Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 71
Chapter 71: Understanders in the Metal Tower
This calms you
Keeps your heart from crying out
As it trembles with joy
And instead provides the strength to move
Point Allocation (Confrontation)
A deep sound came from the sky.
“The level of force has changed,” said Mary as she looked up to the tower.
Tenzou nodded as he looked in the same direction.
…What is going to happen?
He knew the battle was growing longer.
The two guard women said the sounds coming from the sky were “different from normal” and the Reine des Garous said it was “far from over”.
But Tenzou could not help but speak up.
“Mitotsudaira-dono had to have been injured. Even with her regeneration, I don’t see how a longer battle would be-…”
“Oh? That girl may not know how to handle herself, but I can say one thing for sure.”
The Reine des Garous cut him off to provide her own opinion.
“The standard tactic of the Loup Garou race is to fight a short but decisive battle.”
The entire circular room had become a battlefield.
Far from just using the floor, the two combatants also used the stockers, the curved walls, and the ceiling as footing for accelerating or changing direction as the two of them intersected and pursued each other.
Their paths continually crossed.
Mitotsudaira knocked back her enemy’s charge with a kick and landed on a stocker. Rudolf II accelerated by jumping from the floor and ceiling several times like a ricocheting bullet and he threw a piercing kick toward her from above.
But by that time, she had instantly leaped to a stocker behind her.
From there, she jumped to the wall with a swing of her body and kicked with her toes as if to dig into the curving surface. Her movements appeared light, but her repeated and intersecting footwork allowed her to run along the wall.
She ran around the room.
Rudolf II pursued her by leaning forward atop a broken stocker and releasing his built-up strength in a great leap. He flew straight for the wall, but he made sure to rotate around as he did so the soles of his feet landed on the wall. He ran after Mitotsudaira along the wall while crouched “down” against it.
Meanwhile, Mitotsudaira back-stepped around on the wall and stuck a hand into her hair.
She prepared a sword she had grabbed when standing on the stocker and hidden in her hair.
And there was more than one. She had enough swords to hold between all of her fingers.
She threw them. It was a weak movement of her shoulders and elbows, but…
When the swords were released from her fingers, they flew toward Rudolf II with instantaneous force.
He did not bother avoiding them. He grabbed the first one between his fingers and tossed it up to the ceiling.
“Did you think the emperor would not have been trained in swordplay!?”
Several solid sounds rang out as all of the swords were knocked away, but as he looked through the reflecting light of the blades, he saw the silver wolf jumping. That silver-haired girl kicked powerfully off the wall, rotated upside down in midair, and placed a piercing step onto the ceiling.
So Rudolf II also jumped. He had already started to fall due to his greater weight, so he stabbed a sword into the ceiling and kicked off the wall while pulling himself toward that weapon. And in the instant he passed by the sword, he kicked off of it.
He had caught up, so their powers intersected.
She deflected his stabbing hand, he avoided her claws, and their kicks collided.
They both performed a midair flip and landed in the room’s central ring.
Rudolf II stood on the northern post while the silver wolf stood on the southern post.
Rudolf II crossed his arms and threw out his chest while the silver wolf let out a heated breath.
Immediately afterwards, the two collided in the center of the ring.
The sound of the collision rang out and more followed with increasing speed.
Mitotsudaira did her best to control her trembling heart.
She needed to control her heart at the moment, not her body.
She desperately held back the desire to rely on her strength that was trying to control her body.
After all, the overwhelming difference between her and her mother was an issue of speed and she could see the answer to that in her body at the moment. She was beginning to understand.
To oversimplify the answer, it was to not rely on her strength.
A certain moment had led to this realization. When battling the automatons the night before, she had thrown a stone, thinking it would not hit in time, but its unexpected speed had allowed it to hit and had laid the groundwork for ending the battle.
While wondering what had happened, she had tried throwing a small stone in the spring, but as expected, it had not worked.
There was a simple reason for that.
When throwing the stone in the spring, her fingers had been tensed with strength from beginning to end. She had been so focused on how to produce that kind of speed that she had remained tense from the start of the throw to its finish.
That was the wrong way.
That constant tension was not a throw.
…That was pushing it.
To throw it, she had to release it.
She had to only place her fingers on the stone to control it, swing her shoulder, swing her elbow enough to make sure it was not fixed in place, and do the same with her wrist. Each time, she could only gather her strength at the very beginning and then throw with each joint in order to release the stone.
In other words, she “threw” by swinging her shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers in that order.
