Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 37
Chapter 37: Traitor in the Ruler’s Presence
Here we go
It’s finally time
Point Allocation (Time to Shine)
The meeting with Magdeburg Provisional Mayor Guericke of the M.H.R.R. Protestants ground to a halt.
Both Guericke and Masazumi were not sure how to respond to Bertoni’s business opportunity announcement.
Masazumi simply thought about what he had said.
…A business opportunity?
It was so sudden that she did not understand. After all, they were talking about the Apocalypse.
“Um, Bertoni? If the world is going to be destroyed, wouldn’t a business opportunity be entirely pointless?”
“You don’t get it!? Fine, then! Listen!”
Guericke also stared at the merchant in disbelief, but that was unsurprising for someone unused to this class. At the other end of the man’s disturbed gaze, Bertoni opened a sign frame filled with writing and struck it with his palm.
“This is our strategy! First, we tell the entire world that the Apocalypse is coming and stir up their fear more and more and more! Yes, we spread despair! We make sure there is nothing but despair! And once that despair is so rooted in their minds that all mankind is on the verge of suicide…”
He expressionlessly turned to and pointed at Masazumi.
“We sell the defensive barrier that uses the Artificial Apocalypse! If we say it ‘might defend against the Apocalypse’, it will sell like crazy! We can use the site of the Peace of Westphalia, but we can divide it into two stages by first selling rights to the auction and then actually holding the auction! And if we also charge the general public an admission fee, an unimaginable amount of money will pour into my pocket!!”
The corners of his mouth rose as he continued.
“And after the defense barrier auction is over, we can sell our newly found ‘Truth of the Apocalypse’! People will come to us, hoping the information will save them, but once they learn they won’t be saved after all, they will fall into despair! …And that is when we hold a second defense barrier auction! And at double the price!”
Asama: “So in other words, you’re a monster.”
Marube-ya: “Oh, Shiro-kun. You’re so cool!”
…Are we sure there really isn’t something legitimately wrong with their brains?
But the merchant had opened a second sign frame that he also struck with his palm.
“Are you listening?”
Without even waiting for a response, he began to speak.
“When we announce the auction, the rich are sure to be desperate. However, those who want to feign calm will ignore it. But that will change once we reveal the truly hopeless truth and hold the second auction. Once they know there is no future for them if they don’t, even those whose pride was restraining them will jump at the opportunity!”
He pulled a folded paper fan from somewhere and pointed at a word on the sign frame.
“Panic☆ Yes, panic is what matters! When people jump at the opportunity out of panic, we can take them for everything they’re worth! …That is where the real money is made!! Don’t forget it!!”
Masazumi asked a question.
“But there’s no point in making all that money if the Apocalypse is right around the corner.”
“What kind of nonsense is that?”
Bertoni looked down on her with scorn. “Listen,” he began. “When the world ends, I will be the richest man in the world. No, that is comparing me to others and does not do it justice. At that time, I will be the world’s final and greatest merchant!”
He made his declaration.
“If I hold all of the world’s money, the world can be destroyed for all I care! I will watch the people running from the destruction and laugh as I throw money down to the crumbling world from my transport ship.”
…That does paint a nice picture of the Apocalypse.
She pictured people fleeing below a deep red sky while great cracks in the ground and blazing fires swallowed them up. But up above, the laughing merchant and his aide were riding a ship of money and scattering coins around.
They would all be destroyed just the same, so why did the two above seem like the winners?
…That’s completely unreasonable.
She lowered her head in thought, but the treasurer finished vacantly muttering below his breath, made a “ding” sound effect with a straight face, and then spoke to everyone there.
“Okay, I have put together a plan!”
“What kind of plan?” she asked hesitantly.
Bertoni gave her a smile that did not reach his eyes.
“It is a simple matter, vice president. We will hand over a part of the Musashi for my own self-interest.”
She shouted in protest, rose from her seat, and swung her right hand with a quick snap.
“That would be a huge disadvantage for us, wouldn’t it!? What would the people who work in Asakusa and Shinagawa do if we handed it over!? Wouldn’t that throw Musashi’s internal economy into chaos?”
