Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 18
Chapter 18: Young Girl in the Depths of a Dream
What is that person seeing
Is happening to them?
Point Allocation (Curiosity)
A certain stone corridor was dim and unlit, but it was free of dust and covered in a red carpet.
Two people walked down that corridor, neither hurrying nor stopping. One was a slender man wearing a large M.H.R.R. uniform and the other wore the girl’s version of that uniform with a monkey mask attached.
The man spoke to the monkey mask girl with a thin bitter smile below his somewhat curly hair.
“Hashiba, are you sure you should have left Edo? I am glad I can fully enjoy myself as a puppet with you here, but still.”
“Testament. I, um, prefer the food here, so, well, I am glad to be here too, Matthias-sama.”
“M.H.R.R. food is nothing but meat, it’s really salty, and we finish everything off with beer. Are you sure you like that?”
“The salt can be removed by boiling it. And, um…I’m small.”
Hashiba lowered her head and mask as she spoke. She placed her hands on her shoulders and lowered them to her stomach.
“Everyone says I should gain some weight. But with this body…”
“I shouldn’t have said that. I apologize.” Matthias’s bitter smile grew. “You could probably get plenty of girly sweets when you were in P.A. Oda. Now, I’ve never been over there, but what was the food like there?”
“I mean Edo, Hashiba.”
“To follow the history recreation, the food is quite restrictive.” She seemed to realize something then. “Oh, but there’s plenty of seafood. And rice too. The Edo clan seems to have put a lot of work into their history recreation, so they did a good job of making adjustments when we had them go boom with a dragon line reactor the other day. Um…”
“The fish-focused Far Eastern diet is nice since you don’t gain weight.”
“T-Testament. It is nice, but, um, to choose my words carefully…I personally wish they had more of the basics.”
“You can eat three meals a day in A.H.R.S.’s cafeteria until you leave. They have mutton meals and the like, so go for it.”
“Thank you very much…”
Once she said that, a lernen figur appeared next to Hashiba. It contained text.
Nari Nari Nari: “Hashiba-sama, please eat, just as Matthias-sama suggests. You can find plenty of the ‘basics’ there. Even the lifelike models can preserve their various functions more efficiently by extracting nutrients from food.”
“…? Hashiba? Who is that?”
Nari Nari Nari: “Nice to meet you, Matthias-sama. I am Ishida Mitsunari, one of Hashiba-sama’s aides. I am currently a program, but I intend to further construct my personality to officially inherit my name.”
“Oh?” Matthias looked to Mitsunari inside the lernen figur and gave a light bow. “It sounds like I will be interacting with you a lot, so it is a pleasure meeting you. Please work to keep me in my position as puppet as long as possible. …But does this mean Hashiba-kun is already thinking of Sekigahara?”
Nari Nari Nari: “I have determined it would be more accurate to say she is thinking about what comes after Honnouji.”
“Hey,” cut in Hashiba as she raised her shoulders. “You shouldn’t be talking too much about that, San-chan. You’re a smart girl, so you understand why, don’t you?”
Nari Nari Nari: “It would seem the development of my personality still needs to catch up.”
Matthias smiled as Mitsunari bowed inside her lernen figur and disappeared.
“Ha ha. What a lively exchange. I’m jealous, but I also have high hopes for you, Hashiba. …After all, my position as puppet is being supported by such lively and amazing people.”
“Testament. There are a variety of other issues, but, um, please trust that we will support you.”
The corridor turned to the right. At the same time, the windows on either wall moved to a higher position. And these windows contained stained glass.
As the tall and short figures turned the corner, the tall one had a long, casual stride while the short one jogged a little, but…
“Matthias-sama, this leads to…”
“Testament. We have not been down here. But I trust that you will protect your puppet.”
“Testament. I will not do so myself, but, um, uh…”
As she walked and caught up with Matthias, Hashiba stretched her hands forward. “Is this how it works?” she muttered as she clapped her hands.
Someone else appeared behind them.
The new appearance was a girl in an M.H.R.R. uniform without a coat.
The tall, black-haired girl with focused eyes kneeled behind Matthias and Hashiba. Her swaying ponytail was tied high on the back of her head with a hair clip resembling a horizontal silver plate.
