Horizon:Volume 3 Chapter 17
Chapter 17: Demander of the Wasteland
If destruction and creation
Are not two sides of the same coin
Then what are they?
Point Allocation (Era)
Sanada, Satomi, Houjou, and England prepared for a fight, but the elderly man named Hisahide laughed.
“Ha ha. Yeah, this’ll get me killed. Masayasu, Lady Yoshitsune, can you call them off?”
Miyoshi Seikai averted his gaze and stared into the distance with his demonic glare.
“I now go by the name Seikai instead of Masayasu. Anything involving you will only bring trouble.”
“Don’t just deny your exciting days of youth killing the shogun with me. Wasn’t that anarchy just the best? …Surely you agree too, Lady Yoshitsune.”
“Why are you here, brat?”
“You have to ask? Of course I’m here to cause trouble. That’s my specialty.”
“You sure are crafty,” she muttered while waving for the Sanada ninja to sit.
Masazumi gasped as Matsunaga casually walked toward her.
…This man was pretty crazy, wasn’t he?
He was a commander from two generations before them.
“Masazumi, isn’t Matsunaga Hisahide…?”
Just as she thought Naruze also understood the implications, she noticed the Technohexen was looking at a divine network store.
“He’s the guy who wrote the Far Eastern erotic instruction manual ‘Instructions on Sexual Techniques?’, isn’t he!?”
“That’s me. An abridged version was made into a porn game with the abbreviated title ‘Sex Tech?’ and it sold like crazy. Unfortunately, that got the Testament Union after me twice as much. …See? I’m not gonna do anything bad here.”
“Are you serious, you brat?”
Yoshitsune gestured him away with the bottom of her foot, but he brought a chair over from the counter. That was when Aoi noticed him from the kitchen.
“Ah! Is that Hisahide from the porn game group Joke!?”
Hearing his name, Hisahide turned toward the naked boy in the kitchen.
After a pause, he clapped his hands together.
“Oh. Oh? Oh! It’s that connoisseur of a kid who comes by every year!”
Everyone tilted their heads at the fact that he knew the boy, but Masazumi hung her head.
…Why does that idiot have so many acquaintances like this?
Meanwhile, Hisahide pointed at the idiot.
“This kid doesn’t have a clue what makes something good or bad or what makes it valuable or not, but whenever he chooses something to buy at an event, it always sells like crazy later. ‘Sex Tech?’ only started selling once he bought it and his review got around.”
“That’s because I don’t have any money, so I have to choose really carefully.”
“Wait a second, idiot. Then what’s all that piled up in the student council room?”
“Don’t be stupid. That’s from my normal budget. We’re talking about my emergency budget here. They’re two different things!”
He raised his right thumb and the representatives of the eastern nations all gave her expressionless looks. Her only choice was to lower her head and shrink down.
…I can’t stand this terribly unfair attention.
This was entirely that idiot’s fault, but…
“Hey, Hisahide. Why are you here? There isn’t an event here, is there?”
“What? Oh, I’m just greeting some old friends.”
“Who? Oh, you mean that big demonic guy and little Yoshitsune? You know them?”
It looked like the two of them were actually communicating.
…Then is this a useful connection after all?
Hisahide must have decided to speak at the counter because he sat in a chair there.
He took a teacup of sake from Aoi and glanced down at it.
“Don’t you have anything better? I thought this was IZUMO.”
“Master, this is an English restaurant,” explained Jonson.
“Then can you bring out a proper cup? …Well, that can wait until later.”
Hisahide took a plate of grilled chicken Aoi had cooked and turned toward Masazumi.
“If I’m right, you’re planning to pass through the Yamato region using the crown prince’s presence on the Musashi. That’s more or less what Hashiba and Takenaka predicted. And so…”
He ate one piece of chicken and held up the bamboo skewer that’s tip was now visible.
