Horizon:Volume 3 Chapter 16
Chapter 16: One who Desires a Way Forward
Not being able to decide
What to do
Is a sign of having leeway
Point Allocation (Freedom)
Just as the meeting at the IZUMO restaurant had reached a mutual consensus and arrived at what to actually do, everyone was discussing those same issues at the open-air cafeteria on the Musashi.
The central topics were the enemies surrounding the Musashi and how they would break free of them.
And among those who were discussing the information being sent by Masazumi, the color gold suddenly swayed.
It was Mary.
She sat in a chair Asama and the others had brought for her and she tilted her head toward Tenzou.
“Um, Master Tenzou? This seems to have grown complicated, but what are the issues in finding a route for the Musashi?”
“Well,” said Tenzou to the girl sitting next to him.
He opened a sign frame in front of himself to show Mary.
It was not displaying anything yet, but she leaned in to look and fit perfectly along his right arm. Rather than softness, he most felt the pressure and heat of the English uniform pushing at his arm.
…H-how inappropriate! Externally, I can only call this inappropriate! But internally, I must ask for more!
Having such a harsh gap between inside and out is not a good thing, he thought. But since this is all inside, I suppose it doesn’t matter.
He then realized he needed to give an explanation and opened a map on the sign frame.
“W-w-w-w-w-w-well, you see, th-th-th-th-this is the areola-…I mean, the area around I-I-IZUMO.”
He felt humiliated as the girls and even Ohiroshiki gave him looks that all but called him hopeless. However, Mary was looking directly at the sign frame.
“Judge. So this is the area around IZUMO.”
…Thank goodness it got through to her.
At any rate, he took a breath, decided to order a drink, saw Mitotsudaira glaring at him, and asked for tea because it was free. But that was fine as having it brought over was valuable in and of itself.
“Anyway, the Musashi is forbidden to travel through M.H.R.R. and Hexagone Française is on the verge of attacking. Given that, where do you think the Musashi should go next, Mary-dono?”
“Return to England,” she said clearly before thinking a bit. “Or head to the northern sea and travel north. Passing over Sviet Rus waters would be going a ways out of our way, but wouldn’t it work as an alternate way to reach Kantou?”
“An excellent answer.”
Her scar bent as she smiled. He found that beautiful while he pointed at the map and zoomed in on the area north of IZUMO.
“IZUMO is near the northern coast of Hexagone Française and therefore near England. However…”
“Is there a problem with it?”
“Judge. When focusing entirely on Musashi, it is a good enough answer, but if we return to England now, we would be drawing Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R.’s Catholics to England. And if we did that…”
He hesitated, but said it.
“Even with you onboard, England would have no choice but to sink the Musashi in self-defense.”
Mary looked up in surprise.
“I’m sorry. I think I was relying on my sister without even realizing it.”
“Well, Elizabeth-dono is a reliable individual. If we did go there, I believe she would do whatever she could.”
Mary smiled at that.
“Thank you very much.”
“Think nothing of it,” replied Tenzou while thinking.
…If we did do that, Elizabeth-dono might ask the Testament Union to spare Mary-dono’s life in exchange for England sinking the Musashi.
Do I not want that to happen because I don’t want to give her up? he wondered before changing the subject.
“Um, as for traveling around Sviet Rus, that worries me on the supply line side. Sviet Rus controls the Hokuriku region, so we would be unable to resupply until we reached Ezo.”
“But can’t we use gravitational cruising more freely when travelling over the ocean? If we quickly circled north of the Far East like that, would we even need supplies?”
“I would call that a good idea, but that would be singing my own praises. I have actually already calculated out that plan. The 1st special duty officer is in charge of information, so that is part of my job.”
The others gathered behind him with impressed gasps.
When Mary noticed them, she pressed even further against him to make room. She was more or less clinging to him now, so he took in a sharp breath. But…
…I-I somehow managed to hold in that shrill gasp!
He then heard a metallic sound from Mary’s hips.
He looked down and saw the two swords of Ex. Collbrande leave their positions at her hips and hover below her chair where they moved up and down a bit.
“Isn’t it cute how they’re like dogs?”
…These divine weapons cut an aerial ship in two, so Mary-dono is simply amazing to treat them like that!
