Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 29
Chapter 29: Runner on Unstable Footing
Where should I go?
Even if I have already made up my mind.
Point Allocation (Hesitation)
Silver and blue clashed on the sliding transport ship.
Mitotsudaira let go of the hilt while keeping her side turned to her opponent.
Kiyomasa attacked while holding her spear near the front, falling back, and focusing on defense.
Sparks flew, the clashing metal rang out, and their movements pushed at and deflected each other.
The spear seemed to be pushed back, but its frequency of attacks did not let up. That was partially due to the focus on defense, but it also had to do with the footwork circling around to Mitotsudaira’s side.
Mitotsudaira, meanwhile, had people behind her she needed to protect. The longer the ship slid, the further they moved from her king and the others, but this enemy had tremendous mobility.
If she slipped past Mitotsudaira, it would be difficult to catch up. So while Kiyomasa protected herself yet attacked, Mitotsudaira had to continually attack while protecting the area behind her.
Their respective goals led them to a head-on clash.
On the bisected deck, one of them circled around with her footwork and the other used snapping motions to take the necessary positions.
The sparks of clashing swords drew arcs between them and countless metallic sounds blossomed without end.
They both accelerated, poured directionality into their bodies, and yet…
Mitotsudaira pushed her body forward. Before, she had been shifting her position to more easily avoid Kiyomasa’s attacks, but now she leaned forward to make a powerful attack of her own. And…
She bared her canine teeth and took that first clear step forward.
She charged and the sounds of weapons clashing reached her from the distance.
Musashi had experienced a defeat, but their main force was finally able to exchange attacks with Hashiba’s main force. So…
“Futayo! We must stop the enemy here!”
Futayo agreed with Mitotsudaira’s shouted comment as she fought Fukushima.
Atop the town and on the rooftops, they both ran between the pillars rising like obstacles and they exchanged the sparks of attacks.
She is a superb enemy, thought Futayo. She has an excellent attack style.
She felt a bit like that they fit together well.
She was a girl and her enemy was a girl. She had a ponytail and her enemy had a ponytail. She used a spear and her enemy used a spear. Both those spears had a name: Tonbo Spare and Ichinotani. And…
“You are a decent fighter!”
“As are thee!”
…And we both have old-fashioned speech patterns!
That is a surprise. Some, like our ninja, do it because they would be too forgettable otherwise, but that isn’t the case here. She does it because she is a samurai. Such a rare thing.
“Futayo!! Don’t zone out!!”
Futayo looked toward Masazumi who had shouted at her from the distance.
“I was not zoning out, Masazumi. I was only so lost in thought that I stopped focusing on my surroundings.”
“Just face forward!!”
She did as she was told.
…Oh, the enemy is attacking.
Masazumi looked to the right where the battle was being fought south of her.
On a rooftop about fifty meters away, Fukushima was swinging forward the spear named Ichinotani. It was a one-handed strike using a rotation of her upper body. The irregular method focused on reach and intensity.
Futayo, however, seemed distracted.
…Don’t tell me it hit her!?
But Futayo was no longer along the path of Fukushima’s spear.
Masazumi thought maybe she had been knocked away, but then she felt a tap on her shoulder from behind.
“Do not worry.”
She looked back and saw Futayo’s hair flowing in from ahead. However, it immediately bent and seemed to leap forward.
Something like a chilly wind raced down the road and toward the enemy.
Futayo moved forward.
The running approach to Fukushima was long, so…
…I can make it!
Soaring Wings, her acceleration spell, used cumulative acceleration, so the length of her running approach determined her speed.
Fukushima had just swung her spear with her entire body. The right-handed jab had held the spear toward the bottom to gain the greatest reach.
But it was full of openings. One-handed attacks generally lacked strength and took longer to pull back, so they were discouraged. But this girl had used one anyway.
…In order to strike me!
She is wide open.
Futayo made a leap at thirty meters from Fukushima. There was a shop along the alleyway. It was a windy alleyway and there was a cooper’s shop on the right. Some buckets were piled up like steps, so she used them as a stepping stone.
