europe use civil law which follows established laws and texts! Buuuut! Since the age of lamb, England’s laws are built up on precedent! And that is known as common law! Are you listening!? Common law! Common law! Common lawwww!”
As Hatton chanted, everyone else joined in while swinging up their arms up again and again.
“Common law! Common law!! Common law!!!”
…Is this chant supposed to be mocking!?
But Masazumi did not say anything because she did not want to agitate another nation’s judicial representative.
And then Hatton began speaking once more.
“Okay, audience!! We are pigs now! That is the current age! By charging headlong into divorce and other changes, English law has reached a deadly limit! The limit is here! And so the position of Lord Chancellor has been given a certain authority! Aaaaand! That authority is equityyyyy!”
He went on to explain the meaning of equity.
“Some special cases cannot be handled with common law which is built on precedent! Rather than let those special cases haunt us, the Lord Chancellor resolves them using equity which transcends common law! Now England can resolve anything without being fatally bound by old cases and legacy laws! But England has also not killed those old cases and legacy laws! After all, this is equity! A similar word existed in the dead Roman age!”
The festival stand workers responded by forcefully throwing their hands in the air. Their hands held pikes made of rusty metal and they shouted in unison.
They raised their weapons and swung them around as if scraping at the heavens.
“Our new law!!” they shouted.
They let out a great cheer.
“Our new equites!! No…”
The festival stand workers turned around, revealing their faces, bodies, and arms.
…Living Dead and Living Bones!?
“Yeahhhh!!!” they all shouted. “The old equites living on in our new England!!”
“That is deadly accurate!” shouted back Hatton. He stood before the cheering knights while speaking word by word as if pointing to each of them in turn. “Haaaave! Yooouuuu! Seeeeen! Theeee!! Liiiiiight!?”
“No light! No resting in peace!! Nobody rests in peace!!”
“Okay, listen to meeee! Repeat after meeee!!”
“Listen to yoooouuuu! Repeat after yooouuu!”
In that instant, Masazumi could have sworn the Lord Chancellor took in an impossible breath.
“An idiot cannot be cured even by deeeeeath!!”
“An idiot cannot be cured even by deeeeeath!!”
“Now then,” said Hatton just as Masazumi felt a sudden impact.
Hatton’s bony hands had grabbed her shoulders.
Before she could even wonder what was happening, Hatton shouted out.
“But what about a clever girl!?”
“She will be cured by deeeeath!!”
As they shouted in joy, the ancient knights raised their spears.
“The bonds between people are everywhere! We just cannot see them!!”
“We are all idiots, so we cannot rest in peace even after our deaths!”
“But if a clever girl dies with us, that bond will let us rest in peace!!”
Masazumi had more or less grasped their argument, so she frantically shouted back.
“Wait! I’m not all that clever!”
They all fell silent. A bit of strength left the arms of the knights raising their spears. And then one of the knights moved his dry teeth and jaw to ask a question.
“What was your score on your third term health class exam in your second year?”
She tried to remember.
Everyone looked toward Hatton behind her. She also glanced up at him and saw the skeleton Lord Chancellor nod deeply toward the others.
“Such a high score! For the crime of perversion, I sentence you to deeeeeath!!”
“I’ve never heard such a terrible excuse!!”
“Shut up! Thou shalt not be perverted! In the Tsirhc religion, it is customary for everyone to get zero points on their exams in health class! But turning in a blank paper would be foolish, so we all work hard to make pure and proper mistakes! And since you got the right answers, you are guilty of perversion!! And so I cast my judgment as Lorrrrrd Chancellorrrrr!! Teh leh leh teh teh leh!!”
Hatton wore a necklace made of several compressed skulls and they flashed while singing along with his jingle. As soon the light stopped, Hatton spoke.
“I sentence you to deeeeeeath!!”
“You just wanted to say death, didn’t you!?”
She protested, but the knights let out a cry and charged forward with their spears at the ready.
“W-wait a second! Can you really rest in peace like this!?”
She turned toward Hatton and found his necklace was flashing again. The frequency of the flashing was accelerating.
“Time to explode! Time to rest in peace!” shouted the necklace’s skulls.
“Y-you almost tricked me by going so over the top, but that’s annihilation, not resting in peace!! And Lord Chancellor! You’ll be blown away as well!! And even if you aren’t, you’ll be skewered by the spears!”
As she spoke, a figure ran out from the abbey. The figure had no head, but it was a Living Bones wearing the same cloak and uniform as Hatton. The headless Living Bones stood behind Hatton, gently grabbed Hatton’s skull with its bony fingers, and removed it.
“Ah,” said Masazumi. “Y-you can swap out bodies!?”
“Have a nice deeeeeath!”
