Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 47
Chapter 47: Gambler on the Ridge
The more you examine it
The more it looks like bait
The more it looks like a trap
Point Allocation (Tactics)
It was a windowless room with an area of less than ten square meters. Bunk beds were attached to the wall and there was a desk for two, but people could currently only be found in the passageway down the center of the room.
A wheelchair nearly filled that passageway. It was almost entirely reclined and a girl lay on it with a blanket pulled up to her neck. She faced forward with a somewhat weak look.
“Sorry it suddenly got so bad tonight, Azuma. This month is a little worse than normal…”
“Yes, well, there’s no helping it, Miriam. Don’t worry about it and get some rest. I think this is to make up for how well you were doing during the day.”
Azuma stood in front of the room’s sliding door and he held a translucent girl’s hand.
“I heard tomorrow’s morning classes were switched to self-study. …The library and cafeteria are running twenty-four hours a day for welfare purposes and for the people searching through documents on the remodeling, so the two of us will stop by the cafeteria and the library.”
“Are you okay, mama?”
Hearing that question, Miriam raised her head and smiled.
“I’m fine. I just feel like my insides are being twisted upwards, like my stomach is caving in, and like the blood vessels in my head are about to burst. Oh, and I’m getting constant waves of intense chills and nausea, so…ohhhh, there it is, there it is, there it is.”
“What did that mean, papa?”
“That mankind gained a great many ways to express ourselves with the invention of language. Oh, but…”
“Well.” Azuma nodded. “The people on the diplomatic ship below told me there’s a way to avoid this suffering during your period.”
“Eh? What is it? A drug?”
“No. It’s apparently something the two of us can do together. Do you know what is?”
“Oh, so they’re taking this in that direction, are they?”
“Huh? Did I say something weird?”
“I’ll scold you plenty later. I don’t have it in me now, but consider yourself warned.”
“Hmm. I don’t really get it, but would it not work?”
“W-well, it’s not that it wouldn’t work…”
“What do you mean?”
“Hmm.” Miriam thought for a moment, but she soon lifted the blanket up to her forehead. “I can’t do this. I’m too weak now, so I’ll let it slide.”
“Then I guess it’ll have to wait until later.” Azuma spoke to her with a bitter smile. “You seem to know what they meant, so tell me if you feel like it.”
He pulled on the girl’s hand and started to leave, but…
“Eh? What? Should I buy you something? Red rice is the tradition, right?”
“You made that same joke last month and the month before that too. Anyway, um…”
Azuma tilted his head, but Miriam could not see with the blanket over her head. However…
“Did you want to visit the Mito village below? You had a chance today, didn’t you?”
“Well, I’m from Kinki, so I’d have trouble in Mito where they eat mostly natto and meat.”
“You need to bow down and apologize to the people of Mito…”
“Hm? I don’t really get it, but since VIPs have been banned from leaving or entering the Ariake, I might not have been able to come back if I’d gone. …Still, it seems Honda-kun and the others are going to have a meeting down below even with things like that.”
“Hm? …A meeting?”
“Yes. There was a notice over the divine transmission earlier that they’re having a meeting with some old Oushuu person.”
Azuma tilted his head as he explained.
“According to Honda-kun, this might turn into a history problem. Her father apparently said something about the history of Oushuu. …It’s strange that this political issue might end up being about history. It sounds like something Neshinbara-kun would say.”
10ZO: “So once you clean up there, you’re having a meeting with the Oushuu representative?”
The diplomatic ship had landed at the Sviet Rus palace of Kasuga Gora Kremlin. Inside the visitors quarters at one end of the snowy fortress, Tenzou conversed over a sign frame while checking on the door.
…This means the three nation meeting has essentially become a four nation meeting.
10ZO: “Were you aiming for this, Masazumi-dono? Did you think holding the three nation meeting would lead the smaller forces to intervene lest they be crushed by the arrival of a new era?”