“What’s wrong with that? The world’s going to be destroyed regardless.”
“What happened to having a plan!?”
“What a picky girl,” he sighed while glaring at her. “Listen. Asakusa and Shinagawa’s personnel can help manage the city the Musashi is moored at. Once the people know the Apocalypse is near, some will disturb the peace and cause a variety of problems. I am sure the city will be shorthanded. As for Musashi’s internal economy, those troublesome merchants will use it as a chance to make some reforms and I believe it will turn out well for me and for the Musashi Ariadust Student Council.”
He leaned gently toward her.
“How about it? Flying is the Musashi’s greatest expense and it brings in no money. If we claim we cannot fly after handing over two of our ships and we moor near Magdeburg or somewhere else, it will naturally create a large area of commerce around us. Afterwards, that area will absorb the rest of the world’s fortunes. …Well? Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? The money will come pouring in.”
“What if we focus on developing that land instead of just absorbing all the money?”
“Do you really think we can buy Musashi’s safety like that?”
Masazumi tilted her head, so Augesvarer opened a sign frame.
“This shows Musashi’s budget and how our acquired foreign currency is used. Anyway, just like the past treasurers, we use excess foreign currency as a way to buy Musashi’s peace. What we do is…”
“Make international loans for the other nations’ debts?”
“Judge,” said Augesvarer with a nod. “That’s one way we defend ourselves.”
Mal-Ga: “International loans? What does she mean?”
Wise Sister: “Think of it like lending a flat chest some pads when she wants to dress up, but only on the condition that she returned the pads if she entered a boobs competition.”
Mal-Ga: “Oh… It scares me that I kind of get it now.”
Asama: “Um, to put it simply, if a nation needs a lot of money for war, settling new land, or maintaining their current land, they can borrow money from other nations to pay for it. That’s what you call an international loan. And the Far East has been a good place to borrow from. Due to the provisional rule, it would hand over as much as you needed and it’s flexible about repayment since its religion has no rules about money. But…we made a ton of decisions at Mikawa and that led to the Musashi taking over the Far East’s financial activities.”
Marube-ya: “Right, right. Musashi can lend other nations money to buy its own safety and we can press them for repayment if we need a bargaining chip against them. For example, we could give a nation with lots of conflicts between students two choices: borrow money to cover your war expenses in exchange for being Musashi’s ally or keep fighting us but don’t borrow any money. Of course, most nations are refusing to repay their pre-Mikawa debts because they ‘borrowed it from the Far East, not from Musashi’. However, some new loans are beginning and we can get ourselves some allies using the repayment of them.”
Mal-Ga: “What if they try to avoid paying?”
Marube-ya: “Not many nations can put up a fight on the level of the armada battle, right? And if we run into a dangerous nation, we can always use a more receptive neighboring nation as an intermediary. We could ask them to go fight the other nation a little in exchange for forgiving their debt.”
Azuma: “That’s like a rich kid who pays a stronger kid to bully other people for him.”
Marube-ya: “This isn’t bullying; it’s defense. …Although we do need to give some thought to the power balance if we’re going to do that. We also can’t loan unfairly between nations, so it’s not an easy thing to do.”
“I know we need money,” agreed Masazumi. “But I do not think Musashi’s safety or our influence in the Peace of Westphalia can be bought with money alone. For one thing, it’s all over if every single nation decides not to pay. We need politics, economics, and the laws that support them or we can’t allow this as a nation’s academy. Gathering money is fine, but please focus on gathering Horizon’s Logismoi Óplo as well.”
“I can see you are playing this safe,” said Bertoni as he turned toward Guericke. “But Musashi has no choice but to transfer those two ships over to Magdeburg. Do you know why, vice president?”
“We are being towed by Magdeburg, so we must accept their demands. There is nothing we can do if they decide to quit towing and abandon us here.”
He’s right, she thought. We can’t fly through M.H.R.R. territory right now.
…And that makes it dangerous if they stopped towing us.
She wanted to avoid that, but Guericke suddenly raised his right hand.
“Excuse me, but can you wait just a moment?”
He must have realized what they were thinking because he quickly stood up. He shook his head toward Bertoni and turned to Masazumi.
