Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 30
Chapter 30: Prince of the Cellar
Now, let’s go
Now, what should we do?
Point Allocation (Go All Out)
A stormy wind blew.
In the sky, the Musashi prioritized preserving itself while floating unsteadily within the whirling air currents and explosive blasts.
The sea along its surface was stripped away by the tearing wind again and again and a tremor ran through it each time.
“All ships: remain alongside IZUMO, shift to concentrated buoyancy, and open gravity barriers to port and starboard. After using the explosive blasts to rise by three hundred meters, shift the ships’ angle of elevation back by five degrees and expand the outer shell for gravitational cruising. Over.”
On “Musashi’s” instructions the Musashi began to rise. Inside Tama’s loading entrance, Neshinbara gave a rapid series of instructions regarding the changing situation.
He was primarily instructing people to intercept or defend against the M.H.R.R. fleet expanded to the east.
“Politician Honda-kun, fifteen minutes have passed. Has Lord Matsunaga contacted us?”
Masazumi’s eyebrows rose but she nodded.
“Do what you have to do without worrying about that. And sorry.”
After apologizing, Masazumi sighed.
…It’s time, but nothing has happened. This is going to be a lot of trouble.
She did wonder if Matsunaga had set them up, but Neshinbara waved a hand her way while still giving instructions.
“Judge. Don’t worry about it. If we play up the fact that he broke his promise, we can probably get some sympathy as well as the usual hostility. Also, the Provisional Council has given their interpretation of his lack of response.”
“My father and the others have? What was it?”
“Judge.” Neshinbara nodded and opened a sign frame for her and other others in the area to see. “Look at this: Lord Matsunaga made a promise with Musashi’s chancellor and Student Council president; so now that the target of his promise has been taken away by Hexagone Française, he has reneged on that promise. That’s their interpretation, but Lord Matsunaga might deny it if we asked him.”
“Sorry,” apologized Masazumi again. “Wait. My father and the others should be in a meeting at my place, but it looks like they attached a request for healing spells from the health committee. …And for blunt trauma and broken bones?”
“Those sound like injuries from a fistfight, but your father and the council wouldn’t do that,” commented Asama. “My guess is someone tripped during all this shaking. I’ll send out someone from my family’s shrine.”
“Judge,” agreed Masazumi while looking outside.
White mist trailed behind the raging wind and IZUMO continued to spill its crust with a great rumbling noise.
Suddenly, someone appeared in front of her.
It was Tenzou.
He looked down into the forest below and spoke.
“I will collect Mitotsudaira-dono and rescue Toori-dono. Masazumi-dono, Neshinbara-dono, please continue negotiating with Hexagone Française for a political resolution.”
Tenzou looked down into the forest approximately one kilometer below. A few pieces of crust and metal frame had already fallen into it.
…I believe the Reine des Garous landed around there.
She had already landed and was apparently traveling south. Birds were flying away and the beasts were spooked, but…
“The beasts have given up on running. The movements of the trees show their attempts to hide. …She is moving at approximately eight kilometers an hour. Perhaps that is a leisurely walking pace for her.”
Neshinbara stepped up next to him and also measured the Reine des Garous’ movements.
“Can you catch up to her? Once she enters the deeper part of the forest, tracking her from the air will be impossible.”
“I doubt she would bother hiding her tracks on the way to her safe house.”
That was why he would descend to the forest and pursue her there.
She was capricious, so he could not predict what she would do next; but…
“Anyone with Hexagone Française ranger training would be able track her as well.”
“Wait,” said Masazumi while raising a hand toward him. “I would prefer to rescue the idiot with a political resolution. …But would that be safe? What if the enemy gets to the Reine des Garous’ safe house first?”
“Currently she is acting alone. The Hexagone Française fleet isn’t moving, but that is most likely on her orders. She doesn’t want anyone to interfere with her human meal.”
The atmosphere stiffened at the phrase “human meal”, but there was no point in hiding it.
Tenzou used everyone’s silence to continue.
“Thankfully, Hexagone Française’s warriors can’t guard the area around the safe house. I expect they plan to pursue and capture us before we reach the safe house.”
“I see,” said Neshinbara as he opened a sign frame and began recording. “Judge. Crossunite-kun, I’ll let you choose your team.”
“In that case, I choose…Naito-dono and…Mitotsudaira-dono.”
Hearing that, everyone turned to Naruze; but she only shrugged.
“I’d like to tell him to take Urquiaga or Futayo instead; but the half-dragon can’t exactly move around in the forest and Futayo’s weapon was broken. Also, Margot and Mitotsudaira had some survival training in the transport ship back at England, right?”
