Horizon:Volume 4B Chapter 58
Chapter 58: Distant Promoter
It has no reason
It has no origin
It simply has meaning
Point Allocation (Future)
Morning comes early on the Musashi, thought Isa in the early morning light below the bridge in front of the academy.
“They really are running 24 hours a day. I’ve been working here since last night.”
“That’s true, Isa-kun. ….It’s only six in the morning and they’re already constructing, stacking, and adding in the residential wide blocks. It’s getting hard to find a spot for a hidden meeting.”
“It must be bad if you’re complaining, Anayama.”
“How were things last night?”
“Hm… That was about as much as we could have hoped for from some hurriedly thrown-together dolls. I had to make sure they wouldn’t interfere with the ether transmission within the Ariake, so the feedback was weak and they messed up more easily.”
“I see. If anything, they should be good for support, so that will be your job, okay? As for the route, combine #5 and #12 of what I sent you before and then add #7 in reverse on top of that.”
“Wow, that’s confusing. Can’t you just do it, Anayama?”
“My job is to provide a diversion or to assist your escape.”
Anayama’s presence looked around the area.
Isa responded by doing the same.
They were in front of Musashi Ariadust Academy on the stern of Okutama. There was a nature district more toward the bow and a road that led to port and starboard. Work was underway on that road.
“Setting up for the special student general assembly, hm?”
“Yeah, I never thought I’d be building food stands and setting up tents after infiltrating the Ariake. It’s just like being recruited to set up for a festival.”
“But this could be trouble.”
Anayama could not be seen, but his voice was plain as day.
“These stairs out front…and the bridge to the academy at the top. If they hold the special student general assembly on the bridge, an assassination won’t be easy.”
“That you would say that when you already know what route we’ll be using shows just how good you are at building excitement, Anayama.” True. But,” said Anayama as his presence viewed the surrounding food stands as they prepared to open. “Let’s enjoy this atmosphere a while before making our move. …I didn’t think we would be taking action on such short notice, but the three nations and P.A. Oda were all too quick to act.”
“As usual, the smaller nation is pushed around by the bigger nations. But…”
Isa waved back as a light god of war carried the materials for a food stand from the port side transportation district.
“I hope we can sell our name a little bit here.”
“As do I.”
Anayama’s voice took a step away and there was some movement in the sky. The Ariake was closed up, but the air inside its tall dome had moved.
“They’ve removed the stealth. They must be planning to broadcast the special student general assembly outside. So…”
Large widescreen sign frames started appearing in places. They displayed the scenery outside, but the starboard ones showed something approaching above the Ariake in the western sky.
“That’s the diplomatic ship their Vice President is on. Once that lands and the Vice President arrives on the bridge here, they can begin checking over everything. They’re saying it won’t actually start until 13:00 though.”
“If that changes, we’ll correct for it and get started.” Anayama’s voice faced the diplomatic ship descending through the morning sky. “Assassinating a Musashi VIP. …That should make for a wonderfully sensational story.”
The sky was clear, but not empty.
Novgorod, a giant floating city with a bowl-shaped base, was there. That city of the dead used spells to set up a light-blocking barrier on the sun side. The city slowly rotated, but it did not move from its spot in the sky.
Another shape slowly circled around the large floating city on the east. To help Novgorod float, it was surrounded by artificial water on the upper edge, but a ship moved through that thirty meter thick waterway.
The pleasure ship was slowly rowed along by sailor ghosts to fight the city’s rotation.
Two people could be seen on the ship’s rear terrace. Marfa the Mayoress sat on a bench and looked to the east and her butler accompanied her. The woman with long white hair and a black Russian-style uniform spoke without turning to face her butler.
“Toby. What do you think?”
The elderly butler nodded at having his name called. He opened a Far Eastern-style sankt okno and displayed a map of the Far East and an image of Musashi’s Vice President and Representative Committee Head.
“It seems their Vice President has arrived. After a greeting, they will likely finish their preparations and begin their confrontation.”
“You used to be a Far Eastern student, so do you find yourself missing the old days?”
“I am still a student here, so why would I? …Excitement has remained in my heart to this very day.”
Toby looked down.
Several shapes were visible far to the south. They were several black galleys.
“Shibata Katsuie’s troops. …They’ve been there since last night.”
