Horizon:Volume 3 Chapter 21

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Chapter 21: Sprinters in the Wasteland[edit]

Horizon3A 0509.jpg

Huh?

Why?

Why is that?

Point Allocation (Reality)


The battle in southern IZUMO began with Hexagone Française.

Their entire force advanced on the Musashi with their eight Lourd de Marionnettes kicking up a cloud of dust in the lead.

They obeyed a single creed.

“Hurry!”

The Musashi would leave port at 3:15 PM, so the ground unit could only fight for fifteen minutes. However, their distance meant they would use up a whole minute of that time for the Lourd de Marionnettes to reach the ship. But…

“Fifteen minutes. If we follow our previous strategy and board them before then, we win!”

The blue Lourd de Marionnettes wore red coats while dragging bridge parts that resembled flat ships or sleds. They all had slender builds to reduce weight, but their thighs and upper arms had very human-like forms. A horse was embroidered on their chests and the speed of their giant bodies quickly covered a third of the distance to the Musashi.

They continued on.

They heard something tearing through the wind overhead as countless shells passed by them. After sensing them with his secondary sight devices, the Lourd de Marionnette on the far right sent a divine transmission to the others.

“Aren’t they firing a little late!? They aren’t too excited with the chancellor and the others nearby, are they!?”

“No! You’re too far forward!! The shells will get there first whether you rush this or not!”

A moment later, the shells hit in the sky ahead. At the end of their parabolic arc, they fell on the Musashi’s starboard side.

Meanwhile, the Musashi repeatedly opened torii-shaped gravity barriers diagonally in the air. An accurate stack of five barriers scattered sparks and deflected a shell.

“Shit! That isn’t fair!”

“Enough dirty language. That isn’t very Hexagone Française-like,” said a female unit member as she ran. “When forced to land and battle on the ground, even the Pension Versailles is going to be shorter than the Musashi. We have no choice but to fire on a gentle curve like that. If we don’t…”

She did not need to continue for everyone to understand. The Musashi looked like a giant wall in front of them and they could see the ship’s guns that had been installed on the side of the deck for the armada battle.

Those were dangerous weapons that could destroy even a Lourd de Marionnette with a direct hit.

“But cannons installed on the deck can’t aim downwards very well, so we can do whatever we want if we get close. Until then, we will receive overhead covering fire from behind.”

Even so, some small amount of shellfire reached them as they approached.

It tore into the ground and through the wind next to them.

Various sounds of impact reverberated from nearby, but none of them slowed down.

“Hurry! Their cannons are heavy, so they can’t alter their aim very quickly! If a shell hits nearby, move further forward! That’s enough to get in past its aim!”

They continued on.

It was safer to create a route the shells would not reach than to detect and evade them with their accelerated Lourd de Marionnette senses.

And so they all ran in gentle arcs to throw off the aim of the cannons.

“Hurry!”

They each ran in different arcs and the spray of landing shells pursued them from behind.

Just a little slower and the diagonal cannon fire would have torn into their bodies.

But they all continued on. They leaned forward, accelerated, and slipped below the shells that arrived just overhead.

“How much farther!”

“Seven seconds to the safe zone!”

“Answer with a distance!!”

“Five steps!!”

They advanced three steps and then four in an instant. Their sight devices saw the formation of students who had descended from the bridge up to the Musashi. Needless to say, they also saw their expressions.

Someone gave their impression of those students.

“They look nice.”

Someone nodded in agreement.

And they took the fifth step.

“!!”

In that instant, something happened quite suddenly. The transportation hatch on the Musashi’s side opened.

The Musashi’s transportation corridor looked like nothing more than a hole, but there was something inside.

“I thought they didn’t have a cannon there.”

But this was something else and it fired something other than a shell: wooden stakes.


“Herrlich!!”

Something was fired through the four long blocks stretching from the Musashi’s starboard side to port side.

“They’re based on the ones Tres España fired at us but made a little lighter!”

Eight white wooden stakes measuring five meters long were fired.

They were flown with four brooms at the front and eight in the back. The various acceleration spells of the Technohexen in charge produced various Magie Figur.

