Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 13
Chapter 13: Converser After the Festival
It’s after you meet them
That truly matters
Point Allocation (Lifestyle)
Fuwa was running with Toshiie.
Even if they were moving away from Oichi, she was not so sure running toward the enemy was such a good idea. But when she looked back, she saw a black whirlwind of motion approaching them.
“Eh? Wh-what is that?”
The enemy was packed in tight around them. They were gathering along the central line from the left and right.
For the lowered-head motion that was stealing their weapons, running, and slicing through them, that central line was where the most weapons were gathered.
And just as Fuwa had predicted, Oichi was approaching.
The white enemies scattered to the left and right along a rapid and meandering path and the lowered-head blackness continued accelerating and wailing.
The Sviet Rus demon warriors on both sides and to the front cowered back and put up their guard.
“Here they come!”
But it was not an order that urged those warriors to resume their charge.
The dead warriors of Novgorod made their own expressionless charge.
They were Living Dead, but they had some slight memories in the catalyst holding their bodies together.
They raised their voices as they faced that almost explosively accelerating destruction.
Glory to Marfa.
They raised their weapons, cried Marfa’s name, and faced their foe.
They used their modified bodies as if offering themselves up as sacrifices.
With a cry, they added in their own destruction.
They collided and were destroyed.
They were scattered, broken, split, and sliced, but they acted as if this was the proper course of action for the dead. They never stopped and the ones that could still move acted like it was amusing. All the while, they gathered around Oichi and returned to their state of death.
The demon warriors followed. Their pride as warriors did not allow them to fall behind, so they now faced Oichi instead of Fuwa and Toshiie.
They ran right past those other two on their way to Oichi, but…
After that cry, the entire group exploded in white flames.
Oichi had activated the Sviet Rus flame spells on the weapons she was using.
She did so with each weapon she swung and abandoned in the air.
As if counting out the number, the weapons stabbed into the ground in an arc.
A moment later, a chain of explosions linked that arc and the explosions traveled through the gathering warriors.
But it did not end there. Fuwa saw the black form jump.
Oichi held two large swords.
She had used the explosion to make a great leap and rapid rotation. She had been mainly attacking horizontally before, but now she used a vertical rotation to make her sword strikes.
And the attack was directed toward Fuwa and Toshiie.
Fuwa saw Oichi rotating toward her.
She was coming this way.
The lowered head and hair were using the explosive flames of a spell to power her jump.
She was rapidly approaching.
Fuwa was running away, but she would not make it in time. Oichi’s rotation was going to accurately bring her right behind her.
…Here she is!!!
She landed but did not stop moving. She made a single roll forward to try to negate the momentum of her fall.
Fuwa could tell her body was in the middle of the circular path Oichi’s two swords would take.
With the size of those swords, she would be sliced in two.
Those swords were already being swung by her rotating body.
Fuwa knew she was not going to make it in time and she would be hit.
But a voice and a wind cut in.
That was exactly who it was. He had caught up to Oichi and was about to pass her, but he gave Fuwa a sharp look.
Just as she turned toward him and placed her arms in an X-shape, a strike hit the center of the X.
Fuwa was knocked backwards.
It was a light blow from Lily Flower, but it was enough for her bones to creak and to feel her right shoulder shifting backwards. It’s dislocated, she realized as she flew back.
She seemed to float in midair as her acceleration left her and that was when she saw it.
Oichi was charging in behind Sassa. She had finished her first flip and was preparing for the next which would slice through Sassa. So…
“Sassa, behind you!”
She was trying to get him to dodge, but the timing was poor. His Israfil emblems would not reactivate in time.
As she flew through the air, Fuwa tried to make sure she would fall butt-first to the snow and tried to gather strength in her legs.
…I have to do something!
But just as she thought that…
“I appreciate how you charged on in here fully intending to rely on me, Na-chan.”
Three actions followed those words.
First, Maeda stepped up to Fuwa’s right in his red M.H.R.R. uniform.
Second, countless skeleton arms grew from the ground to support her as she fell.
“Na-chan, I just have to buy some time, right?”
White bones rose between Sassa and Oichi.
There were three in all, but they were immediately smashed by Oichi’s blades.
However, they wrapped their arms around those blades, briefly delaying them.
The three skeletons scattered, Sassa’s emblems reactivated, and he leaped over Fuwa’s head all at the same time.
