Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 26
Chapter 26: Emotional One on the Tatami Mats
Without even calming down
Or moving at all
This is a confession of the movement in your heart
Point Allocation (Attack)
Mitotsudaira assessed her options while sweating nervously for a number of reasons.
Inside an open tatami mat room, she was looking at the row of chokers an employee had brought out.
“U-um, Horizon, what about this?”
She held out one of the samples and Horizon stared at both the choker and at Mitotsudaira.
“Judge. That one is cowhide, isn’t it? I would think one with a less processed surface would be more delicious.”
“I’m pretty sure that would be too hard.”
“Now, now,” said Horizon. “I have determined this is the foundational symbol of your past relationship with Toori-sama, so please take this seriously.”
Horizon tapped the idiot’s shoulder a few times and then spoke to him.
“Listen. It needs to be cowhide. Nothing else really matters. Mitotsudaira-sama is easily swayed by meat, after all. Oh, and it has to be of high quality.”
…That’s fairly true, but I’m not sure it applies to clothing.
At any rate, it was now his turn.
“This one with decorative chains fits your overall image pretty well, don’t you think?”
“Y-yes, that sounds good.”
“Oh, but you fight a lot, so this one with a simple silver decoration on one side might be better.”
“Y-yes, that sounds good.”
“Oh? Look, look. This one’s got a Mito logo. That’s so cool!”
“Y-yes, that sounds good too.”
…Does everything sound good to me!?
She supposedly had the final say here, but as time passed, she seemed to be losing her individuality. And…
“Nate, can you lift your neck up?”
On occasion, he would casually place his fingers around her neck to put a choker on her. The shaking of her hair when his hands touched it and the rubbing at her throat felt ticklish, so a voice nearly escaped her lips.
…Kh! R-resist! Resist!!
“C’mon, stay, stay.”
He suddenly scratched at her throat.
A ticklish scratching reached her throat.
He was treating her like a dog and it had been a surprise, but she also felt a mixture of animalistic fear at having her defenseless throat scratched and knightly subservience telling her to allow it. Also…
I’ve seen mother have father do this, so I must be the same as her. Yes, this is, um, yes, quite dangerous. Or should I say it feels good? Um…
She was filled with a mixture of the discovery that she had a weak point, the realization that he was scratching at it, and the determination to resist it. She did her very best to not let it show.
“Good girl. Now stay like that. Stay.”
His fingers suddenly slid down to the bottom of her throat. The sensation surprised her, and…
She distinctly sensed something being secreted in the area deep below her navel. Sultry sweat poured from her body, a tremor ran through her body, and her throat, mouth, and tongue went a little limp.
She nearly passed out. She had three options: collapse limply to the floor, collapse onto him and rub her throat against him, or desperately resist by pounding her hands against the floor. But as the ticklish and itchy attack on her throat continued…
“If there was a tail here, would it be wagging like crazy right now?”
Behind her, Kimi suddenly stuck her hand down along the line leading into Mitotsudaira’s butt.
Mitotsudaira’s butt reflexively hopped up to escape, and that caused her body to collapse forward.
She tried to support herself on the boy sitting in front of her, but she did not make it in time and could not reach him.
So she ended up lying on the floor, hiding the tremor running from her throat to her lower stomach. Her lower body was propped up on her knees, which embarrassingly raised her butt into the air, but she felt that making any odd movements now would make her insides go crazy. So she pressed her knees together and tensed her inner thighs to bear with it.
“Good girl. Good girl.”
A hand stroked her head.
“Are you okay? Are you so nervous about going to Russia that you’re feeling bad?”
…I’m not feeling bad! This is the exact opposite!!
But now Horizon was stroking her head too.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.”
…That’s for horses!!
Despite her mental complaints, having her head rubbed was not unpleasant. She did not like being treated like a dog, but other than that, this was the same as social grooming and she kind of liked it. But…
She made sure to maintain a displeased expression as she got up.
“Ohh,” said the idiot and Horizon as she fixed her disheveled hair and took a breath.
She used the mirror next to her to check on the choker he had put on her.
It looked a lot like the one she had worn before. It was simple and it had decorative points to attach chains. She traced her fingers along it and her mirror image touched the attached silver decorations.
…I-it’s a little too simple, but it might be just right with some chains added on.
As she tried to decide what to do, the idiot peered into the mirror next to her.
“Is it too plain? I was also considering some flashier and rougher ones.”
“Did you not think those would suit me?”
“It isn’t that. Your Maman put one like that on me in the candy house, so they really make me think of…bondage, I guess you’d say?”
