Horizon:Volume 3C Chapter 78
Chapter 78: Advancer of the Age
Is that a knock on the door?
Or is it a battering ram hammer?
Point Allocation (How to Open the Door)
Metal fell from low in the sky.
A total of four ship’s worth of wreckage descended toward Magdeburg once the support of the defensive barrier was lost.
They intertwined as they fell straight toward three transport ships.
Two gods of war were pushing on the westernmost one from the side and it was possible the falling wreckage would only catch the back end of it, but the other two ships had not escaped in time.
The central ship holding the Far Easterners was the biggest problem. It was positioned at the very center of the four falling ships and its passengers spoke from the deck.
“Heh heh. I thought I could just jump down from the deck, but that’s surprisingly big! It’s over! My wise life is over! We’re going to be crushed so flat you won’t be able to tell me and the huge-breasted shrine maiden apart! Danke schööööön!! Come on, Adele! Quit adjusting your inner suit’s butt and get over here! Your corpse can fuse with some giant breasts! This is just like the sphinx’s riddle! What is flat-chested in the morning, flat-chested in the afternoon, and a corpse at night!? Man! That is what it means to be human!”
“Wh-what are you talking about, Kimi? …Ah, we might really be in trouble! Oh, no. I have three porn games to test in my bag! If I die and they find those in my possession, they’ll definitely think I was weird! They’ll say the daughter of the Asama family was a porn reviewer who brought porn games onto the battlefield!”
“Um, personally, I think both of you should calm down.”
Meanwhile, the four falling ships picked up speed.
They were leaking ether fuel and trailing white light, so everyone gave a shout at that approaching pressure.
“We’re done forrrrrrrrr!!”
When she heard Kimi and the others give their proclamation of doom, Yoshiyasu looked back while pushing the other transport ship with Righteousness.
That group was always saying crazy things, but…
…Can I make it in time!?
If she flew over now, she could save two or three of those on the deck, so she considered doing so.
But then she noticed something racing through the air.
It was mist.
The thin transformation of rain raced through the night sky in a straight horizontal line.
She heard a cry.
This was not the howling of a dog. It was the roar indicating the beginning of a battle.
Then the sky split apart. Burning along the line of mist, a transparent shimmering line flew through the sky.
Yoshiyasu realized all sound had vanished and Righteousness picked up a voice that seemed to rebuke that silence. It was a familiar male voice.
The night sky exploded and wept.
A ripping voice pursued the mist and the following scorch mark.
The rain of mist dispersed and a slice covering about a kilometer and a half was established. The clouds and mists of a rain shower followed.
The falling wreckage of the four warships was torn through and destroyed in the night sky.
It broke down the center and scattered to either side, so one half fell next to the Far Eastern transport ship and the other half fell next to the transport ship carrying the hemispheres. The hemisphere ship had the armor of one side torn away and was thrown off balance, but it gently moved to maintain its position.
They were all safe.
The wind whipped up and the falling objects sounded like splitting pots when they struck the ground.
However, that was the end of it.
All that remained was a white god of war in the distant sky.
Righteousness flew up into the Magdeburg sky and spoke the name of the heavy god of war that had used both hands to swing down the spirit sword and gunblade named Murasamemaru.
Naruze had been stopped in midair.
A counterattack using a flying cannon had hit her in the right shoulder and she had been sent into a pathetic spiral. Her enemy used that chance to send a stone scattershot her way and she was certain at least three pieces of stone were going to hit her.
She decided to at least protect her dominant arm and her hands. Also her face. That much should be more than enough for the rest of my life, she thought while putting up her guard.
The attack that hit her was soft, warm, and wrapped in a familiar scent.
The voice confirmed it for Naruze and she found herself held in the other girl’s arms high in the sky.
They were about twenty meters above the wall, but the heated wind was rising toward them and they could see everything happening around Magdeburg.
Naruze knew what she had to check on first.
“The transport ships!”
Those ships were behind the cathedral, but all she saw was Kimi swinging Asama around in a celebratory dance on the middle ship’s deck. In other words, everything was normal.
And if Margot was holding her…
“Our stupid chancellor’s group is back?”
“Judge, judge. That’s what I was on my way to tell you all. We still can’t use the divine transmission, so I thought it would be best to tell you directly. Tenzou and Ma-yan are running this way, too. Also…”
Margot looked to the west.