She looked up in surprise from the supporting bones as he flipped through the air, but he bared his teeth toward her in a look of joy.
“You idiot! Get running!!”
“Don’t be so mean,” she said before realizing what he had meant.
Oichi was already accelerating toward them again.
Fuwa screamed and quickly tried to get her feet back on the ground, but Toshiie called over to her as he ran behind her.
“Oh, Michi, you’re slow, so don’t bother moving.”
Her question was answered by voices from the ground.
They were ghosts.
These ghosts had been created from the ether of the burned bones and rows of them rose in waves. They lifted Fuwa up by the hips and back.
They passed her from row to row to carry her backwards.
She was transported by the rising dead much faster than running or jumping could take her. She widened her eyes and bowed her head while the ghosts carried her.
The ghosts began to shatter, starting from the back, but to Oichi, they were another barricade in addition to the gathering demon warriors.
Of course, neither the demons nor the ghosts could stop the fluttering black hair of that lowered head.
However the ghosts carrying Fuwa did respond to her bow by raising their bony thumbs. As they shattered, she bowed again and waved.
She recovered her balance as they carried her and she looked again to the raging wind behind her.
The black series of slashes and wails was still sweeping across the battlefield.
The crying never stopped.
Fuwa did not know why since she did not know Oichi very well.
“What is going on? I’d heard rumors, but why is Lady Oichi doing this?”
“Oh, yeah. You stayed at Saitou’s academy for a while after us, so you wouldn’t know.”
She tilted her head at Toshiie’s comment and some movement arrived on the right.
It was Sassa.
He slowed his pace to stay alongside them.
“I transferred in later, so I’ve only seen it once and Shibata won’t give me a proper explanation. I’ve got a general idea, but what exactly is it, Toshi?”
Toshiie shrugged at the cries and collisions heard behind them as his vanishing feet ran along the snowy plain. He stared straight forward as he opened his mouth.
“The truth is, that is Lady Oichi’s true form.”
“What?” asked Narimasa from in between Toshiie and Fuwa who was being carried by the ghosts. “Her true form?”
“Shaja. It’s exactly what it sounds like. …Lady Oichi was originally trying to inherit a name within P.A. Oda, but she modified her physical abilities to do so.”
Another wail echoed behind them.
“She must have been a kind person. Once she desired strength above a certain point, she realized she would need to cast aside that kindness or she could not use that strength. And that is why she can ‘switch’ to another personality like that.”
And when she switches, she turns into that? wondered Narimasa as the source of the screams crushed the enemy several dozen meters behind.
The Oichi that Narimasa knew was always smiling and enjoyed cooking and gardening.
He could remember several times when she had brought some food for everyone at the training grounds without telling Shibata.
“But,” said Toshiie. “An even better candidate showed up and Lady Oichi lost her goal. She was probably also exhausted from switching to the version of herself with such deadly combat skills. So…”
“She withdrew from the name inheritance, but she was so skilled in everything except combat that she inherited the name of Oichi instead. Do you know what happens to Oichi?”
“Nope,” said Sassa.
But Fuwa did, so she answered “shaja”. When Sassa gave her a look of meaningless anger, she feigned ignorance and turned toward Toshiie. He had some thoughts about her attitude, but…
…Well, it doesn’t matter.
They were acting just like always despite being on the battlefield with a wailing and raging wind approaching from behind. He figured it was a testament to their strength that an idiot unaccustomed to the battlefield could be so carefree.
“Out with it, Fuwa. What happens to Lady Oichi?”
“Shaja. Lady Oichi was Nobunaga’s younger sister. To form an alliance that would strengthen the Oda clan’s defenses, she was married to Asai Nagamasa, head of the Asai clan. Nagamasa treated her well, but the Asai clan betrayed Oda and Nagamasa was killed in an attack by Oda forces. Lady Oichi tried to die with him, but she was admonished and returned to the Oda clan.”
Narimasa knew what happened after that because he had been part of the group that attacked Asai.
“Afterwards, Oichi married Shibata who also treated her well, but…”
He felt he was hopeless if this was enough to make him hesitate.
“After our master’s death, Shibata opposes Hashiba. In the end, he sets his own castle on fire and commits suicide along with Oichi. That is Shibata and Oichi’s history recreation.”
Narimasa heard Toshiie speak quietly.
