Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 35
Chapter 35: Traveling Adulteress
Now, it’s time for some fun
What would you like to do?
Eat dinner? Take a bath? Or…
Point Allocation (Beast)
The house was made of sweets. The floor panels and walls were thick wafers, the roof was sugar candy and chocolate, the windows were sugar sculptures, and the pillars were thick pretzels.
However, the furnishings in the rooms were not made of sweets. The chairs were nothing more than bent wood with the surface hollowed out and the table was carved from a giant log.
The dishes, the soups inside them, and the other food were not sweets either.
“Heh heh. I take it from the look on your face that you didn’t think the Reine des Garous could cook, Musashi Chancellor.”
The Musashi Chancellor shook his head in his chair while looking at all the meat-focused food in front of him.
“No, I was just surprised by how extravagant it all is. …In fact, did you make this candy house too? I saw something similar when I came to Hexagone Française a long time ago.”
“No,” said the Reine des Garous who had removed her coat and put on an apron. “My mother had a Technohexen build this place long ago. Only lost children can remove its components and it repairs itself. …I’ve heard a few others were made for the history recreation of some old story.”
“Hmm. So it’s a place for lost children, is it? …So was I lost?”
“That’s a good question.” The Reine des Garous gave a bitter smile and looked curiously across the room. “Children like that used to show up from time to time, but I have almost abandoned the place ever since getting married. The cleaning is handled by Technomagie, but stocking up on ingredients isn’t easy. …The house you found yourself at was probably better maintained than this one.”
“Judge. …So I take it even Loup-Garous eat more than just people.”
Now, how am I supposed to explain this? thought the Reine des Garous.
…It is true the man-eating side of Loup-Garous gets a lot of focus.
They used that image to get along with others and preserve their position as beasts, but there were certain people a Loup-Garou would always spare.
“We do not eat children. Ogres specifically target children because they like the soft meat, but they eat people solely for the food. We eat people as a part of the ritual battle known as hunting, so we do not attack children who cannot run or fight very well.”
“You don’t like children?”
“I never said that.” She smiled. “Unlike deer, sheep, or goats, human children will cry instead of run. They’re very cute. …If they would run with all their strength, we would have the right to use all our strength to hunt them down, but when they simply cry, we only have an obligation to rescue them. Of course, if they come to hunt us down or win us over after they grow up, all of that changes.”
“You’re a true knight…no, a true royal, Nate Maman.”
She only allowed herself a small smile at that. She turned her focus back to the food and used her mitten-covered hand to pull a beast’s leg bone out of a pot on the stove.
She placed the hunk of meat attached to the bone on a giant bread plate.
“I can’t say anything about being a knight, but to many tribes in ancient Europe, the wolf was viewed as a god of hunting or war. After all, wolves have a strict pecking order and they value their pack. Also, they avoid unnecessary hunting and protect their territory. …The Far Eastern wolf is much the same. You know what they say wolves do to people, right?”
“No, not like that. When a person enters a wolf’s territory, it will not immediately attack. In order to drive them out, it will watch and see whether the person will leave or not. Once the wolf knows the person is not travelling deep into its territory, it will leave. If the person does head that way, then it will attack. …That is why there are so many stories of children lost in the mountains being sent back to their village by a wolf.”
The Musashi Chancellor brought a hand to his neck. There was a collar there.
That was what a wolf attached to its prey.
He grabbed the loop of leather wrapped around his neck.
“Am I your prey? Or am I a child?”
“How would you like your meat cooked? Medium well?”
“Whoa, whoa! We’re getting ahead of ourselves here!! And raw! I think raw is best!”
Toori brought his hand back to the collar.
“Anyway, can you remove this thing? I won’t run away. And I’m sure you’d just catch me again if I tried.”
“No. After all, we don’t trust each other enough yet.”
“Eh? But I trust you.”
She pulled a leg of venison from behind a pile of plates and placed it on a metal plate on the table. It was sprinkled with herbs and ready to be put in the oven.
She bent her upper body down lower than her butt, rested her chest on the table, and lightly poked at the meat with her claws. From there, she looked up at the Musashi Chancellor and tilted her head.
“How would you like this cooked? That’s what I was asking about before.”
The Reine des Garous saw the Musashi Chancellor look up at the ceiling in thought.
…How about it?