“Go!!”

The giant stakes caused a great disturbance of wind in the long blocks that flipped up the Technohexen’s hair and skirts.

This was a counterattack against the charging gods of war.


The Technohexen watched the fired stakes through the rapidly closing side hatch.

The attack was not all that fast. It was using brooms not encased in cowlings, so reaching upper-end subsonic speeds was a decent accomplishment.

“This is a guided counterattack! It has to hit!!”

Most of the Technohexen took defensive stances to celebrate the hit, but one of them seemed lost in thought.

“Ga-chan, what is it? If you’re worried, why not do the verwandlung? You can just summon the clothes.”

“Eh? Oh, that isn’t it. I just feel like I’ve seen this situation before.”

“Well, yeah. This is using the same method as the automatons in the first half of the armada battle. Y’know, when they sent the wooden stakes through the ship and…”

Naito trailed off but frantically spoke up a moment later.

“Ga-chan, you can’t possibly have seen this before! You can’t possibly know about this! When we were having fun with the armada battle, you were having a party in London!”

“Judge. That’s right, Margot, but I still remember seeing a situation like-…”

At that point, Naruze gave a sharp cry as if cutting off her own words.

“Not good! Those stakes aren’t going to work! The enemy can avoid them with that equipment!!”

“Eh?” said all the others.

Naruze looked outside the closing hatch with raised eyebrows.

The wooden stakes were already about to reach the gods of war. And as guided weapons, they accurately…

“I knew it!!”

The gods of war took action. Those machines that measured over ten meters tall began by throwing aside the bridges.

“This is why they wore those red armored coats, isn’t it!?”

All of the gods of war threw their armored coats into the air behind them.

Next, they sank down low while running.

“This is how Tenzou avoided those guided arrows in London!”


The guided projectiles targeted the movement and shape of the gods of war and the coats abandoned by the gods of war as they suddenly crouched down appeared to have a humanoid shape to them.

Thus, the long stakes pierced through the red coats spread out in the air instead of the gods of war themselves.

They had been successfully avoided.


Tenzou watched the gods of war from the port side of Tama’s deck.

“That’s the same evasion method I used in London!!”

“Oh?” asked Urquiaga while standing next to him with his large front wing arms crossed. “You know how that works, Tenzou?”

“Judge. I don’t just know how it works. When I was on my way to confess to Mary-dono, England’s warriors fired a bunch of arrows at me and I – fwoosh – evaded them. Just like this: fwoosh. I was only able to pull it off so suddenly because I was filled the power I gained from being on the way to confess to Mary-dono. You could call it the power of love.”

“Hey, everyone. I say our next formation should be this heretic ninja on his own. Any objections?”

“Th-that is not a formation! It’s a backwards way of ostracizing me!!”

“Calm down,” cut in Futayo. “We should not be fighting amongst ourselves. Crossunite-dono did nothing wrong.”

After nodding back at the ninja who was aggressively nodding at her, she held Tonbokiri in her arms as if embracing it.

“Listen. Just as we learn on the battlefield, so does the enemy. So fighting amongst ourselves in surprise is nothing but an expression of our own fear. If the enemy has learned how to avoid guided projectiles thanks to seeing Crossunite-dono’s technique, we must realize they are now more skilled than us and focus ourselves.

“And the reason the enemy has grown more skilled than us can be traced back to Crossunite-dono showing off that evasion technique in London, so if he had not-…”

She trailed off and paused.

“Oh?” She tilted her head toward Tenzou. “When you get down to it, this is your fault.”

“Y-you are the worst vice chancellor!!”

Me: “Yeah. If Tenzou hadn’t dodged those, we could’ve beat those gods of war.”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh heh. Foolish brother, don’t be like that. You need to let go of the past and look to the future. But listen, foolish brother. The ninja’s evasion does not apply to that.”

10ZO: “Nhh! It’s been a while since those siblings went for a combined attack!!”

Flat Vassal: “More importantly, the gods of war are here!!”

Adele, who had already descended to the surface, shouted from the sign frame.

Flat Vassal: “Get ready!”