“Judge. They would more or less know what kind of instructions I would give. At the very least, I would not need to hold back when it comes to our livelihood.”
“But,” said Asama with a tilt of her head. She tilted it even further before continuing. “Why Mito?”
“Well,” he began.
Mitotsudaira lay unconscious on a frame falling far below.
She was terribly exhausted and injured, but he was planning to take her with him instead of returning her to the Musashi.
“For a variety of reasons, she is the one most likely to draw the attention of the Reine des Garous. Both in conversation and combat, the Reine des Garous will be concerned about her. And to be honest, no one from Musashi can actually take the Reine des Garous on in a fight.”
“Judge,” replied Tenzou as he resolved himself. “The possibility of having her act as a ‘shield’ as she did just now was a part of my reasoning.”
Relieved by everyone’s silence, Tenzou continued speaking.
“In other words, after healing Mitotsudaira-dono’s injuries with spells I intend to rescue Toori-dono even if it means using her as a shield.”
…Could you call this being shorthanded?
He also thought they were short on strength and short on firepower. They had earned some decent results during the battles in London and the armada battle; but the London battles had been centered on their special duty officers and the armada battle had used a comprehensive view of the “battlefield”.
When they were up against someone who could be called a great hero…
…Is Futayo-dono the only stable combat specialist we can send out?
If Futayo could not stand up to the enemy hero, that enemy would destroy Musashi.
This battle had proven that.
It was fortunate the Reine des Garous was bound by the ways of the human world. No, that may have been where her power came from in the first place; but it made him shudder when he thought about her attempting to destroy the Musashi.
Tenzou realized other unknown beings like that might still exist in other nations, so…
“Hesitating here will get us nowhere.”
He heard flapping wings outside and saw Naito attaching a work case to her waist hard point.
“I have the spells we might need and some Orei Metallo to act as focal points. I narrowed down the number of spells since I don’t have much room, but I can put together a means of eliminating pain using a reduction spell. In a short-term battle, it can be better to break through while ignoring the pain. Let’s see… No broom, right?”
“Judge. You wouldn’t be able to use it in the forest anyway and the large spells used for flying could produce enough noise and enough of an ether reading to give away our position. But in the worst case, you can escape with your wings and your Schwarz Techno has excellent offensive capability; so your odds of survival should be quite high.”
“Judge,” nodded Naito.
Suddenly, Horizon stepped up to her and pulled something wrapped in bamboo grass from somewhere.
“Naito-sama, this is a yakiniku meal. Please take it to Mitotsudaira-sama.”
“I get the feeling a lot has changed since eight years ago.”
Naito took it and Naruze walked up next to her and held out a few small objects wrapped in cloth.
“This is your change of clothes. I thought this might happen, so I always carry it around with me.”
“Why?” muttered everyone with a small step back, but Naito took the pack and realized there was more than one.
“Oh, is this one for Mito-tsan? Not bad.”
“You’ll need it, won’t you? I had to judge her size by eye; but since I know she has no chest, I used an elastic material. It isn’t meant for combat, but it’s better than something that’s too tight.”
“Judge,” nodded Naito before the two exchanged a kiss.
Naito then turned to Tenzou with a smile.
“I’ll be going on ahead since we’ll lose track of Mito-tsan before long. I’ll retrieve her, Tenzou, so you meet up with us later.”
She flew into the air and vanished. She had activated her optical stealth using her reduction spells.
Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. would still be monitoring them and Musashi did not want them knowing they were heading out to rescue Toori.
“I should probably leave using a hiding technique.”
He could make his way down by jumping from object to object and he would not be noticed if he hid behind falling objects on the way.
But just before he took the first step, someone grabbed his left arm.
It was Mary. He looked to the left and saw her eyebrows slightly raised.
“I will join you.”
Kimi was the first to react to Mary’s words. She raised a hand and whispered to Asama.
“Heh heh heh. It’s time for some passionate love, Asama. Make sure you don’t get burned.”
“Wh-what are you talking about, Kimi? Mary-san is just so very worried about Tenzou-kun that she’s desperate to find some way she can- waaaaah! That is burning! Even explaining it is too much!”
“You can ignore the peanut gallery and say what you have to say, Mary-dono.”
Mary gave a confused bow toward Kimi and Asama who had begun fanning each other. She then wrapped her arms around Tenzou’s arm, lowered her eyebrows, and opened her mouth to speak.
