Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 53
Chapter 53: Lacking One in a Field of Memories
To something precious
Created my current skill
Point Allocation (Memory)
Suzu came to a new understanding of the main garden.
She could sense all the way to the far wall of the approximately hundred meter space, but that was not because there was less information than during the day.
The density had cleared out. During the day, there had been heat, smells, humidity, and more rising from the ground and wavering as they vied for her attention, but that was different now. It all rose straight up, joined together when they came into contact, and were more organized.
If the daytime air had been rough waves, then this was several skinny waterfalls rising from earth to heaven.
Those upside-down cascades rose from the entire range of the vegetation. She could reach her hand out and feel a chilly ticklishness that was not quite a smell and not quite transpiration.
She spread her arms to either side and grasped the flowers, plants, ground, and flowing water of this place. The air and humidity reached her skin from the cuffs and collar of the Sviet Rus summer inner suit she wore for diplomatic purposes, so she felt like she was floating in this place.
And she wondered something. If the differences between the many waterfalls were the differences between the flowers and plants…
There was one thing Suzu did not understand at all: colors.
She understood temperature, humidity, and wind. Thanks to touch, heat, and sound reflection rates, she could generally distinguish between the sky and clouds, water and earth, and clothing and paper. But…
…The “blue” sky…and “blue” clothing…are different.
Her senses saw a great difference between the sky and dyes, so…
…What is similar enough…to the sky, air, rain, and earth…to be used as materials for dyes and paints?
The answer was flowers and plants.
So if she used her perception of those as her basis for “colors”, could she perhaps speak about them with others and understand them herself more smoothly? So on occasion, she would visit the flower bed that Kimi had in the underground agriculture district, speak with Kimi there, and increase the material she could use to judge colors. But…
“Kimi-chan…knows a lot of…weird things…”
She would play a Gagaku song she was working on or perform a dance she was working on.
…And sometimes she lets me try the fruit wine she’s making in secret. …Yeah.
She also knew the flower language meanings of the flowers Suzu was trying to use as a basis for colors.
For example, when Suzu was trying to decide what “red” was…
“If you use that flower for ‘red’, then red inside you will probably be ‘shy embarrassment’. Or I suppose it could also mean ‘I am perfect for you’.”
That latter option had seemed like too much, so she had chosen another. But when she had chosen a different one, Kimi had asked “Are you sure?” while sounding fairly worried. That was how she had created colors within herself, but…
…What kind of colors are there here?
She noticed some flowers with familiar colors here and there. Walking between those was a lot like walking through a chilly ankle-height current moving between the small waterfalls. So she spread her arms to better feel the slight scent and heat of flowers as she walked out into the main garden.
She did not sense anyone there. Is that Sasuke-san and Saizou-san’s doing? she wondered. If so, what am I going to find here?
She walked between flower beds, fields, and the many waterfalls and she crossed a stream. She spun around a bit on the bridge to perceive her full surroundings.
There were fireflies. They were glowing bugs. She could not perceive the “glow” since they produced no heat, but she knew to view their locations as “beautiful”.
Those “beautiful” spots flew around her amid the many reverse cascades.
Amazing, she thought. It’s a shame the others can’t see this. Maybe I should go call Urquiaga-kun. But…
“Hey! Tenzou! I did what you said and it put me on a different route! And a wife!? Are you telling a Catholic like me to break one of the commandments!? What? The wife is an elder sister too! You got a problem with that!? That’s right! You just need to apologize… Since you apologized for your sin, I will let you off easy and only work with Toori to flood the divine network with spoilers for your character’s route.”
He sounds pretty excited, so I probably shouldn’t interrupt him, decided Suzu.
Then she arrived at the main garden’s central clearing. There was a large tree in the center and the “beautiful” spots flew around below it. Below the tree was something that rose to chest height on her.
She was skeptical because it had a snake coiled around it.
But she also thought A snake? because the coiled snake had horns. Or rather, it had just the one horn on one side. And so she concluded that this was neither a stone nor a snake.
As she wondered what it was, she called a name aloud.
Masamune trembled when someone called her name without warning.
Her confusion was not just from the fact that someone had called out to her. She had been meditating in order to become one with her surroundings and calm herself. During that training, she should have been invisible. And yet…
She could only assume it was due to her own inexperience, but she was still puzzled.
She faced forward while sitting.
Suzu sensed Masamune taking more definite form in front of her.
The girl stood up and faced her.
So Suzu bowed and prepared to say “It’s nice to see you again.”
But the girl spoke first.
“It’s nice to meet you. You’re…Musashi’s ambassador I assume. I’ve heard all about you. I am Date Masamune.”
