Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 57
Chapter 57: Speaker of the Past
It should have meant
Not having to look back
Point Allocation (Promise)
“Is it over?”
Yoshiyasu took a breath after confirming that the lights in the eastern sky had vanished.
She suddenly realized the atmosphere had changed.
The temperature was beginning to drop. As the early summer night wore on, the lingering chill of spring set in.
But when she looked back, Mogami Yoshiaki continued staring up into the sky. She did, however, set down her pitcher of sake.
“Would you like a drink?”
Yoshiyasu was aware how much trouble she had with alcohol. She had learned her lesson back in IZUMO and she swore she would eventually pay Houjou back for that humiliation. Yes, I’ll grow nice and big too, she thought with a mental clench of the fist. Meanwhile, the vassal sniffed at the sake.
“Is that amazake? I’ll have some! That’s nonalcoholic, right!?”
I screwed up! thought Yoshiyasu as Yoshiaki smiled bitterly toward her and the vassal who held out a cup. Yoshiaki took the cup from the vassal and handed her a spare bowl.
“Mogami’s sake rice helps keep out the cold.”
“Ohhh, it’s full of sake lees! How luxurious, how classy, how genuine.”
“Yoshiaki, about what we were discussing before…”
“Yes, I’m feeling a little drunk now, so I suppose I can tell you a little.”
Yoshiaki poured a new cup of amazake, clinked it together with the vassal’s, and drank it.
After a while, she suddenly continued speaking.
“You mean the ‘promise’, right? I was part of that.”
“They dreamed of a large community stretching from Oushuu to Sviet Rus. Without realizing that was what they wanted, the children wished to remain like family. …It was the kind of dream only children can have.”
Horizon sat at a table inside the girls’ room.
She nodded at Mary who was wearing pajamas and serving everyone tea to help wake them up.
Hori-ko: “A community?”
That sounded like an easy thing to create, but she wondered if that was only due to her ignorance of the world. So…
Hori-ko: “What do you think, Masazumi-sama?”
Vice President: “It depends on how far they were planning to take this community. Was it simply a promise of mutual assistance, was it an alliance, or were they going to go so far as to share the same currency and laws?”
Masazumi added an “of course” as she continued.
Vice President: “The further you go, the harder it is to construct. To share things means to quit the old way of doing things and to prepare new ones, so it comes with a cost and the people must go through an update as well.”
Mary viewed a sign frame while pouring tea into two more teacups.
“If you don’t have a specific plan for the community, then you don’t have to go through all that. In England, my sister is working hard to have England and the other three nations work together.”
“Are you sure you don’t mean she is ‘having trouble’ doing that?”
Horizon asked about a possible correction and Mary smiled.
“If you say that, my sister will get angry and work even harder to prove you wrong.”
Gold Mar: “Ma-yan really did put the Fairy Queen through a lot of trouble, didn’t she?”
Mal-Ga: “I can see why she decided to kill that ninja…”
10ZO: “I was not killed! I was not!!”
Scarred: “Judge. …We live together now.”
Horizon did not entirely understand, but she did feel an intense power in that.
Hori-ko: “Toori-sama, I suppose I’ll ask while I’m at it: what are your thoughts on a community?”
Horizon asked as Mary nodded and carried the two teacups out into the hall.
Hori-ko: “Do you have any thoughts on the dream that Yoshiaki-sama mentioned?”
Me: “What Yoshihikari was mentioning isn’t a dream.”
Hori-ko: “Do you honestly think that misreading of her name is amusing? As for the rest of that… What? Why would you say that?”
“This girl…” he said before actually answering.
Me: “Well? Are you listening? If we’re gonna look at this community stuff from a porn game perspective, you have to start with mind-sharing material, and… Ah! Why is everyone canceling my posts!?”
Hori-ko: “Not to worry. I will view your posts right up until the end of the world. 5, 4, 3, 2…”
Me: “Is that countdown supposed to be to the end of the world!?”