A powerful charge was arriving from the western hill.
She had seen this before. Just the day before yesterday, they had clashed in IZUMO.
“Vive le XIV!!”
Hexagone Française’s Lourd de Marionnette unit led the charge.
They were approximately two kilometers out. They ran from the hilltop in order to rout M.H.R.R.’s rear guard waiting outside Magdeburg. The commander’s Lourd de Marionnette had been lightened to help him run, he held a siege spear in his right hand, and he spoke from his voice device.
“Hurry! The previous chancellor is waiting inside the flooded city!”
They all knew that Anne of Austria had little life left, so…
The second in command raised his spear so the academy flag tied to it could be seen far and wide. It was embroidered with the emblems of Hexagone Française and Ecole de Paris.
“Vive le XIV!!”
They raised their weapons.
“Vive la Anne!!”
“Vive la Mooooouri!!”
They all breathed in and raised their voices so they could be heard at their destination.
“Vive la Hexagone Française!!”
Shouts of “tes” and “testament” were made.
“Hurry! Our Lourd de Marionnette unit is a glorious unit created by the previous chancellor in negotiations with the other nations!”
“Let them see us charge!”
They were followed by the Belle de Marionnette royal guards led by the Three Musketeers. Just like the Lourd de Marionnette unit, they raced quickly down the hill toward Magdeburg.
They kicked up the dirt to pick up even more speed. Behind them, a man and woman were protected by the Belle de Marionnettes of the rear guard.
The pair was Louis Exiv and Mouri Terumoto.
Exiv silently watched the charge with his eyebrows raised a little. Terumoto spoke to him while looking in the same direction he was.
“Can you see her?”
He shook his head and started to say something else.
But he held his tongue. Terumoto responded by grabbing his hand and holding it tight.
“Don’t worry.” She breathed in. “The Roi-Soleil’s sister is the goddess of the moon. The moon may not have shown itself yet on this cloudy night, but the sky will clear up before long. After all…”
A great roar seemed to answer her. High in the center of the sky, the air shook and a tremor reached as far down as the ground. Mouri-01 explained why from behind the two of them.
“Here they come!”
The sky split apart and something broke through the dark clouds and dropped down like a hammer.
“There are eight of them! It’s the Musashi! And…they are standing up vertically and descending!!”
Inside Musashino’s bridge, Suzu stood from her seat and began reconstructing the model of the Musashi and Magdeburg’s surroundings.
The quick movements of her hands expanded the model and created the city’s broken gate and wall. The indicated water level on the ship’s outer hull quickly rose and the shapes of the falling ships were made anew.
However, there was one thing they could not afford to forget.
Each of the Musashi’s ships was lined up and rapidly falling with its stern pointed down. To “fire” themselves along a ballistic course using a vertical launch of their gravitational cruising, they had only controlled their acceleration without performing any course corrections or braking.
That meant the Musashi’s ships were much like giant shells and they had to prevent them from colliding with the surface.
“Suzu-sama, we have finished turning each ship toward the sky as we fall. We will now perform full speed gravitational acceleration toward the heavens in order to brake. Over!!”
Just as “Musashino” had said, the Musashi turned toward the sky and accelerated to keep itself from falling to the earth.
For the turn, they had referenced the vertical loop from the Armada battle. The action itself was possible, but the structure of the ship did not allow for it.
That placed intense stress on the Musashi.
The ship’s own weight pulled down on it and caused the main frame and each block to groan.
“Musashi” was the one who responded to all that stress and weight.
“I am distributing my authority to each individual ship. Please remove your ship’s stress in preparation for the full-power re-acceleration. Over.”
Suzu sensed each ship shaking in response.
She felt a distinct current.
First, ether for reinforcement spells was injected into the wide and long blocks to the stern of the ships.
Then, the automatons in charge of the ships gradually corrected the maximum movable range of the frames supporting each block.
On top of that, an automaton measuring the pressure on the stern of the ships spoke to “Musashi”.
“Draining the water from the stern reservoir blocks to remove the weight! Over!!”
Once they had permission for that, clouds wrapped around each of the Musashi’s ships. When the water drained from the stern contacted the cold air and the air currents rising from the Magdeburg battlefield, it instantly created flowing clouds.
The Musashi looked like eight pillars standing atop the clouds, but Suzu smiled.
