Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 48

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Chapter 48: Victor of History[edit]

Horizon4B 0403.jpg

The idea that

We wanted for nothing

Was not true

Point Allocation (Hardship)


“During the Age of Dawn, Oushuu was the scene of intense fighting between the Far Eastern powers and the world nations. And that history of resistance is necessary to reach a consensus here and now, isn’t it?”

Yasuhira said nothing as Masazumi watched her.

But that silence was enough of an answer.

I see.

Masazumi had presented world domination as a consensus of their goal and methods. Yasuhira had in turn presented their will of resistance, but…

That resistance is the entrance to their consensus.

They had kept up that will of resistance by continuing to hide themselves. For that will to exist within a peaceful hidden village, it had to have been caused by something before that.

That would be something far in the past. After all, she had stressed that this was just what she had to say concerning the reason. And yet she was their leader, so no one else could make that decision for them.

So if there was anyone else, it would have to be a previous leader.

“Is Oushuu’s history – the history that created your will of resistance – the consensus you wish to present to us?”

Convinced Yasuhira was waiting for her to take the step forward, Masazumi forced her words forward with her lungs.

“In a previous age, an age before the Testament, the people descended from the heavens, but when they learned the environment was far too harsh in all land outside the Far East, a territorial war broke out in the Far East.”

Many different actions had been taken during that war, but…

“The final subjugation was carried out in Oushuu.”

That had been used as an early history recreation of the Imperial Court’s eastern campaign, so Oushuu had never undergone the subjugation by the Imperial Court and had not experienced the resistance against it that should have occurred. That had allowed the long-lived and other nonhumans there to gain great power.

Of course, that power deteriorated during the Genpei War and many of their forces were lost…

That was why much was still unknown about Oushuu and why they were allowed to have hidden villages.

And…

“Fujiwara Yasuhira. …As a long lived, you are a descendent of the force that showed their resistance during the Age of Dawn. To put it another way, you are a descendant of those who were crushed in a former age and yet survived. Those survivors created Hiraizumi so that they would not be crushed again, correct?”

So…

“Things are different now. In the current age, there is a threat of true world domination, so you came to ask us how likely we are to succeed. You were worried we might repeat the kind of ‘subjugation’ that shaped the current world during the Age of Dawn. …Am I wrong?”

“Ho ho?”

Yasuhira’s expression changed. Her lips bent slightly. However…

“That is insufficient.”


Is this all they have? wondered Yasuhira.

She has made it quite far.

As the Musashi Vice President had said, Oushuu had a long history. And it was the pure-blooded long-lived like her who had supported that history.

Not a single member of their race was ignorant of the Age of Dawn. That was several generations ago, but that was exactly why their ancestors told the stories and felt a duty to protect that history.

After many twists and turns, the survivors of the Age of Dawn had eventually found themselves in the land of Hiraizumi.

The Testament descriptions had told her Hiraizumi would be crushed in her generation, so she had done everything she could to preserve its continued existence. But…

“That is insufficient.”

“But it isn’t wrong?”

“I am saying it is insufficient.” Yasuhira spoke slowly. “You are speaking from the viewpoint of history’s victors and that is insufficient to reach a common understanding with us. …If you wish to set foot in the hidden village, you must move beyond the exterior.”

“What do we lack?”

“Well…”

Yasuhira recalled what her late grandfather had told her.

It was something her grandfather had heard from his grandfather and so on.

“Do you know why we have ensured Hiraizumi’s continued existence?”

Normally thinking, there was only one answer to that question.

To maintain a nation of pure-blooded long-lived.

If the world’s academies were asked about Hiraizumi, their answer would likely be based on the significance of a nation. However, that was insufficient.

That was not what Hiraizumi was. That was not what their ancestors had wanted.

The Musashi Vice President nodded.

Her answer was coming. In that instant, Yasuhira decided that, if the girl did use a nation of pure-blooded long-lived as her answer, she would agree to cooperate with Musashi.

That would mean the Musashi Vice President had an understanding of Hiraizumi’s continued existence. Yasuhira had no problem with cooperating and maintaining the present state of affairs. And so she listened to what the Musashi Vice President had to say.

“Lady Yasuhira, you have a reason to wish for Hiraizumi’s continued existence, don’t you?”

And that reason was…

To maintain a nation of pure-blooded long-lived.

Except that was not what the Musashi Vice President said.