She ignored him and took a sip of tea. It was herbal tea. She pulled some biscotti from the space behind her which complimented the tea nicely. Going with the peanut rice cake flavor for variation had been the right choice.
At any rate, she more or less understood what the idiot was trying to say.
Hori-ko: “You are saying it was only a ‘dream’ because the adults said it was, aren’t you?”
Me: “Pretty much, yeah. …The only people who’d get all excited about calling it a community or whatever are the adults and people like Neshinbara. So little Masamune and the others must’ve seen it differently.”
Just as Horizon prepared to ask what he meant, a voice reached her from the door. It was Mary’s.
“Save you from anything.”
Horizon looked over and saw Mary smiling with the tray of teacups in her right hand and her left hand on the door.
“They probably didn’t use those words, but they must have said something similar. For example…yes, they may have made a promise to be friends forever.”
“A promise, you say?”
“Judge.” Mary nodded with a smile and opened the door. “People keep the promises they make as children. That’s what I believe.”
When Mary stepped out into the hall, Mitotsudaira and Shigenaga each took a teacup from her. Shigenaga hung her head as she did so.
“This was supposed to be unofficial…”
“Refusing an offer from an English princess would be a diplomatic problem, you know?” pointed out Mitotsudaira.
Of course, she could always say she was refusing the offer specifically due to diplomatic reasons, but the situation had not deteriorated that far yet. Mary bowed with the tray in both hands and glanced over toward the boys’ room on the left.
Mitotsudaira wondered why.
She realized why, so she quickly moved to call the 1st Special Duty Officer, but…
The door flew open like someone had kicked it and the ninja came rolling out. The Chancellor’s voice and the sounds of someone rapidly tapping a button came from within.
“Hey, Mary, Tenzou was getting all spoiled wishing he could have some tea too, so could you make some for him?”
Mitotsudaira did not even need to look back to know how Mary would react.
“Judge! Um, what about you?”
Hori-ko: “You leave me no choice. I will serve him with the personal items I brought from the Musashi. Oh, dear. I brought coffee beans but not a grinder. …Well, live and learn.”
Me: “Wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it. What in the world are you planning now?”
After a while, Mary carried out a cup of tea and a container of coffee beans topped with green onion soy sauce. After Mary returned to the girls’ room with a smile, Shigenaga spoke up straight across from Mitotsudaira.
“Is that good?”
“I’m sure one of them is. The other one probably tastes like coffee beans and green onion soy sauce.”
Mitotsudaira then asked a question.
“Now, I understand what kind of ‘promise’ you made. …The adults were worried about Oushuu and Sviet Rus’s future, so they brought together this generation’s leaders and major fighters when they were young and successfully built up relationships of friendship between them. Is that right?”
“Testament. …For Date it was Masamune and Kojirou. For Mogami, it was Komahime. And for Sviet Rus, it was me since I would fight the final battle against Date and Mogami. Sviet Rus apparently wanted to get Qing-Takeda and Houjou involved too if possible, but Qing-Takeda had Yoshitsune for a leader and Houjou was too embroiled in infighting over succession to build any major connections.”
She took a breath.
“For guardians, Date sent Yoshihime as Masamune and Kojirou’s mother, Mogami sent Yoshiaki, and Sviet Rus sent Kagekatsu, who had inherited Lord Kenshin’s name, and Marfa. …We were taught and trained quite a bit by our mothers and future upperclassmen.”
Vice President: “Can you ask something for me?”
What is it? wondered Mitotsudaira as Masazumi asked her question.
Vice President: “I understand Shigenaga being there, what with the final battle against Date and Mogami. Masamune makes sense too. But…why Kojirou and Komahime?”
Mitotsudaira showed Shigenaga the question on her sign frame. Shigenaga took a sip of tea and a breath.
“That’s right,” she said to preface her thoughts. “According to the Testament descriptions, it was discovered that Yoshihime was trying to make Kojirou the heir, so Masamune killed him. …And after Komahime was half-forcibly taken by Hashiba as Hashiba Hidetsugu’s concubine, she committed suicide along with Hidetsugu when he incurred the wrath of Hashiba.”
