Horizon:Volume 3 Chapter 26
Chapter 26: Searcher in the Mist
Where are you?
Point Allocation (Ultra Easy)
Inside the mist, Futayo saw the idiot fly in a parabolic arc leading to the ground covered by that same mist.
He was approximately one hundred meters away.
She was worried about Adele too, but the half-dragon had caught her.
…So I must retrieve-…
Before she could think “him”, a swift strike came at her from the right.
The mist split open and that was exactly who arrived.
She did not hesitate to thrust Tonbokiri toward the leading edge of the enemy’s speed.
Her opponent was here, so she spoke while beginning her confrontation with Narimasa.
“Sanada! Go retrieve the idiot over there!”
Futayo’s call reached the Sanada force in the mist, but they did not move.
“Hey, Anayama. Aren’t we going?” asked Kakei Juuzou with his hands in his pants pockets.
The mist was relatively thin where they were, so they could see the silhouettes of the Musashi and the other nearby objects. From there, they would be able to reach the Musashi Chancellor without missing him.
Anayama smiled and remained just as motionless as the other three.
He only stared at the southern woods and Kakei bent his skinny body to talk to him.
“Retrieving the Musashi Chancellor here would earn us some points and be great publicity. Isn’t that the best option for-…”
“Let’s head back,” said Anayama without turning toward the others.
Rokurou of the metal fan swords tilted her head.
“Why? …Hey, wait.”
As she spoke, Anayama began to walk toward the Musashi which was the source of the mist.
He said nothing, but he pointed to the south. The others looked there and saw a white and hazy trail in the afternoon sky.
Isa tilted her head just before something resembling a spear flew from the woods.
It shot straight toward her face. She was slow to react and only managed a quick back step.
Unno reached in from the side and snatched it from the air, but that was when the four of them finally realized what it was.
…A skewer of meat!?
Pieces of meat were skewered by a whittled down piece of wood sixty centimeters long.
The meat was cooked, it spewed steam, and some salt had yet to dissolve into the grease.
Inertia pulled the meat from the skewer, the skewer acted as a rail, and the forty centimeters of meat flew toward Isa’s face, piece after piece.
“You really need to watch out.”
Kakei grabbed the top and bottom of Isa’s head and opened her mouth. After several sounds of striking meat and several groans of “ah” or “nn”, all of the meat filled Isa’s mouth.
Kakei closed her mouth and lightly shook her head back and forth.
“Oh,” said Unno with a nod. “A little slower and she would have burned her face.”
“Ah…kh… You… Hot!”
“Make sure to chew, oldest. …And that skewer really was nothing but meat.”
A moment after that comment, another skewer of meat appeared in front of Kakei’s face.
Eh? thought Kakei.
Someone tall stood in front of him. Their silver outfit resembled a Hexagone Française uniform.
It was an adult woman.
Her curly pale silver hair was swept back and she had almost fanglike bangs.
Her golden eyes moved in an arc to look across their group.
She offered the skewer of meat to them.
…When did she get here!?
Anayama turned around and his shout acted as a sign.
Kakei trembled and adjusted himself. He took in a breath and lowered his head without looking at the woman.
After taking in a long, cold breath, Kakei took the proffered skewer.
“My,” said the woman with a hint of a smile.
That smile only deepened in the corner of his vision.
It was a carnivorous but kind smile.
“I spotted a convenient boar, so I cooked it up. …Wild board meat is wonderful, isn’t it?”
“I like it with miso flavoring.”
Kakei restrained the reaction that threatened to rise up within his heart.
He knew one thing for sure: he might be able to defeat this woman, but he would not escape unharmed.
If it did come to a fight, he would receive just as many – if not more – injuries.
“How about it?” she asked. “Your guns use spatial ejection to fire on your opponents at point blank range, don’t they? I was watching while lighting the fire earlier. …So do you want to do this?”
She was tempting him and his heart just about gave in, so he took a deep breath.
