Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 20
Chapter 20: Dwellers of a Rocky Place
Are there true feelings
Behind the hidden depths?
Point Allocation (Secrets)
Narumi stepped out into the light.
Sendai Castle was a fortress carved out of a mountain and even the interior of the sealed space was reinforced. Only one place was filled with light like this.
…Even if it is an artificial garden.
The garden contained flower beds, a small stream, and a pond.
The sky was replaced by a divine monitor that recreated the actual sky outside. The monitor was made from several thin panels and it currently displayed the morning sky.
Wind could only enter or exit through the passageway, so the sweet smell of flowers and the clear smell of flowing water both tickled at her nose. She also felt a slight stuffiness, perhaps due to the recreated warmth of the sunlight.
Narumi walked down a gravel path cutting through the flower beds. She walked on her toes so that her heels did not make holes in the path.
The gravel did not even stir below her feet. She only heard the occasional quiet sound of her feet hitting the ground, but she produced no sound or motion from the gravel, as if walking on a solid board.
She reached a bridge crossing the meandering stream.
“Eh? Oh, right, right, right. Narumi-kun, wait just a second. Just a second, okay? I need to prepare the energy I need for this conversation.”
A boy wearing glasses and a straw hat stood up from the flower bed on Narumi’s right. He had removed the shirt sleeves of his inner suit which was printed with the name Katakura Kagetsuna. He was also holding something.
“Katakura. …The main garden is a public space, so I’m not sure you should be planting potatoes in the flower beds.”
“What? Narumi-kun, you mustn’t let common sense hold you back. Oh, I’m ready now, so can I release my energy?”
“If you want.”
“Then here I go. …Hey, Narumi-kun! I went to all the trouble of making this shut-in’s fortress! We’re an evil organization now, so what’s wrong with ignoring the history recreation and growing some potatoes!? You got a problem with it!? Do you!? I even bred my own cultivar named after its golden color and an Incan king from its native South America! I went all Cusco on this Cápac Gold!”
“You didn’t need to add the Gold to the name.”
“D-dammit. What’s that ‘you have no guts’ look for!? You’re going to give a boost to my masochistic heart! But as one of the evil organization’s generals, I want to sell potatoes until I have enough money for a god of war or two! Let’s make even more potato fields and hide them from the Testament Union! That sounds great!”
“The evil general is gardening in a straw hat?”
“Well, the other generals were single-handedly threatening the heroes or fighting a mysterious being.”
Katakura shrugged and Narumi frowned.
“Mysterious? But wasn’t the thing Oniniwa-san pursued last night after we closed it in here-…”
“Oh, that was just a figure of speech. It would be too much trouble if I didn’t call it that. You need to get used to how I talk, Narumi-kun. You may be an expert at deflecting things, but you let words get to you too easily.”
“You aren’t an elder sister, right?”
Narumi recalled the night before, and…
“I never expected the evil general to get so confused and let herself be forced into negotiating with the heroes. We should celebrate that you still have a human side left. …Right!?”
Katakura coquettishly pointed at her, so she stomped diagonally on the blade of a hoe sitting on the ground. The handle shot up and struck his crotch from below.
He sank into the flower bed while staring up into the sky and Narumi sighed.
“Why not train some? The Testament descriptions have you fighting a fair bit, don’t they?”
A trembling hand rose from the flower bed, telling her to wait. After a while, she heard him slapping his lower belly and then speaking.
“Hn… Yes. I-I’m fine. I’m fine! It still works! It still works!?”
“Why was that a question and why do you sound so effeminate?”
“A-a girl would never understand! Heh heh. Jealous!? That’s what you get!”
Narumi opened a sign frame.
“Rusu-san, Katakura has gone crazy again, so could you do something about it?”
“Vice Chancellor, I will have difficulty dealing with the problem unless you are more specific.”
“Hmm. I guess it’s a problem with his brain.”
“Ah! Wh-why are you calling someone else to judge me!? This has to do with our crotches!”