“Since I have a force near there, I’m in charge of sinking the Musashi. I can ignore what the emperor wants, after all. Isn’t that right?” He laughed. “That’s why I’m here for a greeting. Yes, a greeting. I want to see how valuable and how much fun the target of my destruction is.”
…So that really is why he’s here!!
Masazumi mentally gulped and thought on the man’s history.
Matsunaga Danjou Hisahide was in charge of the large Kii Peninsula and he was currently under P.A. Oda’s command.
On the non-Far Eastern side, he controlled the allied factions of the Abbasid Caliphate’s descendants that ruled the south of the Middle East after splitting off from P.A. Oda’s Ottoman Caliphate that was closer to Europe.
…But how he ended up there is completely insane.
Matsunaga Hisahide had originally been a retainer of the Miyoshi clan which ruled western Shikoku and Kinai, which had Kyou at the center.
And along with the leaders of the Miyoshi clan, he had held back the shogun clan.
But after the death of Miyoshi Nagayoshi, head of the Miyoshi clan, Hisahide had realized the shogun clan was going to oppose him.
…So he assassinated Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the thirteenth shogun.
On top of that, he had opposed the top Miyoshi retainers and burnt down Todai-ji’s Great Buddha Hall when they hid inside it.
The killing of a shogun, the leader of all warriors since the Kamakura period, by a lower commander had been the event to begin the Sengoku period. And the burning of the temple had emphasized to the people that the authority of Buddhism meant nothing in this time of strife.
Novice: “Eh!? Matsunaga-sama’s there!? I really want to greet him! Not only because of his independent porn games, but because he’s amazing in so many ways! I want his signature if possible!”
Vice President: “Just get to sleep.”
That said, she did understand Neshinbara’s excitement.
…This man is completely insane.
There were differing opinions about whether he had actually been responsible for the assassination of the shogun or the burning of Toudai-ji.
However, this Matsunaga had undoubtedly done them.
He feared no one and did not hesitate to do anything.
He would smash the traditional way of thinking and use destruction to create a new era more to his liking.
He was a free destroyer and he did as he pleased.
He likely felt a connection with Nobunaga who had burned Mt. Hiei.
For example, Matsunaga had entered under Nobunaga’s command once Nobunaga had established a new shogun, but once Matsunaga found something he did not like, he rebelled against Nobunaga.
Nobunaga forgave him, but why had he done that?
…Nobunaga was known as a demon lord, so he must have felt a connection to another destroyer like Matsunaga.
Based on the generations they belonged to, Matsunaga had been a destroyer longer than Nobunaga. Masazumi guessed that they respected each other for how they did not fear anything.
Novice: “Matsunaga-sama serves the people in his territory well and he’s a cultured man who collects tea sets, established some early tea ceremony practices, and was the first in the Far East to celebrate Christmas.”
Marube-ya: “He was also involved in designing the Musashi, wasn’t he?”
Musashi: “Judge. A row house structure is used for the residential areas in the wide blocks, but that method of constructing multiple small apartment-like houses in a row was based on the rows of residential towers used to defend Matsunaga-sama’s castle. Over.”
That was exactly right. He had also encouraged advancements in medical techniques and was the first to design modern fortresses.
Demoted Man: “It was those connections that let me get some help from him way back when. He was under P.A. Oda’s command, but he wasn’t simply an enemy because had some distance from P.A. Oda itself. When the Musashi escaped from Mikawa and entered the Seto Inland Sea, we travelled along the borders between P.A. Oda and his land.”
They were receiving a lot of extraneous messages, but that was just how much everyone knew of this man.
According to those that researched the Testament descriptions, he had done a lot for the Sengoku period’s way of life, way of thinking, culture, and civilization.
…They either call him a pioneer or a mind reader.
The problem in the current era was how he demonstrated by example what was allowable and what other ways there were to solve a problem.
Because of that, Masazumi knew why he had arrived while the Musashi was surrounded.
She turned to him and opened her mouth.