“The territorial war during the Age of Dawn before the creation of the Testament was later used as an early recreation of Oushuu’s subjugation at the hands of the imperial army.”

And…

“There was a large gap in time between the two incidents. Oushuu’s subjugation by the imperial army happened in the year 787, after all. I do not know why that war during the Age of Dawn was used despite that distance in time, but I can guess what happened to Oushuu without the subjugation of that era.”

“—————”

It can’t be, thought Yasuhira.

Then Musashi’s Vice President said more.

“Oushuu must have greatly developed in peace. …Until it fell to ruin in the turmoil of the Genpei War, that is.”


Masazumi did not rush herself as she clearly stated her thoughts.

“I do not know the history of Oushuu, but I do know that the Genpei War was a conflict between the humanoid and demonic long-lived of Oushuu and that it led to the currently small overall number of your kind. This next part is mere speculation, but I have another thought.”

Namely…

“Before the Genpei War, many nonhumans must have lived in peaceful Oushuu. That would naturally have created a large community. And…”

And…

“The pure-blooded long-lived who lived there would have been the leaders of that community.”

“Then…”

On Yasuhira’s prompting, Masazumi nodded and responded.

“What Hiraizumi wants is not a long-lived nation. It is a large cooperative nation of all races, including nonhumans. …In other words, the nation desired by the long-lived is not one for just the long-lived, right?”

“What makes you say something so grandiose?”

That was obvious. There was a precedent.

“Yoshitsune.”

Masazumi only had to think of her.

“Yoshitsune accepted all peoples into her nation. Part of that had to do with her personality, but I now think that was also the desire of the pure-blooded long-lived as a whole. …Because you continue to live, you wish to create an everlasting nation for those with nowhere else to go. The national character of the long-lived is to continue existing forever.”

But if they lost, then that refuge, that ideal, and everything else would vanish.

That may be why, thought Masazumi.

But then Yasuhira suddenly spoke up.

“That is insufficient.”


“—————”

Masazumi noticed the atmosphere change yet again.

It’s cold.

A chilly air arrived from Yasuhira and made her gasp a little.

The woman erased all her emotions and utterly eliminated all movement, so no warmth as a person reached Masazumi.

Masazumi saw Yasuhira’s expression stiffen with a smile still on her lips. Then she gently uttered some words.

“That is indeed the meaning behind Hiraizumi. However…”

“But it isn’t wrong?”

“I am saying it is insufficient.”

Yes.

“It is insufficient. After all…”

Someone continued for her.

It was Asama. The shrine maiden’s dignified voice was quiet, but it seemed to purify the surrounding air.

“If recorded history is insufficient to speak of Oushuu, then there is only one other possibility.”

One thing was lacking.

“That would be the Age of Dawn.”


Masazumi looked back and Asama slowly nodded in her summer uniform.

That classmate had trained in Shinto and she had an upper level rank as a shrine maiden. And as Shinto used the Far Eastern gods, it was closely connected to the origin and history of the Far East.

Masazumi had learned of history in class and elsewhere, but a lot was unclear about the Age of Dawn that predated the Testament. That age was almost treated like Shinto mythology. So…

I guess this would be Asama’s specialty.

She looked over and saw Asama smiling at her with ends of the eyebrows lowered. The look seemed to say everything would be all right, so Masazumi nodded.

I’m counting on you.

Her thought must have gotten through because she heard a bitter laugh from the Aoi Sister next to Asama, but this was a nice break for her.

“Please give me some time to organize some data. If I do that, I can reach an understanding of Oushuu during the Age of Dawn and the territorial war that broke out there before the Testament had even been created.”

Asama faced Yasuhira head-on as if she could see through her.

“This will touch on a Shinto taboo, but I think I will be able to discuss it with you.”


Now, I need to organize my feelings as well as the data.

Asama had said she would discuss this, but she was somewhat hesitant.

After all, the fate of Musashi was riding on this.

Hiraizumi had its roots in the hostile side of their history. Could they really reach the consensus they needed to cooperate? All of that could be lost depending on her answer here.

If Neshinbara-kun was here, I could leave it all to him, she thought.

And…

She thought about Masazumi, as well as Toori and the others beyond the sign frame.

She was not an officer, but she was a classmate and she was a shrine maiden of the Asama Shrine that managed Musashi’s Shinto.

