Horizon:Volume 3 Chapter 13
Chapter 13: Great King of the Location
What is all alone
Even when people gather?
Point Allocation (Individual)
“Would you call this easy to mess up, difficult, or simple, ‘Musashi’-san?”
Sakai spoke from a bench on the deck at the bow of Okutama, but “Musashi” only tilted her head next to him. She placed some pyrethrum behind him to keep mosquitos away before speaking.
“Sakai-sama, what is your opinion? I believe you know Chancellor Yoshitsune of Qing-Takeda. Over.”
“Judge. That’s right. We had some non-combat negotiations while I was dealing with that idiot Innocentius. She wasn’t supposed to attack from the east during my generation, so I said I’d cry if she did. On the other hand, Ii and Sakakibara created a strong trade connection and opened a path to the Houjou region.” He rested his head on his hand. “Then I was sent to the Edo region before coming to Musashi. Kantou is their land, remember? So I dealt with them a fair amount. When their mobile city came by, we would open a market for trade and a 100 yen bazaar.”
“Is she a pacifist? Over.”
“No, she does whatever she feels like. It’s all based on the continuing existence of her and those around her. When you live for centuries, you learn what you can and can’t do. With that and a clear line between control and subordination, the way you think changes. ‘Musashi’-san, how old are you this year? Thirty?”
“Judge. My thought circuits are cleaned daily, so I am zero years old. Over.”
“Oh, dear. And I always thought you were older than me.”
“Are you implying that you are less than thirty, Sakai-sama? Now let us get back to Yoshitsune-sama. Over.”
The concern in “Musashi’s” voice caused Sakai to nod.
“Judge. Her basis for ethics and for judging the value of life is different from other people. During the centuries, she has seen the advantages and disadvantages of people’s lives and deaths. When her brother Yoritomo inherited the name of Sanetomo three generations later, she forcibly carried out Sanetomo’s assassination that was on the verge of being settled with an interpretation. It was quite gruesome.” He shook his head with a bitter smile. “No, she’d get mad if I said it that way. But that is one way to live. No matter who dies and no matter what others say, as long as you and those around you continue on, it does not matter. As long as you rule in the end, nothing else matters. And even if you are not…”
He exhaled some smoke and reached for the sake cup he had been drinking from.
“As a member of the long-lived race’s direct line, others will always die before she does. That is why it does not matter what others do. This is the difference between a small nation and a large nation, but it is also the difference between a human and the long-lived race. That is why she is a bit different. She’s probably laughing and enjoying herself over at IZUMO, but I suspect she is actually quite calm. It makes an old man like me want to have her predict my future based on my personality. She probably keeps all the fun stuff with her.”
“I have determined that you seem to like her quite a bit. Over.”
“Are you jealous, ‘Musashi’-san?”
“An automaton cannot experience jealousy. Did you hit your head? Over.”
“I’m not sure.” Sakai tilted his head. “But Yoshitsune is sure to say some crazy things, so Masazumi-kun needs to be on her toes.”
With her sake bottle raised in one hand, Yoshitsune spoke from the pillar at the entrance.
“Satou Brothers, it isn’t good to worrying too much about what others are doing. …Listen up, all of you. The Testament Union? P.A. Oda? The fall of the Takeda clan? Who cares? Our strength will fall to just Qing? So what?”
She laughed and then spoke in her heart.
…Those are the words of those with short lives.
“You short-lived fools.”
She licked the mouth of the bottle and took a bit of sake into the side of her mouth. The burning feeling of something striking the mucous membrane of her cheek felt good. The flavor soaking into the roots of her teeth was exceptional.
“What is a nation and what is a person? To me, they’re just worthless frameworks. Nations fall and people disappear. That’s just the way of the world.”
As Musashi’s vice president began, Yoshitsune assumed the girl was speaking a question she had heard countless times. And her assumption was correct.
“Why are you ruling the nation of Qing-Takeda?”
“Hah,” she laughed. “Qing-Takeda? What are you talking about? That was a completely different nation not long ago. Well, I left the Ming to the Satou Brothers because the horse-riding people suited me better. A people that lives within nature and stays on the move even while giving birth will not fall and is very rarely destroyed. Musashi is in a similar state right now. That’s why we’re so compatible.”
