Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 40
Chapter 40: Dragon of an Azure Place
Is it you or someone else
And provides unclear resistance?
Point Allocation (Power)
Yoshiyasu looked back from atop Righteousness to follow the path of the shot.
It was a high-speed cannon blast that used its kinetic energy to provide destruction. Based on the sound, it was a Far Eastern 10 sun caliber cannon with a barrel length of more than thirty calibers. There was no shockwave from the muzzle when it was fired, so…
…Is that why the Yamagata Castle left its defense barriers up even after the cannon fire from the left and right ended!?
No, Mogami’s ruler had been in control of the cannons this entire time, so this shot had not been made on a whim.
“Was all of this leading up to this one shot, Mogami Yoshiaki!?”
Yoshiyasu faced forward again to see the fox on the Yamagata Castle’s rooftop.
The nine tails was making the final motion of her dance. She swung the right of her two fans up in front of her and then spread it out. She reversed her wrist to point the front of the fan toward the sky, then she raised and closed it.
A moment later, a white explosion burst from the Jurakudai waiting in the southern sky.
The shockwave created by the force of impact had pushed the air out of the way on a large scale, causing fog to spread.
The fleets waiting in the southern sky of Kantou began moving in different directions.
The Dragon-class ships belonging to various Kantou nations, which were deployed around the Jurakudai and the rest of Hashiba Hidetsugu’s fleet, began slowly moving northeast.
They were spreading themselves out to act as a useless shield against the Ariake.
But Hojou’s barracks fleet did something else. They ignored the cannon fire from the north and moved southwest. They were distancing themselves from the water vapor spreading explosively from the Jurakudai’s front deck.
“Kotarou, send a divine transmission out to the supreme command ship. Tell them our fleet is not equipped with the defense spells necessary for high-speed physical shells, so we cannot protect them any longer. You may use my name if you wish. That would probably convince them more quickly.”
The Houjou flagship was the Odawara Castle. It was a flat angular warship and a girl with closed eyes and cattle horns spoke on the terrace atop the central ship. She was a dark-skinned demonic long-lived, but she had an automaton body. She slowly looked up into the sky.
A tremor ran through the clouds there.
Then a girl’s voice reached her from behind.
“That would be the Shirasagi, Ujinao-sama.”
“I know that perfectly well. It has been watching us since last night without resupplying. I can’t imagine how much national power P.A. Oda must have to make free use of a ship like that. Not to mention how much they must trust Hashiba.”
Ujinao did not sound discouraged and she turned to look at the ninja girl Mouse standing on the deck.
“We must eventually fight and defeat that Shirasagi…or rather, its Takigawa Ichimasu.”
“Can we really do that?”
“We will do just fine if you work at it hard enough, Kotarou.”
“I can’t do anything… I was only taken in by you.”
“Not true.” Ujinao rejected Kotarou’s words. “You picked up that footage from the northern border and from the west after the Battle of Mikatagahara.”
“If you get down to it, that was someone else’s accomplishment…”
“You are the one that did it and I was the one that asked for it. You always respond to my trust in you and I have received exactly the results I wanted from you. Where is the problem in that?”
“Ujinao-sama, sometimes you can be more logic-obsessed than a Mouse like me.”
“A cutting-edge Mouse like you is made up of far more logic than me.”
“I suppose so.” Kotarou sighed with a bitter smile in her voice. “But…”
She displayed a few sign frames and displayed the captains’ various opinions on the map of their course.
“Why isn’t Hashiba’s fleet moving? That was a significant explosion, but they aren’t moving and their alarms aren’t ringing. Even their captains are only saying to keep things as-is.”
“Testament. Keeping things as-is is a safe decision, so there is no problem there. That must mean they predicted something like this.”
“They predicted they would take a direct hit from a high-speed cannon without any defense barrier up?”
“And that is why they are not reacting. But…” Ujinao held her closed eyes. “I can see an odd premonition from beyond that explosion.”
“From the flow of ether?”
