Horizon:Volume 2 Chapter 31
Chapter 31: Protector on the Round Stage
Why do dolls dance?
What do dolls think as they dance?
What do dolls use to dance?
Point Allocation (Opposition)
Mitotsudaira used the central street to run toward Soho.
The street was wide and an audience took shelter under the arcades on either side.
A plaza awaited down the road. Beyond the plaza were even more roads and plazas. And beyond them was…
The edge of the first level towered above like a wall and stairs led up to the fortress-like main school building. To the right of the stairs was the Tower of London, but Mitotsudaira’s interest lay elsewhere.
“This is the place.”
Her heels clacked against the ground and her run came to a stop. She was inside a plaza with roads leading away in all four directions. It had a fountain in the center and tall buildings bordered it on all four sides.
However, it had festival stands and lots of people.
As she sighed and lowered her shoulders, her expression relaxed. A few words escaped her lips as she looked around the area.
“Based on their scent, those two stopped here on their date.”
She did not know what they were doing at the moment, but she had a duty as a knight.
“I must quickly bring an end to this farce and guide my king and princess to a safe place.”
If possible, she wanted to keep the two of them together. If they could redo what they had missed ten years prior, it would no longer pain her king.
Also, if either one of them decided on their stance for the meeting that evening, Musashi could face that meeting with a solid foothold against England.
As Masazumi had mentioned, this would not end just with their meeting with England.
…This meeting will set the basis for how we approach the other nations and the Testament Union.
That was why this date was so important. Both for official and personal reasons, she could not allow anyone to interfere.
…And for me…
Ten years ago when Horizon had been lost and he had yet to return due to his injury, all of them had had their own thoughts. They had baselessly believed that the two of them would return, but she had not returned and they had very nearly lost him.
If Kimi had not been there, they would not have prevented the second loss. Their inability to stop those losses would have carved despair into their hearts.
But Horizon had now returned, even if she had lost a lot.
And so Mitotsudaira had a certain thought.
She could not let them travel down the path of loss again. At the very least, she had no intention of losing the things she cared for, the things she wanted by her side, and the things she wanted to be with.
Her position as knight meant she could not be the most important thing to her king. But protecting her king and that which was most important to him was part of her pride as a knight.
And her protection included protecting Musashi’s future.
“The enemy closest to the king is the enemy I should deal with. Who are they?”
Mitotsudaira asked her question as she sat on the stones that formed the edge of the fountain in the center of the plaza.
She did not sit on the wooden benches on each side of the fountain. After all, she could smell her king two peoples’ distance away.
The spot next to her king was for the one most important to him and it was too much for her, so she moved two spots over and sat.
Her left arm suddenly shot into the air.
Mitotsudaira’s hand threw a piece of the stone arrangement surrounding the fountain. She forcibly ripped up a stone the size of a child’s head and threw it.
Immediately afterwards, the stone burst in midair.
With a clear noise, it scattered into dust and fragments at the midway point between her and the roof of a building to the left.
But Mitotsudaira had already drawn back her left arm and fired a second stone.
The swiftly ripped up and thrown stone whistled through the air and hit the spot she had targeted.
She had targeted the roof of a four-story building.
The stone sank into the triangular thatched roof, causing the straw to tear off and dent in. However, that only lasted an instant. The stone struck the ridge pushing up the straw and the entire roof creaked.
“Have some respect and show yourself!”
The force of the impact stored in the roof was released and burst out the other side. At the same time, a figure jumped out from behind the roof. As if urged on by the sounds of breaking wood and scattering straw, the figure jumped diagonally down into the plaza.
They had not fallen down or been knocked down. Mitotsudaira saw the figure float down in a straight line.
She estimated the spot at which this figure would land.
…Did she use the force of the roof’s destruction to speed her leap down?
She recognized the figure who had jumped down.
“Trumps 2. F. Walsingham!”
She was a feminine automaton.
Two thorny cross-shaped doll controllers floated behind her back and most of her joints were not connected. Her head and torso, shoulders and elbows, and legs and knees were all floating separately.
Mitotsudaira decided blunt impacts would be of little use, so she instantly chose the optimal technique.
She chose her silver chains.
She would send out the two right ones like a slap, catch the automaton contained within her inner suit, swing her around at high speed, and scrape her against the ground.
Her head and arms would be fine, but Mitotsudaira determined she would win if she could destroy her body.
And so she enacted the plan.
“Here I go.”
She snapped her wrist to accelerate the right silver chains like a whip. She targeted this opponent who was descending with a jump.
And just as Mitotsudaira thought she had hit, she saw something.
The silver chains passed through her flying opponent with no resistance.
She was taken aback, but she accurately took in the information. She understood why her silver chains had failed.
…She destroyed her own body!?
Walsingham’s evasion method was simple.
As she flew through the air, she separated her body within the inner suit.
Automatons had a few different characteristics as artificial objects, but there was one common to all of them. Namely, they moved their artificial body using some kind of technology.
For example, Horizon used artificial muscles and “Musashi” used wire cylinders for some parts. However, Walsingham was different.
