Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 60
Chapter 60: Warriors in a Place of Rest
What do you do
When the unexpected arrives?
Point Allocation (Introduce Yourself)
In central Magdeburg and in the plaza in front of the Maurice Cathedral, Masazumi ate a late lunch.
…I can finally get some food in my stomach.
A large stone had been set on the ground with the top cut away to form a bench. She sat there eating the fried mincemeat on bread that Futayo had gotten for her. It had come with sauerkraut and boiled sausage, so she added some to the bread and set them aside.
“This is all so salty.”
…I’d love some kind of stew or something. …And the bottled beer they gave me doesn’t have any hops in it. Are they treating me like a child?
However, this was the battlefield and an M.H.R.R. city. It played an important role in the history recreation, so everything was being done in the Western fashion. Plus, she was lucky to get any food at all during a time of war. Complaining about the primarily salty food was not going to help.
Futayo had returned to the ration tent and was eating any food as soon as it was cooked, so it seemed some with a Far Eastern diet still preferred stronger flavors. The crossdressing men doing the cooking were delighted.
“My, my. This girl is eating all the food as fast as we can serve it. How lovely!”
“Your big sis is going to have to get cooking!”
“Thank you,” said Tonbokiri.
Masazumi was thankful that the girl and her pet were so passionate about interacting with other nations.
But that morning when the Magdeburg residents had been evacuated by the Musashi, the food rations had helped them relax. Masazumi realized that food could really have a calming effect.
…Oh, this mincemeat, sausage, and bread are really good together.
She did not usually like meat all that much, so it meant a lot for her to think that. She looked around and saw the local warriors eating like normal. She had a feeling this only seemed so valuable to her.
“Vice President Honda-kun, we really can’t seem to contact K.P.A. Italia. It would seem something has happened.”
Neshinbara walked over from the cathedral. He wore primarily sand yellow personal clothes that were a little too big for him and he had several sign frames open around him as usual.
“Well, given what we saw, K.P.A. Italia should have put up a pretty good fight with the Murakami Navy, but it seems there is still no word from the PR committee members the different nations sent to the border. If the divine transmissions are cut off, there must be some kind of regional jamming in effect.”
“Do you think K.P.A. Italia will win?”
“I think they will successfully defend themselves.”
Masazumi tilted her head at that. She also stopped eating her sauerkraut and sausage bread long enough to add quite a bit of the whole-grain mustard a crossdressing cook had given her.
“Weren’t they ignoring the history recreation? Historically, all six iron-clad ships returned safely.”
“M.H.R.R. was breaking the rules quite a bit themselves by sending in Suzuki Magoichi. Whatever the case, the Murakami Navy will be destroyed, but I bet K.P.A. Italia will claim the history recreation of the iron-clad ships is none of their business. In other words, their sinking will be M.H.R.R.’s mistake.”
“The Pope-Chancellor has a way with words, so he probably could pull that off. But in that case, will it come down to the Murakami Navy? And it’ll be do-or-die for them. …Oh, but you don’t have to explain about them. I’m sure it’ll be really long.”
“But it’s really interesting! Even if it is long!!”
A new sign frame appeared next to Neshinbara’s face. He shouted “Like I said before! Why are you listening in on me!?”, so she could guess what that was about.
“You need to stop flirting on the job, Neshinbara.”
“Dammit. Why does everyone take her side!? Can’t you take the man’s side just once!?”
“Sorry, but given where we are, we’ll have to take the Ger-man’s side.”
Everything fell silent.
Neshinbara and everyone else in the plaza stopped moving or speaking. Asama was the first to speak from the cathedral’s steeple where she was performing divine transmission work.
“Ah, wah! I almost fell off! Don’t fall off, Asama! You can’t let yourself fall!”
“C’mon, my joke wasn’t bad enough to deserve that kind of ‘fall’-out,” muttered Masazumi.
Asama really did fall at that. At the same time, the Aoi sister was looking out a window just below the steeple.
“Heh heh. Those people all look like my citizens down there! I can hold an entire populace in my arms!!”