“Testament.” Ujinao nodded but gently tilted her head. “I have seen this kind of flow before. It isn’t exactly the same, but it’s similar. …The output is almost like…”
At that point, she suddenly looked over to the Ariake.
“A god of war!”
Jizuri Suzaku landed on the Ariake’s vast white roof with its claws scraping across the surface, but before its slide had finished, its stance crumbled.
Naomasa sensed something from the god of war’s shoulder as it fell to its knees and slid to the side.
…There’s thrust pushing at Suzaku’s back!
She looked back and saw the surface of some water. It was a fictional lake surrounded by sign frames. It was the power of “swamp” that the Suzaku controlled as one of the Four Sacred Beasts.
“Is something calling you!?”
The Suzaku’s OS created several boot-up preparation sign frames, but they were deleted once a safety activated. The countless programs appearing and disappearing told Naomasa something.
“This is just like when Satomi Yoshiyori’s Loyalty took off…”
At the end of the Battle of Mikatagahara, he had said the designs and OSs of their gods of war were based on one abandoned in a battle with the Ming remnants. Most likely, that had been the Suzaku of the Four Sacred Beasts.
In that case, what would be causing the same reaction now?
“Is one of the Four Sacred Beasts here!?”
More than just fall to its knees, the sliding Suzaku was about to topple forward. The defense tights on its legs tore and the gravitational control rail joints of the knees contacted the floor. Sparks and sounds of bending spilled out, but the Suzaku’s OS forcibly maintained its balance. However…
Naomasa realized Jizuri Suzaku’s arm was swinging down toward her.
Of course, she had no recollection of ordering it to do so. Was she simply misinterpreting an action caused by the loss of balance? Or was this being controlled by the Suzaku’s OS?
She did not know.
However, she decided it may have changed a little amid the sign frames that were starting to vanish faster than they appeared.
“But the real problem is that.”
As the Suzaku’s arching curve along the Ariake’s roof armor came to a stop, she looked into the southwestern sky.
The explosion of fog was clearing up, revealing Hashiba Hidetsugu’s fleet.
When she had seen him earlier, Hashiba Hidetsugu had been a ghost boy with one dragon horn, but…
“So that’s what stopped the high-speed shell.”
As the fog cleared, a giant form came into view behind Hidetsugu. It was a giant god of war resembling an azure dragon. Several sign frames had opened around it and occasional static ran through it.
“Is that the Seiryu of the Four Sacred Beasts!?”
Someone had a thought within the wind.
It was Adele.
Hashiba Hidetsugu’s fleet was too far from the Yamagata Castle to see properly, so a large sign frame on the bow displayed a magnified view.
Adele removed her glasses and checked on the distance between the lenses and her eyes.
However, she concluded there was nothing wrong with the glasses and narrowed her eyes toward the image on the sign frame.
Something was not right.
They were transparent.
The boy with a single dragon horn was a ghost, so he was a little transparent in the sunlight. She understood that was just how ghosts worked, but…
“The god of war behind him is too…”
The Seiryu god of war had held its right arm forward to block the high-speed shell, but its form would occasionally grow fuzzy, like static was running through it.
Gold Mar: “Was it being pulled out of some other space like with Schwarz Fräulein, but something went wrong?”
Smoking Girl: “Or maybe it had optical stealth on, but it didn’t completely come off? …Hiro!”
347: “Ah! Sorry, but I can’t tell without seeing it for myself. And I’m not sure I’d be able to tell even if I did see it. Still, I doubt it’s optical. If it was, it should have immediately gone back up after getting hit by a simple physical shell and whatever spell was on it.”
Mal-Ga: “So was its summoning not set up right? But it did stop the shell, didn’t it? What’s going on?”
The answer was they did not know.
…But really though. What is going on here?
Adele leaned forward and heard Yoshiaki speak quietly while finishing her dance and maintaining her final pose.
Adele looked over and noticed that Yoshiaki’s shoulders looked a little slumped.
Then the fox noticed the girl.
“Do you need something?”
As soon as she asked that, the Seiryu god of war vanished from the large sign frame in front of them.
The giant god of war utterly vanished before Adele could ask anything.
