Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 55
Chapter 55: Stopper in a Blue Place
Will I go to stop it?
Point Allocation (Willpower)
Suzu stood in front of a power.
It had all begun without warning.
Until then, Masamune had been showing her around the main garden. Masamune had pulled on her hand with a faint tension in her grasp as she told Suzu the colors of the flowers and why certain trees had been planted.
The main garden had apparently been made by Masamune’s mother and it had been made to recreate the summer in Mogami, her mother’s homeland. She had very slowly told Suzu all of that as if thinking back on all her memories.
“With a name like Mogami, they seem really full of themselves to me.”
Despite what she said, Masamune sounded almost fond of them. Suzu guessed she loved her mother, but…
“I used to play with my brother and our friends here.”
A hint of regret entered her voice when she said that, so…
“What about…Narumi…-san and…the others?”
Masamune gripped Suzu’s hand a little tighter at that.
“We’re not making this easy for Narumi.”
“Not making this…easy?”
“According to the Testament descriptions, Narumi has to leave the Date clan for a long period of time.”
I can’t just keep asking questions, she told herself, but Masazumi had told her it was important to show no shame about asking about anything she did not know. Does that mean Urquiaga-kun is being diplomatic when he shows no shame in loudly asking Tenzou-kun and the others about how to complete different routes? Maybe not. And he did seem to be making a threat earlier.
Regardless, Masamune pulled on her hand and answered.
“The Testament descriptions give a number of reasons in the footnotes, but Narumi herself says she wants to see the outside world to establish a foundation for the later Date clan’s rule.”
“Testament. She’s trained for a long time to inherit that name, so she’s spent all her time on training and has never left Oushuu. And she’s already a third year. She can continue on as a student on the Sibir side of things, but if she’s going to act as Date Narumi, the Far Eastern commander, she needs to leave Date this year.”
You saw it, didn’t you?
“Her clothes and such are all things she’s ordered from K.P.A. Italia for her long trip away or that everyone else has sent her.”
Narumi had not known how to hold down her skirt and this explained why she was so unaccustomed to wearing one.
But Suzu felt a little happy. Date’s Vice Chancellor was a skilled combat-type, but…
When Suzu had been given her role as ambassador, she had been hesitant while also thinking it would be fun. And the reactions from Toori, Kimi, Asama, and the others when they saw her in her diplomatic outfit had been enough on its own to make the whole thing worthwhile.
Date’s Vice Chancellor was probably hoping for something that similarly made it all worthwhile.
Masamune had to understand as well. Not allowing Narumi to leave would not reward her for patiently waiting for so long. But…
“Narumi-san…v-visited the Ariake…last night…didn’t she?”
Masamune’s eyes widened a little and she looked up.
“Did that happen? …Well, it was probably a top secret mission.”
She did not remember. Or had she never known? Suzu could not tell, but there was a smile on Masamune’s lips.
“But if she was allowed out, Rusu-san or Katakura must have determined it was okay. I think it’s a good thing.”
Her grip on Suzu’s hand relaxed a little, which put Suzu at ease. Suzu squeezed the girl’s hand and she squeezed back.
They were telling each other everything was okay. But…
…Why doesn’t Masamune-san have her memories anymore? And…
Why could they not let Narumi leave?
…Is it because of what happened…during the day?
Was it related to that draconic god of war with explosive levels of power?
Suzu suddenly felt that something was not right. Something had suddenly gone wrong.
After all, all strength vanished from Masamune’s hand.
Just as Suzu thought about turning back, a power that seemed to blow everything away appeared behind Masamune as she fell to her knees.
Narumi was pushed back by a sudden pressure in the main garden.
The explosive pressure was both wind and sound. It was also an ether-warping strength, a light, and…
It was not hot. It was even refreshingly cool. But each time the low wave of heat washed across her machine’s metal skin…
“It’s pushing me back!?”
Narumi had jumped down into the main garden from a corridor, but this explosive ether pressure had immediately struck her.
It was powerful and she had trouble moving forward even after she hurriedly righted herself. She slowly but surely gained ground and moved to the space between the entrance and the center of the main garden, but…
…I can’t go any further!?
She could see it in the center. Masamune had fallen to her knees on the bridge crossing a stream. She was hanging her head, her arms hung limply at her sides, and something appeared near her back.
“The Seiryu’s gate!!”
A bluish-white air current leaked from a fissure there. Like a pulse, like a physical blow, or like something was trying to break through from the other side, the air current creating the great pressure would occasionally geyser out.