She breathed in.
Every automaton on the bridge responded and “Musashi” waved her hand.
“Continue exchanging information with individualized control of each ship. As soon as we gather and collect the vice president’s group and the chancellor’s group, we will leave this airspace! Over.”
Two gazes viewed the eight pillars standing in the sky and the expanse of clouds supporting them. They belonged to the Palais-Cardinal which had lowered to the surface and Anne who stood on its shoulder.
“Wow. Do you see that, Luynes? The temple of the gods is descending from the sky.”
“That is an image of Greek mythology commonly painted during the Renaissance, isn’t it? The composition and structure is similar, but I have determined it is a coincidence, milady.”
“You’re always so realistic, Luynes.”
“I apologize, but we are still on the battlefield.”
“That’s true,” agreed Anne.
The three transport ships floated overhead and the European one slowly turned northward in order to face west where Hexagone Française was.
However, the Far Eastern ship had yet to move.
“Musashi’s chancellor hasn’t shown up yet, has he?”
“It seems one of his traveling companions has already arrived at the city’s wall, so I have determined he is currently passing through the battle between Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R.”
“Their 1st special duty officer is a ninja, right? He should be good at that.”
Once she said that, a familiar face appeared over the edge of the central transport ship’s deck as all three of them slowly ascended. It was Musashi’s vice president.
She bowed and waved as two diplomatic ships descended from the Musashi as bodyguards. The Musashi was generally unarmed, but these had thick decorated armor.
They likely intended to return to the Musashi while protected by those ships.
…They’re a lively group, but this is goodbye.
However, Magdeburg was still a combat zone.
Anne had heard that Narimasa’s lightly-equipped unit was fighting by the western wall and that Katsuie’s group was fighting on the flooded city’s rooftops to the east.
However, the battle was already over and their destinations were in sight.
After retreating, Guericke and the others would likely work to restore Magdeburg since it escaped with only a flood.
“And Musashi will continue on to Qing-Takeda. Everyone will go where they need to go. I wonder if Matsunaga is watching this commotion from inside the Shigisan?”
“Do you think Lord Suleiman is with him?”
“Who knows.” Anne sighed. “At any rate, this completes the history recreation of the Sack of Magdeburg and starts M.H.R.R. toward their defeat in the Thirty Years’ War,” she said. “We managed to advance the age once more.”
As soon as she finished speaking, the Palais-Cardinal fell to one knee.
Anne felt a chill.
It was a lot like the chill she had felt before. It had felt like she was holding it in check, but…
Dragon Dog: “Milady!!”
ANA: “Don’t worry. I haven’t vanished yet. If I’m feeling cold, it’s because I’m still warm.”
She was glad her kneeling position allowed her to look down at the city.
ANA: “It looks like I’m waiting for my brother to show up.”
Dragon Dog: “I will contact the Musashi’s gunner shrine maiden up above! She can break through the jamming and connect a divine transmission to Hexagone Française!”
ANA: “No need, Luynes. If we did that, it would set my brother up for failure.”
Dragon Dog: “For failure?”
“Yes,” she replied.
ANA: “He wouldn’t make it in time.”
I can tell.
ANA: “These are the people continuing on to the age I advanced, so show me what they are doing.”
Dragon Dog: “Milady, I have one piece of advice.”
ANA: “What is it?”
Dragon Dog: “Testament. Just before you pass away, primary control of this body will be returned to me.”
ANA: “Now that you mention it, that’s right. My superior setting can only be removed when I am in a critical state.”
Luynes continued from there.
Dragon Dog: “So when that happens, please only blame me for whatever action I take.”
Anne knew Luynes would try to go to her brother.
ANA: “Thank you.”
Dragon Dog: “You should not thank a maid for her disobedience.”
“That’s not it,” said Anne.
ANA: “Historically, Lady Luynes was Anne of Austria’s eternal friend.”
Dragon Dog: “Eternal is such a perfect way of putting it.”
ANA: “Yes, and it suits you.”
With her hips still lowered, Anne took a breath. She closed her eyes and the surrounding sound reached her auditory devices. From her surroundings, she heard the battlefield noises and countless shouts, but from the overhead transport ships, she heard the words of those waiting for their classmates as they tried to soften the harsh atmosphere.
Yes, she thought. No one is watching me right now except for Luynes.
…This may be a first.