His voice seemed too soft for the destruction occurring behind them.
“Lady Oichi apparently chose to inherit her current name because Oichi moves from place to place but is always treated well until the end.”
“Then what was that we saw during the attack on Asai?”
Narimasa recalled Asai Academy deep in the forest. They had been left with no choice but to destroy it when it rebelled against P.A. Oda for the history recreation and for current reasons.
Their final enemy had awaited them on the roof of the burning fortress-style academy.
“Oichi was there wailing with her head hanging and Nagamasa’s head in her right hand. We only fought the warriors at the entrance. There were supposed to be three thousand warriors inside the burning academy, but they had all been taken out.”
“As she wailed, Oichi made short work of your ghost warriors.”
“Don’t remind me how pathetic I was there, Na-chan.”
Toshiie smiled bitterly and faced forward as he ran.
“Na-chan, you handle this.”
Narimasa also looked forward. They were already in the center of the snowy plain. The enemy warriors seemed to be on their way to face Oichi, but they were showing more than enough hostility as they ran by.
Narimasa moved ahead and collided with the enemy, but he was not the only one confronting them.
He heard a loud sound from the camp behind them. It was the wave-like rumbling of a charge.
“So Shibata’s finally come out!”
The enemy formation had crumbled thanks to Oichi’s charge, so the P.A. Oda warriors were hunting down the rest.
In that case, thought Narimasa as he continued forward, swung his arm, and pumped his body full of acceleration.
A strike starting from his right fingertips blew away the center of the enemy’s front line.
Their front line bent and swelled out. Finally, several of the large demons were blasted into the sky. But…
Toshiie’s voice coincided with a second explosion of light behind them.
The wind seemed whipped up by that light and it seemed to fly through the night sky to land in front of them.
Narimasa saw bending and fluttering black hair pass by overhead.
The flow of black dropped in front of him with the movements of a snake swimming down a river.
The fall was clearly faster than simple gravitational acceleration, but that disturbed momentum brought it right into the enemy formation up ahead. And it did so in a path traveling over those Narimasa had blasted into the air.
In an instant, Oichi sliced through all of the giant forms he had sent flying and blades grew from their bodies. Before they could fall to the ground, Oichi jumped further toward the center.
She rotated her entire body, rotated her arms, and sent hidden swords flying in almost every direction around her.
These were more than just swords. They had charm cylinders on the pommel which Oichi touched and activated with yet another rotation.
Flames exploded in every direction at the very center of the enemy unit.
Tearing sounds rang out as the demon and corpse warriors were smashed, burned, or blown away. Following the roasting sound of the flames, scorching heat filled the atmosphere and shimmering heat turned the victims to charcoal.
Even then, it was not over.
As Oichi rotated, the enemies who had slipped through the three hundred sixty degrees of flames rushed toward her.
They used their positions, numbers, momentum, and willpower for this final charge. Oichi was unarmed after unleashing all of her weapons, but a certain thought came to Narimasa’s mind as he too approached Oichi.
His premonition proved accurate.
Several weapons reached Oichi’s hand as she rotated at the center of the attacking demons. They were all of the swords that had roasted the enemy in midair. She had launched them outward, but the recoil of the explosive blast had sent them back to her before the enemy warriors could reach her.
The term “counterattack” did not seem adequate to describe the precision of the swords launched in every direction.
Oichi was moving.
She spun around and raised her arms higher than her hanging head.
And she sliced through her enemy.
This was not a mere wide-range attack. She thoroughly cut and chopped at each individual enemy. She did not hold back in the slightest as one attack led into another.
Blades flew, thrust, rotated horizontally or vertically, sliced, smashed, stabbed, and were pulled out.
For each weapon, an enemy fell.
They were directed in every direction and toward every location and the collapsing battlefield seemed to blossom like a flower around Oichi. The sounds filling the air were the breaking of bone and flesh plus the waves of objects collapsing to the snowy ground.
Enemies were blown away, torn into, and burned before falling limply to the snow.
All the while, the rotating hair and body never stopped.
She released weapons, threw them high into the air, and never stopped even with no one taller than her remaining in the vicinity.
Her toes, shoulders, bent back, and turning hips all looked in a certain direction: the south.
P.A. Oda’s camp was there, as were Narimasa, Fuwa, and Toshiie.
As she turned her lowered head and body that way, she spread the claws of her fingers without hesitation.