Vice President: “Judge. If the three nations gather together, the smaller forces would be forced to obey them. If they want to earn our gratitude by assisting Musashi ‘while we’re defenseless’, they have to act now. Then again, we’re separated from the Musashi on this diplomatic ship, so they could just as easily have chosen to visit Ookubo and the others in the Ariake. We need to give some thought to the fact that they chose us.”
Mal-Ga: “If you end up going to war with them after that, I’ll give you a standing ovation.”
Vice President: “Dammit. I swear I’ll settle this peacefully! Just you watch!”
10ZO: “I’m not sure what that’s about, but do you know who you’re dealing with here?”
Vice President: “Eh!? O-oh, yes. It’s Fujiwara Yasuhira… She’s the elder who has kept the ruined Oushuu Fujiwara clan alive as a hidden village. That’s who we’re meeting with.”
Silver Wolf: “I heard some rumors about her long ago in my Mito territory, but our arrival at the Ariake was my first time actually seeing her. She’s probably going to be cautious about us. But…you know the, um, connection between Lady Yasuhira and Lady Yoshitsune, right?”
“Judge,” Tenzou confirmed.
This palace doesn’t have a great hall further in, he guessed from the structure of the ventilation and ceiling.
10ZO: “Judge. At the beginning of the Kamakura period, Lord Yoritomo held great political power and tried to destroy Oushuu Fujiwara for sheltering Lady Yoshitsune, his political enemy. Lady Yasuhira then tried to assassinate Lady Yoshitsune to gain Lord Yoritomo’s forgiveness.”
But Yoritomo had not forgiven them.
10ZO: “Lord Yoritomo destroyed Oushuu Fujiwara and Lady Yasuhira died…according to the Testament descriptions. Lady Yasuhira still being alive must be some form of interpretation, but based on what she’s done, we can call her a great villain like Lord Matsunaga.”
Vice President: “Thanks for filling in for Neshinbara there. Anyway, with all that in mind, I plan to do this without letting my guard down.”
“But,” cut in Naito.
Gold Mar: “Hiraizumi is a small power, right? How useful is it really to have a meeting with them here? Won’t that draw the attention of Oushuu’s three nations? Won’t they think we’re getting too friendly with Hiraizumi instead of them?”
Vice President: “We don’t need to worry about that. …Hiraizumi is a nation of pure-blooded long-lived. They’re the oldest power in Oushuu. The three nations can’t neglect Hiraizumi because it lies at the foundation of their history. Also…”
Masazumi paused for a breath and to choose her next words.
Vice President: “Hiraizumi is also the lead village of the long-lived scattered around the different nations. Having solid diplomatic relations with Hiraizumi will make it easier to speak with the long-lived powers of the other nations.”
The long-lived powers can be hard to deal with, silently agreed Tenzou. Most of the long-lived were treated like nobility, but that was because the nations could not afford to treat them poorly.
10ZO: “Gaining the help of a race that holds history in their hands would be most welcome.”
“I see,” replied Naito and Tenzou nodded as well.
10ZO: “I doubt it will be easy, but I’m sure Masazumi-dono can pull it off. She’s quite good at adlibbing…and I’m not talking about gags, just to be clear. Now, anyway, I can only guess what you were talking about before, but ending this by going to war would be par for the course, so feel free to do that if you must.”
Vice President: “You people are getting a little carried away since leaving the Musashi!!”
Gold Mar: “Judge. So how are things going for you, Tenzou? Where’s Ma-yan? In bed?”
Tenzou looked behind him.
They were inside the visitors quarters at one end of the Sviet Rus palace of Kasuga Gora Kremlin. Even the walls were covered in carpet and the bed was a twin size with a canopy.
The rooms were made so they had to sleep two to a bed.
And right now, a nude blonde lay on the bed, beckoning him over with a smile.
But this was not Mary. It was a crossdresser and a nudist. So…
10ZO: “Naito-dono, I am in the boy’s room.”
Mal-Ga: “What!? You’re pathetic!!!”
10ZO: “Th-that was sudden!!”