The spell sign frame that appeared in front of her leg eliminated everything obstructing her acceleration.
She covered seven meters in a single step and launched herself onto a rooftop on the right. She activated Soaring Wings and cleared ten meters with her second step. She used Soaring Wings again to cover another fourteen meters with her third step.
Futayo realized she had jumped too far.
Fukushima seemed to have expected her to charge in with her spear, so the girl had given up on pulling back her own spear. She had let go of the shaft and ducked down to dodge, but…
Futayo saw her opponent’s mouth fall open in surprise.
Due to jumping too far, Futayo flew in knee-first.
Futayo used her motion to slam her right knee toward her enemy.
She bent her body back to make a midair knee attack.
She aimed for Fukushima’s face. She adjusted the twist of her body to move behind the spear and pursue the girl.
She sent her knee out, but she only heard the flapping of a summer uniform skirt, and…
Fukushima was gone. No, she had leaped.
“To the right!”
It was the spear. After letting go of the spear, she had grabbed it again and pulled on it. Using it like a floating railing, she had stood up and moved to the right.
Futayo sensed Fukushima’s skill in her willingness to turn her back like that. After all, Futayo could not swing the Tonbo Spare in her current position. Using her full strength to move away was the better choice here than falling back while keeping an eye on Futayo. Also…
…Is that an acceleration spell!?
Fukushima was not just running away. After using the spear to gain some initial speed, she had activated an acceleration spell to move forward. She held Ichinotani below her right arm and made a small leap.
As the acceleration spell’s name suggested, the enemy clearly fell.
Futayo saw that acceleration, but…
It started slow. She almost seemed to be floating, but a moment later…
…She’s falling forward!?
Futayo saw a weak but definite acceleration like the floor had been removed.
Fukushima grabbed her spear and fell forward.
It was a gradual acceleration that almost made Futayo think she could reach out and grab her, but…
“That is being naïve!”
Futayo thrust her avoided knee forward and made a leftward half-rotation in midair. She reached her left arm back for a backhand blow that would knock aside the bottom of the enemy’s spear.
She reached it.
Her plan was to catch at it with both her fingers and her fingernails to brush aside Ichinotani.
…This should make it in time!
She hit, her fingers caught on it, and she did indeed deflect it.
She spun it around.
The deflected spear spun Fukushima’s body, affecting her stance.
This will work, thought Futayo.
Shinto acceleration spells were generally cumulative, but if the accumulated acceleration was not maintained, the spell would break and the acceleration would be lost. At best, the user would slow down. At worst, they would be sent flying through the air.
She had just altered Fukushima’s stance, so…
…She should slow down or fall over!
However, Futayo saw her enemy calmly continue accelerating.
Futayo saw a blue sign frame below the enemy’s feet.
It displayed the name Headfirst Fall.
Despite Fukushima’s stance being thrown off, it did not vanish or shatter.
It was working just fine.
Strange, thought Futayo. That shouldn’t be.
Fukushima’s voice rang out again and she made another leap. This time, she moved behind Futayo.
Futayo understood what kind of acceleration spell system Headfirst Fall used.
…It really does use the act of falling!
Falling began slowly and accelerated from there, but the acceleration itself was occurring from the very beginning.
That meant the directional control for its acceleration did not occur when the speed was rising.
…Does she control her next direction of movement from the moment of the slower initial acceleration!?
Any later interference would be corrected by the already controlled acceleration. Even if her stance was thrown off, the already promised acceleration would forcibly regather her body.
The vague acceleration of “falling” was likely a way of more easily controlling her movement if any interference occurred.
And currently, Fukushima was falling behind Futayo.
She had already turned the rectangular tip of Ichinotani toward her opponent.
Suddenly, she fired her spear.
She did not throw it.
…An extension mechanism!?
The tip moved more than nine meters out.
Futayo’s decision was based more on prediction than reaction.
While holding the Tonbo Spare below her right arm, she pointed the bottom of the spear behind her.
…Will this make it in time!?