Since ancient times, shrine maidens had been leaders who used divination to guide the people. In modern times, they used their exorcising arrows to smash through people’s obstacles. …No, I mustn’t smash things. What are shrine maidens again? Um, tentacles are only in porn games, so that doesn’t count. And that technically has nothing to do with shrine maidens anyway. Besides, tentacles attack everyone equally. Tentacles believe in equality. In that case, shrine maidens are…

Asama: “Shrine maidens guide and help people, right?”

Mal-Ga: “Nope.”

Why didn’t she have to think before answering!?

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Naruze, that’s what Asama thinks they are, so you mustn’t take issue with the way other people view the world.”

Asama: “I’m not sure I like how you put it, but that’s more or less it.”

Her archery, sniping, and bombardments were generally meant to help the people. Sometimes it might come down to relieving stress or shooting for shooting’s sake, but it was generally to help people.

Helping people was a shrine maiden’s job.

That was why there were times when they seemed bothered by her.

Asama: “It can be difficult to think about what would have happened if I couldn’t help someone.”

At the moment, she might be able to help Masazumi, Toori, and the others.

But…

“Yes.”

She suddenly recalled something from the past. Long ago, the brother of a certain pair of siblings had gone away and she had been unable to do anything about it.


That was not a pleasant time, thought Asama.

It had happened ten years before.

She had only been able to wait and to comfort the sister who had been left behind. And when he had returned, she had been unable to do anything for him. She had hated that about herself and had ended up distancing herself from them because of it.

She had been unable to help back then.

She may only have remembered that due to the events of that morning. Just like ten years before, she had spent the night at their house and felt like he was not there in the morning.

Once again, he was not here. He was in Sviet Rus instead.

Just like ten years before, she had to wait.

But…

Asama: “Kimi.”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. What is it? My foolish brother?”

It could be a problem how sharp that girl was. Asama released a bitter laugh and sigh, but in that case…

Asama: “Will my help make his return all the more meaningful? …His return back then, I mean.”

Kimi laughed quietly, likely because of the forced final clarification.

“Don’t worry.”

Kimi faced and spoke to her.

“Don’t worry, Asama! If you accidentally go ‘Ooooops! I just blasted you, so please☆for☆give☆me!’, I’ll forgive you! Now, go for it! Musashi will go for the future as well, so it’ll be okay! Oh, but don’t make an intentional accident just because you want to blast someone!!”

“I really don’t want to quibble over details, but please don’t call it ‘blasting’ people. And I think that just explosively ruined something inside me, so what am I supposed to do now?”

She said that while glaring at the girl, but she did have her thoughts on the issue.

That’s right.

There was always someone nearby. Whether she succeeded or not, someone would be there. They would not make an effort to be with her, they would simply be there.

That was different from the past.

“———”

She decided to give her answer, so she looked up toward Yasuhira. But then sudden words reached her from the side.

Me: “Hey, Asama.”

It was Toori. His unexpected call caused her pulse to race, but he did not hesitate to send more text her way.

Me: “I feel like you’ve been left with a difficult task here, but…Seijun, can you not answer this Shinkou person’s question?”

Vice President: “It’s pronounced Yasuhira, idiot. And Asama…if you’re worried, you can just give me your thoughts instead of answering directly. This is really my job.”

Asama: “Eh? Oh, n-no. I can do it myself…”

She hesitated, but she said it.

Asama: “This is something I want to say as the Shinto representative.”

“Is that so?” said Toori via text.

Me: “Asama, you have a tendency to take on a lot of burdens beyond your own, so if you ever mess something up or are worried about something, leave it all with me. And I’m not just talking about this right now.”

Asama’s heart began pounding at his sudden offer.

As a shrine maiden, helping people was her duty and yet he was offering her his help.

Leave it all with him?

In the Musashi’s current state, worries were a constant companion, so could she really leave the past and so many other things with him?

That hesitation started to create a gap, so she quickly said more. However, it was a meaningless repeat question.

Asama: “Eh? Wh-what do you mean?”

Why do I keep saying the same things? she wondered.

However, he gave a proper answer to her awkward question.

Me: “You’re the one that gave me the power to do that with your contract. So doesn’t that mean you get top priority?”

Eh? thought Asama as she fell utterly speechless. She finally felt heat from her neck to her cheeks.

Ohhh!

O-oh, he meant the spell! she said to convince herself.

He wasn’t talking about my worries or my life! He was talking about spells!

Yes, that has to be it. Let’s leave it at that. You don’t need to think too much about this. Think too much and I’ll probably take on the kind of unnecessary burden he was talking about.

