Horizon:Volume 3B Chapter 55
Chapter 55: Viewer of the Interval
It is vast
And it is cold
But it is filled with something absurd
Even as it sweeps you off your feet, you cannot look away
Point Allocation (First Step)
A large form moved slowly through the sky.
It was a giant white and black ship made up of eight smaller ships.
It was the Musashi.
As it was towed to the north, it cast a shadow on the forest below and the rivers flowing through the gaps in that forest. Occasionally, it would scare flocks of birds into flight or send beasts running.
However, there was no sound below or around the ship. It was being towed with acoustic primary stealth enabled.
But a great number of sounds could be heard within the stealth barrier.
A festival was underway.
“While also making repairs, we are holding a festival to distract the evacuees and Musashi residents from their worries and complaints. Was this Shirojiro-sama’s idea? I have determined it is proving quite effective, but it also means we could not continue on without doing this. Over.”
“Musashi” spoke quietly on the academy bridge at the back of the rear central ship.
She aligned the pile of documents she held and turned toward someone else.
“Satomi Chancellor Satomi Yoshiyori-sama, thank you for taking care of this. However, Musashi Chancellor and Student Council President Toori-sama is not here and the vice president and vice chancellor are both in Magdeburg, so I called Vicereine Horizon-sama here. Horizon-sama, can you greet home? Over.”
Horizon was wearing her personal clothes and she raised her right hand vertically toward Yoshiyori.
“Thank you for visiting our shop. Please come again.”
“Um, no, I should be thanking you.”
He bent his narrow eyes but then shrugged.
“It’s looking like I’m not going to meet your chancellor a second time.”
“Toori-sama is currently having fun down below with Mitotsudaira-sama, Mary-sama, and Naito-sama.”
“Horizon-sama, you seem to be forgetting someone. Over.”
Horizon nodded in understanding.
“There is indeed one more: the Reine des Garous who is currently assisting them. Thank you very much, ‘Musashi’-sama. I can be forgetful.”
“Musashi” stared off into the distance and Horizon looked down below.
“I am impressed we could take this many people onboard,” she said.
Horizon had a thought as she looked across the entirety of the Musashi from the academy bridge.
…Is all of this liveliness a representation of the lives Guericke-sama and I saved with our decision?
No, that is not accurate, she decided.
If she had not made that decision, Guericke would have gotten someone else’s help or done something himself. She had simply gone along with his desire to save them. And…
She finally understood what Asama had said the night before.
She was splitting up the different roles between everyone in order to accomplish something.
She was not saying anyone should be sacrificed.
She had not gone down to save him the night before because she had heard the others were better suited to that role. And now she had managed to save others here.
She was playing her role as vicereine.
She looked down at the festival again.
There were people there.
The schoolyard, the second and third schoolyards that followed the stairs down from the academy, and the streets below were filled with people carrying things or sitting around.
Next to her, “Musashi” calculated the number of people with a sign frame.
“Twenty-five thousand people. It is fortunate we could hold them all with only the deck. They are also permitted to enter the commerce block on the first level down as well as the atrium. Over.”
Satomi Yoshiyori had followed Horizon’s gaze and he crossed his arms and nodded at “Musashi’s” explanation.
“That’s the same as Satomi’s population. Musashi really is a massive presence.”
“Thank you very much,” replied “Musashi” before looking to the white god of war standing in the loading port on the back of Takao. “I have determined Satomi’s technical ability is impressive as well.”
“All we do is gather things from elsewhere. The base of our god of war tech was made by Kantou IZUMO engineers.”
He took a breath and looked at his Yatsufusa.
“We acquired an output device for flight equipment from a certain place, but we only managed to modify it for use with the Eight Dogs and Yatsufusa. And the engines have substitution restrictions applied to increase their power, so the pilots need to display the appropriate virtue.”
Horizon looked to “Musashi” and asked an expressionless question.
“Why do guys get so excited when talking about mechs and the like?”
“Judge. Sakai-sama has the same symptoms, so I have determined it is some kind of illness. Over.”
“It’s nice how you people can say anything without reservation.”
Horizon looked at him as he smiled.
“Are you having trouble communicating with Yoshy-sama?”
That’s a good question, thought Yoshiyori.
He was keeping silent about several important things and that had led her to act hostilely toward him. Sometimes she would seem to grow closer, but then she would move away as if embarrassed.
“I’m the type that thinks that makes this easier. But at the same time…”
He let out a bitter laugh.
“I also wish it didn’t have to be that way.”
“I have determined it is difficult to hold parallel views within yourself.”