Those two had been doomed to die.
“We would eventually lose those two, but they were still our ‘family’. So we made a promise. …We promised to protect them. We promised to find interpretations to overcome the history recreation of their deaths and then to let them be free.”
Masazumi breathed a heavy sigh in the diplomatic ship’s courtyard while still facing north.
She thought about Shigenaga’s use of the word “family” and what that had meant to them.
…Is this the spirit of Oushuu that Yasuhira mentioned?
They had a powerful will of resistance and a sense of fellowship that surpassed nation or family.
“In a way…you might be able to say their will to protect those two and keep them from being lost only served to strengthen their bonds.”
No, you probably need to be old enough to understand the meaning of loss to think that way, reconsidered Masazumi. As kids, they probably just didn’t want to lose each other and saw no further meaning in it.
At the elementary school Masazumi taught at part-time, some of the children would transfer to another school on the Musashi due to a parent’s job. Some of the children would cry when they had to leave, even though they knew they could still see their friends if they wanted to.
…Why is that?
The emotion of sorrow may have come from viewing a “change” as a “loss”.
But, she thought.
“They failed to keep that promise…”
“That’s right,” said the Aoi Sister.
She had already let go of Masazumi’s hand and was gently spinning around atop a stone by the pond. Her hair was swept up in the wind and she smiled while briefly pointing Masazumi’s way with her swinging hand.
“You know why that happened, don’t you?”
“I know all too well.”
Without an interpretation, they could not escape Kojirou’s murder and Komahime’s suicide. And Komahime’s case had been especially bad as it had involved Hashiba.
If Oushuu was to escape the history recreation involving Hashiba, what would have to happen? The answer was obvious.
“Matsudaira has to be greater than Hashiba. That was absolutely crucial, yet we lost.”
“Talk about spoiled. …Couldn’t Oushuu have shown some backbone?”
There was no harshness in Naruze’s words. It was obvious she knew they had not had a choice. So Masazumi too walked out to the edge of the pond and answered.
“Qing-Takeda met rapid decline while Satomi and Edo were conquered to the south of Oushuu. The Musashi is being remodeled and Hashiba has dragon line reactors. Oushuu had no choice but to obey.”
Even as she said that, Masazumi asked a silent question.
…Is that really true?
Her question concerned Mogami.
Mogami’s Komahime was not their leader. So in Mogami’s history recreation…
…Mogami Yoshiaki would have been in control.
Something about that felt odd to Masazumi.
“Why did Komahime become a ghost two weeks ago?”
She had her doubts.
“Mogami Yoshiaki – who carried the spirit of Oushuu, knew the meaning of family, and had the final say in Mogami’s politics – accepted Komahime’s death without fighting it? Yet two weeks later, she starts firing and showing a rebellious spirit?”
“She’s a sharp one.”
Adele heard Yoshiaki speak while looking up at the two moons.
When she noticed Adele’s gaze, she smiled with the ends of her eyebrows lowered and looked the other way. Then the fox’s hair moved as she looked up to the moons again.
“Komahime was a good girl. Clever too. …As I lived in this land and, as a spirit, gained the power of this land, she was born from that power, so she is both my child and a child of this land.”
“She knew very well I would resist and try to save her when Hashiba arrived with their request.”
“You don’t mean…”
“I do. …She killed herself while I was not watching.”
Yoshiaki forced out a “ko ko” of laughter.
“That one hurt… It meant she did not trust that I could protect her.”
Her shoulders fell and she sighed toward the floor.
“Of course, it was the same for Date.”
Repairs and measurements were underway in the crumbled and partially caved-in main garden of Sendai Castle, but a conversation was also underway.
It occurred below the large tree in the center with leaves stripped and branches broken by the Seiryu’s pressure.
“Yes, it was the same for Kojirou.”
Yoshihime was speaking. She sat on the earthen ground and Masamune’s head rested on her lap. Masamune’s eyes were closed in peaceful sleep and Yoshihime’s hand held a healing charm to her forehead.