“Then how about I chop yours in two so we can share the problem? I’ll throw my half away, though.”
“J-just because you don’t have one is no reason to suggest anything so frightening! Just so you know, mine just froze over!”
Katakura opened a sign frame labeled “I’ll Never Forget This Notebook” and typed at it as he stood up.
What is with this guy? wondered Narumi before asking him a question.
“Where is Masamune?”
“Eh? Oh, she’s training over there. Eh? What’s this!? You’re interested in our Masamune!? Who gave you permission!? Ow! What kind of girl throws seed potatoes at people at Mach speeds! You want to fight!? …I’m sorry, so don’t glare at me like that. But those seed potatoes are important. You’re not supposed to waste food, you see. You eat them like this… Oh, no! I really did just eat one with eyes! Eh? Masamune? You can go see her! You have my permission! You got that!? My permission!”
“I know I told you that you could release your energy, but how about you calm down a little?”
“Now, now. This is a liberal arts sort of energy. Oh, and Masamune-kun is over there.”
Katakura grabbed a sign frame and used it like a fan to point toward a cherry tree with green leaves.
A girl was swinging a wooden sword below it. She was somewhat tall and slender.
Narumi’s shoulders relaxed as she walked over and spoke to the girl with the wooden sword.
“You were all right?”
Narumi saw the girl turn toward her.
Her sweaty face looked her way.
Masamune’s hair was plastered to her sweaty forehead, so she brushed it up and smiled.
“Of course I’m all right. I’m always safe as long as I’m here, aren’t I? Just like Kojirou.”
“W-well, that is true.”
Narumi tilted her head as Masamune tied her hair back.
“Why would you need to apologize?”
“Because I’ve been causing you a lot of trouble by being so worthless.”
“It’s thanks to you that we can even exist, so we will do anything for you. It’s the same as doing it for our own existence, after all.”
Narumi could say nothing more when the other girl repeated herself with a bitter smile. Masamune resumed swinging her wooden sword.
“Have you seen, Kojirou? I haven’t seen him all morning. Not even at breakfast.”
“Eh? No, Kojirou-sama is-…”
Katakura’s voice interrupted them.
“Could you help harvest my Cápac Gold!?”
“What? Well, I don’t mind helping out a little…”
She saw Kagetsuna crawling through the flower bed with his butt sticking out.
“Now! Come harvest my Cápac Gold! Ahhn, hurry up! I’m spreading it wide!! Wait, where did you get that sickle from!? And who would throw it!? Normal people would throw a seed potato! What is wrong with you!? Hmm!?”
“I’ve been thinking. Maybe I should start telling Katakura what I actually think.”
“You shouldn’t do that, Narumi. Katakura is sensitive, so it would make him even crazier.”
“Heh heh heh! See!? See!? Uhohoi! Uhohoi!”
Narumi ignored Katakura as he began a step dance with his hands on his hips. As if to take her place, Masamune smiled toward him and opened her mouth.
“You’re always such an idiot, Katakura.”
“D-don’t make it sound like that’s a foregone conclusion, you second year Chancellor! M-Masamune-kun! Who do you think you’re talking to!? I am your upperclassman, you know!?”
“Masamune is the Chancellor and President, so you lose quite spectacularly in rank.”
“S-so do you! So do you! Ah, what are you whispering in Masamune-kun’s ear!? Masamune-kun, don’t smile and nod! Let me in! Pass that comment onto me! And Masamune-kun! Doesn’t an unnecessary side note in the Testament descriptions tell us that you and I gain a lot of fans in the future for our homosexual relationship!?”
“Yes, but I’m a girl, so that rules that out. As a boy, you’ll have to work extra hard all on your own.”
“What’s that tone of voice and smile for!? You don’t think I can do it, do you!?”
“Well, no. To be clear, it’s biologically impossible. Are you saying you can do it?”
“What!? Of course I can! I’ll totally do it! Don’t underestimate your upperclassman! Y-you won’t like me when I’m angry! My favorite spells in RPGs are the instant death ones! I’ll play both sides of the Cápac Gold myself! …Whoa, that was close! What kind of girl throws hoes at people, Narumi-kun!?”