So…

“Honestly.”

She felt heat in her cheeks, but that was fine as long as it did not show. She decided not think about the reason for Kimi’s bitter laugh and kept Yasuhira in the center of her vision.

There was one thing she had to say first.

“Okay. Now that I am prepared, I can answer you.”

She made that advance statement in preparation for what she had to say.

“Let us discuss why the Oushuu forces still hold onto the events of the Age of Dawn.”

In other words…

“Let us discuss the territorial war that occurred in the Far East.”


Asama prepared herself to honestly state the truthful records she had.

“Listen,” she began. “During the Age of Dawn’s territorial war, the various powers were initially scattered, but later on, it unsurprisingly developed into a fight between the Far East and the world nations. After all, it was a struggle for the Far East’s land. …The Far East was outnumbered, so they were driven back to the Kinki region. But…”

But…

“The Far East created the being known as the Emperor, gained indirect access to the Environmental Gods, and used that power to bring themselves up to the same level as the world nations. Accessing the Environmental Gods meant they could alter the weather, you see. After that, the European forces agreed to a truce with the Far East. But another land put up such a perfect resistance that they had to be subjugated. …Yes, that was the eastern nations from southern Kinki to Mikawa and from Kantou to Oushuu. It is now said that was used as a recreation of the Imperial Court’s later subjugation of Oushuu.”

Based on the records, that was the truth. However…

“Why?”

Asama knew what Yasuhira was asking.

“Why did they put up such a resistance that they had to be subjugated?”

Yes. If she thought about it, it was a natural question.

It is indeed a mystery why Oushuu kept up their perfect resistance rather than giving in.

She had to answer that mystery.

Vice President: “Can you do this?”

“Yes,” replied Asama.

Her sign frame for divine transmission management settings showed her that the others were silently watching her words. This is kind of embarrassing, she thought.

But if they’re not nervous, I guess that’s okay.

She calmed her heart and opened her mouth.

“From here on, what I say will include my own speculation.”

“Go ahead.”

She nodded at Yasuhira’s prompting and spoke.

“The people fought a territorial war during the Age of Dawn, but when thinking about it in the current age, I think we are overlooking something. …It is said the people were split between the different nations and they eventually settled onto two sides: the Far East and the world nations. But…”

Asama spoke as if dropping her thoughts straight forward.

“I think it must have been different. Rather than the Far East vs. the world nations…it must have been the Far East vs. the world nations and the Far Eastern powers that cooperated with them.”

After all…

“The Far Easterners had to have lived all across the Far East. …As you said, Yasuhira-san, the historical subjugation of Oushuu was actually a subjugation of the community living in Oushuu. And if that was used for the history recreation…”

Naruze continued for her while standing protectively behind her.

“The battle line in Oushuu during the Age of Dawn was made up of, at the very least, a community of Far Eastern and world nation powers much like in the Oushuu we know from recorded history?”

Asama hesitated over that question, but…

“Yes. …I think it must have been a calm and peaceful community.”

Of course, that would not have applied just to Oushuu. Something similar would have happened all over.

However…

“The Far Eastern powers would have seen it as subjugating the ‘traitors’ who had sided with the world nations. …I think that was another side of the Age of Dawn’s territorial war.”


What she had just said was a taboo within Shinto, but…

Everyone has made the same analysis.

She could have just claimed that “someone said so”, but lying came with a penalty for shrine maidens. Rather than lie and receive a penalty for sullying her heart, she preferred to tell the truth and be penalized for that.

Asama: “To put it another way, I have nothing to fear right now.”

Me: “Hey, Asama.”

Asama: “Eh? Wh-what?”

He really likes being sudden, doesn’t he? she thought. However, she did feel like she was denying herself as a shrine maiden by touching on a taboo from an age of mythology. She had somewhat hoped that someone would say something here.

And as if in response to that hope, he started with an “uhh” of thought.

Me: “I said this before, but if this gets bad and you’ve gotta apologize to your dad, then say it’s my fault. I kind of convinced you to do this, right? So if that happens, I’ll have Tenzou buy a pack of Sviet Rus sweets and go apologize.”

10ZO: “Now that’s something I can’t just ignore! Oh, but regional alcoholic drinks can interfere with a Shinto official’s shrine registration, so maybe sweets would be the best bet.”