“Masamune and Kojirou are twins. It wasn’t easy giving birth to them.”
Yoshihime smiled bitterly. Musashi’s ambassador sat nearby with a blanket over her shoulders and the half-dragon sat cross-legged next to her.
“After all, they already had a bit of their horns then. They hurt unbelievably bad on the way out. I just wanted to shout, ‘This hurts like hell!’ Yoshiaki was there to help as a midwife and she was the one to tell me there was another one coming. I asked if it could wait another day, but that wasn’t possible.”
Flat Vassal: “Why are all this world’s mothers so massive?”
“If I had looked into it ahead of time, we would have known I had twins, but – just like Yoshiaki – I had no experience with men and didn’t want to let on that I was pregnant. So when I felt all the movement inside me during the pregnancy, I thought I was going to give birth to something with a whole bunch of arms and legs. I thought I was going to have to change my tastes.”
“Would you have…been fine with…that?”
Yoshihime nodded at the question from Musashi’s ambassador.
“Whatever they looked like, they would have been my child. They would have inherited a portion of me. At the very least, I wasn’t going to reject them until they’d grown up. Besides, they would be the Dragon God’s child. I knew this land of so many nonhumans would accept them, so I wanted to see what kind of child they would turn out to be.”
“You saw him before, didn’t you? Then again, that may just be the form he was given after the fact.”
Yoshihime continued as Musashi’s ambassador tilted her head. She looked to the Vice Chancellor and Vice President who stood around them to protect them and she looked to Rusu inside her sign frame.
“The Dragon God is not from Shinto. He is one of the major spirits that lives in this land of Oushuu. But his power is great. …Not even I could endure it. So when I was given his child, I realized that the Seiryu, which had been abandoned because we lacked he power to use it, had been sent to protect the child, despite the great burden it would cause. The Seiryu had enough power to process the Dragon God’s power. So by the second week, the Seiryu was already sealed in its dual pitch space as the child’s protector. That way, it could protect the child by letting them pilot it once they grew up.”
“But,” interjected the half-dragon. “The child the Seiryu was to protect turned out to be twins, right?”
Urquiaga understood a few things now.
…If this Dragon God tried to enter this world by residing in a human and being born…
“He would of course desire a perfect form. …Pagan gods take male and female forms and many in India and elsewhere are both sexes. Oushuu’s Dragon God must have been the same. …He created himself as a boy and a girl so the two could act as a single perfect form together, didn’t he?”
That would be why Masamune only had one horn. The other horn would be on Kojirou. But…
“Kojirou killed himself, didn’t he?”
“No, not actually.”
Urquiaga sensed Katakura looking to Narumi. Narumi responded by shaking her head a little and turning toward Urquiaga.
“Someone with the power of the Dragon God wouldn’t be able to kill themselves so easily, would they?”
“Testament,” confirmed Narumi. “When she found him still alive in the blood soaked living room, Masamune took Kojirou-sama’s life at his request.”
“When Maeda arrived in Kantou after pursuing the Musashi, Hashiba had him use his spell to call back Kojirou-sama and Komahime and to fixate them in this world. Komahime must have had some kind of regret because her will seems to be stronger, but Kojirou-sama is more like a doll than anything.”
“It’s become quite a problem.” Yoshihime brushed up Masamune’s bangs. “We had been planning to only use the Seiryu during the battle with Shigenaga…no, we had hoped not to use it at all if possible, but with Kojirou in his current state, it’s grown unstable and they’ve lost all control. Due to Kojirou’s influence as a ghost, the Seiryu has become a mad dragon split between a semi-physical form and a fully physical form. It must not know whether to stay with Kojirou or Masamune or what to do. After all…”
“The Seiryu was supposed to live with and protect Masamune, but she killed Kojirou who she was supposed to live with and protect. It’s ironic. The Seiryu had never made a real appearance before, but it’s appeared almost nightly since Kojirou died.”
That isn’t good, thought Masazumi.
…So those are the circumstances of the three nations.