“Are you letting me join your parallel views club?”
“No.” Musashi’s princess shook her head. “Recently, I have come to think that everyone has something like that. In England, the Fairy Queen wanted to keep Mary-sama from leaving while also not wishing for her execution and Chancellor Felipe chose to destroy himself yet ultimately chose to continue fighting. …I also saw a battle in which many other people moved forward while also moving back.”
Yoshiyori nodded, but Musashi’s princess unexpectedly said more.
“I have determined it would be nice if you eventually had a chance to speak with Yoshy-sama.”
He very nearly asked her if she knew what he was hiding from Yoshiyasu, but she gave him a slight nod.
“I apologize. That was only something I learned from Toori-sama…although through his grandmother, Mitsu-sama.”
“And what was that? What did that chancellor’s grandmother say about him?”
Some urgency had entered his voice, but she answered calmly.
“He went to meet his great-grandmother before he lost her.”
The princess spoke slowly.
“And his great-grandmother was satisfied because she had ‘lived a life that gave her grandchildren who would come see her before the end’.”
Yoshiyori paused to choose his words.
“That must have been a wonderful way to live.”
“Judge. And, Yoshiyori-sama, I want to avoid losing anything or being lost. But if the time does come for that, I would want to feel satisfied with myself up to that point.”
“If you are hiding anything or regretting anything, I have determined it would be best to tell Yoshy-sama. If you do, you should be satisfied with everything else.”
“Then are you living a life like that?”
The princess’s answer was not the one he expected.
She shook her head.
“I am still a child who cannot even determine if I am hiding anything or regretting anything.”
“Testament. So do I look like an adult to you?”
“You do,” she replied. “When you use difficult phrases like ‘without reservation’ in reference to our normal conversations, what could you be except an adult? You have an adult flavor to you.”
“Judge. On the vocabulary test I helped with the other day, Toori-sama shamelessly misspelled it as ‘rezervashon’. Over.”
“It’s an issue of spelling?” he asked.
The princess tilted her head as if to say “You mean it isn’t?”, so he gave a slight smile.
“Well, I suppose that means I was saved by children.”
“Yes,” he said. “At the very least, I was saved by Musashi’s chancellor.”
“That heroine boy is raising flags with both sexes now?”
“Nothing. Just talking to myself. I merely felt a need to punish him later.”
I’m not sure what that means, but whatever, thought Yoshiyori. He remembered the past, when he had often gotten lost in thought and tried not to let it show.
“Thanks to him and to you, I was able to avoid abandoning myself. I thought I would tell you that here.”
“Me too?” Musashi’s princess lowered her head and brought a hand to her chin. “I never thought I was a flag-raiser, too. I have been giving Mitotsudaira-sama so many presents, so I may have been raising her affection stat like crazy. …This is perfect!”
He still did not understand what she was saying, so he simply filed it under “childish talk”.
He then bowed and prepared to leave. He had yet to finish repairs on Yatsufusa’s damaged right arm, so he wanted to do that on the way to the Holland area.
But he saw a maid climbing the academy stairs. It was an automaton who wore glasses and who he had seen on occasion. “Musashi” addressed the short maid as she moved briskly up the stairs.
“ ‘Okutama’, what is it? Did Sakai-sama do something again? Over.”
“Judge. He is once again forcing me to watch his DVD set of the fashionable drama Topaz Story, but I have put that problem off until later. Currently, I have come with something I wanted to inform you of directly. Over.”
Feeling like he should not be present for this, Yoshiyori began to leave, but Musashi’s princess lightly waved a hand back and forth.
“She is merely setting the mood.”
“Okutama” turned around and frantically shook her head, but the princess was not looking. Instead, she sighed and asked “Okutama” a question.
“What is it?”
“Judge. Um… To put it simply, the Palais-Cardinal has created its link with Anne of Austria-sama in Magdeburg. Masazumi-sama and the others are on their way to greet her.”
ANA: “Is the link okay? Can I open my eyes?”
Dragon Dog: “The sight devices are in extremely excellent condition. Try to clench your right hand. That will initialize the reaction setting. …Excellent, Lady Anne. The sensory assistance for your entire body has been set. After visual confirmation, it will be reset, so please begin viewing.”
ANA: “You’re as forceful as ever.”
Dragon Dog: “And I have determined you are ignoring me and doing whatever you want just as always, but you cannot leave like that. And…”
Dragon Dog: “Due to our relative positions, you will have primary control of the Palais-Cardinal once your connection is complete. I will provide assistance, but I will be unable to move this body. Please keep that in mind.”