Vice President: “I don’t quite follow, but the responsibility for anything Asama says falls on me. If anything happens, tell them to contact the Student Council or the Provisional Council Building.”

You people… she thought as they kept saying things she could only respond to with a bitter smile. And…

Mal-Ga: “Fine then. I’ll make an offering of my latest doujinshi to pacify him.”

Uqui: “Yes. I had an elder sister shrine maiden game coming up next for testing, but maybe I should make a trade with Asama’s place…”

83: “Nothing is as persuasive as curry.”

These people… she thought while ignoring things that she could only respond to by hanging her head.

But this did remind Asama that she was not alone, so she breathed in, raised her head, and spoke to Yasuhira.

“History recreation interpretations were used to make most of the prehistoric subjugations into the Imperial Court’s eastern campaign. The Far East decided it should not fight its own people any further.”

So…

“Before the Imperial Court’s subjugation of the Far East, the Testament descriptions say there were non-Shinto native gods in the Far East. But due to the Imperial Court’s unification of the Far East, the gods of that new territory were taken into the ranks of Shinto’s earthly gods and helper gods. Any lands that resisted were subjugated, their gods were made into nameless ‘un-worshiped gods’ and their souls were laid to rest at the shrines.”

The records of Shinto, who were the victors, did not tell her how much of that had been done. The “facts” had blotted out the truth and both history and the world kept moving without any need for the truth.

But she did have a certain thought now.

“Yasuhira-san. Are you a descendant of the Far Easterners who became enemies of the Far East in the prehistoric Age of Dawn when the gods descended to this planet?”

And…

“From the viewpoint of a Shinto official like me, are you affiliated with the ‘un-worshiped gods’ who were wiped out by the gods we believe in?”


Masazumi listened to Asama’s words and let their contents flow into her heart.

“You are a people who did not join the Testament forces yet made use of them. …Oushuu Fujiwara and those like you were a Far Eastern power that resisted the Far East and yet could not join the world nations.”

They could be seen as a people without a home.

Or perhaps they would better be described as a people with no clearly defined home.

It was true they were Far Easterners, but their blood had been mixed during the fighting and then…

They were destroyed in the history recreation.

“From a Shinto perspective, they were purified by the interpretive destruction they received. But that left them with nothing. After all, they were not Shinto worshipers. They had a different faith. An un-worshiped faith.”

She would not say she understood. After all…

“You in Oushuu disobeyed and fought the Far East, but the world nations betrayed you and gave in to the Far East. The people of Oushuu did not want the Testament that they created. And you decided you could not return to your original relationship with the Far Eastern forces after you betrayed them. But…”

Emotion threatened to spill into Asama’s voice and tone, but she stopped there and took a breath.

“Even if you were traitors and even if that very fact was erased, you still thought of yourselves as Far Eastern and you could not overlook the difficulties your brief allies of the world nations were having in the Harmonic World. So…”

Masazumi knew where this was headed.

She turned to Asama, gave a nod of understanding, and then faced Yasuhira.

That woman simply waited for Asama’s words to seep into her.

“Whether you liked it or not, the Oushuu forces had no choice but to use Shinto and the Testament’s history recreation to develop the land. That is why, to this day, you have kept your distance from the Testament nations and Far Eastern powers while also making use of them.”

In other words…

“The foundation of Oushuu and Kantou comes not from selfishness but from selflessness. It comes from a trust strong enough to allow betrayal and from the resistance of a community. So even if the Age of Dawn has been forgotten, that has taken root and remains within you, like a spirit of mutual aid.”


This is tricky, thought Masazumi as she faced Yasuhira in front of her.

They aren’t simple losers and they aren’t just a pitiable people.

They had betrayed their allies yet been betrayed themselves. And then that very past had been erased and they had been forced to survive using the power of their former enemy.

It felt exactly like Yasuhira’s history recreation of betraying Yoshitsune yet receiving no reward from Yoritomo.

However, Musashi could not sympathize with them or treat them warmly.

Musashi stood on the winner’s side and Musashi’s people were short-lived. And more importantly, the reason Yasuhira and the others had yet to yield to the Testament was their pride in the fact that they had not made the wrong decision despite being destroyed for it.

I see, thought Masazumi. She might become our ally and she might join our side, but there is a solid wall preventing us from facing her as a Far Easterner. Facing her without realizing that would be nothing more than approaching her as the ignorant victor.

I need to be careful, she swore to herself.