This woman is an enemy. She knows it too.
…She is in a very good mood right now.
He knew why: she had just eaten. She had hunted down and eaten a large prey in the wild, so she was satisfied. Her battle instincts were currently wavering.
She was non-human.
Hexagone Française’s non-humans did not simply eat humans. The higher level ones ate humans as their primary food source.
To her, he was nothing but prey. Her stomach was full, so her instincts were straying toward play rather than fighting.
But if she did not enjoy that play, she might kill him for fun and bury him so she could eat him later.
She was a beast.
That’s right, he thought. If I don’t provoke her, this won’t end up in a conflict.
…That is the Sanada way.
And so he restrained himself.
However, a sudden pressure moved to his right.
It was Isa.
Isa moved in the right of Kakei’s vision. A god of war arm was spatially ejected on the outside of her right arm and the strike was already wrapped in wind.
“This is thanks for the meat!!”
Kakei saw a few different results of the strike.
First, the non-human woman turned her left palm toward Isa’s god of war fist.
There was a definite impact and sound of shaking, but the woman was not knocked away and Isa was not pushed back.
Isa and her god of war arm were lifted and held up in a single hand like a tree branch.
Before Isa could cry out in surprise, the woman casually tore into the metal fist’s armor with her other hand.
The steel armor tore away like clay and the woman gently placed it between her small lips.
She bit of a piece like it was a rice cracker, moved her jaw up and down, and worked her throat.
…Is she going to swallow it?
Kakei saw the woman bite off and swallow the metal before narrowing her eyes.
“Far Eastern metal is rough and has a strong flavor…much like blood. Truly delicious.”
She tossed Isa away to place her hands on her cheeks, but she soon reached again for Isa and the god of war arm that rotated through the air.
“Oh, just a little more.”
She casually tore off another fistful of armor and placed a hand on Kakei’s head.
The hand on his hat was just as casual and she did nothing more than gently stroke the hat.
“You did well to prepare some food for me. If you hadn’t…”
She placed a hand on his ear and pinched it.
Before he could wonder what she was doing, she spoke with a smile.
“I was considering taking about this much as a palate-cleanser.”
Following her words, the woman disappeared and Kakei realized where she was headed based on the slight wind she left behind.
“The Musashi Chancellor!!”
Toori stood in the mist.
He had fallen to the ground from high in the air, but the shaking of the crust had caused the ground to crumble near the edge of the land port. Instead of hitting a stone wall or hard ground, he had been stopped by dirt and grass.
“This ain’t good.”
He could hear shellfire overhead and something hard clashing nearby.
“That’s an old-fashioned speech pattern and some weird speech pattern. Is it that samurai girl and that weird sunglasses guy?”
He posed and shouted up toward the Musashi’s silhouette.
“Heeeeeey! Little help down heeeeeere!! They can’t see me, can they!? This is hopeless! Dammit, but I’m not gonna let this stop me!”
Everyone on the Musashi could hear the idiot starting a one-man play down below. Kimi and the others who had been on the deck had now joined the rest at the outer loading entrance.
Toori was talking in the mist below.
“And when the girl came from the split bamboo, the old man held her in his arms and said, ‘Now, come back to my place’.”
“Judge. You can shoot him, Asama.”
Asama fired and a shout came from the mist.
“Th-that was close! What do you think you’re doing, titty shrine maiden! Is your shooting spirit that lonely!? That’s it, isn’t it!? Well, you leave me no choice. Brother Toori will sing you a song: Sniper, snipper, snipples, she’ll snipe you right in the nipples, that sniper shrine maiden.”
“Nwaaaaaah! That guy is using the international broadcast for a strange new singing debut!”
Horizon and Kimi both nodded twice and exchanged a glance.
“Based on his actions, it would seem he did not hit his head.”
“Heh heh. That’s right, Horizon. This is a perfectly normal sequence.”