Mal-Ga: “You really are stupid! If you had a Ninja Room and a Chancellor Room and stuck Mitotsudaira in the latter, then those two doujins would buy me a new house! You understand, don’t you!? I’m talking about something that would have even Prince Shotoku flipping tearfully through the pages shouting ‘More! More! Ah, you could call this the seventeen articles of sex!’ And what have you given me instead? A Shudo Room!?”
10ZO: “I don’t want to deal with all that, so I’ll just respond to that last part: I never said this was a Shudo Room!!”
Mal-Ga: “Oh, sorry. Our club has some people who specialize in that and I already told them it was. Look forward to next month.”
10ZO: “N-now you’ve done it! You’ve really done it now, haven’t you!?”
Gold Mar: “But Tenzou, aren’t you disappointed Ma-yan’s not with you?”
Well, he thought while crossing his arms and pondering the situation.
10ZO: “I always stay in the same room as Mary-dono, but since I’m always on the top bunk, I get nervous just thinking about being in the same bed as her. After all, she takes off all her clothes when she goes to bed. I can just imagine her hiding behind the curtain on the other side of the bed as she strips, but then noticing me, blushing, and saying ‘That’s embarrassing…’ And if she frantically pulled the blanket over her after stripping, that would be really cute. Then I would stand at the edge of the bed and ask ‘Can I get in?’ and she would nod while hiding half her face below the blanket. Once I got under the blanket too, it would go something like this: ‘Lady Mitotsudaira told me before that you’re given a child if you join together in bed.’ ‘Ehh? (←Me)’ ‘S-so, if we do this…” And then we hold hands! Yes, Mary-dono knows nothing about docking methods! That’s important! So we end up falling asleep hand-in-hand, but since she has a habit of hugging in her sleep, she’ll grab at my arm. And then, ahh, if she pushes up my sleeve… Kh! Oh, god… Anyway, the next morning, Mary-dono would be a little sad and disappointed when she notices we aren’t still ‘joined together’ when she wakes up, so I can gently embrace her to comfort her. ‘That can wait until we get back to the Musashi. I like embracing you like this just as much.’ ‘Master Tenzou…!’ And then comes the kiss! Just like this! …This is a chair! It tastes like varnish! …Anyway, I think it would be something like that.”
Gold Mar: “Um, sorry, that was my fault. Yeah, sorry. I’m really sorry.”
Mal-Ga: “That’ll kill your sanity level, so I recommend just skimming through it, Margot. It’s downright toxic.”
10ZO: “H-how can you say that when you were the ones that asked me, you awful people!?”
A notification in the sign frame indicated someone had joined the divine chat.
Scarred: “Hm? …You look like you’re having fun, but what is this about, Master Tenzou?”
Gold Mar: “Hmm, now what should we do with this chat log? …What are Sviet Rus’s specialties?”
10ZO: “Kh! I’ll bring you back some Koshi-no-Ume jam and Snow Rice Cakes.”
Scarred: “Heh heh. So you’re discussing souvenirs? Anyway, um, Master Tenzou. …Can we discuss the events of the day and our plans for tomorrow before going to sleep like we usually do?”
Asama: “I’ll be nice and set you up a chat limited to just the two of you.”
10ZO: “Thank you…wait, aren’t you supposed to be cleaning up!? Were you listening to all that!?”
Silver Wolf: “Speaking of which, 1st Special Duty Officer, I noticed you referenced me in that bizarre speech of yours, so we need to have a chat later.”
This isn’t looking good, he thought while pulling up a list of the photos he had taken of Mary at the festival. They were doing this over the divine chat this time, so what look was he supposed to have on his face while showing her these? Then again, they were in different rooms, so it all came down to his imagination which was fine in its own way. But…
10ZO: “Does this mean the Musashi group is prepared for their meeting?”
Masazumi answered Crossunite’s question while sitting on the bench they had prepared.
Vice President: “We’re prepared for the time being. You take care of things on your end too.”