She fired the extension mechanism straight out. She was not aiming for the roof because that would take too long. Her target was the tip of Ichinotani.
Sparks flew, a sound of collision burst out, and both the recoil and slight variation in spear positions caused Futayo to fly through the air.
Masazumi saw Futayo leap high into the air.
She flipped around and found her footing.
Her footing was one of the wooden pillars sticking up throughout the town. She placed her feet on the side of the pillar rather than the top. With her body parallel to the ground, she used Soaring Wings without building up her strength.
Futayo made an accelerated leap as if to sour above Masazumi’s admiration and over the enemy’s head.
“She’s using the pillars!”
Masazumi saw Futayo jumping between the sides of the countless wooden pillars.
Soaring Wings had not come to an end as Futayo ran with her body parallel to the ground.
She used the pillars as footing to keep up the cumulative acceleration of Soaring Wings.
…I just have to keep it going!
She was building up her speed.
She chose to leap between the pillars and to run.
She stood perpendicular from the sides of the pillars, making her parallel to the ground. As if using wooden stairs, she accelerated step after step with her motion taking her either forward and up or forward and down.
By the time she had circled around Fukushima, the force pressing down from her feet had stabilized and she stood up. Then she made a leap.
She used the extension mechanism so sweep the Tonbo Spare’s tip toward Fukushima.
She sliced the wind, but Fukushima had already returned her spear’s extension mechanism to normal.
…Here she comes.
Already, Fukushima had “fallen” upwards. She moved to the top of one of the pillars and stood vertically there. But while she was at the top, Futayo was on the side.
“Let us do this.”
Fukushima pursued her. Futayo had more speed from Soaring Wings’s cumulative acceleration, but…
From her very first step, Fukushima “fell” along the shortest path from pillar to pillar in pursuit of Futayo.
She was coming.
One of Futayo’s steps was the same as five of hers. One of Futayo’s steps was the same as four of hers. One of Futayo’s steps was the same as three of hers. Then their paths intersected.
They attacked at almost the exact same moment.
Fukushima struck much like stabbing at a fish below the water’s surface and Futayo jabbed to the side while running. Their attacks collided and sparks flew.
One of Futayo’s steps was the same as two of hers. When their attacks coincided again, their steps were equal.
Futayo leaped while still under pursuit.
The two girls pursued each other in curving trajectories on the top or the side of the wooden pillars rising from the town.
The pillars were about twenty centimeters thick. Futayo would kick off their sides to jump forward while Fukushima would kick off their tops to fall forward. Futayo stretched forward with acceleration and sent her spear backwards while Fukushima used the wobbling in the instant of falling to evade and used the force of the fall to make a counterattack with her spear.
They moved closer and further apart, but they never moved more than a half step away from each other.
Fukushima aimed at Futayo’s legs from above. She held her spear toward the front and attacked at the area from the back of Futayo’s knees to her Achilles tendon.
Futayo aimed for Fukushima’s gut from below.
Futayo would change the position of her feet on the sides of the pillars and would occasionally make a great leap.
After landing three pillars down, she would accelerate again.
After throwing off her tempo, Futayo would make a counterattack thrust, but Fukushima would respond.
She would use her Headfirst Fall and twist her body to evade. And occasionally…
They would target each other’s face or arm to throw off their movement. To evade, Futayo would run to the top of the pillar and Fukushima would shift her position to the side of the pillar.
As the process repeated, their speed continued to grow.
“Here I go!”
Fukushima moved down to the side of the pillars to line up alongside Futayo. Futayo ran along left side of the pillars and Fukushima along the right side. They would send their spears straight down toward each other, sweep them horizontally at each other as they stood back up, and make simultaneous leaps.
Futayo landed on the pillar first and Fukushima landed afterwards. The next time they landed, they had swapped their right and left positions, but…
“I have caught up!” announced Fukushima.
As if jumping down from the top of the pillar, she had circled to Futayo’s opposite side as Futayo ran toward the right side.
Side by side, they kicked off the side of the pillar.
Sparks flew and they crossed paths.
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