Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 70
Chapter 70: Wise One in a Closed Place
A hanging heart
A voiceless cry of avoidance
Standing back up is the most this strength can manage
Point Allocation (Self-Consciousness)
Something seemed off to Tenzou as soon as he stepped inside.
Thanks to his skill as a ninja, he did not even need to enter a room. The heat, vibrations, and air current coming from a door told him the situation inside and whether or not there were people inside. The door was open in this case, so he could immediately grasp the situation within. But…
He could see a dimly lit space beyond the door, but that was all. There was no heat or vibrations coming from the air inside. It was like walking through a wall.
Is this, he wondered, the Avalon that Masazumi-dono mentioned?
He realized Mary was moving closer to his side. She would have seen this setup before. This was a public space, so she did not hold his hand or link arms with him, but approaching him must have been her way of reassuring him as someone who knew what this was.
So he took her hand. Not to hold it but to pull her forward.
“Shall I escort you?”
When he asked, Mary gave a brief look of surprise but then smiled.
After that, Tenzou did not hesitate to head in. He endured the feeling of running into a wall and stepped inside.
After a sensation much like passing through a curtain, the view grew brighter.
He found himself in a large stone hall.
And he immediately heard the heavy sound of a pipe organ. It came from directly ahead, behind, and above.
Mitotsudaira felt sound wash over her.
But even as loud as it was, it was not mere noise. As proof, small bits of ether light began dancing around Mary.
Those were spirits.
Drawn out by the music, spirits of sound and air were growing active. They seemed to think a spirit-user like Mary would look after them. And when she simply smiled, the joyous ether light grew brighter.
It was the same around Mitotsudaira.
Werewolves were much like spirits or gods. They were also close to being an incarnation of human fear. That may have been why the spirit ether light floated gently while keeping its distance from her or trying to obey her.
She realized they surrounded her king as well. In his case, they were reacting to his ether supply spell and forming several lines that floated in the air around him.
Horizon stood on his other side and her gaze met Mitotsudaira’s as they both looked at his back. Horizon must have been bothered by the ether lines because she tried to sweep them away with a hand, but they would not go away.
No one could tell where those lines led. Only her king could decide that.
That’s right, thought Mitotsudaira. We left Mikawa, fought our battles, and endured a defeat, but now my king has come to a new place.
Mitotsudaira took a step forward. Standing out front was a knight’s duty.
…Yes. We cannot hesitate to visit those who are watching us.
The committee representatives they had negotiated with and some automatons stood along the left and right walls.
And someone sat in a golden throne located atop a red carpeted dais up ahead.
…That’s Uesugi Kagekatsu.
He was a slender 180cm. He had left and right horns, bluish-white skin, yellow eyes, and white hair.
He was the demon Chancellor who ruled this frigid land.
But Mitotsudaira did not fear him. She did not flinch within the sound washing over her. She was the Reine des Garous’s daughter, the ruler of a Far Eastern territory, and a servant of the boy who was to be the Far East’s king.
“As the Knight of Musashi Ariadust Academy’s Chancellor and Student Council President and as the 5th Special Duty Officer, I shall greet you first.”
After confirming that those behind her had come to a stop, she placed a hand on her chest and got down on one knee.
Her bow was answered with silence. The pipe organ had stopped playing.
Then Kagekatsu moved. He looked to the automaton standing next to him and to Shigenaga who stood diagonally in front of Mitotsudaira. Then he nodded.
“Testament. Very well.”
It was a deep voice that seemed born of the air itself. Then a flood of Russian Orthodox icon-style sankt okno appeared around him.
Awash with the light of the sankt okno, he grabbed his iron staff with his right hand, lightly tapped his own shoulder, and spoke.
“At ease, Musashi representatives. Sviet Rus Chancellor Uesugi Kagekatsu shall speak with you directly…”
“Oh? Oh? So the meeting has begun in Sviet Rus, has it?” asked Yoshiaki. “Since Date is cleaning up their party hall, we should probably get started soon too.”
Adele stood below the two moons with Yoshiaki, Yoshiyasu, and…
“Shakenobe here, mon! If you would like something to eat, I will take your order, mon!”