That was when Horizon raised a hand toward Hanami who floated next to Asama’s head.
“Statistically, this should be a moving scene; so broadcast it to the entire ship.”
Oblivious to what was happening behind her, Mary began speaking.
“Um,” she began with her still awkward pronunciation of Far Eastern. “Please, Master Tenzou. Let me go with you!”
“Um, Master Tenzou, I have been thinking a lot lately and I have been holding back because I’m not sure I should do anything myself; but, uh, i-it felt like you had chosen to go on your own here because I’m not skilled enough. B-but if, um, something happened to you down there, I would regret not being with you. So I guess what I’m saying is, I want to be with you.”
Everyone listening to the broadcast prepared their weapons.
“I’m going to make that ninja regret this.”
“Yeah, for some reason I was thinking the same thing.”
“You’re right. We should work together here!”
They heard Mary let out a warm sigh.
“May I go with you?”
The commander at the front of group gestured for the others to come with him and they began moving silently yet swiftly along the wall.
“Oh? For some reason, I hear some people with nothing better to do walking this way.”
Horizon’s comment brought an odd sense of unease to Tenzou’s chest, so he took in a deep breath.
“U-um, please let go of my arm, Mary-dono.”
Tenzou’s plan was as follows:
1: When Mary-dono thinks she has been rejected, start by shaking my head. I of course have no intention of rejecting her.
2: “After all, you can’t exactly embrace my arm while we head to the surface together.” ← I’m so cool!
3: Mary-dono will be incredibly moved!! (Hopefully)
With that plan in mind, he saw Mary let go of his arm in surprise.
“Eh? Oh, Judge. Sorry, Master Tenzou.”
“Nothing to worry about. After all…”
Just as he began step 2, Mary stepped in front of him, stood sideways, and lowered her hips a little.
Eh? he thought.
“Huh? Mary-dono? What is that pose for?”
Mary lightly clasped her hands in front of her chest and gently leaned back.
…Is she asking to be princess carried!?
His disbelief and that fact that his plans had been ruined threw him off.
“U-u-u-u-u-um, M-Mary-dono? Y-y-y-y-y-you, uh…”
He thought Mary was going to say something, but she only nodded.
And she gave him an urging look with a slight troubled movement of the eyebrows.
Currently, the monsters behind him were whispering.
“Wow, wow. She’s asking to be princess carried! This heat! The passion is like something from a Western romance!”
“Heh heh heh. I never thought I would get to see this in person. …Record it, four eyes!”
“Oh, yeah. This would make some great material! Who would’ve thought we would see English royalty being princess carried! This is a first!”
Even a brown algae creature poked out from the ditch.
“Princess carry? First? The princess’s first time?”
“Please don’t learn any more strange terms!”
Tenzou had secretly named his horrible classmates’ rotation of malice “Unavoidable All-Out Dodgeball”, but he soon heard the group stepping away. He considered using a smokescreen charm, but he was afraid of what would happen then and he would probably need the charm later.
As she nodded back, he snatched her from the ground and leaped into the air.
The action was so sudden that he heard a voice of protest from behind, but it was too late. He leaped into empty air holding Mary and her arms wrapped around his neck.
“U-um, you’re okay with me coming, aren’t you?”
“Judge. Your spirit spells are sure to be useful. And if you speak with the spirits to get their help instead of directly using them, it will cause almost no change to the ether.”
She said a few words as they fell through the sky. A moment later, a pale line of light passed from below their feet and up above their heads.
“I have received some help from the air spirits. They will regulate our descent speed and keep us from being seen. They are not English spirits though, so I can’t ask too much of them. But I, well…”
…She was married into Hexagone Française in the past.
He was not about to complain about that at this point, so he only nodded.
“Thank you very much.”
She looked up in surprise but soon smiled.
She held him tightly.
“We weren’t able to say goodbye to the others. Should I weaken the spell to show our faces?”
…Do that right now and you would put my life in danger!
“N-no, we need to hurry! W-we are on a mission right now.”
Meanwhile, he received divine messages from Neshinbara and Masazumi that provided support for the mission and predicted how things would play out on the political side. A divine message from Asama explained how to set their personal divine transmissions to covert mode and how to send divine letters using the Hexagone Française spirit known as the Black Swan. It also mentioned something about ethics which reminded him of the frightening fact that Asama was their member of the public morals committee.
At any rate, Mary twisted a little in his arms.
“Oh, sorry, but, uh, can you hold me closer? I can’t ask too much of the air spirits, so they can only really cover a single person. If I move too far out, I’ll be seen.”
