Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 54
Chapter 54: Inexperienced Meeting Participant
Why is no one
Leading me by the hand
Like they used to?
Point Allocation (Subject and Object)
Satomi Yoshiyasu’s morning started early yet again.
She felt she had been careless the day before, but she was careless again today.
Due to the Musashi Chancellor’s early morning splatter the previous day…
…Today, I surrounded the bed with spears and such with evil-repelling charms on them, but…
She had thought her defenses were perfect, but she had woken screaming again when the vassal’s mobile shell fell and smashed everything. Half embedded in the floor, the vassal moved the round shell to crawl out.
“Wow, I missed my landing a bit! Another seventy centimeters to the right and I’d have crushed your head! Thank goodness I didn’t! …Ah! Sorry! I have to go flying to Musashino now! See you later!!”
The girl had then left, but it had been Yoshiyasu’s carelessness to not notice the battle on Musashino.
Yoshiyori had apparently noticed, but he had said P.A. Oda’s involvement meant Hashiba might be making a move via Houjou. Yoshiyasu thought that was a little unfair, but…
“Miss Balfette, was it? You don’t need to give me a gift of confections or bow down, so just relax.”
She and Balfette stood in front of the city hall along Magdeburg’s river. M.H.R.R.’s forces looked like a sea of warriors across the river and their aerial ships were waiting overhead.
“The Musashi is evacuating people, so the city’s practically empty. It must be tough for M.H.R.R. to keep up their motivation to attack.”
Chancellor Yoshiyori had stayed on the Musashi because he claimed to have some paperwork to complete with “Musashi”, but Yoshiyasu had remained in Magdeburg because she wanted to view what could be a major turning point for the Far East.
Righteousness stood next to the city hall and she hoped it would help threaten the M.H.R.R. forces across the river.
“Do you know anywhere to get food around here…should I call you Miss Vassal?”
“Sure, for now.”
The vassal opened a sign frame. Hers was a Catholic sign frame, so the nearby Magdeburg residents shrieked and backed away.
“Oh, whoops. I should put on Musashi’s special Protestant camouflage skin. I don’t want unnecessary fear and suspicion when I’m on their side.”
She scrolled through different designs for her sign frame. There were flower, sumo ring, and keyhole kofun designs that Yoshiyasu could not imagine a use for, but the girl finally found the Protestant one.
“There. Pretty well made, isn’t it? It displays a bible verse every morning and the crossword puzzle includes the Ninety-Five Theses.”
“Why is Musashi making things like that?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
The vassal began searching the map, but Yoshiyasu spoke to her again.
“Miss Vassal, shouldn’t you be fixing that armor of yours? At the meeting last night, you decided the Musashi forces would create an escape route for the people taking part in the Sack of Magdeburg, didn’t you?”
“Judge. The Musashi will take in the participants. Once inside, they’ll be in a ‘city other than Magdeburg’, so M.H.R.R. won’t be able to attack them.”
The vassal lowered the ends of her eyebrows and smiled.
“But the disturbance this morning took out the leg actuators of my mobile shell. It’s being looked at on the Musashi, but I’m afraid it’ll be some unique issue.”
She then lifted her eyebrows and sighed.
“We’re in charge of evacuating and securing the people, but the Magdeburg warriors have the harder task of defending the city. Their death is pretty much guaranteed here.”
“I heard Mayor Guericke gathered a bunch of Living Dead, but I doubt that’s enough.”
“Historically, the surviving women were raped, weren’t they?”
“Don’t make me shudder,” muttered Yoshiyasu as she looked around the square in front of the city hall. Rows of muscular men who had chosen to remain in Magdeburg were gathered there.
“Listen up! Tomorrow night, we’re gonna show those M.H.R.R. Catholics and Far Eastern apes what we’re made of! They’re all the pathetic type that’s here for a woman!”
Yoshiyasu spoke quietly as she watched that main force of a thousand men.
“They sure are full of energy for a crossdressing and legitimately gay army.”
“They were recruited from all of the Protestant cities, weren’t they? Those heroes gathered when they heard they would be counted as women in the official records. Almost makes you feel sorry for the M.H.R.R. army that has to rape them to follow the history recreation.”
