Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 43
Chapter 43: Ruler of the Dark Forest
What is going on here?
Yes, what is going on here?
Point Allocation (Don’t let it surprise you)
Naito was the first to detect the attack by Mouri-03 and her four teams.
Up in the air, she spotted them coming from the west.
Her immediate response was to use a reduction spell to erase the heat radiating from her. She could not escape the automatons’ auditory detection, but this was better than letting them see her and her location clearly. And at the same time…
While combating the enemy forces on the left, Mary used a spirit spell to erase the heat radiating from her and Tenzou.
That left only one thing to do.
Tenzou would charge in on Mouri-01 or Mouri-02 and take them hostage.
Retreat was not an option for them.
…We can’t let the enemy get close to Mito-tsan!
They did not know what the Reine des Garous would do with Toori, but they had to get Mitotsudaira to her to either buy time, fight, or negotiate.
Currently, Mitotsudaira was asleep in the pit on the slope.
Her body’s desire to heal itself had brought on this sleep.
Naito had seen how quickly a Loup-Garou could recover in England, so this sleep would likely fully heal the injuries from the beating she had taken.
So they could not let these pursuers approach her.
Naito also knew they had reached the final stage of the plan she had put together with Tenzou and Mary.
It all hinged on whether Tenzou could capture Mouri-01 or 02.
Tenzou’s charge was a risk to his life, but they could manage if he succeeded.
So to support him, Naito put some distance between them and then removed the reduction of her radiating heat. She held an Orei Metallo and a ten yen coin in her hand and prepared to fire. It probably would not hit, but it would draw their attention.
However, the coin in her hand would not move.
She saw the rear half of the enemy’s central unit slowly turn toward her and speak in unison.
“Is something the matter?”
…What is this?
It was the gravitational control that had affected Tenzou’s kunai.
…But why is it all the way over here!?
Her answer came in the form of a figure on a branch next to her. It was Mouri-03.
Naito realized what the automatons turning toward her and Mouri-03’s approach meant.
“They can see me without issue?”
“Could you not run away?” Mouri-03 smiled. “I locked my gravitational control’s position on you using my master setting, so even if you completely vanish, I can still track the traces of gravity to see that ninja’s approach and everything else. Also…”
Naito understood. Her weapon would not move. It was like pressing down on a child from above.
And just now, the front firing line had turned around.
Tenzou’s Excalibur was trapped in the pointed spires and she could not use her own weapon, so…
She gave an adlibbed instruction.
But her instruction proved meaningless because Mary was already on the move.
She did one thing to handle this situation.
“The divine protection of my Excalibur can resist the automatons’ gravitational control!”
While Tenzou revealed his form and ran, he reached a hand out toward Mary.
She did the same toward him and threw Excalibur to him.
Once it reached him, he would rush to the enemy and attack. That was his decision.
…Because we can’t let the enemy reach Mitotsudaira-dono!
Naito and Mary were here because they understood that, so he no longer worried about the danger this put them in.
He also had a further thought in reference to Mary.
…Mary-dono is more or less family, so worrying about her comes last!
That was an outrageous and somewhat conceited statement he could not say directly to her.
…But before fighting, she said she was prepared to be with me forever once this was over!
On the battlefield, the time to save someone came at the very end. And that was exactly why the battle’s end would bring them together forever.
And currently, she had given him her weapon which left her with only her spirit spells.
He looked her in the eye.
She smiled and mouthed the words “do your best”.
He prepared to take the sword and immediately attack.
But in that instant, his hand was knocked upwards.
It was a wall. A wall of earth had quickly and forcibly risen up between the two of them.
This was Mouri-02. Her sudden gravitational control had raised the wall.
Unable to withstand the burden of the gravitational control, Mouri-02’s right arm audibly burst.
The wall stopped, but it was already as tall as Tenzou and cut him off from Mary’s smile and Excalibur.
He heard the sword collide with the earth wall on the other side.
The sword had not reached him, and…
“They’re going to fire!?”
He ran with the wall to his right and a volley of gunfire came from the left.
Mitotsudaira heard a voice that sounded like a scream.
She wondered what it said, but her mind was too light and unclear.
…I need to sleep.