Asama fell into her spread arms and she automatically adjusted her arms to catch the girl.
“Some giant breasts just fell from the sky! …Oh, it’s you Asama. Are you offering yourself to me as a present!?”
When she saw that, Masazumi thought about saying something more, but Neshinbara cut in.
“W-wait, Vice President Honda-kun! Don’t say anything else! There’s nothing more to support them below!”
“How is this in any way my fault?”
“Heh heh heh. Asama! Tell her the truth! …And you really are heavy. Wait, your shirt opened and Hanami is buried inside. Pwa ha ha ha ha! Like this morning! Ha ha ha ha!”
“Kimi, please don’t pass that off as a weird habit of mine!!”
The two of them lost their balance and fell.
The god of war Righteousness made a frantic short jump, caught them in its hand, and lowered them to the ground.
Masazumi sighed and looked away from them.
“Anyway, Neshinbara. What do you think is the situation in K.P.A. Italia?”
“Eh? O-oh, right. …You really have gotten used to our class, haven’t you?”
“Please don’t assume my life is in that awful a state. …And can we please get back on topic?”
Neshinbara pulled a charm-covered bottle from his coat pocket and took a drink.
“Whatever the result, M.H.R.R. will make their next move. For example, their aerial warship Shirasagi – also known as Himeji Castle – is currently somewhere in stealth mode and has yet to show itself. However, I expect it will make an appearance once the battle with the iron-clad ships is complete,” he said. “Also, P.A. Oda is suspicious since they’re working with M.H.R.R. After all, people from other academies aren’t allowed in P.A. Oda beyond the major highways and not much is known about Lake Biwa since it is surrounded in a large stealth space and only authorized individuals are allowed in. …Apparently, a castle connected to Hashiba left there in stealth mode.”
“So the Nagahama or the Sunomata?”
“Most likely,” agreed Neshinbara. “But even then, Aki’s Itsukushima is K.P.A. Italia’s headquarters, so it won’t be easy to conquer. If anything, I would think the Pope-Chancellor has the advantage here.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because they need to land if they’re going to occupy it. They need to take control of the city’s buildings, secure the important individuals and assets, and mop up any hidden resistance. All of that requires sending actual people into the city. That’s what makes urban warfare so much more difficult than out on a field. …Are you listening?”
“Oh, yes, of course. Judge.”
“You aren’t, are you? …Well, along that line of thinking, the Pope-Chancellor has Stithos Porneia and I expect their headquarters are fully prepared for urban warfare. From K.P.A. Italia’s viewpoint, this invasion is sudden, but once they eliminate the threat of the iron-clad ships, they can endure a few days until another nation intervenes. So to sum up, K.P.A. Italia will not win, but they will be able to defend themselves.”
“So that’s what you meant. I see.”
Masazumi nodded, bent her sauerkraut bread and placed it in her mouth.
…Oh, the flavor of the bread goes pretty will with the spicy mustard and the sour cabbage.
Although it’s so strong I would get sick of it pretty quickly, she added while wondering if she should have had the bread cooked longer to make it more aromatic. She decided to try that at home sometime and took a breath.
“In that case, what do you think M.H.R.R. will do?”
“If Hashiba plays it safe, they will send ambassadors to the other nations, telling them not to send K.P.A. Italia any aid and to negotiate for the time they need. And…they’ll probably send one here, too.”
“Judge.” Neshinbara nodded. “I expect they’ll send one to Hexagone Française and Tres España as well, but Anne of Austria is here and she will have some influence on Hexagone Française’s chancellor and she has not had any connection to K.P.A. Italia in recent times. They should be able to move the negotiations along if they use the Sack of Magdeburg as a bargaining chip. I expect that is why Mazarin is here. And with Luther here too, they can make sure M.H.R.R.’s own Protestants don’t catch them off guard. That’s more than enough reason to come here.”
“Whatever the situation and whatever the result, they need to regroup after a battle. That gives them a reason to send an ambassador whether they win or lose.”
“Who do you think it will be?”
“You would know the political connections better than me.”
