Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 05
Chapter 5: Actors at the Warehouse
What is the cursed source
Of the wave of forbidden power
That flashes in the darkness?
Point Allocation (Right Hand)
A fifteen square meter room was filled with light.
It was a dining room connected to the double-door entranceway. Half the floor was covered in carpet with a sofa and decorative plants on top. The man standing in the center of the room spoke calmly to the dozen or so people standing by the entrance.
“Now, welcome to my home, provisional councilors.”
Honda Masanobu said more after placing a cigar in his mouth.
“Masazumi will be out attending several meetings tonight. We have already finished the necessary arrangements for that, but it also means Masazumi will not be returning tonight.”
And you know what that means?
“Tomorrow, when Masazumi gets home in the morning, I get to scold her and be generally disagreeable. Heh heh heh…”
“Kh! Y-you have no idea how jealous I am!”
“Oh, I think I do.”
Masanobu twisted his body and used both hands and the cigar to point at the clenched teeth of the group by the entrance.
One of them rushed forward and bowed down at Masanobu’s feet. The man even grabbed Masanobu’s foot and kissed the shoe.
“M-Masanobu-sama! Th-this time, I will take up the perfect viewing position tonight!”
“Judge. According to the history recreation, the royals and nobles would demonstrate their status with their seating position at the theatre and similar places. So, Suminokura, you have made the correct decision.”
Everyone gasped at Masanobu’s words and at the lifted corners of Suminokura’s mouth when he looked back.
But then a dull sound rang out. Within the group by the entrance, Konishi had silently placed his box-shaped bag on the floor.
The heavy sound brought a brief silence. After everyone’s focus raced to Masanobu and Konishi, it slowly arrived at the bag itself. A beat later, Masanobu gently blew some cigar smoke from the corner of his mouth, kicked Suminokura aside, and walked forward.
He ignored Suminokura’s coquettish shriek and faced Konishi.
“Koni-tan, you truly are the best!”
“Come now, Nobu-tan. All I did was edit together eight hours’ worth of Oushuu and Russia’s video programs for our sleepover meeting. Watch these eight hours and I guarantee you will be up to date on just what is popular in the Oushuu and Russia regions!”
“Oh? You mean we will be able to post away on the divine network while pretending we know what we’re talking about?”
“Judge. So, um, Nobu-tan?”
“I will not give up the sofa Masazumi slept in today. It is mine.”
Konishi’s eyebrows twisted, but Masanobu nodded his way.
“Sit next to me, Koni-tan. What you have done is worth at least that much.”
He snapped his fingers and house-control sign frames appeared in each room. The front door automatically locked, the curtains closed, and the picture frames on the wall rotated to reveal the woodblock character art on the reverse side.
A hallway door automatically opened to reveal the kitchen.
“Masazumi made some Far Eastern hors d’oeuvres using the skills my wife taught her. I am willing to part with them for three hundred each. And with that said, let us continue our work.”
Masanobu’s sharp eyes watched Konishi and the others enter the dining room and Suminokura sit up and adjust his position.
“There is unrest within the Musashi. No, it is outside the Musashi as well. …We need to eliminate it.”
Neshinbara walked down a dimly-lit road.
“The meeting is on the starboard side, hm? It’s been a while…”
He was currently at the back end of Musashino. There was a materials yard inside the rear wall. The piles of materials rose several dozen meters high, creating labyrinthine passageways between them.
He was surrounded by the sounds of construction. Even in the darkness, the work continued. The constant sounds of hammering echoed endlessly from the holes in the floor. The notes of sawing, drilling, and welding joined in too. Occasionally, the scent of burnt metal reached his nose, giving it a sense of presence much like the smell of cooking did for food.
As he walked through the passageway filled with those sounds and smells, Neshinbara smiled bitterly.
“If this was a cheap novel or manga, this is the kind of place where I’d be attacked by an assassin. And after I saw who it was, I’d shout ‘Y-you!?’ and be defeated.”
He looked forward and saw several people collapsed on the long, deserted passageway between the materials.
The walls of materials made it hard to see a lot of the areas here. And with parts of the floor and walls removed, the automatons’ sensors were not in perfect working order. That was why the guards made periodic patrols, but…
“Hey, you all.”
The people collapsed in the passageways wore guard uniforms.