And before she could react…
Worshipper: “Whaaaaat!? The god of war just up and disappeared!?”
Laborer: “We can tell that, so you don’t have to say it.”
Asama: “B-but what was that just now!? Ah! Kimi! Please don’t cover your ears and hide when this is all that happened! W-wait. Not between my legs…”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. What are you saying, Asama!? A kiddy-looking dragon god of war just pulled off an illusion! This has to be the dragon god’s curse against those who cheated the dragon! If you don’t believe it, you can face the dragon’s wrath all on your own! Like the Toilet God’s Ultimate Electricity Technique: Bathroom Sandal (Shared)!”
…Oh, that’s an original divine spell from Final Overthrowing III which has a lot of fun class changing.
As Adele recalled that, lightning struck.
“Eh!? The sandal?”
Adele saw the light of the lightning strike that suddenly occurred in the clear afternoon sky.
However, it did not fall. It was emitted in every direction from a single point in the sky.
That point was to the west, at the center of the Date fleet.
The light raced across the sky, but its source continued to create more without end.
This occurred on the Kawai Castle, the Date clan’s god of war carrier connected to the Musashi diplomatic ship.
The lightning produced a tearing sound and it spread in every direction like ivy.
Whip-like blasts of lightning struck and scorched the deck. Blowing wind and impacts assaulted the bridge.
The light did not stop.
The light was so bright it seemed to dye everything white rather than just illuminate things and a few silhouettes were visible inside it.
The largest one was Urquiaga the half-dragon in a defensive stance.
He saw something at the center of the white light. Masamune stood there, but behind her…
…A god of war!?
He could see the dragon-like silhouette backlit by the lightning and he saw it tearing at its throat as if to rip something apart.
What is this? he wondered.
It had occurred as he descended to the deck after ending his battle with Narumi.
Masamune had suddenly held her mouth and bent over.
A tearful voice had burst from her mouth. He had thought something had attacked her, but then she had wrinkled her brow and bent as far back as possible as a great pressure appeared behind her.
It took the form of wind, but Urquiaga had determined its true form was pressure. He had seen the mist that was actually scattering ether.
That was why he had thought something quite large was being summoned behind her.
As he had wondered what it could be, the bright lightning had appeared as an answer. More accurately, it was an explosion of ether light.
Then it came. The god of war had appeared behind Masamune, either copying her movements or controlling her movements depending on how one looked at it.
It was the Seiryu god of war. It was the one that had appeared behind Hidetsugu a moment before, but…
…It isn’t transparent!?
It was solid. As its definite weight shook the deck, Masamune took the same actions as the dragon-designed machine.
The hands on her throat powerfully and definitely dug down into her flesh.
A moment later, Urquiaga heard a crash.
It was Oniniwa. The Oni god of war in the sky behind them crashed knee-first into the dragon god of war.
The two gods of war collided with each other, one standing and the other accelerating through the air.
A metallic sound was followed by repeated sounds of armor panels crashing together and raining down.
But it was meaningless.
With its hands on its throat, the dragon god of war blocked Oniniwa’s knee with its right elbow.
It roared and extended its right arm to knock the giant Oni to the deck.
Rather than the sound of heavy steel crashing together, it was the sound of armor sliding across the polished deck. However, Oniniwa slid his legs around to correct his stance.
“I’m not done yet!”
He gave a shout and a roar, but it was already too late.
The dragon god of war flew from the center of the light. It pulled back its right arm and raised its head like a cobra before making a great leap. It sent its right fist toward Oniniwa as he stood up.
The stance and everything else about the strike were a complete mess.
However, lightning surrounded its arm and the wrist onward glowed white.
Its fist tore through the air. A ring of water vapor spread and scattered through the air, but…
Narumi’s mobile shell flew. In the long shadows of the vanishing light, her Unturning Centipede pulled long mandible swords from the empty air. There were eight in all and her target was the dragon god of war’s right arm.
The vermillion jaws bit down with enough force to sever that limb.