She was about to move. She would race forward as she wailed and tear into enemy and ally alike. But…
Someone kicked the snow into the air as they charged straight toward her.
It was Narimasa as he tilted his entire body forward to dash.
“I’ll stop you!”
Narimasa did not hesitate.
…I’ll stop her!
The fact that she was Katsuie’s wife did not matter here. If nothing was done, she would destroy the camp behind him.
So he raced straight at Oichi who was running their way.
After one, two, three steps, the distance between them vanished.
The approaching enemy was currently unarmed, but that did not mean he could relax. After all, Oichi had been unarmed at the start of this mess.
He did not have a weapon either, so it would come down to close-quarters combat. So to accelerate…
He opened the white lily emblems on his feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and back.
His accelerating step smashed the frozen ground below him.
He showed no sign of holding back because he had once heard that, if not for this indiscriminate way of attacking…
…Oichi would rival the Five Great Peaks and Six Heavenly Demon Army.
What he had seen at Asai Academy was enough to not feel insulted by that comparison. As was what he had seen here.
…She’s a monster.
As a human, she could “switch off” the fact that she was human and enter an inhuman realm. And after she became a “monster”, she did not try to control herself as a human would. She abandoned herself to all of the strength built up inside her and she ruled the battlefield while making no distinction between enemy, ally, good, or evil.
If I could do that, thought Narimasa, things would be so much easier.
If he had a barrier inside him, he felt it had to be that. Breaking through that wall would eventually give him even greater strength and bring his history recreation to its end.
He continued on.
Narimasa used his entire body to attack Oichi.
In an instant, black flowed through his vision.
While running, Oichi had swung her entire body to the side and launched her sweeping hair toward him.
A sheen darker than the night sky swept by before his eyes.
It did not hit him. The hair simply swung by in front of him. It was almost like a warning or a sensor. It seemed to say that death would come to whoever touched that.
But Narimasa did not hesitate.
He chose to move forward, but then a color other than black appeared in his field of vision from below.
It was the white of the snow hiding the ground.
Behind her sweeping hair, Oichi had kicked the snow up toward his face.
His sight was stolen by that rising snow.
Is she completely insane? he wondered.
She had directed his attention the side with the horizontal movement of her black hair and then kicked up the contrasting snow in a vertical movement. Also…
…So that’s what you’re after!!
Oichi was trying to acquire a weapon, and there was only one she could acquire while empty-handed here.
Thanks to the weight of the snow on top and the moisture that had seeped down and refrozen, an icy layer had formed below. It would normally not have broken and would only have thawed come spring.
…But I stomped on it!
Israfil borrowed the power of the earth and built it into his spells or movements. When used to accelerate or attack, he would shake the earth with a powerful stomp or leap.
Oichi had seen and understood that Israfil had destroyed the ground.
…Is she actually perfectly sane!?
She had rushed in unarmed to get him to attack.
She was not simply on a rampage. She would wail and react to the battlefield with split-second decisions, but for the most important points, she would predict things out a few steps ahead.
Her weapon now was a fragment of ice she had kicked up from the ground.
It was over a meter long and formed a sharp spear that would function as a piercing weapon.
Beyond her rotating and fluttering hair, her right hand grabbed the airborne ice spear.
She thrust it straight out toward his face and Narimasa opened his mouth at the accurate attack.
But he was not wailing.
With an almost angry roar, he took action.
He swung his entire body and stabbed his raised right lower leg toward the snowy ground.
He launched an all-out attack toward Oichi.
Narimasa stomped his right heel forward and turned his entire body a bit to the right.
He lowered his hips, stuck his right hand forward, and slowly thrust his raised fist straight forward.
This was not a mere fist blow. His arm was still half-bent at the elbow and it was more like a tackle with his hand held a little forward.
But enduring the speed allowed the strength of his full body to rush forward.
He perfectly matched the timing of the stomp with the moment of impact, so the attack placed all of his kinetic energy on the front of his body. Lowering his hips placed his support closer to the ground, gave the force nowhere to escape, and stopped his movement, but…
…I just have to touch her to send the full force of the blow into her!
This technique allowed him to use his full strength over short distances.
The lowered hips left him with almost no reach, but he had immediately decided this opponent left him with no other option. She moved erratically, so he had made the split-second decision that a counterattack that supplied a powerful blow from a touch would be better than a normal punch.