The men began training by tackling each other and pinning each other in the north-south position. After a glance toward them, the vassal raised her right hand.
“I found a restaurant that’s open! But there’s a problem. Others from my class are bound to be there. Is that okay with you? There’s no other option.”
“There’s also… Oh, the city hall cafeteria is working as a distribution center for the warriors, isn’t it?”
Men dressed as maids stood with their arms crossed below the customer-less tent of the distribution center at the back of the square.
The vassal looked their way and they walked over when they noticed.
“Oh, dear. Those girls are looking our way.”
“Poor things. Neither of them have anything at all.”
“You’re right… And yet even I have a 121 bust. I wish I could share at least 10 of that with them.”
That’s your chest measurement, not your bust, thought Yoshiyasu, but she managed to endure by reminding herself that she was sure to grow and become more like her sister. That’s right! I just have to!
The vassal took a step forward.
“The nearby cathedral is running a food stand, so let’s go check it out.”
Yoshiyasu looked south past the buildings and trees. She saw two steeples there, but she saw something else on one of them.
“That’s Palais-Cardinal, isn’t it?”
Yoshiyasu saw one of the steeples had its roof portion removed and a silver god of war sat on it. The god of war’s upper chest appeared to have slid forward somewhat.
“Anne of Austria is being transferred from the church’s hospital via a wired connection.”
“Judge. She apparently said she wanted to see the outside world and walk around.”
A god of war had a wide range of vision and its accelerated thoughts slowed the passage of time. But was that a good way to view the scenery just before one’s death?
Yoshiyasu briefly thought of her sister and the man who had killed her.
…The last scenery she saw was…
It had apparently been the water of Edo Bay and the dawning sky. Or so he had told her.
She wondered if the sky and the sea had been a good final sight for that girl who so loved the land of Satomi.
…What did she and that man hope for and what did they gain from it?
She clicked her tongue at the annoyance of not having been told anything.
“Want to go? They probably have some snacks there.”
When the vassal turned and smiled at her, Yoshiyasu erased her inner thoughts and closed the lead of a few steps the girl had made.
“You like to keep things positive, don’t you?”
“What makes you say that?”
“This might be rude of me, but that battle this morning more or less ended as Musashi’s loss. If I were in your place, I’d be feeling down.”
“Oh… I’m pretty down, too. It makes me want to curse. I mean, that Sassa guy didn’t see any of my charm as a decoy and I’m too slow to keep up with him.”
“That’s not being down. That’s frustration.”
The vassal laughed behind her glasses and they turned left at a four-way intersection.
“Oh, that was the code calling a meeting of Technohexen. The 3rd special duty officer was right,” said the vassal, but Yoshiyasu had not noticed anything.
But as she walked along the dried dirt…
“I don’t change much when I’m feeling down. I’d only trip up our main fighters if I did. But when you are a main fighter – like a special duty officer or higher – then I think you have a real reason to feel down after your loss. After all, you have to think about how to use your different techniques, weapons, and abilities and how to improve with all of those things. But someone like me only has to give them the time they need to think through all that. I feel like that’s what I can do to have some real impact.”
She gave a bitter smile.
“Oh. Satomi Student Council President, you’re one of those main fighters, aren’t you? Sorry if I insulted you.”
What was she supposed to think?
Unlike the chancellor’s officers, the student council was usually not expected to fight, but she had been given Righteousness, she had stood alongside her sister and that man, and she had tried to have Yatsufusa accept her after her sister’s death.
…But Yatsufusa wouldn’t even activate for me.
What was different between her and that man? And…
“I’m…not really a ‘main fighter’.”
There was no real point in telling this to someone from another academy. In the past, she had told her sister and that man that they were not treating her like a main fighter. She had been half complaining and half hopeful.
What am I really? she wondered as she lifted her head. Directly ahead, she saw a large cathedral and Palais-Cardinal was connected to one of the steeples.
…Did Anne of Austria think any of these things too?