“Ha ha. You’re really strong, Narumi.”
“Umm.” Narumi faced Masamune’s slight smile but was unsure what to say. “You shouldn’t pay much attention to him.”
“You just told her to ignore me, didn’t you!? Didn’t you!? I’m the Vice President, you know!? …Okay, she can ignore me, so can you stop glaring at me…please?”
Narumi had to start from the beginning due to that interruption, so she placed a hand on Masamune’s shoulder.
“Listen, Masamune. You are plenty strong already, so don’t look at everything so negatively.”
“But… Then why am I getting skinnier and weaker every day?”
Masamune wrinkled her brow.
“Even the head of the Health Committee won’t tell me why. Only that the cause is unknown. …I supposedly inherited the dragon’s power just like Kojirou, but my body has been so unsteady and I keep getting skinnier.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“And if no one knows why, am I just going to keep getting weaker?”
Narumi was speechless.
…It’s just like Katakura said
This was what it meant to let words get to her. In battle, she could immediately find the optimal response, but she was at a loss when it came at her in the form of words.
However, there was one thing she could say.
The Testament descriptions were the rules of this world.
They were how things should be and how things should happen. Everything in the world was to remain in compliance with the Testament’s instructions, so…
“There is nothing wrong with you. After all, you have officially inherited the name of Date Masamune, ruler of Oushuu. If there was something wrong with you, you wouldn’t have inherited that.”
“But…what about Katakura?”
“Well… There is something wrong with him, but that’s different.”
“Whaaaat!? What did you just sayyyyy!?”
She decided to ignore him and continue the conversation.
The ends of Masamune’s eyebrows lowered and she looked up at Narumi.
“It is true you’re losing weight every day.” Narumi narrowed her eyes. “But that should settle down before long. Make sure you eat. And…we are here to support you, Masamune. You only have to make your decisions. We will run down that path ahead of you and protect you.”
After Narumi said that, she heard a sudden voice from beyond Masamune.
“Well said, Narumi.”
It was a woman’s voice and she knew whose it was.
A woman walked in from the garden’s opposite entrance beyond Masamune.
She was a demonic woman, as well as…
A single horn grew from the right side of Yoshihime’s forehead and she wore a red-dyed Sviet Rus uniform modified in the Far Eastern style. That uniform swayed as she came to a stop seven meters away.
With Masamune between them, Narumi could not do anything from this distance. Of course, she had no intention of anything like that since they were on the same side, but…
…She never lets her guard down in that regard. It makes her difficult to deal with.
Yoshihime smiled toward Narumi, which made Narumi cautious. When that woman smiled, she was usually plotting something unpleasant.
That was why Narumi made a smile of her own and spoke.
“Principal Yoshihime? I just finished informing Masamune of my return, so I would like to return to my room.”
“Before you do that, come with me.”
It was forceful, but Principal’s orders were absolute for the Vice Chancellor.
I can’t believe this, she thought as Yoshihime placed a hand on her mouth.
“I would like to speak with you about what is to come.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Testament.” The woman nodded. “We can make a suggestion of our own concerning Musashi’s ambassador, so I would like your opinion now that you have visited them.”
“Who could we ask for to ensure everything goes smoothly? The elder sister lover?”
Isa had thought for a while that mornings started early on the Musashi.
She had boarded at IZUMO and lived as a guest more than as one of the Ten Braves until leaving during the Battle of Mikatagahara, but…
…The activity in Musashi’s cities is synchronized with the engine division.
To Isa, it felt more like a city than an aerial ship. It also felt like an industrial complex that linked the accumulation and sharing of the ether tank with the facilities that used the ether.
…We call that a kombinat in Far Eastern, but I think that comes from Sviet Rus’s Russian.
According to Anayama, Musashi was sending ambassadors to Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date. They were apparently taking those three nations’ suggestions into consideration when it came to who they chose, but…
“The city continues on like normal.”