Narumi knew the Seiryu lurked beyond that gate.
The Seiryu was the god of war sealed inside the dual pitch space given to Masamune.
It was currently appearing in an out-of-control state, so Oniniwa and the others were battling it. Meanwhile, the gate that allowed its appearance was trying to open on its own.
While they drove back the Seiryu that had appeared outside, calmed it down, and got it to retreat back into the dual pitch space, they also had to seal and close up the Seiryu’s gate that appeared behind Masamune.
If they failed to do both, the Seiryu would appear behind Masamune in its out-of-control state.
That was why the Seiryu had suddenly appeared behind her during the day.
They had to avoid that. If it happened now…
…The rampaging Seiryu will appear inside Sendai Castle!
That would mean more than just the destruction of Sendai Castle from within. The Musashi diplomats and the personnel inside would be in danger. But…
A noise reached Narumi’s ears. The eruption of blue pressure sounded like a roar.
The powerful wind and roar shook her body as she continued forward. She repeatedly and rapidly re-summoned Unturning Centipede’s legs and took a definite step forward.
On the other side, she saw members of the Chancellor’s Officers rushing out from the corridor leading to the HQ.
“Vice Chancellor! Are you okay!?”
“I’d stay back if I were you! You’ll be blown away!”
She did not have time to brush back her hair as it danced in the wind. Holding a mandible sword forward to slice apart the pressure was the most she could manage at the moment. But the others…
“What, is this all!? This isn’t enough to stop the warriors of Oush- gwaaah!”
“Ahh, are you okay!? Okay, that just means I have to break through for the both of- gwaaah!”
“What are you two doing? And when the Vice Chancellor rushed in so quickly she’s only wearing a shir- kyaaah!”
Are they unable to learn? wondered Narumi in a fairly harsh assessment of her fellow warriors. Then she noticed someone fallen onto their butt in the stream behind where Masamune had fallen to her knees on the bridge.
It was Musashi’s ambassador.
Narumi had no idea what that girl was doing there, but she was directly below the air current gate that had appeared behind Masamune.
And as soon as Narumi realized how dangerous that spot was, the Seiryu’s gate spilt down the center and the pressure grew.
“It’s getting even more powerful!?”
Narumi felt herself slipping backwards.
Her legs were strengthened by Unturning Centipede, so they had not given into the pressure. Instead, the wind pressure was pushing her entire body back.
It was more like a powerful current than a gust of wind.
The thick water pushed her body back like a massive surge of water pressing against her all at once. The dragon’s roar rang loudly beyond the gate in the distance.
Musashi’s ambassador seemed to have come to after falling onto her butt in the stream. She shook her head back and forth to perceive her position down in the shallow stream. But the air current gate above her head was changing form.
The gate came apart and the current of pressure began spilling out and spreading even further.
Musashi’s ambassador noticed this and looked up toward the pressure that had to be building up and pressing down on her, but…
Narumi heard a shout. Or she thought she did. And that shout had said…
Musashi’s ambassador was calling to her. That was how it sounded to Narumi.
Even in this situation, Musashi’s ambassador was more worried about the head of the Date clan than about herself. That told Narumi something as the Vice Chancellor.
“I had no choice but to come here.”
Masamune was like a little sister to Narumi. Their positions in Date were different and she was Chancellor while Narumi was Vice Chancellor, but Narumi had given her a lot of advice in the past and had managed her training. So she could not abandon her. Thus…
Narumi thrust her mandible sword out ahead.
She broke through the pressure to reach Masamune and Musashi’s ambassador as quickly as she could.
But the dragon easily foiled her plan. The noise it produced was no longer a roar and seemed like an infinite amount of sound.
The dirt below her feet burst up like ocean spray. The ground sank down below her feet and her feet reached the gravel crust below, but even that gravel trembled and flowed.
Unturning Centipede sank down into the earth up to the ankles.
The surrounding flower beds and water were all blasted into the air where the waves of ether washed it away.
A mist formed, but that was likely due to the stream’s water scattering from the vibration. Meanwhile, Narumi was slowly pushed backwards.
The ground below her feet vibrated, shook, and flowed, so she could not hold her ground. Planting her feet more firmly would only cause her to sink down. She tried to move forward nonetheless, but…
“There’s more coming!?”
New pressure arrived. It became a great wave of light and it came all at once.
The air current gate was trying to open up as if it were being torn apart.
Meanwhile, Narumi was carried backwards along with the mandible sword she hurriedly tried to hold at the ready.