It was night, but a large parasol and partition screens surrounded the space. They had brought them from the storage area below the terrace.
…This ship is meant for diplomatic meetings, so it makes sense they have this kind of equipment prepared.
She sipped on the tea Asama carried over and faced the person in the bench across from her.
That person was the elder of the Oushuu long-lived and the individual who had sheltered the Ariake.
…She’s another one of those wild people who lived through the Genpei War.
Masazumi swore in her heart she would not let her guard down. Ever since the Musashi had reached the Ariake, Musashi had not had any real interactions with them outside of carrying materials over for trade.
There was likely a reason for her arrival just before the three nations meeting and the special student general assembly.
With that in mind, Masazumi asked a question of Yasuhira.
“Now, should I view you as the representative of Shirakawa, the entrance of Oushuu? Lady Fujiwara Yasuhira…what brings you here today?”
She listened to Yasuhira’s reaction.
It was a light breath.
It could have been interpreted as a laugh or a sigh of disappointment, but Masazumi did not let it get to her. Whatever the woman’s initial impression was, she just had to improve upon that, so…
“I more or less know what it is you want to hear.”
“Ho ho? And what is that?”
She’s testing me, thought Masazumi as she answered.
“You want to know our vision of the future after the three nations meeting, but you also want us to reach a consensus on something, don’t you?”
This was what the woman wanted.
“Are you here to ensure the stability and continued existence of Oushuu Fujiwara’s Hiraizumi hidden village, Lady Yasuhira?”
“That is an excellent question. After all,” said Yasuhira. “Musashi’s claimed goal is world domination. And that will likely include our Hiraizumi hidden village. …That is incompatible with us and that is why I wish to speak with you.”
She moved on to what exactly she wished to speak about.
“What will you do with us? The Oushuu powers and the long-lived powers will be judging Musashi based on your answer. So think carefully. Will you or will you not compromise on your goal of world domination to allow for our continued existence?”
…She’s pushing this pretty hard. I guess she knows she bears the future of both Oushuu and the long-lived.
With that thought, Masazumi looked to the long-lived woman sitting in front of her.
But Yasuhira did not react in any way.
She did not nod or shake her head and she showed no sign of discouragement or surprise.
That was why her next words came so suddenly.
“Now, as much as you like talking about your supposed world domination, that will be no easy task. Are you confident you can overcome tomorrow’s special student general assembly and make it through the three nations meeting?”
With no preparatory movement leading into the question, Masazumi had trouble controlling her own behavior, not to mention responding. It felt like being stabbed without warning by a passerby. But…
…So she’s the opposite of Yoshitsune.
Yoshitsune had seen too much of people and grown numb to it all, but she had maintained a powerful will and used that willfulness to move her nation. She had always placed herself out in the open.
Masazumi sensed that Yasuhira was the reverse.
As a long-lived, she had seen too much of people, but she had not grown numb. So unlike Yoshitsune, she hid her own will as she moved her nation. And she had a certain way of doing that.
…She ensures the continued existence of those hidden in Oushuu’s hidden village.
In that case, thought Masazumi as she leaned forward a little. If she isn’t going to show herself as she stabs me with her words, I’ll have to move forward myself.
Yasuhira saw the change in the Musashi Vice President’s behavior.
Her opponent had moved forward instead of pulling back. And while she was looking up at Yasuhira from below, she did so directly rather than with an upturned look. That position was to ensure she did not overlook any change in Yasuhira’s behavior.
…Now this is different.
The Musashi Vice President was telling Yasuhira she knew the woman was hiding herself.
She was taking an offensive stance.
Yasuhira knew this girl had faced Lady Yoshitsune, but had she gained something from that?
Or was this based entirely on her own instincts? The Musashi Vice President placed herself close by and gave her a testing look.
Now this is interesting, thought Yasuhira. From the very start, she found this girl interesting. After all…
…It’s almost like an act.