Loup-Garous were man-eaters, but she was not going to eat him right away. The proper method was to hunt down her prey, feed them to remove any odor from their meat, and then have them obey rather than be forced.
…We only eat them once they actually want to be a part of us.
This was different from all the young men she had lured in and eaten for fun with her fellow Loup-Garous long ago.
This was Musashi’s chancellor and student council president.
She felt he was worth eating properly.
After all, her daughter Nate relied on him. If he personally asked to become a part of her, Nate would have no choice but to give up.
“I am not going to eat you that soon. So…”
If the prey feared her, it was easy for them to be pressured into submission.
She wanted to avoid that.
He had to happily desire to be eaten from the bottom of his heart. Loup-Garous were a race associated with the moon who toyed with the instincts of man, so her pride as their queen would allow nothing less. For that reason, she lowered the ends of her eyebrows and spoke.
“It disappoints me that you would think I wanted to eat you right away.”
She then repeated her question while poking at the uncooked meat so it swayed toward him.
“How would you like this cooked?”
He bent back even further in thought, but after a while…
All of a sudden, he faced forward and looked right back at her with his eyebrows slightly raised.
Oh, how cute, she thought as he met her gaze.
“Raw! I said raw is best, didn’t I!? I mean it!! I want it raw!!”
“Y-you sure are stubborn. You thought I was talking about you when you said that!”
“Honestly, did you really think you could talk your way out of it like that!?”
When the Reine des Garous straightened up and raised her eyebrows, Musashi’s chancellor averted his gaze.
He faced the door and pouted his lips.
“Don’t know whaaaat you’re talking about.”
He then began whistling to feign innocence. As soon as he did, a snake appeared in a corner of the room.
“Nwoooh! Is this a house of old sayings or something!? Wh-where’s a worm!? I’m gonna get so swollen!”
“Oh, the Technohexen that built this place added in a lot of tricks, so it probably really will swell up if you do it. She couldn’t control the weather, so frogs should be fine though.”
She partially hid behind the meat and glared at him.
“But for humans, eating wild animals raw is a good way of getting parasites.”
…Raw meat is a tough thing for humans.
However, she saw the idiot turn toward her and twist his eyebrows.
“What? I’m the kinda guy who keeps his word!!”
“You really are stupid. All you have to do is apologize.”
“What? I haven’t done anything to apologize for.”
He pointed at her with a gently bent hand.
“You asked me how I wanted the meat cooked and I said raw! There’s nothing wrong about that, is there?”
“Then what does that say about me when I pulled the meat out and asked again?”
“That makes my later question proof of my distrust of you.”
“What? That’s just…um… You were making sure because you want me to grow up big and strong, right? Listen, Nate Maman. Don’t say bad things about yourself.”
She just about complained that he had started it, but she reconsidered.
…This will never end if I do that.
One or the other of them had to back down and she was older.
…I’m an adult, but he dragged me into this childish fight.
A quiet laugh escaped her lips and that laugh calmed her heart.
She leaned forward again while gently shaking her hips left and right. She once more looked up at him from below.
“Do you like women who immerse themselves in insulting themselves?”
“That kind of woman sounds like a lot of trouble.”
“Oh? Then you must be the type who can’t leave that kind of woman alone.”
That was what it meant for him to continue answering her. He must have known what that meant because he let out a small groan that could be taken as understanding or stalling for time to think.
“Ah, well, you see? About that…”
He thought some more and spoke the words as they came to him.
“It’s a waste to destroy yourself like that.”
“True. And you want to tell those women that they could shine if they didn’t do that, right?”
He was saying they were a lot of trouble because he felt he had to say that to them.
She laughed quietly, reached out a hand, and touched his cheek.
“Will you tell me that I would shine even more if I wasn’t so troublesome?”
“I am a lot of trouble.”
“Yeah, I was really starting to notice that,” he said. “But still, I’ll take it raw.”
“Are you still insisting on that?”
“I’m not backing down on that decision. Slice it thin and serve it with soy sauce and wasabi.”
“It will have to be horseradish instead of wasabi. …You can really get hooked on that stuff, even if I only use a little bit. I’ll go get some from the spring out back.”
“This house of sweets sure is perfect for a carnivore’s diet.”
It had been used by two generations of Reine des Garous, so it was perfectly set up for them.
Meanwhile, he looked to the meat.
“It’s a real shame, though. Wild game is best when it’s been sitting around for about a week, right? Eat it right away and not all the blood will have drained.”