Hatton’s new body dashed away with the head under his arm. The remaining body continued holding Masazumi’s shoulders and her face stiffened as the spears approached.
In the next instant, Hatton sank down a bit next to the abbey.
He extended one leg out to the side, rotated both his arms, and stretched them out parallel with his outstretched leg.
“Resting in peace is the keyword that binds this world with the next! Using a death sentence allowed by equity, I, Lord Chancellor Christopher Hatton, can cause an overwhelming number of restless spirits to rest in peace in only 0.05 seconds! And you can watch that deadly process now!”
He twisted the arms sticking out to either side. The instant he pointed both thumbs downwards, the headless body holding Masazumi was pierced by dozens of spears. The cloth of its uniform flew through the air and the tips of the spears protruded from its back like a pincushion.
An explosion of white light appeared in front of the abbey.
A half-dragon stood on a main street of the festival. He muttered to himself while scratching the aileron in front of his throat.
“That sounded like an explosion in the distance, but did I just imagine it? Have I finally been so influenced by those strange people that I am constantly hearing loud noises in my head?”
That half-dragon with a blue and white outer shell was Urquiaga. He stopped walking, folded his arms, and tilted his head.
“Everyone else seems to be having fun, so did the others start ostracizing me at some point?”
The half-dragon’s sharp eyes turned toward the wall of people that covered the road yet kept its distance. They were all looking at him. Their gazes were filled with expectation and interest, but Urquiaga turned a half-lidded glare in their direction.
“Hey,” he called out.
The entire crowd responded.
It was a mixture of cheers, feminine cries, and laughter. It eventually lowered to a stir and finally became an expectant silence once more. Urquiaga did not know why only he was here or why everyone was unconditionally expecting something of him.
But there was one thing he did know.
He recognized some of the faces in the nearest portion of the wall of people. He saw Ohiroshiki, Hassan, Noriki, and Noriki’s younger brothers and sisters. He did not know why, but they were fully a part of the crowd.
Whenever something happened, they would immediately raise their arms and shout out. Ohiroshiki was the easiest to understand.
“Ohhhh! Uquiiii! Uqui! Uquiii!! Come over here!!”
In his attempt to stand out more than anyone else in the crowd, he waved his arms around and jumped up and down with such force that it looked like he would burst a blood vessel. Urquiaga honestly found it disturbing. Next to Ohiroshiki, Hassan held a giant plate above his head.
Urquiaga had no idea what was going on. Curry had nothing to do with the festival and Hassan’s usual expressionless face only made it worse. Incidentally, Noriki and his siblings were a problem as well.
“Wow! It’s a monster! Look, it’s a monster!” shouted one of the younger ones. “Hurry up and destroy the city and then explode!!”
Urquiaga felt that was a very self-contained idea of a monster, but then he turned to Noriki. The boy was as silent and expressionless as ever.
He raised and lowered his arms along with the crowd around him. His complete silence and lack of expression made the sudden movements of his arms seem very suspicious. After looking at those three classmates, Urquiaga tilted his head.
…This must be some form of brainwashing. Judge. It has to be.
He wanted to check to see if they were brainwashed, but that presented a problem.
…No one would be stupid enough to say ‘yes’ if I asked if they are brainwashed. Someone must be sending a brainwashing signal across the festival and it has messed with everyone’s brain. A devout Catholic such as myself has escaped its effects due to my Catholic barrier. Long live Catholicism. Now then. Time to ignore the crazy people and search out a non-brainwashed older sister character.
But someone suddenly spoke to the side.
“Ahhh! My opponent is a monster! How scary!”
Urquiaga turned to the left to see what this was about.
It was a giant seal engraved with the mirror image of Far Eastern for “England”. It was large enough to wrap one’s arms around.
“I’m Nicholas Bacon of Trumps!!”
That cheerful voice was accompanied by the seal flying toward Urquiaga.
The voice gathered even more energy.
“Oh, it sounds like someone else is having an exciting time.”
Naito felt the vibration in the street and the sound of swords. Their locations were spatially harmonized, so they should not have had any direct connections. The fact that she could sense an influence from outside meant the theatre spell was not perfect.
“If I am right, this is a theatre space and our battlefields are spatially adjacent stages. In that case…”
…These noises I’m hearing are from the others’ battles. I hope they’re okay.
As she muttered in her heart, she opened the long case she had been resting on her shoulder and she pulled a broom out.
Light was already wrapped around the broom’s Orei Metallo. It was the deep red indicating a warning. That signal normally meant she was approaching a ship’s barrier while she was in flight.
Naito produced a speedometer-type Magie Figur in place of a sign frame and used it to operate the broom. She cancelled the warning, shifted it into flight preparation mode, and activated the resonance detection just in case.