…She moves solely via gravitational control!?
Gravitational control was one unique feature of automatons and she used it on her own body.
And that applied to her torso as well as her limbs.
But the torso could be called an automaton’s main body. The internal organs that provided output and fuel were contained there. To take apart her torso as well, the makeup of her parts would have to be somehow special.
…And she would need extreme precision with her gravitational control!
But she had indeed done it.
Her inner suit may have been no different from a bag to contain her parts when she released the inner connections of her torso. But as the silver chains flew toward her, the part-filled bag casually changed shape to escape the binding light.
“Riding,” said a sign frame.
She rotated in midair as if performing a cartwheel and reformed her body in the process.
The sign frame’s message appeared just as she landed on the ground while down on one knee.
Mitotsudaira sent another attack.
She used her two left silver chains to grab two of the benches surrounding the fountain on four sides. She pulled back the right silver chains by swinging them up and then she used them to grab the other two benches.
Mitotsudaira understood how dangerous this enemy was. After all, this English automaton named Walsingham had evaded her silver chains just now.
…And she deflected the silver chains when boarding the transport ship!
Mitotsudaira did not know what kind of trick she had used for that, but it was clear she had more than one method of neutralizing Mitotsudaira’s silver chains.
“What other tricks do you have up your sleeve!?”
Mitotsudaira needed to continually make one-hit win attacks in order to expose all of her opponent’s methods.
And so she slammed the benches down from the sky while using the silver chains to keep Walsingham from evading.
She saw the English automaton take immediate action against the falling benches.
The automaton expressionlessly stood up.
“Mode: Counter attack.”
A sign frame appeared next to her face and the cross-shaped controllers shot up behind her like wings.
The cross-shaped controllers were actually blades with thorn-like undulations.
They produced two attacks.
First, the two blades swung straight up and sliced the first two benches in half. With twin outward-swinging attacks that sent the fragments flying away, the other two benches were destroyed.
Sounds of destruction rang out and splinters flew through the air like spraying water.
After the two blades completed their swings, Walsingham faced Mitotsudaira. She opened her mouth and bared her canines.
Mitotsudaira paid it no heed, connected two festival stands together lengthwise, and threw them down from the sky.
Walsingham looked at the next shadow falling from overhead.
A giant attack was coming, but it was an attack that required preparation time and actions.
That was when she understood two things: the four benches from earlier had been camouflage for these festival stands and her enemy was using her full strength in this battle.
And so she made up her mind. She decided to reveal everything she had.
“Shift: Burst mode.”
Four metal pipes were floating around the automaton’s body as if for decoration. She now gathered them in her hands.
And she swung her floating hands to connect the four pipes into a cannon.
She connected a cross-shaped sword as if sticking it into the front of the cannon. This created a giant cross-shaped spear.
“That is the cross cannon you used for the shot from above earlier!”
Walsingham fired. The ether light produced by the cannon was amplified inside the cross sword.
When the shot hit the two festival stands, they literally exploded.
The impact caused the stands to swell up and then burst. Snacks and fruit of all colors scattered everywhere.
But Mitotsudaira gave new motion to the silver chains.
…There is still a technique I have not seen!
…The mysterious technique she used to deflect the silver chain when she visited the transport ship!
As the chain had wrapped around her, she had deflected the entire chain outwards all at once. That was a fatal technique for the silver chains, so Mitotsudaira needed to check on it. And so she gave new instructions to the silver chains.
“Close her in!”
The silver chains surrounding Walsingham formed four silver rings that instantly closed in on her.
The action was similar to shutting a mouth. When carried out by high-speed chains, it would tighten around the automaton from all directions.
The attack came from a total of eight directions. She added in diagonal angles to make it even harder to evade.
In response, Walsingham lowered her cross spear.
Too slow, thought Mitotsudaira.
The spear was heavy and it could not pick up enough initial velocity to slice through the chains. She had made it in time to cut the benches, but she would be unable to keep up with the speed of the chains themselves.
And the chains closed.
“How about this!?”
That question was immediately followed by a noise.
Countless painful and high-pitched noises of metal against metal rang out, but they seemed to produce a single unified howl. And then she faced the result.
All of the silver chains had been deflected away from Walsingham with the same force as their flight in.
This was the same as on the transport ship. Walsingham had deflected the silver chains.
The four silver chains bent into a question mark shape because they did not understand how they had been rejected.
But after a few moments, Mitotsudaira saw what had deflected them.
Handle-less blades floated around Walsingham. They were about twenty centimeters long and seven centimeters wide, and they were nothing but blade from front to back.
Thirty two of them floated in the air.
But these blades had not just suddenly appeared.
…These are the parts that made up the thorn-like blades of her cross swords.
The swords had lost their thorns, but more solid undulations remained where the thorns bases had been.
Meanwhile, Walsingham raised her eyebrows slightly as she faced Mitotsudaira.
“Wars of the Roses.”
As she said that, three more blades split off from each of the 32 blades, increasing the number fourfold.
There were now 128.
But they were still thick enough to split further. She could likely use over a thousand of them.