Next, the Excaliburs began to rub up against his shin.
“Oh, my,” said Mary with a quiet laugh. “It looks like they know who the head of the household is.”
“Truly a shocking revelation. Although I get the feeling feeding them will be terribly expensive. …Also, why do the rest of you look so surprised?”
With a quick “anyway”, he pointed back at the map. It displayed the coast of Hokuriku and a red ribbon line showed the course along the borders from IZUMO to Ezo.
“Along a completely straight course, it is approximately 900 kilometers. However, our course is not straight, so it is closer to 1100 kilometers.”
He then glanced around the area.
…If Toori-dono was here, he would probably say, “Not straight!? So we’re going the gay way!?”
The absence of the idiot threw everyone’s tempo off. He noticed Mitotsudaira, Asama, Adele, and the boys glancing around as well, so they were likely thinking the same thing.
“Anyway,” he said. “When the Musashi travels quickly using both gravitational cruising and inertial cruising, how fast can it move and how long can it keep it up, Naomasa-dono?”
“I already told you yesterday, so why not ignore where you heard it and show off to your wife with how much you know?”
While Mary blushed and shrank down, Tenzou felt her press even further against him and noticed even more gazes on him. He began seriously planning a way to ensure his safety if something happened, but he still continued speaking.
“U-um, if the Musashi’s gravitational cruising is used long term by also using inertial cruising, its average speed is approximately 120 knots which is 210 or so kilometers per hour. And…”
He crossed his arms and realized how hard it was to use his own words to express knowledge given by others.
“Accelerating and then switching to inertial cruising provides about ten minutes of high-speed cruising. Also, any turn in our course, the air current, the atmospheric temperature, or the cargo loaded on the ship can absorb some of the output and lower that speed. But that aside, if the Musashi is prepared for high-speed cruising and is fully loaded with fuel, its limit seems to be about twenty accelerations.”
Mary counted to twenty and then nodded.
“So if they are all used in a row, that’s two hundred minutes or a little over three hours.”
“The momentum of the inertial cruising actually rises with each use, so it will apparently be closer to four hours. That is somewhere between seven and eight hundred kilometers, but…”
The red ribbon line on the map turned blue, starting with IZUMO and moving north. However, the blue began to shake up and down at about two-thirds of the way along the 1100 kilometer line.
“The coast of northern Sviet Rus would be our limit.”
Tenzou took a breath and faced Mary once more.
“Did you suggest England as an alternative because you suspected this was the case?”
She gave a quick nod just as Ohiroshiki spoke up behind them.
“I have an idea. Qing-Takeda and the eastern nations are here for trade, so why not have them hire the Musashi as a transport ship?”
Ohiroshiki sounded like he was trying to persuade the others.
“We can escape to Kantou as a transport ship hired by Qing-Takeda or someone. We were able to fight as mercenaries at England, so it should work. If the Testament Union nations are going to mess with the Musashi, that seems like the best option to me. What do the rest of you think?”
The others nodded and formed a casual scrum.
“It’s because he sometimes has these good ideas that we can’t just throw him behind bars.”
“Tch. He’s been getting carried away lately.”
“If only there wasn’t so much of a problem with the rest of him.”
“Huh!? What kind of position do I hold with you people!? Show me a little more love! Preferably while under the age of ten!”
They all glared at him so he shut up, but a large false arm rose among them. It was Gin’s.
“That would not work. After all, the Musashi was hired by England as a mercenary force. That means you were paid to fight for that master.”
“Yes,” muttered Mitotsudaira while crossing her arms. “Both mercenaries and transport ships are paid money to either fight or carry cargo, but the Musashi decided to fight as a mercenary force when it was already an established transport and trade ship.” She frowned and looked to Gin. “So some nations might not accept our claim that we are simply transporting cargo, right?”