Yes, she needed to keep sleeping.
After all, she was currently half asleep. She was in a state of exhaustion that made it easy to tell herself to go back to sleep.
It was actually the person’s will that reached her. The tone of rejection in the voice reached her more than the voice itself.
And she somehow knew why that was.
She had once cried out in that same tone of rejection before.
That word summed it up best.
Please stop. I am telling you to stop.
But that word did not get through, so it eventually changed to something else.
…I won’t do it anymore.
That was it. Yes, that was definitely it.
If they would not stop, she would stop on her end. She would stop doing what she had been doing.
Stopping yourself as a sign of rejection only happened when you made someone angry by doing something. And the person scolding you would not stop even when you told them to.
They would only stop once you swore to never again do what had brought on the scolding.
She had once sworn that.
She had been horribly reluctant and had resisted, but the overwhelming difference in strength had prevented her from doing anything more, making any other choice, or even thinking. The difference in strength had ultimately made her make that promise.
That was what had twisted her.
When someone was left in a shameful, worn-down state, others showed no mercy.
Those close to her had been worried, but even that had felt like pity and grown distorted in her mind.
After all, while there were some who would take her side…
…The other people were far more numerous.
So she had ignored those close to her and opposed those more distant. Eventually, that had gone beyond just playing around.
It doesn’t matter, she thought.
Back then, she had promised to redo everything, but here she had not even noticed that she had lost the sign of that promise.
And she had been unable to stand up to the person who had caused it all back then.
She had seen speed as her own weakness, but that had not held true for her opponent. The memory of that opponent demonstrating the speed needed to dodge Futayo’s cutting attack was still fresh in her mind.
She could not stand up to her, so there was no way she could rescue the chancellor.
…So it doesn’t matter.
She tried to go to sleep because there was no point in fighting anymore.
That distant voice of rejection would not stop ringing in her ears.
What am I doing? thought Mitotsudaira.
She was trying to gather strength in her body and recall the shape of that body.
What am I doing? she thought again. Why am I trying to move?
The painkilling spell was in effect, so her body was heavy and it creaked as if forcing it to move would strip the flesh from the bone. However, she tried to move regardless.
What was she doing? Why was she getting up?
She had a somehow distant sense that her classmates were fighting and she understood why they had left her here to sleep.
The scent reaching her nose told her she was surrounded by plants. Mary had likely used spirit spells to wrap ivy and other plants around her to hide her from the outside.
She might not be found even if Tenzou and the others lost. They were telling her to sleep, recover, and continue on to the chancellor after the enemy passed by.
Why was she trying to get up?
Stubbornness? Regret? Or was it pride or a show of courage?
She had lost the proof of her promise, so she felt she had no right to get up.
And she knew who that voice of rejection had belonged to.
…It was Mary.
Then what did it matter? She had kept her distance from that English royal. Mary would not expect her to come save her, so what reason did she have to go?
She had no reason to help and they did not want her to help. And yet…
Why? she asked herself. Why are you trying to move and get up?
And because she did not know…
No, that was wrong. That was the wrong word.
Please stop. She was saying to stop and yet…
She understood. She really did. The part of her heart telling her to stop was saying something.
…I won’t do it again.
Do what? What won’t you do?
It came back to that cry of rejection.
She felt that her former choice had been wrong. That was why she had corrected her rejection.
But what about this voice that still rang in her ears?
Was there a rejection that could be allowed and that did not need to be stopped?
“I won’t lose anyone again.”
That was what her king and princess had wished for.
…And I made a promise.
She had once made a promise. She had made up her mind and used that as a basis for her decisions.
Mitotsudaira awoke. She tried to gather strength in her body.
But she could not get up. Her mind had cleared, but her body could not keep up.
The cry of rejection still rang in her ears.
She clearly told herself to get up. She willed it and trembled with effort, but her body was sluggish and refused to move.
She wondered if the hang-up was Mary. Did this last bit of hesitation hinge on whether she would rescue the girl or not?
…As for Tenzou…um, what am I supposed to say? But maybe I’m being too harsh. Although this is a completely different issue.
At any rate, she had definitely concluded she had no reason to rescue them.
She truly did have no reason. That was a fact.