“We in Magdeburg would prefer to build a solid relationship with Musashi. I have no intention of proposing anything unnecessary.”
To use the Musashi in place of Magdeburg, the Musashi had to actually reach the city.
In that case, refusing to tow them would only be a last resort.
And at the moment, they had no reason to do that.
…They’re not like our treasurer who’s ready to hand over part of the Musashi.
Suddenly, Augesvarer looked up in surprise and moved away from Guericke.
“I get it! This man is trying to threaten us by refusing to tow the Musashi, isn’t he!?”
Guericke clearly did not understand what Augesvarer was saying.
However, the cruel merchant saw an opening there, so he grabbed Heidi’s shoulder.
“Yes. Yes he is, Heidi. This hemispherical mayor intends to use that refusal as a bargaining chip against us. …We have no choice but to hand over the two ships! That is what this means!”
“No, um, wait.”
“How can you two make jokes at a time like this?”
“What are you talking about, vice president?”
Bertoni turned to her while ignoring Guericke who was still “um”-ing and “uh”-ing.
“Listen. If the Musashi is stopped in Magdeburg, we can be the true winners as the world is destroyed by the Apocalypse! Would you rather run away and die or laugh, throw money around, and die!?”
“I don’t want to do either, you idiot.”
That was when, Guericke gave the finishing blow.
“Well, there’s still a lot about this I don’t understand.” He nodded. “But if you will sign a contract here, that would be better than I could have hoped.”
Guericke desperately tried to restrain his pounding heart.
…Th-the Musashi will be permanently moored near Magdeburg!?
If that happened, all of Musashi’s printed materials would naturally end up in Magdeburg.
The Apocalypse was not far off, but the city would have economic stability and mental stability as the printing city with the privilege of seeing Naruze and a number of other authors’ works before anyone else.
“I would like that more than anything else!”
He stood and clenched his right fist without thinking. Oh, no. A German should be calmer than this, he realized. But if their treasurer agrees, that doesn’t matter.
“In exchange, we will allow the Musashi to plan the resistance against the coming conflict.”
Musashi’s treasurer clenched his left fist and held it out.
“Judge! For our ambitions and victory in life!”
“Testament! For our ambitions and victory in life!”
Oh, the Musashi Vice President’s shout is so delightful. I wonder how she will be drawn in the next doujinshi. But due to Asama’s gunner character trait, the great Naruze always uses artillery sound effects during the kiss scenes and reliable union scenes. That makes it a little too shocking too self-insert, so I reliably wish she would do something about that. And the sound effects are a bit of a problem when making the German or Latin versions.
However, Musashi’s vice president raised her right hand and shouted again.
“Wait just a damn second, you two! I’m using my authority to intervene here!”
Masazumi pointed back and forth between Bertoni and Guericke, who had been staring right at her since a moment ago.
“There’s still a lot we don’t know and we have to gather Horizon’s Logismoi Óplo! We decided on that policy for the Far East as a whole, not just the city of Musashi!”
“We can simply retrieve them from the other nations at the Peace of Westphalia,” said Bertoni almost carelessly. “We can trade them two defense barriers for their Logismoi Óplo. That is sure to get us most of them. …Of course, those barriers are actually meaningless in the face of the Apocalypse!”
“Y-you just want to cause trouble, don’t you!? And besides.”
She pointed between Bertoni and Guericke again.
“Calm down, you two! This isn’t just about handing over part of the Musashi! Don’t go ahead with international deals without asking me first! And if we scam people with those defense barriers while we’re semi-permanently grounded, we’ll be surrounded and attacked! They’ll try to get back at us for tricking them!”
“Ah ha ha. Not to worry. I’ll make sure they never find out.”
“Like I can trust you!”
“Calm down,” said Bertoni while narrowing his eyes. “By that time, the entire world will be on the verge of destruction. Normally, they would be completely helpless as that destruction arrived, so if they want the satisfaction of having tried to fight it, they will have to pay me. That is all this is.”
In other words…
“Just three minutes ago, I seized control of the entire world using money!”
“Are you really Musashi’s treasurer!?”