I’ve never been anywhere so calm.
She spoke some quiet words.
She closed her eyes on the battlefield below the pillars floating in the sky.
“Did I fulfill my role?”
Mitotsudaira was riding something that swayed gently.
It was a wave.
It was a faint rocking motion that gently bent her body and enveloped her breathing and pulse. She just about let herself fully sink into that wave, but…
An old memory returned to her as she dozed.
It was from a long time ago, before she had even gone to Musashi.
One day, she had left on a “trip”.
She had wanted to visit the candy house her mother told her stories of, but her parents would always exchange a glance and tell her she could not. That was why she had headed into the forest alone.
Now, she knew that forest was nowhere near her mother’s forest. Her mother and father had likely moved far away to hide the fact that her mother was the Reine des Garous.
It had been a smaller, thinner forest than her mother’s, but it had still been deep enough for a child to get lost in. The first hour had been fun, but…
…All of the animals ran away from me.
In the picture books she had read, the forest animals had all been so kind and had helped people who were lost.
As the sun began to set, she had sat below a big tree and cried.
She had known no one was coming to help her.
After all, all of the people near their mansion – even the ones her own age – kept their distance when she tried to play with them.
She was from a Loup-Garou family. She doubted the people had known her mother was the Reine des Garous, but…
…Being from a man-eating family was enough to be feared.
When she had entered the forest, she had assumed the animals would help her, even if the people would not.
But they had not.
She had not told anyone about her “trip” because she had been afraid they would stop her.
She had been afraid they would tell her the candy house was not there.
And in the end, nothing had approached her or come to help her.
She had eventually worn herself out crying, given up, curled up on the ground below the tree, and gone to sleep. The next thing she had known, she was riding a wave.
That wave had been her mother’s back.
She remembered the surprise when she had woken, but she also remembered the stars and moonlight between the branches overhead and she remembered the chill and stillness of the night.
She also remembered what she had said.
“Mamma, you’re amazing…”
Had she thought her mother had brought her to see that sight? Or had she been thankful her mother had found her so easily? She still was not sure.
But she did know what her mother had said while adjusting her position on her back.
“You can visit the candy house once you grow up, okay? As a child, you’ll get cavities.”
“I won’t get any if I grow up?”
“Testament. You will not.”
“But,” her young self had asked. “I can’t grow up if I don’t eat people, can I? That’s what everyone says.”
“Do you not want to eat people?”
She had nodded and her mother had laughed.
“Don’t worry. It isn’t when they eat someone that a Loup-Garou grows up.”
“Then when is it?”
“Testament. It is when they decide they don’t want to eat that person.”
She had tilted her head and wondered if that time would come for her and if she would find someone like that.
She remembered the still darkness, the moon, and the stars of that day, and they all remained in the depths of her memory.
She opened her eyes.
This time, she did not find a still night.
There were clouds in the sky that shook with a mixture of shellfire, clashing metal, cries of anger, and shouting.
But she did find the chilly night air and her mother’s back.
Mitotsudaira was positioned between her mother’s back and her mother’s hair that enveloped her. Her mother looked over her shoulder to see her.
The woman stood on a hill bordering the forest and they overlooked the plain and city that made up the battlefield. Below the hill, several gods of war and countless mobile shells were crossing paths to take up their positions. She looked to the city by the river and found its gate and wall were broken, it was widely flooded, and it had sparks and scarlet flames rising from quite a few places.
“The Musashi is here?”
Her mother stopped moving and she seemed to be asking for confirmation. The woman removed the arms supporting the back of her knees and her butt, so she stood on the ground herself.
The firmness of the ground below her feet and the leaving warmth of her mother in front of her brought back an awareness of her own body.
The slight warmth of waking filled her body, but she could gather her strength if she needed. Most likely, Mary had healed her as she slept. The scent of medicinal plants coming from different parts of her body was enough to confirm it. And…
“Oh? Why am I wearing my usual clothes?”
She looked to her mother who faced her with a smile and a hand on her cheek.
“D-don’t tell me!”
“Heh heh. We all had a clothes-changing party together.”
She noticed her mother was wearing the combat dress based on the Hexagone Française uniform that she had worn in IZUMO.
“But I had the gentlemen leave, so don’t worry. And Nate, you still get so ticklish when I change you that you curl up. You haven’t changed at all.”