The charging Lourd de Marionnettes had a single goal.

“The formation of Far Eastern students that descended from the Musashi!!”

Hexagone Française was interpreting this battle as an attack on a fortress. They were breaking into the city that was Musashi and the giant fortress that surrounded it.

And that had a single meaning.

“A city is conquered once people set foot inside and raise their flag!!”

“As the Royal Knights, we are to cut through the enemy formation, not to form a path!!”

Setting up a bridge, forming a path, and conquering were done by people. They had carried the bridges to lighten the load for the people charging on foot, not to use them themselves.

The knights had already passed below the enemy shellfire and into the safe zone, so only one thing remained.

“We will make this battlefield ours!”

The eight Lourd de Marionnettes drew shortened long guns and swords from their backs and raised cries to express the spirit of their charge.

“Vive le XIV!”

“Vive le XIV!”

The Lourd de Marionnettes accelerated toward the coming clash.


A seven hundred man formation of Musashi warriors was located three hundred meters in front of the central bridge on the starboard side of the Musashi.

They were not meant to fight gods of war. On the assumption that the gods of war were taken out by the shellfire and stakes, they were meant to hold off the Three Musketeers’ automaton unit and the other warriors.

However, the gods of war were approaching fast.

“Hit them! That’s all you have to do!!”

Just as that hope and conclusion arrived far too close, a round mobile shell spoke from the front of the seven hundred Far Eastern warriors.

“Line up!!”

That shout produced motion.

Everyone lined up into seven columns of a hundred people each.

“Move!!”

As they did so, some were in sync with the others and some were not.

The seven columns moved to slip into the gaps between the eight gods of war. Some of them fell back, some advanced, and some stayed put.

Meanwhile, the gods of war saw their enemy opt not to defend and to instead slip between them and either approach or move away.

“…!?”

They had been prepared for a collision and their weapons were pointed forward, so they were slow to react to the side.

Having the enemy on either side also made them hesitate over which column they would attack and which their neighbor would attack, and the different movements of the different columns acted as a sort of feint. But after they instantly arrived halfway down the columns…

“Keep moving!” shouted the commander on the center left. “Don’t reflexively go on the defensive! This is a diversion!!”

If they kept moving, they would hit the enemy. Even catching them with their legs was enough. It was not at all what they had intended, but…

“That’s enough to crush them!”

The two on the far left and right reacted quickest because they were not located between two fellow gods of war.

They forced their lowered body inwards and slammed in their short swords as if trying to tear into the ground.

They swung down the swords, tore into the dirt, and a cascade of grass and everything else burst into the air.

But after the ground was torn up with a great sound of impact, something else was knocked flying.

“!?”

It was the two gods of war on the far left and right.


The two gods of war swept across, tore up, and rolled along the ground.

The two machines in blue armored clothing fell forward as if something had struck them from above. Their elbows stabbed into the ground and they tore up the dirt as they slid, but they began to twist after a certain distance.

“…!?”

They bounced up into the air, flipped upside down, and rotated a few times. By that time, the two gods of war that were now the farthest on either side reacted.

“What just happened?”

They then saw what had fallen from above and slammed the other two into the ground.

“Wooden stakes!?”

They mistakenly thought these were the ones they had just avoided, but they soon saw something standing in front of them.

This was an attack from the sky.

New stakes had fallen and stabbed into the ground, and these stakes were waist height.

They tried to evade the stakes that were sticking up from the ground.

“…”

Just as they realized that would be impossible, they also realized what these falling stakes were.

“They’re using their Lourd de Marionnette ejection devices as pile drivers!!”

A moment later, they both heard and felt an impact.


Standing on Tama’s central deck, Neshinbara took a breath and looked to Tama and the back of Takao.

He could hear two sounds.

One was that of stakes being fired into the air and the other was of those stakes tearing into the ground after they fell.

He could feel the continuous sounds in his stomach, but it seemed somehow lacking.

“Those are the anchor piles used for large-scale construction within the Musashi. We fired seventy-two of them at close enough intervals for humans to pass through, but it should act as a decent barricade against gods of war.”