“Nations may fall, but another nation will rise up. Short-lived fools who can only belong to one or two nations during their entire life can never seem to accept that fact. Nations will fall. As long as you understand that, you can live a positive, stress-free life without any pointless conflict or anger.”
“Then why do you even have a nation?”
…Oh, so she’s gone this far.
The girl’s demanding tone was something Yoshitsune had not heard recently. She looked down on it as the anger of the short-lived or jealousy towards the long-lived, but she did not try to reject it or stop it.
“How should I know?” she declared with her standard irresponsibility. “Listen. I have power and I know what to do both based on my knowledge and experience. Also, it’s a pain having to do everything yourself, so I started having people do things for me. And the next thing I knew, here I was. That’s all I can say, little girl. If I had to put it to words…”
She felt it went without saying, but she said it anyway.
“I myself am a nation.”
“As long as I live, an empire will form around me and continue to exist. But who cares about the form of that nation? Who cares about the life of the people? To me, all short-lived things will eventually die. But as long as I remain, a new nation will form to replace the one that disappears. So…”
“My mere existence brings about a nation, so the people of my nation should go die for my sake. They should go die to make me happy. If they do, their lives will have at least brought happiness to all the people of the empire I created. …Do you have a problem with that?”
Musashi’s vice president’s expression vanished.
Oh, thought Yoshitsune as a sharp look turned her way.
“In other words, you are saying people’s lives are worth less than a nation.”
What an interesting young girl, she thought upon hearing that. She continues asking questions and does not give in to fear.
…It’s almost like she views me as a teacher and is trying to learn as much as she can.
That was not a bad choice. No one had tried to learn this much about her recently. They all either bowed down to her or argued as enemies using the reasoning of the short-lived. And so she took a gulp of sake and spoke.
“Ask me anything.”
“In that case, there is something I would like to ask.”
And the girl asked it.
“How much is your life worth?”
An interesting question, thought Yoshitsune. The value of my life, hm?
As she asked herself the question, she formed a mental smile.
She could see the Satou Brothers opening their eyes wide, but they always gave amusing reactions despite being long-lived. She felt fierce warriors should be calmer.
“Kah kah. Young girl, what is your name?”
Yoshitsune almost burst out laughing.
…What kind of fool only gives her given name when asked for her name!?
She saw the black-winged girl’s shoulders tremble, so she assumed that girl was thinking the same thing.
“Let me ask one thing first, Masazumi. Did you give no thought to the possibility that I would kill you here? Surely you were not thinking that I am generous or that doing so would not be kingly.”
“Of course the possibility occurred to me,” casually replied Musashi’s vice president. “In an emergency, the 4th special duty officer here will do something. That is what allows me to be here without worry. I have no intention of leaving my safety in your hands.”
“That is my ‘nation’.”
…An excellent answer.
Yoshitsune began to drink some more sake.
But she decided talking would be more fun. She did not move her gaze from Masazumi.
“Are you listening?”
“Go right ahead.”
“You are the same kind of person as the Satomi boy or the impertinent Houjou girl over there. You make sure to protect yourself. That is the greatest reason why the short-lived wish for a nation. Satou Brothers, that is why Masazumi here is not a bad person. She had a good upbringing.”
Yoshitsune felt the corner of her mouth rising.
…Good. This is going well.
She took in a breath and the night air felt cold. Or perhaps it was just her body heating up. It did not matter either way. All that mattered was that someone willing to oppose her stood before her.
She wondered when she had last had a true fight to the death. A battle in which she fought as nothing but herself and put her very existence on the line.
It had been a long time ago.
While protected by the history recreation, the Minamoto clan had won the Genpei War and conflict had broken out between the factions led by her brother, Minamoto Yoritomo, and herself, Minamoto Yoshitsune.
The troops of the elder brother, Yoritomo, had ultimately cornered the younger brother, Yoshitsune, who had a weaker political foundation.
…But there were many theories as to whether he survived or died.