And Mitotsudaira finally came to an understanding. It was indeed possible to deflect her silver chains with all those swords.
The method was simple. The automaton would predict the movement of the chain wrapping around her and simultaneously send one of the blades into each and every link of the chain. That would prevent the chain from wrapping and fully reject it in an instant.
…But that would require incredibly fine control.
And yet F. Walsingham had done it.
Mitotsudaira knew that Walsingham was the head of England’s public morals committee. Her duty was to sneak spies into other nations and hunt down the spies in her own nation.
Historically, Walsingham had organized the secret police protecting England and handled the scheming behind the scenes while William Cecil had handled the official politics.
…And in doing so, Walsingham supported England’s prosperity using information about the armada battle.
Walsingham had also been the one to expose Mary Stuart’s plan to assassinate Elizabeth.
“Historically, the queen hated you and called you a villain.”
“No,” said Walsingham.
She lightly shook her head and remained expressionless.
“She calls me an ‘Untamed Gundog’.”
That was her Urban Name.
She swung up both her arms.
“Go,” she said. “Go, dogs. Gun dogs.”
She faced Mitotsudaira.
“La la la la.”
The Wars of the Roses spiraled around in the air.
“Bite a tamed wolf!”
The gundog attacked with everything she had. It formed a motion resembling a surging wave.
The festival wind blew gently around London.
That wind carried the city’s smells to a fountain plaza bordering Soho’s nature district. Two people sat on the stone edge of the fountain.
One was a boy wearing a Far Eastern uniform and the other as a silver-haired automaton girl. The automaton quietly faced forward while wearing an English uniform with the sleeves removed and a hat with feather decorations.
But as they sat on the edge of the fountain, the boy suddenly stood up and stretched.
“Okay, Horizon. How about we get something light to eat at that stand?”
“Should we really do that?”
He gave her a smile that said “Why not?”
“Toori-sama, my automaton senses have been picking up a sort of reverberation for a while now. To be blunt, I have determined that most of London has been enclosed in some sort of barrier.”
Toori’s nod made her frown slightly.
But he lightly patted her shoulder.
“Sis and the others pursuing us disappeared a while back. I thought they’d catch up to us or spy on us if we sat here, but they didn’t.”
“If it is some sort of trouble, I have determined you are in danger. After all, you are the chancellor and student council president.”
“I’m in no danger.”
“Why not? How can you be so sure?”
“Because the others will protect us. Even if sis and all the others have gone off somewhere else, the fact that we’re okay means they’re protecting us. If we need to escape, they’ll find some way to let us know, but they haven’t told us anything.”
He looked around the area. He glanced at all the festival stands surrounding the fountain plaza.
“That means they’re telling us to do our thing while they handle all the problems.”
“But all you and I can do is…”
“Have our date!!”
“…discuss whether I am interested in emotions and let you decide on your policy based on that. That will determine Musashi’s actions for the future.”
As Toori pouted his lips, Horizon narrowed her eyes and sighed.
“At any rate.” She stood up, took a step ahead of him, turned around, and tilted her head. “This is a valuable situation that the others have given us with their protection. This evening, we will attend a party at Oxford Academy and hold a meeting between Musashi and England. If we can determine our stances by then, it should hold great meaning. After all, this decision will form a basis for our dealings with other nations. So, Toori-sama. Please thank everyone so they will not feel sad. And please take this date seriously. I currently hold no interest in my emotions and am actually wary of them. Please use this date to teach me whether gaining emotions has enough meaning to overturn that. Also, please decide whether there is truly meaning in attempting to conquer the world with Musashi and my Logismoi Oplo. If I have no interest in my emotions, I do not understand what meaning there is in retrieving the Logismoi Oplo.”
“It sounds like this date is gonna be a real battle. I hope I’ll be okay.”
“Judge,” replied Horizon. As she stood before him, she held out her hand. “I have determined you can be your normal self. That is what everyone else is fighting to allow. After all, no one would trust or want a serious version of you or a decision made by that version of you. So please come to your decision in your normal way.”
“Sure,” he said as he reached for her outstretched hand. “I’ll tell everyone that their efforts really saved us. Sis, Nate, Asama, and all the others would probably get mad at me if I got all serious out of consideration for them. They’d say we wasted their efforts because they were trying to protect this time for us to enjoy ourselves. So let’s take this date seriously but not get serious ourselves, Horizon. Let’s act like idiots, talk about what matters to us, thank the others, and make the most of this time. And once it’s over, we can find the others while they’re exhausted and tell them all about it. We’ll make sure they know how valuable and enjoyable the time they gave us was.”
And just as Toori and Horizon began walking hand in hand with the backing of everyone’s assistance, Tenzou and Scarred arrived at London.
The two walked with an unfamiliar sense of distance, but they still spoke to each other.
Meanwhile, Musashi’s representatives and England’s representatives continued their battles as if taking their respective hands.
The festival’s actors had been gathered. They were all aware of their roles and they took action to determine the flow of events on the stage.
That flow would determine the fates of both England and Musashi.
The sounds of those duels added even more noise to the festival leading to the two nations’ party and meeting.
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