Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 68
Chapter 68: Manager of the Metal Tower
What does not show its true form?
What does not reveal its true form?
What does not know its true form?
Point Allocation (Oneself)
Even with Mitotsudaira’s senses, the attack was sudden.
It was only after being hit that she only realized it was a quick heel of the palm.
She gave a confused cry as she flew through the air.
She had been standing before the large door, so there had not been anyone behind her.
And the attack that had bent her back had come from a woman’s hand, not Rudolf II’s.
“An ambusher!?” The palm strike felt slender and even soft, but it still knocked her toward the stage. She spun her body around to orient herself in midair, flipped toward the floor about three meters from the stage, and landed sharply on her heels.
She took a defensive stance and glanced around cautiously.
…He had someone waiting for me, didn’t he!?
She turned around to look in a full three hundred sixty degrees. The stage reflected the light and revealed what was located around it.
Weapons decorated the room in a radial pattern. Longswords, spears, hammers, maces, mauls, scythes, any number of other weapons were displayed in metal stockers.
They were all lined up within arm’s reach of the stage.
Mitotsudaira realized the maintenance oil she had noticed was coming from these weapons. That meant the weapons were used and maintained.
“Wh-what is this!?”
“You don’t know?”
She heard a female voice from back and to the right, but just as she turned to the right, someone grabbed her left arm.
…The other side!?
The thick fingers of the hands on her left arm were clearly those of a man. And…
“Sorry about the feint.”
Mitotsudaira heard Rudolf II’s voice before her back slammed into the side of the stage.
Mitotsudaira’s back collided with the side of the metal stage.
Before she could bounce off, she jumped forward to escape the stage.
“You mustn’t run.”
She heard yet another female voice from the stage behind her.
…How many people are hidden around here!?
She then heard someone jump toward her from the stage.
She responded by making a quick backhand blow back and to the right.
She decided they were coming from the right because of the shadow cast on the floor. The light panel on the ceiling was positioned directly above the stage, so the enemy’s shadow fell toward her when the stage was behind her. And currently, the shadow on the floor had leaped toward her right side.
She showed no mercy as she thrust her forearm out, but…
“You have good senses.”
She felt a downward gust of wind behind her on the right. The enemy had lowered their hips as soon as they landed and thus avoided Mitotsudaira’s attack.
Her jab shot by over her opponent’s head and she got a look at the opponent while pulled forward by her arm.
…It really is a woman!?
She recognized the woman. She was the well-built one from the tower’s entrance.
“Ambushes are not fair!”
“Oh, this is perfectly fair.”
The woman charged forward to tackle her.
So she further accelerated her arm and used its pull to turn toward the enemy.
She twisted her hips around, raised her left knee toward the woman, and performed a stomping kick. She aimed for the woman’s face as a counterattack.
The forceful twisting of her body paid off when the attack hit.
She heard the high-pitched sound of a slap and felt powerful elasticity on the bottom of her foot. She used the force reaching her knee to leap backwards.
It had been a solid blow. It had felt strong enough to smash the woman’s face and it had been powered by a Loup-Garou’s leg strength. She had to give the woman credit for holding her ground and not being knocked back, but that was exactly why she had taken her leap.
And while in midair, Mitotsudaira reformed a defensive stance and looked to her opponent.
…How was that!?
For just an instant, the force of the counterattack nearly knocked the woman to the floor, but…
She stopped herself by taking a stance similar to a crouch start. She held her right hand to her face while thin trails of blood escaped the fingers and dripped to the floor.
Her face had been crushed. The entire right half had shifted toward her ear in the shape of a boot print. The muscles of her face were partially peeled from the bone, but they were still fixed in place from the tension of the blow. The outline of the boot print formed a crack in the skin running from between the eyebrows down to the jaw and blood spilled from that crack.
The woman used her fingers to force her broken nose back into place and ran straight toward Mitotsudaira.
“I will not hold back!!”
Mitotsudaira did not need to reply because she had not been holding back in the first place. As she landed, she pulled a metal spear from one of the weapon stockers. The decorated weapon was three meters long.
She forcibly spun the spear around in her hand. The metal seemed no heavier than a tree branch in the powerful grip of a Demi Loup-Garou. The metal shaft bent as she swung it around at high speed, but just as the tip pointed forward…
“You asked for this, so you have no one to blame but yourself!”
She let go of the shaft, quickly moved her palm behind the spear, and grasped the bottom. She then pushed the bottom of the spear straight toward the tip.