Via multiple interpretations, Yoshitsune had cross over to the continent and started the Yuan Dynasty.
“In the process of starting the Yuan, the Satou Brothers here had shamelessly lived on and Benkei had been repaired, so I returned here to retrieve them. When I did, I assassinated my brother who had inherited the name Sanetomo.”
Just as she finished speaking and let out a breath, the Satou Brothers suddenly cried out in unison.
“Don’t worry about it. Ha ha. This always happens when talking about the past.
Even as she laughed, she felt something falling down her cheeks.
They were tears.
Ahh, she thought. How nostalgic.
That had all been about four or five hundred years before.
Thinking back on it, it had been a wonderful age of deadly conflict. That time when one’s life was on the line every day, hour, and minute was maddeningly nostalgic now.
Her long life meant that someone would rely on her even if she hid her name or form and they would begin to protect her once the nation would disappear if she was lost.
Fleeing was useless, so she could only face it.
…But once I create my empire, I have no enemies.
And so she spoke.
“Such a ridiculous issue.”
She took in a breath and looked up at the sky. The fleets of Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. were visible in all directions. And M.H.R.R. was supported by P.A. Oda. However…
“Honestly… The Testament Union? P.A. Oda? What do they matter? The pope-chancellor who leads the Testament Union will be someone else in less than fifty years. And Oda will ultimately be replaced by Hashiba and then your Matsudaira clan will take over after that. It will all come back to the surname Ariadust.”
“Satou Brothers, don’t show them any pity. After all, you aren’t pure long-lived like me, so you’ll die long before me as well. Four hundred years ago, I cut down the brother who I shared the same feelings with. So…”
“To me, everything will disappear and nothing can remain with me. That means I will be the final ruler of this world of warring states. But even if I am the only one to survive, my empire will remain with me.”
“Then your life is worth…”
“No more or less than yours, Masazumi.”
She raised the bottle and lightly tapped her head.
“What is the difference between that contained in my life and that contained in yours? It is true I have knowledge and experience, but from an individual standpoint, I cannot use those things any better than someone else. And just like with my brother, I will die when the time comes for me to die.
“However, I do not want that. I am my empire, but as an individual, I am merely a container for a life, just like my imperial subjects. My subjects should die for my empire’s sake, but I cannot die for my empire’s sake. After all, a lot of lives just like mine would be left out in the cold.”
She pulled up a nearby seat and sat.
“Of course, that is just my own conceit. If I die and my empire disappears, those subjects would simply move to some other nation. But I selfishly do not wish for that to happen. By having someone so long-lived as their ruler, my subjects can convince themselves that their nation will not disappear. …I cannot rely on anyone, but letting them think that to be the case is the one good deed I can do for others.”
Masazumi sat on the edge of the bench and faced Yoshitsune at an angle.
…This is a difficult opponent.
Yoshitsune was the chancellor and student council president of Qing-Takeda.
…But she is on an entirely different level.
This was not a case of being more or less powerful. She took it to a different dimension altogether.
She was different from Fairy Queen Elizabeth or Pope-Chancellor Innocentius who Masazumi had negotiated with before. In fact, all three of them had been different from each other.
…But with Yoshitsune, it feels like her power, subjects, and everything else are not something she took. Instead, they came to her.
There had to have been political conflicts.
In accordance with the Testament descriptions, Innocentius had gained his position with a foundation of economic power. Elizabeth had secured her position through her conflicts with the two Marys.
“You did not take from others. Everything you have came from within. Is that what you are saying?”
“That is because I have lived for so very long.” Yoshitsune did not deny it. “The life span of a pure member of the long-lived race varies from individual to individual, but it usually lasts for thousands of years. To increase our odds of survival, we grow at the same rate as a human for the first dozen or so years of our lives, but it slows down considerably afterwards. When you live for this long, you make plenty of enemies and plenty of allies. You see people switch from one side to the other and you see the descendants of fallen nations making a comeback. …It all starts to look like it is repeating.”
“Are you interested in the theory of reincarnation from Buddhism…no, from the Dunhi religion?”