The girl was not naively thinking she would see through any reactions Yasuhira made. She was accepting Yasuhira’s lack of reaction and seeing if the long-lived woman could keep it up to the end.
If Yasuhira did so, she would likely praise her.
If Yasuhira failed to do so, she would delight at having seen it.
On the one hand, Yasuhira was angered at being made into a spectacle, but on the other, she felt that her pride as a long-lived demanded that she kept this from affecting her.
This was interesting.
The girl understood her and was trying to toy with her pride.
By leaning forward in this meaningful way, she was bringing the fight to Yasuhira. So…
Now that they had confirmed each other’s strategies and positions for this battle, she asked her question again.
“Do you have any chance of victory tomorrow?”
“We do,” replied Masazumi.
“But your Glasses Committee Head seems to think differently.”
She was fast.
She switched topics and plunged into her main point with incredible speed. Her argument was bordering on leaps of logic.
She did not bother to lay out her groundwork. She used her information as a weapon and focused on that weapon’s sharp edge in her negotiations. If her opponent faltered at that edge, they would be folded up inside and left behind by the rapidly-progressing argument.
But there was a way to hold that back.
Keep your own pace, thought Masazumi.
Her conversations with her father were the same. They would often exchange opinions on politics, but he would rebuke her if she tried to match his speed. He would tell her that was a sign that she did not know everything her opponent did, so she needed to calm down.
Trying to look clever was meaningless. It would only lead to mistakes.
So she looked to and observed her opponent’s face. She searched for any kind of change in her behavior.
“You’re saying Ookubo thinks differently than us?”
“No. I said she seems to. I was merely speculating.”
Trick questions were not going to work. She was fast but accurate. She’s a pretty troublesome opponent, thought Masazumi as she focused on preserving her own pace. She took a breath.
“Then let me say this: Ookubo does not think differently from us. She is our underclassman, she is a resident of Musashi, and she is thinking about the future of the Far East. We have the same ultimate goal, so I think we will both ultimately head in the same direction.”
“Then let me ask you one thing. …What is your ultimate goal?”
Damn she’s fast, thought Masazumi again.
They had only discussed the following day and Ookubo, yet this woman had suddenly reached their ultimate goal. Arriving at the final topic after only exchanging a few words was unbelievably fast.
…Plus, this is dangerous.
That was how Masazumi judged Yasuhira’s attack. After all, their ultimate goal was something they had already stated several times in several places.
…Retrieving the Logismoi Oplo and using them to stop the Apocalypse.
They had proclaimed this all along. There was no way someone in Yasuhira’s position did not know about it.
But Yasuhira had still made a point of asking about their ultimate goal. In that case, she was not asking for their usual answer.
This woman’s words would not be a mere drawn sword.
Panicking and answering as normal would definitely get Masazumi stabbed by that blade.
Yasuhira had just the one negotiation method.
…She asks about anything related to her and those she represents before her opponent is ready.
If Masazumi was not prepared, Yasuhira could keep up the attack and gain a more advantageous position.
It was a method that only worked in a meeting with no advance warning like this.
There are some amazing people out there, thought Masazumi as she took another breath and spoke.
“Our ultimate goal is clear.”
“And that is?”
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded and said more. “As you already said, it is to conquer the world.”
Yasuhira directly accepted her opponent’s intent to conquer the world.
The Musashi Vice President was essentially saying they intended to conquer Oushuu’s hidden village, so…
…She thought I would react in some way, didn’t she?
She was trying to shake the woman to create an opening. She thought attacking there would act as a weak point to set the woman in motion.
But Yasuhira showed no change in behavior to Masazumi’s words. She remained calm.
“Can you reveal your plan for that?”
Yasuhira waited for the Musashi Vice President’s next answer, but the girl shook her head.
“Judge. We will follow the Testament descriptions by building up the Matsudaira clan’s rule in the Far East. That is based in the history recreation, so we can obtain the support of the other nations.”
The Musashi Vice President continued.