As she was blown back, she had to wonder what was happening to Oniniwa as he fought the Seiryu outside.
Several leaf veins of light ran through the night sky.
They were lightning strikes.
The moons were out and the sky was full of moonlight, but bluish-white lightning struck in every direction. The blasts of light did not all start from a single point; they ran in every direction within the vast space and the intense light was constantly approaching one strip of the sky.
The lightning airspace covered several kilometers and it contained a dragon-like yet upright god of war known as the Seiryu, and…
Sagetsu, Oniniwa’s god of war, was also there.
Seven Date gods of war with rifles surrounded those two from a distance.
The rifles were meant for long-range use and they began firing within the lightning airspace. Each of them targeted the Seiryu and fired from every direction while just barely within the effective range.
Several sign frames predicting lightning strikes appeared in rows to draw out the paths of lightning in advance. The blue lightning shattered the sign frames almost immediately, but the seven gods of war managed to dodge. A few of them would occasionally cast a degaussing spell on the lightning attacks, so ether light burst from their entire bodies.
As they dodged the lightning, they fired constantly.
First, three of them repeatedly fired spell matchlocks with auto-loading mechanisms and with homing divine protections on the bullets. After using up their thirty-round magazines by firing one at a time, the spell gunpowder built up in the back of the barrel and overheating rendered the barrel useless.
So they got rid of it.
For the time it took them to attach a new barrel, the other four would fire.
The overlapping sounds of gunfire defied the roar of thunder.
After flying a few kilometers, the rapid-fire homing bullets would grow a tail of fog, but the homing divine protection would kick in the instant they arrived within a kilometer of the Seiryu. Hundreds of bullets blossomed around the Seiryu like a storm of blowing cherry blossoms and pursued it from every direction.
Some of their trajectories were gentle, some moved toward the flying target like a nail, and some shot sharply in along a shallow arc.
The Seiryu moved quickly and generally tried to shake them from its tail.
The dragon seemed to swing around the lightning airspace surrounding it as it took large but calm movements to break free of the pursuing homing lights. It did not open its wings all the way and the homing light trailed behind it like hair.
They could not reach it.
As they were swung around by the Seiryu’s evasive maneuvers, a few of the bullets collided with each other and detonated. The explosion pierced the surrounding group of pursuers and more were shot down by the lightning strikes.
The storm of blowing cherry blossoms expanded in flames.
A chain of explosions combined into a single muffled noise and a shockwave warped the sky.
The group of homing bullets was instantly lost, but…
A great form clashed with the Seiryu.
It was Sagetsu. Date’s 2nd Special Duty Officer crossed paths with the Seiryu with a giant sword in hand.
Oniniwa wished to clash with the Seiryu.
Sagetsu, the god of war he had inherited from his father, was constantly emitting shimmering heat from the overheated shoulders and the wings on its back were beginning to create a similar wavering in the air.
But he could not stop this confrontation. After all, as the Seiryu flew through the night sky with its lightning strikes, it was steadily approaching Sendai Castle.
…I must not give the skies of Sendai to this god of war!
Sendai Sibir’s central region was covered by a Harmonic Territory and it was beginning to enter its short summer period. The snow was melting and the rich flow of water could be heard even at night in Sendai Castle’s castle town and the other towns and villages. The people could sleep while expecting to go outside the following day rather than being trapped inside by snow as they were during the winter.
Oniniwa was the 2nd Special Duty Officer. In his work on the Public Morals Committee, he would go around Date to visit the different magistrates and provide political guidance, so he knew well how people lived during this season.
He could not allow the crazed dragon’s roar to disturb the people’s sleep as they looked forward to summer.
“You must be pacified!”
As he received covering fire, Oniniwa made attack after attack without rest and shouted to the roaring dragon.
“You absolutely must be pacified!!”
He made a splendid sword strike, showed no fear of the attack coming from directly ahead, swung his body to the left and right, spun his power around, and pierced with it.
Oniniwa sensed that the Seiryu was “consuming” their leader Masamune.
Ever since the Seiryu had appeared, Masamune spent more time asleep each day and her strength was fading. She was losing weight and moving between her room and the main garden was the most she could manage.
Placing her on the diplomatic aircraft carrier and taking her outside had likely put too much of a burden on her. The specific events of the day would also have played a role. A fair bit of the Seiryu’s right of ownership would have been taken away then.
According to Rusu, the Seiryu was “possessing” Masamune. It could no longer control the power of its own presence inside the dual pitch space that it was meant to provide on its own, so it was placing a burden on Masamune.