“True,” she muttered and took a bite of her bread.
…There’s a lot to like about finding a new flavor you like.
“Let’s try thinking about a number of things related to the situation. And we also need to know about the progress and conclusion of the Seto Inland Sea battle.”
The wind blew like a storm.
Some land floating in midair had a large piece torn off on the eastern edge and the surrounding ocean was scattering into the sky.
The temperature difference in the air caused by the explosions, the dust, and the seawater filled the dimly-lit sky with steam and wind.
That dark sky was a swirl of scarlet and black. The sky sank into the colors of evening beyond the storm of dust and mist, but wind and dust slammed against the floating island. On the island’s eastern surface, almost everything had collapsed and entire groups of trees were torn up, revealing bare rock below.
The eastern coast looked like it had been roughly carved into and the scarlet storm continued blowing its foundation out into the air.
And on that eastern coast, a figure in a white and black uniform stood above the stormy ocean that was being pulled out into the sky to fall. The figure stood next to a great torii that had tilted.
“Galileo! You’re all right, aren’t you!?”
“You have a bad habit of assuming things are all right, former boy.”
Papa-Schola Innocentius laughed and held his arms out to the sides.
Cornice firma appeared there to inform him of Itsukushima’s situation. Almost the entire display was dyed red and a portion was painted the white of “unknown”. The red continued to grow while graphs and numbers never stopped appearing to inform of the damage to different areas.
However, he kept his eyes pointed forward.
Similarly, Galileo kept his eyes on the sky.
The wind blew and dust slammed into them as their surroundings blew about.
Suddenly, a distant rumble reached them. It was the sound of something breaking and small fragments continuing to fall away. It was accompanied by the ground shaking and the entirety of the falling ocean jumping up and turning to spray.
“I suppose the southeast side just fell,” said Galileo.
Innocentius did not bother turning around.
“Can you hear it, Galileo?”
“What is it? Give me a precise answer, former boy.”
“I hear an aerial ship.”
“As do I, former boy. And this is not one of those iron-clad ships. It is much bigger. This means something even larger has arrived in this stormy sky.”
“Testament,” agreed Innocentius. “Luckily, the acceleration pathway is still seventy percent active. If we use the secondary pathway, we can fire on it as soon as it appears.”
“Would this be the Shirasagi, Hashiba’s second wave that was supposed to arrive after the iron-clad ships?”
“I don’t know, but either way, they won’t be able to see us right away while we can see. That means…”
Innocentius trailed off as the sky suddenly grew dark.
The swirl of scarlet and black was pushed outward by something on the other side. Something massive. From their perspective, the entire sky seemed to grow and swell out.
Innocentius fired a bullet from the Itsukushima acceleration cannon.
The acceleration pathway had the same entrance and exit for the bullet. The bullet sent through the great torii was made from the defense barriers opened between Innocentius’s outstretched hands.
They were meant to deflect an enemy’s attacks, so they could not be broken without an opposing spell, a divine weapon, or overwhelming force. He opened them between his hands and used a compression spell to combine them into a single object.
The number was based on the seven virtues, so it was seven to the seventh power or 823,543 barriers. The divine protection of that number imbued each individual barrier with the seven virtues which further raised their defensive power.
After compressing them into a fist-sized ball of light, he threw it into the acceleration pathway where it raced through the center of the torii-style cross acceleration spells surrounding Itsukushima. At its initial speed, it looked like it was going to fall, but it began to float up more and more and the torii seemed to knock it up to greater and greater speeds.
“My modifications are going well, former boy!”
A massive model of the solar system set across Itsukushima began to move when Galileo used his control spell. The accuracy of each planet’s rotation, revolution, and trajectory was transferred to the bullet from the nine ten-meter planetary models.
Ultimately, the bullet received the divine protection of the seven virtues as well as the planetary movement and speed.
“Here it comes!”
The clouds split apart and it arrived.
Innocentius saw a great shadow within the storm.
The massive shadow arrived wrapped in swirling scarlet and black. He removed Stithos Porneia from his back and raised it toward the shadow.