“That doesn’t really matter,” said Asama as she looked around. “Urquiaga-kun is busy retrieving Adele, isn’t he? So who can go?”
Naito replied to her gaze by stepping forward with a sigh.
“I guess I’ll go. But it’s a little hard to tell where he is in the mist, so I apologize if I can’t do it immediately.”
“Oh, then I’ll go too!” added Mitotsudaira.
She had one silver chain grab onto the loading entrance railing.
“Um, well… I can locate him in the mist using his scent. And, Margot? Your broom can carry three, right?”
Masazumi noticed the surrounding atmosphere stiffen.
…Eh? What is this tension?
She knew what had caused it, but…
…Mitotsudaira is only trying to head down there, right?
The idiot had told her that Mitotsudaira was not disembarking due to a promise with her mother, but regardless of her family circumstances…
…This is an emergency.
So why were they so worried? Was there something more to this?
Kimi took a step toward Mitotsudaira.
“There is a lot I want to say. …Pushing yourself is a sign of an excellent woman, but pushing yourself too far is what truly hopeless people do. If you understand that, then come here.”
She beckoned Mitotsudaira over. Mitotsudaira approached in confusion and Kimi held out Horizon’s head.
“She uses the same shampoo, so remember it.”
“Are you sure you don’t think I’m a dog?”
But after she sniffed Horizon’s head a few times to memorize the scent, Masazumi and everyone else backed away.
“She’s a dog.”
“Th-this is just to be sure.”
Her eyebrows rose and Asama stepped between her and the others. She told them all to calm down, patted the sides of Mitotsudaira’s shoulders, and smiled.
“We’re counting on you.”
“Eh? R-right. Judge.”
Seeing her confused nod, Masazumi took a breath. Asama is good at giving us a quick breather, she thought. She made up her mind when she noticed Crossunite and Mary approach from down the corridor. She decided to stop being suspicious and to remain positive.
“In other words, Naito will observe from above and Mitotsudaira will search down below?”
“Yes. At any rate, we need to hurry. ‘Musashi’, how long until the mist clears up?”
“Judge. The mist itself will calm down after about a minute longer. We still have three minutes until we leave port at 3:15. Be careful. Over.”
“I see,” replied Asama as she fired a voice-tracking arrow into the mist below.
Wait, wait, thought Masazumi while Asama turned toward her with a smile.
“He is down there, where the arrow vanished into the mist.”
“Y-you idiot! Don’t fire without warning like that! That nicked me in the crotch!”
“Anyway, chancellor, Mito-tsan and I are on our way.”
The Technohexen flew into the mist with the silver wolf riding on the back of the broom.
Toori sang and danced in the mist to let the others know where he was. He had a feeling an arrow flew his way every once in a while, but…
“Ha ha ha. Asama, you sure are kind deep down! You don’t actually try to hit me when the arrow has an arrowhead! Nice! You really are a good set of boobs!”
An arrow sans arrowhead struck him in the center of the chest and he sank fifty centimeters into the ground, but the idiot quickly hopped back to his feet.
“Wh-what the hell are you doing!?”
“Eh? I let Horizon shoot that one, so it doesn’t count. Okay, he’s around there! That one put a spell on him, so keep the tsukkomi coming. Today is international tsukkomi day!”
“D-damn that shrine maiden, she’s getting more and more skilled at our side of things!”
A new voice reached him from ahead.
“Um, wait, Tomo! Stop shooting! Stop!!”
“Oh? Is that you, Nate? Are you okay coming down here like this? Come on over to me and I’ll pat you on the head to reward you for making up your mind.”
“Eh? Ehhh? No, um, well, u-uh…”
“I’m here too!” announced Naito.
Based on the sound of the silver chain, Mitotsudaira was approaching up front and Naito was floating on her broom further back. The sound of the chain came from Naito as well, so it was likely connected to the broom to make sure they would not lose track of each other.
“Sorry about worrying you all.”
