Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 34
Chapter 34: Travelers in Three Directions
What is the difference between
The things seen at one’s destination
And the people seen at one’s destination?
Point Allocation (Arriving or Going)
Someone on the surface viewed the three fleets in the sky.
It was Masazumi. She, Asama, and Kimi were using a triple telescopic sign frame to view them from the terrace on the roof of the control building for the large land port in Mito’s forest. The sign frame showed the Musashi’s diplomatic ships joining the fleets arriving from three different directions.
The ones bound for Date and Mogami had apparently already arrived at their respective fleets. A defense barrier was placed around both the fleets and the newly arrived diplomatic ships to demonstrate that they had been welcomed in.
However, the ship bound for Sviet Rus had been a little delayed, so that fleet had to wait.
“I guess we’re letting them know we’ll be here until the diplomatic ships reach them.”
The armored transport ships that had seen the diplomatic ships off were passing by overhead on their way back to the Ariake.
Masazumi and the other girls had yet to return to the Ariake.
Some ships had left Mito for the Musashi, but Masazumi wanted to avoid returning to the hidden Ariake until the diplomatic ships had arrived. They had only sent Futayo back ahead of them because she was injured.
Futayo had been found unconscious and sitting in front of a shop.
She had likely intended to take a short rest after getting up and starting back to the land port on her own. She had been sitting on the bench in front of a sweets shop with her spear in her arms. They had only learned where she was because Mitotsudaira had been informed by the locals.
…Will she be okay?
Naomasa had said the Ariake was ready to receive her, but Masazumi was still worried.
…To think Hashiba’s fighters would attack here.
If Hashiba entered the Mito territory – even to reject it – she would be interfering with the history recreation beyond her era, so she had sent the commanders serving her who would live to that era.
“Even if Hashiba didn’t order that, they were willing to act on their own to help her.”
Masazumi was feeling a little concerned, but Asama walked over with a smile.
“It’s okay, Masazumi. We’ll be safe once we get back to the Musashi.”
“Judge. I know that. …I shouldn’t be letting my concern show that plainly.”
Masazumi pressed her cheek against Tsukinowa. Asama must have decided Tsukinowa could handle comforting Masazumi because she simply opened a sign frame while still smiling.
“I just received divine transmissions saying Yoshiyasu and Adele have arrived at Mogami’s fleet and Suzu-san and Urquiaga-kun have arrived at Date’s fleet. That just leaves Toori-kun’s group. They were delayed a little, but they probably needed some time to refresh after that battle.”
“The negotiations with the three nations have only just begun and we’ve already run into issues.”
“I know,” agreed Asama before giving a gasp of realization. She tapped on the Date fleet on the north end of the sign frame.
The magnification increased. When Hanami flew in and tapped on it a few more times, the blurry image was processed and the god of war mothership Kawai Castle became visible in the center of the distant Date fleet.
Kawai Castle had deactivated its defense spells to let the diplomatic ship in, so its deck was visible. The specks seen there were probably Urquiaga and Suzu. There were also some diplomatic aides including automatons.
Someone left the bridge to greet them.
“Is that Date Narumi?”
“Eh? Is that a surprise?”
“Yes. Kawai Castle belongs to Oniniwa Tsunamoto. And is Date Narumi wearing what I think she is?”
The image was small, but it looked like a dress blowing in the wind.
Narumi felt something she had not felt in a long time.
…Complete and utter regret. Why would I go out in the wind dressed like this?
Her regret came from the light material with no armor. It probably would have been fine on the surface or indoors, but on an aerial ship’s deck, the wind whipped the clothing around even with air buffering.
It was the same wind she always felt, so why was she so bothered by it? Her hair whipping around had never been an issue, but the westerly wind from the right was also affecting her dress’s skirt.
If she did not hold it down, it would lift up and reveal her legs, the base of her legs, and her butt. She normally had those areas exposed to more easily summon Unturning Centipede, but it felt careless to leave the areas hidden by the skirt so defenseless.
She found a way of holding her hands that held down about eighty percent of the skirt. She placed her right hand down to hold the skirt against the front of her right thigh. She gave up on the left of the skirt and faced forward.
“Musashi 2nd Special Duty Officer Kiyonari Urquiaga, are you the ambassador?”
“No, the ambassador is Mukai here, the Musashi’s Acting Captain. I am merely accompanying her.”
He looked to the hand on her skirt.
“But what are you doing there?”