…If it comes close enough, I can disarm it with Stithos Porneia.
And at a distance, not even a large ship could do any real damage to Itsukushima. At most it could destroy the surface city, but that city had already been swept away. So…
“If it comes to a shootout, we’ll win. Hm!?”
As soon as he said that, the shot was fired from the acceleration pathway. It blew away the ocean, tore into the ocean floor, and flew in a straight line toward the front of the shadow.
As it went, the clouds split directly above the storm. The air pushed forward by the shadow had produced a disturbance in the storm.
Some scarlet light of evening shined in on the bow of the arriving shadow.
When Innocentius saw what was there, he and Galileo opened their eyes in surprise.
Galileo commented on the ship arriving with a rumbling that tore through the sky and storm.
“That is not the Shirasagi, former boy!”
“Damn you!!” shouted Innocentius. “Do you think your rule has already begun!?”
At the same time, there was an impact and a great roar.
And once more, Itsukushima was swallowed up by darkness.
A massive and powerful shadow robbed K.P.A. Italia of all light.
“A runaway ley line reactor?”
As the colors of evening filled the sky, Sakai lay on a bench set up on the academy roof located up in that sky.
His question was directed toward “Musashi” who stood to his right.
She currently held a long ladle for a large pot.
“Judge. We only just detected it. This information is known only by a few of the automatons and you. ‘Musashino’ went to inform Musashi King Yoshinao and…he now knows. Over.”
“What a pain,” muttered Sakai before realizing something. “You said you detected this, didn’t you?”
“Judge. Well done noticing, Sakai-sama. We can do quite a lot if we try. We detected something similar to the noise detected at Mikawa. Based on a comparison, this is weaker, but it is undoubtedly the pattern of a ley line reactor explosion. Over.”
Sakai pulled his pipe from his pocket, so “Musashi” snapped a disposable spark charm between her fingertips and held it out toward the pipe.
“Judge. Thanks. You sure are kind, ‘Musashi’-san.”
“Statistically, the situation is quite serious if you pull out your pipe while thinking. Are you worried about the Pope-Chancellor? Over.”
“I’m really not sure how to answer a question like that. …Oh, sorry. Were you trying to be considerate?”
“No, an emotionless automaton cannot be ‘considerate’, so you must be imagining things. However, if we made no mistake in our detection, this is the truth. Over.”
He took the lit pipe and held it in his mouth.
“How is K.P.A. Italia doing?”
“Here it comes. Over.”
A ripple-like current of air arrived from behind them in the south.
The sky was dyed in the colors of evening, but all of the thin clouds had vanished. Instead…
“The southern sky…”
Dark clouds welled up beyond a distant line of mountains.
Sakai and “Musashi” looked south where black clouds were appearing and spreading out.
They resembled a summer cumulonimbus cloud, but they were thin as they rose, caught on the “ceiling” of the sky, spread out, and fell back down.
A rumbling much like distant thunder continued on and on.
The academy and storm barriers on the back of the ships prevented the people from immediately seeing what was happening in the south. They only noticed the rumbling and the movement of the wind.
A stir ran through them as if they were simply worried about the weather. As he listened, Sakai blew smoke out the corner of his mouth.
“Now, then. ‘Musashi’-san, what would you say if someone asked you what that is?”
“Automatons cannot lie. Over.”
“You sure are strict.”
“In what way? Over.”
“You’re saying Yoshinao-san or I have to order you not to tell if we want this hidden.”
“Musashi” tilted her head.
“But only I and a few others know about this. Over.”
“Yeah. So I think I’ll just rest here for a while.”
“Judge. I will bring a tea set, so please relax. I have determined remaining silent would be for the best, Sakai-sama. There is no reason to worry the people when there is nothing they can do about it. We can wait until word arrives when we depart next. Over.”
“This is a lot of extra trouble, isn’t it?” said Sakai. “What about at Magdeburg?”
“Asama-sama is in charge of the divine transmissions, so I sent a coded divine transmission to her from the Asama Shrine. It seems Masazumi-sama and Neshinbara-sama will make the decision.”