Toori sighed. Falling down had been unexpected, but his classmates were here to rescue him. He viewed them as a reliable group and he had a sudden thought while looking up into the misty sky.
…I didn’t get a chance to visit grandma.
He needed to say something so his classmates could reach him, so…
He took a light step and sang a quick-tempo version of a song.
“♪Sanko, Sanko. How respected is your name.”
Toori sang the Sanko Bushi, a folk song of the Izumo region.
An old woman rested her elbows on the fence around a house in the rural area of central IZUMO. She faced a well-built elderly man who stood on the other side of the fence.
He was IZUMO Executive Chairman Izumo Yuu. He looked over at the long wooden container his companion carried on a large two-wheeled cart.
“Mitsu, your grandson sure can sing. I know he’s supposed to be an entertainer, but I thought he only had stupid jokes.”
“Entertainment began with Shinto rituals. He is a stupid grandchild, though.”
They listened to his voice.
Sanko, Sanko. How respected is your name. Beautiful though you are, you are no Sanko.
Ahh, are only gourds allowed to float? I too have floated some.
“Yes, yes. You floated. You floated. You’re floating.”
Oh, white crests of the ocean waves. Though the wind may blow, Sakai is a calm place that knows no storms
Ahh, if but one of Hattabata’s bean pods runs, they all run. You and I run together.
“Yes, yes. Run with me. Run with me.”
The song will tell you if the people of the land are in the know. The Sanko Bushi will tell you.
Ahh, the mountains, the great mountains, the sea, and Sakai.
The port of Sakai is built. Ships come and go with mountains of cargo. They come and go.
“Yes, yes. It flourishes, it flourishes.”
After finishing her interludes, Mitsu gave a quiet laugh.
“He didn’t visit this year, so is this supposed to make up for it?”
“What is that song? Well, I know it’s the Sanko Bushi that appears in Izumo during the Edo period. IZUMO even uses it in our ads. But why would that song be for you?”
“Judge. My mother more or less ran away to come here and I’ve heard this song ever since I was born. Of course, it wasn’t sung quite like this,” she explained. “Interesting lyrics, aren’t they? Sanko means geisha in the Izumo region. According to the Testament descriptions, it’s a local song about the love of a girl living in the port of the Izumo’s region’s city of Sakai and local variations are later made elsewhere.”
“The song has a bit of an anti-establishment undertone to it. After all, Izumo’s geisha have a background in the kabuki theater of Okuni, which was primarily made up of wandering shrine maidens who had fallen from their positions at shrines. In other words, they were descendants of a Shinto group that opposed the establishment while calling themselves servants of the gods.
“Look at the lyrics. If they are no Sanko, it must be referring to a lower branch of the organization, right? And the gourd is a symbol of Hashiba, so what does it mean for it to float?”
“Yes, what does it mean?”
“As for the ocean, that would refer to the outside world in ancient times. So even if places outside Izumo are in turmoil, Izumo will remain tranquil. The bean pod is a symbol of the family, but as they are grown, only two pods are left while the others are culled. Also, running pods would refer to drawing one’s sword, wouldn’t it? And who is the one going along with that? Then a song of the land is sung to check where they are from and, at the very end, ships are sent from Izumo.”
She took a breath.
“It’s a nasty song. Some even say it’s prophetic. And some parts apply to the Musashi’s current situation.”
“For IZUMO, the Sanko Bushi is a song about the ever-recreated parting between land and ship. You shouldn’t get so worked up over the negative side, Mitsu.”
“Oh?” said Mitsu. “Is that so?
Yuu tilted his head and she continued speaking.
“After the culling, only two bean pods remain and one of those will draw its sword from the scabbard as it faces Hashiba. So if destiny is making this song a prophecy, praying it isn’t so will be useless.”
“Instead, we should wish for everyone’s happiness. That is all we can do as the culled ones.”
Toori took a breath after finishing his song.