Me: “Hey, can you ask Taikou something?”

Vice President: “It’s Yasuhira, idiot. At least learn to read her name properly. And what do you want?”

Me: “Well, if all that’s gotten through to Taikou, ask her something for me.”

Ask her what? thought Masazumi as the idiot spoke via the sign frame.

Me: “Ask her what she thought of what Asama said.”


“…Eh?”

Asama had been trying to calm her somewhat shaking heart after saying so very much.

As she had previously thought, what she had told Yasuhira was very nearly a taboo within Shinto.

These things were conveyed as facts and Shinto officials tended to assist in communications, so anyone with that sort of job would hear these things at some point and guess at the truth hidden behind them.

They would realize that even Shinto had to keep its distance from certain people and that there was a reason for that distance.

Of course, that was from the Shinto point of view, but it was possible to research how it had actually happened and there were people who would tell you.

And this would bring a twinge of guilt to one’s heart. After all, Shinto was meant to help people and to tune things with their purification techniques, yet this meant the spread of Shinto had been established by crushing a previous power.

How long had it been since she had felt that twinge of guilt? And how long had it been since her heart had shaken like this?

I’m just too inexperienced.

She had first realized this fact after entering elementary school.

That was when…

Some words stopped her heart from continuing. It was his voice coming from Kimi’s vocalized sign frame. And it was just like that time in the past…

“Tell us what you thought of Asama’s answer.”


Asama’s trembling thoughts came to a stop.

“Please,” said the idiot. “Asama’s always supporting us and she just made her place sound like villains to get some help out of you. Regardless of what happened in the past, Asama didn’t actually do it and she helps us out a whole lot now. …But she can take things too seriously, so she’ll start feeling like she did do it. So while I feel bad asking you to do what’s convenient for us, can’t you do one little thing for-…”

“U-um, Toori-kun!”

Asama quickly faced Kimi’s sign frame.

Kimi did not look at her. She simply half-closed her eyes and supported the sign frame with a fingertip. They’re always like this, thought Asama about the two siblings in front of her.

“It’s fine! You don’t have to worry about my feelings! I mean, this is my role…”

“Of course I’m gonna worry about your feelings. I mean, I made a contract with you that gives you the power to leave that kind of thing with me. But…”

But…

“If you aren’t going to leave them with me, I’ll have to…um…I don’t really know how and a lot of the time I can’t do it…but I’ve just gotta purify them, right?”

“————”

“Hey,” he said to Yasuhira. “I’m asking you because I don’t know what a good way of doing this is. …Can you tell me whether what Asama said got through to you or not?”

“You mean…” Yasuhira tilted her head. “You want me to tell you whether I will cooperate with Musashi or not?”

“Lady Yasuhira.” This time Masazumi spoke up. “That idiot is talking about emotions. He is not asking if Asama’s answer was correct or not. So how about this?”

Masazumi held a prompting hand out to Yasuhira.

“We want you to tell us if Asama’s words moved you to emotion in any way.”

“Eh? N-no, I wasn’t really, um…”

What do I do? thought Asama. She was being treated like a crying child. She felt embarrassed and like a burden. But…

They’re looking out for me.

Was it wrong of her to feel happy about that? Or was it simply honest? She did not know, but she saw Yasuhira raise her eyebrows a little in her direction.

And then the woman spoke.

“The fact that you are feeling discouraged by what you said means you feel you were wrong in what happened yet you do not actually believe you were wrong. …That means you do not truly regret it.”


The feelings that had just filled Asama vanished. As did her words.

“————”

Oh, no, she thought. My inexperience just tripped everyone up.

But before she could even take a breath, some more words reached her.

They came from Yasuhira. She continued as promptly as before and made her next comment.

“Even so…”

Even so…

“This confirms that Musashi, the Far East representative, is making an attempt to learn about the past and form a relationship with us using that knowledge. Even if you are not truly regretful, that is because the short-lived races can only understand the past through their imagination…and that makes you very forward-thinking and powerful.”

Also…

“Hearing that from a Shinto power has honestly lifted a burden from my shoulders.”

Yasuhira leaned forward to take a breath.

It almost looked like she was bowing.

She said nothing and they could not get any kind of promise out of her, but she did lean forward toward Asama.

“————”

She calmly raised her head again and that simple action relieved Asama.

Good.

The woman had said a burden had been lifted from her shoulders. Asama did not know how much that meant to a long-lived elder, but…

“Thank you very much.”