“Judge,” agreed Gin. “At the very least, they would insist the Musashi disarms itself and undergoes surprise cargo inspections. M.H.R.R. is the most likely to do that as they have forbidden it to travel through their land. …Also, being delayed in that way would be dangerous for the representatives of Qing-Takeda or the eastern nations who are accompanying us. After all, Qing-Takeda will be destroyed by Oda and Houjou will be destroyed by Hashiba. If they decide to hasten those parts of history while the Musashi is defenseless, we will essentially be subjected to a slaughter,” she explained. “Plus, the Musashi won the armada battle and demonstrated its military might, but that has also shown the other nations that they should be wary of the Musashi. If any of them were to suddenly attack the Musashi, they could say it is a dangerous ship and they made a preemptive strike to defend themselves and ensure their own safety. That is just how powerful the result of the armada battle was. You should keep in mind that the Musashi is no longer a powerless transport ship. The other nations can view it as a threat and as an enemy.”
“But,” said Mary. “IZUMO is supposed to be neutral, so why are Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. saying we must leave tomorrow or they will attack IZUMO as well?”
She tilted her head.
“This is supposed to be neutral land.”
It was of course Tenzou who nodded at Mary’s question.
He said “I see” and “Are you listening?” before waiting for her to nod.
She did so with a smile.
“Please, go ahead.”
“Judge. …Um, you actually have a decent understanding of the politics between the different nations, but that is probably adding to your confusion about the Musashi’s situation and position.”
This is something I learned from Masazumi-dono, he thought while manipulating the sign frame.
He had the map display IZUMO at the center.
“The Musashi’s position is a little complicated, okay?”
He zoomed in on IZUMO. Mary leaned forward to look which completely buried his arm between her breasts, so he started reciting sutras in his mind.
He was in a dangerous position because he could hear Asama discussing something with Hanami behind him.
“Um, Hanami? If someone is thinking naughty things during this serious discussion, you can ask our god for a cleanup spell and hit them with a bolt of lightning, okay? Yes, I made a lot of substitutions with the fried rice.”
If he was hit by that in the middle of this meeting, it would be a blot on the Crossunite family until its very last generation. Then again, he would be the very last generation if he died here, so that would not last long. At any rate, he somehow managed to calm himself down.
“W-well, to put it simply, ever since the incident in Mikawa, the Testament Union has had no problems with viewing the Musashi as an enemy. After all, we had a run-in with K.P.A. Italia’s pope chancellor who manages the union. Until that pope-chancellor pardons us, that situation will remain.”
“But this is supposed to be neutral…”
Mary trailed off as she hung her head and thought.
She seemed to have realized what that meant in the middle of her sentence. That’s Mary-dono for you, thought Tenzou as she turned a troubled look his way.
“Um, e-excuse me. Am I in the way? Do you need to move your arm?”
“N-n-n-n-n-no, I don’t mind at a-a-a-a-a-a-all.”
“R-really? In that case…”
She leaned even further against him and he made the mistake of extending his arm due to the tension. She was sitting with her knees together and he plunged his arm between her legs up to the wrist.
A small sign frame appeared under the left side of his hat’s brim so that Asama could not see it from behind him. It contained Hanami’s words.
“Sh-should I c-clap?”
He frantically shook his head and the sign frame vanished.
“Huh?” whispered Asama. “How strange.”
“N-nothing is strange,” insisted Hanami.
That Mouse had saved him, but his hand was still caught between Mary’s legs and he had no way to escape. Behind him, he heard swords being drawn and firearms being prepared, but he told himself they were all preparing for their training.
Mary, however, was facing his sign frame with a serious look.
“In other words, IZUMO loses its neutrality when it repairs an enemy of the Testament Union?”
“Judge. A defensive interpretation says it is repairing ships of any affiliation because it is neutral, but an offensive interpretation says it is repairing a warship despite being neutral.”
Hexagone Française was claiming the latter.
“Now that it has come to this, no political bargaining will help. They have to choose whether to protect the Musashi or abandon it.”
“And Hexagone Française will not hesitate to attack the Musashi?”
“Judge. Even if it is of questionable validity, they still have a justification for attacking when IZUMO will be caught in the crossfire. And that means we must hurry up and leave port. If we are too slow, the other nations will say we used the neutral ground of IZUMO as a shield.”
“Tomorrow, at three in the afternoon, we must immediately leave once we finish loading the fuel and other crucial items. And then we must fight back against Hexagone Française and make our way to reconciliation.”
There was a further problem as well.
“The real problem is what route to take to Kantou.”
At that point, he heard Adele speak behind him.
“Sorry about all this.”