That was why she curled up in the arms wrapped around her and almost seemed to lean against his chest.
“Please hold me tight.”
She’s surprisingly bold! thought Tenzou as he awkwardly did as she said.
He could no longer see Mitotsudaira’s unconscious form on the piece of frame below.
Naito-dono must have retrieved her, he thought before looking up.
He then realized a certain fact.
Mary was looking up in the same direction with her cheek pressed against his neck, so she seemed to have noticed as well. She raised her eyebrows just a bit and gulped.
“M.H.R.R.’s fleet is preparing to fire!”
On Musashino’s bridge, Suzu swiftly and continually reconstructed the models around her.
She went to the most trouble moving her fingers to represent the movement of the wind. The sensation on her hand told her she was creating an image that looked like silk ribbon.
She sometimes magnified the image to handle the wind hitting the Musashi in various places.
“Here…here…oh, it’s shifted…here.”
“Well done, Suzu-sama. Neshinbara-sama requested to continue on while keeping our side toward the eastern warships…yes, these ones. Over.”
She wondered if this was okay as she moved the ribbons of wind and the model of the Musashi.
It moves like this.
“And…like this. That…should do it.”
A ghost of the model remained in the original position and the ribbon lines were pulled by the model she moved in her hand. Next to her, “Musashino” gave the other automatons instructions and the ghost gradually approached the one in her hand. That meant the Musashi was actually moving.
…I need to…be careful.
She felt like she held everyone’s lives in her hands, but…
…I have to do this right.
She had no other thoughts, so…
“Am I…not good enough?”
“Why do you ask that? Over.”
“Everyone else…jumps around…doing all sorts of things…while shouting ‘ohhhh!’ or ‘ahhhh!’ or ‘toryahhh!’…but I don’t have…a sh…shtick?...like that.”
“Musashino” quietly called her name.
And she stopped.
She tilted her head.
“You see… No, um, to be honest… I do not like speaking ill of those who give us work; but that strange shouting and excitement is, well…”
“Y-you don’t have to answer…i-if you don’t want to.”
“Thank you for your consideration, but do not worry, Suzu-sama. Out of all of them, you are the normal one. That is all I can say. Over.”
“And…the others are?”
“Oh. Y-you don’t have to…th-think so hard.”
“Well, anyway, u-um, the others are…super normal. Or should I say they take ‘normal’ too far? Oh, evolved! Saying they have evolved has the right nuance! Over!”
“Should I…evolve too?”
“Please do not. Over.”
“Musashino” replied with a satisfied smile, so Suzu thought to herself.
…Is it complicated?
That was the only way she could describe the feeling. Hmm, she groaned in her mind as she expanded the model around the Musashi. That allowed her to check a broader area around them.
She noticed two movements.
Someone ran north along the eastern cliff of IZUMO where the speed of the collapse was picking up.
It was Narimasa. Instead of simply running across the crumbling earth, he also leaped between pieces of the giant metal frame jutting out. He was currently traveling across the rib-like pieces of frame that had dozen meter gaps between them. Nevertheless, he had his hands in his pockets and jumped between them as if they were a stone path in a garden.
The dozen meter long jumps were quickly taking him north.
A Mlasi-style sign frame was opened in the space to the right of his face and it displayed a man. The man’s red A.H.R.R.S. uniform had a large number four embroidered in white and the background behind him only showed the blue sky.
“Na-chan, I don’t think it’s a good idea to show off.”
“Don’t do it,” added Matsu.
“Shut up, Toshi. And Matsu, don’t say that until you know how much fun this is. Besides, I’m about the only one that can do this. Our upperclassmen’s positions are too important to just have some fun like this. A lot of them wish they could do this, so we can’t be holding back when we can do it.”
“Okay, that explains the upperclassmen; but what about our underclassmen and classmates?”
“Tell them to get on over here. Although I’m sure they’re busy working with Hashiba.”
“That’s right,” affirmed Maeda Toshiie. “There’s also the fact that the Ten Spears adore Hashiba so much. …Oh, Shibata just sent me a message.”
“What’s he got to say?”
“Testament. ‘If you want me to forgive you for heading out there without permission, you’d better bring back a souvenir.’ And Niwa says, ‘This is your punishment for always misreading my name as Tanba.’ ”
“How is that fair when she’s fine with Takigawa calling her Niu?”
“The problem is how you do it so naturally. You call her Tanba without even questioning it.”