“W-wait, mother! That’s a physical leak of private information!”
“What are you talking about? Now that it’s been shared, it isn’t private information anymore.”
“Y-you are the worst! That convenient logic is the worst!!”
“Calm down.” Her mother took a short breath. “Now, then. The situation has changed quite a bit.”
The Reine des Garous recalled the information in the letter a night bird had brought her a while ago. The letter had included certification of its veracity.
…Anne has given a few instructions after negotiating with Musashi.
One of those instructions was most important.
“Hexagone Française has agreed to a ceasefire with Musashi and…Louis Exiv and Mouri Terumoto will seek a friendly relationship with Musashi.”
She indicated the battle behind her.
“This situation is the proof of that.”
“You mean it isn’t just an agreement? It’s a pseudo-alliance proven by their actions? And the friendly relationship isn’t with Hexagone Française but with its chancellor and student council president?”
The Reine des Garous smiled at how sensitive to words her daughter had become. That may have been thanks to her life in Musashi and its complicated situation.
“These were Anne’s instructions, so Musashi is going to be friendly to our chancellor and student council president even if I have to force it.”
The Reine des Garous realized one thing that meant.
…Anne may have been worried about us.
Although perhaps I’m being selfish and imagining it, she thought while saying more to her daughter.
“Cooperate with the future that Anne has left with Hexagone Française, Nate. Friendship between Musashi and Hexagone Française’s rulers is what she wanted.”
“You have yet to prove yourself.”
“Testament.” The Reine des Garous nodded. “Musashi and Hexagone Française are to be equals. For that to be the case, Musashi must have someone as powerful as me. …Of course, what is expected of a vice chancellor like me is different from what is expected of a 5th special duty officer like you.”
“What do you want to be as the one who serves by her king’s side?”
Her daughter gave a clear reaction to that question: she stopped moving.
She did not squirm, flee, or step back.
She looked her mother straight in the eye.
Good, thought the Reine des Garous.
I’m so glad I have a daughter who doesn’t run away from me.
She spread her legs a bit and looked her opponent right back in the eye.
“I will give you one minute. Come at me with everything you have, Nate. And if I cannot see anything there and you are only an inferior copy of me…”
“You will slam me against the ground, rob me of all defiance, and take me back to Hexagone Française?”
“Testament. Someone less useful than me will not be of any use to Hexagone Française and Musashi in the future. After all, having me would be enough. So if that happens…”
She strengthened her gaze. Instead of just looking, she stared down her daughter.
“Yes. I will remove you from that place where no one needs you and I will take you back home.”
After accepting her mother’s words, Mitotsudaira started by breathing in.
…She is my enemy.
This woman was family, but also an enemy. After all…
…She is trying to take everything from me.
If she lost to her mother, she would lose more than just her social status and home. She would lose her will and her pride and her entire being would be torn down by the fact that there was something she could not stand up to. The more she resisted, the stronger the power restraining her would grow, so…
“Are you saying it is possible this could lead to my death?”
“If you are stubborn enough, then I may respond accordingly.”
She would not be allowed to keep any hint of resistance.
“You are asking for absolute obedience, aren’t you?”
“Heh heh. That is exactly what a parent wants from a child who has yet to grow up but tries to act like an adult. So Nate, if you want to claim that isn’t what you are, then show me what you have gained.”
She had a single task.
“Prove that you are my equal.”
She faced her mother from a distance of five meters.
There was currently a battlefield on the earth and eight ship pillars in the sky.
All of that decorated the stage as she breathed in the night air once more.
It was chilly.
That was now the only part of the past unchanged. Not even her mother’s back remained, but…
“I may not have fully grown up yet, but I will show you what I have gained.”
With those words, both of them produced instantaneous motion.
The battle between wolves began atop the hill where no one was watching.
The hill bordered the forest, but it was mostly the hard earth of a wasteland. The hilltop was entirely flat and there was nothing to hide behind.
In this location, everything would be decided by their speed, strength, and skill at positioning themselves.
The battle tilted hard in one direction as soon as it began.
The first thing they did was launch themselves toward each other.
They made high-speed jumps.
Mitotsudaira had the greater initial speed.
She approached with two instantaneous dashes as if snapping her body forward. She kept her body low, swung herself to the left as a feint, and then jumped toward her opponent’s left side.