Suzu did not understand why Masamune had said “it’s nice to meet you”.
After all, she had already met her during the day. She had passed out during the commotion due to the shellfire and the god of war shaped like a blue dragon, but they had definitely greeted each other and exchanged words.
…What does this mean?
Did she have some reason to pretend she had forgotten? But…
The previous snake with a strange horn had vanished at some point. Suzu did not know what that meant, but Masamune faced her and asked a question.
“Um, so was I right? Are you Musashi’s ambassador?”
She really doesn’t remember me, realized Suzu. She did not understand what this meant, but…
“Y-yes. Judge. …I am Mukai S-Suzu.”
“So you are Mukai-dono.”
Masamune let a smile onto her lips. She also gave a sigh of relief, so she too must not have known what to do about this situation.
But for some reason, Masamune did not remember Suzu. As she wondered why, Suzu decided asking was unlikely to help. Whether it was an act or not, they had just exchanged greetings.
Confident that they now “knew each other”, she asked a question while pointing to her own shoulder.
“Was there…a snake?”
Masamune looked to her shoulder while standing up, but there was nothing like that there. But then she spoke up in apparent understanding.
“Oh. That must have been my divine protection. …Both Kojirou and I were born after the Dragon God dwelled within our mother. But if you could see that, can you see spirits?”
“No… It was the wind…and heat.”
Suzu shook her head, but she honestly gave voice to her thoughts.
“It surprised me.”
“It surprised you, did it?” Masamune sounded amused. “Mukai-dono, how about I show you around?”
“The person who should handle that is unfortunately absent at the moment. Do you want to call the half-dragon that’s with you?”
Suzu glanced back toward the corridor to their rooms. She heard Urquiaga have a fulfilling time, so she slowly faced Masamune and shook her bangs back and forth.
“N-no. He sounds…serious.”
“I’m not sure what you mean, but I guess it’ll just be you.”
With that, Masamune grabbed Suzu’s hand without warning.
That was a common action, but for Suzu…
She felt it was wrong and trembled at being treated differently from normal.
And it was a tremor of rejection.
Masamune realized she had acted too hastily.
A tense strength ran through the ambassador’s hand.
This girl had excellent senses, but that meant being touched so suddenly only filled her with fear. So…
She quickly moved to let go, but…
The ambassador firmly held her hand back. And with a rushed strength.
Had she felt bad for giving a reaction of rejection? She quickly shook her head.
Was she starting to say “it’s okay”? But she stopped and simply shook her head while a rough breath swallowed the rest of her words.
Masamune wondered what to do with the tension that had taken over after the tremor. The ambassador would not allow her to let go, but…
…In that case…
Just as she thought that, Musashi’s ambassador raised her head. She had realized something and Masamune followed by looking up overhead as well.
The tree branches up above were glowing.
It was the fireflies.
The fireflies grew in the stream and flew from there and they had gathered on the tree branches.
“It looks like the tree is blossoming.”
The ambassador calmed her breathing and asked a question while looking up.
“What color is it?”
When Masamune looked again, she realized it was not white. Nor was it yellow. If anything…
“It’s a pale glow of light green.”
“Is that…the color of fireflies?”
When she replied with “testament”, the girl nodded.
She was no longer trembling and she felt no fear. She almost looked like a child after having a box of toys dumped out in front of them. But…
…What about me?
Masamune spoke while wondering that.
“I’d like to show you around, so is that okay?”
The girl nodded. There was nothing there, but she looked up and tilted her head around as if viewing behind and between things.
She made a request with a smile.
“Can you…tell me the colors?”
There was a night sky there.
It was a tall sky. It was clear, the two moons were out, and the moonlight dyed the white ground a pale blue.
A floor was on a level height with that ground, but it was separated from that surrounding surface. A giant warship was contained within a land port carved out inside a giant pit in the ground.
The metal ship’s side said Yamagata Castle in white.
That warship was the Mogami clan’s flagship and academy and each of its three hulls had sunk below the surface. However, the bridges from each floor of the land port and from the surface connected to the academy building that acted as castle tower and ship’s bridge and many people and gods of war were quickly carrying supplies or equipment across.
The equipment to repair or replace armor panels, the ammunition and anti-warship spell charms, and the food and fuel stores were given priority, but…
“I take it you resupply and perform maintenance by moonlight rather than your own lights because Oushuu contains so many nonhumans, Yoshiaki.”
On the Yamagata Castle’s rooftop, Yoshiyasu looked down into the seeming canyon between the land port and ship. She then looked to the white land that was at nearly even level with the rooftop.