“They probably think we might do something. They have decent battle instincts. If Shibata is receiving advice from Maeda and Fuwa, they will predict what is to come and do whatever will give them the greatest advantage. It’s interesting how they are both holding us in check and provoking us. …The supply line set up behind them must be the Hashiba forces that have ‘left’ Shibata’s forces. They intend to win this.”
Marfa glanced over at Toby’s face.
“That stoic expression is no fun.”
“We stand atop the precipice yet yours is equally stoic, Lady Marfa.”
“Ha ha.” Marfa’s expression changed as a laugh escaped her lips. “I guess I should change my expression at least this much. But now that this is Nanao Castle, do you think Kagekatsu will really show up?”
“I will make no attempt to rid you of your troublesome worries, Lady Marfa.”
“Oh, come on. That man loves taking the blame. It’s not like what happened with me was his fault. As a woman, my past is nothing more than clothing I’ve stopped wearing.”
“But,” said Toby. “While I hesitate to say this, harming ourselves to lure someone here is not in very good taste.”
“It’s not in bad taste either. Besides, memories are made by things that make you happy and things that bring pain. I’m bad at being happy or making people happy. A mayor’s job is to save money, so it brings more pain than happiness. Although when you’re dead, you don’t care that much about warmth, flavor, or smell, so that does help. If my men and the city’s people feel the same, then Novgorod truly is a city of the past. …You’re the same, aren’t you? Didn’t you come to this city because of pain?”
“The pain is not mine. …I simply have some regrets concerning my students.”
“You were right about that. …I hope they can accomplish at least a little.”
Toby nodded and Marfa looked away. She instead looked to the bow terrace. Two people sat at a table there.
One was a middle-aged swordsman wearing Far Eastern clothing. He had his back to her, bowed his head toward the other person, and started talking about something with plenty of gestures. He occasionally pulled a book, some kind of box, a stone, or other objects from the paper bag at his side and handed them to the other person.
That other person was a middle-aged man in a Tres Españan uniform dyed black. As he listened to the other man, he smiled and occasionally erased his expression to nod deeply.
Marfa narrowed her eyes toward them.
“A Far Eastern master swordsman and a politician who could become a flashpoint for Europe. …To think I would see them meet here.”
“Does this make you happy, Lady Marfa?”
“Unfortunately, it only doubles the pain. I can make a good guess what P.A. Oda will say. Once the swordsman has everything he can get, he’ll be leaving, won’t he? Make sure we’re ready for that. Also…”
Marfa looked to the man in a black Tres Españan uniform.
“Make sure we’re ready for him too. Contact Sviet Rus’s PR Committee and tell them we’ll be hijacking their divine network to contact Musashi.”
“Testament. …Let’s make quite the commotion.”
“It would be nice if this could become a worldwide commotion. …Oh, now I’m feeling happy.”
She slowly moved her eyes.
She looked to the city hall in the center of Novgorod’s city.
“Now, we’ll probably be selling everything here. After all, my Novgorod, you are Russia’s oldest city and greatest trade city.”
The corner of her mouth rose.
“You at least need to love me.”
Below the morning sky and above the white snow, a few pairs of eyes viewed the giant bowl floating in the distant sky.
Three people stood on the white plain of the vast Harmonic Territory: Maeda Toshiie, Sassa Narimasa, and Fuwa Mitsuharu.
First, Toshiie used a telescope spell to view the giant structure in the sky.
“You say Novgorod is acting oddly? It is true it’s been moving a bit more southeast than before.”
“Not just that. What looks like their PR Committee is out on the eastern edge.”
“Maybe they’re just curious about Musashi’s special student general assembly.”
“Probably.” Toshiie nodded with a hand on his chin. “Novgorod had all its physical outer walls removed during the purge. They make up for it with spell defenses, but that makes it harder to receive external divine transmissions. But…”
He expanded the lernen figur of the view seen through the telescope spell and showed it to the other two. Fuwa and Narimasa checked the image.
“Novgorod’s western edge? I can’t see it with everything in the way.”
“Don’t look at Novgorod itself, Na-chan.”
“You mean the ships leaving Novgorod, right?” asked Fuwa.
Narimasa frowned, so Fuwa lightly elbowed him in the side. She narrowed her eyes, opened an insha kotob, and displayed a map of Hokuriku and Europe.