He could not see it from here, but the god of war ejection devices on the bottom of the ships were being used to their fullest. They repeatedly fired the stakes so they would form a rough wall along the starboard side.

But this was not meant to stop the gods of war themselves; it was meant to prevent them from carrying over the bridges.

“That is why the gods of war have no choice but to destroy the barricade that is three hundred meters from the Musashi. A public works job like that will be humiliating for knights, but, well, they’ll have to do their best.”

As Neshinbara had Michizane convert the statement to text, Yoshinao crossed his arms next to the boy.

“Neshinbara-kun, don’t tell me this is why you sent Adele-kun and the others down below.”

“Judge. Using them as a decoy was our second move. We first had the enemy lower their heads with the shelling and stakes and then we distracted them by sending the warriors between them. Only then did we begin the overhead pile driver attack. The fact that some of the gods of war were hit directly was no coincidence. That was thanks to Adele-kun and the other warriors.”

“Judge. I would like to call that a clever plan, but guiding the enemy with a decoy is a standard technique. Especially when it comes to gods of war. …But that is for the best. Clever plans are not a recipe for a long life, so be careful.”

Wise Sister: “I wonder what kind of clever plan that king used to get his wife.”

Novice: “D-don’t say that kind of thing with the king right next to me! What if he saw!?”

Asama: “Wait. Neshinbara-kun, aren’t you using vocal input right now?”

Novice: “Oh, no! He’s looking right at me!! What do I do!?”

Four Eyes: “You always panic far too quickly. …Oh, and can you send me an event application once you arrive in Edo?”

Novice: “Stop butting in when I’m so busy!”

Meanwhile, a new sign frame opened. It was a Catholic one using shared Shinto settings.

Flat Vassal: “The gods of war are leaving the injured ones behind and charging the barricade!!”

As the words were written, Neshinbara could hear the creaking of impacts from the starboard tableland.

The sounds of splitting metal meant a few of the stakes had already been destroyed.

“They got started quickly. They didn’t hesitate to charge in to open things up.”

“Are we in trouble? How many people are protecting the bridge from central Tama?”

“Balfette-kun is with four hundred members of the advance unit who are quick on their feet and we have three hundred here for interception and defense.”

“Is that why they are packed in around the end of the bridge? But it would seem they barely have any anti-god of war equipment.”

“Judge,” agreed Neshinbara. “Their job is to act as a final line of defense by preventing the enemy warriors from setting up ladders against the Musashi. As for an anti-god of war force…”

Yes.

“I already have something set up, so don’t worry.”


The Hexagone Française Lourd de Marionnette unit slammed their right shoulders into the barricade.

The metal stakes were fifty centimeters thick and eight meters long, but they used their speed to smash them.

Intense noises and scattering sparks filled the air.

Pieces of armor and the stakes joined them.

Their speed fell, but the Lourd de Marionnettes gave a powerful kick backwards.

“You can keep going, right!?”

They checked with their comrades and continued onward.

The four that had not been directly hit by the stakes crossed the half-broken barricade and faced the Musashi’s bridge three hundred meters ahead.

All of them lowered their hips a bit and leaned forward as they continued on.

They were preparing to dash.

Their target was the bridge up to the Musashi. If they could take control of that, they would not need to set up their own equipment for scaling the Musashi. The enemy had sent warriors out behind the Lourd de Marionnette, so the enemy could not drop the bridge because they needed to pick up those warriors.

Hexagone Française would win.

It was currently 3:04, so they had eleven minutes left.

“Don’t worry about the four hundred Musashi warriors behind us! And we can crush the three hundred up ahead!” shouted the commander. “So let’s finish this all at once!”

The commander received a message de système saying that those directly hit by the stakes were adjusting their senses. They would not be perfectly functional, but they would eventually be able to stand and rejoin the fight.

Therefore, the others moved as the vanguard.

They leaned forward and ran.

But at that moment, the central right one was suddenly knocked backwards.


One Lourd de Marionnette was destroyed and its armored outfit torn apart.

“What!?”

There had been an attack. It had been a long range attack, and yet…

“It was a slash!?”