“Only the short-lived feel like they understand something based on a theory. When you live as long as I do, you can actually observe it all yourself.”
Yoshitsune used her feet to draw the coast of Kantou on the sandy ground.
“The trend of Qing…no, of the continent is for the ruling people to alternate between the people who rule the river mouth and the horse-riding people who come and go in the fields. Those who rule the river mouth will quickly prosper due to their productive and economic power, but they will destroy themselves in a century due to internal decay and widespread strain to their politics and economics.”
Masazumi understood this. She had learned about it in her politics classes, so she finished for Yoshitsune.
“And then they are crushed by an alliance of the horse-riding people who have united in order to take away their nation?”
“Stop that. Let the elderly speak.” Yoshitsune smiled bitterly. “But that’s basically it. Then the horse-riding people simply improve upon the previous nation’s political structure as they are poor at politics and economics. Their nation quickly expands due to their unique bloodline politics and mobility. …But in another century, they have scattered so far that the different parts of the nation are isolated and the nation crumbles. In the end, the river mouth people prosper and start a new nation from their river mouth capital.
“Once you understand this pattern, the fall of nations becomes an expected turn of events. And you only need to study the Testament descriptions to understand the pattern. Nothing is more meaningless than getting so worked up over the prosperity of nations.”
…That is because you can act like taking ‘a century’ to prosper is nothing.
She had once asked her father what units the provisional committee used for its political activities. He had said, “In a three month unit called a cour. Remember that. Lately, even continuing for four cours is a big deal.” Compared to that, speaking in centuries was simply too large a scale.
A century was three generations.
“At any rate,” began Masazumi. “Lady Yoshitsune, do you desire the Far East?”
Masazumi saw an immediate answer to her question.
Yoshitsune smiled thinly. She gave neither a denial nor an affirmation, but she did give an answer.
“It depends on how I feel,” she said. “World conquest is more in line with what those Satou Brothers like. Why even talk about the future? Right this very moment, no one but the emperor has as long a lifespan or as much power as me, so if a crisis were to fall over the entire world, I would be the first choice for a representative. After all, the emperor must stay uninvolved with the world.”
“If a crisis were to fall over the entire world? Like what?”
“Well…” Yoshitsune folded her arms and nodded. “Like if aliens attacked. If earth’s representative is chosen by age, it’d be me.”
Naruze wrote something on a Magie Figur and passed it to Masazumi.
“Is she an idiot?” it said.
“Naruze, that Magie Figur has no backing so they can read it through the back.”
“I don’t mind. It’s just more nonsense from someone who will die before me,” said Yoshitsune. “Now, about the Battle of Mikatagahara. That would just bring the deaths of people who will die before me regardless. It doesn’t interest me in the slightest. …But it’s a battle we win, so my people would rejoice. You can go through with it, Satou Brothers.”
In other words…
“If the Battle of Mikatagahara will make the people of Qing-Takeda rejoice, you can go all out against Matsudaira.”
…This is bad.
Yotshitsune’s whim made Masazumi gulp.
She wanted to keep the conversation away from there if she could.
But Yoshitsune took another swig of sake and continued speaking.
“Listen. The tendency of your nation means nothing to me. It’s just a temporary issue. So even if you bow down or claim this is unfair, it won’t matter. In a century, all of you will be gone and a different nation will have replaced yours. Trying to move me emotionally is meaningless here.”
“Then you are going through with the Battle of Mikatagahara and cornering Matsudaira all on a whim?”
“That’s how it goes in the Testament descriptions, right? Shingen will die of illness, but that just means I’ll retire from the Takeda side. That will start the age of Qing instead. I don’t see any problem there.” She paused for a moment. “I know. I make my decisions on a whim, so I’ll give you a single chance.”
“If you can make me feel something, be it interest or anger or anything else, I will think about doing something else with the Battle of Mikatagahara. The world is always changing before my eyes. If one of you can leave an impression on me amid all that, I will see some slight value in you. How about that? Can you do it?” she asked. “If not, we can enjoy how ‘bad’ we both are in the Battle of Mikatagahara. And just like Satomi and Houjou, I will expect something of you. Can you do it?”
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