“You could say Novgorod was the trade city on the eastern end of the Hanseatic League. Its trade with Europe either took the northern route along the coast of the Baltic Sea and to Spain or took the southern route along rivers to the Black Sea and to the Mediterranean. That’s received a lot of focus in the history recreation as well, so when Europe trades with the world nations in the Kantou, Oushuu, or Jouetsu regions, Novgorod acts as a major contact point, right?”
“Right,” confirmed Toshiie. “That’s what Ivan IV wanted bad enough to purge Novgorod and it’s why Novgorod tried to achieve independence.”
“In other words, those shops are European?”
“Oh, you actually figured it out, Na-chan? Last year, your mind would have refused to think about it, so did you have a change of heart during your field trip dropping transport ships on Magdeburg? Then do you want to go for another one? I’ll pay.”
“Shut up, you idiot. …So what is this? What do these European ships mean?”
“Testament. Novgorod is on the front line right now. It might be neutral, but it’s still dangerous. And now that Musashi has started diplomacy, those trading at Novgorod were given a temporary evacuation recommendation, so they’re all leaving.”
“There are trade fleets from two nations that aren’t leaving. In fact, they only just arrived.”
The telescope spell lernen figur displayed a fleet of white and navy blue and a fleet of black and gold. They both had European-style round bottoms, but…
“The black fleet is probably the one Tomoe Gozen sent out to stop Sakuma’s fleet from passing through northern M.H.R.R. We had lost track of it, but if they had business here, it and the other fleet are troublesome indeed.”
“Didn’t we mention this before? They’re both nations that end up winners at the Peace of Westphalia,” explained Toshiie. “I can generally guess what they’re here for, but I think the black one will be troublesome even without taking Westphalia into consideration. If what Hashiba said before is true…”
He took a breath before continuing.
“Musashi is approaching the Genesis Project, albeit in an indirect fashion. …Oh, look. Novgorod’s PR Committee is starting to move.”
Masazumi arrived at Musashi Ariadust Academy where the special student general assembly would be held.
Once the diplomatic ship landed at the Ariake, members of the Public Morals Committee had escorted her to a waiting room inside the academy. Naito, Naruze, and Naomasa of the Chancellor’s Officers as well as Asama and the Aoi Sister had gone elsewhere.
…And it sounded like Asama and the Aoi Sister had other business to attend to…
The Aoi Mother, manager of the Blue Thunder, had apparently called to them from the Ariake’s rooftop. Masazumi did not know what that was about, but it had been an urgent matter. That would not be a problem since Asama had set things up so they could use the divine network and chat as before, but…
I’m getting distracted, realized Masazumi as she looked around.
The sky seemed very low.
Ariake’s distant ceiling looked flat from the bridge in front of the academy. She had once had another confrontation at that elevated location. She felt like that had been an awful experience from beginning to end, but how would it turn out this time?
“Oh, Masazumi. Good morning.”
Oriotorai walked up the stairs to the side of the entrance. The faculty room was on the first floor, so she had apparently chosen the route up from the first floor entranceway rather than using the stairs inside the school.
It had only been a day, but it felt like so long since she had seen her teacher. Oriotorai must have felt the same because she swept her eyes along Masazumi from head to toe as she approached.
“Good, you don’t look injured.”
“Judge. A lot happened yesterday, but I was surrounded by skilled people.”
“No, I got a divine mail from Naruze that said, ‘She couldn’t hold back anymore last night and suddenly dove into the diplomatic ship’s pond, so give her a warning.’ ”
Oriotorai laughed and placed a hand on Masazumi’s head with a smile.
“I like that kind of thing. Seriously.”
“Have you done that kind of thing before?”
Masazumi would not be surprised either way with this homeroom teacher. The very first time she had seen the woman, she had seemed like someone who had just decided to stop worrying about things.
“Hmm… Yeah, that’s happened to me. But in my case, I didn’t have a pond and I was living with some other people, so I ended up being a real nuisance. That’s why I’m jealous that you can live here and do that kind of thing.”
Masazumi had her doubts that was worth being jealous over, but…
…It is true my environment has changed dramatically since I lived in Mikawa.
If that difference was an enviable thing, then maybe Oriotorai sensed something similar when looking at her.
“Hm? What is it?”
“Are you jealous of all the students?”
“You mean of your young age?”
Sanyou had just opened the entrance door and started to step out, but her smile vanished and she back-dashed right back inside.
“Ah! Mitsuki! You’re overreacting! I hadn’t said they were at peak marrying age yet!”