Not quite. As the Lourd de Marionnette flew backwards and collapsed into the barricade, a certain shape had opened deep into its chest armor.

“A cut!!”

They then spotted someone racing in a tearing arc from the tableland by the ship’s bow.

“Musashi Vice Chancellor Honda Futayo!”


Futayo raised her speed as she ran. Her acceleration spell was Soaring Wings of Izumo-style Kazamatsuri. When used, it would sequentially eliminate every unnecessary element, so it ultimately provided stable speed yet provided little instant speed.

So I require a running start.

In her battles against Kimi and Muneshige, she had accomplished that by making attack runs. In her battle against Gin, she had used the cityscape destroyed by the girl’s shells as a path for her running start.

Its top speed was among the highest of the Shinto speed manipulation spells and it could be altered into derivative spells. Kazuno had recommended it since it only eliminated what was unnecessary and could therefore be used at any time.

She felt bad to her god and Kazuno for having complaints with the spell, but that sort of spoiled desire was natural as a vital part of the fighting force.

Of course, there was one main reason she was having these thoughts.

It’s because I saw Lady Yoshitsune’s Hassou Tobi this morning.

Yoshitsune was a hero of the Genpei War and any warrior would know her name.

Just as the legends say, she uses truly ridiculous martial arts.

But she was a rare sight even in Qing-Takeda and Futayo was fairly certain her father had never met her.

If I had told him I had met her or spoken with her, how would he have reacted? Probably, ‘Wh-where’s her signature!? What, you didn’t at least have her sign Tonbokiri!? Th-then I don’t believe you actually met her. I don’t!’ It could be a problem how he would gradually grow more skeptical like that.

Tonbokiri would probably protest as well.

She nodded twice as she ran and then suddenly faced forward.

“Oh? When did these gods of war get so close?”

They collided.


Seven hundred meters west of the Musashi’s starboard side, Adele turned toward the Musashi and saw Futayo collide with the enemy god of war unit.

The barricade between the Musashi and them was half destroyed, but that barricade had created a three hundred square meter space between them.

Inside that space, Futayo faced the remaining three gods of war.

Wow.

Adele saw a new kind of fighting.

Futayo was moving so quickly she was almost entirely an afterimage and each step took her several meters. Adele’s combat training had only taught her to protect a space of a few meters, but Futayo freely used the entire three hundred meter space.

She moved forwards, backwards, and around, but…

She’s up against gods of war!

As she occasionally fired her cutting power, the gods of war made dizzying movements of their own.

They were not holding back.

Their movements showed they understood their opponent was a vice chancellor who was the cornerstone of the fighting power that supported a nation. When Futayo prepared to use her cutting power, they would use their swords as shields and repeatedly sidestep. The three machines attacked and evaded like a storm and one of them would always circle behind Futayo.

But, said Adele in her heart. The battle is reaching the end of the first stage.

The time for the approach was over. The battlefield was entering the stage of attack and counterattack.

And currently, the enemy had three unharmed gods of war. Futayo may have been disturbing them with her speed and using Tonbokiri’s cutting power, but she would have a much harder time once the other five recovered and reentered the fray.

Adele did not know if she could help or not, but she was on the battlefield too.

Neshinbara said he had something else prepared, but there was something she could do here.

Once they finished turning, the surrounding four hundred people were facing the Musashi.

And so she took in a deep breath and let out a shout.

“We will now turn and attack the enemy god of war unit from behind!!”


“Judge!!”

Adele looked to the four hundred others who moved forward with her. None of them had powerful spells or weapons and they had mostly been selected for the diversion unit because of their speed.

However, they had all fought in the armada battle and they had been stationed on Tama, so they had experience in defending against shellfire and delaying an enemy’s advance.

These are the ones most used to the battlefield!

Having their feet on the ground and knowing there was a set time limit improved their morale.

As she watched them open their acceleration spells, Adele voiced the word to begin the charge.

“Debut!”

That cry set them all in motion.

They all let out cries of their own, began to run, and continued to run.

I need to hurry!