…But that cry of rejection is still ringing in my ears!
Mary had given the same cry she once had.
But despite that, she could not even clench her teeth.
Just as she wondered what to do, a new scent reached her nose.
It was something that should not have been here.
Her entire body sprang up in surprise.
Tenzou had not given up.
The earth wall to his right had blocked Excalibur’s path, but he made a short dash up onto the side of the wall.
He then twisted his body downwards and kicked off the wall.
He would perform a midair side-flip over Mouri-02’s head.
He would be upside down once he reached Mouri-02 and he would remove and throw her head with his hands.
He would go for a midair decapitation throw.
He quickly enacted that plan.
He twisted around in midair and threw his body into empty air while stretching his head downwards.
He saw Mary for a brief moment. She was deflecting bullets with a spirit spell air shield, but knowing she was safe was enough. Right now, he had only one thing to focus on.
He jumped over Mouri-02’s head.
She had no way of attacking after losing her right arm and the gunners to the left would be unable to keep up with his sudden movement.
He used his full mobility as a ninja. He was confident that only someone at the level of an academy’s vice-chancellor could keep up with his speed.
But below him, he saw Mouri-02 bring her left hand to her own head.
However, that hand did not stay there.
She pulled back her hand to remove the head.
As her head tilted back and fell behind her, it looked up into the sky and at him.
She was not smiling, angry, or even sad. She was completely expressionless as she had her headless body jump up at him.
It could not reach him and it was too slow, but…
It exploded directly below him.
Mary saw the blast envelop him.
Excalibur was returning to her after hitting the earth wall, but an attack was already coming from ahead.
Several headless dolls were rushing in to self-destruct.
She grabbed Excalibur, but it was too late to use it as a shield.
As soon as she realized she could not avoid this attack, the three directly in front of her spread their arms as if welcoming her.
“Thank you very much.”
They produced three explosions in quick succession.
“Please confirm the situation.”
Mouri-01 used her high-speed thoughts to communicate through the scattering heat of the blast.
An automaton’s high-speed thoughts could divide a second into nearly a million parts, so the surrounding motion almost seemed to stop as she made her decisions about the battlefield.
So far, a total of twenty-two automatons had self-destructed and eight were otherwise damaged.
Mouri-02 was one of those who had self-destructed, but all of their cores and memory devices had been recovered.
On the other hand, the enemy’s 1st special duty officer…
…Um, what was his name again?
Whatever. We can worry about that later.
Regardless, the enemy’s 1st special duty officer had been caught in a blast, Mary “Double Bloody Mary” Stuart who was on the level of a special duty officer had also been caught in a blast, and 3rd Special Duty Officer Margot Naito was being attacked.
Comparing the losses of special duty officer level warriors, the automatons were winning. They were of course losing if the total numbers were compared, but a special duty officer level warrior was not comparable to a normal warrior in any academy.
…This is a difficult judgment to make.
She decided to leave that judgment to the academy and to simply do her best here.
She slowed her thought speed to match the outside world and her surroundings sped up. After checking the thermal reading of the explosion that had caught the enemy’s 1st special duty officer, she realized something.
“Musashi’s 1st special duty officer is gone!?”
Mary was the one who realized where Tenzou was.
She had supposedly been caught in an explosion, but she was now seeing the night sky.
From the depths of the forest, she had only been able to see that sky between the branches, but now someone held her in their arms and she looked to the right to see who.
Mouri-01 was baffled.
Why were the 1st special duty officer and Mary unharmed after those explosions? And how had the 1st special duty officer managed to reach Mary?
A few different phenomena did not fit together. They went beyond her statistical, causal, and predictive reasoning, so she had difficulty understanding what she was seeing.
The battle was still ongoing.
She double-checked the facts. The enemy was unharmed, Mary had been taken away by the 1st special duty officer, and they had both moved to the left end of the battlefield.
That was all. Mouri-03 was attacking the 3rd special duty officer, but…
A sound suddenly reached her from directly ahead. It was the sound of an object slicing through the air in a straight line.
Mouri-01 shifted her thoughts into high speed. She switched back and forth between auditory and thermal detection, added that on top of her visual information, and even amplified the light in that information.