“So even if he is part of the imperial family, Matsunaga Hisahide, shogun killer and burner of Todai-ji, only sees him as someone else to attack?”
“If I kill him, he’ll die, won’t he?”
The immediacy of his reply and what it implied made Masazumi gasp.
“Ha ha,” he laughed. “C’mon. You’re planning to bring out the crown prince and go flying through the Yamato region. That means you’re using him. But I don’t remember hearing anything about me ‘using’ him in my own way.” He showed his teeth in a smile. “To put it another way, as long as you understand that I'll ‘use’ the crown prince too, then you can go ahead and use him without fear. Basically, it comes down to who can use him better. Right?”
“Wait, wait,” said Aoi while holding out a plate of octopus dressed with vinegar and ginger. “Hisahide, we’ve had our hands full with Imperial Boy since he learned about sex recently, so try not to interfere too much.”
After descending to the bottom bunk, Azuma watched his sign frame along with Miriam who sat in her wheelchair. He could almost hear his face growing pale.
Miriam silently rolled her wheelchair back with the girl in her arms.
He was afraid to turn around, but waiting would only increase the amount of destructive power according to the equation “destructive power x time (seconds) x misunderstanding”.
…I recently managed to figure out at least that much!!
While wondering how to explain this, he gathered his courage and turned around.
She had the side of her wheelchair turned toward him and was refusing to look at him. She instead rocked the wheelchair and spoke to the girl in her arms.
“You see, they just said they have had their hands full since papa learned about sex.”
“Is everyone getting along?” asked the girl.
“It’s like a group command in an RPG. Of course, I’ve never seen an RPG with the command ‘Let’s go have sex!’. But – ha ha – what exactly does he mean by ‘everyone getting along’? That perverted imperial certainly is passionate about gaining descendants who will revere him and turn him into an ancestral spirit.”
…But ??? was the one that mentioned everyone getting along! Wh-what am I supposed to do, god!? Oh, I’m a half-god, aren’t I!? So if I can’t do anything about it, is it hopeless!? Is it all over!?
Azuma realized praying to a god was not going to help.
…When a god’s having trouble, he has to solve it on his own, doesn’t he?
“Um, Miriam? I think you’re mistaken about something.”
“What would that be?” she replied with a giant smile on her face.
“D-don’t say that with a smile! A-and they’re in a meeting! H-how should I put this? Let’s ignore Aoi-kun’s strange jokes and focus on the Musashi’s future!”
Miriam glared at him, sighed, and rolled her wheelchair back. It did not seem her doubts had been fully dispelled, so he also sighed and showed her the sign frame.
Self-Destructor: “Hold up. You mean the crown prince has been going at it a like a monkey since he learned about sex?”
Me: “Yeah. During a meal, he kept saying sex this and sex that and he was asking Black Mal to teach him all about it. And this was in front of everyone! That’s an imperial for you! Right, Black Mal?”
Mal-Ga: “Now that’s something I didn’t want to be reminded of. And it was right in the middle of our yakiniku too.”
“Ah! Miriam! Don’t leave! Please don’t leave!!”
‘Now, what will you do?” asked Matsunaga.
Masazumi tried to decide what she needed to think about first.
Whether to make an enemy of Matsunaga or not? What to do about Azuma? Or should she ask the eastern nations what they thought? Or…
She arrived at the answer.
“Lord Matsunaga, to start with, I would like to thank you.”
“Wait, and why is that? I don’t really like being thanked.”
“It was your appearance and words that helped me realized there’s no more important problem than this.”
That was exactly right.
“We are forbidden to travel through M.H.R.R. and we are surrounded. We have heard a variety of ideas as to how to deal with that, but the end has finally come into sight.”
“Lord Matsunaga, if we can make our way past the issue of engaging you in battle, our destination will be in reach.”
“Judge,” she replied. “You will be waiting for us at the end of all this and we will defeat you. That is our objective.”
Masazumi watched Matsunaga speak.