“But you’re supposed to belong to Masamune!!”
He had to hurry. If he did not quickly pacify the Seiryu and bring back Masamune…
…Date will be in a precarious position given the world’s recent movements.
His repeated attacks did not reach their target.
This was due to the ether. The ether being transformed into lightning was wrapped around the Seiryu and turning its body into an intense current.
His attacks were caught in that current and some were even taken away.
Each of the Four Sacred Beasts gods of war had one of the Mountain-River-Path-Swamp powers. The Seiryu’s was the River.
The power controlled intense currents and the thunder clouds that poured water into the water sources.
This was a dragon technique.
And it did not allow an Oni like Oniniwa or his god of war’s power or techniques to approach.
A strike from the right was deflected.
Was the scattering light roasted metal fragments or lightning fragments? He sensed creaking metal with his entire body and not just his ears as the frame bounced back from the blow.
A wave ran through all of the god of war’s components and an intense vibration knocked the metal body downwards as if it were sinking.
Sagetsu was blasted downwards toward the ground.
And within the lightning and the glowing and rushing ether, Oniniwa looked up toward the sky and saw the Seiryu there.
…Here it comes!
It was the River. Inside the lightning airspace, dark clouds and an intense downward current of light were recreated with ether light. Just as Tres España’s Michiyuki Byakko had created a path in empty air and just as Musashi’s Jizuri Suzaku had summoned an infinite lake as acceleration space, the Seiryu created a current of lightning around itself.
It had definite power. It was no longer rain that filled that space.
…It’s a downpour of lightning!
Several points of light were visible in the sky. It was similar to what the Seiryu had done in the mountains of Date’s southern territory, but the quantity was far greater. The points of light almost completely filled a square area of sky several kilometers across.
“Is it coming?”
Just as he thought the lights of the sky were blurring together, the vertical lightning strikes became a downpour of rain and fell across the entire region.
“Oh, not bad.”
The light far in the eastern sky was visible from Yamagata Castle’s rooftop.
Yoshiyasu saw Yoshiaki’s eyes sharpen, so she looked in the same direction.
“Is that the Seiryu’s power?”
“Yes, although it has kicked into overdrive because they’ve completely lost control of it.”
“Judge,” said the vassal as she folded up the bag of karinto. “So it’s like one of those RPG characters that can use a really powerful move but gets weakened when they join your party?”
“Well, based on what Yoshiaki said before, it is wearing away at Masamune’s life…”
“Ko ko,” laughed Yoshiaki. “Of course, even this major attack still possessed the basic traits of lightning. Oniniwa has already experienced this, so I’m sure he has put together a countermeasure. And Date’s Katakura will be supporting him as he fights.”
“So however this turns out, Oniniwa is the one doing ‘not bad’ for the moment. …Just watch.”
“I think I understand.”
Yoshiyasu narrowed her eyes and watched the lights in the distant sky.
Just as the airspace seemed dyed in the colors of lightning, they were dyed in another color and they split apart.
“That was a forceful resolution. So the moon that looks up to the Oni took a twisted left-facing stance. Of course, he seems to be saying this is no more than a single step in his means to resolve this. After all…”
Red, the color of explosive flames, could be seen in the distant sky.
“After all, the sounds of the clash have yet to fade.”
Just as the downpour of lightning began, Oniniwa was sprawled out and falling, but he did not take any evasive actions.
He simply watched the bright lightning approaching from heaven and checked the surface with his rear sight devices.
The lights of Sendai in central Date were already visible to the north, but they were on the edge of a vast Harmonic Territory’s atmospheric barrier. Seven lines of light stretched toward him from the anti-air battery there.
This was spell sniping using anti-air cannons, but they were using physical shells. As soon as the seven shots arrived directly below him, the warhead cylinders burst and the charm bullets inside launched the real spell vertically.
Seven spell sign frames seemed to burst up from the bottom of the intense ether current.
And as a result…
<Activating: Forced Ether Transformation: High Pressure: Explosion: Confirmed>
In the instant the Seiryu created its River, high pressure interference was applied to the ether composing that space in order to transform it into something other than the lightning it was meant to become.
And for now, they did something else to oppose the blue ether and bluish-white lightning.
A moment later, Oniniwa’s Sagetsu and the other seven gods of war used spells to open anti-explosion barriers around themselves. Then the downpour of lightning reached them from the sky.
The River space expanded the seven explosions within it and the red flames instantaneously raced through the ether.
The sky was decorated by a several kilometer explosion and lightning strike.