“It is a pleasure to see thee this morning. I, Fukushima, have arrived in response to thy call. What is thy bidding?”
“Fukushima-san… You don’t have to force those archaic pronouns into your sentences.”
“I am not forcing anything, so thy concerns are unfounded.”
Fukushima’s comment was followed by an awkward silence. To fill the gap, Hashiba turned toward Matthias while seeming to knead the air in her hands.
“U-um, Matthias-sama? Uh, Fukushima-san, r-really is, um, a good and obedient girl. Please try not to let your first impression of her do too much damage.”
“To choose my words carefully, I can see P.A. Oda has a great variety of personnel. …She is one of the Ten Spears under your command, isn’t she? She is the effective leader of the group, Fukushima Masanori, isn’t she?”
“Oh, you’re familiar with her, Matthias-sama? Um, well, that pretty much sums it up. But, uh, I bet you don’t know this: She loves it when you call her Nori-chan.”
“I-I do not.”
“D-don’t call me that…”
“S-see? Look how delighted she is!”
“Hashiba, that is a fascinating observation. …But let’s get back on topic.”
Hashiba nodded, stood in front of Fukushima, crouched down, and placed her hands on the girl’s shoulders. Then she patted those shoulders a few times.
“Okay, Nori-chan, can you take care of things up ahead here?”
“I came here in a hurry, but what do thou need me to do?”
“Well, it’s about this.”
Matthias opened a lernen figur as he smiled with the ends of his eyebrows lowered. He held the thin Catholic lernen figur in one hand and inserted it into the door ahead of them. Once he did, the door slowly began to open.
“This room belongs to Current K.P.A. Italia Chancellor Innocentius X. Although to be exact, it isn’t his. It belongs to his older and younger sister-in-law who has temporarily inherited his name.”
Fukushima frowned at Matthias’s words.
“Older and younger sister-in-law?”
“Testament. There are people like that too.”
“Why do ye need me to enter her room?”
“Well, the thing about her – oh, and her name is Olimpia – is that in exchange for protecting K.P.A Italia, she gave us the right to give her our opinions. However, she won’t let us meet with her. Why not, you ask? Apparently because she won’t leave her room.”
“For some reason, she asked that we go meet her, but…”
A rumbling sound coincided with some footsteps. After two footsteps and the wind of something being pushed forward, something slammed into the wall on the other side of the large door.
A bipedal beast stood in the large stone hall beyond the partially opened door. It was at least seven meters tall, it had a horn, and it had a tail.
Its roar shook the stone walls and stained glass.
When Matthias saw it, he nodded toward Fukushima.
“That is not her, just to be clear.”
“I had guessed as much. But in that case, what is it?”
“It’s why we called you here. However…” Matthias smiled. “Keep in mind that you shouldn’t kill it. It’s apparently a part of her.”
Fukushima nodded, added a “testament”, and leaned her kneeling body forward.
A moment later, she split the wind in two and launched her body into the room containing the enemy.
She began the battle.
Fukushima found herself in a large open space.
It continued one hundred meters back and was fifty meters wide. The lines of pillars on either side formed arches to support the large space. A raised platform covered in red carpet was positioned at the back.
…Is this a cathedral?
As she commented in her heart, the enemy came from the right.
It was a dragon. That type of beast was common in the New World and Ezo which recreated it. This seemed to be a wingless terrestrial type. Its shell resembled armor, but Fukushima concluded it was a living dragon and not a mechanical beast.
She inhaled and spread her legs to the front and back in respect to her opponent.
“Testament. Here it comes.”
And come it did.
However, the approaching attack was not a physical strike.
The dragon leaned back from Fukushima who prepared herself to its right.
It was too far away to reach, but the beast still thrust its face forward and low to the ground.
Its fangs did not reach, but something was fired from deep in the throat visible between its wide-opened maw.
…A dragon cannon!
White light burst through the cathedral.
This roar attack used the ether accumulated in an internal organ and it was a feature common to all types of dragon.
When fired, a ring of water vapor and a piercing blast of light burst from the dragon’s mouth. The meter thick pillar of light swept a bit through the air before colliding with Fukushima.
The light exploded and filled the cathedral with the color white.