“But,” he continued. “I’m pretty good at this kind of thing. I’ll use my aerial warship Shigisan. Look.”
He pointed at a silhouette in the southern sky behind him.
Novice: “Wow! That really is Shigisan far off in the sky there! It’s a Hiragumo-type aerial warship made from connecting eight Kraken-class ships to a Jormungandr-class ship! I need to get some video of it tomorrow morning. Do you want some footage, Shakespeare?”
Four Eyes: “Not really, but I’ll still take it as it might be useful for reference material.”
Wise Sister: “Wow! Just look at all this passion! It’s heating up the air around here! And it smells so fresh and immature! Just like an edible chrysanthemum! It’s an herb!!”
…Too many people are cutting into this chat and I don’t even know what they’re talking about anymore.
However, there was nothing Masazumi could do about it. This was likely the norm on the divine network of a neutral city. She just hoped Tsukinowa did not pick up any odd words.
At any rate, she took a breath and spoke.
“Anyway, we would be honored to have you as our final boss, Lord Matsunaga. After all, you’re as much of a destroyer as you’re rumored to be and you won’t hesitate to attack even with Azuma onboard. But…”
“But? But what?”
“Judge. I feel like this would still be too boring for you.”
“What?” He tilted his head. “Why is that? It sounds right up my alley.”
She nodded and continued on while thinking this was a lot like messing with the lit fuse of a bomb.
“However,” she said. “K.P.A. Italia, Tres España, England, and starting tomorrow both Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. have not hesitated to attack the Musashi despite Azuma’s presence. After all, they aren’t Far Eastern.”
In other words…
“What you’re trying to do is already completely normal in Europe.”
This is a lot like a trick question, thought Masazumi.
After all, the nations of Europe had faced them as members of the Testament Union and not as Far Eastern forces, so they had not needed to take a Far Eastern stance.
Their citizens might have their own feelings, but Azuma himself accepted that he was living a normal life now. There was no problem in treating him like a normal human save for those feelings.
To the European forces, he was nothing but another citizen.
Masazumi had only planned to use him to travel through the Yamato region because that land belonged to Akechi Mitsuhide who also managed Kyou. And their intention had not been to foment rebellion among the people there.
…We were trying to shake up Akechi’s position.
But if Matsunaga wished for a confrontation, things changed.
“Your choice to oppose us is a truly wonderful decision as a Far Eastern commander, but the European nations have already reached that level.”
“Are you saying I’m behind the times?”
Vice President: “Everyone, prepare yourselves for our decision here.”
“You could say that we can reach Kantou as long as we defeat you. And we would have the justification of protecting our former imperial citizen from a rebel attempting to kill the crown prince.”
“That’s dirty.” Hisahide smiled. “That’s just playing dirty. I mean, you’re saying killing the crown prince is wrong, but you’re also saying he’s a normal citizen. So which is it? You’d essentially be killing the crown prince as well.”
“No, we wouldn’t. We would simply be accepting the difference in viewpoint.”
“Just because he becomes a normal citizen does not mean Azuma has ‘died’. He’s enjoying his life. You see him smiling while he holds a little girl’s hand and visits the cafeteria.”
“You sure he’s not just a pedophile? Don’t tell me it’s like the Tale of Genji.”
“Judge. I sometimes wonder the same thing. But there’s nothing to worry about. He’s a normal citizen now, so he can be locked up if anything happens.”
“Wait! Um, Miriam! Miriam! Honda-kun sometimes says a little too much, too!”
At any rate, this is a difference in viewpoint, thought Masazumi.
How was Azuma viewed politically?
She had learned all about that kind of personal difference in viewpoint during her exchange with Yoshitsune. There were many different viewpoints that depended on how someone interpreted things.
…And it isn’t a politician’s job to unify that.
She did not think it was everyone’s viewpoints she needed to unify. It was the people who held those many viewpoints that she needed to unify.
…What should I do?
She suddenly thought about Nobunaga.