“But if the Testament Union nations claim Oushuu’s hidden village is in violation of the history recreation, protecting you will be nearly impossible. …It is possible we will be forced to oppose you in the future, so why would we reveal our plan to you?”
“Is that a threat?”
Yasuhira’s question was made to stab at her opponent’s conscience.
A normal opponent would immediately deny it, but the Musashi Vice President paused for a moment and then slowly answered.
“I am merely stating the facts.”
She did not deny it. On top of that, she claimed her statements had been “facts”, which asked Yasuhira to agree with her.
She then said something more.
“I have no intention of going to war with Hiraizumi.”
“Oh? And why is that?”
“Because we have no reason to.”
The Musashi Vice President once more answered slowly.
“Listen,” she began. “I do not know why Hiraizumi remains a hidden village or why you are trying to maintain that form even as the world is attempting to reach peace. And I do not want to crush an opponent I do not understand, so tell me your reasons, Lady Yasuhira. …Why is Hiraizumi still a hidden village? And why are you worried about our actions even as you try to keep your distance from the Far East like that? Please tell me.”
After a breath, the Musashi Vice President looked straight at Yasuhira and opened her mouth.
“You attempt to remain a hidden village even as the world approaches peace. …Tell me why you are so intent on keeping your distance from the Far East, Lady Yasuhira.”
Masazumi thought about her bold approach here.
…Hiraizumi is undoubtedly keeping its distance from the Far Eastern powers.
Yasuhira was not simply maintaining their position as a hidden village. Masazumi felt the woman was maintaining that position in order to keep their distance from the Far East. After all…
…This is a land of resistance.
Her father had told her that and she had been taught it in history class.
A war had been fought in Oushuu during the Age of Dawn that predated the Testament.
It had begun as a territorial dispute between the Far Eastern powers and the world powers and Oushuu had become a region of intense fighting.
If that will of resistance remained, then this could be seen as a grudge against the Far Eastern powers. That history would have been passed down by the long-lived far more accurately than by the humans. And even if it did not in them, that spirit did still exist in Oushuu. That was why her father and others referred to it as a land of resistance.
Masazumi thought about that idea of opposing something. She felt it would be the keyword to dealing with Yasuhira and Hiraizumi.
Yasuhira was attempting to protect her hidden village. As for why…
“Has Oushuu still not forgiven the Far East?”
Masazumi did not know what exactly that past war had been, but that was why she had to say this.
“Could you rid yourself of your reservations by revealing all of that to us, Lady Yasuhira?”
“Wait.” Yasuhira remained calm. “You seem to be making a bit of a logical leap here. …We simply wish for a promise that you will allow Hiraizumi to exist and that you will not invade us.”
“That is a hopeless wish,” replied Masazumi as slowly as ever. “The current age will no longer allow it. …It is true Hiraizumi has remained hidden without harming anyone as you engage in trade and act as a pipeline between Oushuu and Kantou. And the leaders of every nation will be hesitant to crush you after all this time for fear of the long-lived descendants scattered throughout every nation. But…”
Masazumi decided to repeat that term that idiot had used almost as if it was a secondary concern.
“We are after world domination, Lady Yasuhira. …That’s something none of the past leaders aimed for. If we’re going to retrieve the Logismoi Oplo and stop the Apocalypse, we need to gain the other nations’ cooperation by defeating Hashiba and removing the threat of P.A. Oda. That is how Matsudaira will rule the world.”
She said more to push further.
“So conquering the world is how we will solve every problem we come across. That’s a foregone conclusion. Fujiwara Yasuhira, Elder of Hiraizumi, tell me what you have to say. Why are you keeping your distance from the Far East? In our vision of world domination, we will create a world that eliminates your reservations and allows you to live in the open without hiding.”
Asama felt a change in the atmosphere.
It came from Yasuhira. Her expression had not changed and she had not moved, but she was not saying anything.
Before, she had always replied without delay, but Masazumi’s declaration of world domination was proving different.
Asama: “I can’t believe that insane declaration was enough to get a change in behavior out of her.”