The sound roared and the walls and floor shook, but…
The dragon transformed. Even as it forced out the line of light, its extended neck shrank as if pulling back into its torso. And as its slender front legs extended forward, the area from its neck to its jaw expanded.
It had rearranged its skeleton.
To provide flexibility of movement and to allow forces to harmlessly escape their body, most dragon bones had a composite structure and the neck bones were no exception. Most dragons’ neck joints were split between the front and back, and by releasing the connection between the front and back…
They could expand the caliber of their cannon.
Using the previous attack as a guide and a means of adjusting the power, the full strength of the dragon’s lungs was used to fire a giant ball of light.
The mass of light gathered ether around itself like an electrical discharge and instantly travelled down the previous light that was linked to its target like an umbilical cord.
The five meter bullet of light shot down the path of the previous explosion of light and thus straight toward Fukushima’s previous location and beyond.
The power rushed toward its destination with the sound of scorching heat.
The light erased even the shaded images of the cathedral’s interior.
A heated wind whipped up and the light scattered, but…
A small sound came from the destination of all that power.
It was a voice. It was drowned out by the volume of the explosion and wind, but Fukushima still spoke.
Her dignified voice was immediately followed by a certain movement.
It came from the dragon.
Once it had finished firing its cannon, it leaned its head even further down and raced toward the vortex of glowing destruction that had yet to settle down.
The cathedral was large to a human, but it only took a few steps for the great beast.
As it closed its mouth and pointed its forehead toward its prey, the next transformation began.
The armor on its back and waist opened backwards and the heat exhaust ports below the armor were exposed to the air behind it. And…
The heat built up from the dragon cannon blasts exploded backwards from those heat exhaust ports on its back. This secondary roar accelerated its charge.
Shimmering heat filled with some ether fragments transformed the dragon’s charge into a high-speed glide. It almost seemed to have been kicked forward as it aimed for its prey with the horn on its forehead.
They were going to clash.
A great tremor arrived through the closed door as a sound.
As the door rattled in its frame and produced sounds of creaking and collisions, Matthias asked Hashiba a question.
“Hashiba, Fukushima made this sound easy, but she didn’t just immediately get herself killed, did she?”
Matthias froze in place at the monkey mask girl’s quiet response.
After a while, he cleared his throat.
“You didn’t expect this to happen?”
“Um, well, uh, I don’t really have that much self-confidence, but, um, uh…”
She intertwined her fingers in front of her chest and continued quietly.
“I doubt Nori-chan would lose…”
“Then,” said Matthias as he placed a hand on the door. “In the worst case…can you call three of your Spears this time?”
He threw open the door and revealed what was on the other side.
The dragon’s giant body was lying unmoving against the wall, and… “Thou are being too hasty.”
Fukushima turned around when she noticed them.
She was unharmed.
Matthias’s eyebrows rose a little.
He was astonished.
He did not know what had occurred inside the cathedral, but the dragon had definitely gone on a rampage and it had definitely made a finishing blow. And yet…
“I suppose this means you won.”
“No, my victory is Hashiba-sama’s victory.”
“That is the true desire of the Ten Spears.”
She was holding a certain weapon.
Matthias’s eyebrows rose when he saw the long-handled, silver-adorned, spear-like weapon.
“Y-you know what it is, Matthias-sama!? You are, um, very knowledgeable!”
“No, I was just going to say it’s beautiful.”
Hashiba slowly looked the other way.
However, a quiet laugh was heard. It was a bitter one and it came from Fukushima.
“Hashiba-sama. Why not just accept this as an excellent opportunity to test Ichinotani?”
At first glance, the Ichinotani weapon she spun in the fingers of one hand resembled a spear, but one spot in particular was clearly different.
“…Does it have no tip?”
“It actually does, but…”
Fukushima pointed Ichinotani toward Matthias. A fifteen centimeter wide and sixty centimeter long silver plate was attached to the front end of the long shaft.
However, its end was not pointed. It was narrow like a blade, but it was squared off.
It almost looks like a chisel, noted Matthias as Fukushima swung it.
It quickly shortened. Once the two and a half meter shaft shrank to only about sixty centimeters, she adjusted her grip on it.
“Like this, it looks more like an iron plate striking weapon.”