“Judge. Not that you would’ve brought up that topic while talking to me anyway.”
“Oh? But Masazumi, I think you could choose just about anyone you wanted. From both the boys and the girls.”
“Oh, c’mon. Marriage? There’s no room for that in my life.”
“My father would scoff at the thought. He’d say it was too soon for a child who can’t even support herself to even think about it.”
Nobu-tan: “K-Koni-tan! Koni-tan! I did my best to bug the place and my Masazumi is talking about marriage! Wh-wh-wh-wh-what do I do!? If she suddenly brings someone home to meet me, can I shove a spear up his ass and stir him up like in the new show Archipelago Creator Izanagi!? M-my chest feels all tight like a chicken being strangled! It’s squeezing and squeezing!”
Koni-tan: “Someone! Someone send a chicken hotpot set and some ponzu to Honda-san’s house!”
“Yeah, your dad is pretty strict.”
Oriotorai smiled bitterly, but Masazumi felt reluctant to just agree with that. So she spoke up to change her image of her father at least a little.
“No, I think my father tries to be considerate about that kind of thing. Before, he invited me to the Child of the Sun: Alexthunder-Rx hero show on Tama. I rejected the offer since I’m far too old for that and I’m pretty sure it’s for boys anyway. …I just think he has trouble putting the right amount of distance between us.”
“Oh, I think I’ll go see that show. The original show had a sad ending where he was covered in honey and sent back home.”
“He said he could get tickets to the show at any time, so I can get you one if you need it.”
Oriotorai leaned back with a smile and a sudden thought came to Masazumi.
…She’s really helping me relax.
Suddenly, a color appeared in the sky. It was a sign frame. Specifically, it was one for large universal divine transmissions. It displayed “Ariake” who spoke with her eyes barely opened as usual.
“Good day, everyone. This is ‘Ariake’ with an external divine transmission announcement. A divine transmission has arrived for me and I have determined it should be shared with those inside the Ariake. Please make your own judgments. Now…”
…It should be shared?
Masazumi wondering what this could be about as “Ariake” bowed and continued.
“This is from the Sviet Rus floating city which is known as Russia’s oldest city.”
“This is from Novgorod. Over.”
The video was full of static.
The image Masazumi saw was of a sunlit terrace. It was on the bow of a ship. A city could be seen on the left side of the background, so it was likely a pleasure ship on the water surrounding Novgorod
The static emphasized the outlines, the colors were pale and the light was bright and white.
A man stood on the terrace.
He was covered by too much shadow to see his face or hands well. The surfaces hit by the light were bright and blended into the floor in the background.
He was wearing a black uniform. It may have been a Tres Españan one. The extra long coat made it look something like a pastor’s robe, but…
…Tres España is Catholic…
In that case, realized Masazumi.
A staticky man’s voice slowly spoke.
“Testament. …Allow me to make an initial greeting to Musashi’s Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers.”
He raised his right hand and looked at the cheat sheet in his left hand as he made his greeting.
“Konnichiwaaaaaa, people of the Far East!”
Wise Sister: “Flat Politician! You mustn’t find this funny! He needs to move at least three steps beyond that! Got that!?”
That isn’t funny!? thought Masazumi in silent shock, but the man had more to say.
“Are you feeling genkiiii?”
Asama: “I-I’m sorry, Kimi. I just laughed a little.”
Flat Vassal: “And shouldn’t he just use a translation spell divine protection instead of trying to speak Far Eastern?”
Then man cleared his throat and took a breath.
“I am the Prince of Orange, Chancellor and Student Council President of the Independent Holland Academy.”
Mitotsudaira heard the information coming from Ariake thanks to Asama, so she stopped reading the materials they had gathered for that evening’s meeting and she looked around.
She was in the room they had been given. It was the same waiting room as the night before. She was free to leave, but it was snowing outside. Mary and Horizon had gone to borrow the kitchen, so they were not here. Without anyone to speak to, Mitotsudaira shouted in her heart.
“That’s one of the main nations at the Peace of Westphalia!”
The Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, was said to be the world’s first international meeting and the resolution to many different problems had been planned there.
Holland’s independence was one of those.
Back when Great Chancellor Carlos V had been king of M.H.R.R. and Tres España, Holland had been a detached territory of Tres España, but due to the Reformation, it had started a war with Tres España as a Protestant nation and achieved independence while splitting with Catholic Belgium.