Everyone was clearly confused by Adele’s apology and Tenzou turned around along with Mary. Mary turned toward him as she did, so his arm began even more entangled in her body and legs.
…I-I will never forget this day as long as I live!
“Um, Lady Adele? Do you need to say something?”
“No, it’s just that my family came from Hexagone Française.”
“Do not worry,” replied Tenzou. “I am sure this is a difficult situation for Hexagone Française as well.”
“Yes,” agreed Mary. “Musashi has opposed and fought K.P.A. Italia, Tres España, and England. The only major European powers of the Testament Union it has not opposed are Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R., but that means those two nations have not ‘fulfilled their role’ as much as the others.”
She glanced over at him to make sure she was right and he nodded.
She seemed hesitant, but she looked back to Adele and thought for a moment before speaking.
“Um, Hexagone Française must prepare for the Thirty Years’ War and the fight against Hashiba, so they probably hoped Musashi would keep its distance and just pass by. However, M.H.R.R. has forbidden us from passing through its airspace due to the internal conflict between Catholics and Protestants. As Master Tenzou said, the Musashi cannot travel through the northern sea, so…”
She touched his sign frame and Asama gave a comment.
“Oh, that has shared settings, so you can use it.”
“Thank you,” replied Mary as she manipulated it.
She drew a blue line on the map.
“This must be what Lady Masazumi meant when she said we would go to Mikawa. She was likely prioritizing a route that is shorter than circling around to the north.”
The line travelled down from IZUMO, skimmed Osaka, and continued south.
Tenzou sighed when he saw it.
“That is an insane route, but parts of it do make sense.”
With menu in hand, Sanyou asked a question of Oriotorai who had just ordered some additional edamame.
“Is travelling to Mikawa via the Seto Inland Sea really a good idea, Makiko-san?”
“It’s probably better than running out of fuel in the northern sea or making a suicide run through M.H.R.R.”
Oriotorai opened a sign frame and displayed a map with the Far East’s Seto Inland Sea area in the center.
“The border with Hexagone Française to the west and M.H.R.R. to the east actually drops almost straight down from IZUMO and to the inland sea. And due to the combination of the Far East and the world’s nations, that borderline runs into K.P.A. Italia which stretches out along the coast. There’s also Honganji to the east, but it’s a little too far east and can be safely ignored.”
She traced her finger down the border between Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R., but had to curve to the east thanks to K.P.A. Italia that jutted in from the west along the coast.
“Do you get it?”
Sanyou shook her head.
“Is the border between those two nations safe?”
“It isn’t safe, but it is the shortest route.”
“Oh,” gasped Sanyou when she caught on and looked back at the map on the sign frame. “If we continue into the Seto Inland Sea, Hexagone Française can’t pursue us.”
“But we’ll almost certainly take damage on the way there.”
“That means it’s useless.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Oriotorai gave a bitter smile and the edamame arrived.
“Oh, these haven’t been completely thawed yet.”
“Some things have a stronger flavor after being frozen than being boiled. But that’s beside the point. …Um, Makiko-san? Even if it’s the shortest route, I don’t think we can use the Seto Inland Sea,” said Sanyou. “After all, Osaka and the Kii Peninsula belong to P.A. Oda. Osaka belongs to P.A. Oda’s main force of the Ottomans and the Kii Peninsula belongs to the Allied Mlasi Factions that fall under P.A. Oda’s control. It won’t be easy putting up with their attacks while we travel.”
“Well, there’s a way to get by after reaching the inland sea, but it’s not a great way.”
Oriotorai laughed bitterly.
“You can think of it like using a powerful connection of ours.”
Those two words came from a boy on a top bunk. He was speaking to a girl sitting in a wheelchair in front of the desk below.
The wheelchair girl brushed a hand through her bangs and looked to the bunk bed.
“Judge. The best way to reach Mikawa from the Seto Inland Sea is for you to act, Azuma.”
“What do you mean, Miriam?”
“Well,” said Miriam while tapping on her cheek with the back of her cokepen. She also reclined the wheelchair to the wall so she and Azuma could see each other’s faces. “To say it without letting any emotion into it, you’re from the imperial family.”
“But I’ve come to live among the people and will eventually receive the Minamoto name.”