ANA: “So you can no longer do everything for me while I lie in bed? Well, that’s fine. I’ll do my best.”
Dragon Dog: “That’s the spirit. But do you feel cold even inside the Palais-Cardinal?”
ANA: “Testament. I do. But it looks like it can be reinterpreted as the actual cold felt by Palais-Cardinal. The sun is shining on the right shoulder right now, isn’t it?”
Dragon Dog: “Excellent, Lady Anne. The temperature settings have been reset.”
ANA: “Things are gradually filling in, aren’t they? But Luynes, do I not have to put on any makeup?”
Dragon Dog: “It is splendid how you do not ask to have everyone cleared from the area. And one thing, Lady Anne. Please do not forget that I have confidence in your decisions.”
ANA: “You are perfect. As always.”
The first thing Anne felt was a breath.
Feeling that air suddenly enter and reside within her body allowed her to sense her own body’s presence. The next thing she knew, light entered her vision as the color white. Not long later, she could make out the shadows as well.
She was outside.
And not in a Lourd de Marionnette body.
…Mouse technology is being used to create an ether image with artificial senses.
She sat at the feet of Lourd de Marionnette Palais-Cardinal.
However, she still could not move. She was afraid that moving would make her body fall to pieces. But with surprise and hope filling her heart, she focused on her lowered hand.
She grabbed at empty air.
By clenching her hand, she felt the presence of that hand and was aware of her own existence.
That may have been what it felt like to be born.
I will not cry, she told herself as she moved. She knew telling herself to remain calm meant that she was no longer calm, but she still moved her eyes to look around.
Her vision was divided between light and shadow because this was a large place reliant on the sunlight shining in from a tall window.
She was inside the Maurice Cathedral. It was a twin-steepled cathedral along Magdeburg’s Elbe River. When she had come to Magdeburg to have her body converted to data, this large space had been the last thing she had seen.
…It’s been a while.
She slowly stood up but lost her balance.
“Do not worry, Lady Anne.”
She was supported by a Lourd de Marionnette hand that carried the Mouse Luynes.
That was when she realized something.
…I have no weight.
She found she could stand if she kept the “pressure” on the bottom of her feet even.
So she stood. Several Gallican signe cadre opened around her to adjust her settings. As she watched them, she looked forward.
She could see it there.
She had entered the outside world.
Anne first tried to see who was standing around her.
…I need to greet them and thank them for everything they have done for me.
She thought that to calm herself down as she set foot in the outside world after so long.
However, she first spotted the letters, piles of documents, and some drawings lying on top of the altar before her. The drawings placed atop decorative cloth had been made by a Belle de Marionnette copying the scene in its memory and the top contained the signature of the models instead of the artist.
The one of her brother and his wife had both of their signatures. Another with her friend, the Reine des Garous, had her signature.
She wanted to say something, but found she could not. She simply picked up the two illustrations that were both about thirty centimeters tall.
She held them up before her eyes so the light from the window shined on them.
They were black and white, but she could sense a definite form within them.
“Brother, you’ve grown so much.”
She had met his wife Terumoto just once, but she had lost a lot of her sharpness since then. Terumoto was smiling and driving her right fist into her husband’s side, but she had not put her hips into it quite as much in the past.
Anne decided to assume that meant they were getting along.
The Reine des Garous’s drawing seemed to be from a stop by the academy while out shopping. She was smiling, but…
…The child who was with her before isn’t anymore, is she?
She felt apologetic for what she had forced onto her friend, but she also gave a natural smile of relief.
…I want to see them.
These drawings were not them, but they let her feel how much time had passed for them and for herself as well. But…
…I want to see them.
She understood she was fortunate enough for Luynes to arrive and to receive these drawings, but one’s understanding and one’s feelings were different. If possible, she wanted to share the same space as them once more and she brushed her ether fingers across the signatures.
The three models of those drawings had made those.
Their given names, their family names, and their handwriting were there. This allowed her to touch them.
And for them to touch her. Once she realized they had touched the drawings, she rubbed them against her cheek. Using those two objects they had touched, she had them touch her cheek.
…I want to see them.
Luynes was too perfect. To make sure I wouldn’t cry, she gave me a Mouse body without that ability.
“Luynes, why won’t you let me cry?”
“That is simple, Lady Anne. If you cry, the water-cooling effect would give you a chill. Lady Anne of Austria must always be full of passionate heat. After all…”
“Testament. I understand.”
She held the two pictures to her chest and looked to the people standing in front of her.