“Umm, I’ll have the white round rice bread slices, the caesar salad, the pork shoulder, and…oh, this mayon sauce is mayonnaise, right? If you can make it Far Eastern style, that would be great. Oh, and a chicken stew too.”
“That’s too much to remember, mon!”
Adele had no choice but to write her order on a sign frame and hand it to Shakenobe. Then she looked around.
Her surroundings were white and dark.
The multi-level city rose like a cliff in the south and the vast crater where Novgorod had come from was to the north. But both of them were covered with a layer of snow.
So was there location between the city was and Novgorod’s original location.
This place was always just really white, wasn’t it? thought Adele. But now it had other colors for the festival.
Most of the multi-level city’s population was there and that city below the Yamagata Castle was not the only one in attendance. People from the multi-level cities all across the region circled halfway around Novgorod’s original location. They had lit fires, their dancing silhouettes could be seen around the fires, and they were eating and singing.
Adele and the others were on top of a snow platform built up a level higher than everything else. A single diplomatic aerial ship was positioned behind them and they looked out to the festivals from the insulating carpet laid out from there.
“Their dancing is forming circles around the wooden festival towers, but they aren’t moving around them. It’s more like they’re moving in and out from the center of the circle.”
“You noticed? Well, you should be able to tell what that is about.”
“What? It’s a mining dance, isn’t it?” asked Yoshiyasu while viewing the festival stands and the people moving through the gathering places. “Don’t the towers represent Novgorod’s original location and their dance represents the people going there and returning? But…”
Yoshiyasu pointed to a few parts of the hole. There were some pits in the pale shadows of the snow.
“Do the largescale tunnels still exist, but now you’re using them to produce weapons?”
“We will use whatever we can. Even ruins of ill fortune.”
“…Of ill fortune?”
The fox smiled when Adele asked that.
“Do you know why Mogami and Date, the clans with access to these ruins, were able to build up larger fighting forces than the other clans? And why Mogami was able to build these multi-level cities and fuel production facilities?”
“So…” Adele tilted her head. “Was it thanks to the ability to produce lots of food and access to the mineral resources here?”
“I suppose a Musashi resident wouldn’t have noticed since you have the powerful support of IZUMO.”
Yoshiaki laughed, but there was nothing Adele could say since it was true. Musashi is still pretty sheltered, she realized.
Then Yoshiyasu placed a hand on her chin and looked to Novgorod’s original location.
“So it wasn’t just minerals… Was it Orei Metallo you mined from this hole?”
“Yes, that’s right. We trade with Satomi and provide them for Kantou IZUMO. Date does the same, so Oushuu is the east’s leader in production of Black Metal and Thought Metal, you know?”
“I see,” said Adele. “A war-torn land will be more heavily affected by the ether, so Orei Metallo can be mined more easily. So that’s how much Oushuu’s wars have-…”
At that point, Adele realized something.
Something seemed odd to her. Curious, she looked to Yoshiaki who covered her mouth with her fan and narrowed her eyes.
When she looked to Yoshiyasu, the girl brought a hand to her mouth and glanced over at Yoshiaki. The look in her eyes was a powerful one.
Yoshiyasu had realized something too. Was that something the same as Adele’s something? Adele did not know, but she still asked.
“Um, can I ask you something? This original site of Novgorod is…pretty deep, isn’t it? And you said Novgorod was made airborne after the war during the Age of Dawn, right?”
“How can you mine so much Orei Metallo if the war was not actually fought on this land? …I could understand if it was near the surface, but you’re digging deep pits. It’s almost like something was done using the ether even further down than the bottom of the hole.”
“I think it would be more accurate to say something was ‘dealt with’ there.”
Yoshiaki laughed and waved her fan to open several sign frames. And…
“Well, just wait a little longer. Do that and you should see the mystery for yourself.”
“Yes. What happened during the Age of Dawn and where did it lead? Afterwards, I will show you what could be called this region’s hidden festival.”
“Until then, let us eat and hold our meeting. …Satomi and Musashi, are you listening? Date and Sviet Rus will be the same. And Sviet Rus will likely have the most trouble of all.”