The space contained nothing but destruction.
The scorched air ignited everything, the vacuum created by the burning sliced through everything, and the lightning that seemed to weave through the gaps scratched at the air like an act of rage more than a downpour.
Sounds of burning and blowing mixed together as the wind and pressure collided as if the world’s directions had been swapped around.
But Oniniwa and the others had not escaped that airspace. They instantly activated light-blocking spells to protect their sight devices from burning out and they faced forward.
The Seiryu’s entire body was wavering. The explosion had disturbed the ether light enveloping it as a fierce current.
If they were going to attack, now was the time.
This opportunity had reached them because they had chosen not to escape even if it meant being destroyed by their own attack.
The explosive blast passed them by and Oniniwa ascended from directly below the Seiryu. On that cue, the seven other gods of war made their charge. They had all thrown away their rifles earlier to protect them from the previous explosion, so their only weapons were large anti-god of war swords.
But as they flew in, the Seiryu made a forceful counterattack. Even as it was shaken by the explosion, it swung its arms and fired lightning from them. While standing upright, it fired seven blasts at the seven enemies.
An instant later, the seven blasts tore through the atmosphere and the night as they each split into dozens of lighting pillars which took both weaving and straight paths toward the seven gods of war. The seven gods of war activated spells in their hands as they flew. They sent out the sign frames that predicted the paths of the lightning, but it was too late.
The sign frames were overtaken by the racing lightning pillars.
The lightning strikes moved quickly and split even further as they surpassed and confused the spell prediction. The sign frames were unsure which lightning to predict, so they began to spin around and then were shattered by the lightning.
That just left the seven gods of war to charge right into the lightning.
The lightning did not fly directly at them, but its sheer quantity and speed made a counterattack from all directions.
It happened in an instant. As Oniniwa ascended from directly below the Seiryu, he gave a shout while raising the power of his wings.
Immediately afterwards, a staticky but definite sign frame appeared behind the seven gods of war. It displayed a fuzzy and distorted image of someone.
“Oh, I’m just not sure whether I should thank you or complain that you disturbed the airspace here! Vice President Katakura Kagetsuna-kun speaking! I hope you’ll cry tears of joy that I brought you under my command in such high spirits! Are any of you girls!? No!? Then screw it! I don’t have to worry about what you think of me, so just follow me!”
Katakura gave his instructions.
“Time to use my high spirits to dodge this bombardment!!”
Sendai Castle shook.
This was due to the battle for command between Masamune and the Seiryu in the main garden. But in the air control room at the center of the castle, Katakura used the large stepped room to spin his entire body around.
The control room was entirely filled with a group of sign frames scattered around the room in an unorganized mess. They hid the room’s walls, ceiling, and even floor as they illuminated Katakura from every direction.
As he stood in the center of the light, he swung both arms to open new sign frames.
The text was instantly swept away as if by surging waves. The torii-style spell sign frame opened near his head was a mindreading spell that directly read his thoughts. That was a technique of the nameless gods said to live in Oushuu according to the Far Eastern gods. It was using the divine name of Sukuna Abiko as a stand-in, but the spell created text that flew out of the sign frame and across the control room.
Kagetsuna-kun: “Okay, 1-1! Are you still alive!? You are, aren’t you?”
The following words were directly linked to his thoughts, so they arrived far too quickly to just be called “fast”.
Kagetsuna-kun: “Okay, so you’re alive! Good job! You did a really good job! But oh, now you’re dead! Take that path and you’re dead! So give up on that and take a different- oh, you’re dead again! But before you die, how about raising that right arm just a little!? Let’s see that beautiful armpit! And with that beautiful armpit-…that’s not enough! You suck at this! Raise it like you mean it! Okay, that’s one of you with a beautiful armpit! Now head straight on in like that and you’re through, so let’s work at tightening that sphincter and holding that pose! Hold it! One of a multi-stage hit will reach you, but you don’t have to cry! So just keep going straight → defend → sing a little song to pass the time for two seconds! Ah!? You’re a girl!? …Might I ask your hand in marriage, miss? What!? The others are waiting behind you!? Oh, shut up, all of you. I’ll give you your instructions soon enough, so just rub some honey on your crotch and wait there like a bear! You can’t dodge it from that position! Say ‘uhah!’ twice, move forward, and it’ll all be over! In other words, you’ll be a hero!”
After shouting, Katakura smashed the sign frames providing information on the two who had made it through, but he immediately began shouting some more.