“Magdeburg Provisional Mayor Guericke, thank you for all you have done. And…”
“Long time no see, Anne.”
“You are a difficult person to deal with, but it is lovely that you show up at times like this. …Tomoe.”
“I’m glad you see it that way,” said Tomoe with a bitter smile.
Behind her and the others Anne recognized were some people she did not. However, the black-haired girl in a Far Eastern boy’s uniform and the long-haired girl behind her both bowed.
“I am Musashi Vice President Honda Masazumi and this is Asama Tomo who will be providing divine transmission assistance.”
Masazumi had a thought as she bowed.
…This is a unique group.
After all, there was a Mouse and god of war treasurer, a hemisphere prostration mayor, Tomoe Gozen aka Luther, and a sickly ether girl with divine blood.
Masazumi silently sighed at how unique her surroundings were.
Vice President: “England was unique enough and now we have this.”
Mal-Ga: “How about you look in a mirror? Or maybe get your brain looked at?”
Vice President: “But I have a reason for wearing a boy’s uniform. Don’t ask me about everyone else, though.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh heh. If you have to justify yourself, that means there’s something there needing an excuse.”
Asama: “Oh, but Naruze aside, I’m glad to see Kimi’s here with us in Magdeburg. I don’t think my mind would last without plenty of other people to play the straight man.”
Wise Sister: “Did you hear that? This perverted shrine maiden is saying she can’t survive without being surrounded by plenty of ‘men’. …And why are you confessing to me? If you want to get married, I have to be the wife. If I was the husband, I wouldn’t be a sister anymore.”
Asama: “Wait, stop that! We’re in a Catholic cathedral, so what if you get caught by the sexual security settings!? I’m blocking it for now, but you never know when that won’t work!”
Mal-Ga: “Try to realize you’re over the line from the moment you have to block it, you idiot. Anyway, I brought a few underclassmen with me, so we can escape if anything happens. I left Weiss Fräulein with Edel Brocken for repairs, but they sent me divine mail saying it would be fully repaired by tomorrow morning.”
Masazumi sent her thanks and took a breath.
The representatives of Hexagone Française and the M.H.R.R. Protestants stood before her, but…
“Last night, Mazarin said that two other VIPs besides Anne would be here.”
One was Tomoe.
“Will someone else be joining us? Who?”
“You can look forward to finding out when they arrive.”
Tomoe crossed her arms and turned around with a smile on her cheeks.
“Yoshitsune forced a lot of stupid things onto you, didn’t she? How about we discuss that to pass the time until everyone arrives? You also have yet to view Magdeburg’s defenses and I’m curious about your team that was sent to meet with Rudolf II.”
“Speaking of that team, is M.H.R.R. interested in the Princess Disappearances as well?”
“Testament. We have our own issues. …And after seeing the situation in other nations, we’re all the more curious.”
Tomoe raised her eyebrows a little.
“An excellent invitation,” she said with a laugh. “Are you familiar with Hexagone Française’s previous treasurer, Prime Minister Richelieu who laid the nation’s current financial foundation?”
“Judge. His policy of expansion created the foundation for Hexagone Française’s development but also created a massive amount of debt. From a simplistic view, you could call him evil, but to his nation and its people, nothing is more reliable than a prime minster who will work for the good of the nation without fearing evil.”
“An excellent assessment. The thing about Richelieu is…”
She pointed her right thumb toward Mazarin, the Mouse sitting on the Palais-Cardinal’s hand.
“While Mazarin there was taking over after him, he vanished. He fell victim to the Princess Disappearances.”
“In other words, Hexagone Française has also lost a leader to the Princess Disappearances. According to your mother anyway, Lady Mitotsudaira.”
Mitotsudaira listened to Mary’s voice over the sound of water.
They were in a forest spring about a minute’s walk east of the candy house.
The area was around three meters lower than the surrounding land and water filled a ten square meter spring from the northern rock face.
“Do not worry. Everyone is saying things can continue as normal even with us here.”
Mary walked waist deep into the water while wearing nothing, scooped the rippling water up in her hand, and turned around. She smiled and called to the others who waited at a slightly higher spot.
“It’s not quite a bath, but your mother was kind enough to offer. We have sweated quite a lot after all the hiking and fighting yesterday.”
“You’re right,” said Naito who had already started removing her clothes and cracking her neck. “Standard cleaning charms aren’t enough to get the oil out of my wings. Nothing beats water. …You’ll be joining us right, Mito-tsan? Want me to strip you down?”