They were the four who performed the patrols and they all lay motionless in the shadows.
They had been attacked.
This is serious, thought Neshinbara.
He decided the first step was to report this, so he opened a sign frame and sent a voice divine transmission to the guard station, but…
“It can’t get through?”
Michizane shook his head and held out a sign frame that said “no authority”.
Not only were the guards collapsed around here, but the location had lost its divine transmission authority. That seemed off to Neshinbara, so he moved his right hand’s fingers to type into a spell keyboard.
The collapsed guards had all been attacked on the back or waist. They were bleeding, but the amount of blood on the floor suggested the attack had been quite recent. Which meant…
“They’re still nearby.”
“Indeed I am. Close enough to see me if you turned around, even.”
The voice behind him was growing even closer, but Neshinbara did not turn around.
He moved his right hand to open a sign frame for his created spell “Mountains of Words” and text raced from the spell keyboard.
<I twist to the right, gather the power residing in my right hand, and release it backwards.>
<An explosion whips up the wind.>
But the enemy used their own movements to keep the wind moving forward.
<Did they dodge it?>
<No, that is not what happened.>
<I intentionally missed. After all…>
<If I take a step forward, I can see their face from the side.>
There they were. He could see someone wearing a hood. He could not see their face, but he guessed they were a girl based on the solid but quiet footsteps.
“If you want my signature, show your face, hand me what you want me to sign, and ask nicely.”
He received an attack instead.
Strange. Why would they want me to sign a knife?
Did I do anything to deserve this? I can’t think of anything.
<I form words and strike.>
<I move confidently.>
<I just barely dodge the enemy’s attack to enjoy the thrill.>
<And then I make repeated attacks with each attack turning into many.>
But the enemy avoided those with smooth twisting movements and made another attack.
<That was some nice movement.>
<I attack, getting the enemy to evade.>
<I run, leap up the wall, fly through the air, and…>
After avoiding an explosive roar, the enemy pursued, but after he leaped high into the air…
<I turn around in midair.>
He saw the enemy in her hooded cloak. The enemy was swinging up her blade while making a leap of her own. There was no way to evade in midair, but…
<Don’t underestimate writing.>
<I strike with the wind as a counterattack.>
As soon as the wind blasted forward, Neshinbara saw something.
The enemy had vanished. The hooded cloak remained, but…
…She dropped down!?
He could sense her presence down below. The movements of the wind told him as much. Before the wind had hit her in midair, she had flipped around to intentionally lose speed and drop down.
If she had intended to do so from the beginning, leaping after him had been a feint.
<Then I kick off the wall of materials.>
He jumped upwards, but not just to buy time.
<This is the starting point.>
<I cause the wall of materials to wobble.>
<To the enemy’s misfortune, the materials were improperly piled up.>
<Countless heavy armor panels fall from above and strike the enemy below.>
That was exactly what happened.
As the words were realized, metal panels fell from seventy meters up and stabbed into the narrow passageway.
A great din sounded and all of the structures around the passageway were brought down or thrown into the air. A great creaking rang out and the area management program opened a warning display inside the Ariake.
The wind caused by the heavy fallen objects washed over Neshinbara as he thought to himself.
…That was a close one, but I made it.
I need to calmly leave without speaking a word or looking back, don’t I? I can contact the guards once I can send divine transmissions again. This could only get better if it all exploded behind me. Oh, wait. I need to rescue the guards who were collapsed back there.
He heard an unexpected sound. It was not the sound of confused people running up after noticing the commotion. He heard a five meter long armor panel only now crashing to the floor.
It was not that its fall had been delayed. Mountains of Words was a spell that caused phenomena, so he would need to specify that the fall had been delayed for that to happen.
…So did something else make that one piece fall later!?
With a loud sound of rustling clothing and a sharp footstep, he turned around.
But there was no one there. He only saw the armor panels stabbed into the passageway and collapsed against the other piles of materials.
However, he did see something below the delayed armor panel.
It was a sword. The sword belonging to one of the injured guards was broken. And it was in the perfect position to support one of the fallen armor panels.
Someone had swiped it from the guard and used it to create a safe space from the falling objects.
In that case, realized Neshinbara as he immediately started moving.
