Horizon:Volume 4A Chapter 30
Chapter 30: Reversers with Swift Footing
If you wish to reverse the momentum
Then overturn it all
And turn back
Point Allocation (Just Barely)
Futayo leaped through the air. She used each swift step to fill the gap between pillars and launched herself forward.
Similarly, her enemy Fukushima fell horizontally. She flipped her body around in a never-ending fall that dropped her horizontally between pillars with a set tempo.
When Futayo attacked, Fukushima would block it. When Fukushima attacked, Futayo would block it. They both held their spears near the front, used their footwork to rotate their bodies even as they continued forward, and leaped through the town’s sky as their paths intersected.
To Futayo, Fukushima seemed wholly focused on her movements.
…She must have desired this battle.
Futayo also thought about what Fukushima had said before.
…Her duty is to defeat me.
Was that in reference to this battle alone? If not, she had likely desired this confrontation for a long time and thoroughly trained for it.
Futayo did not know this opponent. This was her first time seeing Fukushima.
During the Battle of Mikatagahara, she would have been on the Azuchi Castle with Hashiba, but Futayo had been too focused on Hashiba.
…So who were the other nine?
She did not remember and that lack of memory brought a new thought to mind.
…How careless can I be?
No, she thought while dodging an attack and making one of her own as if pushing the spear tip forward with her fingers.
…Haven’t I been careless far too often lately?
In the past, it had only been about three times a day, but she was already up to two today. Her pace was clearly increasing. In the past few days, she had experienced early morning carelessness and returning home carelessness, which both seemed to be a type of chronic carelessness.
I can only allow myself to be careless three times a day, she told herself.
Fukushima’s attack was approaching before her eyes, so she quickly dodged. She only had to move her head to avoid it, but that was due to Fukushima’s extreme accuracy, not good luck.
She has accurate and precise movements, judged Futayo.
Her footwork to change Headfirst Fall’s direction, her bodily control when falling, and her attacks were all straightforward.
Then, thought Futayo.
…What does that say about her feelings toward defeating me?
Futayo kicked off a pillar and heard a voice.
It sounded like a groan of anguish, frustration, and anger.
Just as she wondered why her enemy would produce a voice like that, that enemy hung her head and fell. Her raised spear hid her expression, so Futayo could only hear her voice.
Futayo was confused. She could not figure out why Fukushima would use the respectful ‘sama’ honorific. But Fukushima continued the very next moment.
“Does thou not intend to fight seriously against the likes of me!?”
Futayo briefly found herself unable to grasp what that question meant.
…Do I not intend to fight seriously?
Against who? The opponent before her obviously.
And who was it directed toward? Toward her, the one exchanging attacks with that opponent, of course. Then…
Oh, no, she thought.
…Of course I do…
She had accepted that Fukushima was powerful and she understood that Fukushima had a reason to fight her.
She viewed her as an enemy, but according to Fukushima…
“What is the meaning of these sorry excuses for attacks!?”
Futayo felt her body freeze up as the enemy kicked off a pillar toward her.
This isn’t good, Futayo said in her heart.
Sorry, she also said in her heart.
She suddenly remembered the previous evening when she had tried to follow Muneshige in climbing the outer hull.
She was a coward.
There had been something in her heart that kept her from doing it and she had failed.
She had been a coward.
If she could not focus on herself and made mistakes for unclear reasons, could she really take control of a confrontation with someone else? Even if she stood on that stage, fighting with her cowardly body would defile the official battlefield.
This was not about winning or losing. As someone facing a battle and standing on the battlefield, was she or was she not pure?
Her cowardly heart would only defile the battlefield.
Muneshige had to have realized how cowardly she was the day before. That was why he had reached down toward her.
And what had she done then?
Had she reached back up in search of someone to save her?
She did not know and she spoke her next thought aloud.
“Well, even if I did, I should be able to focus myself for at least ten seconds.”
She decided not to think any further, twisted her upper body backwards, and used all her strength to make a counterattack against Fukushima.
Fukushima sensed something like a light.
Her opponent’s strength had sunk into the darkness and was not rising to the surface. Her enemy’s attacks had struck or swept aside her own, but they had not been fully developed into true attacks. Those were the spear strikes she had been blocking this entire time and that had spoken to her opponent’s cowardice, but…
…What is this?
Futayo’s attack seemed to glow. It was like a small light in the darkness, but it was still accurate and straightforward.
This attack was clearly extended differently from before.
Her opponent’s movements looked the same, but each of her joints was stretched just a little further toward Fukushima. Altogether, it provided an extra dozen centimeters of reach.
Beautiful, thought Fukushima. Fully stretching the body required not tensing up, but an attack needed a core of strength. Fukushima felt like she could see a line of strength providing the core of the attack and nothing else. Her opponent was becoming one with her weapon and was specializing her movements for attack.