…It looks like it would be hard to send a ship out from down here, but it leaves almost no risk of being fired on from afar. And a bombing would require pinpoint accuracy.
They would have trouble with an invasion from the surface, but she doubted any land force could make it this far over that vast snowy plain.
Yoshiyasu’s gaze moved to the northwest, where the Far East’s western ocean was.
It looked like a vast snowy plain, but a closer look showed the base of the hills had been carved into and several long lines led toward the ocean and occasionally rose up to a hundred or so meters tall. They covered an area of a few kilometers in each direction. An even closer looked showed the risen areas were spaced out a fair bit and continued to the horizon.
Yoshiyasu tilted her head toward Yoshiaki behind her.
“Um, are those comb-like outlines cities on the surface?”
“That’s right. They dug into the slopes of the hills to create multilevel cities. The cities are divided between multilevel residential areas and valley areas for the snow to accumulate. The snow keeps out the wind, the melted snow can be used to generate power, and that water can wet the fields of the residential areas. Coexisting with the snow is Mogami’s forte.”
As she answered, Yoshiaki wore a Russian-style uniform modified into a light yellow kariginu, lay on the rooftop’s tatami mats, and snacked on some dango. She would occasionally drink sake from a bottle, but…
“Yoshiaki-sama! Your drinking pace is especially high today, so I’m worried, mon!!”
A salmon Mouse was moving back and forth in midair and making a lot of noise. Musashi’s vassal was also snacking on dango by Yoshiaki’s feet, but…
“Um, about that Mouse…”
“Oh, this is Shakenobe Hidetsuna, our Treasurer and Secretary. Come on over here.”
“Yoshiaki-sama! What is it, mon!?”
When the salmon came over, Yoshiaki grabbed it with a smile and stretched it out front to back. As a Mouse, the simplified image grew from about twenty centimeters long to thrice that size.
“See, Vassal-dono, Satomi? …This is Shakenobe.”
“Ahhhn, Yoshiaki-sama! That kind of forceful introduction leaves me at an utter loss for words, mon!”
“Ho ho ho. Shakenobe, you are such a strange creature to take such joy from being bullied.”
Yoshiyasu nearly said “You’re drunk, aren’t you?”, but she held her tongue and watched Yoshiaki release Shakenobe and gently get up.
“Now… You more or less understand our general situation, don’t you?”
“If you’re suggesting we have a meeting, I believe that is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.”
“After Musashi’s special student general assembly, you mean? Well, that’s fine, but don’t you think there are some things it would be best to know about each other before that?”
Yoshiyasu updated her judgment of this woman. She had supposedly called the two of them here so their rooms could be prepared and to keep them out of the way of the work below, but…
…She really was focused more on the three nations meeting tomorrow.
Yoshiaki had shown no sign of arranging any resupplying down below since coming to the rooftop. Either it had all been finished beforehand or each division was trained well enough to make the best decisions on their own.
That suggested a certain meaning to the dango and sake she held.
…Did she really just want to snack and drink!?
The vassal had been right to go with the flow and eat what was provided. Yoshiyasu had thought there was more to this and decided to be more cautious.
At the moment, the vassal took a teacup from the sign frame tray on Shakenobe’s head.
“This is Kyou tea we received via Sviet Rus, mon!”
“Oh, so you’re still trading even as you fight?”
“Did I just leak some classified information, mon!? But I won’t lose, mon! The power of salmon is to give you the energy you need in the morning, mon! Natto!? I’ll hear nothing of it, mon! If you want eggs, eat salmon roe, mon!”
“Oh, I get it now. Do you say ‘mon’ cause you’re a salmon? But isn’t that English?”
“But in Russian, it’s semga and saying ‘mga’ isn’t cute, mon!”
“I didn’t want to say anything, but is this a wild Mouse by any chance?”
“That’s right, mon! I’m wild, mon! I was born in IZUMO and, to make me more realistic, I was sent on a Come Back Salmon mission, but I got fed up with the world while swimming in the ocean and returned to nature, mon!”
“Why did you get fed up with the world?”
“U-um… How should I put it? The adults? Um, all the discipline from the adults, I guess…”
“Everyone has times when they want to act tough for no real reason,” added Yoshiaki.
“Ahhhh, Yoshiaki-sama! Don’t put it so bluntly, mon! A meaninglessly rebellious heart is the symbol of youth!”
Me: “Yeah, sometimes your youth displays a meaninglessly rebellious heart in the mornings. Right, Tenzou? And it’s hard to restrain it. Right, Tenzou? Don’t you think, Tenzou?”