Nobunaga had control over Akechi Mitsuhide, who sided with the Imperial Court and protected Kyou and Yamato, as well as this villainous man named Matsunaga Danjou Hisahide, so what kind of person was he?
She was curious.
The major powers of Europe were unified not by their own personalities but by their consensus on the precepts of the Testament and on the history recreation. They would swear on the power of the Testament.
Qing-Takeda had entrusted everything to the will of an always existing ruler.
In that case, what kind of person was Nobunaga?
Masazumi glanced toward Aoi. He was an idiot, he was naked, and, although she had never seen him do a bit with partially removed clothes, he would likely do it eventually. All of that was a pain, but it did not really matter. Or did that mean it did matter?
At any rate, the most important fact was how open-minded he was.
…I guess the same goes for us.
She wanted to think no one was simply a stereotype, but she was likely subconsciously favoring what those close to her said and that could make her ignorant of the larger world. That will be something to work on from now on, she thought while speaking aloud.
“Lord Matsunaga, you were the first to celebrate Christmas in the Far East, but that was nothing more than copying the West. Is referring to a copy as ‘new’ a form of irony meant to make your followers laugh?”
“Wait, wait. It looks like you really do understand.” Hisahide smiled bitterly. “I’m the type that can’t hold back when provoked, you know?”
“Then I will say even more.”
Masazumi raised her eyebrows in a smile of her own.
…I have to draw his interest.
He was their opponent. Not the other force he represented, but Matsunaga Danjou Hisahide himself.
Novice: “It’s too bad, but this is a good decision. After all, having a clear enemy eliminates most of the uncertain factors. I’ll do as much as I can from here to investigate his fortress, the Shigisan, hovering in the southern sky.”
“Please do,” was all Masazumi sent back before addressing Matsunaga once more. “If we do end up engaging each other in battle, I want you to do so according to your own point of view. After all, the route we will use is the same one as when we escaped Mikawa and entered the Seto Inland Sea.”
“Running into Shibata’s ship then was fun, wasn’t it?”
Asama: “So Lord Matsunaga really was involved in setting up that greeting or encounter.”
Musashi: “I have statistically determined that was a great embarrassment for us. Over.”
Can an automaton really determine things like that? wondered Masazumi before looking directly at Matsunaga.
“Will you allow us to travel that same route in order to gain new power, Lord Matsunaga?”
“When we do, make sure you prepare the Kotenmyou Hiragumo.”
That line brought everyone to a stop.
“Musashi” stirred up the night air as she replied to Masazumi’s words.
“When she says the Kotenmyou Hiragumo, does she mean what I think she does? Over.”
“Judge.” Sakai nodded. “That’s related to Lord Matsunaga’s death. In the history from the Age of the Gods, it was a famous Far Eastern tea kettle known as the Hiragumo. I was actually shown it in secret once.”
He used a hand to draw an ellipse about the size of a human head and he traced his fingers from the top and around it.
“It’s a tea kettle like this. It’s made of iron and has a hole in the center of the lid like a pot.”
“Musashi” scanned the movements of his fingers and produced an image in a sign frame.
“Yes, yes. Like that. But the handles coming down from the top look like spider legs and the lid is a little lower. …Yes. It’s more or less exactly like that.”
“Is it more or less like that or exactly like that? Over.”
“Anyway,” said Sakai. “When Lord Matsunaga rebelled against Nobunaga, Hashiba and some other forces surrounded Shigisan Castle. Yet Nobunaga said he would forgive him if he handed over the Kotenmyou Hiragumo, so you can see how unique a tea kettle it is.”
“Lord Matsunaga refused and committed suicide. He blew up Shigisan Castle’s central tower with himself and the Kotenmyou Hiragumo inside.”
“Thanks for so faithfully expressing your surprise, ‘Musashi’-san. Anyway, the Kotenmyou Hiragumo is like the fireworks decorating the end of his life. …And with him, using a spider for decoration may be appropriate. At any rate, it’s a symbol of all that. No matter how absurd his actions get, it will all end when he blows himself up along with the Hiragumo. That’s why he made that ominous imagery his own.”