“It seems you do not understand the truth of this world.” Bertoni sighed. “The disciple of money just so happens to play the role of Musashi’s treasurer.”
“Think before you speak!!”
Asama: “Um, who’s the bad guy here?”
Mal-Ga: “That’s easy. The flustered, weak-looking one is the normal person. The calm one is the crazy person.”
Vice President: “A-all of you are calm too! Aren’t you!?”
Asama averted her gaze and Naruze could be heard turning her back while standing guard outside the door.
These people, thought Masazumi as she glanced around. She noticed Heidi standing next to Bertoni and opening a variety of sign frames. This gaze Masazumi a very bad feeling.
“Eh? Oh, don’t talk to me anymore! I’m on Shiro-kun’s side! Heh heh heh. That’s right. I’m the Marube-ya’s woman!!”
The enemy is growing, honestly thought Masazumi.
But the biggest problem was Bertoni’s authority as Musashi’s treasurer.
She could always revoke his position with her authority as vice president, but…
…Restoring it later would be a lot of trouble.
Given Musashi’s position, there was a lot to gain from the position of treasurer.
Vice President was a higher position, but it was a “status” position with primarily political work. On the other hand, Treasurer was a “business” position that actively dealt with the economy and commerce.
If she revoked his position, the position’s restoration could be slowed by opposition and interference from the commerce and industry guild or the provisional council. On top of that, the student council’s approval rating would drop.
Appointing a new treasurer would be better, but no one else was qualified.
While wondering what to do, her gaze happened to land on Horizon.
Horizon expressionlessly scooted forward in her seat. She was just about to slide right off the chair, but her breasts rested on the table and supported her. She went on to speak in an emotionless voice.
“My impression of Asama-sama.”
Asama: “Wh-why am I suddenly under attack!?”
Wise Sister: “From the footage we’re getting, that is what Asama does. …But your shoulders get really stiff if you don’t, right? I asked Mary once and she agreed.”
Mal-Ga: “Yes. I think Margot leans forward more since she has her wings on her back. …But where’s Adele? Is she at the infirmary at Asama’s shrine? Mitotsudaira isn’t here either, so the only ones without any experience in this busty activity would be Suzu and me.”
Laborer: “Do automatons’ shoulders get stiff too?”
Girls: Wow! He’s worried about Ujinao-san!”
Sticky King: “Don’t make fun! Noriki is serious!”
Obscene: “That’s right! Love should not be treated like a joke!”
In the corner of Masazumi’s vision, Horizon raised her right hand while continuing her impression of Asama. She looked back and forth between Bertoni and Guericke.
“Anyway, I agree it would be best to gather the Logismoi Óplo at the Peace of Westphalia.”
“Wait, wait, wait!” cut in Masazumi. “Horizon, when you say you agree…!?”
Horizon tilted her head.
“I do not entirely understand the details, so I am simply speaking from an efficiency standpoint. And Masazumi-sama, I am the provisional student council president, so please be quiet.”
“That’s right, Honda Masazumi!” Bertoni excitedly pointed at her. “This is the time for money! Money rules the world in this age, so you politicians need to stay quiet!”
“That’s right, Shiro-kun! Long live money!!”
These damn people, thought Masazumi while clenching a fist.
“Now, with my authority as provisional student council president, I would like to make a slight correction to the previous deal.”
“Go ahead, go ahead!! As long as it is slight!”
The two merchants and the mayor eagerly rubbed their hands together as Horizon continued.
“Bertoni-sama, you are slightly fired.”
Masazumi thought as the merchant and mayor asked the same question.
…This has gotten pretty amazing.
She felt an odd sense of resignation and understanding that this was the sort of situation that required real resolve. Meanwhile, Horizon spoke softly.
“You are only being fired from your official position. How is that any different from an on/off switch?”
Those calm and for some reason questioning words were followed by Augesvarer’s voice.
“Hey, Masazumi? Horizon is saying something, so…could you look this way?”
“Sorry, but she told me to be quiet.”