He built up his strength and released it.
He left his footprint in the ground below and the rest of that frozen ground shattered.
For two hundred meters around him, the ground bounced up from the stomp and the snow became a white mist. And in the center…
“I don’t care if you have a weapon!!”
He knew what to do now that she had abandoned unarmed combat and prepared a weapon.
The ice spear burst and vanished when his pushing fist struck it.
From the tip to her hand, it instantly turned to dust, as if being devoured, and then his strike continued on toward her hand.
A simple touch would supply the same amount of force that had bounced up the ground for two hundred meters. The stomp prevented him from moving. Even if he shifted his stiff stance forward to extend his reach, it would only give him a few centimeters.
This attack only worked as a counterattack.
Meanwhile, Oichi did not have anything like an acceleration spell. He had instantly switched his attack and she could not dodge, so it would hit. But…
Narimasa saw the black wail vanish from before his right fist.
He immediately saw something else in front of him.
A vertical white line had fallen from directly above.
It was one of the swords used by the Sviet Rus warriors.
It was one of those Oichi had stolen, wielded, and thrown away.
She had thrown it high into the sky, having predicted Narimasa’s charge.
It was falling directly along the path of his charge, so if he had continued with his plan after having his vision stolen and being lured into attack, it would have sliced straight through his body.
But he had made a split-second change of plans.
That kept it from slicing through him and it instead fell right in front of his eyes.
Oichi had missed, but so had Narimasa.
His fist was going to strike the sword stabbed into the ground in front of him.
But before it could, Oichi took action. She placed her foot on the hilt of the sword and launched herself high into the heavens above.
She jumped over Narimasa.
From about twenty meters behind Narimasa, Fuwa watched Oichi’s movements. The woman made a large leap and avoided Sassa’s attack.
“You mean she’s after me!?”
The answer to her question was about to land right in front of her.
It was Oichi.
She must have barely pulled off the leap because her vertical spin was lighter than usual, but her feet were already positioned diagonally. The instant she landed, she intended to rotate and stand up.
She was also dropping accurately toward a certain object: a demon who had earlier been hit by a sword and collapsed.
He was breathing but not moving and the sword Oichi had stabbed him with was still in his back.
Oichi’s landing point would allow her to grab that sword’s hilt.
…The jump wasn’t shallow because she had trouble getting higher.
She had adjusted the jump perfectly even while moving like that.
This isn’t good, Fuwa thought.
Up ahead, Sassa had yet to eliminate the momentum of his attack, so he could not even turn around yet.
As for Maeda to her left…
“Michi! Over here! Hurry!”
Fuwa looked over to find Maeda a full twenty meters to her left for some reason. She thought about why he would be there and found an answer.
“You ran away, leaving the girl in danger!?”
“Anyone would run away from that!! Na-chan’s just weird!”
He makes a good point, she thought while Oichi prepared to land in front of her.
She determined what she needed to do, so she took a step toward Oichi.
…I-I need to be prepared!
With that thought, Fuwa stepped forward.
This might not work. No, it probably won’t, she also thought.
But she was a P.A. Oda girl, so there was one thing she had to do. If she tried to run, Oichi would only catch up, so she had to move a little forward, and…
…Take that sword!
If she could get rid of the weapon, she could stop Oichi from attacking. At the very least, if she erased the possibility of instant death from a blade, more possibilities would open up.
But was that really the best option here?
She did not know. But as far as the best option for Local Treasurer Fuwa Mitsuharu was concerned…
“This is all I can think of!”
She could feel tears welling up in the corners of her eyes.
Still, she leaned forward and took her step.
She was determined to do this, but then…
“Oh, now that’s the spirit. You could learn a thing or two from Fuwa, Toshiie.”
A wall moved in front of her.
It was Katsuie.
It all ended with a simple movement.
The black fluttering was falling down toward the weapon.
“I love how passionate you are, Lady Oichi. …That’s the ultimate lifestyle!”
With those words, Katsuie snatched her from the air with his demonic body and right arm.
He then breathed in and let out a cry that reverberated through the sky.
“This battle is over!! …Because we’ve won!!”
Narimasa heard Shibata announce their victory behind him.
Narimasa did not stop himself from looking back.
As he got up, he looked across the battlefield.
“She really did a number on them.”
Katsuie was exactly right about the battle being over.