…Wh-what was my mother doing!?
Horizon started to remove a tatami mat instead of the wall for her running gag, so they stopped her. Mitotsudaira realized Kimi and Asama were smiling her way, so she used both hands to gently lift up the choker around her neck.
While showing it off to him and Horizon, she wished she could have been smiling.
“I’ll go with this one. I want it to be well-made, so even if I order it now, I doubt it will be ready for a while.”
…They bring excitement wherever they go.
Masazumi sipped at a teacup of peach nectar at the café opposite the tailor’s shop.
As one of those remaining on the Musashi, she did not need to shop for clothes or anything else, but the Aoi Sister had dragged her here regardless.
“I’m supposed to take a break here?”
She looked around and saw a hill. The town spread out on either side of the road leading down the hill to the east. Even further in the distance were the green fields, a winding river, and the sea.
She had heard the town’s population was about five thousand. That was large in terms of the history recreation, but small in terms of a buffer zone linking Kantou with Oushuu. According to Mitotsudaira, lord of this land…
“This is my territory, but the Testament Union keeps careful watch and there isn’t much I can do with it.”
…But now they’ve started some construction in places.
After the destruction of Edo and Satomi, the people of Mito may have sensed danger in their own futures. There would likely have been antipathy if only the Musashi had come, but they had brought the Ariake too.
“It’s probably around there.”
The Ariake was in stealth mode, so she could not see it in the sky from her storefront seat. The massive obstacle sitting in the sky created great changes to the air, but those alteration patterns could be used to bring rain and restrict the radiative cooling of the surface to create warm weather. That had apparently made for an excellent early summer harvest and the markets were also doing well.
The way the townspeople saw it, Mito’s ruler was uninfluenced by the Testament Union, had somehow managed to reach Kantou, and was using the Ariake to protect Mito from Hashiba.
That may have been why Mitotsudaira occasionally visited the surface. Based on the conversation in the tailor’s shop, she may have been acquainted with the restaurants.
“Nate, is there anywhere we can get some food before heading out?”
“Fine, fine. But we can’t stay long, so how about we order some meat and have a Genghis Khan barbeque on the diplomatic ship? I have arranged to have a small transport ship carry us to the land port, so we can leave for Sviet Rus as soon as we’re doing shopping. See?”
Mitotsudaira looked toward the northern forest where a single small transport ship was waiting in midair.
“That will shorten our travel time. It is going to spoil us a little, though.”
…Things sure are different when you own the land.
Masazumi looked around and saw the circulation of goods within Mito.
Musashi was also securing things like vegetables and making preserved foods out of them, but…
A transport ship rose from Mito’s civilian land port at the bottom of the hill. It slowly passed by overhead and continued past the forest on the other side of the hill.
…It’s headed to the land ports that Musashi’s residents were taken to.
The wooded hills a little to the east of Mito’s center had been cleared and emergency land ports had been made.
There were eight in all. While they were called land ports, they were really just clearing with a source of water, a waste treatment plan using the black algae creatures, and one of the Asama Shrine’s airdropped shrines. The residents of each ship that were not involved in the remodeling work were living in the modified transport ships there.
Based on the reports from Ookubo, who was partially in charge of that, life in the land ports was calm due to the stable supply of food and fuel.
…If this is what I end up thinking about, this isn’t much of a break from work.
She decided to use this trip to the surface to have a nice break for once.
This is my first real break on the surface since Magdeburg, she thought while appreciating the solid ground below her feet.
…Should I think of this as “visiting” the surface or “returning” to the surface?
The Musashi was a mobile aerial city ship. If she had truly become a Musashi resident, then she was “visiting” the surface.
“Heh heh. What is it, sitting politician? Are you so lost in thought that you’re feeling like reciting a poem or humming!? You are, aren’t you!? But you’re not! Oh, dear. This poor girl is sitting here without reciting a single poem or fondling a single breast! In other words, she’s in self-denial!”
“I feel like your conclusion is oddly accurate, but everything else was completely incomprehensible, Aoi Sister.”
Masazumi looked to the others in the tailor’s shop. Inside the large tatami mat room, Mitotsudaira was waiting for her clothes to be made and Asama stood behind a square of partitions as she removed her clothes and had her measurements taken. Her bare shoulders stuck above the partition and a tape measure was used to measure her shoulder width.
“You know what?”
“What is it, Masazumi?” asked Asama.
She had a sudden urge to comment on the sensation below her feet.