She naturally said that herself. There were negative aspects on both sides of their relationship, but they might be able to change something if they were both aware of it.

“Asama.”

His voice reached her.

“I can’t see what’s going on, but are things going well? Was that good? Was it?”

“Wh-what are you talking about? I was forced to thank her. Have Horizon scold you later.”

But, thought Asama. It is true he saved me there. So she also thought, I need to make sure the words and everything else I felt will continue to live on inside me.

As a shrine maiden, it was her job to help others, but…

There are also people who are concerned for me and will help me.

She might not have realized this if she had not been in charge of his contract, so she faced the sign frame displaying his words and started to say “thank you”.

“—————”

But she stopped. She heard a quiet laugh from Kimi, but that was fine. They knew each other well enough that there was no need to thank each other.

So she faced Yasuhira instead and took yet another breath.

“Shinto supported the Far Eastern forces during the Age of Dawn’s territorial war and later supported the imperial army during the Age of the Testament. We have forgotten nothing.”

“Then…”

Asama accepted Yasuhira’s word with a nod.

“Yes. As long as I have my knowledge, Masazumi has her thoughts, Toori-kun and Horizon are leading us, and the rest of us are here too, Musashi can reach an understanding of your past. So will you tell us about the Age of Dawn and the Age of the Testament that followed? And can you tell us what Oushuu thought and did during those times?”

“That’s right,” added Masazumi as she leaned forward again. “How about it, Fujiwara Yasuhira? Can you tell us what we want to know? …Can you tell us what kind of people the people of Oushuu are?”


Masazumi placed Yasuhira in the center of her vision.

She saw a calm expression and silent lips.

The woman said nothing, but Masazumi once more understood what the woman wanted.

She is the descendant of an ideal nation that resisted those in power, so what will concern her most about the next candidate for that kind of power?

She had continually said they were “insufficient”.

Was she judging whether she should reveal or hide their history of resisting those in power?

If they did not know, that would be the extent of their relationship.

But if they did know, she would reveal it all.

In that case, their fumbling exchange had finally prepared her to show herself to them. In other words…

“I wish to know what kind of resistance you will show us, the descendants of the victors, and I wish to know if you will be an inconvenient presence for us. Without knowing that, going for world domination would be a little dangerous.”

When she heard that, Yasuhira suddenly moved.

It was her gaze. Her eyes alone moved to show she was focused as she spoke.

“If you can crush us, I do think that would be fine too.”

“Unfortunately, those in power during the Age of Dawn also defeated your ancestors, but they did not crush them. That is why you are still here.”

“It would have been a lot easier for the Far East if they had.”

“No, it wouldn’t have. It wouldn’t have been easy finding replacements for you or Yoshitsune.”

“I can’t deny that Lady Yoshitsune is a part of this.”

Yasuhira adjusted her position in her seat.

She seemed to hesitate for a moment, but she soon opened her mouth again.

“In that case…let us discuss the deep past of Hiraizumi and Oushuu and use that to think about Musashi’s future actions.”

Yes.

“Let us bring back a story of the long distant past to establish the consensus and the foundation of Oushuu needed for our cooperation.”


Yasuhira had a thought.

Is this what it means to be carefree?

That was what Yoshitsune had told her men to be at the beginning of the Battle of Nagashino.

And in Yasuhira’s case…

Do not throw out the past and do not throw out yourself. But…

“There are some things not worth holding onto.”

People who would accept the past, step forward, and attempt to share it had arrived as candidates to lead the Far East. Even with a life as long as hers, an opportunity like this was unlikely to occur again. So…

“Let us speak.”


Masazumi thought on what it meant to “speak”.

Does she want to establish an even deeper consensus with us?

Asama’s shoulders lowered in relief next to her and Yasuhira must have noticed.

“—————”

She smiled a little. Or it seemed like it.

Masazumi did not ask if Yasuhira really wanted to do this. She had something else say instead.

“Please. This early summer night is perfect for telling old stories.”

“Yes,” agreed Yasuhira. “This is something that has not come in contact with the history of the victors. It is something most of the people of Oushuu have forgotten, but it lives on deep inside us in various places. …This is a story of those who are now un-worshiped.”

That was the entrance. It was the lead-in before moving back into the past.

“That was when this world gained its current rules. That was when the Age of the Testament began and the Anti-Decline Pro-Tuning was established. How much do you know about that?”