“I’m not good at Far Eastern. When I picture the Far Eastern characters in my head, I end up reading them like that. Also, hasn’t Shibata gotten lax since he got a girlfriend? Used to be, he’d be the first one to something like this.”
“If you want to complain, I can call him in from the next room.”
“Don’t use divine messages when you’re in neighboring rooms!”
“Well, he wants to use divine messages to communicate with Lady Oichi, but he’s never used them much and is using me for practice. He’s gotten to the point of using emoticons now. It’s creeping me out to get these from a guy, so I plan to delete them later.”
“Helping,” added Matsu.
“Y’know,” said Narimasa while leaping. “Is it just me or have we all gotten lax? I bet it’s because Hashiba’s been working way too much.”
“Well, we should be getting busy too before long. …How’d it go?”
The wind blew by as he leaped to the next frame.
“The Reine des Garous is a monster.”
He landed and jumped to the next.
“That isn’t something a human can take on. With a boss class opponent, a human needs a weapon like in an RPG.”
“You’re the martial arts type, Na-chan, so it was reckless to challenge her without a healer. Did you think you could beat god or slime alike as long as you scored a critical hit?”
“Idiot,” added Matsu.
“Shut up and yes I did, dammit! But it’s no use if I can’t reach her. If only my fingers were three centimeters longer. The Testament descriptions say I was good with a rifle, so maybe I should train in some kind of projectile once I get back.”
He held up his right hand and looked at the Israfil wing tattoo there.
“I’m sure The Lily’d be happy if I used it.”
“You have a bad habit of implicitly criticizing yourself.”
“Shut up. Just say I’m immersed in myself. …Now, Toshi.”
“Yeah, you can see it, can’t you? I can see it from here.”
“I thought as much.”
Narimasa looked into the eastern sky as he jumped through the air.
“I wondered why you weren’t firing on the Musashi. So that’s why.”
Something had appeared far to the east beyond the surrounding M.H.R.R. fleet.
“What is that?” asked Narimasa when he landed.
“Ships from one of M.H.R.R.’s Protestant principalities,” answered Toshiie. “We’ve already received a divine transmission.”
Narimasa suddenly slowed his pace and looked to the east.
It was not enough to be called a fleet, but a group of ships approached with an armed aerial warship in the lead and with white cloth over their guns to signify their peaceful intentions. He checked the emblem borne by the lead ship.
“Saxony? That’s the principality where the Reformation began; and you could call that the headquarters of Protestantism, couldn’t you?”
“You’re right about that, but you’re a little off. While they are from Saxony, these are private ships from the city of Magdeburg.”
“What? You mean…”
As he inhaled for his next leap, Narimasa heard Toshiie speak.
“You understand, don’t you? The Protestants are using the course of the Thirty Years’ War as a shield while they rescue Musashi.”
Toshiie took a breath before continuing.
“Magdeburg is the capital of the Protestant principality of Saxony. It was a reliably prosperous city; but during the Thirty Years’ War, it is used as a lesson to show what happens when a principality refuses to cooperate. Thirty thousand Catholic troops led by the Count of Tilly will carry out the Sack of Magdeburg there.”
As for what happened in that sack…
“Nearly 85% of its population is lost, the surviving women and children are assaulted, and the previously moderate Protestant principalities begin to oppose M.H.R.R.’s Catholics.”
“So if a Catholic fleet attacks them now, it will be treated as the Sack of Magdeburg and the Protestants will join together to attack Hashiba and the Catholics? …If you all can’t act, want me to do it for you?”
“Hashiba has asked that you don’t, so no.”
“Shaja,” replied Narimasa as he landed on the next frame.
In the sky below, he saw one of the M.H.R.R ships approach him.
Toshiie was waving to him from the deck, so he spoke loud enough to be heard directly.
“Did the Magdeburg ship say it has business with Musashi? Is that why you can’t fire?”
“Testament. That’s right. We’re guessing Lord Matsunaga had something to do with it.”
“That old man. I wanted to settle things with him during his previous evaluation, but he ran off saying to come back during his second rebellion. I’d say this is enough of a rebellion, though. Also…”
Narimasa gestured into the sky with his chin.
A silver form stood on the rear loading entrance of Takao, the Musashi’s third starboard ship.
He clicked his tongue and asked a question.
“What is that and why is it there?”
At the same time, he leaped from the frame and into open air. While jumping down, he pointed a finger at the silver form on the rear of Takao.
“What’s going on?”
“Why is Hexagone Française’s flagcraft, the Palais-Cardinal, on the Musashi!?”
|Back to Chapter 29||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 31|