Naito’s spread hands approached and Mitotsudaira backed away when she remembered the previous night. But she realized she only had to remove her clothes, so she hurriedly reached for her shirt.
That reminded her that her choker was gone, but before she could feel too down…
Naito was already wearing nothing but her shirt and she grabbed Mitotsudaira to strip off all her clothes.
“Hey, is it just me or are things pretty noisy over there? Don’t you want to check it out, Tenzou?”
Toori was tied to the yard’s fruit tree with rope and Tenzou was sitting in the grass checking on the topography.
…Not even this situation can change that boy.
“Toori-dono, you could have avoided this. When Mary-dono said they were going for a bath and asked what you wanted to do, you could have kept quiet and not announced your plans to peep.”
“Yeah… Unlike you, Mary’s pretty nice, so if I’d said we’d take a bath too, she might’ve let us.”
“M-Mary-dono might very well have said that, but I would have stopped you! And I feel like you slipped an insult in there! But anyway…”
Just as Tenzou said that, the candy house’s door opened and the Reine des Garous stepped out. However, Tenzou immediately looked away.
…G-going outside in nothing but a shirt!? How shameless can you get!?
He repeatedly shouted “inappropriate!” in his heart, but he sensed her approaching and setting something down. Then she suddenly tapped on his shoulder.
“I wouldn’t be dressed like this if I cared if you saw me. Men decide for themselves that they’re looking too much.”
The wife genre really isn’t for me, decided Tenzou before looking to what she had set down next to him.
“These are M.H.R.R. uniforms, aren’t they? And…”
He saw something a lot like the brown algae creatures except with a little more green. It may have been an indigenous variety and there were five of them.
“Testament. We will be passing through M.H.R.R. territory, so I had a change of clothes brought for my daughter and the others. And if they put their current clothes in this basket, these little guys will clean them. I also had a special program prepared for copying your clothing’s divine protection settings into the M.H.R.R. uniform hard points.”
“I am very grateful, but…”
He sensed her confusion but still did not turn around.
“Earlier, Mary-dono and the others destroyed the house a little.”
“…Pf. …Ha ha. Wh-where?”
Surprised that she had laughed and not been angry, he pointed at the wall.
“The chocolate around there, I think. When Mary-dono grabbed it, about half a brick came out. When I touched it, about a tenth came out. When Naito-dono did, she could peel off about a fifth of a wafer brick, but…”
“Yeah, when I pulled out one of the popsicles making up the eaves, it said ‘winner, take another’,” said Toori. “That happened four times in a row, but I put the last winner back because I didn’t want to take them all and I’d give myself a chill if I ate any more. That last one fell back down, so I split it with the others.”
“You really are a child, aren’t you?”
“Yes, he is,” agreed Tenzou. “And wait! You didn’t split it with me!!”
“I think Mary saved half for you with a freezing spirit.”
I see, realized Tenzou. That’s Mary-dono for you.
“Tenzou, you’ve got a great wife, don’t you? Hm?”
“Eh? Well... Ha ha. Mary-dono makes every day wonderful. Living with someone like her makes every hour, every minute, every second, and every split-second worth it.”
“Hey, Nate Maman. We can ignore that idiot while he wiggles around there. And did Naito’s Magie Figur record that? …All right! Let’s make a new MAD and release it!”
“I can’t believe you! I just can’t believe you!! And what do you mean a new one!?”
But after checking the things the Reine des Garous had set next to him, Tenzou had something else to focus on.
“There is a fair distance to Rudolf II’s tower. I would like to reach Magdeburg by midnight tonight to prepare for the Sack of Magdeburg tomorrow, so we do not have all that much time.”
He had allowed the girls to bathe so they could take a breather and maintain their motivation.
His ninja hearing sensed distant voices saying “Wow, yours are huge, Ma-yan! They stick out on either side!” and “Really? I think they’re just perfect for resting on Master Tenzou’s back when I lean up against him.”, so his own motivation was rapidly recovering.
However, the Reine des Garous tapped him on the shoulder and walked toward Toori.
“Don’t worry. I’ve prepared us transportation. …I am the ruler of the forest, remember?”
Eh? he thought as she used her fingers to easily tear the rope binding Toori and rubbed his head.
“I’m going to take a bath too, but no peeping, okay?”
“Sure! I won’t peep! I won’t peep at all! Super zoom! You’ve got nothing to worry about there!!”
You never betray people’s expectations of you, do you?” thought Tenzou.
“Good, good,” said the Reine des Garous with a smile in her voice. “It’s been so long since things were this lively around here.”
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