Vice President: “Just to be clear, it was Aoi that announced our plans of world domination, not me!”
Then there’s no helping it, thought Asama as the atmosphere around her and the others changed. Naito and Naruze were leaning their shoulders together, but they were making sure they could both move at a moment’s notice. As for Kimi…
“Uzy, retie that ribbon for me.”
She had brought out her Mouse so she could use spells. Naomasa was sitting in a nearby chair, but she had lowered her previously crossed leg.
…Sh-should I do something too?
I need to go over my checklist. Bow: check. Arrows: check. Okay, I can fire on a moment’s notice.
…I guess I’m ready to go without really doing anything. Good, good. Yes.
Wise Sister: “Asama, are you ready as a spell-user, not as a gunner?”
Asama: “…Eh? Spell…? D-don’t be silly. O-of course I’m ready. I have all my usual firing assistance spells ready to go. I can use a homing spell or a rapid-fire spell right away!”
Smoking Girl: “Aren’t those more on the gunner side of things than the spell-user side?”
I suppose so, she thought while mentally hanging her head, but then she noticed something.
…Masazumi is leaning even further forward.
She was on the attack.
Now that her opponent’s behavior had changed, Musashi’s Vice President spoke up with attack in mind.
Vice President: “Asama, I have a request.”
Asama: “Eh? I-I don’t think there’s any real reason to shoot yet.”
Almost Everyone: “So you’d shoot if there was!?”
Vice President: “Um…anyway. Asama, can you check on something concerning Oushuu’s older history for me?”
Asama could guess what this was about.
Asama: “You mean about Oushuu’s ‘resistance’?”
That was something Masazumi’s father had mentioned before. And…
Vice President: “I suppose Musashi’s Shinto representative would be able to surmise that much.”
Asama: “…Yes. But don’t hold back. There might be times when you have to hand something off to me, so please do if you need to.”
Vice President: “Yes, you are Musashi’s Shinto representative, after all. …Depending on how this plays out, I might take you up on that offer.”
Masazumi nodded with her back to Asama and faced Yasuhira once more.
She spoke calmly.
“For the history recreation and as the solution to the problems we face, we will conquer the world. What will Hiraizumi do about that, Fujiwara Yasuhira?”
That question received a response. The hidden village’s elder said the following:
“Resistance will be our only option.”
So they really are going with resistance, thought Masazumi.
In that case, she added.
In the corner of her eye, she saw Asama beginning to search for information on her sign frame. She was prepared to speak as the Shinto representative, so Masazumi placed relief in her heart and faced Yasuhira again.
“Allow me to repeat myself.”
She held out her right hand so Yasuhira would not speak.
“I have no intention of going to war with Hiraizumi.”
Maruba-ya: “Why not? Isn’t that weird?”
Vice President: “Dammit! I swear to you I won’t go to war this time!!”
She felt she was growing more and more stubborn, but she was not letting her feelings influence her politics.
At the moment, there was something she had to do, something she had to check on, and something she had to say.
So she repeated something else yet again.
“Our goal is world domination. Keep that in mind as I ask this.”
Masazumi leaned even further forward as she asked.
“In the history recreation, Hiraizumi has already been subjugated. …Why do you still wish to exist?”
“Not wanting to be destroyed is a desire common to all things, is it not?”
“I cannot speak for anything before the creation of Hiraizumi.”
I thought as much, thought Masazumi.
…So she’s sticking to “I”.
Masazumi had realized something by connecting together a few things Yasuhira had said. She had realized what words would shake that woman.
The keys to drawing out Yasuhira’s words were the continued existence of Hiraizumi and the resistance against those who would stand in the way of that. However, that was not the actual answer.
There was a more fundamental reason why she wished for that continued existence and why she continued that resistance.
“It comes down to Oushuu’s history, doesn’t it?”
Masazumi’s father had mentioned this and she had been taught about it in history class.
“What we need here is the history of resistance that created Oushuu’s current spirit, right?”
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