She launched the spear toward the woman’s face.
A moment later, Mitotsudaira saw her enemy move.
Beyond the spear she had thrown, the woman shifted slightly to the right. She seemed to have caught sight of the spear with her crushed and bent half face, so Mitotsudaira assumed she was ducking out of the way.
However, the woman twisted her body just a bit and ran toward the spear.
She was letting it hit her.
Mitotsudaira was already beginning her next move on the assumption that the woman would duck, so this was unexpected.
However, the enemy completed her action. The spear flew toward her right collar bone and the tip instantly stabbed through her and out her right side. The enemy had been pumping her arms as she ran and she used that motion to grab the tip as it burst out her side.
Before the spear lost its momentum, she pulled it out into the air behind her.
Mitotsudaira heard the wet scraping sound as the object was pulled from the woman’s flesh and she saw blood spraying back with the weapon.
However, the spear was indeed thrown back behind the woman, and…
The woman’s charge did not slow. She used the momentum of her entire body to crush the impact. As for the pain…
…Does she not feel pain!?
With sharp, instantaneous attacks, sometimes one’s nerve could not transmit the signal quickly enough or the nerves themselves would tremble and no pain would be felt.
But this woman had consciously pulled the spear from her body. If her nerves were functioning enough to take that kind of action, she should have felt the pain of the spear being removed.
“Since you didn’t feel it…do you have no sense of pain!?”
“That’s right! You only now caught on!?”
Of course she had. This was her first time against an opponent like this. However, she was well aware of this kind of condition. After all…
…It shows up all the time in Neshinbara’s weird novels!
Some people’s nervous system did not transmit pain signals.
And one unique characteristic was their inability to regulate their strength.
Whenever a human did anything, they instinctually tried to protect their own body. When holding something sharp, the pain in their skin told them to loosen their grip. That was a combination of pain and instinctual self-defense.
But those without a sense of pain did not feel any pain or recoil, so they could draw out the kind of strength that a normal human never could because it would destroy their own body.
That was how the woman had endured the previous kick. It was also how she had pulled out the spear and maintained her charge.
And so Mitotsudaira did not hesitate in her next move. Her timing was thrown a little off, but she could overcome that with brute strength.
“Honestly! That’s an ambusher for you!”
She pulled a large hammer from one of the stockers and performed a full rightward swing toward the side of the approaching woman’s face.
“I should have expected something like this!!”
She felt the blow land, the woman’s entire body spun like a top, and the woman slammed into the stockers on the left.
Mitotsudaira heard a loud crash to the left.
The line of metal stockers there had been hit hard enough to dent a few, bend a few, and knock a few of them form their bases. The solid sounds of the impacts continued and the stocked weapons sparkled in the light as they flew through the air.
“I’m not done yet!!”
Mitotsudaira did not hold back.
The lack of pain allowed those without it to immediately resume fighting, so she needed to continue attacking and leave her opponent physically unable to move. In other words…
…I need to destroy her body!!
If she smashed the woman’s entire skeleton, tore all of her muscles, and destroyed her senses, the lack of pain would mean nothing. So…
Mitotsudaira grabbed the stocker to her right and tore it from the floor, but she was not trying to hit her opponent with the stocker. She wanted the weapons. She threw the stocker into the air, it hit the ceiling, and its hammers scattered downward. Mitotsudaira reached up toward them and grabbed a convenient one.
She tugged it down with all her strength and slammed it into the enemy who had come to a stop after breaking through the left row of weapons. The sound of impact harmonized with the broken stockers and weapons caught in the attack.
Mitotsudaira rotated around and grabbed a handle from the air. The weapons hit the floor and bounced toward her, but she used her knees to scatter them away like ocean spray.
After four, five, six, and seven, she stopped counting.
But the solid sounds, flying fragments, and crashing weapons did not stop.
After a total of around fifteen, she grabbed the stocker with both hands as it was the only thing still falling from the ceiling.
“How about this!?”
She shouted while swinging the stocker and a breath left her lungs amid the fading reverberation of the metallic blow.
She breathed in again, arose from the lowered stance of swinging down the stocker, and straightened her back.
“You should look over here.”
A voice reached her from the right side of the stage.
Mitotsudaira turned toward the female voice.
This was not the same woman as before, but she still recognized the voice.
…That’s the woman who was speaking with the chancellor at the bottom of the tower!
Just as she wondered if there had been two hidden fighters, the woman jumped from the stage with a smile and jabbed her hand forward at high speed.