“Even so, you are this world’s sole relative of the emperor, who is unaging, who no one has ever seen outside the imperial palace, and who controls the world’s ley lines using the three Imperial Regalia. In other words…” She chose her words carefully while glancing around. “As a relative of the emperor who supports the Divine States, you are a relative of the Divine States themselves.”
I have quite a dangerous person as a roommate, she sighed, but she did not stop there.
“The Far East has a strong religious belief in nature. They respect the four seasons, dedicate crops to their gods, and turn those crops into rice cakes and sake to receive them as gifts from their gods during festivals.”
“Judge. I quite like the different rice cake soups.”
She was glad he did not say he liked the sake. She was not entirely sure what was good about that, but it was at least nice that her roommate was not a drunk. Probably anyway.
The translucent girl climbed onto Miriam’s lap. She had no feeling in her legs, so she closed the sides of the leg portion of the wheelchair to prevent her legs from spreading and making the girl fall through. She grabbed the girl and held her on top of her stomach.
“That belief is also directed toward the emperor. The seasons, the crops, the festivals, and everything else are only here because the emperor maintains the ley lines. An interesting and unique facet of Shintoism is its system of polytheistic worship in which all the gods are connected and thanking one’s resident god and birthplace god will reach the living god that is the emperor. And Azuma, you are the child of that unseen emperor and you can actually show yourself.”
“Eh? What do you mean I show myself?”
He sounded a little troubled, but she answered frankly as there was no point in lying to him.
“People direct their thanks toward you instead of the emperor.”
“Eh? Wait a second.”
Azuma quickly shook his head.
“I’m not the emperor and I’ve never met the emperor. I’ve never met my mother or my father.”
“That doesn’t matter. As I said, the Far East is polytheistic and all of those gods are connected. The same holds for the people. When someone visits their family’s grave, they are visiting the spirits of all their ancestors. In the same way, when someone thanks someone else, they are thanking that person’s family, clan, and ancestors. That connection between ancestral spirits and descendants via the grave is unique to the Far East. And the living have a close connection to those ancestral spirits when the spirits of the dead return during the Bon festival.”
“In most nations, the spirits of one’s ancestors may be worshipped, but it is primarily meant as a way to receive good fortune from them or to give them a peaceful sleep so they are not brought back from the dead. That is why spirits of the dead are referred to as monsters or evil spirits and are thought to be cursed things. Most countries experienced repeated wars and those ideas were put in place to prevent betrayal or grudges after the previous rulers were executed. Those ideas made the spirits of the previous rulers into cursed things that needed to be silenced and put to sleep.”
“The Far East gained an emperor early on and, even if the forces below that were swapped out several times, the owner of the nation remained the emperor. Everything belonged to the emperor, so both the good and the bad were purified as the emperor’s beloved children upon their deaths and they would be put to rest in a portion of the Divine States’ land. In other words, they would become a part of nature.”
“That means I’m…”
“The emperor’s child, but also the child of all the people’s ancestors who were returned to the earth,” finished Miriam. “Listen. To the people, the ancestors that brought them to this age are part of the Divine States’ land and can never be seen again. After all, they were all ‘people’. But there are also ‘gods’ who are not like them. And you are one of those gods. It doesn’t matter that you’re trying to live as one of us. In fact, trying to live among us might make you seem closer to them and make them adore you even further.”
“Th-that’s kind of scary, Miriam. Let’s stop making assumptions.”
Try to be more of a man, she thought. But…
…Wait. When did I become the manly one of the group?
It must be something that gradual developed over time. No, calm down, Miriam Poqou. This is only a part of your lecture. …But is lecturing more of a masculine thing to be doing?
“Mama, are you troubled?”
“Eh? Oh, no. I’m fine, I’m fine.”
“M-Miriam, you don’t have to force yourself.”
…Whose fault do you think this is?
“U-um… Anyway, yes. Where is the emperor?”
“Yes, and the emperor’s influence is especially strong in Kyou and the Yamato region. …Do you know where that second one is?”
“Eh?” Azuma thought for a moment and seemed to realize something. “The Yamato region covers Osaka, Sakai, and part of the Nara region.”