“C’mon, how was it, everyone!? Praise me!”
Asama: “Wow, I’m surprised! I didn’t know you could do any proper performances! And I didn’t realize being ordinary could be so wonderful! Please do more of that from now on!”
Mal-Ga: “In fact, that’s a kind of performance you don’t see much of these days. I just hope it wasn’t a death flag.”
Vice President: “Wait, all of you. He’s definitely got some ulterior motive here.”
“What!? C’mon, Seijun! I don’t have anything like that! All I did was take off my pants!”
Five arrows flew in quick succession and Toori bent his body into a C and then an S to avoid them.
“Th-that was close! Nate’s over here too, remember!?”
The jangling of a chain and a voice reached him from behind.
“Oh, is this where you are?”
Toori noticed Mitotsudaira’s usual perfume in the chilly dampness of the mist. It leaves a strong scent with so much hair, he thought.
“Okay, I will be a little rough with the chain, so I hope that’s okay.”
“Eh? Ah…ah! I’m getting wrapped in a chain with my bottom half bare! I’ve never felt anything like it!”
Meanwhile, a chain wrapped around and around the top half of his body.
With a light tug back, the chain tightened.
Mitotsudaira’s voice then came from the front.
“My king, are you over there?”
“Eh? That’s not where you are. Aren’t you back there?”
“What?” asked Mitotsudaira as she approached from the front.
Meanwhile, Toori was pulled backwards where he heard a quiet laugh.
“You’ll have more fun over here.”
After being pulled back, he ran into the person standing there.
He recognized the scent coming from the person’s hair and the subtlety of the tugging force.
With that realization, he gave himself over to her.
However, he noticed something inarguably different from Mitotsudaira. His back was pressed against her, but the back of his head sank deeply into something.
“These are on ultra easy! Wh-what happened to Nate!! Did she get an expansion pack!?”
As Toori looked up in surprise, the wind blew.
The mist cleared, so he could see in front of him now. He first saw Mitotsudaira approaching with a silver chain wrapped around a raised arm.
She was smiling, but…
That smile instantly froze and began to tremble.
What was going on?
She was looking behind him.
He then realized she was looking at the expansion pack there.
Wondering what it was, he turned his head to look.
The woman looked like her, but she had breasts. She was tall, but she had breast. She had a mature face, but she had breasts. She had a lot of hair, but she had breasts. The breasts suggested she was a different person, but she had breasts.
“W-wait, my king! Why do you keep looking back at her chest each time you look at another part of her body!?”
“Hey, what is this!? If you’ve been hiding this, then bring it out sometimes! A change is nice every once in a while!”
“N-no! Look more carefully!”
He did as she asked and looked more carefully at the woman.
He was referring to her breasts and not her height. A guy’s gotta follow his instincts, he thought just before Mitotsudaira spoke.
“That is my mother!!”
He was wrapped in a chain and his pants were below his knees, so he made a bowlegged pose and bent backwards to express his surprise. He then viewed the woman’s breasts from a distance with better perspective.
Mitotsudaira watched her mother, who was unfazed.
“Testament,” she replied with a quick bow toward the Musashi through the mist. “Thank you for looking after my daughter for so long. I am Hexagone Française Vice Chancellor Turenne. Or perhaps I am better known as Hexagone Française’s Reine des Garous. I stand at the peak of the lupine races which have a history of eating humans.”
Surprise filled Mitotsudaira’s thoughts.
…The Reine des Garous? But…um…
This was the first she had heard of that and the rest was shocking as well.
She had no idea what was going on and she remained motionless as her mother looked her way.
The mischievous smile she had seen so often in the past was turned in her direction.
On top of that, her mother grabbed the chain-wrapped king’s shoulder to show him to her.
The woman’s lipstick-covered lips bent like a bow.
“I will be taking Musashi’s Chancellor and Student Council President.”
- Bean pods and sword scabbards are pronounced the same in Japanese.
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