She moved quickly, but Mitotsudaira could follow the movements and therefore could react rationally.
The previous series of attacks had left something scattered in the air: the weapons that had been in the broken stockers.
One of them was a longsword. The blade seemed to float as it slowly rotated and the tip was facing Mitotsudaira.
But she did not care.
She swung a hand and grabbed the tip of the blade between her pointer and middle fingers. Then she only had to flick her wrist to send the sword toward the woman’s hand.
The blade seemed to drop down.
The woman’s hand was held flat and the blade reached it between the fingers.
There was a dull sound like wood being struck.
In an instant, the sword blade tore through from fingertips to wrist. The weighty blade split her arm down to the elbow and stopped when it hit the bone of her upper arm.
As soon as Mitotsudaira heard the chilling sound of blade on bone, she released the sword from her fingers.
…She cannot complete her jab!
The woman’s arm had apparently been twisting as she thrust it toward Mitotsudaira.
Her split fingertips twisted her thumb downward and her little finger upward and the entire arm was split in a spiral.
And once the woman took a breath, the relaxing of the blood vessels sprayed blood outwards. Bloody steam rose before Mitotsudaira’s eyes, but…
The woman was still moving toward her.
The sword fell from the spilt arm she should not have been able to use anymore.
However, Mitotsudaira saw something else.
The split in her arm was rapidly reconnecting. Almost like clothes being fastened, the wound filled in as the woman raised the arm a bit.
Mitotsudaira saw the arm undulate as it quickly pasted together from elbow to wrist. And by the time the woman reversed her wrist…
…High speed regeneration!?
“That wasn’t enough.”
Mitotsudaira felt a chill as the woman’s jabbing hand reached her chest.
The slender fingers arrived at her scarf.
She tried to lean back and out of the way, but the enemy’s hand grabbed the scarf.
Mitotsudaira tried to sweep both hands up to hit the enemy’s arm from below. She assumed a full-power blow from below the elbow would break the arm.
And as soon as she fired her arms upwards, she saw something.
It was something that should not have been and seeing it stopped her for just a second.
And that second was enough time for the woman to throw her through the air with that one arm.
A few sets of eyes looked up at the heavy sounds coming from the distant sky.
“Sounds like it’s started. I hope Nate’s okay.”
“My daughter can be careless.”
A woman smiled while standing next to a wall and in front of a crossdresser and a wife.
“But it is extremely unusual for Master Rudolf to have started so soon.”
“Testament,” agreed the well-built woman standing at the tower’s entrance. “I wonder how much…no, I hope she is powerful enough to satisfy Master Rudolf. He is a complete Wahnsinniger and deviant, after all.”
“Hold on there. Is Rudolf really that amazing?”
“Yes.” The smiling woman nodded. “Because he is a deviant. …Yes, that is everything there is to know about him.”
“Yeah, but… Nate’s pretty strong. She might tear your chancellor to pieces.”
“Oh, dear,” said the Reine des Garous in both surprise and joy, but the smiling woman did not seem to care.
“Tear him to pieces? That wouldn’t be possible. As we said, Master Rudolf is a deviant and a Wahnsinniger.”
After being thrown onto the stage, Mitotsudaira just barely managed to stick her landing. Her skirt spread out around her and she landed while down on one knee. She raised both heels to make sure she could begin moving immediately and she noticed someone standing on the eastern post.
It was Rudolf II and the crossdressing man looked down on her with arms crossed and chest thrust forward.
“Wellllcome to my precious, precious sacred ring!!”
The word “ring” led Mitotsudaira to check her surroundings.
This was no stage. Now that she was on it, she could tell it was a combat ring with chains stretching between the four corner posts shaped like angels.
But her eyes quickly moved to one point in particular: Rudolf II’s right shoulder as he stood on the eastern post.
His girl’s uniform had a hole in the right shoulder and in the right side.
Mitotsudaira bared her teeth, raised her eyebrows, and shouted.
“Those are the holes from the spear I used earlier, aren’t they!?”
“Hmmm? So what if they are?”
Mitotsudaira realized then what this man was.
That referred to someone who deviated from the norm, but he was not just a bizarre person. His very existence deviated from the norm.
…An English monster fits the bill better than any from Hexagone Française…or even from the European mainland as a whole.
So she named that monster as she stood up, raised her right hand, and pointed at him.
“A Shapeshifter. That is what you are!”
