Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 52
Chapter 52: Friends Outside the Window
Who watches over you
And stands beside you
Without you even noticing?
Point Allocation (Powerful Friends)
The manager spoke within the Blue Thunder as wooden fragments, glass shards, and the scent of scattered bread filled the air.
“That should settle things for now. …As someone who’s still very much in the thick of things, what do you think about this, Futayo-chan?”
Futayo breathed in when she heard that question.
…I can’t believe it.
I never knew there was someone so skilled so nearby, she thought.
So she made a move that could have been on a whim or driven by momentum. In the center of the dark battlefield’s remnants, she set her spear down in front of her and bowed down in front of the manager.
She lowered her head so deeply her forehead touched the floor.
“Could you please be my teacher!?”
The answer from overhead only came after a short pause.
“…I’m no good at teaching people.”
“So you won’t do it?”
“Well.” The woman had a bitter smile in her voice. “If my husband were back, I’d ask him.”
Futayo raised her head and saw the manager place her foot on a chair to pull the sword from it. Futayo grabbed the legs of the chair to help and the woman’s bitter smile deepened.
“But my husband isn’t going to conveniently show up now, so I’ll ask when the timing is better. But for now,” she said. “Yes, for now can you help me clean up?”
“That isn’t enough. Please set a table.”
A girl’s voice reached them from the back of the shop. Someone stood up from the back counter seat.
Futayo gasped at this new presence.
…When did she get here!?
There had indeed been someone in a white coat at the counter seat before the battle, but Futayo had not sensed her presence throughout the battle.
The manager apparently had not either. She gave a light whistle and pulled the sword from the chair.
“That’s a strange form of stealth. It doesn’t seem Far Eastern.”
“It is an English-style original spell. …Since I was working reception at the Ariake event, I stopped by for an errand and discovered you have quite a lot of old books for sale. Then I needed somewhere to read, so I came here for some tea.”
“You hadn’t gotten your toast yet, had you?”
“Add some scrambled eggs if you could. This is going to be my first meal of the day. And I need something for my errand too.”
When Futayo asked about the errand, the girl pushed her glasses up her nose without looking her way.
“A silly hopeful author printed himself on a wall to make his own promotional item. As his superior in the field of writing, I must free him and tell him how inappropriate that was.”
Only after saying that did she look up with narrowed eyes.
“This has to do with the Student Council, but could you show me the way later, Musashi Vice Chancellor? …Thomas Shakespeare, Trump 6 of England’s Oxford Academy, has answered her invitation.”
“That’s only after I finish reading about eleven more books while I eat.”
“It looks like the Blue Thunder has calmed down,” said a spear-wielding figure on a dimly-lit road.
The boy in a sleeveless summer uniform was Tachibana Muneshige.
He lightly spun around Kamenuki which Sakai had given him and he looked to the top of the row of buildings to port.
Gin stood there. She held her right false arm forward and had summoned one of her Arcabuz Cruz.
She looked across the ship’s stern with the targeting sign frame opened atop the Arcabuz Cruz.
“My kinetic lock was lost partway through. They seem to have used an invisibility spell along their escape route. I believe this resistance is from well-prepared individuals. And…something else bothers me.”
“Judge. There were multiple lines of fire.”
“I should have known you would notice.” Gin looked around and nodded with a slight smile. “Did it remind you of when you noticed Arcabuz Cruz’s multiple firing?”
“I just about answered with ‘testament’.” Muneshige smiled bitterly but tilted his head. “The Vice Chancellor and the manager were hidden inside the Blue Thunder, yet the sniper fire continued from more than one direction. If they had just the one sniper in one location, that would require some very swift movement. It would be best to assume there were multiple snipers, but…”
“Sorry I couldn’t pursue them, Master Muneshige.”
“Oh, I don’t mind, Gin.”
“I will apologize with breakfast tomorrow.”
“…Fish would be nice.”
“I thought as much, so I prepared some excellent bonito. Let’s enjoy this as much as possible.”
“Testament. Then we need to pick up some ginger at the farm district. …Anyway, I think we have done enough here.”