…Just as I thought, Ga-chan isn’t here.
Weiss Fräulein’s Verstärken Schale had been destroyed during the Battle of Mikawa, but the pen that formed its foundation was intact. That was why she had hoped Schwarz Fräulein could resonate with it, but it seemed the theatre space was not so kind.
She was worried about Naruze. After all, the Verstärken Schale and Technohexen outfit came from the storage space as a set, so she could not change into the Technohexen outfit that provided defense and the bodily fixation needed for aerial mobility.
“Ga-chan can be quite stubborn.”
Naito felt it was both a positive and a negative that Naruze felt there was something “lacking” about her actions.
When it worked in a positive way, it made her a diligent worker and gave her a kindness that bordered on overprotectiveness. But when it worked in a negative way, she would be too quick to bare her fangs toward others and she would corner herself with pointless effort.
…She seems to be in the pointless effort mode this time.
Naito adjusted her three-cornered hat and lowered her shoulders a bit.
“And I’m the cause…”
As she muttered to herself, she brought the broom’s Orei Metallo toward her forehead and yet raised her eyebrows.
“Verwandlung!” she shouted. “Schwarz Fräulein!”
Her wish was answered by a roar and the reliable expansion of her equipment.
It came. First, a string of characters rushed across a sign frame.
“Expanding allotted space. Everyone, please be careful.”
In the next instant, Schwarz Fräulein’s outfit was summoned behind her and surrounded her. In exchange, the clothes she wore were removed and reverse-summoned away.
Her skin was exposed for just an instant, but the black clothes wrapped tightly around her body in the next moment. And…
“Come, Schwarz Fräulein!”
In response to her cry, components for a black steel cowling were spatially fired around her wooden broom which floated in the air.
Just as the clothes fixed in place around her body, Schwarz Fräulein’s parts moved into place and bolts were fired into them.
All that remained was for everything to be fixed in place. A harmony of metallic noises rang out and the final bolt was driven into place.
Naito immediately flew up into the sky.
…What is going on!?
She wanted to investigate some things. What were the characteristics of this space that had been altered by a spell? How large was it? Did it have walls that acted as boundaries? And was it possible to destroy the spell or escape it? Analyzing this type of spell was the specialty of the Technohexen who had been forced to oppose persecution. Schwarz Hexen used attenuating magic, so they were the ones to destroy, stop, or build countermeasures against spells. She was the perfect person for this job.
And so she flew. The primary reason for flying was to escape an enemy’s attacks.
…But I also have to determine the extent of the spell’s effects.
Naito was rising vertically, but she suddenly collided with something.
It was the surface of a body of water.
It was invisible, but a thick expanse of ocean had indeed fallen down from the sky.
After striking that water in the air, Naito drew out her full speed beyond the massive wall of water. The spray felt like an impact and the pressure of the water seemed to grope at her entire body and her wings.
Due to its narrow form, Schwarz Fräulein stabbed into the water and continued on. It started to slip from between her legs, but it quickly stalled and seemed to fall onto a thick blanket.
As her body doubled over from the impact, air slipped from her body and within her hair. That air then moved toward the ground below. The way the current wrapped the water around her made it difficult to open her eyes. Her lungs begged for air as the trembled from the impact, but only the blood-like flavor of seawater filled her mouth.
As she sat in the ocean that made it difficult to spread her wings, Naito thought about what this was.
…This is probably a virtual ocean created by a spell.
She had been careless. As soon as she had been brought into the theatre space, she had assumed she would duel someone there, but her opponent had brought the ocean with them for the battlefield. And that ocean filled the sky to prevent her from flying.
The water making up this ocean was likely the same as the virtual ocean surface that the Musashi used to float.
But the ocean in the sky here was thick. Now that her body had settled in place and merely gave off air bubbles, she felt an impassable thickness in the ocean around her.
She could only think of one reason to prepare an ocean so much thicker than the one the Musashi used.
As Naito held Schwarz Fräulein which had stalled in the ocean, a voice confirmed the answer in her heart. It came from a trail of white bubbles cutting through the water to her right.
“Do you understand? This is the large instant training pool used by Oxford’s ship club!”
A man holding a long trident charged toward her while swimming Vassallo-style. He had a sign frame which displayed a mermaid.
“I am Hawkins, the ship club swim team captain and Trumps 5-2.”
“And I am Cavendish, ship club aide and 5-3!”
As she heard the two of them speak, Naito held Schwarz Fräulein as if embracing it within the heavy water.
In the next instant…
“Today we will be battling while swimming!!”
Hawkins’s trident stabbed directly toward her throat.
As danger approached her, Naito thought about the fact that her partner was likely facing an enemy as well.
She hoped Naruze was not matched up with too bad an opponent.
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