“Really, you could call my brother the completed version,” said Matthias as he watched the merrymakers on the beach from atop the ship floating in the night sky. “The motto of the House of Habsburg is, ‘Let others wage war. You, lucky Austria, shall marry!’ So that its women could bear the many children that requires, the Austrian Habsburgs made physical alterations to their family members to lengthen their lifespans. Did you know that, Maeda?”
“I had heard of it.”
Toshiie was also looking down below where a group was waving up at them, placing their hands around each other’s shoulders, and singing the academy songs of P.A.M. and M.H.R.R.
“They created bodies that could crossbreed with any other race and could survive giving birth to the children. What they ultimately created was a lack of pain, high-speed regeneration, and…”
“The ability to transform into anyone you want. …And ironically, the only one who can do it all was not one of the Habsburg women but my brother, one of their children.”
Matthias pulled a knife from his pocket and suddenly…
“Stop!” cried Matsu.
He stuck the knife in his own right wrist and tore a vertical gash. There was a dull tearing sound, but…
“See? There isn’t any bloo- oh, there’s a little bit. And there’s a fair bit of pain, too. …That’s because I was a failure.”
“I wouldn’t call that a failure. From my point of view, you’re still plenty human.”
“Thank you, Maeda, but I am not as perfect as my brother. Not in body or in soul. After all…”
A cheer rose from below because a one-armed demon had stepped out of a medical ship. He raised his single remaining arm and the crowd raised their arms as well.
“That must be nice. No, I mustn’t call it ‘nice’. But they and you can feel pain, so you can imagine what other people must be feeling. But I have a lot of trouble there. That’s why it’s such a relief to be your puppet. That way, I know the pain and everything else I bring to others is moving the world. And…well…that movement tells me I am a normal part of the world.”
“Then Chancellor Rudolf is…?”
“He is too kind. He can’t feel pain, but he still imagines it. When we were children, our parents would hit me when I made a mistake, but they never even did that to the success that was my brother. So…”
“My brother started to think that he might not be human. That is why he tried to learn of the gods, tried to draw closer to them, and learned Technomagie and similar techniques to strengthen himself further. Do you understand why he wanted to ‘move’ to the Magdeburg region? As a Protestant principality, it interacts with England, so he can study English Technomagie and non-humans there. In other words, he could study the true Shapeshifters and sub-gods.”
With that said, Matthias stood up.
“Now, how about we get going? Everyone down below is waving, so it’s time we left for the next battlefield.”
“Are you sure?”
“I am. This is my destiny. Or that’s how I view it anyway.”
He put the knife back in his pocket and he did so by stabbing it deep into his chest below his coat.
“My brother taught me this method when we were children. I of course ended up covered in blood, but no matter how much they scolded him, they never struck him. Striking him wouldn’t have done any good, you see.”
“That is why he does not know if he is a child of man or not.”
“Do you understand!?”
Rudolf’s voice reverberated across the metal room as he stood on the corner post.
Standing in the center of the ring, Mitotsudaira saw him spread his lowered arms.
“I! I have never once felt pain! No matter how much I carve myself, crush myself, melt myself, or burn myself, I return to normal right away!!”
He pulled a sword from his back while once more asking if she understood.
He had not been carrying the weapon on his back. It had been stored there by piercing his flesh.
And with a quick movement, he lopped off his own right hand. After a refreshing sound much like a fruit being cut, the severed hand fell to the floor.
But as it fell, it dissolved. Starting with the fingertips, it transformed into what looked like bloody steam and, by the time he swung his right hand again, the supposedly severed hand had grown back. It was still surrounded by a bit of bloody steam, so…
…That is divine protection using dissolving and regeneration spells.
She knew this had to be the regeneration spell passed down by the Austrian Habsburgs as they continued to research it.
By continually casting the spell on themselves, they essentially embedded it in their bodies and it would take hold of the child that took form within them. By repeating that process for generations, they had produced what could be called a spell life form.
“This is also…quite amazing.”
Rudolf moved the blade again to stab it horizontally through his neck from left to right.
There was a deep sound as it pierced his spine and severed his arteries, but…
“Do you understand?”
She did, but she could not put it in words. After all…
…He cut off his respiratory system and severed his circulatory system, but he’s still speaking!?
“You see… I do have a human form and my body regenerates like you’ve seen, but you know what? My respiration and circulation is really just for show. I seem to only need my active nervous system and my muscles to move, but they don’t work like other people’s do.”
So, you see?
“What am I if I can’t die? My parents wouldn’t punish me, so I began to think I might be special. Yes, in other words, I began to think I might be a god. And so I trained my body. Y’know, like a sculpture. You’ve seen the Renaissance sculptures, haven’t you? I trained myself to look just like those.”