“And their independence was finally recognized at the Peace of Westphalia…”
Making an ally of Holland would hold M.H.R.R. in check while also bringing Musashi closer to one of Westphalia’s winners.
…But why is Holland suddenly trying to approach Musashi!?
Masazumi held her breath and focused on the words coming from the sky.
Holland’s representative, the Prince of Orange, spoke as nothing more than a staticky figure.
“Winner of Musashi’s special student general assembly, I imagine you will be busy with the three nations meeting later on, but if at all possible, I would like you to come here. I have something I must tell you.”
“What exactly is the solution to the Apocalypse known as the Genesis Project? You must learn the truth in an appropriate location. It is-…”
Just as the Prince of Orange said that, the video grew even more distorted with static. Horizontal waves ran through it.
And it vanished.
The image on the sign frame burst into shards of light. The image soon recovered with the words “Divine Transmission Lost” displayed, but the image was now of something other than the Prince of Orange.
There was some static, but the image was much clearer now.
“Hello, Musashi. This is Niwa Nagahide, P.A. Oda Secretary and #2 of the Five Great Peaks and Six Heavenly Demon Armies.”
The image was filled by a thinly smiling woman in a modified white P.A. Oda girl’s uniform.
Niwa was up in the sky.
She stood on the front deck of the Jurakudai, a diplomatic battleship, with two ghosts behind her.
One was Hashiba Hidetsugu (formerly Date Kojirou) and the other was Mogami’s Komahime.
Niwa crossed her arms and held a hand out toward the filming team.
“Shibata has fired a warning shot at Novgorod, so I expect they’ll quiet down now. Think of that summons from Holland as nothing more than a dream, Musashi. It’s daytime, so it’s the perfect time for a losing nation to wake up and view reality. And if you do forget your place and try to interfere with Novgorod…”
In that case…
“The Testament Union will command the history recreation of the Battle of Nanao Castle with Novgorod as the battlefield. And then we in P.A. Oda will join in for the following Battle of Tedorigawa.”
Niwa asked, “Are you listening?”
“As a losing nation at present, don’t think you can gain anything here. …Try that and you will lose what you could have avoided losing.”
The leader of the filming team used his arms to form a circle over his head and Niwa smiled.
“Ooooookay, perfect! Excellent work, everyone!”
“If you haven’t had breakfast yet, just tell me! I’ve already arranged for catering, so we can all eat together on the deck.”
…You didn’t cut the divine transmission!
Masazumi sighed as she watched Niwa and the P.A. Oda warriors start to harmoniously form a circle on the deck with the lunchboxes that were carried out to them.
“Oh, maybe they forgot they used a battery-powered model since they were filming on a ship,” commented Oriotorai while looking up at the screen. “Even if the shaking of the ship knocked out the main power, the battery could keep going.”
“C’mon, Lord Hidetsugu,” said Niwa. “Don’t just stand there…although I guess there’s no helping that. You didn’t seem to have many regrets. In that case…c’mon, Lady Komahime! Quit looking so upset and start eating!”
“I-I don’t need food! Ghosts don’t get hungry!”
Masazumi realized something from those voices.
…So Komahime has a will of her own, but Hidetsugu doesn’t.
The video showed a girl wearing a combination of a P.A. Oda and Russian girl’s summer uniform. She seemed worried about the unmoving boy who resembled Masamune and she clearly had a will of her own.
…Does that mean her regrets were stronger?
Masazumi did not know, but after a while, the view of the video moved. The camera was being carried elsewhere to clean up. Then the sign frame blacked out for a moment and was replaced by “Ariake”.
“Did you all enjoy that? And now…”
“I believe I will begin the scheduled special student general assembly. Over.”
Masazumi responded to that by looking forward.
Below the long stairway before her, food stands and crowds were filling the second and third schoolyards and plazas on the left and right. However, two people were climbing the center stairs.
The girl with a red stole over her shoulders was Ookubo and the one in a summer uniform was Kanou.
Her opponent had arrived.
Masazumi noticed the other two were already looking up at her.
First, Kanou bowed.
“I will wait below as your bodyguard, milady.”
Ookubo continued on without watching Kanou leave, so Masazumi returned her gaze.
She gathered strength in her stomach.
“Let’s get started. …Let’s pave the way toward Westphalia once more.”
“In that case…”
Oriotorai raised her right hand as she spoke.
“Begin the confrontation!”
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