Kagetsuna-kun: “I’ll be doing 3, 4, and 5 all at once! Are you ready to take notes!? You are, right!? Well, if you are, you’re dead! You’re dead right now! You don’t have to do that, so just listen to what I say and spin around! Spin right around! Like this: zwoosh! Write it out as a letter and it’s δ! Hey! Who just said that wasn’t a zwoosh!? I was thinking the same thing, so I’ll have to have Yoshihime-sama, age 42, wear the Tres España summer uniform I’ve started to think is pretty nice and make a ton of profit for the Date clan! But for now, spin! Spin right now! Ah? What is it, Principal Yoshihime!? Age 12? I would expect nothing less from you! Okay, you there! Fly straight ahead for an ‘ahahn’! That’ll dodge it all!”
Kagetsuna-kun: “This is a pain, but let’s get all of you through at once!!”
The seven gods of war passed through the lightning strikes as they raced through the sky.
This was thanks to Katakura’s instructions and the relay management handled by…
Caretaker: “I will take care of that, so give this your all, everyone!”
One of them shouted “Testament!” and the others soon followed.
They flew forward.
The seven gods of war flew through the racing lightning more than they did dodge it.
They tore through the wind and based their movements around their outstretched arms as they approached…
Once they were within five hundred meters, they gained ground much faster. Due to the great power of the Seiryu’s lightning, its firing range was limited to avoid interference.
The lightning could be fired constantly, but it could only be fired in about eight directions around the Seiryu. Simply put, the number of blasts was reduced.
Three of the seven flying gods of war moved forward. They slipped past the lightning pillars and threw their upper bodies forward as they accelerated.
They could only hear the sound of the wind around them as they broke through the barrier of distance. But…
Kagetsuna-kun: “You fools!”
As soon as Katakura shouted via sign frame, those three gods of war were scorched and blasted several hundred meters away.
Blows of lightning light had struck the three of them. They had avoided those on Katakura’s instructions before, but…
Kagetsuna-kun: “Did their trajectory change!?”
The Seiryu was still firing in the same eight directions. But instead of firing them straight at its targets, it fired them so they curved around its own body.
The wind and current instantly went beyond a mere downpour and became a thunderstorm. And that raging mountain storm approached the four remaining gods of war.
It tried to wrap around them and crush them.
It tried to devour them.
But just then, something pierced the Seiryu from below.
It was Oniniwa. Sagetsu, his god of war, held a large sword.
“I’ll be taking that!”
The Oni flew in a straight line to fell the dragon.
Oniniwa poured all his strength into the attack and he realized his hope had been fulfilled.
In the sky above, the Seiryu answered his hope while surrounded by blue lightning.
When he had said “I’ll be taking that”, he had not been referencing the Seiryu’s life or the next turn to attack. Instead…
“Oni love lightning too!”
The eight blasts of lightning targeting his fellow gods of war were instead launched straight down toward him.
The Seiryu had made an instantaneous decision. It had reacted on animalistic reflex, without thinking of the consequences, but…
“That’s just fine!!”
Oniniwa received the eight lightning blasts with his body.
He consumed the lightning. He was using an anti-lightning spell at full power, but a great sound split, the light turned to white, and Sagetsu’s armor was blown away. But he had to consume it all here. He had to make a full-power charge and take all eight dragon attacks on his own. After all…
The four surviving gods of war responded. With nothing standing in their way, they swiftly created four straight lines as their blade tips raced toward the blue dragon. Each individual attack was underpowered, but…
Kagetsuna-kun: “The four of you together qualifies as an invitation for one! You’re all striking at blind spots and targeting weak points…oh, how lame. Upupu. But winning’s all that matters, so I’d love it if you thanked me! I’ll guide you along paths that won’t lead to a collision even if it dodges, so clench your asses and charge on in! If anyone of you get hit, I’ll record it and leak it onto the divine network to honor you, so let’s finish this in a respectable fashion!”
The four gods of war flew onward. The Seiryu tried to respond, but it was too late. It had no ether current around itself and it lacked enough lightning, so Oniniwa yelled to them.
They did so before he could even speak.
But Oniniwa saw something unexpected there.
To Oniniwa, the Seiryu looked like Masamune.
That’s strange, he thought. Masamune isn’t supposed to be aboard the Seiryu. But…
Caretaker: “Vice President!”
Text flew out at high speed as if it were being carved into his mind.
Kagetsuna-kun: “Make it in time!!”
Oniniwa wondered what Katakura hoped would make it in time, but as the 2nd Special Duty Officer in charge of trials, he viewed the evidence before him and reached a certain conclusion.