And if she built up some force to begin with, the stone would fly with even more force.
Her entire body was the same.
She could not keep her body tense and push it forward. If she dug her toes into the floor, bent her relaxed body, and threw herself by pulling with her toes, she could launch herself quickly forward.
It was a lot like bending a ruler to launch it forward. She built up her strength before moving, released it in phases, and poured as much initial speed as possible into the leading edge of her movement.
…This is nothing like before.
In a power-focused battle, she needed to hold her ground and thus took a stance centered on her heels, but now she stood on her toes, quickly bent and released her body, and turned at her destination to reach for her enemy.
It was much like a dance.
She had yet to learn how to move her body properly and she would occasionally give a jerking shake and lose her speed.
But this was all she had.
This was what she had to do now.
So she repeatedly used the stockers or the walls as footing even though they only gave her enough space to stand on her tiptoes and a single mistake would mean falling.
When she got the timing wrong, the object she meant to throw would pull on her and cause her to shake.
When moving, it felt like jumping along small, round stones. To make sure she did not trip on those stones, she placed her foot firmly down, gathered her strength, and released it all at once.
She focused on her movements like that to allow her body to learn.
She continued on, jumping again and again.
This was so very strange and made her wonder what she had been doing all this time.
No, it was just that she had never before been faced with a battle that required this kind of movement. With her silver chains and strength, she had been able to endure any attack and crush any opponent just by keeping her strength built up inside her.
But that meant she was always tensed up and it slowed her down.
She had realized that way of fighting was a constant habit when her enemy had smashed her body.
His strikes had outdone the strength built up inside her and she had abandoned the strength she had subconsciously kept as a form of resistance.
“I feel so light.”
Yes, she thought as she realized something.
She finally understood why her mother had treated her like a child.
She had not known how to “use” her own body’s strength.
She had been “drawing out” that strength, but she had not been “using” it.
She understood that now.
How pathetic, she thought. How could I think I was protecting anyone like that?
But did her mother understand something else? While she had only now realized how to use her body to fight…
She had long ago learned how to get back on her feet without giving up.
Rudolf II felt some resistance from his enemy.
As the two of them continued their exchange of attacks and speed, he could tell his enemy’s form was quickly growing clear.
That inexperienced being was clarifying and settling on her strength and techniques at great enough speed to elicit that silent voice of admiration.
At first, she had pulled back her attack in confusion three out of ten times, but now it was only one in twenty or even thirty times and her attacks were growing more accurate.
She had likely grasped how to make use of her body during their interaction.
This had also happened to the others he had fought here. In their battles with him, they had gained a thorough understanding of their own abilities and so they would thank him afterwards.
But there was one thing different about the silver wolf before him now: this wolf was clearly trying to surpass him.
She refused to give up.
And Rudolf sensed something from the persistent wolf. The resistance from the attacks and speed of her growth had yet to reach completion.
She was still incomplete.
And it was that lack of completion that allowed her to never give up.
There was more to it than that. She had stood back up even before realizing she was incomplete. That was a way of life carved into her instincts, so her own will no longer matters.
…I’m so jealous.
What about me? wondered Rudolf II.
He could change his form and alter his abilities, so he had to be incomplete as well. But…
I have given up, haven’t I? he thought.
He had accepted himself, but he had given up and not hoped for anything more.
There was a reason for that.
He did not know who he was, his parents had not acted like parents, he could only understand others via his imagination, and even his position had been given to him by others.
He himself had never been anywhere.
He had never been his own person.
…We are a lot alike.
He had a few elements in common with the girl before him. She had been sent to Musashi by Hexagone Française and even her mother had become her enemy. And yet…
…I’m so jealous.
Even if nothing else, he envied her refusal to give up.
And the persistent form he sensed in the resistance was changing further.
She was like a newborn beast. Desiring its perfect form and wishing to live, the small beast would stand on its four legs and learn to walk and roar.
As he observed his changing opponent, Rudolf II nodded in his heart and said what he needed to say.
“Victory will be mine!!”
She was changing, but how far would she go?
If his enemy was going to change and better herself, he only needed to reach an optimal form that outdid hers.
He had pioneered the technique of changing oneself as a weapon.
So he transformed.
Mitotsudaira saw pure ferocity and it was in constant flux.
Rudolf II continued to transform in order to match not just her attacks but also her movements and speed.
For speed, he took a nimble form. For strength, he took a well-built form. For techniques, he took a skilled form.
By rapidly changing himself, he matched every part of her. But…
Mitotsudaira stole his speed, took his techniques, and surpassed his strength.