Her mother was right-handed, so she would go to her left. She was right-handed as well, but she would have the upper hand as the initiator. She thrust her left elbow forward and sent her right hand’s nails racing along above it.
The two of them were going to collide, so the counter effect would give her attack more power. She had no complaints with this as a first move.
However, her mother vanished at the instant of impact.
No, she was there, but she was two meters ahead.
…She sent herself backwards!?
The woman had jumped backwards. It was only a distance of two meters, but it threw off the timing of Mitotsudaira’s attack and removed her from Mitotsudaira’s focused gaze. She might as well have jumped outside of Mitotsudaira’s perception.
“Do you remember when I jumped into the spring?”
She did. Her mother had jumped in from above, but she had entered the water without any kind of splash.
Her mother had done so by shifting her weight and swinging her entire body. She understood that now that she could do the same thing, even if only at a more basic level.
However, she could now plainly see the overwhelming difference between herself and her mother.
The woman’s breasts were completely different. Not to mention how they swayed.
“M-mother! Can you at least wear a bra!? That’s criminal!”
“But they make my shoulders all stiff.”
Her mother immediately launched an attack.
She attacked with her right arm while extending her body to fill the two meter gap between them.
Mitotsudaira snapped her arms downward in order to dodge.
She sank down, but her mother leaned her outstretched body forward to lower herself as well.
…She really knows how to ad-lib!”
Mitotsudaira exhaled and got down on her hands and knees.
Immediately afterwards, the wind of her mother’s passing nails brushed across the top of her head.
Her mother had just finished swinging her right arm with her body stretched forward, but Mitotsudaira had lowered her hips into a crawling pose and could not attack.
That was why Mitotsudaira snapped her ankle forward.
She kicked forward on the ground with just her toes to make a short leap backwards.
She strongly thrust her hips backwards to keep her balance and pulled back on her entire body for a singular purpose.
She fell back.
She instantly created a gap of one meter, securing her safety in the process.
…Now I attack!
As soon as she thought that, the color silver circled around in front of her.
She was seeing the color of her mother’s hair and back.
Her mother had instantly filled the gap and taken action before Mitotsudaira could.
Her mother’s attacks did not stop.
After Mitotsudaira had leaped backwards, her mother had pulled back her right arm and performed a spin while facing backwards. Her open left hand sent out a backhand blow using the sharp nails.
Her mother snapped her feet toward Mitotsudaira while rotating. The tall woman leaped toward her as if turning to face her. And all the while, she was spinning very quickly.
Also, her left backhand flew towards Mitotsudaira.
Meanwhile, Mitotsudaira’s legs were outstretched from her short dash backwards. Her hips were pulled back, her lowered body was bent forward, and her arms were lowered.
With all of her limbs outstretched, she could not gain the flexibility she needed to snap her body in one direction or another.
This was what it meant to be inexperienced. She had not prepared herself to make her snapping motions in quick succession.
She made a split-second decision.
She used her lowered left arm to clutch the back of her left thigh which was stretched forward.
She used all of her strength to swing up her bent body.
Her backwards-swinging head pulled back on her back muscles and her left hand pulled her left leg backwards.
Lifting her body up from the left side caused her to rotate to the right.
This made her roll to the right in midair.
It was a compact side-flip that placed her face-down to the ground, but she had indeed shifted one spot to the right.
Her mother’s nails pierced straight through the spot she had vacated.
The blow looked powerful enough to tear through both flesh and bone.
Wind blew, her mother landed from her high-speed spin, and the woman turned left to face Mitotsudaira who had landed in a face-down position.
They were very close together.
Her mother’s left hand was thrust over Mitotsudaira’s head and Mitotsudaira snapped her bent elbows to get up.
…Here I go!
Given their positions, her mother had the advantage here, but she could jab her left elbow into her mother’s left side as she stood up.
Her mother could not intercept her because the woman’s left arm was still held out over her head.
Her mother started to pull back her body, but it was too late.
Mitotsudaira began to snap her body up as if lifting her head so she could swing her left elbow around.
But she could not stand.
Something sat on her hair as if it had grabbed her head.
It was her mother’s left hand.
The hand held out over her head had spread its fingers and grabbed the back of her head.
As she tried to move, Mitotsudaira realized what had happened.
When her mother had pulled back for just an instant earlier, she had not been trying to back away.