Isa was on her way to the underground portion of Musashino, the Musashi’s first central ship.
She would take the long block lift down from the rear surface to reach the engine division along with the other workers.
She had disguised herself as a Musashi resident. Nezu and Yuri had claimed they wanted to see their families and had convinced some of those leaving the Musashi to hand over their position in the family register.
Musashi’s family register was managed by the automatons, so any alterations to the documents would be discovered. Instead, they had left the family register untouched and eliminated any contradictions with emotion and convenience. If they remained docile, they were safe as long as their neighbors did not make any complaints. And even if something did happen…
…This mission will only last a few days.
Once it was over, they would leave, just like the original residents had done.
The rear long block lift came into view. She saw some work gods of war and linked wagons among the open warehouses and wooden containers. Some people were already starting down on the lift.
Thankfully, one did not need to be a student to join the engine division. The group was generally divided by sex and there were some buffering layers, but conveniently, there was no division by age.
As Nezu had told her to, Isa walked over to the manager standing in front of the lift.
The man in a lab coat was Mishina Shouichi, representative of the Ariake. He had a sign frame open as he provided an explanation to everyone.
“Today, we will continue from yesterday and perform the final adjustments to Musashino’s power system. The star of this remodeling was the output conversion mechanism. It was only at the virtual experiment stage before, but it was originally a more ‘peaceful’ mechanism meant to provide safe passage when an unexpected harmonic territory became a barrier. It was originally manufactured and planned to be added in thirty years ago, but that plan was stopped. It has been occasionally refined since then, but the most recent refinement was based on the Musashi as of last year. There should be slight errors due to the repairs the Musashi has undergone after the armada battle and Mikatagahara, so each team needs to make some final adjustments for that.”
Isa approached them as they all nodded. When she joined a few of the others who were running late, a worker standing next to the Ariake’s representative called out to her.
The worker likely doubled as a guard. When she provided the answer Yuri had given her, the worker gestured for her to board the lift. However, Isa asked him a question.
“I was hired as a day laborer, so is there a team that needs a spot filled?”
“Eh? Well, on Oume… Oh, they’ve already started. Um…”
While the worker hesitated, a girl called over from the lift.
“Can you perform the physical wiring for databank control? I could use someone who can read the knots.”
“Well, it’s not my specialty, but I can do it.”
“Then come over here.”
Isa walked over and felt a little bad when the people on the lift raised a hand in greeting.
“Oh, that’s too far. Over here.”
Someone called to her from the right.
Isa was short, but this girl was even shorter. She wore a worn-out lab coat over a Qing-Takeda uniform and she shook her ponytail as she smiled.
“With the databank control, we’re linking the other teams’ adjustments to provide some feedback, so I want as many people as I can get. …I’m Mishina Hiro, leader of Team 5. What about you?”
Isa guessed this girl was the daughter of that IZUMO VIP and the underclassman of Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer. I need to be careful for a variety of reasons, she thought, but formed a smile regardless.
“I’m Isami. I don’t have a family name. Do you have some work for me?”
Hiro’s smile grew as she raised her gloved hand inside her lab coat pocket and faced Shouichi.
“Dad, we’re good to go over here, so hurry up and take us down.”
“Okay, then your dad’s gonna go all out.”
With that, they all quickly lowered their hips. Eh? wondered Isa.
The lift descended so quickly she thought the floor had fallen away.
There was an instant of acceleration that felt like floating, but Isa kept her balance and saw everything flowing upwards around her.
People were working in the residential and transportation districts of the long block being constructed. The aroma of cooking reached her as they passed by the residential district.
…They’ve made a lot of progress on the remodeling!
Hiro crouched next to her and looked up at the hole growing more distant above. Isa wondered what the girl was looking at, but she saw a smile on the corners of Hiro’s mouth.
Hiro’s smile clearly grew as more levels of construction and framework came into view.
“Heh heh,” she laughed. “I love the Musashi’s stacked structure.”
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