“Calm down,” said Horizon. “I have determined gathering the Logismoi Óplo is important. They are my emotions after all. But another of Musashi’s major policies is to ‘not lose anything’ from the Apocalypse. Therefore, the Magdeburg Hemispheres are meaningless if they cannot defend against the Apocalypse.”
“This is not even worth discussing. I understand the idea of defeatism, but not doing anything at all is the exact same thing as losing to the Apocalypse.”
“So Magdeburg Provisional Mayor, let us make a new deal concerning the Magdeburg Hemispheres and this portion of the Musashi. If I were to make a suggestion…”
“Judge.” She nodded again and spoke with a complete lack of expression. “We will not hand over any part of the Musashi and we will take the Magdeburg Hemispheres. How about that?”
That sure is one-sided, thought Masazumi.
And being too one-sided was dangerous. After all…
…What if they refuse to tow us!?
So she quickly intervened.
“W-wait, wait, wait, wait. Horizon, that doesn’t amount to a proper deal.”
“Oh?” Horizon tilted her head. “What are you talking about, Masazumi-sama. We keep all of the Musashi and we get the Magdeburg Hemispheres. That is clearly an excellent deal for me. And I am the representative of the Far East and Musashi, so an excellent deal for me is an excellent deal for Musashi and the Far East. In other words, it is the best option! Why would we need to give anything in return?”
“Well, because the key to any deal between nations or cities is ‘give and take’. Right? Right?”
Asama: “I think this is a brand new kind of negotiation that goes beyond being forceful or bullish. It’s probably a sort of breakthrough.”
No amount of commentary is going to solve this. And I just found a new enemy, thought Masazumi.
Meanwhile, Guericke brought a hand to his chin and spoke slowly.
“Have you forgotten that the Musashi is currently being towed to Magdeburg?”
He finally said it. But even when faced by that threat, Horizon remained expressionless and tilted her head.
“I have not forgotten about the towing situation. I remembered it using the perfect memory of an automaton. For example…”
She placed a nearby cokepen on top of her breasts and scooted even further forward in her seat.
“I have used my memories to recreate how Asama-sama sleeps during class. What do you think?”
Wise Sister: “It’s perfect. An automaton’s memory really is perfect.”
Mal-Ga: “Yeah, it really has the same feel to it. The size is a little off, though.”
Asama: “Huh!? Huh!? Come to think of it, I have no way of knowing if this is right or not!”
“Anyway,” said Horizon as she turned back to Guericke. “You may continue, Guericke-sama.”
“Testament.” He nodded and pointed at his feet. “Then let me ask this: what if we were to stop towing the Musashi here?”
…This isn’t good.
The idea that Germans never got emotional was probably wrong. It was possible they could feign emotion to give themselves an extra bargaining chip to play with.
That line was likely part of his negotiation tactics. The Musashi could not travel through M.H.R.R., so they had no choice but to be towed by the Magdeburg ships.
“The Musashi cannot fly above M.H.R.R., so if we leave you here, you will be unable to move and you will eventually fall to the surface or be retrieved by some other nation.”
Horizon tilted her head as if to say she did not get his point.
“I do not understand.”
“What about it do you not understand?”
“Judge,” she said to him. “Previously, you questioned my memory by asking if I had ‘forgotten that the Musashi is currently being towed to Magdeburg’. I replied that I had not and made a demonstration to prove it. I had not forgotten, so why are you suggesting this penalty?”
“I was saying-…”
“This back and forth is what we call a negotiation. You tested my memory and I complied. In terms of a negotiation, I have determined that was a win for me.”
“I am currently the provisional student council president and chancellor. I am Musashi’s representative and Musashi itself. I was tested and passed, so Musashi has earned one win.”
…That’s complete nonsense!
How nitpicky can you get? wondered Masazumi.
Wise Sister: “The Mayor of Magdeburg was essentially trying to intimidate us. Horizon may have lured him in by doing things her own way to an excessive extent, but a threat will never work against an automaton like her. Heh heh. You all need to remember this. My future little sister does not back down when faced with trouble.”
“Now, then,” said Horizon.
She was about to begin something or give some kind of instruction.
She had earned a victory and she would use that now.
…Is she going to demand something of the Mayor of Magdeburg?