She could feel the ground there. She would sometimes descend to the surface for work, but it had been a while (from Magdeburg to now) since she had done so to take a break from it all. The sensation of the earth pushing back at the soles of her feet told her that they really had traveled all the way from Magdeburg to here.
She pictured a map of the Far East and visualized their path from the Chugoku region to Kantou.
…I’m amazed we survived that.
No, she decided.
…We were protected.
Most likely, that would only hit home later on. So…
“Never mind.” She shrugged. “I’ll tell you much later once all this is over.”
“Heh heh heh. This flat-chested bookworm! You sound just like a teasing woman!”
The Aoi Sister pointed both hands at Masazumi’s eyes and followed her gaze with the fingers.
“You’re supposed to be looking at whoever you’re in love with! And… ‘You know what? …No, never mind.’ ‘What is it, honey?’ ‘Heh heh. Well, you see…’ Just like that!”
“Kimi! Kimi! Leave that strange world of yours and come back to us! This isn’t the Musashi! And don’t grab and shake my booth’s partition!”
“What does it matter, Asama! That’s just how it is! And look where that crossdressing politician’s scandalous gaze is focused! Right here! On this manly errrrrrection!!!!”
“Aoi Sister, that pillar clearly belongs to the building, not a person.”
That did not slow down the crazy person in the slightest. She pretended to cry while slapping her palm against the pillar.
“What does that matter? Anyone can lust after a smooth pillar! The sound effect would be Onbashiraaaaaa! Isn’t that right, foolish brother!?”
“Yeah! I can do it! I can totally do it!!”
He didn’t even have to think about it!? she thought as sister and brother cheered and high-fived.
“That’s right. You can, can’t you!? …I can’t, but you give it your best shot, foolish brother.”
“Sis! Sis! I’m a little confused right now, but your engine’s running full throttle, isn’t it!?”
“What’s wrong with that!? Besides, that politician hasn’t had enough romance lately, so you go help her out! Don’t you agree, Mitotsudaira!? When I’m working in the library, you always hide romance books below those chivalry ones!”
“Don’t expose private information in my own territory!!”
The managers of the surrounding shops came out and started jotting down this new information in their memo pads labeled “Special Customer Notes”. Then they all raised their right hands.
“We dedicate the prosperity of Mito to our lord and to natto!”
“We dedicate the prosperity of Mito to our lord and to natto!”
They continued chanting, smiled toward Mitotsudaira, and returned to their shops while raising wooden signs saying “Please Visit Us!” After watching that, Masazumi looked over to Mitotsudaira whose mouth was spread horizontally.
“At least they’re supportive of their ruler and their signature product.”
“Thanks for finding a positive way to look at that…”
Masazumi sighed while watching Mitotsudaira hang her head.
“Everything’s the same as always.”
Asama and Kimi were shrieking behind the partition in the tailor’s shop and a piece of someone’s uniform was thrown outside the partition each time. Horizon was calmly nodding in approval as she watched and a sudden thought came to Masazumi.
…This is peace.
It was the natural state of affairs, but it was out of reach given the current age and the approaching Apocalypse.
Whether they would be able to acquire it or not was up to what happened next, but…
“The ambassadors have even more to do.”
Masazumi smiled a little and looked to Mitotsudaira.
“I’m counting on you.”
“Yes,” agreed Horizon before tapping the idiot on the shoulder. “I am not counting on much from you.”
“Oh? Then you’re counting on a little from me?”
“Yes. You can at least function as a shield.”
The idiot sat down on the bench, wrapped his arms around his knees, and began humming a strange song. As long as he’s quiet, I don’t really care, decided Masazumi.
Musashi: “Masazumi-sama. Suzu-sama and Urquiaga-sama’s diplomatic ship and Satomi-sama and Adele-sama’s diplomatic ship have left the surface ground port. While the reading is still faint, we have also detected the advance fleets from Date, Mogami, and Sviet Rus on their way to welcome them.”
After that, she heard a sound. It was a low but long sound. It resembled like creaking wood and it was accompanied by movement in the western forest and the arrival of a salty smell.
Two sets of a diplomatic ship and accompanying transport ships began to move northwest or north. Those two fleets were on their way to Date and Mogami.
…So they’ve left.
“Then it’s about time we got ready at the port.”
Mitotsudaira pointed into the tailor’s shop where an employee was holding up cloth wrapping containing the completed clothes.
Masazumi stood up.
She faced the group in the tailor’s shop and started walking across the road to them.
At that exact moment, that main road cutting east to west through Mito was annihilated by a beam of light also running east to west.
It was a direct hit.
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