Inside her slow mobile shell, she could only watch the others leave. How nice, she cheerfully thought while watching their running backs. She personally liked to run and would even hold the anchor position in athletic festival relays.

But this mobile shell takes all my leg strength to move at a normal human pace.

It had received light damage in England, but Naomasa had brought Mishina Hiro to take a look at it. The girl had said the following:

“Well, it probably just needs a few metal healing charms on the armor. It isn’t broken from anything but the passage of time, so we’ll put off full-blown maintenance until everyone else’s equipment is fixed. …But most of this thing’s driving force is used for shock-absorption. Do you move the thing without any power assistance?”

Adele had not entirely understood, so she had tilted her head which had put a displeased look on the girl’s face.

At any rate, her father had left it for her and its selling point was how sturdy and safe it was.

She decided to continue on as the rear guard, but something suddenly appeared overhead from behind.

“You’re mine!!”

“Eh?”

She turned around and saw something drawn on the secondary display slate on the top of the cockpit area.

She saw the color red forming four giant floating swords and she recognized their shape.

Those are the weapons of Henri, one of the automaton Three Musketeers!

Just as the thoughts “They’re here already?” and “That was fast” mixed together in her mind, the four thick swords shot down from almost exactly overhead.


“Owwww!!”

The four sounds of impact overlapped into a single intense sound and everyone on the battlefield looked over for an instant.

They all saw a woman in a red coat attack Adele who was out ahead of the others. The automaton was Henri, one of the Three Musketeers. In front of her, Adele’s mobile shell was knocked a little into the air.

“Ow… What was that all of a sudden!? Ahhh, I’ve got more than just tears on my face. I’ve seriously had the snot surprised out of me!!”

After hearing that, everyone from Musashi looked away.

“…”

And they began carrying out their duty once more.


Henri used the word “anger” to describe the decision inside her artificial brain.

She had slammed her four prized swords into the opponent before her.

In Musashi’s previous battles, that round mobile shell had endured all of the enemy’s shells and other attacks.

It was an excellent target that moved slowly.

And so Henri had wanted to demonstrate Hexagone Française’s strength by smashing it. However…

It’s this hard!?

Several torii-style sign frames appeared around the staggering mobile shell. Everyone was likely giving the pilot vassal instructions. Sensing danger, Henri used her high-speed senses as a Belle de Marionnette to read the reversed sign frames from the back.

And…

Asama: “A-are you okay, Adele!? They say a strong blow to the top of the head will make you go bald, but that’s just a superstition, but there are curses like that, so do your best!!”

Gold Mar: “Is it just me or does Asama-chi make no sense at all sometimes.”

Scarred: “Um, can she blow her nose inside the mobile shell?”

Henri truly could not understand what they were saying.

Is this some kind of code!?

Henri used the word “shudder” to describe the decision inside her artificial brain.

“Ahhhh! I’m back! …Okay, I-I’ll do my best! Wait, w-what was that just now!? The display says it reached the second layer of armor! That was a close one!!”

Me: “If we call the ever-popular bikini armor a single layer, how many layers does your mobile shell have?”

“Um, twenty-seven, I think.”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh heh. Who would have thought the perfect character for the final boss of strip mahjong or a strip quiz show was so nearby! Adele, tell that automaton that her quota is twenty-seven questions!”

I have to repeat that same attack twenty-six times? No, this one reached the second layer, so would it only be thirteen times?

Still, that’s thirteen more times, thought Henri while beginning to lose her confidence.

However, Armand soon arrived beside her. He too had arrived ahead of his unit.

“Henri, don’t let the result get to you so much. After all, that mobile shell and vassal are both from Hexagone Française. Our academy can fortunately view that hardness as the pride of Hexagone Française and view your skill as praiseworthy. We can also say we have reached 1/27 of a resolution to the shield and spear paradox.”

“Hmph. Praiseworthy? I take it that assessment wasn’t your doing.”

“Testament. I was told to tell you that. …By the princess.” Armand went on to add, “It can be troublesome that Belle de Marionnettes can’t lie.”

Henri lightly shook a hand.

“I will continue on ahead, so you take care of this vassal. You would be a better match.”