Even on her sickbed, Anne of Austria had been given the authority of chancellor and student council president for the provisional inherited name that would ensure her brother’s inherited name. However, she had gained the Reine des Garous’s trust, laid the groundwork for her brother’s rule, and…
“She went beyond the history recreation to place herself in Magdeburg and drive a wedge into the world.”
“Eh? Oh, you mean Lady Anne of Austria. …Hey, there’s the stand.”
The vassal took a few steps forward as if she had completely forgotten about Yoshiyasu, but she suddenly turned around and followed Yoshiyasu’s upturned eyes.
“From what I’ve heard, Lady Anne sent a request to the Reine des Garous.”
“Should you really be telling me that?”
“The secretary said I could share information with you while you’re working with us.”
The vassal continued.
“There’s a steel tower near Magdeburg but outside the siege. M.H.R.R. Chancellor Rudolf II is imprisoned there and the Reine des Garous is supposed to guide Musashi’s representative there. In other words, it was a request to put together an expedition to visit Rudolf II and obtain a document on the Princess Disappearances. …Apparently, that’s the tower.”
The vassal pointed to the southwest.
Beyond the city walls and past a hill, a black line rose into the sky. Yoshiyasu used the standard abilities of a god of war pilot to judge its distance and size by eye.
“That’s six or seven kilometers away. It’s about thirty meters wide but five hundred meters tall.”
“That’s apparently where the expedition is headed. Yesterday’s enemy can become a reliable ally today, but I hope they can at least wait long enough to give the 5th special duty officer and the Reine des Garous time to talk.”
“Anyway, based on the information I have, the defenses at and around Chancellor Rudolf II’s tower are fairly useless.”
Tenzou spoke from the right side of the table, Mary sat with him, and Mitotsudaira listened from the top end the table.
They were currently holding a meeting, but…
…Honestly, my mother was acting so hostile just half a day ago, so I can’t believe she’s being so cooperative just because someone ordered her to.
At any rate, Mary had agreed to the suggestion that the chancellor make them breakfast, so they were using that time to hold a simple strategy meeting.
“Anyway, that is the order instructing us to go to Rudolf II’s tower near Magdeburg.”
Tenzou was speaking to Mitotsudaira’s mother who sat on the left side of the table.
She looked down at the letter Tenzou had given her. The surface of the parchment from Hexagone Française displayed a Gallican signe cadre and she read it while listening to Tenzou.
“Testament. I have heard of it. During the Age of the Gods, the historical Catholic Emperor Rudolf II was imprisoned because he neglected his governmental duties and obsessed with researching Technomagie. The same happened during the history recreation, but the Catholics gave his tower in Prague to Hashiba and moved Rudolf II to a newly-constructed tower southwest of Magdeburg.”
She smiled with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“Magdeburg is a city of the Protestant principality of Saxony and yet they placed the Catholic emperor there. …Basically, they were showing off and proving that they did not care what happened to the emperor. That shows that he has no one to rely on even if he wants to stop M.H.R.R. and Hashiba and it proves his brother Matthias and Hashiba have more power than him. …Not to mention that he was emperor before the Thirty Years’ War, so M.H.R.R. likely plans to abandon his tower and declare his history recreation complete during the Sack of Magdeburg.”
“In that case, we need to reach his tower before the Sack begins,” commented Tenzou.
“That’s right,” said Naito who sat toward the entrance across from Mitotsudaira. “But even assuming we do get this…document on the Princess Disappearances? Well, whatever this memo from Chancellor Carlos I is, even if we get it and send it to Hexagone Française, how will we get back to the Musashi?”
“Judge. After the Sack of Magdeburg, the Musashi will fall under the authority of the city of Magdeburg. From there, it will be towed along the river as a transport ship. That will apparently take it all the way to the Seto Inland Sea.”
That had apparently been Horizon, Masazumi, and the others’ decision.
“So,” continued Tenzou. “Once the Sack begins, the battle will spread to the neighboring areas, so we need to move somewhere safe before then. And once it is over, we can have the Musashi pick us up while it’s being towed. Of course, if something happens, we will need to enter Magdeburg itself.”
