Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 02
Chapter 2: Hidden One in the Hidden Sky
What is neither a gale
Point Allocation (Dragon)
Night covered a forest.
It was a summer forest filled with the cries of insects. The two moons in the sky poured pale light between the trees and to the dewy ground. The areas the light did not reach were filled with dark blue shadows.
Something moved within that dark blue.
It kicked off the tree branches and leaves to move quickly yet steadily.
“What do you think’s going on? Why were we sent out to check on Date airspace tonight?”
“Hard to say. But the Date clan has gathered their aerial forces and is doing something in secret. There were also some strange thunder clouds between Date and Kantou earlier. This could be interesting if it’s an experiment for a new kind of stealth or a secret conflict with Mogami. …I just hope it isn’t really just a thunderstorm.”
“Our teachers chose us for this mission, so if it ends up being weather, it’d make the proud historical names of Sasuke and Saizou weep.”
The speaking form was two yet one. It was made up of a short man in mountain gear and a wind spirit woman leaning against his back.
They were Sarutobi Sasuke and Kirigakure Saizou of Sanada Academy.
They would step onto a branch, crouch down, and then leap forward. As they slipped between the shadowy branches, they would land on a higher branch and fly even further forward.
Saizou stared forward.
“You aren’t going to have anywhere else to climb before long. Also, I can see Yonezawa, so…”
“I doubt they’re running a souvenir shop.”
“Will you buy me something if they are?”
“You’re the one carrying the wallet.”
“It’s the thought that counts.”
Saizou patted him on the back of the shoulder and Sasuke smiled bitterly.
“How about we stop for some ramen at Kitakata on the way back?”
He jumped into the trees at the top of the mountain ridge and Saizou moved to a new branch as if supporting him. The forest leading down to Yonezawa lay before them. And behind them…
“From this height, we should be able to see from Shirakawa to Mito back and to the left. The Musashi would be there.”
“The Ariake is using stealth, so we wouldn’t be able to tell.”
“Then look at Mito. Musashi’s general residents were loaded onto transport ships according to their residence blocks and then sent down to Mito’s land ports. They’re filling up the eight land ports separated by the forest so different nations can use them.”
“Are they splitting up the public opinion about their loss?”
“Weren’t you listening to what our teachers said?”
“Was I wrong?”
“No, you were right, but don’t take that to mean you don’t have to listen.”
“Testament. I was probably distracted with how busy we’ve been recently.”
Sasuke nodded in agreement and opened a sign frame while jumping through the air. The clock face drawn in the non-illuminated sign frame said it was 7:00 PM, but…
“Can you see them?”
“Oh, do you mean those?”
Saizou tilted her head and looked south.
Eight small lights were visible beyond the lights of cities and villages far to the south. The star-like lights were almost weak enough to overlook and they were flickering in the summer night.
Sasuke spoke after staring at the lights for a few seconds.
“A few of the transport ship groups being used as cities must have had an early lights out. Probably less because it’s wartime and more to create a sense of unity among the residents.”
“They sure are putting a lot of effort into this.”
“It’s a city of normal residents. The ships that actually fight are hidden in the Ariake. The student council and chancellor’s officers are apparently living on the Musashi as it’s worked on inside.”
“I guess we’ll be seeing how true that is before long. I just hope they’re doing this right.”
Sasuke nodded and moved his gaze from south to north.
He looked down.
He jumped a few trees over to drop by about thirty meters, but…
“Doesn’t look like there’s anything in the sky.”
“Date has a lot of land, so it has a lot of sky too.”
“The sky visible from between the trees looks small enough.”
As soon as Saizou said that, that sky suddenly grew.
With a series of rumbles and sounds of destruction, the forest before them was mowed down.
While pressing against Sasuke’s back, Saizou felt the moonlight more than the blowing wind or scattering leaves.
As a spirit-type nonhuman, the moonlight gave her power. She trembled as something like heat welled up within her.
Her mouth loosened and her voice almost escaped, but then Sasuke grabbed her left hand as it sat on his shoulder.
He said nothing, but he leaped to the right and she was pulled after him through the blowing wind.
His movement hid her from the moonlight. He had to have noticed her tense up from the sudden exposure to the moonlight.
At the same time, the broken and felled trees broke and felled even more trees.
That secondary destruction caused a wave of snapping and breaking sounds to race through the forest. Finally, cries of birds and beasts came from between the trees and something could be heard slamming against a group of larger trees.
Something had fallen into the forest.
“Looks like that wasn’t meant for us.”
While pulling on her hand, Sasuke jumped behind the trees on the right.
He pulled her along as she trembled from the moonlight and could not move properly.
She was not the type to apologize, but she did feel she had made a mistake. So she breathed in and pressed against Sasuke’s back again before he could ready himself atop the branch. And…
“What was that?”
“It’s definitely hard to tell just by looking at it.”
They both looked up into the forest’s sky where a strip of trees had been torn down from right to left for a few hundred meters. A flying object had torn through the forest on a shallow falling trajectory.