“Yes. It will smell and taste bitter right now.”
She thought for a while and tried to find a method of preparing it that they would both accept.
“How about I make it into roast beef? The meat will be room temperature, so that is the best way to retain the flavor of eating it raw. While I prepare it, we can talk and deepen our trust over the soup and hors d’oeuvres.”
“That’s fine, but isn’t roast beef an English way of cooking?”
“Oh, my.” She looked up. “You certainly know a lot about cooking.”
She almost asked if he had learned it from Nate, but being compared to another girl was annoying even if it was her daughter.
“That’s because my mom’s a cook.”
Does that not count? she wondered. All of a sudden, she found this thought process reminding her of the past.
Long ago, she had had a similar thought in this same place.
…That’s right. I heard someone talk about another woman and felt a little jealous.
She began to immerse herself in the memory, but she closed that mental lid to the past by straightening up. She had to take good care of that memory, so she instead nodded toward the boy in front of her.
“Now, how about I start cooking. After that, you can go take a bath.”
“I’m feeling more and more like you’re preparing me to be eaten.”
“You clearly don’t trust me yet, but that isn’t surprising since we only just met.”
She smiled and had a sudden thought.
…And yet I know a lot about this boy.
She had done a fair bit of research on him after the incident at Mikawa. After all, the divine courrier and letters her daughter sent her often mentioned him as a troubling existence.
What kind of letters would her daughter send once she ate the boy?
Mitotsudaira panted in the darkness.
She was currently travelling south through the dark forest in pursuit of her mother. The pain reduction left her head a little hazy, so she tried to focus and clear her mind.
…What is my king doing right now?
That was all that ever came to mind.
It was a negative thought. Worrying was important, but letting it take over only led to depression and panic.
She tried to avoid those thoughts.
…But then I start thinking about how everyone else is worried about him.
It was likely true that they were all worried. Horizon, Kimi, Asama, and all the others had to be worried and she knew what had caused all that worry.
…I couldn’t protect my king.
She did think she was blaming herself too much here, but a part of her heart whispered that it was at least partially true. There was undoubtedly a part of her asking what had caused this situation and asking if she was looking away from the real reason.
She shook her head to physically drive away the negative thoughts.
“Are you okay, Mito-tsan? Are you thinking about something?”
Naito pulled on her hand from half a step ahead and turned toward her.
Mitotsudaira was more surprised by the squeezing strength reaching her than having a hand wrap around her own.
Her head had started to droop, so she looked up.
Tenzou was only a few meters up ahead and Mary was only a few meters behind.
She belatedly realized how close Naito was by her side.
…They’re helping me because I’m so exhausted.
The occasional sounds of an aerial ship passing by overhead were incredibly irritating. The noise stabbed sharply into her slightly dimmed hearing and it almost felt like a chill.
“1st special duty officer, we need to hurry. That is all we can do right now.”
“You’re worried about the chancellor, aren’t you?” asked Naito.
…Are you tempting me?
She was probably trying to be considerate, so Mitotsudaira only nodded and focused on walking in silence. Soon, Naito nodded twice.
“Yes, yes. He’s probably naked with a chain around his neck while she gives him food.”
After picturing the dreadful scene, Mitotsudaira mentally shook her head.
…M-my mother would never do that!!
“And,” added Naito with a perfectly serious expression. “He’s probably barking, eating the food with his bare hands or only his mouth, and crying as he does everything your mom tells him to.”
Mitotsudaira pictured everything she had just heard.
“N-no, um, I don’t think even the chancellor would do that.”
“Ohhhhh! This is so good!! My taste buds are experiencing so many new flavors I think I’m crying! I’m gonna strip down naked! And can I have that meat too!? Can I!?”
“Oh, my. You don’t have to grab at it with your bare hands. And don’t drink the soup from the bowl with only your mouth. There’s a spoon right here. My mother took it from the English army as spoils of war.”
“Wow, this is an awesome spoon! Henry V transforms into his flying form! Amazing! I’m seriously ready to bark like a dog, put a chain around my neck, and become a part of your family!!”
“A-anyway, I think we can trust the chancellor.”
Mitotsudaira was assuring herself more than anyone, but Naito tilted her head.
“But that’s not an easy thing to do. Trusting him is fine and all, but it can be hard with the truly unbelievable things he does.”