They had hoped to be a community and that dream had been destroyed, but the spirit of that dream still affected them all and tied them all together. Also…
“What’s the meaning of this?”
Naomasa placed a hand on her forehead but sighed in apparent disinterest. She was viewing a few documents sent over by Date’s Vice President and they revealed something about the Seiryu.
“It was sent to Date in secret about thirty years ago?”
It had been sent as a celebration of the future birth of Masamune and the fact that it was a weapon had been disguised.
And it had been sent by…
Hori-ko: “My father was sending a present to a girl who hadn’t even been born yet…?”
Worshiper: “Sniff, sniff, sniff! I smell a likeminded individual! I do!!”
Laborer: “I doubt that’s what this was, so you don’t have to say it.”
Was replying to him a virtue? Or was that unknowable? At any rate, Masazumi had a sudden thought about the Four Sacred Beasts.
…In light novels, the Four Sacred Beasts tend to have the Byakko at the west, the Seiryu at the east, the Suzaku at the south, and the Genbu at the north.
Comparing the Far East with the Four Sacred Beasts’ cardinal directions, the east and west seemed to match up. And since the Suzaku had been discovered in southern Kantou, that fit too. The north was still unknown, but…
…If Lord Motonobu set this up, did he place them at the four ends of the Far East as guardians?
The Shimabara Rebellion had been given an early recreation thirty years before. The Four Sacred Beasts had been developed by the Catholic force that had started the rebellion and all but the Byakko had gone missing after the rebellion.
If they required a massive amount of fuel, they would be forced to rely on the land’s ley lines. That meant they would have a close relationship with the local spirits despite being a god of war.
“They really are like the Four Sacred Beasts.”
She did not know why Lord Motonobu had done that, but Naomasa would have more to think about as the Suzaku’s owner. As for Masazumi herself…
“…What am I supposed to do about all this?”
She had the special student general assembly tomorrow and the three nations meeting once she made it through that.
…How am I supposed to bring this all together?
How could she join together the three nations, whose dreams of a community had already been crushed, with Musashi, who had caused that? How could she prompt them to oppose Hashiba? She wondered if there was a way and she decided to try whatever she could come up with.
Vice President: “Ohiroshiki, I’m concerned about something, so give me all the information on the food supply. Things like the transition to population growth mentioned in the Testament descriptions.”
Worshiper: “Oh? I don’t mind, but are you sure? It’s possible the Representative Committee Head is monitoring this conversation.”
Vice President: “That’s fine. You can’t become a politician if you’re afraid of having your plans exposed.”
She received a reply after a short delay.
Vice President: “What kind of name is that?”
But when she looked, his post contained some compressed and passcode-locked data. It was set to only unlock after detecting her voice.
Worshiper: “I am not a kind enough person to show off my information to strangers, Flatda-kun. …I think you take some of these things too seriously. No, maybe I should say you take too much responsibility onto yourself.”
This isn’t someone you get lectured by every day, she thought. But…
Vice President: “That’s just what a politician does.”
Then she realized something.
Vice President: “Sorry.”
…Ohiroshiki was being considerate specifically because that’s what a politician does.
She was the one that did not understand. But then a response appeared on her sign frame.
Worshiper: “No, no. If I was at all useful…yes, then spread my praises among the elementary school children!”
I’m glad to see he hasn’t changed, she thought with a noticeably weak laugh.
I need to rethink some things, she decided. She felt she was taking too many things onto herself and making it all too complicated.
It was true she had a lot of information, but she could not just accept it all. How was she supposed to go through it all and process it?
Me: “I hope you can start grinning before long.”
Don’t worry about me at times like this. Honestly.
“I need to cool my head a little.”
She stood up on a rock by the pond’s edge and tossed Tsukinowa to the Aoi Sister. “Oh, dear,” said the girl as she caught the Mouse. “Ah,” said Asama and the others, but Masazumi ignored them.
“Oh, to hell with it.”
The most troublesome thing of all might be me, she thought as she collapsed back into the nighttime water.