Oichi’s charge and destruction had broken through the center of the demon warriors and left most of the rest in chaos.
About a fifth of them had been destroyed, but those enemy warriors had made up for their lack of speed and technique with numbers. Now, they were forced to rely exclusively on those numbers, and…
…That’s meaningless when their central command group was crushed.
The ground unit sent out from the P.A. Oda camp was working on mopping up the warriors who had lost their upper chain of command.
They would likely continue their resistance. With no ships to leave on, an end of resistance meant death or imprisonment by the enemy, but…
“They don’t stand a chance against us with their chain of command in disarray.”
Narimasa took a breath and looked forward where Katsuie was lowering Oichi to the snow.
He was worried about that, but her stance had returned to normal.
She had her forehead pressed to Katsuie’s chest and she slowly raised her head and spoke.
She smiled with her eyebrows a little lowered.
“Can my happiness continue for a little while longer?”
“It can.” Katsuie nodded. “It can continue for lots, lots longer. After all, we’re newlyweds, aren’t we? If you look at the time period.”
“Are we? Ha ha. I think maybe too much has happened for that to count anymore. Like our visit to those historic M.H.R.R. sites.”
“Yeah, your lunches were so good…”
“Then I’ll make more for you. …If you ever get tired of them, please tell me. And if you ever get tired of being with me…”
“My happiness will be over, so please kill me.”
“I will. I definitely will. After all, you aren’t going to find anyone in the world but me that can kill you. …That’s what I swore back at Asai!”
“Ha ha. You could have killed me back then, but you were nice and you could still move even after being skewered thirty times. You caught me off guard when you hit me with that counterattack…”
Oichi sighed and loosened her scarf.
This revealed the scar from having her neck cut about halfway through. She gently stroked the mark from a nearly fatal wound and she narrowed her eyes.
“You marked me with the proof that you can kill me. It’s so lovely.”
“Ohhhh! Lady Oichi just praised me. How about that, small fries!? Jealous!?”
“Not likely, idiot.”
Narimasa spat on the snowy ground, brushed up his hair, and walked past the two of them.
Oichi suddenly looked at him and narrowed her eyes.
“Sassa, thank you for not dying. You can’t let yourself die, okay?”
“Shaaajaaa. I’ll work hard on that one.”
“I’ve got the higher position, so you don’t need to worry about that kind of thing.”
He turned back and bowed as he walked.
“Try not to underestimate me, Oichi.”
“Oh, oh? Naru Naruuuu? Why aren’t you looking her in the eye? Embarrassed?”
Narimasa bared his teeth, but his shoulders drooped when Oichi told him to calm down.
He breathed in.
He raised his head with his usual expression back and he started toward the camp again.
He showed no sign of helping mop up the enemy. This was no longer his battlefield.
Narimasa started walking despite his wrinkled brow.
However, he suddenly came to a stop.
“You got a problem?”
He was facing a demon warrior collapsed in the snow to his left. The warrior wore a Sviet Rus uniform, but he had the dried skin of the desert type.
His stomach had been pierced diagonally by a sword, but he was still breathing.
“It’s Sassa Narimasa.”
“I see,” said the demon. “You took that name on Lord Suleiman’s instructions, didn’t you? And the great king’s sister also left for the Far East…”
“Suleiman was the one that betrayed us.”
“It would have been the Testament Union that ordered his sister’s death. …I would say that makes two of you, but I suppose it was different for you.”
“Of course it was,” said Narimasa. “Surely it could have been stopped. But who was it that didn’t do that, left me behind, and let it all trigger revolt?”
He clenched his fist until it grew white and slowly took a breath.
“I will walk my own path of history now …That’s what I swore to the lily flower.”
He took another breath and looked back behind him.
“Hey! Fuwa, you idiot! Let’s get back. This is Toshi’s place now. …Why are you sitting on the ground?”
Narimasa saw Fuwa look up at him with a bitter smile from about a dozen meters away.
She frantically began stirring up the snow around her.
“I-I’ll head back later! You go on ahead! Yeah, you do that!”
“Don’t tell me you pissed yourself…”
“Why would you actually say it!? You’re awful!”
He approached her with his shoulders drooping again.
He then grabbed her back collar and dragged her behind him.
“Ah, wait! What are you doing!?”
“You should be glad I’m not kicking you back like a soccer ball. Honestly.”