She was disappointed how close she came to saying “judge”.
However, she felt that was going too far, so she raised her eyebrows slightly and argued back.
“H-has he done anything like that recently, though?”
That counterattack just about did her heart in.
“Uuh,” she groaned.
…Th-that one is so fresh I completely forgot about it. B-but…
“H-he only did that because it was necessary! Right?”
“Please forgive my…topknot.”
…H-huh? Am I turning into that boring sort of girl who lets jokes get to her too much!?
Naito laughed silently and patted her shoulder, but Mitotsudaira felt more relaxed than exhausted.
After deciding to continue viewing this positively, she saw some movement up ahead.
Tenzou crouched down and gestured toward them. Curious, she approached.
“We’re moving ahead at an excellent pace,” he said.
Naito let out an impressed tone, so it must have been fairly unexpected for her as well. Seeing that, Tenzou explained further.
“According to the general map, we should reach a small ridge if we continue up ahead. I was thinking about taking a break once we crossed it.”
“That’s pretty far away,” commented Mitotsudaira. “We’ll be moving pretty late at night.”
“Oh? Are you saying you can’t walk any further?”
Mitotsudaira knew Naito was provoking her, but she was thankful for it while so weak. She brought a hand to her chest as she replied.
“I can walk just fine! Let’s hurry and make our way as close to the chancellor as we can!”
“They have chosen a clever route and done well covering their tracks, but it is not enough to hide so many people.”
Mouri-01 spoke quietly in the darkness as she touched the ground.
She was inside a small pit in the forest. It was shallower on the southern side and grass covered the bottom.
They definitely stayed here.”
Mouri-03 asked a question as she looked to the south from a tree branch.
“How can you tell, big sister?”
“People’s weight and movements will bend the grass. Although it looks like they fixed even that after the fact.”
Mouri-01 touched the grass and the night dew beaded up on the fingertips of her glove.
“The dew has slightly lowered the fixed grass, so I was able to determine it was camouflaged. …Still, it was not easy tracking them this far.”
“But it looks like they stopped that camouflage from here on, doesn’t it?”
“It would appear they only truly started travelling as a group when leaving here. But…”
Mouri-01 asked a question of the surrounding Belle de Marionnettes and Mouri-03.
“Can you pick up their residual heat trail?”
The Belle de Marionnettes shook their heads and Mouri-03 sighed up above.
“It’s pretty weak. …Oh, I get it. They must have calculated out when the dew would fall. If they’d predicted how far we would get by then, they would only have to erase their tracks up to-…”
“This is a Hexagone Française forest and a harmonic territory forest. Even if we’re dealing with a ninja here, they would have been trained with a focus on the Far East, so they would not know how much European grass changes in the dew. They must have read as much they could from the air, predicted how far we would arrive before the dew fell, and erased their tracks up to that point. I have determined that was an excellent decision.”
“Big sister, this isn’t the time to be impressed. What are we going to do? Pursue them? If you can predict where they are, we could send in the ships flying around up above.”
“Disturbing the Reine des Garous’s territory would displease her, so let us pursue by foot. If they also predicted that the dew and low night temperatures would weaken their trail of residual heat, this is a dangerous enemy indeed. Did they use the Testament Union’s almanac to predict we would be sent out to guard Hexagone Française’s territory? We were able to use the residual heat to see through the camouflage using a deer at their landing point, but…”
Mouri-01 brought a hand to her chin and thought. After a while, she spoke again.
“Mouri-02, can you pick up their residual ether trail?”
Someone silently stood up from the grass. It was Mouri-02.
She had been crouched down with her right hand on the ground, but she did not turn toward her elder sister. She simply held out her left hand and raised three fingers.
“There are three residual ether trails? Which ones were disguised?”
Mouri-02 shook her head.
“Testament,” replied Mouri-01. “If they are all disguised, then this really must be their 1st special duty officer. That ninja.”
“He must have used deer again. By the way, can you not remember that ninja’s name, big sister?”
They all exchanged a glance via their shared memory and spent three seconds thinking, which was a long time for Belle de Marionnettes. When they were unable to find the answer, Mouri-01 clapped twice.
“Testament. That is enough wasting our thoughts on that. The middle route is probably the correct one, but we will have to check them all. Split into three teams and report back once you find a heat signature. We will pursue after regrouping.”
“Now, then. If you want the center route, please raise your hand.”