“Judge, well done. So once we reach the Seto Inland Sea, you just have to go where anyone can see you. Then we only need to continue west through the skies of Osaka and Sakai. …Oh, I know. How about we tie you to the bow?”
“But I don’t provide any divine protection like a ship’s figurehead.”
…Why do I feel like I lost this round because he took that seriously?
“Mama, are you feeling sad?”
“Eh? No, not really.”
“Even if we don’t go that far, you just have to appear somewhere visible before we reach land and say something about coming to greet the people of Yamato to thank them for all the help they have given in the past.”
“Due to your connections to the ancestral spirits and to the emperor who supports the Divine States, the people of the Yamato region won’t show any active aggression against you. Also, Kyou and the Yamato region are controlled by Akechi Mitsuhide who has an understanding with the Imperial Court. If he gives any commands that will harm you, he will lose the entire reason he is in Kyou and Yamato. It’s even possible the various Far Eastern forces who don’t usually get along would form a temporary alliance to punish P.A. Oda for it,” said Miriam. “Now, listen. I don’t know how this will turn out and you can make your own decisions, but I am on your side, Azuma. Still, keep in mind that you can make your own decisions and there is one thing I do know even if I don’t know how this will turn out. That being…”
“You are the person named Azuma. Remember that.”
“It may be too easy-going on my part, but I want to respect what Azuma decides for himself. But if it comes to it, I will persuade him as vice president,” said Masazumi. “But even so, we will be attacked by Hexagone Française until we reach the Seto Inland Sea and by P.A. Oda until we reach Osaka. The repairs made here in IZUMO will probably all be destroyed again.”
She saw the others at the table cross their arms and nod. Among them, Ujinao turned toward her with her eyes closed.
“By my estimation, the Musashi will take a lot of damage. But it does seem that will be your last resort.”
“Judge. It’s a bit forceful, but we do have a way to reach Kantou. Having any way at all will have a large effect on things to come. Also…”
“I want you to understand that Musashi can indeed reach Kantou.”
At that point, the naked boy arrived with a tray in both hands. He began serving everyone from that tray.
“Here’s a half serving of toshomen for everyone. …And Seijun?”
“It’s not a good idea to talk about this kind of thing when Imperial Boy himself isn’t here. You can use sign frames now, so try to send the information to him as well. Be as obsessive as a stalker!”
That boy was difficult to handle because he always said the painful things in a way that gave you a way out. Masazumi nodded and lowered her shoulders in a sigh.
“I’ll be more careful next time. I intend to bring the idea to Azuma after seeing if I can come up with any other ideas. Think of this as a last resort.”
“Oh, then I guess I jumped the gun on that one. Sorry. …Here, this is on me, Seijun.”
He set down a bowl piled high with seaweed and Masazumi saw everyone else quickly avoid eye contact. They all pulled back their bowls and covered them with the opposite hand.
They would be no help, so she turned to the Technohexen next to her.
“Hey, Naruze, can you help me with this sea-… Why are you gulping down your noodles!? Try actually chewing them!”
“Nn! A-ah, that was good! Really good! Okay, das Ende! Eh? What? Oh, no! I ate all my noodles without noticing there was seaweed. Oh, well. Masazumi, you eat it all so it doesn’t go to waste!”
The others exchanged a glance and Houjou Ujinao spoke to Satomi Yoshiyori.
“The people of Musashi seem quite harsh to their own.”
“Yes, they have a way of destroying each other. Right, Yoshiyasu?”
“Don’t talk to me! I’m trying to eat! …Naked boy, you’re a pretty good cook!”
…All of them seem just about as selfish as us.
However, she decided there was no point in continuing down that line of thought. She was glad to have a last resort, but she did not want to make use of a classmate who did not hold an official position if she could avoid it.
…But making these decisions is my job as the vice president.
People could hold a grudge against the vice president, but Musashi would continue on as long as the chancellor and president were untouched. For that reason, she avoided thinking about protecting herself and she let out a sigh.
“If possible, I had wanted to travel through M.H.R.R. territory.”
“What’s this, Seijun? Do you have another idea?”
“It’s more of a hope than an idea.”
“A lot of M.H.R.R.’s Protestant principalities are anti-Hashiba.”