She threw those elements straight back at him and further improved herself.
Her breathing grew heavy and sweat covered her, but…
…This isn’t over yet!!
She was still far from matching her mother. She knew that from her experience of being defeated and beaten to a pulp, but…
…I will reach her!!
She could tell all resignation was vanishing from her heart and resolve was taking its place.
She was fighting.
Her confidence in that allowed her to build her resolve to defeat the enemy before her eyes. By defeating him, she could declare this emperor and chancellor “imperfect” and put him at ease.
She had thought up a way to make him feel pain. It had come to her quickly inside this metal tower, so she had decided to try it out as soon as she had a chance.
She raised her speed and strengthened her attacks that could already knock him into the air.
“!” As she danced, her moving feet sounded out on the metal ring.
She was exhausted and injured, but it all turned to heat with every breath she took and that told her that her body was there.
Yes, she thought. Even the negatives have meaning here.
She could tell they were both improving themselves each time they picked up speed, attacked, or defended.
They seemed to be consuming the battle to grow.
She then noticed something about Rudolf II’s rapidly changing form.
…He’s stopped changing?
No, that was not it. His transformations were gradually approaching a single form.
That was likely the form he felt could oppose anything and everything.
It had to be something he was unable to create before. It was his truly ideal form that he could not picture in his head and needed to experience to create.
That form would allow him to survive on his own no matter what happened.
And if he had created that here…
…It can’t be…
That meant he too was inexperienced.
So Mitotsudaira sent more resistance his way.
Suddenly, wind exploded in front of her.
She knew what had happened.
Rudolf II had completed his new form and he had quickly surpassed her still inexperienced self.
He appeared behind her.
Mitotsudaira saw her opponent as she turned around.
…Blonde hair, tall, blue eyes, huge breasts, 1st special duty officer… No, wait. This isn’t a word association game.
Her opponent moved too fast for her eyes to keep up. He kept low but swung his body.
Before she could fully turn, he jumped toward her back and she was surrounded by wind.
Her crouched enemy had wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. He then bent backwards, lifted her by the waist, and gave a yell.
Rudolf II used his special attack.
Instead of throwing or releasing his opponent, he kept his arms around them, bent his body, and dropped them backwards.
He slammed the back of their head into the metal floor to knock them out.
That was his plan.
Even if she absolutely refused to give up, there was nothing she could if she was knocked out cold. He doubted she would give up, but he would have left by the time she came to.
…I offer this match up to you!
But he would be the winner.
Convinced of his victory, he enacted his plan.
To drop his opponent’s head to the floor, it was crucial he made an arching bridge with his back. Otherwise, his own head would be caught between the floor and her back.
He picked up speed as he perfected the steep angle of his back and he tightly clutched his arms to pull his opponent from the floor.
With that grunt of effort, he completed the technique.
The object in his arms would be slammed head-first into the floor behind him.
However, something was not quite right.
The enemy was no longer in his arms.
“What is this!?”
His clutching arms held nothing but empty air.
Mitotsudaira had vanished.
Soon thereafter, his own high speed arch slammed the top of his own head into the metal ring.
After a great rumbling sound, Rudolf II stood all alone, forming a three-point bridge with his legs and head.
After some thought, he realized what had happened.
“Is that what happened!?”
Still forming his bridge, he spread his clutching arms and explained.
“Your chest is simply so flat that my arms were not enough to hook onto you, so you slipped right out!!”
He knew the perfect way of describing it.
“A flat-chest evasion!!”
A moment later, he was loudly slammed against the ceiling.
Her face bright red, Mitotsudaira had made a full-speed approach and thrown a kick right into his back.
It was a powerful kick. After crashing into the ceiling, Rudolf II stuck there without falling for about eight seconds.
Finally, he peeled away and gently fell back down.
Thirty-eight longswords stabbed into him as he fell. Four great axes whipped up the wind as they flew by and audibly severed his limbs.
The axes stabbed into the ceiling and he fell, unable to remove the swords without his limbs. He tried to move, but the countless blades entering him from below prevented not just his joints but also his muscles from moving properly.
However, his severed limbs turned to bloody smoke in midair. The deep cuts of the blade were also being closed by his divine protection, so the swords were about to fall out.
He would likely regenerate and remove the blades before hitting the ring, but…
Something struck Rudolf II from below as he fell face-up.
The impact that shook his torso and slammed him back into the ceiling came from two hammers.
Rudolf II realized he had been pasted to the ceiling once more.