However, they were broken. The first, second, and third shattered and the fourth broke into pieces. The fifth and sixth split at the joints and the seventh broke in two. The eighth vibrated until it was destroyed.
By that time, sixty-four of them had been added and they drew a large arc.
This was no longer a slash or any other kind of sword technique. The dozens of meters of mandibles were going to crush their target. But the azure dragon spread its wings this time and light burst from all six of them.
Its roar became forward motion and it changed direction.
It faced Narumi instead of Sagetsu, Oniniwa’s god of war.
Narumi chose to face the blue speed head-on. She held herself in midair and controlled the thirty-two pairs of mandibles as they raced through the sky.
But the Seiryu was faster. It leaped in a straight line between the mandibles sent by Narumi.
The vermilion blades were too slow. The Seiryu’s outstretched claws were going to hit. However…
Narumi hurriedly raised a hand in the air behind her.
“If you have a grudge against me, just say so, Masamune.”
Unturning Centipede grabbed the hilts ejected into its hands and prepared to use them as a counterattack.
But a sudden voice rang out. It came from the Musashi’s ambassador.
Oniniwa did not understand what had happened.
He was looking forward.
He was on the deck of the Date clan’s god of war carrier. That was where he had originally been, but the scene had changed.
The Seiryu god of war had vanished and the ether light surrounding it had been entirely annihilated.
Not much time had passed. According to his god of war’s memory records, only three seconds has passed since he had stood up and this silence had filled his surroundings.
It was enough time to die, but still not a particularly long span of time.
However, they were alive. He could see the deck with the mark he had left while sliding along it and he saw the bridge rising up beyond the deck. The sky was blue and the white light was nowhere to be seen.
The god of war shaped like an azure dragon was nowhere to be found. It had disappeared.
The only movement was the wind.
He looked up into the sky as if seeking the wind blowing down from there, but Narumi was not there.
“Narumi. …Did she die?”
“I’m alive. I’m behind you. …But don’t turn around.”
“Don’t ask the impossible. My god of war has a wide range of vision.”
“And I’m in Sagetsu’s small blind spot right now.”
The god of war’s artificial sensation processing handled the sigh he could not express as just the machine.
A single thought came to mind.
…Masamune triggered that, didn’t she?
He looked straight ahead and found Masamune collapsed below the bridge. Musashi’s ambassador sat on the deck, supporting slender Masamune and holding the Date Chancellor’s hand between both of her own.
That bangs girl simply embraced Masamune and gently shook her in an attempt to wake her.
Then she called out to the unconscious girl.
“A-are you…okay? …Are you?”
When the Seiryu had appeared, Suzu had not known what was happening.
She had sensed a sudden sound, a sudden wind, a sudden shaking, and all sorts of danger. Plus…
She thought her name was Masamune. The girl had seemed to be suffering. She had bent back, bent forward, squeezed her own body tightly, and cried out.
Suzu would be lying if she said it had not scared her. But another thought had come to mind too.
…So much pain.
That thought was not about herself. It was about something inside Masamune.
She could not sense it and it may have been something she would have easily understood if she could see, but she had simply felt like the girl was suffering from something inside her.
Pain held power.
That was why people struggled and gave up. There were times when people could struggle and times when they could not keep up the fight to the end. There were also times when people could give up and times when they could not.
Whatever was inside this girl – whatever its shape, whatever its size, and whatever its temperature – did it hurt? Suzu did not know, but she knew there was something she could do.
She knew what she could do for someone who was worried and who could not see their surroundings.
…Just like Toori-kun and Horizon did for me.
No. That quiet voice would not get through with all the noise around her. So…
She spoke loudly, or at least as loudly as when singing for class. She raised her voice because she wanted to do something about the girl’s cries and pain.
She called to her and for a brief time that girl turned to face her.
Good, thought Suzu. She noticed me.
But then the girl went limp and collapsed. That was why Suzu quickly supported her, but…
“It’s…going to be…all right…okay?”
By the time she questioned the girl, sat down with her in her arms, and held her hand, Suzu noticed the change to her surroundings.
The area had quieted down and heat had returned to the sky.