Scarred: “Um, Master Tenzou? Excalibur has returned.”
Tenzou nodded at Mary’s divine chat message, opened a small keyboard, and replied.
10ZO: “Thank you. I keep relying on you here, don’t I? It’s fortunate the deer are willing to help us.”
Scarred: “This may be Hexagone Française land, but the animals do not follow human rules. They were willing to help on the condition that we do not disturb their land. And…”
After reading Mary’s message and hearing a ship in the sky, Tenzou asked a question.
10ZO: “What is it?”
Scarred: “The deer are overly conscious of Lady Mitotsudaira’s presence. They seem to know she is the Reine des Garous’s daughter from her scent or her aura. So, um…”
Scarred: “Was I…threatening the deer with Lady Mitotsudaira’s presence?”
He knew what she was trying to say, but he glanced toward Mitotsudaira who walked between him and Mary.
…We cannot let her see this conversation.
He tilted his sign frame horizontally so it could not be seen from behind.
10ZO: “What did you say to the deer about Mitotsudaira-dono?”
Scarred: “Judge. I didn’t want to scare them, so I told them this: ‘Lady Mitotsudaira eats more than just meat, so don’t worry. She also eats lamb as a vegetable.’ Once they heard that, they immediately agreed to help us.”
That’s definitely a threat, he thought, but he decided that was fine since it all worked out.
Scarred: “How is our pace?”
10ZO: “Slower than I would like. …Oh, but keep that between us.”
Scarred: “Judge. It can be our secret. I promise I won’t tell anyone!”
That made him somewhat happy, but he was not quite sure if that was a good thing or not.
At any rate…
10ZO: “Naito-dono is feeling a little tired too, but I think Mitotsudaira-dono is at her limit. She’s stumbling more and more recently. Once we reach the rest area up ahead, we can do what I mentioned earlier. I will explain it to Naito-dono.”
Scarred: “Judge. …Um, Master Tenzou?”
10ZO: “What is it?”
Scarred: “Even if we end up fighting up ahead, we’ll always be together once it’s over, right?”
“Judge,” he sent back while thinking.
…I hope they won’t ask for these logs as part of my report when we get back.
Submitting them would only be a bad thing for me, he thought as he lightly waved a hand toward and nodded at the two behind him.
“We’re keeping up a good pace. We’re about to reach the ridge, but we don’t have far to go now. The rest area is just past there. …Can you keep going until then?”
Tenzou looked up into the eastern sky. The trees were in the way, but he would have been able to see the Musashi if they were not there.
…That last communication we just barely received said we would meet up in Magdeburg.
“They must be dealing with their own trouble there.”
A certain room was filled with furniture and decorations. It had windows on the wall, carpet on the floor, and a table for eight in the center.
“This is our treasurer’s diplomacy room, so there is nothing to worry about. It is soundproofed and can survive an explosion. So what brings you here so late, Magdeburg Provisional Mayor Guericke?”
Between the door and table, Masazumi extended a hand toward a bearded young man with his hair cut right along his eyebrow line. He wore an M.H.R.R. uniform and he did not accept Masazumi’s handshake.
His arms hung casually by his side and they both had a machine attached as armor. The arm armor was formed from levers and a metal hemisphere.
Everyone gave him odd looks and wondered what they were, but he simply gave a nod in response. He looked across the walls and even the ceiling of the furnished room.
“This is a most convenient room. I’m thankful. There is a lot I would like to discuss privately.”
“What would you like to dis-…”
“I would like to hold a negotiation in a hurry, Musashi Vice President.”
Before Masazumi could ask anything, he spoke to her and the people behind her: Horizon, Asama, Shirojiro, and Heidi.
“Please destroy the Musashi.”
“In exchange, we will give you a means of fighting P.A. Oda.”
Masazumi was at a complete loss for words, but someone did move. Horizon gently placed a hand on her shoulder.
“It would seem we have taken aboard a visitor from Neshinbara-sama’s world.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” said Masazumi as her expression grew panicked, but Guericke’s eyebrows moved slightly.
“Oh? That is the name of one of our city’s best customers. In that case, I am pleased to meet you. …The city of Magdeburg is the printing center of M.H.R.R.’s Protestants,” he said. “So I hope we can have a good negotiation. I hope it will be beneficial for both us and Musashi.”
- A Japanese superstition says peeing on a worm will make your penis swell.
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