He sighed and walked across the remains of the snowy battlefield.
“You handle the rest, Toshi. Go meet with that old hag calling herself Novgorod’s mayor.”
“Yes, I know, Na-chan.”
Toshiie summoned some more dead spirit warriors to help mop up the enemy while he smiled toward Narimasa who was dragging Fuwa with him.
Now he only had to negotiate with Novgorod, but…
…Well, I pretty much know how this is going to go.
He glanced over at Katsuie who was sitting with Oichi on a waterproof mat they had laid out at some point.
“Look! Look! Lady Oichi! That unit was completely blown away! Upupu. That’s what happens when you don’t put your hips into it! When you all get back, you’re doing five sets of a hundred whirlwind foot stomps!!”
“Katsuie? Say ‘ah’.”
When people go soft, they go all the way soft, don’t they? thought Toshiie.
He looked up at the floating city of Novgorod that floated overhead as a black shadow in the sky.
Someone sat comfortably on the edge of the southern pier with their legs dangling down.
“Mayor Marfa, P.A. Oda has created just the situation you wanted.”
“Oh? What an odd thing to say.”
A sankt okno opened to display Marfa’s face as she smiled with her eyebrows raised.
“All of the dead warriors I sent out were defeated. And the demon warriors of Sviet Rus’s Ikkou-Ikki and border guard were wiped out. I am simply stricken with grief.”
She looked to the eastern land.
Black smoke was still rising from the transport ships she had shot down at the beginning of the battle.
“Help from Sviet Rus is not going to arrive in time and I have lost my excellent warriors and comrades.”
She maintained her raised eyebrows and smile.
“You could say we have been isolated here.”
“Then what will you do?”
“Testament. It’s simple.”
She stood up on the pier and looked down at him. Her direct but smiling gaze poured kindly down.
“Testament,” she said again. “If we’re isolated, then we have no choice. To preserve Novgorod’s benefit for Sviet Rus, we will agree to assist P.A. Oda if you agree not to invade us.”
Marfa used a sankt okno to view the P.A. Oda treasurer far below.
She spoke to someone else when she noticed that treasurer looking back up at her without fear.
“Toby, can you tell me his name now?”
“Of course,” replied the elderly man standing behind her.
He was short and skinny, but he silently walked up behind her and looked down.
“That is P.A. Oda Treasurer Maeda Toshiie.”
“Heh. He’s modified the spell my ancestors completed and he uses it on ghosts… Makes things nice and lively for him too. What about you?”
“I do not have many descendants. …From what I have heard, some of them have come to Kantou, so I am more interested in that.”
“I see,” said Marfa with a nod and a breath.
Her breath did not appear white in the sky. That was a trait of the Living Dead races and she used that cold breath to speak to Maeda.
“You understand what I mean by ‘assisting’ you, right?”
“Testament. You will lend us your military strength and you will battle Sviet Rus, but we are not allowed inside, correct? Thank you very much.”
“Testament,” she said with another nod.
She glanced back at the city of Living Dead simply carrying goods back and forth. The city was poorly maintained and beginning to rot, but her gaze fell on the stone city hall at the center.
“This city has long been a symbol of resistance. Each mayor has sworn along with the residents to protect this place. …Now, has P.A. Oda forgotten about that? Or is it kept secret?”
“I know about it. Secondhand at least.”
“Oh?” Marfa raised her eyebrows. “If you know, then keep quiet. You’ll get in the way of my love.”
“Current Sviet Rus Chancellor and Student Council President Ivan the Terrible aka Uesugi Kagekatsu is my classmate. We parted ways, but he asked me to do some troublesome things like that purge or inheriting the name of a rebel. I don’t mind dying, but he hasn’t been visiting lately. Now…”
“I’d like some social status. Maeda, the Testament Union belongs to all of you now, doesn’t it? If Novgorod agrees not to confront you, will you give me an inherited name?”
“You have inherited the names of Novgorod Mayor Marfa and Nagao Kagetora, so I would think you could inherit most any name you wanted. What name would you like?”
“Testament. Well… In order to harass Mr. Terrible, how about I take Shibata Shigeie, the commander who betrayed Uesugi for Oda? And…”
Her smile deepened.
“How about giving Novogorod the name of Nanao Castle?”
Fuwa gasped as Sassa dragged her.