A chilly air filled Sviet Rus’s meeting room and king’s chamber.
Near the center, Shigenaga felt a cold sweat after bringing the Musashi group in.
…I hope this will turn out all right.
She more or less stood between the Musashi group and Kagekatsu. She opened a sankt okno, tilted it so only she could see, and turned to face Kagekatsu.
Kagekatsu took a deep, white breath and looked back at her, so she used her body as a shield to keep the Musashi group from noticing the gesture she made with her left hand.
She gestured back her way.
She was telling him to pass the conversation this way. When he saw it, he opened his mouth.
“Would you like to say something, Shigenaga?”
“Testament. Chancellor, I believe it would be faster to start by asking them for their suggestions.”
“Hm… You have a point… V-very well. What are your demands…?”
Don’t stutter! thought Shigenaga, but there was no helping that. The other leaders and committee heads tensed somewhat, but the Musashi group did not react. They did not seem to have noticed anything out of the ordinary. Which meant…
…Is it going well?
Yes, it was going well. The room’s atmosphere and Kagekatsu’s speaking likely matched their impression of Uesugi Kagekatsu as “the Terrible”.
This was working. It was working. After all, their Chancellor, Uesugi Kagekatsu, was…
…A rare sort of demon who wouldn’t hurt a fly!!
Kagekatsu desperately worked to restrain his racing heart.
…Wh-what am I supposed to do!? What am I supposed to do!?
He had never wanted to be Sviet Rus’s Chancellor or their Student Council President. He had come from a good family, he had known the next Chancellors of the other clans, his name had been the same as a future Sviet Rus ruler, he had had the necessary abilities, and he had gotten along well with people. But…
…Why did they have to nominate me for Chancellor just because of that!?
No, it had not been so bad back when he had been nominated. Oushuu had generally settled all international issues through discussions. They had built a generally peaceful relationship with P.A. Oda and everything had been going well.
So by inheriting the name of Kenshin and then the name of Kagekatsu, he had intended to live a demonic life of tranquility. He had intended to provide political leadership, work for the citizens who toiled in the icy land, and maintain stability through discussions with the other nations. As hobbies, he had intended to continue his education, cook, and grow a garden. If possible, he had wanted to happily fall in love, get married, and have around three children. He had also wanted as many friends as possible. His dream was to manage a farm after growing old.
However, those plans had changed after the incident in Mikawa…no, once Nobunaga’s name had been inherited in P.A. Oda eight years before. P.A. Oda had rapidly expanded outwards and they had been truly carrying out the history recreations.
The next thing he had known, he could no longer step down from his position. So…
…I-if! If everyone helps me out, I-I’ll do my very best!!
He was aware he had the ability. He simply disliked conflict and lacked courage, so…
He spoke with a deep voice. He desperately hoped the Musashi group would fear him as he opened a sankt okno and spoke to those who were ready for the meeting.
“Now, state your demands…”
The Musashi group was holding a lively conversation on their sign frames.
10ZO: “H-he seems to be in a good mood, but I get the feeling the slightest thing could set him off!”
Asama: “By the way, I’m detecting an incredible ether reaction from there. Is Mary-san going all out!?”
Scarred: “Hee hee. You mean like when Master Tenzou confessed to me?”
Four Eyes: “Hmm. I’ll report to the Fairy Queen that she’s perfectly happy.”
Novice: W-wait! Those decisions in England could put Crossunite-kun’s life at risk!”
Silver Wolf: “Anyway, he’s asked for our demands, so what should we tell him?”
Vice President: “Ohh, sorry! I have my hands a little full with all these preparations!”
Me: “Huh? What? You’re taking a bathroom break now!?”
Mal-Ga: “Eh? …Oh, you’re still at the top of the stairs. And I was hoping to make a quick sketch.”
Almost Everyone: “What did you think was happening!?”
Hori-ko: “Well, that leaves us with no choice. As Musashi’s representative, I have determined I should take the lead. Now, Toori-sama, get down on one knee.”
Me: “You aren’t plotting some way of going over my head, are you? …Huh?”
Mitotsudaira sensed a smell.