The processing of the visual data was heavy enough for her to drop some frames, but the data she did get informed her of a definite truth.
“We have a new enemy!”
Mouri-01 ignored the earthen spikes surrounding her and raised her right hand. She swung the hand as if rolling her shoulder and a row of new spikes formed in front of her. A total of thirty-two earthen spikes stood in a line stretching out in front of her. The hardened soil rose like a wave, but they were immediately destroyed from the other side.
The flying stone loudly smashed the spikes.
Twenty of them broke in an instant, six more followed, four bent, one broke, and the final one stopped it.
However, the stone simply stopped in midair. It did not fall to the ground.
This was not gravitational control, so Mouri-01 checked visually.
…It’s wrapped in ivy!?
Ivy was crudely tied around the stone and it extended back into the darkness.
With a tug on the ivy, it returned. It moved so quickly that it seemed to shoot back.
The stone returned to the newcomer who had likely been the one to retrieve the ninja and Mary with the ivy stone.
“You are Lady Mitotsudaira Nate, 5th special duty officer of Musashi!”
Mary saw the silver wolf from Tenzou’s arms.
Mitotsudaira stood halfway up the slope, she was not wearing her coat or skirt, and she still looked very exhausted.
But when she caught the stone in her right hand, her stance showed her intent to move forward.
…She is not going to run.
The ivy on her shoulder was the ivy Mary had gathered to hide her, but…
Gold Mar: “Mito-tsan, how did you get up!?”
Silver Wolf: “Eh? Oh, um, how should I put it? My pride as a knight, I guess.”
Gold Mar: “Wow, knights are awesome! I mean, I went a little crazy on the pain reduction cause I figured you could handle it, but you still managed to get up!”
Silver Wolf: “Y-you had better remember this later! That really wasn’t easy! But…”
Mitotsudaira glanced over at Mary and held something up in her left hand.
It was a rice ball.
“I’m surprised you had this with you. Horizon made this, didn’t she?”
“Judge. Lady Naito brought it, but it seems they got messed up during the descent. They had lost their shape and, while we rested, Master Tenzou expressed his concern about their state.”
“Mary.” The silver wolf took a bite of the rice ball and swallowed it. “Mary, you use a lot of herbs, don’t you? They have a bit of a strong scent.”
“Eh? Oh, sorry-…”
“It is not a bad scent. …I am familiar with it from mixing perfumes.”
As she spoke, she raised the stone and lifted her left leg for a right overhand throw.
She threw the stone projectile into the enemy group.
Mouri-01 made a split-second decision. She used her gravitational control to break the surrounding spikes at their base and free everyone. At the same time…
She gave her command to the others and swung her own arms forward.
Those two arms directed her gravitational control and pointed the broken spikes forward.
“Please have these!”
The broken spikes were fired toward the silver wolf as if they had been kicked forward.
The spikes were made of earth and packed as hard as stone. Those several dozen spears sliced through the air as their paths crossed.
But Mitotsudaira did not panic in the face of what looked like countless deadly attacks. Her mind was still unsteady and her breathing rough, but…
“Like this, right?”
She twisted the thumb and forefinger holding the forcefully extending ivy.
This swung the stone and changed its path to a quick arc from left to right.
The movement was unthinkable as simple physical motion, but…
...This will work!
This ivy was what Mary had used to weave together and hide her. Mary had applied a spell to them, so now that Mitotsudaira had taken it apart, it was a long piece of ivy that carried ether. It was weak, but…
“It’s no different from the silver chains!”
That was how the ivy allowed the stone to change its path in midair.
It shifted to a gouging arc toward the group of spikes.
And it struck.
It pierced straight through the center of the flying spikes from the side.
The sound of destruction reached Mitotsudaira.
She tugged on the ivy to return the stone and smash the spikes again from behind.
But she was too slow. She had torn several holes in them, but the density of flying spikes was still too high.
Mitotsudaira forced the stone back to her with pure strength, but she did not catch it. It passed by her and she let it fly behind her.
“Reinforce the ivy!”
Bluish-white light filled the ivy along with a flexibility that seemed to push out from within.
…Such great strength!!
Mitotsudaira wrapped the ivy stone around something behind her.
“That big tree!”