“Yeah,” said Naito across the table from Mitotsudaira. “Tenzou, are the divine transmissions from the Musashi being intercepted? If not, we could call some underclassmen and Ga-chan to take us back from Rudolf II’s tower.”
“They probably are being intercepted. The Catholics have a connection to Aki’s Itsukushima Shrine through the Pope-Chancellor and they would probably try to use that when faced with Shinto transmissions.”
After listening to all that, Mitotsudaira had a thought.
…Th-there’s almost nothing for me to say here.
Mitotsudaira suddenly felt left out.
…Well, there’s no helping that.
She knew they were going to complete their preparations and leave for Rudolf II’s tower.
But Tenzou was in charge of their tactics and route, her mother would check on Tenzou’s ideas, Mary would ask about anything she did not understand, and when Tenzou’s ideas were not enough, Naito could jump in with her knowledge of Technomagie or familiarity with the land as a former M.H.R.R. resident.
Mitotsudaira was usually in charge of combat, but with her mother helping, there was nothing for her to do there either. She felt horribly left out as she nodded and peered at the map on Tenzou’s sign frame.
…I’m sure I’m only imagining it, but I feel like the kid no one likes who tries to join other people’s groups!
Her mother smiled and turned toward her.
“Nate? If you have any questions, don’t hold back. Just ask.”
I know that! she thought. You don’t have to treat me like a child.
She knew her mother could be mean and that saying this would not help, but…
“I am the 5th special duty officer, you know?”
She only noticed how prickly her voice was after the fact. She had been ignoring that her mother was trying to help them. She was not just being treated like a child; she was acting like one too.
It may have been the location that made her feel left out.
…I can’t believe we’re holding a strategy meeting in this candy house.
She had never actually been here before. Their home had been far to the west near Paris. Thinking back, she realized her mother had moved to disguise the fact that she was the Reine des Garous.
After hearing her mother’s stories, she had often begged to be brought here. Her mother had smiled bitterly and said that was impossible, so she had called her a liar to provoke her.
…I tried searching the nearby forest but naturally couldn’t find it.
After getting lost and crying until she fell asleep, her mother had found her and taken her home. She remembered seeing the starry sky from her mother’s gently swaying back.
But now that she was here, she knew why her mother had never brought her.
…It smells very strongly of her and father.
The others did not seem to have noticed, but a Loup-Garou would pick up on certain scents. It resembled blood yet had a sweetness to it, so smelled somehow sticky and addictive.
Mitotsudaira realized that her mother’s old stories about what was here and what happened here were all true.
The smell and the images it gave her made her feel a little woozy.
I give up, she thought concerning the feeling of being left out.
“Here’s yours, Nate. There’s plenty more, so make sure you eat up, okay?”
Another smell suddenly appeared in front of her.
It was a plate of the chancellor’s cooking.
Mitotsudaira looked at the food on the metal plate in front of her.
“I can really have a ham steak this thick?”
“Well, I don’t get a chance to cut it this thick with anyone but you. I got to have some fun on a bit of a ham adventure or pork adventure.”
He served the vegetables next, but they were stewed in a bowl with butter floating in a cream sauce. The cod mixed in eliminated any complaint about eating only vegetables.
“Oh, I kind of want some of that too,” said Naito.
“Wait just a bit. Nate comes first.”
It concerned her how much that last part improved her mood. He probably just meant she ate the most and he was preparing the most up front, but…
“Nate looks like she’s starving. Her nose has been twitching for a while now.”
…No, um, that’s because…
She could hardly say she was bothered by her parents’ smell, so she gave a harsh denial without thinking.
“I-I was not doing that.”
“Oh, my. What a disgraceful girl. …You need to take deeper breaths when doing that. That will bring in more of the smell.”
“Is it just me or are you pretty amazing, Nate Mama?” said Naito.
Was that a compliment? wondered Mitotsudaira, but her mother placed her hands on her cheeks and wiggled around. She must have been happy to receive any kind of praise.
The woman could not have missed the smell of her and her husband, but did she understand how Mitotsudaira felt? If so…
…I can’t tell if she’s partially ignoring me or trying to help.