…Did a ship fall?
As she wondered that, Sasuke circled around the tree so it was positioned between them and the destruction. He stood on the trunk with just his tiptoes and peered out while Saizou held his shoulders from behind.
“Did it crash? Or was it shot down? And what was it that fell anyway?”
“That last one would be the most accurate. Whatever it was simply fell. Most likely anyway. After all…”
Sasuke completely hid behind the tree trunk with her pushing on his back.
Saizou relaxed her body and produced a mist. She turned herself into mist, overlapped her position with Sasuke’s, and placed her hazy hands on his ear and throat.
This let them talk just between the two of them.
Something did appear in the sky. They were winged Gods of War. There were five in all and each one had the emblem of the Date clan on its shoulder.
But when Sasuke saw the warrior-type God of War with demonic horns in the lead, he frowned.
“Date Academy 2nd Special Duty Officer Oniniwa Tsunamoto’s Sagetsu? I expected someone lower in the pecking order. But we still haven’t found anything worthwhile. …That previous one really must have only fallen.”
Saizou knew why he said that. Sagetsu’s large spear had no shadows or scratches on it.
“He hasn’t been fighting. …And there weren’t any sounds of battle when that previous one fell. But in that case…”
“Date’s 2nd Special Duty Officer drew his spear to face something that simply fell.”
“What does that matter? Musashi’s Vice Chancellor drew her spear against us.”
“Don’t act like you don’t understand. …This means whatever fell is equivalent to an academy’s high ranking officer.”
“I’m starting to wish we weren’t here right now.” Saizou lowered her hazy chin to Sasuke’s shoulder. “What do you think this is?”
“I’m sure you already have the same ridiculous prediction. It’s something that went missing thirty years ago. It feels a little contrived for it to be in the Date clan, but there have been rumors and the connections are definitely there.”
“You mean Catholicism?”
As soon as Sasuke said that, the sky ahead of them grew once more.
Saizou could only comprehend the color and the speed.
The color was blue and the speed flew left to right above the mown-down forest.
Her eyes could not keep up, but she next heard the sound of clashing metal.
By the time her gaze made it to the right, she saw a blue form colliding with the demonic warrior God of War.
…A dragon!? No, a God of War!?
The wind arrived a moment later. The rapid movement of the massive object had created a pressurized wall of air. The tree Sasuke clung to shook and the wind carried something their way.
It was a roar.
The God of War cried out like a dragon. And it did not express any clear emotion. It was not anger, sorrow, or frustration.
It was simply a trembling voice.
That negative voice bent into the whipping wind and a pressurized blast of air appeared in midair.
The roaring dragon kicked Oniniwa’s Sagetsu away and flew toward the moon. The wind it blasted downwards swelled up in the forest and Saizou felt like her own body was vanishing. However, Sasuke used the tree trunk to shield against the wind and protect her.
“Did it get away!?” he shouted.
Saizou knew that the moonlight gave power to nonhumans.
The closer of the two moons was said to be a giant piece of Orei Metallo. Orei Metallo was concentrated ether, so the moonlight was given the power of ether. Nonhumans were closer to ether in their very existences, so the moonlight had a way of exciting them, but…
“Gods of War use ether fuel to run their various systems.”
“Is Sagetsu going after it!?”
Sagetsu flew. The moonlight poured down on the four wings of its back as chased the dragon up above.
Meanwhile, the dragon-like God of War spread its arms.
And it flew.
A moment later, there was an impact, flying sparks, and roaring wind.
The dragon-like god of war swung its entire body around and used the claws at the end of its arms as weapons.
Its attacks never let up as it persistently pursued and charged at its enemy without falling back. Each claw powerfully yet accurately captured its opponent and the entire machine pushed forward.
Sagetsu reacted by using the tip and bottom of its spear to fight a defensive battle. It repeatedly deflected the claws coming in from the left and right.
They both seemed to slide through the sky as they exchanged blows.
The dragon God of War pushed, but Sagetsu determined their direction with its spear defense and back dashes.
Their movements were as intertwined as a dance, but…
The blue dragon suddenly roared and spread its wings. Sagetsu could tell it was going to use its main flight wings in this close-range battle.
“Are you going to make an instantaneous acceleration!?”
“Do you understand what is providing you with that power!?”
The dragon-like God of War answered with its power. It threw all of its speed forward.
Sasuke heard an intense sound in the sky.
The dragon’s acceleration had blasted it toward Sagetsu.
“Look at Sagetsu!” shouted Saizou behind him.
He knew why she was shaking his shoulders.
Sagetsu’s pilot, Oniniwa, was Date’s 2nd Special Duty Officer. If he was being pushed back, this opponent had to be quite powerful. The large God of War named Sagetsu had already been fighting a defensive battle, but…
“But you know what? Look more closely. Humans have these things called techniques.”
Sasuke looked up.