“Makes sense. Well, this information will get out sooner or later, so there’s no real point in hiding it. We could even flaunt our own ability by showing we got wind of this before anyone else. Of course…”
He removed the pipe from his mouth, rested his head on a hand, and stared into the southern sky.
“That kind of trick wouldn’t have any effect on Old Luther, but maybe she would find it charming.”
“Sakai-sama, do you know Luther-sama?”
He nodded and pointed to the south.
“When I fought the idiot inside that thundercloud, I passed through here to reach the Seto Inland Sea.”
“I got help from quite a few people.”
Sakai smiled bitterly, but kept his eyes on the southern sky.
“Judge. What is it? Over.”
“Judge. Well, a lot happened in the past,” he began. “When I fought that idiot, I would’ve been caught by K.P.A. Italia’s guard network if I’d gone straight there via Osaka, so I pretended to be on my way to Edo and Yoshitsune helped me head north. Yoshitsune hates – or rather is too focused on – Old Tomoe…that is, Old Luther, so I had the Satou Brothers talk to her about it. After that, I travelled from M.H.R.R. to the Seto Inland Sea. Old Man Matsunaga supported me and Innocen was out in the Osaka region for an interpretation of the Crusades, so I traveled south and attacked from behind.”
Sakai demonstrated the respective locations with hand gestures and he realized “Musashi” was looking his way.
“Oh? What is it, ‘Musashi’-san? Why are you staring at me?”
“This is the first time I have seen you enjoying yourself so much while talking about the past. Over.”
“There wasn’t anything enjoyable about it. It was a hell of a lot of work.”
“I have statistically determined that work put into victory provides a sense of fulfillment. Anyway, I hope the Pope-Chancellor and the others are unhurt. And…do you have a moment? Over.”
“Do you have a question?”
“Musashi” nodded, used her gravitational control to pull a movable table over from the rooftop entrance, and asked her question.
“You said you attacked the Pope-Chancellor from behind in Osaka, correct? Then during that time…no, and during the later battle, where were you hiding? Matsunaga-sama’s headquarters are Kii, south of Osaka, so it would be impossible to attack from there. Also, K.P.A. Italia would have noticed if you were anywhere along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. Where exactly where you hidden, Sakai-sama? Over.”
“Well.” Sakai smiled bitterly and pointed his pipe southward. “Perhaps they’ll visit Magdeburg. …No, M.H.R.R.’s ambassador should already be on the way there right now. No one knows what’s going to happen at the moment, so it’s the perfect timing for someone who does know.”
“What do you mean? Is your former protector now working for M.H.R.R.? …To be honest, I am having difficulty understanding.”
“You’ll get it soon enough. Based on what Asama-kun said, they’ll be there. I sent Masazumi-kun a divine mail earlier, so it’s probably about time to greet them.”
“Masazumi-kun is going to have to work hard here.”
The first in Magdeburg to notice the shadow were the ones surrounding the walled city.
This shadow was not caused by the dark clouds rising in the south. It was the shadow of an aerial ship arriving from the southwest.
Word of the approaching ship quickly passed through the tents bearing the flag of M.H.R.R. When the PR Committee sent a report to Narimasa and Katsuie, who were cooking the fish they had caught in the Elbe River, they understood just what it meant.
M.H.R.R.’s ambassador had arrived in Magdeburg.
Katsuie shoved an entire fish into his mouth and pulled it from the skewer.
“So the ambassador’s here. I’m sure he’ll advise Magdeburg to surrender, but the question is what he does afterwards. …Well, I’m sure Magdeburg just wants to buy some time with it.”
“But!” shouted Narimasa.
He was already standing and clenching his fists and teeth. He glared up at the ambassador’s ship arriving from the dark, cloudy southern sky.
“Fine then,” sighed Katsuie when he saw his underclassman’s reaction. “Calm down, small fry. Sending an ambassador at times like this is something like an international rule.”
Narimasa took a breath and kicked a stone from the riverbank.
“This is obviously nothing but a farce! Our master understands the situation, doesn’t he!?”