Rudolf II laughed and lifted up his skirt.
“But when I looked into it, apparently the ancient gods were hermaphrodites. That’s when it hit me. I had trained my male side to the point of a divine sculpture, so it was time for the female side.”
As he spoke, he changed form. First, the well-built woman from the tower’s entrance appeared. Next, the one who had stood near the wall. And after that…
…The women on the stairs and in the corridors!
That was not all. He raised his speed and switched from woman to woman at a dizzying pace.
“These are all such wonderful people, you know? After all, they tried to give me pain. They climb onto this ring, you see. And they use weapons or chemicals to carve me up, crush me, or split me open. And yet… And yet…”
“Yes.” Rudolf II’s shoulders drooped. “They all fell to their knees without ever making me feel pain.”
“You all look pretty strong, but you’re saying you couldn’t do it?”
The well-built woman nodded at Toori’s question. She pulled a spear out from behind the entrance. It had the logo of the Holy Knights’ Steel Association, the brand that represented the Catholic principalities.
“To be honest, I’m from a Catholic principality and I was hired to assassinate Master Rudolf.”
She wrapped her arms around the spear and shook her head.
“But no technique I’m aware of could do it. I couldn’t even make him feel pain.”
“Yes. I was actually asked to poison him…but it didn’t work. The divine protection of his regeneration and defenses is just too powerful, so he sweated it all out.” The smiling woman lowered the ends of her eyebrows. “All one hundred and two people living in the tower came here to take his life and we fight him every day or even every hour.”
“Is he kind to you?”
“Testament. He is the emperor protected by Catholicism and his attempts to make himself divine have very nearly made him a hermaphrodite. ...He has surpassed the boundary between man and woman. True to history, he has no interest in women. Or sex at all, for that matter.”
“Sounds like the opposite of Nate Maman.”
“Oh, honestly. I-I only do it with my husband, you know?”
“So you don’t deny it?” muttered Naito as the Reine des Garous put her hands on her cheeks and wiggled back and forth.
However, the werewolf queen then looked to the two Catholic women.
“Do you two idolize Chancellor Rudolf?”
“Testament. Our power is no match for him and yet he does not exterminate us.”
“He makes sure it’s a proper battle, though. We can use our full strength, but we’re still no match for him.”
The smiling woman lowered the ends of her eyebrows again.
“Yes, we are no match for him. …He is kind enough to accept us even though we can’t rid him of his loneliness.”
She looked up at the tower.
“So we offer all of our techniques up to him and train with him. He is truly wonderful. …He uses our techniques and our bodies, but he goes far beyond that.”
“What do you think? Will your envoy be able to make Master Rudolf feel pain?”
“I am talking about pain!”
Mitotsudaira saw Rudolf II jump from the corner post.
He jumped high. He almost reached the ceiling despite starting at a standstill. She saw him fly high with his limbs spread out, so she hurriedly escaped to the chains.
He then crashed into the metal ring.
He sent his entire body into the metal surface at once.
…Don’t tell me…
“How much of a god am I!? Even as I use all my strength to prostrate myself before the guardian angels of the cardinal directions! I feel no pain!!”
He used brute strength to jump back up. Mitotsudaira noticed a drawing of god on the metal surface of the ring and several faint human-shaped dents covered it.
That was proof that he had prostrated himself like that countless times before.
He jumped from the eastern angel post once more.
He collided with the floor, but he immediately ran to the western angel post and performed a somersault from the top.
He collided with the floor again and ran to the south after getting up. He continued the process and jumped from the northern angel post.
More sounds of impact followed and Mitotsudaira belatedly realized that the floor surrounding the ring was carved with a diagram of heaven.
This sacred ring was made to sacrifice oneself to god, the angels, and heaven.
He jumped again and again, moved around and around, sped up, and continually slammed his entire body onto the heavenly ring.
But no matter how many times he tried it, he could not reach the bottom of the ring.
He got up on his knees, swung his arms outwards, and looked up toward heaven.
“Because! Because! Because I am a failure that cannot understand people’s pain! At first, I thought god had abandoned me, so I decided to rely on Technomagie! I gathered M.H.R.R.’s spells and considered going to England where many Technohexen live! I studied the English language and even thought about becoming an evil, filthy Technohexen! Because…”
“This is a dangerous time for M.H.R.R.! So! So wouldn’t my human and intelligent brother be far, far better suited as emperor!? So! So I thought if I disappeared…”
Mitotsudaira knew what he was going to say.