She tossed the last of the rice ball into her mouth and moved just as she started chewing.
She tugged on the ivy with both hands.
With the sound of snapping fibers and a great roar, the silver wolf uprooted the large tree behind her.
She went on to carry it forward.
And she chucked the thirty meter or taller tree into the group of spikes.
All of the spikes were smashed, the branches scattered, and the leaves flew about. After confirming the result, Mitotsudaira howled.
As if swinging her hair around, she lowered her arms to her sides and raised her throat to the sky.
The howl continued with an extended “oh” and a reverberating “nn”.
She then bent her entire body forward and lowered down almost to the ground.
“Here I go!”
She began to dash. In an instant, she shot below the falling tree and grabbed a thick branch.
She threw the large tree to the left. She had made a verbal feint, but she saw nothing wrong with that small level of cruelty.
The tree stirred up the wind, broke through some automatons, and cleared a path down the center.
She stood the tree in the dirt as thanks, and prepared to face those on the left. She could leave the right to Tenzou and Mary. She could already see Tenzou’s Excalibur returning after being freed from the spikes, so…
She threw the stone toward Mouri-01 who stood forty meters ahead.
However, someone got in the way: the automatons making up Mouri-01’s unit. They moved forward and raised earthen walls.
The ivy moved. She was not simply controlling it with the movement of her fingers. It arced up like a snake raising its head and twisted around to tear into the enemies behind the wall.
It moved just like her silver chains.
Mouri-01 realized what the silver wolf’s weapon was. It was not ivy or a stone.
…Is it a thought transmission spell!?
The spell sent her intention to an object and had the object move accordingly.
It was the same type of spell as the one used by Musashi’s chancellor. While his spell distributed ether to a great number of people, this was a lighter spell that conveyed her thoughts to any ether-protected object she touched with her hands.
Mouri-01 guessed the spell was meant to allow communication with her silver chain divine weapon, but the spirit-reinforced ivy created with Mary’s spell was enough to receive her thoughts.
The wall raised by Mouri-01’s subordinate automatons was completely ignored. The stone flew past it and swept them away.
But it did not end there.
There was more. The silver wolf prepared her left hand for an underhand throw.
She held a stone tied to the opposite end of the ivy draped over her shoulders.
It broke straight through the wall.
What a powerful strike, thought Mouri-01. I must stop this stone.
She searched for any way of intercepting it in the current situation, but the answer to her question quickly arrived from outside.
“Big sister!” shouted Mouri-03. “I’ll stop it!”
Mitotsudaira saw a small form jumping above the tree branches.
She swung down her hand which was connected to her fourth throw.
At the same time, Tenzou raised his voice after lowering Mary to the ground and catching his Excalibur.
She already knew from the Magie Figur that Naito had sent her.
…So that’s how Mouri-03’s gravitational control works.
“She can freely set an enemy as her master to stop their weapons!”
By repeatedly switching between people with the high-speed thoughts of an automaton, she could artificially hold multiple “masters” at the same time.
And so Mitotsudaira gave a shout with the same volume as her howl.
Automatons obeyed orders from their masters.
However, that fact held little meaning for Mouri-03. She could freely switch between masters, so she could switch to another master and switch back after ignoring the order.
She did the same here. To stop the enemy 5th special duty officer’s weapon, she had set the wolf as her master. The wolf had told her to stand back, but that only meant she had to set someone else as her master.
But the enemies she had intended to make her master had vanished. Both Mary and the 1st special duty officer were gone.
She had removed the tracking lock using her gravitational control back when she had thought they were defeated in the explosions, so…
…I’m in trouble if they’ve hidden themselves with a spirit spell and ninja technique!
If she could not see them, she could not set them as her master.
But an automaton needed a master.
If she removed her master setting, she would lose her reason for existence as an automaton, her abilities would be restricted, and she might even cease to function altogether. Also, it was impossible to set another automaton as her master.
…So I need to set another enemy as my master!
“Where’s the enemy’s 3rd special duty officer!?”
She started to turn around, but…
Someone tapped on her right shoulder from behind and she turned around to find someone whose feathers had scattered from gunfire.
“The 3rd special duty officer…”
“You really shouldn’t hesitate. If you hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have caught up.”