“I-I am not doing anything. Whatever are you talking about?”
As the half-dragon nodded, Ambassador Mukai looked up at him while holding her bangs and skirt down against the wind.
“The wind…is strong.”
“Judge. The Musashi’s atmospheric defenses are set to residential standards, so the wind will naturally be stronger on a warship. But…”
He looked to Narumi’s right hand on her skirt.
“Mukai, you could learn a thing or two from the Date clan. …This level of wind is apparently not worth mentioning for them.”
Narumi seriously considered knocking him to the deck, but then she heard the Chancellor’s Officers support members whispering behind her.
“Hey, maybe we should have upped the buffering more. Suzu-san is having trouble!”
“B-but this way we get to see her squirming around like that.”
“I feel bad for her yet I can’t deny I’m enjoying it. Is this what you call man’s sinful nature?”
That girl must be fairly popular, realized Narumi as the half dragon approached her while opening a sign frame to display a few pieces of official paperwork.
“Now, let us begin our diplomatic visit with a handshake.”
Narumi realized what he was after when she saw his outstretched right arm and three fingers raised from his right front wing, but this was a scene of diplomacy. She maintained a smile and returned his handshake with her right hand. She squeezed as hard as she could with her false hand, but he accepted it with the strength of a half-dragon. Then the wind blew in from the right.
Without the hand to hold it down, her skirt blew violently upwards and the half-dragon immediately let go of her hand.
“Sorry. You should have shaken hands with Mukai, not me. I got a little carried away there.”
Her smile stiffened as she silently protested, but she still shook hands with the actual ambassador. The ambassador was able to use her left hand to hold down her skirt as the wind was coming from her left.
I chose the wrong position on the battlefield, Narumi belatedly realized as the half-dragon looked to the bridge.
“Well, you are the Vice Chancellor, so I can guess you do not often wear clothes like that. They suit you well and they were an appropriate choice for a diplomatic meeting. This was merely an unfortunate location.”
That must mean Kagetsuna made the right choice this time too, she thought.
“Choose for yourself next time.”
He saw right through me, she thought. But how? she also thought with a slight disturbance in her heart.
The ambassador raised the hand still held in Narumi’s handshake. She must have wanted to let go, so Narumi frantically did so and bowed. When she apologized and took the girl’s hand again, the ambassador nodded.
“U-um, Urquiaga-kun…i-isn’t a b-bad person.”
“He does like…elder sisters…though.”
“That’s right,” said Narumi while glaring at the half-dragon.
…Why did he even come to Date? Don’t tell me…
Our Masamune is a girl. And according to the Testament descriptions, Masamune had a younger brother. In other words, Masamune is an elder sister.
Don’t tell me, she thought again, so she decided to ask.
“Musashi 2nd Special Duty Officer, I would like to know why you came here to Date. Would you mind telling me?”
“You don’t know?” he asked with a sigh. “My goal is to…yes, complete the elder sister character’s arc in this game of diplomacy.”
Just as the half-dragon said that like it should be obvious, the Mogami fleet to their west lowered its defense spell. They had welcomed in their diplomatic ship just as Date had.
As Urquiaga and Suzu began their diplomacy with the Date clan, a discussion was taking place inside the diplomatic ship bound for the Mogami clan.
“Yoshiyasu-san! Are you sure you don’t need to head out for the diplomatic meeting!?”
“Yes. At this point, it will only be a greeting. Plus, it’s the vassal’s job to deal with Mogami’s summarized demands.”
Yoshiyasu answered the maintenance worker’s question while wearing a Far Eastern summer uniform and resting a wrench on her shoulder.
She was not in her room aboard the diplomatic ship. She was in Righteousness’s hangar.
On the Musashi, the engine division chief and the others would make sure the god of war was held in place properly and that the surrounding equipment was functioning, but they had a lot less personnel here. The Mogami diplomatic ship had not asked to greet her, so she was spending her time on maintenance like usual. But…
“Yoshiyasu-san, what kind of land is Mogami?”
“Well,” said Yoshiyasu to gather the maintenance workers’ attention. She used her wrench as a cane, and faced the north wall that hid the Mogami fleet from view. “The Mogami clan is almost single-handedly managed by Mogami Yoshiaki, their Chancellor and Student Council President. They have no Vice President or Vice Chancellor and a Mouse named Shakenobe assists her by taking on the role of both Secretary and Treasurer. That might make it sound like a small-scale academy, but it isn’t. They rule the entire western half of Oushuu. That may be a frozen land, but it has high productivity thanks to the large-scale land cultivation, marine products, and forest resources.”