“You mean… You were forced to be emperor?”
“Yes?” Rudolf II nodded. “And there was not even an election just for show. I was only chosen because I belonged to the appropriate family for the history recreation and because I was the older of the two brothers.”
“Isn’t that weird? Why is that the one time they followed the rules without using interpretations!?”
She did understand why they would do that. With the Thirty Years’ War approaching, M.H.R.R. would have quickly started strictly following the history recreation to prevent other nations from interfering. That was why they had chosen their emperor based on family instead of ability, talent, or willingness.
They had likely used the historical fact that the prince-electors system had mostly been for show at that point.
Rudolf did not feel he was suited for the imperial throne.
“Shouldn’t they have made my brother emperorrrr!? And if they couldn’t do that, they should have done something like the Far East’s student council instead of putting someone as dumb as me in charge!”
She understood. While the Testament Union interfered some too, the Far East chose its student council members in a student council election. Rudolf must have wanted to eliminate himself from the list of candidates and then had the emperor chosen in an election.
“Whyyy!? Why was there no electiooooon!?”
There was nothing she could say. The man before her questioned his own existence even as no one understood him, the historical age made use of him, and he had his freedom robbed from him.
But after taking a breath, he stood up.
And he gave a quiet laugh: heh heh.
“But you see,” he continued. “It doesn’t really matter now. I will be free soon. …Because you know what? I will die here.”
What? wondered Mitotsudaira. How can someone like this die?
As she questioned herself, the answer came to her.
“Are you going to use something to make yourself officially ‘dead’!?”
The tower was near Magdeburg, so if it was anything…
…Is it the Sack of Magdeburg?
No, she decided. They were near Magdeburg, but this place was still a good bit southwest from the city. M.H.R.R.’s siege troops would not reach it.
But, she thought. There is a way to bring a battle here.
It can’t be, she thought, but once she thought of a certain individual, she was certain she was right.
“Is it Hexagone Française!?” she asked with her eyebrows raised.
Why had her mother been placed as their guide?
And why had her mother not returned home once they had arrived?
…Is this why!?
“Hexagone Française plans to cross the national borders to attack during the Sack of Magdeburg, don’t they!? And the Reine des Garous intends to meet up with them!”
“Do you understand what that means?”
“Judge.” She nodded. “Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. have only been staring each other down so far, but the two academies finally intend to begin the Thirty Years’ War in earnest!”
“Those two great academies are beginning to move toward the Peace of Westphalia, aren’t they!?”
“That’s right. I managed to inform my brother and the others of the Sack’s hastened schedule, so they should be quickly finishing their preparations to invade. And your chancellor, who is traveling with the Reine des Garous, will arrive here thanks to the attack by my brother’s warriors.”
Anne of Austria spoke from the shoulder of a silver god of war seated in front of a torch-lit cathedral.
Masazumi sat on the bench to the right and she accepted a bamboo cup of hot amazake that Asama passed her.
“So Hexagone Française will be temporarily invading M.H.R.R.? That’s definitely a bold way of showing their cooperation with the Protestants while also holding M.H.R.R. in check.”
“Hexagone Française wishes to crush the M.H.R.R. Catholics’ siege troops and interpretively establish that battle as the Sack of Magdeburg.”
“But,” said Masazumi as she looked to Guericke on the opposite bench.
The man nodded with his arms crossed and then looked up at Anne.
“Why didn’t they begin this invasion earlier? If Hexagone Française intends to save Magdeburg, you could have started before now.”
“K.P.A. Italia’s defeat and the Musashi’s movements left us with no other choice. Originally, Hexagone Française planned to help evacuate Magdeburg as volunteer soldiers. The Hexagone Française force deployed to IZUMO yesterday had been prepared for that purpose. But since Musashi came here, partially due to Matsunaga’s guidance, they instead watched to see what Musashi would do. If they botched their interference, the Testament Union would start complaining again,” explained Anne. “But now that K.P.A. Italia has fallen, the Testament Union and Europe is in urgent need of a guiding nation.”
…And what is needed for that?
Masazumi spoke her thought aloud.
“Proof that you can oppose P.A. Oda?”
“Testament. Interfering in the Sack of Magdeburg will do just that. Now that the schedule has been moved up and the Musashi will not arrive in time, Hexagone Française can rush in and be seen as the savior and hero. So Mayor Guericke, I assume you will still be developing your hemispheres with Musashi, but Hexagone Française would like to help too. And as the Musashi will be late, Hexagone Française’s fleet would be a better place to protect the hemispheres during the coming battle.”