Urquiaga sensed the color blue and the normal wind. He had a single thought as he spread his wings in the sky and prepared the ejection ports in his legs.
…When Mukai calmed Masamune down, the Seiryu vanished?
He did not really understand, but the Seiryu had vanished after Mukai’s shout of “you can’t”. And…
“Could you…let go of me?”
The object in his right arm spoke to him. It was the draconic mobile shell named Unturning Centipede. The mobile shell had released its right leg and right arm and it twisted its body around.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“You can’t tell?” he asked. “I saved your life.”
“I didn’t ask you to do that.”
“Then,” he said. “You intended to die.”
He looked to a collapsed form. It was the person who had been standing with Suzu by the bridge.
“Masamune!” shouted Narumi.
“Pipe down. First you assume death and then you try to save someone. How can I trust you?”
“Then what about you? You fought me and then saved me…”
“My actions are perfectly consistent. …They always lead toward conquering the elder sister character.”
The one-legged Unturning Centipede kneed him with a “Why you…!” for good measure.
“You are the worst!” said Narumi. “So you only fought me and saved me to show off to Masamune?”
“Heh. …If you want to think of it as scoring points, I won’t stop you. The fact remains that I am making gradual progress.”
Unturning Centipede resisted, but she barely did any damage since he had adjusted his grip on her waist. Meanwhile, he looked to Masamune collapsed on the deck.
However, his thoughts were not focused on her.
…What was that god of war?
It had resembled a dragon and it had been identical to another one: the one far, far from here he had only been able to see using his half-dragon vision.
“That was the same one that appeared behind Hashiba Hidetsugu, wasn’t it?”
Out of the corner of her eye, Adele saw Yoshiaki lower her fans.
Her eyes were focused on the large sign frame in the sky in front of them.
It displayed Hashiba Hidetsugu’s ship after the staticky azure god of war had vanished.
There was movement there.
Niwa supported Hidetsugu as he stood weakly on the deck and she led him back inside the ship. However, the girl standing next to Hidetsugu stepped forward.
She was a ghost, so the girl was a little transparent with the afternoon sun behind her.
She was not human. The white triangles of fur covering her ears told Adele what she was.
Adele recalled what Masazumi had said about Mogami sending Yoshiaki’s daughter to Hashiba two weeks before as a hostage.
That daughter’s name was Komahime, but…
…Why is she a ghost?
Her gaze was clearly focused on the Mogami fleet. She was looking at Mogami Yoshiaki. And…
Komahime gave a deep bow.
The footage on the sign frame filled with white light from below.
It was mist. It was the spraying water created when power filled the virtual sea covering the bottom of a ship so the ship could move. The virtual ocean allowing the Jurakudai to float was dyeing the sign frame in white.
Mal-Ga: “Hashiba Hidetsugu’s fleet is leaving. They’re being pretty calm about it.”
The white waves and mist scattered as the fleet slowly changed direction. They exposed the relatively defenseless sterns, so they must have decided Mogami would not attack them again.
And that was why Yoshiaki raised one of her fans and closed it.
The large sign frame vanished, leaving only the forested and mountainous land, the Ariake, and the sea in view.
However, no one was moving any longer.
“You fool.” Yoshiaki hid her face behind her spread fan. “Bowing after a shot fired to sever the bonds between mother and daughter? Show some independence, girl.”
Yoshiaki froze in place when she heard Adele’s voice.
“What do you mean ‘eh’?”
“Well, I had kind of figured as much…but you’re really her mother?”
Finally, a tremor ran through Yoshiaki’s shoulders. After a few breaths, she took one final deep breath, and removed the fan from her face. The smiling fox wiped tears from her eyes.
“Honestly…I laughed myself to tears.”
There was nothing Adele could say. Yoshiaki simply smiled at her with damp eyes.
“Is there anything you want? Snacks, a proper meal, water, or sake? Anything at all? For example…”
She paused before continuing.
“How about a meeting to set in motion the future of not just Oushuu and not just the Far East, but of the entire world?”
- The English words Sandal and Thunder are almost identical in Japanese.
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