…They also have the excellent sense and charismatic leadership of Yoshiaki.
“As Chancellor, Yoshiaki has expanded Mogami’s power by wiping out local clans and using clever tactics to pull off sneak attacks or to incite infighting among those clans. She has a cruel character unique to Oushuu, but that strong will and powerful rule have-…”
“Have allowed her people to prosper, so they’re willing to follow her in this frozen land?”
“That’s right,” answered Yoshiyasu. “The more severe she is, the more people sense a survivor’s strength in her. …People are drawn to someone who shows they can make full use of their authority, military might, intelligence, and experience. She is a leader in the truest sense of the word.”
That ability is something I lack at the moment, thought Yoshiyasu with a sigh.
As everyone watched, she put her hands on her hips and looked up at Righteousness in its formal clothing.
“If you’ll move, I guess that means even I have the virtue of righteousness.”
…I should probably assume that’s all I have for now.
That was when she heard a sound.
It was a distant sound and she nearly mistook it for the rumbling of the wind, but…
The two sounds came from the Musashi. It was the loud noise produced when Musashi’s Technohexen took off into the sky.
“I suppose it would be Musashi’s Technohexen that keep watch on the skies with those three nations so close.”
The blue sky did not exist low to the ground. At low altitudes, the sky was only a gathering of air that felt like a thick invisible wall of resistance.
Only the sticky weight of the air existed in that low region, but two lines accelerated up through it. Water vapor trailed behind the colors white and black.
The two Technohexen flew as if hopping up from the Ariake.
The black-haired, black-winged one in white moved out a bit ahead and shouted back to the gold-haired, gold-winged one in black. She looked back while using her pen on the crop mark frame Magie Figur drawn by her mouth.
“Margot! Has ‘Musashino’ contacted us yet!?”
“Judge, judge,” said Margot while holding a Magie Figur in front of her smiling face.
The speedometer-style Magie Figur displayed a large room and a maid automaton.
The maid with shoulder-length hair was “Musashino”. She bowed.
“Naruze-sama, I have sent you the basic data as an attachment. Suzu-sama created a 3D model of the surroundings, so please make corrections using that. Over.”
A Magie Figur opened to indicate the data had been sent over. Naruze was surprised at the quality of Suzu’s map of the surrounding terrain and considered using her as a background assistant for her next doujinshi.
“With the Musashi inside the Ariake, you still can’t get any external information, right? I’ll send back whatever we get, so will you check over it?”
“Judge,” Musashino Captain “Musashino” bowed while opening several sign frames.
Musashino: “Thank you very much. Because the Ariake is currently in stealth mode, the acquisition of external information beyond specific links is difficult. Over.”
“It’s fine. We all need to help each other out. …We’re up to the altitude the Musashi normally flies at. I’ll send the visual data back, so please analyze it.”
Weiss Fräulein’s rail wings opened from Naruze’s waist hard points using a special joint and she pointed them toward the surface to put Weiss Fräulein in a vertical orientation.
She came to a stop.
Naruze stretched her body out. She stretched out parallel to the ground with Weiss Fräulein standing vertically.
“A few of our Chancellor’s Officers and others with weapons left for those diplomatic visits, so we need to show the other nations we still have some people who can fight, right? Isn’t that why we were sent all the way up here to check on our surroundings?”
As Naruze bent back as if to rest her back on the earth below, Margot caught up.
“What’s wrong with that? Only England and a portion of Eastern Europe have official Technohexen forces. For the academies of this region in particular, we’ll probably be seen as a threat because we’re an unknown.”
Margot took the same pose, but behind Naruze rather than next to her.
The white and black girls were close enough to rest their heads on the other’s shoulder.
“Then let’s start gathering that data. ‘Musashino’, you analyze it, okay?”
Naruze moved her hand to draw several Magie Figur next to them. They finally became a ring surrounding the two schale besen.
“That sets up the 360 degree optical vision spells to receive the image. …We’ll take the standard amount, ten times that, and thirty times that. I should store this under the spell name Burning Surroundings.”
A line of light ran along the ring of Magie Figur. That line drew out the surrounding scenery as seen from the ring. The original data was drawn by Suzu, but the art style changed to match Naruze’s Magie Figur.