“You can’t, Maeda! The retreat of the Shibata forces that leads to Nobunaga’s assassination began with the Battle of Tedorigawa caused by Nanao Castle joining Oda! If Novgorod is treated as Nanao Castle while it assists P.A. Oda, it will lead to Nobunaga’s assassination!”
“I was thinking the same thing, but it also means something else.”
“As the Shibata forces, we would be able to attack Sviet Rus’s forces without holding back. With the Testament Union on our side, we can make our own interpretation of our ‘retreating battle’ and the ‘counterattack that eventually ends up as a retreat’. We could even burn Sviet Rus to the ground before leaving if we wanted to.”
Toshiie addressed Marfa again.
“Mayor Marfa, are you asking for the Nanao Castle name in order to protect Novgorod from both P.A. Oda and Sviet Rus?”
“Oh? You’re pretty sharp,” said Marfa. “You’re exactly right. If we become Nanao Castle which defects to Oda, then if P.A. Oda ever tries to attack us, we can ask Sviet Rus for help in the name of stopping your violation of the Testament descriptions. But if Sviet Rus tries to invade, we can ask P.A. Oda for help. …The enemy of our enemy is our enemy. That’s our way of thinking.”
“I see,” replied Maeda. “This is a complicated issue, so I would like to let another representative think it over. Of course, I think we should have a quick answer for the other issues. That is, your neutrality and Shibata Shigeie’s name. It is possible we will ask you to come out and fight to prove you are serious, so please do so if it comes to that.”
“Surely you can do that much, Former Sviet Rus Vice Chancellor.”
Marfa smiled bitterly at Maeda’s words.
“I see. …Does he know what I was given earlier as if as a parting gift? P.A. Oda is rather interesting.”
She smiled and spoke to Maeda as he bowed inside the sankt okno.
“Now, Novgorod will announce its neutrality and leave this region until you have news for us. …Go forth, P.A. Oda. The people of Novgorod will watch you continue safely on.”
She laughed bitterly, gave the ground below a sweeping glance, and stood from the pier.
“Farewell. I must greet a guest soon and I can’t have them catching wind of these spells. …I will be waiting for good news.”
Inside the Main Blue Thunder, Masazumi frowned at the information from Mitotsudaira’s mother.
“This is getting dangerous. P.A. Oda is entering Sviet Rus from the southwest.”
Still Got It: “Testament. The situation is unknown, but Novgorod has fallen back based on some form of agreement. Most likely, P.A. Oda has promised not to attack them. And now P.A. Oda is moving their front line further in.”
The likely source of the information was either Tomoe Gozen or Suleiman. News of Novgorod’s action would be based on visual information, so the news was reliable even if the reason was unknown.
Mitotsudaira tilted her head.
“Could their western line of defense really have betrayed them at a time like this?”
Gin tilted her head and responded.
“It is possible based on the Testament descriptions. This may be the history recreation of the Shibata clan’s rebellion. The Shibata clan defended western Jouetsu, but they reached an agreement with the Oda clan regarding a compensation issue, which spread the flames of war for quite some time afterwards.”
“Novgorod Mayor Marfa probably inherited a name from the Shibata clan as insurance against Oda. She’s trying to take a neutral position between P.A. Oda and Sviet Rus.”
Still Got It: “That’s right. I think it makes the most sense to think Novgorod wished to reclaim the independence it had in the past. But that doesn’t seem like enough. …Now, Nate, I don’t think I’ve had enough either, so I’m going to go invade your father. From the southwest today!”
Masazumi thought to herself while Mitotsudaira erased all of the sign frames that popped up in quick succession.
…Hashiba’s restraints, Oushuu’s reaction, the Date clan cutting all ties with us, Novgorod betraying Sviet Rus, and P.A. Oda’s invasion…
She felt like something big was happening.
It all felt connected, but she also felt like at least one piece was still missing.
As she wondered what it could be, Crossunite tapped on her shoulder.
“Hm? What is it, Crossunite?”
“Judge. I just received word concerning Neshinbara-dono’s absence.”
He placed a hand on his chin and slowly continued.
“It would seem his tracks end at the collapsed supplies on Musashino’s stern.”
Everyone frowned and focused on the 1st Special Duty Officer ninja.
“Just in case, I will be heading out ahead to examine the area. If you have time, it might be good for you to stop by too, Masazumi-dono. He is a fellow member of the Student Council.”
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