<I take a large leap backwards.>
He did not know where the enemy was, so he tried to move as far away as possible.
A moment later, he caught sight of a blade circling in from behind him.
Someone was behind him. And they were trying to slit his throat while making a leap identical to his own.
He knew he had to avoid this, but…
“I’m in a hurry. Let this end it.”
He heard a female voice, but not from behind him.
It came from beyond the materials on the left. Someone stood on the other side of a pile of metal frames.
The figure raised their weapon.
When he saw the person and their raised weapon through the holes in the materials, he gave a shout.
A single attack brought it all to an end.
“A new job?”
A female voice spoke in the dim light.
A blonde in an English girl’s summer uniform walked down a Musashino pathway with piles of materials on either side. She held a bucket with a change of clothes and other bath supplies below her chest and her hair swayed as she looked to the person walking to her left.
Her blue eyes found a boy whose Far Eastern boy’s summer uniform was made into a ninja outfit. He looked to the blonde walking to his right and spoke.
“Well, I suppose you could call it a job.”
“Heh heh. Is that so? You just keep finding new jobs to do, Master Tenzou.”
“Judge. This work is important for us at the moment. We need to finish remodeling the Musashi as soon as possible so we can get the cooperation of Date and Mogami in Oushuu.”
“Oh, my. You know a lot about politics, Master Tenzou.”
“Judge. Most of our lessons in class have been focused on it lately. But…”
Tenzou faced the blonde.
“Could you please stop pretending to be Mary-dono, Toori-dono?”
Tenzou saw the idiot give him a look of surprise, but he knew reacting would be playing right into the other boy’s hands. Instead, he chose a comment to restrain the idiot.
“Besides, your face is nothing at all like Mary-dono’s.”
The blonde crossdresser froze in the middle of lifting his giant fake breasts with the bucket. The idiot then dropped the bucket in the passageway and took what he probably thought was a tragic pose.
“What’s wrong with my costume!?”
“For one, you aren’t anything like Mary-dono. The size and jiggle are completely wrong, you’re completely insane, and I would go on but I don’t want to hurt your feelings. Really, you should just stop this.”
“Y-you don’t hold back, do you!? And you hurt my feelings by trying not to hurt my feelings!”
The idiot gave an exaggerated sigh in a troubled pose.
“And now that you’ve ‘Scarred’ my heart, I really am your wife.”
He’s as creepy as ever, so I need to ignore him, calmly decided Tenzou. I need to change the subject.
“Why are you here? Given where we’re meeting, shouldn’t you be there ahead of everyone else?”
“Well, I peeped on the girl’s bath at Asama’s place and now she’s trying to kill me.”
He looked up to see several targeting sign frames rising from the Asama Shrine while displaying parabolic arcs of the predicted ballistic course. Those sign frames searched for their target from the sky above the Musashi. Tenzou noticed people screaming and running away whenever the sights landed on them.
“W-wait, Toori-dono! Those are sights for slaying sub-dragons! I really don’t want to be caught in that blast, so please get away from me!!”
“Ehh, but Blondie doesn’t want to die aloooone.”
“Toori-dono, when shaking your breasts, you need to do it more like this and this.”
“Oh, I’ve been doing some training with imaginary breasts while watching Asama, but I guess it wasn’t enough!”
“Judge. You’re focusing too much on it. Yes, be more restrained. …Judge. Very good. You’ve got the hang of it now, so go die on your own.”
“Y-you aren’t listening at all, are you!?”
Please shut up, thought Tenzou as he ignored the idiot who was jumping up and down and waving his arms in protest. And you aren’t controlling the bouncing properly when jumping around like that.
But, thought Tenzou as he looked back to the crossdresser.
“You really don’t change do you, Toori-dono?”
Or is he only pretending to be the same? Even this crossdresser has to have felt something from that loss. He has to have. Right? S-surely even he would…w-wouldn’t he? I can count on that, can’t I? B-but he is an idiot. Wh-which is it?
“Nnnn, Tenzou-kuuun? What’s the matterrrrr?”
“Kh. D-damn this boy!”
At any rate, reacting to the idiot would help nothing.
“By the way, Toori-dono, isn’t Adele-dono supposed to be your bodyguard?”
“Yeah, but she peeped on the bath with me and now I think she’s soaking in the bath thinking about the unfairness of our hierarchical society.”