“Instead of saying I’m a better match, why not say I can handle her better?”

“The princess has always been the best at saying things backwards, hasn’t she?”

With that, Henri used her shared memory to shout at the Belle de Marionnettes running up from behind.

“As planned, continue to the right and through the southern woods! Armand, you hurry too!”


Adele saw the female automaton named Henri and her unit sprint around to the left.

What are they doing?

“Front line to HQ! The enemy musketeer unit is planning to charge the Musashi’s central bridge! They are going to fire on the warriors defending the end of the bridge while charging them from the side!!”

“Judge,” replied Neshinbara’s voice. “Gunfire is almost entirely useless against the gods of war, but our forces are primarily human. And an attack from the side is even more dangerous. Looking at it in a broad sense, this is a multi-stage operation on their part. The gods of war are keeping Vice Chancellor Honda-kun busy while the automatons begin their attack.”

Adele nodded.

The Musashi is in trouble, she thought. And so are the others running with me out here.

After all, while Henri and her unit rapidly circled south of the barricade, they began firing on Adele’s unit of warriors.

Automatons had accurate aim. The four hundred running warriors were forced to slow down and some of them had to take defensive positions.

This isn’t good! thought Adele as she saw it happening. I need to protect them!

She faced their backs and tried to pick up her speed, but a sudden figure appeared from the left.

Eh?

It was one of the Three Musketeers. The large Musketeer named Armand ran up alongside her.

The tall automaton first slowly put on the wide-brimmed hat that had hung from his hip.

Below the feathered hat, he gave a thin smile.

“This is my job as Musketeer. Care to join me, outdated vassal?”

Eh? thought Adele just before she saw the ground appear directly in front of her.


“What?”

Adele saw Armand spread his hands to the side before grabbing and lifting empty air.

“I was made with a little extra in this area.”

The earth rose up and split open, but this was not just a few meters.

A thirty meter area of the crust split apart like a breaking wave.

Countless dull sounds resembling flesh being struck came from underground and small stones could be heard spilling out. The earth then split as if plants were budding within.

“Eh? Um? Wait!”

For dozens of meters, the crust shook and roared upwards.

It was three meters thick, it was at least twenty-five meters long, and it snaked back and forth.

“This is the frame supporting IZUMO’s land and the crust attached to it. But do not worry. IZUMO will not break just because a portion of the surface is torn up.”

Even a giant’s club looked kind in comparison. The ridiculously huge metal frame and crust resembled both a giant hammer and a floating island.

Adele gasped as the naturally-made blunt weapon was held high.

“Um…uh…”

She somehow got the words out.

“I don’t really want this.”

“Testament.” Armand nodded and then did so again. “The princess told me the Far Eastern rule is to always reject a gift the first time around.”

“N-no, I don’t need that! I really, really don’t need that! See, I turned it down three times!”

“I have determined you are three times as modest as the average person.”

He swung it down on her.


Study:

Horizon3A 0538.jpg

The Battlefield as the Fight Progresses

Toori: Sis! Sis! A battle’s going on and everything’s a complete mess, so could you give me a simple explanation?

Kimi: Heh heh heh. Messy brother, I’m not sure if this is simple, but here’s the same kind of explanation as before.


*Distances and relative sizes are fairly arbitrary.

1: Three Musketeer Armand’s unit and Adele

2: Three Musketeer Henri’s unit

3: Rear guard and Isaac’s unit

4: Flagcraft Palais-Cardinal and Warship Pension Versailles

5: 300-man god of war defense unit

6: Hexagone Française gods of war and Futayo

7: Barricade (half destroyed)

8: 400-man advance unit

9: Tama

10: IZUMO’s anti-wind woods

11: Southern shrine grove


Toori: Oh, Adele’s really given it her all. Does this pay as a part-time job or something? Should we tell Shiro?

Kimi: Paying by the hour would be pretty wasteful, so maybe paying by the minute would be better. …Anyway, the enemy has started circumventing the barricade, so we’re beginning to wonder what we should do. Tama has to defend too, so everyone’s really busy.

Toori: Is there any time when people aren’t busy on the Musashi?