A spider-like aerial warship hovered in the southern sky. It was made from a long ship in the center and eight smaller ships attached around that one.
“The Shigisan is both his castle and an aerial warship. He personally gave it the descriptor ‘Hiragumo-type’. It can’t move much, but it has excellent defensive abilities. He quite likes fighting, so it would probably be a pain to battle him. Masazumi-kun might be better off not choosing a route from the Seto Inland Sea.”
Masazumi heard Matsunaga give approval rather than rejection.
He faced her and Aoi.
“Now this is interesting. I’d always thought it would be Hashiba who would surround me and make me set off my fireworks. I certainly never expected it to be Matsudaira who opposes Hashiba. This is a first!”
“Hold up, Hisahide. Don’t get carried away and die, okay? You’ve still got three chapters left in your 48 chapter series.”
“That’s gone on too long already, so what does it matter? But on that note, what do you think was the best chapter?”
“Probably Chapter 37’s imprisoning of the shogun and doing him from the back and the front.”
…Right. Thirteenth Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru was so unparalleled in skill that they wrapped him in tatami mats so he couldn’t move and stabbed him from four directions in order to kill him.
“ ‘Don’t assassinate meeeee!’ won last year’s award for best line of dialogue, didn’t it? A priest at Kiyomizu wrote it with a giant brush under the heading ‘This Year’s Dialogue’.”
…What kind of award is that?
But once Matsunaga finished discussing the unpleasant world of men, he finally turned back to Masazumi.
“That’s definitely interesting. This means there are people on the Musashi, a ship I was a design advisor for, who can oppose me. I had thought no one like Sakai was left in the Far East.”
“Principal Sakai is still doing just fine and those of us below him are the same as him, Lord Matsunaga. Also, we have a bit of a reason for using your route.”
Masazumi placed a hand on the map displayed on their table and brought up the Kii Peninsula.
“As I stated earlier, we used your land’s northern provisional border to cut east to west across the Kii Peninsula when escaping Mikawa. Back then, a group of armed merchant ships from Tres Portugal was also travelling from the east, so you let us through. Your territory belongs to P.A. Oda, but it is more strongly associated with the allied peoples there, you have never gone out of your way to oppose the Testament Union, and the various factions below you are arranged along the national borders. We were thankful to have that route back then.”
“In other words, you wanted to revisit old times before continuing on to Kantou?”
“That’s right,” honestly admitted Masazumi. “In the approximately two months since then, the Testament Union has made Mikawa neutral ground (partially to create a bridgehead against P.A. Oda), but Mikawa will have changed in that time. I think we need to see that for ourselves.”
“Then I need to do my best to keep you from passing through there.”
I’d really rather you didn’t, she thought.
After all, the Musashi’s stealth cruising would not work. If it had indeed been Lord Matsunaga’s doing that Shibata Katsuie’s ship had run across them while using it, it meant he had a way to detect stealth.
Gold Mar: “If we’re going through there, we’ll have to rush through with our gravitational cruising. We’ll have to be careful with the course marker.”
That’s right, thought Masazumi just before Matsunaga placed some money on the counter.
He casually stood from his seat, but the action was so sudden that the Sanada ninja were slow to react. #3 Miyoshi Seikai Nyuudou suddenly looked up.
“What? Do you want me to trick you and use you again?”
“No,” replied Miyoshi Seikai. “That is exactly why I do not wish to fight you.”
“How is that a problem? You just have to travel east with Lady Yoshitsune there. And Musashi Vice President, you haven’t decided for sure if you’re coming my way, right?”
“Judge. That is a last resort to keep as insurance. After giving more thought to our military strength, we will choose our route. …What I can say is that the eastern nations will only be travelling ahead of us and covering for us later, so the Musashi will be on its own until we arrive there. To put it another way, the eastern nations are unlikely to know what route we chose or where we are until we arrive at the rendezvous point.”