“Testament. But what exactly does-…”
Matthias looked over at the collapsed dragon.
“As a puppet, maybe it would be best if I didn’t know.”
“I will leave that up to Hashiba-sama.”
She looked to Hashiba who frantically waved her hands back and forth.
“Th-that is, um, your weapon, N-Nori-chan, so it, well, isn’t my decision.”
“Then let’s just call it a secret weapon. …Got that, Fukushima?”
“Testament. …Understood. But…”
Matthias followed Fukushima’s gaze back to the collapsed dragon by the wall.
However, the dragon was vanishing.
She asked a question concerning the wall that now had nothing in front of it.
“What just happened?”
Fukushima recalled the tactile feedback felt through Ichinotani, the shaking of the ground, the sound of the wind and the roars, as well as the heat and presence of the dragon.
“That was clearly a real dragon.”
“Her race possesses that power.”
Matthias started forward as he spoke. He chose to walk down the center of the cathedral. Fukushima followed after bowing, but she made sure to protect Hashiba from the front and the left as she did so.
He carries his body in a very regulated way, she judged from the movements of his shoulders. But as the Holy Roman Emperor, perhaps that should not be surprising.
“Matthias-sama, when thou said ‘her’ just now, did thou mean Olimpia-sama?”
“Yes. You can probably make a decent guess about most of it, but she belongs to a spirit race.”
What power of hers had created and erased that dragon?
“She desires sleep and grows by consuming the dreams she sees there.”
“Yes. Her growth requires an incredible amount of dreams, so while awake, she has to buy up everything she needs to maintain her happiness. Of course, that happiness does not remain in her dreams… And it goes beyond a mere feeling. It includes nearly everything: scenery, food, and even her own power. …Look.”
The cathedral disappeared.
Fukushima and Matthias had been walking to the back of the cathedral, but now something else appeared before their eyes.
Fukushima looked around.
She stood inside a dimly-lit circular bedroom with wooden walls.
It was large, but not as much as the previous cathedral. It was carpeted, bookshelves covered the walls, dolls and contraptions were placed here and there, and clothes were scattered about. And at the center of them all was a bed with a red canopy. And…
“Oh, my. All that noise woke me up. Who are you?”
An old woman sat inside it.
She wore a red stole over plain, red pajamas and she had a bent waist and back. Her wrinkled face bent into a smile when she noticed the visitors.
“Oh, you were very cool in my dream.”
The old woman pulled off the blanket and started to get down onto the floor, but…
Her foot caught on a pile of clothing and she started to trip.
Helping her would have been a trivial task for Fukushima, but…
Matthias took a step forward and supported her shoulder with a bitter smile on his face.
Fukushima agreed with the impressed gasp from Hashiba behind her and she slowly got down on one knee. She knew this would be a discussion between individuals more important than her.
But there was something she wanted to ask while the situation was still unclear.
“About that dragon…”
“Oh, that. That was a dream I was having. I was reading a book about dragon slaying before I went to sleep, you see. I thought the dragon seemed so strong, but it seems there are even stronger people out there.”
She gave a trouble smiled, but bent her eyes as she looked to Fukushima.
“I’m not entirely sure what you did, but thank you for not slicing through it and killing it. Simply knocking it down like that didn’t do any damage to me.”
“I am honored to receive thy praise.”
“What a formal girl.” The old woman’s bitter smile deepened and she looked to the man supporting her. “The new Holy Roman Emperor certainly looks unhealthy. You need to follow my example if you want to stay healthy. I look at and experience so many different things, go to sleep each night looking forward to tomorrow, and grow younger.”
Fukushima spoke aloud without thinking and the old woman turned toward her.
“Testament. That’s right. I grow younger. I was even more of a wrinkled old lady when I was born. As I consume more and more dreams, I grow younger. After all, a girl grows younger with her dreams. …I was born aged and, as I have young dreams and consume my years, I will become a baby and ultimately disappear. That is my fate as Olimpia of the Reverse-Agers.”
She smiled and moved away from Matthias’s shoulder.
“Now that you have finally parted my dream and arrived here, I can speak with you outside of my dreams. It’s time to have a proper talk as the new Innocentius X like my big brother would do. …So what do you wish to ask of me, who could easily grow so young I forget all about it?”
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