…How can you say that when you’ll be the ones starting the battle?
Masazumi left that unsaid because it would not solve anything other than an ethical issue. Now was the time for action and they could discuss that and its result afterwards.
Anne then pushed Guericke further.
“If it goes well, please support the interpretation we want, Mayor Guericke.”
The man finally nodded.
“Testament. I have no reason to reject that.”
Anne smiled, and then…
Masazumi thought the girl went limp for a moment, but had she imagined it?
However, Guericke, Asama, and even Mazarin who was climbing up next to Anne all stopped moving.
“Sorry about that. It’s been so long since I have been outside that I have a lot on my mind.”
Anne got up, breathed out a virtual breath, and shrugged. She was telling them not to worry about it, so Masazumi finally nodded in understanding.
“Judge. This is welcome news for Musashi as well.”
“When will Hexagone Française arrive? After the change of schedule, the Sack of Magdeburg begins in an hour at eight, so they would really have to hurry if they want to intervene.”
“Yes,” said the Palais-Cardinal with Anne’s voice. “They will likely arrive in half an hour which is half an hour before the Sack begins. …They should already be cruising in stealth mode over the cooperative Protestant principalities. They are quite close by…both in time and space.”
“Hexagone Française will arrive west of Magdeburg at 19:30…only half an hour from now!?”
Tenzou questioned and protested the time the Reine des Garous had just given.
“Musashi won’t return until early tomorrow morning! This is far sooner!”
But the Reine des Garous only smiled.
“Well, there is only an hour until the Sack of Magdeburg now and Hexagone Française has a lot to gain in this battle, so the Hexagone Française fleet would have left as soon as word came in earlier.”
“You seem awfully calm about this,” muttered Tenzou right before he figured it out. He knew why Hexagone Française had acted so soon. “It will take time to deploy troops in the formations needed to combat the troops laying siege to Magdeburg, won’t it? So when Hexagone Française arrives half an hour before the Sack, they will unload their warriors, probably spend about fifteen minutes deploying them, and then begin their attack. Am I right?”
“Testament. M.H.R.R.’s warriors laying siege to Magdeburg are not incompetent. They are thirty thousand in all and five thousand will rush the city. Of those, one thousand are using high-speed mobile shells designed to conquer cities. They will be able to shut down all of Magdeburg’s functions in fifteen minutes, so we have to act first and intervene. …Still, I’m impressed you figured that out.”
The Reine des Garous placed a hand on her cheek and gave him a smile.
It embarrassed him how Mary smiled back as if she were being praised herself, but he was tearfully grateful for the sensation of her arm around him.
“Anyway,” he said while taking a breath and writing up the general series of events on a sign frame.
- Thirty minutes later – 19:30 – Hexagone Française – Arrives at Magdeburg.
- Forty five minutes later? – 19:45 – Hexagone Française – Deploys their troops and attacks the warriors laying siege to Magdeburg.
- One hour later – 20:00 – M.H.R.R. Catholics – Planned begin of the Sack.
- One hour fifteen minutes later – 20:15 – M.H.R.R. Catholics – Planned end of the Sack.
“So does that sum it up?”
He decided the thirty thousand M.H.R.R. Catholic warriors laying siege to Magdeburg did not have an easy task.
…One careless move and they’ll be caught between the city and Hexagone Française.
But if they retreated and allowed Hexagone Française into Magdeburg, they would have a hard time conquering the city even if reinforcements from K.P.A. Italia arrived.
Would they carry out the Sack while prepared to fight on two fronts or would they wait for reinforcements while prepared for a nearly impossible fight afterwards?
Either way, they could not avoid a desperate fight.
…I suppose that it is just how well thought out Hexagone Française’s strategy is.
It was true the situation had been set in motion sooner than Hexagone Française had anticipated, but they were using that and the urgent situation it created to their advantage.
“What do you think? It seems like a fairly safe plan for Musashi as well. Of course, the M.H.R.R. Catholics might target the Musashi to deal with their stress.”
She wrapped her arms around her own body.
“But even if something goes wrong, I’m here. I can protect all of you and protect Hexagone Française.”
That’s probably true, thought Tenzou, but after a while…
…This is all I can say.
“It may not be my place, but…I must refuse.”
Tenzou put up his guard a little and spoke his rejection toward the Reine des Garous’s smile.