…She was positioning her outstretched hand directly over my head!?
She also realized that her mother’s arm contained no strength whatsoever as it held the back of her head.
The trick to a Loup-Garou’s acceleration was not to use any unnecessary strength. Instead…
…You instantly bend your body and store your strength.
Her mother’s outstretched arm was bending as it held down her rising head.
It was becoming more flexible.
The Reine des Garous held her daughter’s head as if stroking it.
Her fingers were spread at the end of her outstretched left arm. Normally, she could not bend her arm in this position and therefore could not gain the initial speed needed for an attack.
“Nate, you need to watch out before lifting your head.”
The motion of her daughter getting up had pushed her left arm up.
Her arm bent and built up the speed she needed.
She did it all using her daughter’s actions, so she smiled with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“It’s too bad, Nate.”
She immediately snapped her left elbow downward with all of her strength. She lowered it straight down.
“When you were little, you had a habit of curling up face-down and crying like a small animal. You were doing that when I found you lost in the forest that one time. In other words, whenever something unpleasant happens…”
She did it all at once.
“You hide the outside world from yourself to feel safe.”
The Reine des Garous slammed her daughter’s face straight down toward the dimly-lit ground.
Mitotsudaira felt a sense of resignation in the instant she was slammed toward the ground.
Her enemy was simply too skilled. The woman had used the hand from her failed attack to hold down her head, and…
…She used my movement to build up her strength!
The fact that it was all played by ear was the biggest shock of all. Her mother had completely outdone her.
Not only that, but she could not match her mother’s maneuverability any more than her cleverness.
Mitotsudaira used a Loup-Garou’s acceleration for her movement and attacks, but her mother could decide in a split-second to use it for her movement, attacks, or defense. And instead of using pure acceleration, she would create more complex movements or reversals.
That was the difference created by experience and training.
To her mother, it had to look like a child playfully using it for short movements and attacks, but as the parent, she did not hold back.
As Mitotsudaira’s mother had said, she would lie face-down whenever she cried or felt lonely.
She also realized something else about that position curled up on the ground.
…It’s the same position as when my mother carries me on her back.
In that case, she thought.
In her memory of waking up that one time, she had been on her mother’s back, but what about now that she had left her parents and gone to Musashi?
Was she the same as when she had gotten lost in the forest?
…Have I never once lifted my head?
As soon as she asked herself that, the answer reached her.
I have, she thought as she began to move.
The Reine des Garous noticed movement in her left hand.
She had tried to slam her daughter’s head down with that hand, but the nails of a hand shot up toward it from the right.
This was the left hand her daughter had tried to send into her left side earlier. The hand snapped up and accelerated.
As soon as she realized the girl had grabbed her wrist, the Reine des Garous was pulled by her own left hand.
“!?” She rotated around in midair.
She swallowed her slight surprise and kicked off the ground to accelerate her body’s rotation.
Her daughter had used the rotation to escape being slammed to the ground.
She stopped herself just before hitting the ground and used the reactionary force to snap her entire body to the left.
The Reine des Garous landed and her daughter got up. The mother caught her breath and the daughter inhaled deeply.
The Reine des Garous once more sent a powerful look toward her daughter.
Mitotsudaira filled her body with air to calm herself.
…I have more than what I gained from my mother.
She had just used one of those things. It was technique to throw an unbalanced opponent that Naomasa had taught her in England.
I probably have something, she told herself.
She was not sure how to put it, but a lot had happened since she had arrived at Musashi.
A lot of it had been worthless and she was aware she had been the victim a lot of the time, but one thing was for certain.
“I…will not give up.”
“I can’t recommend that line of thinking. When you are hopelessly outmatched, sometimes death is the only possible outcome.”
“But, mother. What if the friendship between Hexagone Française and Musashi were to break down and my king and the others became your enemy. What would you do then?”
“Well.” Her mother placed a hand on her cheek. “Couldn’t I just go try to eat him again?”
That settled it. She definitely had something that she had not in the past.
She had something to protect.
So she shook her body up and down just once and relaxed her limbs. She made sure she could move any part of her body in a snapping leap at a moment’s notice.
“It is a knight’s duty to protect her king and queen.”
“That is my duty as well, you know?”
Mitotsudaira nodded and took a step forward.
As she raised her head again, she felt she was different than in the past.
She snapped her body and began the fight anew.
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