…The Seiryu has learned from Masamune’s movements!
As Date’s leader, she had been training in the main garden. It was partially to maintain her weakening body, but more to show everyone she still could.
The Seiryu used those exact movements as it brought its hands to its hips in a familiar way.
“Is it going to draw them!?”
Ether sprayed out in empty space.
It then quickly drew two swords glowing with too pale a light to be crescent moons.
He and Narumi had taught Masamune sword fighting. She was smaller and more slender than the two of them, so they had focused their lessons on instantaneous strength and a steady hand more than strength.
The Seiryu used those exact same movements. That proved that the Seiryu could choose the optimum movements for attack and defense, but it also proved that it was receiving feedback from Masamune. So…
The two glowing swords drew two arcs and made an explosive attack on the four approaching machines.
Four blasts of destruction filled the sky and they were broken down into several shapes.
The four gods of war charging the Seiryu had been cut down by the two swords wrapped in lightning light.
But the destruction was not perfect.
Kagetsuna-kun: “So I made it in time…”
Katakura had given them course corrections. He spent a lot of time in the main garden, so he knew what paths Masamune’s swords took. He had made the decision based on that knowledge. With some additional help from Rusu, all four destroyed gods of war had been spared a fatal blow.
And now the Seiryu was in its follow-through stance after swinging the lightning swords in both arms, so…
Caretaker: “Oniniwa-sama! Just one breath longer!”
Fang: “Are you taking into account how long an Oni’s breaths are!?”
Sagetsu flew in front of the Seiryu and collided with it.
Sparks flew as metal clashed with metal.
But Sagetsu had already lost its primary and secondary armor and it was surrounded by shimmering heat. Two of the four wings on its back would not activate and only functioned as ballast.
It lacked speed, it lacked the weight needed for a collision, and it had only just recovered from almost crashing.
Meanwhile, the Seiryu swung its two swords and received the Oni while seeming to puff its chest out proudly. It relied on the thrust of its six wings to endure the blow and swung its entire body to exorcise the Oni.
But Oniniwa was not driven out. He bent both arms that had refused to let go of the large sword during the lightning strikes. Instead of swinging it, he passed it behind his opponent’s back. Once he grabbed the sword tip and hilt in his hands, he would remain with his opponent until his arms were broken. And he used Sagetsu to…
The Seiryu gave a defiant roar.
One had four half-broken wings and the other had six full-power wings. The one with more naturally won and did so instantly. But even as Sagetsu was pushed…
Oniniwa raised his left leg in midair and bent his body backwards.
“Backwards front suplex!!”
Oniniwa had bet his victory on a single point.
If the Seiryu had learned Masamune’s movements…
…Its close-quarters attacks are meant for an opponent bigger than it!
It would lower its hips for a stable foundation but stretch forward to gain as much reach as possible.
That was exactly what had happened. The Seiryuu stretched its body out as if reaching over him to crush him.
So Oniniwa had bent his own body just like he had taught Masamune to. Normally, he would have dodged and moved behind his opponent, but he did not do that here. He lowered his body even further and secured a lock with his arms and the sword passed behind the Seiryu.
He used the Seiryu’s thrust to rotate it backwards.
They spun around.
His opponent’s shoulders and chest seemed to pull him forward, so he was on top and his opponent was on bottom.
There was no ground in the sky, but Oniniwa did not stop the power from the wings on his back. He pushed the Seiryu down toward the earth. His wings had lost their strength, but he still forced them down. And…
The Seiryu roared and raised its wings to avoid hitting the ground.
“I won’t let you!”
Oniniwa raised the inside of his locked right elbow. This was a technique for a small individual to use against a large opponent. When holding their opponent, they just had to predict their opponent’s movements and stop the initial motion by pressing in on the muscles in the hips or back. And starting with that first spot, Oniniwa suppressed the Seiryu’s movements one after another. He used his wings to accelerate down toward the ground while applying pressure to the Seiryu’s hips, back, sides, and thighs to rapidly lock up its movements.
…I taught Masamune this technique as well.
But since it was a technique the small used against the large, he had not taught her how to escape this grappling hold. That naturally meant the Seiryu could not react.
The dragon roared, but it was no use. The wings on its locked back altered their trajectory. The thrust scattered in several directions and Oniniwa bounced through the air with the Seiryu as he continued accelerating straight down.
But he did not let go. He was intent on bringing the dragon down.
He could not afford to let go and he had to pacify it.