Past her, the crossdresser tilted his head while receiving some coffee brewed by the women protecting the tower.
“Huh? Tenzou, shouldn’t we let Nate Maman protect us? It’d be easier. She’s got huge breasts.”
“I will ignore that last part, Toori-dono, but that would leave us owing a debt to Hexagone Française. We should avoid making any political decisions until we can run them by Masazumi-dono. I know it is rude to speak of unlikely possibilities here…but Hexagone Française might do more than just ‘protect’ us.”
Mary stepped up next to him with the two Excaliburs floating on either side of her, and spoke clearly to the Reine des Garous.
“Would you protect us even with me here?”
“It would be interesting to have England indebted to us.”
…She is clearly powerful.
She did not hesitate to reach for the greatest possible reward. Some would call it greed, but it was the same as a predator showing no concern for its prey.
She was not the same as the rest of them.
Calling it greed just showed how soft they were.
…When resisting, strength is the only option.
He hoped Mitotsudaira would return soon, but…
“Wait, wait. Tenzou, Maman. Quit talking without me.”
“But, chancellor,” said Naito. “Were you even listening to what Tenzou said? It looked to me like you started staring at Maman’s breasts from the side, measuring their volume, and paying an inordinate amount of attention to what you could see up that spear lady’s skirt.”
The crossdresser glanced back and saw the spear woman frantically fixing the bottom of her skirt.
“Oh, damn. …Gold Mar, don’t say that kind of thing! You’re ruining my hidden fun!”
“So did you or did you not hear what that ninja boy said?”
“What?” The crossdresser wrinkled his brow. “I-I-I did! Of-of course I did?”
“Toori-dono, I would like it if you didn’t look down at the ground when you said that.”
As Tenzou complained, Mary tugged on his sleeve.
“How would you sum up what you said before, Master Tenzou?”
“Judge. If we decide anything for ourselves, Masazumi-domo will be super mad.”
“Wow. Now that is easy to understand.” The idiot scratched his head. “Well, you heard him, Nate Maman. We can’t rely on you until we ask Seijun. Sorry.”
“There is no need to apologize. This just means I have to forcibly drag you along. It will probably be a lot of work for you if you try to resist, though.” The Reine des Garous smiled at them. “Hey? If you won’t accept our protection, then think about where you want to take your king. I will give you a certain level of help as an individual.”
“That we will gladly accept. But…” Tenzou looked up at the tower. “If Chancellor Rudolf will use Hexagone Française’s attack to mean his ‘death’, then this is our only opportunity to acquire Chancellor Carlos I’s memo.”
That was likely why Hexagone Française had sent them here.
“Now, then,” said the Reine des Garous. “I will not help with that. After all, I must not crush her pride any more than I already have.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure.”
That comment came from the crossdresser looking up at the tower with crossed arms.
He smiled a little and said more.
“Nate holds onto her pride more than you think, Maman.”
“Nowww, what to do?”
Mitotsudaira listened to Rudolf II from the center of the ring.
He leaned against the eastern corner post and threw a sword her way.
Mitotsudaira caught the flying blade as if slapping it with her right hand.
“You want me to make you feel pain with us?”
“I feel like having some fun before I am freed. Okay?”
He put the memo in his pocket and literally stored it in his chest.
“The Sack of Magdeburg begins in one hour and the report I saw says Hexagone Française will arrive in half an hour after rushing over here.”
“Until then, I am the godlike Holy Roman Emperor of M.H.R.R. And its chancellor. So I will give you a chance until then. A chance to take this from me.”
He was telling her to fight him. He hated his position as M.H.R.R.’s emperor-chancellor, but he would fight her as his final job and to show he would not cooperate with the enemy.
How noble of him, she thought. But…
“What if I can’t make you feel pain and take it from you?”
“I will leave this tower before Hexagone Française’s attack. I suppose I will head to England. But…”
He lightly struck his chest.
“I will take this memo with me. After all, it should be enough insurance in case something happens.”
“That would be the worst case scenario.”
In England, M.H.R.R.’s Maeda Toshiie had indicated just how important the Princess Disappearances were, but that scenario would mean they had been too weak to obtain a necessary clue and had that clue taken away.
If that happened, Musashi’s reputation would hit rock bottom. She had to avoid that.
And she felt all of the decisions rested on her shoulders.
…It comes down to pain.
As soon as she started to think about how to make him feel pain, she felt a gust of wind to her left.
The smiling woman was there.
“It has already begun, you know?”
A flat handed jab flew toward her.
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