“Our master would have him do it regardless and that old man would do it regardless. Our master hopes for a great many possibilities and that old man…well, he just wants to cause trouble.”
“Narimasa, you need to restrain yourself better. You’ll be after his head eventually anyway.”
“But! You understand, don’t you!? That old man’s not the only one on that ship! There’s someone even worse on there!”
Narimasa pointed toward the giant ship rapidly approaching from overhead.
“Look! That’s the Shigisan, the main ship of our ambassador, Matsunaga!”
He turned toward Katsuie with his eyebrows raised.
“Don’t you know who Old Man Matsunaga worked with when he supported Sakai Tadatsugu, leading to the Pope-Chancellor’s defeat!? That same situation is happening again!”
“When that old man starts his second rebellion, the two of us just have to defeat him. He may be damn good at running, but finishing things here isn’t too bad an idea.”
The wind blew overhead as the Hiragumo-style Aerial Ship Shigisan slowly descended. It almost looked like a metal lid being placed on Magdeburg.
At 5:30 PM, Masazumi and the other national representatives greeted the visitors in front of the Cathedral of Magdeburg.
Mazarin and Anne on the Palais-Cardinal’s shoulder represented Hexagone Française while Guericke and Tomoe Gozen represented the M.H.R.R. Protestants.
They were greeting two guests.
One was Matsunaga Hisahide, lord of Shigisan Castle. He looked to Masazumi and spoke.
“Hey there, crossdressing girl. Is that naked boy not with you? Has he not made it back after falling off?”
…We all know you know the answer.
Masazumi started to shake her head, but the old man suddenly said more.
“Is he on his way to Rudolf II’s place to pursue the mystery of the Princess Disappearances?”
Her confusion escaped her mouth.
…Could that mean he knows what the Princess Disappearances are?
“Ha ha. I heard about it from Yoshitsune. I’ve been investigating it some myself.”
“Most any academy leader will have been gathering information on it. That’s just how abnormal a situation it is. …You, little transparent girl up there. Your Richelieu was taken, wasn’t he?”
“So it seems. I was never too fond of him. Still, he was skilled and he always gave me treats, so it is a shame.”
Matsunaga smiled and suddenly took a step to the side, revealing the other guest.
It was an elderly man wearing a Far Eastern uniform made to resemble a monk’s robe. However, he had the dark skin of a Middle-Easterner and his back was straight and unwavering. His shoulder width was a bit small for his great height, but his thick eyebrows faced Masazumi below his huge turban.
“A pleasure to meet you.”
His voice was low and deep. When he noticed everyone except for her and Tomoe stirring, he narrowed his eyes and said more.
“Do not worry. I have already retired. Musashi Vice Chancellor, I assume you have heard about me from Sakai.”
“Judge. I have. You are Honganji Kennyo, monk and leader of the Ikkou-Shu. Or…”
“Could you use my old name? The name Nobunaga stripped me of.”
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded. “Lord Suleiman, former chancellor of the Ottoman Turks.”
Masazumi placed a hand on her chest and gave a light bow.
“I would like to convey Principal Sakai’s thanks for supporting him with the Mlasi forces on the Seto Inland Sea’s islands and the African region of northern Kyushu.”
“And what did he say?”
Masazumi raised her head and nodded. She held out her right hand, displayed the divine text from Sakai, and held the hand straight out toward the man.
She then spoke the words Sakai had sent.
“ ‘That guy will give you anything you ask, so take him for everything he’s worth.’ ”
After a pause, Suleiman held a hand to his face and laughed.
“Ha ha. Honestly, that boy. That really takes me back to my younger days.”
With that comment, he took Masazumi’s hand. His hand was hard and covered in scars. The surface felt cold, but there was a great strength within.
“Judge. The man who built the world’s largest empire, the Ottoman Turks, is now a cynical and stingy old man. But that is why I’m looking forward to seeing what the current generation of youths will show me.”
He glanced toward Tomoe and formed a bitter smile.
“It’s time for our meeting. There is much to discuss.”
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