Adele-dono has a lot to worry about too, thought Tenzou.
Her mobile shell had been damaged in the previous battles. Musashi King Yoshinao knew a lot about its maintenance for some reason, so he was repairing it. But…
…He had to order some parts from Hexagone Française recently, didn’t he?
They were in Mito which had a connection to Hexagone Française, so that had apparently not been too difficult to arrange. At the same time, they had ordered some equipment from Kantou IZUMO based on their experience in the battle against Maeda Toshiie’s “Million Prison Gate Army” (name by Neshinbara) near Magdeburg.
Others were also working to strengthen their equipment, their spells, or themselves, but…
…That could easily be a sign of how worried we all are.
How much will the improvements here really matter? wondered Tenzou.
Their enemies were P.A. Oda, the Oda clan, and Hashiba who would later rule the Far East according to the history recreation. Not only did Hashiba have the backing of P.A.O.M., the primary academy of P.A. Oda, but they controlled half of M.H.R.R. and had conquered K.P.A. Italia to obtain the authority of the Pope-Chancellor.
They essentially controlled the Testament Union at this point.
…Our enemy is powerful.
Meanwhile, what were they doing?
The Musashi’s weapons and other modifications were meant to fight that enemy, but no one knew if they could actually win.
Most likely, the Musashi and everyone else were strengthening themselves as a way of sweeping aside their unease. To put it another way…
…We only just barely trust ourselves.
The student council led by the crossdresser had been the ones to decide on the Musashi’s modifications and to continue with their current policies. No clear opposition had turned up, but that was only because the residential districts of the different ships had been split up on the surface and because Neshinbara was using his knowledge of the public opinion to manage information on the divine network. So…
“We need to move on to the next step as soon as possible.”
The crossdresser smiled his way while squeezing and lifting his giant fake breasts between his elbows.
“Don’t rush things, okay?”
“What are you talking about?”
He decided to answer the idiot this time and someone standing at a corner up ahead turned his way.
He looked over and found the real one.
The idiot clung to his right arm and wiggled his body.
“Master Tenzouuuu, who is that girrrrl!?”
“Oh, my. Master Wet Man, are you visiting the human world dressed like a girl today?”
“I kind of expected this, but she isn’t listening at all…”
The idiot hung his head, so Tenzou started dragging him toward their meetup point. Meanwhile, Mary laughed quietly in her throat.
“Heh heh. Master Wet Man, you’re a little tired, aren’t you?”
“…Is he really?”
“Hey, Tenzou. Why do you look so surprised? I get tired too, you know? I can’t give you any details, but, um, well, I’ve been up late at night a lot, you know? You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?”
“Do you have any idea what it feels like to be told something you really don’t want to know?”
“Now, now.” Mary cut in with a bitter smile and looked toward the crossdresser. “Judge. The ether surrounding your body has had that color for a while now.”
The crossdresser frowned, but Tenzou could not tell if it was for show or unintentional. But Mary had the blood of a high-level spirit and she could use spirits, so he could trust what she said.
“Mary-dono, how about we take this…thing…by early and get something to eat?”
“Judge. We’re meeting up at the Blue Thunder, aren’t we? In that case…”
Mary lined up alongside them and faced starboard, toward Tama.
Suddenly, Tenzou’s attention turned in a different direction.
A few large sign frames appeared to sound the alarm and to tell everyone to stay away from the materials yard on the port side of the ship’s stern.
…Did some of the materials collapse?
Tenzou opened his own sign frame, instructed the members of his 1st Special Duty team to investigate the scene, and then sighed. Mary asked a question while looking in the same direction.
“Should we examine that materials yard on the way to the Blue Thunder on Tama?”
“Oh, um, I just arranged to have that done, so no. And we aren’t going to Tama.”
“…? But that’s where the Blue Thunder is.”
“Judge. It certainly is.”
As they walked down the residential road, a home/restaurant came into view on the right. The restaurant portion was small, but Mary read what the metal sign on the edge of the eaves said.
“Judge. There’s a Blue Thunder here too. …This one is Toori-dono and the Aoi family’s home.”
“This one is also known as the Main Blue Thunder. It’s where we’re going to prepare for the meeting with the Date clan tonight and confirm our future plans.”
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