Muneshige looked down at his feet. There was a stone foundation pallet which had not had its block of soil laid out yet. Up on the rooftop, Gin spoke to him about what was there.
“That’s the doll that tried to escape from the Blue Thunder. Do you think dolls like this were behind the multiple sniper fire as well?”
“No, I don’t think so. You would not overlook multiple people escaping, Gin, so I think they may have used some kind of special spell.”
The corners of Gin’s mouth tightened and she lowered her eyes.
“Even I overlook things and make mistakes, Master Muneshige. I am not a perfect girl, so it is possible. Please keep that in mind.”
She looked down at his feet again.
The doll had been pierced through the spine by Muneshige’s spear. It had groaned on the foundation pallet a few times and scratched at the stone in an attempt to crawl forward, but it was motionless now.
Gin, however, did not ask about the enemy. She asked about something else instead.
“How was Kamenuki?”
Muneshige’s answer was frank.
“I’m not really sure.”
“Not even someone on your level can tell?” Gin tilted her head. “When we were given Lype Katathlipse, no one knew how to use it and it had no instruction manual or warranty, yet you smiled, said ‘Like this maybe?’, and tore down the secondary school building. At the time, I was impressed by your carefree manliness.”
“Well, I didn’t expect it to be such a good fit for me. I only did the same thing Vice Chancellor Takakane had.”
“Te-…Judge. Although to escape responsibility and punishment, we did use the Gate in the western ocean to do some work in the New World. The Treasurer there, Master Las Casas, helped us out a lot.”
“Move far enough north from the Ariake and you would reach Ezo of the New World. …I wonder if Casas is still defending the tower there.”
“Yes, I do wonder,” said Gin, but then she smiled a little.
Muneshige looked up as she hid her mouth behind a hand.
“What is it, Gin?”
“Judge. …It has only been about two months, but things over there seem so nostalgic. At this point, it would be faster to reach Tres España by visiting Ezo of the New World and traveling through the Gate,” commented Gin. “Besides, when we speak of the Vice Chancellor and the others, I think we are only talking about who they were in the past, not who they are now. And when we do meet them all later, I think we will end up speaking about what happened here and what we gained here.”
“Judge. …Would you call those stories of our journey? Or…would we just be bragging?”
“I’m not sure,” said Gin before asking Muneshige something else. She stored her Arcabuz Cruz in space and used the action to place a hand on her chest. “Do you think the Far East’s summer uniform would look good on me?”
“Judge. I would like to see it at least once.”
“It can’t be just once. You wear uniforms every day.”
“Then how about you switch over after you send your current one for cleaning? Why not get your Arcabuz Cruz and false arms recolored to match?”
“The money, Master Muneshige…”
“Ha ha. I can pay for that much with what I have on hand, so don’t worry. I’m willing to pay if you need me to. I want to see you dressed up in different ways.”
Gin finally nodded and looked away from Muneshige.
“…I’ll pay you back during the change to winter uniforms.”
“You mean you’ll make a winter uniform for me? How wonderful. Please make the shoulders comfortable.”
“N-no, I meant with mon-…”
Gin trailed off and suddenly smiled.
“But I can’t have you thinking I can’t sew. This isn’t easy.”
“Now I have even more to look forward to.” Muneshige spun Kamenuki in his hands again. “This divine weapon only seems to make things easier to pierce, but is that really all it is? And then there’s these strange attackers…”
“Judge. I calculated it out to four that tried to escape. One was that doll and two were the twin sword wielder and the sniper. Those two were the ones I was tracking. But the last one was the hammer user.”
“They seem to have escaped in the opposite direction. Was that to lose us? …But the combination was the same as when the Secretary was attacked. One with two swords and one with a hammer.” Muneshige tilted his head. “Still, something doesn’t add up here. With that sniper fire, this is definitely a very idiosyncratic opponent. The same was true the first time. …I want to speak with the Vice Chancellor about the strange style of sword fighting the one with the two swords used.”
“Strange style of sword fighting?”
“Judge. …They cut from behind while facing someone.”