Mitotsudaira sighed and the chancellor shook a bowl.
“Tenzou, what are you gonna do for food? Do you not need any? Yeah, a ninja can’t eat much. If you get too heavy, you can’t move around fast. There’s no helping that. If you insist the straw here is enough, I guess I’ll leave you with that.”
“W-would you stop giving me that sympathetic look without letting me speak for myself!?”
Mary reacted to Tenzou’s protest by standing up. She pushed her chair in and turned toward Mitotsudaira’s mother with a serious look. The look was enough to make the woman falter.
“I can borrow your kitchen, I assume.”
After Mary requested confirmation instead of asking, Naito began recording and Mitotsudaira’s mother nodded once she realized what was going on.
“Oh, my,” she said with her hands on her cheeks before returning Mary’s look.
“Are you that…um…ninja? Anyway, are you his…well…lover?”
“Judge. We have decided we will be together.”
“Then…you live together? And at night, do you…um, sleep together?”
“Judge. When we sleep together, I am on the bottom and Master Tenzou is on top.”
Gold Mar: “Victoryyyyy!! I don’t know what just happened, but I just won!! I hit the jackpot!!”
Silver Wolf: “Well, I suppose that’s better than anything abnormal.”
10ZO: “Th-this is a misunderstanding! She’s talking about our bunk beds!”
At any rate, they were served a bacon and cabbage soup. Mitotsudaira was served first, followed by Naito. Mitotsudaira felt bad toward Naito, but she also felt a fleeting happiness at being chosen to go first.
She went on to eat some bread with liver paste.
It made her feel nostalgic.
Mitotsudaira continued eating a few more bites without thinking.
…This liver paste tastes so nostalgic.
That may have been because it tasted the same as her mother’s homemade paste she had eaten for breakfast back home. She had eaten similar breakfasts on the Musashi, but her mother had not been there.
Why did I think she was an enemy? she started to wonder.
But she corrected herself: She is an enemy. She is only helping for the moment.
She knew her mother would crush someone if that person would eventually oppose her. That was the kind of person she was. So once this cooperative mission was complete, it was possible she would immediately attack once more.
Mitotsudaira wondered if it was wrong of her to be so worried about that future that she could not enjoy herself now.
“Here, Nate. Ham #2.”
“Eh!? Wait! Um, when they’re this thick, a second one would bring my calories up to…”
Her mother raised her hand, placed it on her cheek, and spoke in a reserved tone to the chancellor.
“May I have a third one?”
Mitotsudaira could feel her competitive spirit firing up.
She was starting to understand what led Horizon to remove walls. However, her mother turned her way and tilted her head.
“Just so you know, Nate, I slept with him last night.”
Mitotsudaira looked to the chancellor who was cutting the ham.
“Yeah, that’s right. I ended up bleeding a whole lot.”
Gold Mar: “I’ll delete this part when I hand it over to Ga-chan.”
10ZO: “Huh? Huh? Why are you handling this so differently than with me?”
Silver Wolf: “I have a feeling it’s all over regardless from the moment she’s giving it to Malga.”
Anyway, thought Mitotsudaira as she noticed something heavy in her heart.
…Um, my king was…
“Eaten” by my mother? Does that mean, in a way, I wasn’t able to protect him?
She briefly pictured Horizon’s face and thought of the word “knight”.
“W-wait! Um, uh…!”
She looked at her mother who smiled back with just the corners of her mouth.
“Oh, my. What a frightening look.”
“C’mon, Nate. Your hair’s bristling up.”
More plates arrived. First for her and then for her mother.
“When we say ‘slept’, we literally just mean ‘slept’,” said the chancellor. “Unfortunately for me, nothing sexual happened.”
She did not know what exactly happened and she did not know what he had meant by bleeding, but she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Is that so?”
“Oh, dear. She actually bought it.”
Mitotsudaira did not listen to her mother’s cruel joke. She relaxed her shoulders, sighed again, decided to resume eating, and saw what was on her plate.
“Um, can I have a third one too?”
“Can you manage as much as your maman?”
Her mother gave a triumphant laugh, so her response was obvious.
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