The blow seemed to have reversed up and down.
Not just one but two hammers large enough to smash stone had dug into his back and created deep depressions in his body.
…But I still feel no pain!
With that thought, he tried to place his palms on the ceiling and raise his elbows. He was trying to fight the momentum pressing him into the ceiling so he could jump back down.
However, his arms had yet to regenerate. Neither had his legs.
Timing-wise, he should have been surrounded by bloody smoke and his limbs should have returned.
But they had not.
He looked to the floor behind him and saw the regenerating smoke down below.
That red mist had yet to reach him.
…Was that the purpose of the hammer blow?
“You knocked me away so the regenerating smoke couldn’t reach me!?”
He knew why she had done so.
…To buy the time she needs to gather her next weapon!
As if to prove him right, a metallic light shot between him and the ceiling as he peeled away from it.
As expected, it was another hammer.
However, it was not just a hammer. Something was wrapped around the handle.
“One of the ring’s chains!?”
As soon as he voiced that question, the chain was pulled from below and the hammer end also pulled back down. It wrapped around him like a whip as he was peeled from the ceiling again.
The hammer acted as a weight and the chain wrapped tightly around him, the many blades, and the two hammers in his back.
The blades were stabbed back into him and the hammers broke through skin and flesh until they entered his body and might as well have been part of his skeleton.
Constricted, his lungs had less room and his breaths grew smaller.
But, he thought. I do not need to breathe. If I asphyxiate, my regeneration will simply begin from there. This squeezing is meaningless.
Also, the bloody regenerating smoke was approaching him. With that, his limbs would regenerate and he could immediately break free of this chain.
The bloody smoke reached him and began to form small spirals to remake his limbs, but…
“You did this to me earlier, didn’t you?”
After that comment from below, a sudden tug reached his vision.
It came from the chain.
He was ripped from the bloody smoke and the red spirals came apart in midair as if confused.
A moment later, his entire body crashed into the wall along with the great weight.
The wind roared, destruction followed the sound of the chain, and great impacts played the tower like a musical instrument.
It was a bell.
With the five hundred meter tower as the bell, Rudolf II as the bell’s clapper, and Mitotsudaira as the musician, it produced great noise.
Mitotsudaira truly went all out this time. She instantaneously accelerated her entire body to throw the arm holding the chain. The chain extended like a solid bar, tore through the wind, and struck the wall as a weight.
The air shook and the metal roared.
But she had already released the next strike. The chain would briefly form an arc, but quickly go taut with the weight trailing only ever so slightly behind.
The weight tore through the stockers like a paper forest. Weapons flew through the air, but the weight broke through them all as she spun it around again for more speed.
They all broke.
The sounds of breaking metal acted as accompaniment and the whipping wind turned the metal snow into a blizzard.
The room had grown stormy, but Mitotsudaira accelerated further. She spun her body, pulled her arms, and poured more speed into the chain she hauled around.
As she slammed him into the walls, she never let his speed drop, she continued to raise it, and she suddenly increased the frequency of the impacts.
“Is that a bell?”
Mary tilted her head and Tenzou saw Naito frantically shaking her head behind the girl.
…H-how am I supposed to explain this?
The tower’s two guard women were looking up in confusion and the Reine des Garous looked up into the sky with a hand on her cheek like always.
…Is she measuring it?
The Reine des Garous was lightly tapping her toes on the ground. At first, she was matching the grandiose metallic sounds from overhead, but before long, she was filling the gaps as well. It almost looked like she was recreating the steps taken by the bell’s ringer.
“Are you worried about Mitotsudaira-dono?”
“Oh? All skilled people are short-lived, you know?”
“Ah! I’m short-lived! I’m seriously about as short-lived as a mosquito, so give me a feel of those boob- Why are you two guard ladies glaring at me, too!? Like you know what kind of person I am! How about I feel you up, too!”
Fearing a drop in the Far East’s reputation, Tenzou decided to calm the idiot down. However, the ringing overhead had started at even intervals, but it was now much more random and the sound was growing in intensity.
“Doesn’t this sound like a debt collector knocking on the door?” asked Naito.
“What’s even going on in there?” asked the idiot. “That’s gotta be Nate doing it, so that Rudo-whatever guy’s gotta be dead, right?”
“N-not to worry.” The smiling woman looked back up at the tower with a slight shadow hanging over her expression. “Impacts like this are not enough for Master Rudolf to feel pain.”
“All of this you’re hearing will be ultimately meaningless.”