Muneshige opened a sign frame to view the injuries to the guards during the attack on the Secretary and he tilted his head.
“They all thought they saw someone approaching from straight ahead and then their side or back was cut from behind.”
“Can this person alter or move their wrist like I can?”
“They do seem to be doing that. But…”
Muneshige scratched at the empty air with his spear tip.
“What would you think if I said the attack came from an impossible direction?”
Muneshige faced forward as Gin looked back in confusion. He looked in the direction the enemy had fled and placed the shaft of his spear on his back.
“Are you listening, Gin?”
“Judge. Go ahead.”
“First, charge toward the enemy’s side from the front and reach your hand around to their back as if embracing them.”
“Then,” he said while pulling forward the spear shaft on his back. “With the blade pointed toward you, place it on the enemy’s back and pull like this to cut them.”
“That is the same movement used to draw the bow across a viola.”
“That’s right. …In this case, the blade will reach them on the side.”
“If you embrace them and pull back, that is indeed what would happen.”
“But,” said Muneshige as he reached back and placed the base of the blade on the back of his shoulder. “Based on the depth of the wounds, it was a diagonal slash starting from the shoulder blade.”
“All of the victims said the same thing: When they saw the enemy’s attack right in front of them, they evaded to the front or side. The guards are all quite skilled, so they can see that much coming. But strangely…”
Gin provided Muneshige’s question for him.
“They should have avoided the attack to the side, but it followed them as a diagonal strike to the back?”
“Judge. And something else is strange about this.”
“The unavoidable strike of pursuit was actually sharper. …What does that mean?”
As Muneshige tilted his head, his features came into view.
Light had returned to Tama. He and Gin exchanged a glance and then looked to the doll at their feet.
“The guards should be by to collect this, so once that’s done, let’s report this to the Treasurer and head home.”
“Yes. …We have the special student general assembly tomorrow, but I am also curious about what the diplomatic groups sent to the three nations are saying via Lady Asama.”
She nimbly jumped down from the roof.
“Now, then. I bet they’re making a cheerful mess of things.”
“What!? Tenzou! This elder sister character is a busty blonde! I went out of my way to let you have her first yet you haven’t completed her route yet!? Are you saying I can have her!? …You want me to wait!? Mary is more important, but you can’t let me have her!? Are you a monster!? Or are you taking your faith too lightly!? As divine punishment, I’ll send you a divine mail with all the ending dialogue copied into it! What? I just have to choose ‘yes’ for all the choices with that company’s games!? You fool! I’ve been stuck in an infinite loop of ‘Let’s become one → Yes → It would be a shame to do that now!’ What!? Calm down and choose ‘no’ to continue!? Surely you aren’t suggesting I choose to reject a messenger of god… What? How did I get this far with that attitude? You think I should be playing games rated ‘priests only’ instead of ‘adults only’? Hmph, the only option left is to check the divine net!”
Urquiaga-kun only gets more worked up as times goes on, thought Suzu.
It was currently eleven at night, which was the time Sasuke had mentioned. The hallway was only filled with a faint heat and the main garden only sent a damp chill toward her in the air.
…Wh-where are the guards?
They were not there. The management sign frame should have displayed a person called Rusu, but Suzu did not know if his and the guards’ absence was normal or if Sasuke had done something.
But without them there, she could not figure that out.
…I-isn’t this…a bit like cheating? Or a lot…like it?
She walked to the main garden as she thought.
Part of it was simple curiosity about the garden at night. It had been so dense during the day, so what would it be like at night?
During elementary and middle school, her class had camped out at Musashi’s underground farm district for a field trip. The air had changed at night back then. It had been an artificial arrangement, but she remembered hearing the sounds of nature.
Would this be the same?
This main garden had much more dense vegetation than Musashi’s farm district.
She walked excitedly on and took each step by the wall while trying to keep her footsteps as quiet as possible.
She quickly realized this had to be amazing.
The sensory information arriving from the main garden was chilly and effervescent. It was like countless small, freshly-washed fruits were floating in the air and dripping water.
She was aware a smile had formed on her lips as she continued with a quickened pace.
She entered the main garden.
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