“This is more like it!”
Fukushima had jumped after Futayo, so she turned to the right in midair. Futayo’s spear was aimed a bit below her face. In other words, her throat. As it was near the face, she could not help but focus on it, but it was also difficult to grasp its exact position just by moving her eyes.
She needed to dodge on instinct without getting an accurate look.
Fukushima increased the speed of her spin. She tried to avoid the attack by what was closer to a cheek’s width than a full head’s width.
Her intent was to avoid her opponent’s counterattack and slam her body into that opponent. This was the greatest attack she could make using the speed of her fall. And to gain that power…
…I must dodge!!
She used her strength to rotate her body in midair and swing her legs.
She leaned back to dodge…or so she thought. Her opponent’s spear tip followed her movement and grazed her ear, but she still escaped harm. But…
Something changed in front of her eyes.
The wooden pillar they were going to use as their next foothold was collapsing in the opposite direction.
They were losing their next foothold.
Fukushima asked herself why their foothold was falling over. It was a sound that answered that question.
She heard a solid thunk. Her opponent had extended the bottom of her spear with its extension mechanism.
…And she struck the pillar while attacking me!?
The speed with which the pillar collapsed answered that question all too well.
The enemy was a bit ahead of Fukushima, so she would be able to use it as a foothold before it collapsed.
Fukushima however would not be able to.
She did not think of this as unfair. If she had been the one in the lead, she would probably have used the same method to disrupt her opponent.
This just meant the enemy had moved out ahead and been more skillful.
…Has her cowardice vanished for the moment!?
So she decided to respond in kind. To face the present danger and to thank her opponent by using her full strength and every method available to her, she removed the restrictions inside her.
She would win using her full strength and by any means necessary.
She then enacted a solution to the current problem.
Her left hand grabbed the spear she had just dodged.
She held it as if to steal the enemy’s weapon.
She gripped the metal shaft near the tip. Immediately afterwards, she pulled in her left arm to launch herself forward. She also moved her right hand out from her chest for a one-handed strike with the spear held in those fingers.
She aimed for her enemy’s throat. She moved her right shoulder forward and extended her forearm out from in front of her armpit.
She used the extension mechanism.
Hit, she thought. She knew she had to keep that thought in mind for this to work, but then she saw something unexpected.
The enemy let go of her own spear.
The one-handed spear jab lost its balance a little and Futayo avoided it with a swing of her head.
She reached for the enemy’s spear. She grabbed the base of the blade and confirmed what she assumed to be the case.
Up ahead and past the enemy, the previous pillar they had used as a foothold was collapsing.
There was a simple reason.
…She used her extension mechanism to strike it with the back of her spear!
The enemy had not been attacking her. She had used the extension mechanism to hit that foothold and use the recoil to extend the distance of her leap.
She had made an immediate decision after seeing Futayo knock over their next foothold.
Well done, thought Futayo with the enemy’s spear in her hand.
A moment later, the enemy moved right in front of her.
They simultaneously landed on the collapsing and thus sloped pillar and they both held the other’s spear.
They were close enough to grab each other’s collars, but their positions on the sloped pillar drew a V-shape.
They both spun their spears around and exchanged blows while running toward the top of the toppling pillar.
Their racing attacks became an exchange of circular motions.
Futayo held the front end of Ichinotani and Fukushima held the front end of the Tonbo Spare. While holding each other’s weapon in that irregular fashion, they would strike each other, steal the other’s current weapon or have their own taken. They seemed to be exchanging their weapons again and again.
One movement led into another as they ran.
One rotated their spear, creating a circle to sweep their enemy away, but the other would avoid the attack and pull on the front of the opponent’s spear to take it away. After stealing the spear, they would spin it behind their back to swing it back around, creating a figure eight in all.
They seemed to be spinning and passing two batons between each other. The series of double figure eights whipped up the wind and would not end.
The air was split apart and the glittering of the metal decorated the sky, but they eventually reached the top of the pillar.
When they took that final step, they both had their own weapon back in their hands.
They rotated that weapon around their body and swept it toward their enemy with all their might.
The tips clashed between them.
When the two half-circles collided, sparks and a clashing noise burst from the center of the S-shape.
Their attacks did not reach their enemy. Only the clanging of metal filled the air as they shouted at each other.
The instant each weapon’s blade reflected their opponent, their battle was settled.
A moment later, Fukushima’s silhouette crossed paths with Futayo’s.
Mitotsudaira realized the distant sounds of a high-speed battle had stopped.
However, it had not ended on Futayo’s attack.
What had happened? She was worried, but she was currently fighting her own enemy.
She continued to accelerate straight ahead, toward Kiyomasa.
…Here I go!!
She increased her speed. Instead of pulling back and shifting to the side, she bent her body forward and snapped her entire body to flexibly move forward and back while launching Excalibur.