“Then why don’t you proudly puff out your chest to declare that we’ll- Oh, right, right. I forgot,” said the naked boy.
…Don’t say that while staring at my chest. And get back to eating, Satomi Yoshiyasu.
“I’ll explain,” said Masazumi. “M.H.R.R. has yet to split between Catholic and Protestant due to the Thirty Years’ War. I had hoped to go to the Protestant principalities and gain an ally by promising to support them once the split happened…but that probably isn’t going to happen. After the internal split due to the Thirty Years’ War, history dictates that the Catholic side will crumble and truly lose the war. And given the future of M.H.R.R., the Protestants won’t want to reach the recreation of that split either.”
“Hm? Does M.H.R.R.’s split include some dramatic history recreation?”
“Yes,” said Masazumi with a nod. While thinking that the contents of her bowl were going to get cold, she spoke to the naked boy. “That split is related to a certain incident in the Thirty Years’ War and those involved want to avoid its recreation.”
“A certain incident? What’s that?”
“The Sack of Magdeburg,” said Naruze.
She sighed, stopped making her storyboard, and looked at the others.
“M.H.R.R.’s Protestant principalities contain a lot of commercial printers and Magdeburg is the European city we have print for us. However, a dangerous part of history occurs there.”
“It isn’t a pleasant story,” said the Technohexen quietly. “Magdeburg is the capital of the Protestant state of Saxony and it was captured and plundered by a force of its own nation’s soldiers led by the brave Commander Tilly, a Catholic.”
“The Sack of Magdeburr?”
Tenzou noticed Mary had misspoken without realizing it.
It seemed everyone but her had noticed, but…
…They overlooked it! That’s the right thing to do, but they would’ve been completely merciless if it had been me!
At any rate, Tenzou accepted it as proof of how wonderful Mary was. He noticed Naito waving at him and the black Technohexen gestured a message to him: “Don’t worry. She’s different from you. The rules for busty blondes are different!” It was a bit of a mystery how she communicated so much via hand gestures, but he made up his mind regardless.
“Um, the Sack of Magdeburg was when Commander Tilly’s army, the main force of M.H.R.R.’s Catholics, made an example of some…uncooperative Protestants. The army surrounding Magdeburg numbered thirty thousand. There were just as many residents of the city, but the fighting reduced that number to only five thousand. All of the survivors were women and children, but they were treated as spoils of war and Tilly’s army…” He chose his words carefully. “They treated them violently.”
Mary’s expression grew stern, she gulped, and she turned her slightly pale face toward him.
“You mean they punched and kicked them? How could they be so cruel to women and children!?”
Tenzou saw that the others were left absolutely speechless by her words.
…What a refreshing response!!
They all expressed that idea through eye contact.
However, Asama alone let out a voice.
Everyone slowly turned to look at her instead.
“Eh!? Ah! That didn’t count! It didn’t! First pass!”
She stuck a purifying tamagushi into Mitotsudaira’s and Kimi’s hair and Kimi stood up on the other side of Mary.
She turned Uzy’s sign frame into a large card and placed it so only they could see what was written on it:
“Rayp! Gang rayp! Or call it sexxl asolt!”
…What good does it do if you refuse to spell it right!? And I’m not even sure how you’re supposed to pronounce that last one! Is this Kimi-dono’s unique way of showing embarrassment?
With that thought, Tenzou got back to his explanation.
“Anyway, it had the opposite effect. The Protestant principalities gathered together against the Catholic principalities and M.H.R.R. split between Catholic and Protestant. This caused great change in their attitude concerning the Thirty Years’ War and it was the turning point that led to M.H.R.R. losing that war. And for that reason,” he said. “The history recreation has yet to be carried out.”
“So M.H.R.R. has gained a less-than-solid but still balanced position through negotiations, Sakai-sama? Over.”
“That’s right.” Sakai’s words were formed of smoke that spilled into the sky. “Saxony sheltered Luther, leader of the Reformation, from the Catholics and acted as the flag-bearer for M.H.R.R.’s Protestants.”
“You seem quite familiar with this. Over.”
“When I fought the pope-chancellor long ago, they helped me out. M.H.R.R.’s Protestant principalities are part of the route from Qing-Takeda, right? I would circle around north while watching Lake Biwa which wasn’t enclosed in a stealth barrier at the time. On the way back, I could also travel down to the Seto Inland Sea and travel west along Shikoku or something.”