A physical blow answered his cry.
It was anti-air fire from the edge of Sendai’s Harmonic Territory.
The anti-warship fire struck the Seiryu and Oniniwa.
The destruction became a musical instrument that produced a strained rhythm with the impacts acting as applause.
As everything burst around him and many of the impacts hit him as well, Oniniwa thought to himself.
…I must pacify it!
…I’ve read the Testament descriptions!
Oniniwa had known what the Testament said about him even before inheriting the name. When Hashiba made their Korean expedition, Date sent him to Hashiba to help.
Hashiba had already begun that expedition, so he could be invited to Hashiba at any time.
That was why he felt it was imperative that he pacify the Seiryu. Before going to Hashiba, he had to pacify the rampaging dragon and leave Masamune safe in her position as the head of Date.
Narumi would be the same.
Hashiba would eventually remove Narumi and him from Date to take away a large part of their fighting force.
Kagetsuna-kun: “Sorry about earlier, Oniniwa-san…”
He saw text among the impacts and destruction. It was from Katakura who had fallen into low spirits.
Kagetsuna-kun: “Maybe I should have had those four go for a suicide run.”
I do not mind, thought Oniniwa while mentally shaking his head. Those were the ones who had to protect Date once he and Narumi were gone, so he could not have them being treated the same as him.
To put it another way, he would be leaving for Hashiba, so it did not matter how badly injured he was here.
Yes, that’s right, he thought with a bitter smile in his heart. I’m here to survive and cause some trouble for Hashiba.
He felt an impossible smile on the nonexistent lips of his god of war body. The Seiryu was putting up a desperate struggle, but it was no use. He could see shells striking the dragon’s back and the scattering ether light washed over him.
The metal sparks down below were nothing but fragments of physical shells, but despite the great quantity of attacks, the Seiryu was still not destroyed.
It was a sturdy dragon. That was all the more reason he had to pacify it. He had to pacify it and make it Masamune’s. He had to offer the dragon up to the Date clan and then say goodbye. So…
As if to accuse him for calling to his comrade, the Seiryu moved. It grabbed his arms and instantly broke them. But Oniniwa smiled. He pressed his chest against the dragon and held himself in place as if listening to his enemy’s pulse.
“I’m counting on you!!”
They fell straight down to the earth.
The pressure of the raging wind and lightning grew within the main garden.
The battle outside was likely intensifying. Narumi could tell the explosive pressure grew whenever the Seiryu felt it was in danger. But…
Narumi stabbed her mandible sword into the ground to hold her position when she was almost blown off her feet. She shifted the sword and her arms again and again to force her position further forward, but the dragon’s roar rang out as if to ignore all that. Its voice was loud enough to blow away the main garden’s flowers and send clumps of dirt dancing through the air.
The stream’s water became an even thicker mist and…
…Is my body going to give out?
The ground was shaking beneath her. Both the crust and the pallet below that were beginning to break apart from the shaking. At this rate, the main garden’s floor would break through and it would all fall to the story below.
That would mean Masamune fell too, but the gate’s opening was a spatial issue and the Seiryu was in control at the moment. When the floor broke through, the roar would continue and the destruction would swallow up even Masamune as it propagated out from the main garden like threads and reached each floor’s frame.
In the worst case, Sendai Castle itself would collapse.
So Narumi moved forward. She moved forward as much as she had been forced back. She raised her thighs and used her one means of continuing ahead. She rapidly re-summoned her limbs and used her sword as a cane. That was the only option.
But the roar continued, and…
The explosive pressure became a cry powerful enough to distort the surrounding scenery.
The Seiryu knew it was cornered. It had sensed danger. But…
She suddenly felt nothing from the ground below her feet. Either the foundation pallet supporting the main garden had shifted out of place or the frame had fallen away. The ground was undulating more than tilting.
Even so, Narumi tried to continue forward. She sharply narrowed her eyes and worked to not lose sight of her goal.
This isn’t like me, she thought as the second blast arrived.
It was a roar of explosive pressure just like before.
Her hair trembled first and then grew faintly electrified. She ignored the crumbling ground and held her sword out toward the following shockwave. She knew she would be caught in the collapse like this, but…
“I can’t give up, can I?”
A different cry seemed to answer her question.
It came from the corridor behind her that led to the diplomatic quarters. First, she heard a door behind kicked down, and then…
“What is the meaning of this racket!? I just got to the confession scene, so how about some peace and quiet!?”
Someone charged in with that loud complaint.
It was Musashi’s half-dragon.
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