Rudolf II spoke among the flurry of impacts.
“This isn’t working!”
He was slammed into the wall.
“This isn’t working!”
He was thrown into the wall.
“This isn’t working at all!”
He still felt no pain.
The process sped up and the power of the impacts grew far greater than before. He deemed the frequency of the barrage to be truly wonderful.
…It doesn’t hurt!
When his body shook from the impacts, he briefly felt something like an itch, but…
“That is not enough to call pain!!”
The noise was tremendous, the impacts travelled through him, and his entire body broke, but he immediately regenerated within the chain. The bloody smoke of his limbs was floating around and had yet to catch up to him as he was quickly flung this way and that.
…But this is useless.
“It may look impressive, but it isn’t enough to reach me!”
He was thrown into the wall and destroyed, but none of it hurt. Wasn’t there a more constant kind of pain that left his entire body unusable?
He crashed into the wall again.
It was just more of the same.
…Don’t you have anything more?
He wished for something else, but it seemed his enemy was only going to continue.
It was meaningless, so he thought about escaping this situation.
His body was currently filled with swords and hammers and wrapped up tight. He considered taking a smaller form to escape, but he knew the chain would simply tighten further. Also, the two hammers in his back acted as cushioning that prevented the chain from tearing completely through him. It was a well thought out method of tying him up.
To escape, he would need his limbs. The bloody smoke currently could not reach him as he was swung around, but its speed was starting to catch up. That meant he only had to lower his speed.
…I need to disturb her!
He changed his form in order to affect her mentally.
He had taken the Reine des Garous’s form.
“What do you think you’re doing to your own mother!?”
He was immediately thrown into the wall.
“Was it just me or was that one especially strong?” asked the idiot.
“I just felt a strange chill for some reason,” said the Reine des Garous.
“Oh?” Mary tilted her head and pointed up. “Master Tenzou. I see a light.”
Tenzou and the others looked up and saw a line of light running across the tower’s outer wall.
“The wall…is breaking?”
Oh, no, thought Rudolf II.
His opponent’s power had definitely increased after he took the Reine des Garous’s form.
…Sh-she shows no mercy even against her mother.
She must have had a harsh upbringing, the poor thing. It is true she lacks a lot of feminine appeal in certain places. If only she could transform like me.
But while he pitied her, this increase in speed was not good. The bloody smoke would never catch up now.
And so he changed into yet another form.
…This one is sure to work!
He had seen Musashi’s chancellor and student council president on the broadcast from Mikawa, so he took on that form.
While swinging the chain around with all her strength, Mitotsudaira saw her king’s face at the end of the horizontally swinging chain.
Her king was speaking in her king’s voice. It was the same voice she always heard and he pleaded her with a desperate look on his face.
She knew this plea was fake, but it still moved her heart.
To push her moving heart further, his words continued. It was a phrase she had heard him say countless times.
“Did I do something wrong!?”
Her heart gave a full nod and she slammed him into the wall like usual.
“It broke!” shouted Naito.
Light appeared on the tower’s top floor and they heard something like shattering glass.
The crack in the metal blossomed in the night sky, its edges glowed from the light within, and the scattering fragments reflected that light into the sky. Finally, a resplendent object was thrown into the heavens.
When the smiling woman saw it, her expression grew harsh.
Positions of the Various Factions and Their Plans
Toori: Sis! Sis! Nate’s having some fun up above, but what’s going on around us and in the other nations!?
Kimi: Heh heh heh. Fun brother, here is a diagram of the current situation.
Below 2: Rudolf II’s Tower
Below 6: Magdeburg
Above 7: Kii Peninsula
Below 5: Seto Inland Sea
1: Musashi – After meeting up with Toori in the Magdeburg region, they will travel from the Seto Inland Sea, through the Kii Peninsula, and to Mikawa where they will begin the Battle of Mikatagahara with Yoshitsune.
2: Toori’s Group – See how Mitotsudaira’s battle ends and head to the Magdeburg region?
3: Hexagone Française – Rushing to Magdeburg from the west.
4: M.H.R.R. Catholics 1 – Katsuie and Narimasa are besieging Magdeburg.
5. M.H.R.R. Catholics 2 – Traveling to Magdeburg after the battle with K.P.A. Italia.
6: M.H.R.R. Protestants – Defending Magdeburg.
7: P.A. Oda – Will intercept the Musashi when it enters their territory.
Toori: Once again, it looks like there’s gonna be a huge traffic jam.
Kimi: You’re a part of all this, you know?
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