“In other words, we are once more making use of the route that you fought your way through in the past. Who would have thought you would cause double the trouble by influencing the next generation? Over.”
“C’mon now.” Sakai smiled bitterly. “I’m not causing any trouble, ‘Musashi’-san. …Anyway, a lot has changed since back then. Hashiba wasn’t around yet in my day and M.H.R.R. was at odds with P.A. Oda. The other nations were a lot different too.” He looked to the fleets surrounding them in the sky. “Hexagone Française was fighting their wars of religion between their own Catholics and Protestants. And now that they’ve gotten that taken care of, the anger inside their own nation is being turned toward the Thirty Years’ War. They really are growing into a major power.”
“And picking a fight with that growing power and fighting them all the way to the Seto Inland Sea is currently our worst yet only option? Over.”
“It looks that way, but it won’t be easy.”
“That is why I said it was the ‘worst’ option. Over.”
“True.” Sakai looked up into the sky. “But I wonder how it will turn out.”
“What do you mean?”
A lot of smoke spilled from both corners of his mouth as he formed what could be called a smile.
“There’s someone here who helped me when I would head out to the inland sea.”
“Yes, here. As in, they’ve arrived here. Look.”
He pointed to one point in the sky.
“He’s definitely going to stick his nose in our business. That’s just the kind of person he is. I’d wondered if he would show up, and here he is. And I’m certain he intends to cause trouble.”
“Anyway,” said Houjou Ujinao. “Even in the worst case, Musashi can pass through the Yamato region and approach Qing-Takeda territory. Even if it may mean passing through P.A. Oda’s Middle Eastern territory.”
“If it comes to that, Qing-Takeda will help by beginning the recreation of Mikatagahara. Once that’s established, we can say anyone pursuing you is interrupting the history recreation. So…”
Yoshitsune used one of her heels propped up on the table to kick at the eastern base of the Kii Peninsula on the sign frame.
“Make your way here. If you do, I’ll be waiting a little more toward Mount Fuji on the opposite coast. And that’ll act as my retirement ceremony as far as the Takeda side is concerned.”
“Then,” added Houjou Ujinao. “We will help from east of Odawara to Edo.”
Masazumi lowered her head as if nodding and Satomi Yoshiyori spoke up.
“To be honest, I think you’ll be fine emphasizing the presence of the crown prince. Kyou and the Yamato region are controlled by Akechi Mitsuhide whose position gives him the second-most influence within P.A. Oda and takes care of Nobunaga’s visits to the capital. He can’t exactly attack a ship that has the crown prince aboard.”
“And what if he does?”
A sudden voice filled the restaurant.
Jonson looked up in surprise from where he was drinking with Aoi in another part of the restaurant.
He was supposed to be the observer, but…
“Where are the guards!?”
Masazumi heard hurried footsteps approach from outside.
Those were the guards England had placed around the restaurant.
…If they didn’t notice…
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I just have a few tricks I can use, is all.”
The voice came from near the entrance and it approached as its owner walked forward.
Everyone else took action.
First, the Sanada ninja slowly appeared from behind chairs or tables and formed the front line.
Next, Satomi Yoshiyori, Yoshiyasu, and Houjou Ujinao rose from their chairs a bit.
At that point, someone spoke.
It was Sanada ninja #3 Miyoshi Seikai Nyuudou. His large demonic body was crammed into a chair and he bowed toward Yoshitsune.
“I recognize that voice. You too should-…”
“Yeah, it’s just been so long that it took me a moment.”
Yoshitsune spoke into the darkness with a sharpness in her eyes but a smile on her lips.
“I haven’t seen you since the incident with Sakai.”
“I’m honored that the ruler of the world remembers me.”
Before Masazumi could tilt her head in confusion, the figure entered the light.
She saw a slender old man. He wore a Far Eastern uniform with a blue coat over it.
“Yes, you could say that,” said the old man. “I belong to P.A. Oda, I control the Kii Peninsula, and I’m chancellor of the Allied Mlasi Factions. My name is Matsunaga Danjou Hisahide.”
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