I need to focus on helping her, decided Masazumi just as Horizon mimed wiping her mouth with a cloth and dusting off the top of her breasts.
“Asama-sama at mealtime.”
Asama: “W-wait. I don’t show them off like that! I really don’t!”
“Her expression when dropping curry udon sauce on her breasts.”
Wise Sister: “Wonderful! She almost looks dizzy, doesn’t she?”
Asama: “Eh!? I look like that!? Ehhhh!?”
83: “Even curry can sometimes bring sadness!”
Asama: “Eh!? You’re just moving on!? Why am I always the target!?”
Horizon seemed to be ignoring Asama, but she had not actually opened a sign frame.
One would occasionally appear for her, but it seemed she could not control it.
“Tsukinowa, give Horizon a sign frame too.”
“Oh, thank you.”
Horizon sat up and gave a quick bow.
Suddenly, something heavy fell behind her.
Eh? thought Masazumi as she checked behind Horizon and saw a white and black gunblade on the floor.
It was Lype Katathlipse.
Seeing that Logismoi Óplo which was capable of destroying an entire city, Guericke took half a step back.
“A-are you threatening me!?”
“No,” declared Horizon. “And this makes two wins for me.”
Mal-Ga: “Um… Is this actually following a really simple set of rules?”
Wise Sister: “Yes, and Horizon doesn’t know how to hold back. To be blunt, the harder she tries to negotiate, the worse this is going to get. Masazumi, make sure you help her out. Heh heh heh.”
Vice President: “If it wasn’t for those last three words, I would have completely agreed with you!!”
Anyway, what am I supposed to do? she wondered while Horizon stared at Guericke. Horizon then spoke to the treasurer duo.
“Do you have anything to say?”
“Judge.” Bertoni turned an expressionless look Guericke’s way. “Is this man an enemy of our great city of Musashi?”
Asama: “Ehh!? What!? Did I just slip into a parallel universe!?”
Marube-ya: “What are you talking about!? We would never betray Musashi! I can’t believe this pair of giant breasts would doubt Shiro-kun and me like that! I hope you sag! Sag-sag-sag (curse incantation).”
Mal-Ga: “That curse would affect the sales of my doujinshi, so I’ll definitely work to break it. And besides, you were clearly doing everything you could to betray us earlier.”
Hori-ko: “At any rate, I will make my request.”
“Rescind your demand for a portion of Musashi.”
“Even though the lives of Magdeburg’s people are on the line!?” asked Guericke. “I had heard the Far East’s princess would not allow anything to be lost, but was that a lie!?”
“Musashi Treasurer and Treasurer’s Aide.”
“Quiet him down. The negotiation is already complete for me.”
Bertoni prepared himself at the same moment as Guericke.
Bertoni commented on the distance between them and their different stances.
“A European stance? Do you intend to begin a prostration battle?”
“Testament,” replied Guericke. “I will ensure my appeal gets through no matter what. I challenge you to a quick-prostration.”
“Fine then,” said Bertoni quietly. “The first to get their prostration through to the other wins.”
Asama: “We don’t have to comment on this, right?”
Uqui: “But what are they going to do? They have a table between them and chairs behind them. If they try to prostrate, their butts will end up in their chairs and their faces on the table.”
Asama: “W-we don’t have to comment on this, right? Right!?”
Wise Sister: “You only need to send us the footage. And some live commentary if you can manage it.”
Asama: “Why did I have to go to a place like this?”
Masazumi thought to herself.
…Should I just leave?
But Augesvarer raised her right hand to the side to tell her to back away.
Marube-ya: “I checked back through the Testament Union’s almanac and the Mayor of Magdeburg uses a vacuum prostration, so it would be dangerous to let your guard down.”
Vice President: “I see…”
Marube-ya: “Look at those hemispheres on his wrists. He can emit a directional vacuum from them to speed up his prostration. Shiro-kun doesn’t use any equipment, so he’s at a decent disadvantage here.”
Vice President: “Why are you even explaining this to me?”
Tsukinowa’s the only one I can rely on, she thought just as the two treasurers began to move.
They began their match almost simultaneously.
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