“So it’s all up to your adlib decisions? Hey, naked connoisseur, your vice president is a pretty dangerous girl.”
Hearing that, Aoi pulled a piece of frosted glass from somewhere and placed it between them like a partition. Behind it, he spoke in a fake high-pitched voice.
“Well, you see… I am always being subjected to domestic violence. She always strips me naked and-…”
“Enough indirect complaints and lies. And say I subject you to domestic violence again and I’ll knock you to the ground.”
“Th-that’s the problem right there! You’re always hurting me! Why is it always me you attack!?”
“To choose my words carefully so I don’t hurt you, I’ll just say that one mosquito in particular is especially annoying.”
“How poetic!” exclaimed Jonson as Matsunaga lightly waved a hand.
“Anyway, I’ll set up something interesting for you. Musashi Vice President, you were told to leave IZUMO by three tomorrow, right? But how about you wait until…let’s say 3:15.”
“Fifteen extra minutes?”
Novice: “That’s plenty of time for the Musashi to get really damaged. Ask him why.”
But even as everyone else looked up in surprise, Hisahide was already leaving the restaurant.
“Just wait. I promise you it’ll be interesting.” He smiled. “Oh, and one other thing. Lady Yoshitsune, don’t give them any hints. Like the one the two of us know so well. Okay?”
Yoshitsune crossed her arms but suddenly slammed her heel against the table and clenched her teeth.
“So that’s it!!”
After he laughed and disappeared outside, Yoshitsune practically jumped to her feet.
“Honestly, what a troublesome man. Anyway, Masazumi.”
With her eyebrows still raised, she turned toward Masazumi.
“I’m heading back, but remember one thing. You’ll probably be lonely without me, but make sure you wait until 3:15 tomorrow.”
“I feel like there’s some kind of misunderstanding, but why?”
“I can’t say. It’s not my style to tell you when I’m still uncertain about some things. But it’s definitely worth checking on. If that brat was hinting at what I think he was…” Yoshitsune looked outside. “Musashi will gain a troublesome yet cooperative ally and an incomparably powerful enemy.”
Inside a dim cathedral, the Papa-Schola sighed with Galileo behind him.
The cornice firma in front of them displayed footage of a restaurant in IZUMO sent by a spy on the PR Committee. Yatsufusa currently stood in front of the building.
“So Matsunaga has left. As a part of P.A. Oda, he’s probably in charge of a portion of M.H.R.R.’s surrounding fleet, but isn’t it just like that reckless man to stop by without permission? Hm?”
“I was a peaceful teacher while you all were young and enjoying yourselves. Former boy, is he as much of a lifelong enemy as Principal Sakai to you?”
“Even if I tried to make him my lifelong enemy, he’d just slip away. He’s hard to deal with because he acts like a clown and yet has real skill when it comes to a fight. When he was with Miyoshi, he even outdid me at Mediterranean trade a few times. The most irritating part was how he would then show up with a nice plan to make money together.”
“So he has a merchant’s mind? Does he act based on gains and losses and on his interest in new trends?”
“It seems that way.”
Innocentius grabbed a bottle of water from the side table and drank some through the corner of his mouth.
“We didn’t get most of the sound, but it looked like they hit it off fairly well. If the Lord/Retainer Committee’s air official is free, have him predict the five most likely routes for the Musashi. And have him also look into the route I’ll mention later.”
“Do you know of a secret route, former boy?”
“If Matsunaga’s on the move, the odds of them using that route are pretty good. He likes to push things in the direction that he finds interesting, so if he’s taken a liking to Musashi, he won’t let it be destroyed so easily. That’s his style as the destroyer.”
“Testament,” replied Innocentius. “The destroyer always seeks to cause the greatest destruction. Think about the shogun and Todai-ji. One was the symbol of warriors and the other of Buddhism. That’s why he’ll treat Musashi carefully.”