A speedometer-style Magie Figur now hovered above her right shoulder. There was no escape. The girl grabbed her shoulder to press a ten yen coin against it. Not even gravitational control could stop this.
“Doing it like this will damage your hand too!”
“Oh, don’t worry about that.”
The enemy 3rd special duty officer smiled.
“Your master has guts.”
Mouri-01 heard something fired overhead.
Mouri-03’s right arm flew through the air while the rest of her used her left arm to grab at a tree trunk to the upper right.
And she fell.
Mouri-01 determined there was nothing to apologize for. In fact, she was the one that needed to apologize. She had been the one to set up the battlefield on the assumption that the enemy’s 5th special duty officer and daughter of their vice chancellor would not take part.
That was why Mouri-01 decided that she should take responsibility.
…So I will win this!
She raised both her arms.
The ground below her hands was rapidly torn up and quickly transformed into a projectile.
She had to hurry. Her gravitational control excelled at bursts of strength, but creating and firing this high-density projectile was still a difficult task. She compensated by raising her power output above normal.
“I will hurry!”
This put a great burden on her body, so the ulna of her left forearm and the back of her right hand burst. But she did not care. These were necessary losses to achieve victory.
After all, the enemy’s stone was breaking through their walls as it flew toward them.
She had to hurry but remain calm.
She had created a two meter spear. It was made denser than rock and she raised it in her right hand and flung her left hand forward.
She broke her own wall and cleared her vision.
Mouri-01 resolved herself.
She looked to her enemy, looked to the stone that enemy had thrown, and moved to place her projectile on the same path.
The two attacks collided in the center of the forest.
The sound of destruction resembled splitting stone and bright sparks lit up the forest.
The scattershot of fragments sounded like a spray of rain as they gouged into the trees and ground.
As for the two who had launched these attacks…
They had already begun their next moves.
Mouri-01 raised her arms again to create a second spear while Mitotsudaira began to catch the stone in her hand as it returned to her.
However, Mouri-01 did something else to speed up the creation of her projectile.
“How about an addition?”
She severed her own left arm to use it as extra material.
The spear took form much faster with the extra part.
Meanwhile, the stone returned to Mitosudaira’s hand and she raised it overhead.
But Mouri-01 was ever-so-slightly faster.
“Now, this one is ready.”
She lifted her right hand toward Mitotsudaira with the spear projectile floating beneath it.
It shot directly toward the silver wolf.
…She’s using her own body to win!?
Mitotsudaira’s heart filled with admiration of her enemy.
She knew this was dangerous, but she had to admire the action.
This was not self-sacrifice. It was true cooperation to achieve victory.
She knew only an automaton could do that.
However, the level of praise she gave her enemy was also the level of danger she was now in.
She had to intercept this.
She did not have time to avoid it. Not only was it a speedy attack, but she had already raised her arm to throw.
Her only option was to stop the projectile with her stone.
There was a single problem with that, though.
…Hers will be faster!
A projectile thrown by an automaton’s gravitational control had a certain unique trait: the gravitational control could continue working on it shortly after it was fired.
Their gravitational control had an effective range, so acceleration of the launched object could continue while it remained in that range.
Mitotsudaira had thrown her previous attack before the enemy had thrown her projectile. They had collided nearby the enemy, but that meant the enemy’s projectile had yet to reach its full speed.
They had been of equal power at that point, so…
…I’ll lose if hers is at full speed!!
Mitotsudaira was raising her stone, but the enemy had already fired.
She could not avoid having inferior speed.
At this rate, her stone would shatter on impact and the projectile would reach her.
“In that case…!”
She reached a certain answer.
…I will throw it with all my strength!
She could not dodge in time, so she simply made her overhand throw.
But even as she did so, she knew it would be slower than her enemy’s attack.
I need speed, she begged.
An instant later, speed came to her.
However, it was a crumbling drop in speed.
…What is this!?
It was the pain reduction.
Her doubt about her counterattack had disturbed her focus.
Her knees gave way and strength left the arm throwing the stone.
She heard Tenzou’s voice and saw him and Mary appear, but they were immediately stopped.
Mouri-03 had fallen to the ground, but she stood with her back leaning against a tree and stopped Tenzou and Mary by viewing them as her masters.