At some point, the flow of ether had formed a blowing wind of light in the night sky.
“For the time being, he’s turned this around on the dragon.”
The dragon-like God of War had been blasted into the sky.
Sagetsu had countered its charge and thrown it.
Oniniwa felt himself sweating even in his God of War body.
When the enemy had accelerated before his eyes, he could only describe it as an explosion.
Staff fighting techniques included many ways of receiving an opponent’s attacks, sweeping them aside, and restraining them. He had tried to use one of those to restrain this enemy’s attack.
But he had failed.
A good chunk of the heavy armor on his God of War’s right shoulder had been torn away and his spear had broken.
As for the enemy…
It was coming.
It collided with him before he could turn around.
He felt the shock, his chest armor bent, and a few layers of the armor burst off, but Oniniwa saw it.
He saw the enemy’s face beyond the blue ether light in front of him. It was surrounded in blue armor, but…
Once he shouted that name, the Seiryu raised its right arm. It was going to make an extreme close range strike to finish him off, so…
With that command, he made a certain decision.
He purged all of his armor with spell gunpowder.
Immediately afterwards, an explosion occurred between him and the Seiryu.
The Seiryu shook in confusion. Pushed by the purged armor, it moved away from him, creating a gap between them.
He looked back to see four Gods of War with muskets at the ready.
The fireworks of gunfire were already flying and the bullets passed by his side.
Sasuke saw it happen.
The flying bullets were spell bullets made to pierce ether defenses.
The four attacks of light raced toward the dragon and seemed certain to hit.
“The monster’s going to attack!”
As Saizou said that, she clung to his back. At the same time, he leaped backwards as if trying to kick the tree trunk away.
Before he could take a breath, it came. The dragon’s roar descended from the heavens in which the two moons floated.
Blue lightning struck the forested mountain range south of Yonezawa. And instead of a single bolt, eight struck at once. Then they raced along the mountain range as if to tear it all apart.
With tornadic movements, the pillars of blue light drew arcs as they blew away the trees and smashed the rocks. Sounds of felled trees and other destruction continued without end, the four flying bullets were devoured, and everything else was covered up as well.
The negative roar rang out, guiding the destruction.
The blue light resembled darker moonlight, but something still moved amid its swelling destruction: four Gods of War led by a demonic warrior God of War.
Sagetsu exchanged a few blows amid the racing blue light and swung its arms.
But it was not attacking the enemy.
Realizing what that meant, the other Gods of War took defensive stances just in time for Sagetsu to strike them.
The large God of War still had plenty of strength left after losing its armor, so it provided solid strikes to the other four Gods of War and knocked them away. Sagetsu had moved them from the storm of violent light to protect them.
The armor of their defensively raised arms had broken, but…
One tossed its spear to Sagetsu while all four began to fly away.
Meanwhile, a bolt of blue lightning raced out. This new bolt was meant for Sagetsu.
As the pillar of light approached, Sagetsu pulled in the spear tossed its way and slammed the tip into the blue light.
It was a forceful and flexible gouge, but it lacked the power to stop the dragon’s lightning. The tip was torn apart starting from the front and the metal shaft immediately split apart.
The spear was destroyed.
But the attack had not been useless. The pillar of light was disturbed for about half a breath, so Sagetsu took its next action.
In the stormy wind, it moved its wings once and hopped on top of the broken spear’s shaft. It stood gently on its toes and swung its main wings upwards in a compact motion.
Sagetsu flew vertically in the gap left by the slowed pillar of blue light. It flew toward the form standing in the air with the two moons overhead. It flew toward that which resembled both a God of War and a dragon.
And Sagetsu drew a sword from each hip as it did so.
A moment later, the light and wind had vanished.
The violent dance of falling light was torn apart, the forest had been pushed apart by the pressure of the air, and two forms looked into the sky behind the fallen trees.
They were Sasuke and Saizou. Sasuke had turned to the side to hide behind a tree and Saizou frowned while pressing against his back.
“What was that?” she asked to the sky.
In the celestial canopy above the deep darkness of the night, three crescent moons had been added to the two moons already there.
One was formed by the horns on the shoulders of the demonic warrior God of War that flew boldly with its back to the moon. The other two were formed by the silver arcs of the swords in its hands.
But something that had been in the sky was now gone.
“Where did that monster of a God of War go?”
That dragon-like form was nowhere to be seen now. Sasuke and Saizou only saw the demonic warrior’s shoulders rising and falling as it breathed and the four Gods of War lower down looking confused while checking in every direction.
“Did they drive it off?” asked Sasuke.
“No, I doubt that God of War ran off anywhere. What about you?”
“I agree. It was more like it disappeared…or was closed away. I don’t really get it, though.”
His voice sounded rough and he did not turn back toward her, but he was looking up into the sky from the shadows. He then asked himself a question.
“Why was that thing here? If the rumors are accurate…”
Saizou also stared into the night sky as she listened to him speak.
“It’s supposed to belong to the Date clan.”
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