…Even Suzu’s readings get iffy at more than twenty kilometers out when she’s inside the Ariake in stealth mode.
That was still more than enough, but that put the diplomatic ships from the three nations on the very edge.
And of course…
“That’s why we were sent out.”
Once the dozens of Magie Figur forming the horizontal ring finished drawing out the scenery, they automatically gathered in Naruze’s hand. She gathered them in a neat stack, and…
“Oh, yes, yes. Here.”
Margot opened a Magie Figur displaying the envelope icon for shared storage on Musashi’s divine network. Naruze stuck the stack of Magie Figur into that envelope icon.
The rest was simple. Margot tapped the envelope icon to close it.
“And that sends it to Musashino’s bridge. Maybe we should tell her.”
As soon as Margot hit the send button, a new Magie Figur opened. It displayed “Musashino” on the bridge. She held up an envelope icon next to her face.
“Thank you very much. Over.”
“I’m glad the divine transmission lines are so fast. …Oh.”
She noticed another new Magie Figur. Wondering what it was, she checked the sender field.
Naruze frowned as she drew their senior’s face in the Magie Figur.
“What is it, Wild Kamelie? What happened to Almirante? Attacked by a Technohexen again? So what does our non-student unmarried old hag of a second-in-command want? If it’s about being Edel Brocken’s tester, we won’t give you back that position even if you get down on the ground and beg. Normal prostrations aren’t enough to move us anymore. …They’re losing their effect.”
“If you want to be on the receiving end of my high high altitude cannon spell named Blooming Flower Beam, you can always just say so. …And little girl, I assume you know just why I’m speaking with you.”
“Judge. I know. …You want to be in one of my doujinshi, don’t you? There’s a bit of a line, but I can squeeze you in somewhere.”
A shell flew up from below and passed by two meters on their right.
Naruze glared up at the shell as it vanished into the sky.
“You weren’t even trying to hit? You really suck at this. Not that it matters when we’ve got defense spells.”
“I was firing blind form inside the stealth barrier, you know? …Hm? What is it, Almirante? You want me to hurry up? But this is normal for us. And go to sleep!!”
“See, you got him mad at you. …But I more or less understand, Wild Kamelie. You’re from the east, right? So what’s your opinion as the former second-in-command of M.H.R.R.’s Anti-Russia Technohexen Brigade? Your primary enemy, Novgorod, has made peace with P.A. Oda and has betrayed Sviet Rus, but do you have some information on Sviet Rus related to that?”
“Judge. There’s a chance a parent is going to show up to this three-party meeting.”
Naruze frowned and Margot tapped her on the shoulder.
She leaned back even further to look at the Magie Figur that Margot held up. The speedometer-style Magie Figur displayed an envelope icon. Naito touched it, which opened…
“The transparent image of our surroundings based on ‘Musashino’s’ analysis.”
The data they had sent had already been sent back after analysis by the automaton’s high speed decisions.
Naruze reopened it and viewed it.
…Is there something here?
As if to answer her, several torii-style sign frames opened horizontally around her in the previous direction from before.
The translucent monitor portion displayed the results of the data analysis. Writing and icons had been added by the automaton to provide information on what she was looking at. But…
“The red light indicates the other nations’ fleets, right?”
Naruze knew why there was no emotion in Margot’s voice.
The three nations’ diplomatic ships were glowing red with Sviet Rus to the west, Mogami to the northwest, and Date to the north.
“But there’s also one coming from Edo in the south.”
The red dot of light was small but definitely approaching. And with numbers in the hundreds, not just the dozens.
“Hashiba’s ships are coming here!?”
“Ga-chan! Incoming cannon fire!!”
Naruze saw the light of cannon fire, but it was not coming from the Hashiba fleet in the south.
The light flashed from the escort ships accompanying the diplomatic ships to the north, north-northwest, and northwest.
They were ultra-long range ether cannons and their light stretched toward…
“Ariake! Put up your defenses!!”
Naruze cried out just as light began exploding in a seemingly empty area of sky.
The Ariake had been hit.
And the attack had come from the Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date fleets here for diplomacy.
Naruze could not figure out why they would do that, but she did know one thing. She opened a Magie Figur and shouted to the Ariake and the Musashi.
“We’re under attack! The enemy is Sviet Rus, Mogami, Date, and Hashiba!!”
She raised her eyebrows and looked sharply to the southern sky.
“Hashiba is approaching to monitor the other three nations and they’re inciting them to attack us!”
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