Strength drained from Mitotsudaira’s body and her arm swung forward.
She felt the stone slip from her fingers.
But in that instant, she saw something unexpected.
After the stone vanished from her hand, it immediately shot toward her enemy.
She expressed her confusion in her heart.
It had been a weak throw that only slipped from her fingers, so what had happened?
The stone arrived right in front of the enemy’s projectile.
The instant of collision settled everything.
Her stone attacked the hardened spear projectile just as it was about to break from its initial velocity.
The stone scraped along the side of the spear as it passed by and its great speed caused the spear to burst from that scraped area.
It was utterly destroyed.
The solid sound told Mitotsudaira the truth. The stone she thought she had failed to throw had flown faster than the one she had thrown with her full strength. Not only that, it had reached her enemy.
…What was that!?
A certain memory came back to her.
When she had fought her mother in IZUMO, her mother had instantly avoided Futayo’s cutting attack.
She had thought her mother’s superhuman speed was something she did not have, but…
…What did I just do!?
She did not understand because she was clearly not at 100% right now. So why had she been able to give the stone such speed?
She remained confused while the stone destroyed the projectile and flew toward her enemy.
It continued on to gouge into that enemy, but…
She heard a sudden voice and a loud noise from behind.
Mitotsudaira saw the source of the noise.
It was a tree. A felled tree dropped from the sky like a stake and stabbed into the ground right in front of Mouri-01.
Mitotsudaira’s stone crashed into the tree. The trunk split open, but the stone shattered.
…Who threw that tree!?
She was a little annoyed at this intervention, but she soon heard another reaction. Mary spoke while looking behind her.
“Oh, good evening.”
Mitotsudaira knew what that confused and smiling voice meant: someone stood behind her who it would be best to greet.
She sensed her mother’s presence.
Mitotsudaira felt the source of her mother’s presence.
There was a scent, faint body heat, and some movement of the air. All those things told her that her mother had appeared about five meters behind her.
No one could move and they all focused on the person behind Mitotsudaira.
Mitotsudaira herself breathed with her gut to prevent her mother from seeing her shoulders rising and falling.
Her mother had likely heard about the commotion from the forest’s animals.
She could do nothing now.
…Nothing except buy time for the others to escape.
So she turned toward Tenzou.
But the ninja in the darkness did not nod. He did not want the enemy to see him react. Taking his motionlessness as an answer, Mitotsudaira prepared herself.
She realized she could not turn around. She would be defeated in the time it took her to do so. If she did move, anything but a sudden action with all her strength would be too dangerous.
…So I need to move the instant I hear her approach!
It came immediately afterwards.
It came as pressure. The movement of the air, the scent, and the light sound all created a pressure that pressed against her back.
I need to escape, she thought just as the presence arrived right behind her ear.
She tried to leap, but…
Before her legs could sink down, she heard a breath of laughter in her ear. Or she thought she did.
Dammit, she swore.
…But I just threw that stone so quickly!
She was slow and heavy now, so what had that previous speed been? As if to take her past that question, the time for an attack to reach her passed and it was already too late to avoid it.
She realized she had messed up and wondered if she would not even be able to buy any time.
…If only I had speed!
A moment later, an attack arrived behind her.
She was not hit by claws, swung around, or jabbed.
Instead, a giant red sword fell from the sky.
“That’s one of the swords spatially ejected by Henri of the Three Musketeers!?”
The god of war sized blade stabbed into the ground behind her and an attack hit it on the other side.
The heavy, carrying sound was much like a bell and it shook the forest.
But Mitotsudaira felt some wind.
Her mother left. She gave a breath of laughter and ran off into the darkness.
Next, some pressure arrived overhead. The heavy noise of wind came from a light aerial ship.
“I am Henri of Hexagone Française’s Three Musketeers! I forbid this battle from continuing!”
“Hexagone Française and Musashi have unofficially agreed to a ceasefire! Any further conflict would be meaningless for both sides!! Reine des Garous, are you listening!? This is…”
What? wondered Mitotsudaira as she looked up at the aerial ship.
“This is the will of Former Provisional Chancellor and Student Council President Anne of Austria!”
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