She felt the splash and tenseness of the water’s surface on her back, a chill soaked into her hair and clothes, and the sound came last of all.
There were two moons in the sky. Once they set and the sun rose, she had the special student general assembly.
She would be busy tomorrow.
“Milady, I see you ended up with quite a few souvenirs again.”
Two people walked through a half-constructed residential district in the pale shadows the scaffolding and bridge girders cast in the artificial lighting.
It was Ookubo and Kanou. Kanou was empty-handed, but Ookubo held a paper bag full of snacks.
Kanou looked to the paper bag that Ookubo held.
“You enjoyed yourself, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did.”
Ookubo added a “hey” and looked around the area.
“They really started filling in the residential districts today.”
Residential wide blocks were stacked up here and there on the Ariake’s floor. They only had to be guided into the Musashi’s foundational structure along with the other blocks.
Kanou opened a sign frame and checked on them.
“Due to the incident today and the need to leave on a moment’s notice if danger arises, these are being prioritized over the armor and such. The wide blocks are being built overnight and they will begin to be added in tomorrow morning. Within twenty four hours, eighty percent of them will be in place.”
“There are a lot more gods of war moving around than normal. …Maybe we should have had the 6th Special Duty Officer come back.”
“She would have been working through the night, so while it would have been good in the short term, I have determined it would likely have led to a loss in the long term.”
Ookubo nodded, said “hey” again, and came to a stop. They had reached the end of the wide block and arrived at the guard station gate at the entrance to the neighboring long block. There was a row of vending machines there.
“Would you like something to drink, milady? …I can pay.”
“No need. I can pay every once in a while. …Have you had any coffee, Kanou-kun?”
“Milady, I would prefer strawberry milk.”
“Kanou-kun, is that why you always go buy it yourself?”
With a small smile, Ookubo inserted a coin into the machine. She said “hey” yet again and started to say more, but Kanou cut her off.
“What is it you really want to say after saying ‘hey’, Ookubo-sama?”
“…That’s the great thing about you, Kanou-kun.”
She pressed the button, a paper bottle fell into the opening, and the drink filled it. She pulled it out, put on a lid, and repeated the process for a second drink.
“Here. I made mine the same.”
“I know,” said Ookubo. “Do you think the world will change if I stop Musashi from fighting?”
“It will likely change from its current road map if that is what you mean. But if our road map is the foundation, then it will not change. You could say we will be bringing the world back on course.”
“Do you remember what my father said?”
“Judge,” said Kanou. “Opposing views taken up just because an opposing view is needed and opposing views borrowed from someone else are not true opposing views. After all, there is no true spirit of resistance in them.”
“Am I…resisting something here?”
“Tomorrow, you will-…” Kanou shook her head just as a clock sounded inside the Ariake. “No, by now, it’s today.”
The calm tone of the bell rang twelve times. Unlit sign frames appeared around the ship and in the sky to inform people a new day had begun and that an ether supply instability experiment would be run at 3:00 AM.
Kanou held her paper cup in both hands and took a sip.
“This is best with extra milk, milady.”
“You’re a harsh critic, Kanou-kun.”
“Let us be picky, milady. If we can do that, then we will be resisting. And rather than opposition to our opponent, that will bring pride in ourselves.”
Kanou placed a hand on the paper bag Ookubo held.
“From what I heard…you took all of the prizes save the punishment game prize.”
“I thought it would be best not to hold back.”
“If you want people to support you, shouldn’t you try to do things for them?”
“I just thought what I wanted to do and what everything thought I would do happened to match up there. Although it’s possible I just wanted to think that.”
“Then,” said Kanou with a nod and a glance to the distant academy on the stern of Okutama. “Have you finished taking a break now, milady?”
“Can I maybe continue taking a break until morning?”
Ookubo held up her paper cup.
“This could indeed use some extra milk.”
“I think you are already motivated enough, milady. …That is my go-time drink.”
Kanou lowered her head as she continued.
“Judge. Tomorrow, let us do everything we can without taking any breaks, milady.”
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