With a bestial roar, she sent her entire body forward. The instantaneous movement of her legs caused her body to sway and she amplified the movement in her hips and spine. The recoil passed through her shoulder to her wrist and launched the blade.
She could only move like this after building up a certain level of speed and after warming up her body.
She did not reach the speeds of her battle with her mother, but the speed of each attack increased its weight.
…So I can push her back!!
To make that thought a reality, she did indeed push at Kiyomasa.
Kiyomasa reacted by moving her hand all the way to the front of her spear.
The enemy had her hands full simply deflecting Mitotsudaira’s barrage, but the wolf did not let up. As if telling this enemy to move back but not to move out of the way, she moved in arcs to always drive the enemy toward the center and back. She was telling Kiyomasa to face her head-on even while retreating.
Wolves were said to follow people until they left the wolf’s territory.
The silver wolf took a new step and snapped her body forward.
She pushed onward as if bathing in the sparks she herself was creating.
But as soon as she made her snapping motion, Kiyomasa took a certain action.
She moved to Mitotsudaira’s left. She jumped to the port wreckage as if to escape.
However, Mitotsudaira was already on the move. It was not so much a reflex as noticing the earliest hints of Kiyomasa’s movement in the girl’s defense.
“I won’t let you get away!”
Just as Mitotsudaira jumped left, she saw something.
Kiyomasa was jumping to the right.
That was the opposite.
What just happened? wondered Mitotsudaira.
The enemy’s defense and the movement afterwards had both shown her jumping left toward the port side of the bisected ship, but now Kiyomasa was clearly jumping to the right. She even performed a side flip in midair.
It was her spear.
As soon as Kiyomasa had jumped toward the port wreckage, she had slammed her spear against the edge of that wreckage.
The L-shaped blade had caught on the edge of the deck, providing a foothold.
“And she kicked herself back the other way!?”
Using her arm strength, back muscles, and balance, Kiyomasa had launched herself back the way she had come.
She made her leap with the resolve necessary to abandon the right half of Caledfwlch.
She had successfully stolen a moment of Mitotsudaira’s time and moved a bit further away.
…Now the left one.
Kiyomasa must have decided she did not have time to draw the weapon. She kept Caledfwlch attached to her back hard point and moved her left hand to her back to operate it.
She had used the force of her leap to perform a side flip, so the downward pointing Caledfwlch also rotated to point Mitotsudaira’s way.
Mitotsudaira saw light, but it was not a glowing blade.
It had reached the level of a cannon blast.
Kiyomasa twisted her side flip to give the attack a twisting sweeping motion.
“Finish this, Caledfwlch!!”
The sword-like and continuous blast of light flew toward Mitotsudaira.
It was going to score a direct hit before she could raise Excalibur again.
“I see. So Hashiba’s troops have begun fighting Musashi’s forces at Mito.”
High in the sky, a voice spoke among a ruined field with long grass.
It was Marfa. She was mayor of the floating city of Novgorod and she was currently walking through a field on the city’s south end. She used a path cut in the waist-high grass.
The log wall surrounding Novgorod and the deserted city were visible in the distance. She reached a hand out over the field while walking toward the city.
She plucked something.
“I see the wheat is growing on its own again this year. It’s consumed by the excess grass and grows thinner, but wheat really doesn’t exist for man’s sake. It grows taller for its own survival, and that’s why it grows thinner. …Musashi, Sviet Rus, and the Oushuu forces are the same. Don’t you think, Toby?”
“If not, then this world will not survive,” said an elderly man standing behind Marfa. He bowed toward her before continuing. “Sviet Rus, Date, and Mogami are all moving to accept Musashi’s diplomatic ships.”
“Yes, none of them are trying to grow thinner for Musashi’s sake. …But Toby, how are our preparations for our own guest coming along?”
“The western port is ready. They can land at any time.”
“Testament. We already have some visitors and I’ve heard some interesting things from them. …Like why Novgorod exists and even some things not even I knew about.”
Toby seemed wary, so Marfa smiled a little.
“Do you really think you could defeat them? Having you finish each other off would be a waste, so don’t bother. These current guests will leave once the next guest arrives and there is no need to criticize someone who is leaving. Besides, I am the only one that needs to wait for someone who has already left,” said Marfa. “Now, how will history treat Novgorod? P.A. Oda and Nobunaga seemed to already be looking further ahead, but what will their opposites do?”
She faced forward toward the city’s log roofs and the rectangular stone city hall in the center.
“You know not the depths of history, the path of destiny, or the exchange of connections and wills that will determine everything.”
The city gate up ahead was open and a dimly-lit, deserted city lay beyond it, but Marfa continued walking with a smile.
“But, Musashi, can you discover the whole of those truths?”
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