“Musashi is the symbol of the Far East.”
“You mean he will destroy it when that destruction will be more effective?”
“Most likely. But the one thing I can say for sure is that Musashi has yet to fully become the symbol of the Far East. The Kantou forces have yet to accept them and Tohoku is the same. That’s why Matsunaga won’t make the move to destroy the Musashi yet.”
“And is that what you want, former boy?”
“I was merely giving my predictions.”
Innocentius smiled bitterly and snapped his fingers.
“Let’s change the subject. Galileo, have you confirmed the information you gave me earlier?”
“Testament.” Galileo’s plentiful beard shook as he nodded. “Hashiba’s flagship, Himeji Castle – Shirasagi, has entered stealth mode.”
“I see,” said Innocentius with a nod. “So will it be coming here before long? Well, we’re receiving information from the special official and the Liaison Committee’s foreign nation official. Anything within P.A. Oda is still uncertain, but this probably means Hashiba’s Nagahama fleet and Sunomata have begun to move under stealth.”
He clicked his tongue toward the floor and drank some water.
“P.A. Oda has surrounded any important locations in a stealth barrier and only authorized people are allowed in or out. And that includes several large areas of land. For example, most of Lake Biwa, which is also the Black Sea, is hidden behind a stealth barrier. They’re apparently using it as a dock for constructing corazzata, but we can’t be sure.”
“Does that bother you?”
“Of course it does.” Innocentius tapped on the cornice firma showing IZUMO. “IZUMO was originally controlled by the Amako clan. That clan was close to the emperor. In fact, the original spelling of Amako meant ‘heavenly child’, but they changed it once the emperor gave them control of Izumo.”
“But then Mouri invaded, correct?”
“Yes. When Mouri and Hexagone Française invaded, IZUMO chose freedom and thus chose to become a neutral city. That’s when they modified their entire landmass to float up into the air. They also have a connection with England which opposes Hexagone Française and that’s why they helped modify England. Once the Amako clan was gone, Mouri and Hexagone Française’s invasion picked up speed and they finished taking over about twenty years ago. But…”
“Starting ten years ago, P.A. Oda’s Hashiba has supported the remnants of Amako.”
“That means P.A. Oda now has the IZUMO technology left with Amako, doesn’t it?”
“That would be old tech, so it’s useless now. But that’s the technology that forms the foundation of the modern stuff. Do you get what that means? If you suddenly gained a bunch of cutting-edge technology, you wouldn’t even be able to properly copy the parts. But what if you have the foundational technology and can further develop it while comparing it to the cutting-edge stuff?”
“Is that why you sometimes spend your time searching for attack spells in the library’s ancient documents?”
“The pope’s attack spells need to be flashy and powerful, but they also need a grand historical tradition behind them.” Innocentius took a breath. “Hashiba and P.A. Oda received foundational technology from IZUMO and the cutting-edge technology from Mikawa. And nowadays building castles is popular and they have plenty of material for building aerial warships. It makes me wonder what they’ve done with Azuchi Castle, Nobunaga’s giant fortress on the shore of Lake Biwa. The Lake Biwa area has been hidden by stealth for a few years now, so we don’t know what’s going on inside. I don’t like the fact that they could have already built it and sent it out with a stealth barrier of its own.”
He laughed quietly, closed the cornice firma, stood up, and lightly rotated his shoulders.
“But Musashi is in even more trouble since they aren’t prepared like we are.”
“Testament. After all, if M.H.R.R. really is making a move against us, it will reduce the burden of the Thirty Years’ War on Hexagone Française. That means Hexagone Française can fully focus on IZUMO tomorrow.”
The Papa-Schola laughed again.
“That nation will become the most powerful in Europe. They are not bound by a history of mercenaries and knights and they have begun to prepare a large-scale national army. …What is Musashi to do with them as their opponent? Hm?”
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