10ZO: “Wh-why did you send that my way three times!? And I have Mary-dono with me, so it isn’t meaningless!”
Asama: “Um, you mean…you were facing the wall and feeling yourself for a reason…?”
Mal-Ga: “You’re the worst…”
10ZO: “Huh, huh? Wh-what is this about feeling myself? This took a weird turn.”
Scarred: “Um, Master Tenzou? The next time you feel that way in the morning, I’m willing to help.”
Almost Everyone: “Helping him feel himself…”
10ZO: “Don’t add that ‘…’! Just don’t! It gives me a bad feeling about all this!”
They like to listen in until they can use something they heard, don’t they? thought Yoshiyasu as she looked to Yoshiaki once more.
“There’s something I would like to ask about. It’s about Komahime.”
Yoshiaki reacted to that name.
A small smile remained on her lips, but she closed her eyes.
“I had a feeling you would…”
“Judge… I am not entirely ignorant of Komahime and Kojirou. They are in the same year as me, so we met during the Oushuu Festival and at other events.”
That was true.
Satomi ruled Bousou and was thus on the far east of Kantou, but that meant they held the naval route needed for Oushuu’s eastern forces to travel south from Kantou. And for western Oushuu, Satomi was in the perfect position to hold the eastern Oushuu nations in check.
Satomi had had interactions with Date and Mogami and had worked to hold them in check. But…
“Yoshiaki, I know how much you pampered Komahime. …So please tell me. I understand that Komahime had to become Hashiba Hidetsugu’s concubine to follow the Testament descriptions for the history recreation,” said Yoshiyasu. “But why is she a ghost now? And why has Kojirou become Hashiba Hidetsugu?”
That question received a question in response. It came from the vassal who was tilting her head.
“By Kojirou…do you mean that Kojirou? The Date one?”
“Yes, she means Date Kojirou.” Yoshiaki laughed quietly. “The brother of Date Masamune is now Hashiba Hidetsugu.”
What does that mean? wondered Masazumi as she tilted her head inside the tent prepared for her in the courtyard.
Tsukinowa mistook it for rubbing her cheek against it, so the Mouse pressed against her face. Masazumi responded in kind, and…
“Neshinbara, give me a history of Date Kojirou and-…”
She belatedly realized Neshinbara was not here. Earlier, Heidi had sent word that Shakespeare had begun working on removing the wall printing, but…
“It’s a pain having to look everything up myself.”
I can think of it as teaching Tsukinowa, she decided with an optimistic sigh.
…I need to look up a history of Date Kojirou and his current treatment.
He was the brother of the Date clan’s leader. So why was he now Hashiba Hidetsugu, nephew of Hashiba? And why was he a ghost?
This had to be top secret. Probably on a level that prevented her father and the others from revealing it even if they knew on a personal level. And now it had suddenly come to the surface.
This is bait, realized Masazumi while smiling bitterly at Mogami Yoshiaki’s strategy here.
“Let’s hurry up and look this up, Tsukinowa. Remember that it’s about doing everything in the best way you can, not in the ‘proper’ order.”
Vice President: “Satomi President, can you get any information out of Mogami Yoshiaki?”
Righteousness: “There’s one keyword that comes to mind. I’ll try asking about that.”
Masazumi prepared to say “please do”, but…
Righteousness: “You’ve already accomplished one thing, so I’ll do the same.”
Masazumi froze in place when she heard that.
She had thought her earlier discussion with Yasuhira had mostly been important to Musashi, but…
“Have I given you the motivation you need, Satomi President?”
She spoke that aloud rather than via the divine transmission, so she received no reply. But everyone around her exchanged a glance and either nodded or smiled. So Masazumi smiled a little herself and said something other than “please do”.
Vice President: “It’s up to you then.”
When she saw the Musashi Vice President’s reply, Yoshiyasu thought, Don’t leave these things to me so casually.
But at the same time, she asked Yoshiaki a question.
“Can I ask you something? Why has the brother of Date’s leader become Hashiba Hidetsugu? And why is he a ghost? Also…”
“No one likes a child who asks too many questions.”
“And everyone hates an adult that refuses to listen.”
With that, Yoshiyasu asked a new question. It gathered together all the names that had come up recently.
“There’s a word I’ve heard several times during today’s fighting.”
It was most likely connected to all of them. The one word tied them all together.
“What is the ‘promise’? What exactly is the ‘promise’ that includes Komahime, Kojirou, and most likely Masamune and Honjou Shigenaga as well?”
- Shakenobe can be literally interpreted as Salmon Stretch.
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