It was not the unique heavy metal smell of a demon’s blood. It was the smell of human blood. And it came from the hallway behind the line of committee heads to their right. And…
A tall man ran in from the hallway. He had modified a Sviet Rus uniform into a T-short, shorts, socks, and athletic shoes. The emblem on his chest and helmet formed the word “love”.
He was also covered in blood. But…
“Hello! Musashi! Nice to meet you! I am Sviet Rus Vice Chancellor and Vice President Naoe Kanetsugu! I am known as the energetic ‘Man of Love and Attachment’! In Far Eastern, ‘Love and Attachment’ is Aizen, which sounds just like iron in German! But this is Russia, so that’s entirely irrelevant!!”
10ZO: “I think we found a friend for Itoken-dono.”
Obscene: “Yes! I sense an atmosphere I could get along with quite well!”
Sticky King: “Kh. Maybe we should have gone to Sviet Rus after all!”
Wouldn’t you freeze? wondered Mitotsudaira, but she held her tongue.
However, the refreshing bloody pulp gave a carefree smile as he spun out in front of the committee heads and made a flip. Then he spread his arms.
“I was pursuing the Novgorod forces who have inherited the local Shibata name! I thought we might be able to settle this through discussions, but they made a serious attack and gave me a very bad day! I was making short work of them with my love attacks, but when you’re pinning one of them down on the battlefield in the north-south position, isn’t it just awful when some of the others surround you and refuse to read the atmosphere!?” said the bloody pulp of love. “Anyway, Kagekatsu-kuuun!? I lost and came running back, so you’re going to scold me, aren’t you!?”
The demon king stood up with his iron staff in hand.
“Why would you appear before me so badly injured…!? Don’t think I can just overlook this…!”
Kagekatsu sensed his own desperation.
That man was a rare person in Sviet Rus who was human yet had strength rivalling a demon. He also had a wonderful personality, understood Kagekatsu’s timidity, and helped assist him.
So Kagekatsu could not overlook the man’s injuries. He should have received treatment from the Health Committee before coming here, but he had likely wanted to personally report on the battle as soon as possible.
Kagekatsu had to heal him and healing spells were one of his greatest specialties.
Everyone thinks bastard is such a dirty word, thought Kagekatsu. But it merely refers to the marital status of one’s parents and shows my understanding of his past.
“Kanetsugu, you bastard…!”
He raised his metal staff while placing a spell inside.
He used light. Specifically, lightning.
In Russia, all illness and pain had long been blamed on evil spirits. So…
The lightning-wrapped iron of healing caught Kanetsugu on the side of the face.
It was a solid blow. The healing had definitely reached the core of his body.
The lightning was an excellent tool. It numbed the recipient before the healing blow landed, so there was no pain and the electrical conduction effect spread the healing around their body. The electric current loosened their muscles and illuminated what he was doing.
After receiving the lightning attack, Kanetsugu bounced along the stone floor, but the strike would have numbed his entire body and provided first aid. However…
…This isn’t enough!
Kagekatsu had to drive the “evil spirit” of the injuries out of his entire body. That was Russian-style healing.
Begone, evil spirits! willed Kagekatsu as he struck Kanetsugu.
These injuries were serious, so he had to use even filthier words to insult them and drive them out. So…
“…nothing more than a dung beetle…!”
Kagekatsu delivered one lightning strike after another.
“So take this…!!”
“Is this still not enough to kill you…!?”
I need to rid him of this pain as soon as possible!!
“No one wants the likes of you around…!!”
The hall was filled with white light and a deep rumbling after each lightning blow. Kanetsugu had lost consciousness as he bounced again and again only to be struck by a new blow each time.
Lightning was summoned from everywhere in the air, so the entire hall became a place of electricity and impacts.
Asama: “Ehh!? W-wait, shouldn’t you stop him!?”
10ZO: “Th-this truly is a demon’s reign of terror! He doesn’t allow even the slightest failure!”
Silver Wolf: “And, um, can we really hold a meeting after this?”
Hori-ko: “Judge. I am learning a lot.”
Everyone had to ask “About what?” as Horizon pulled a teacup from somewhere and took a breath. But in the meantime, Kagekatsu stopped moving.
The staff struck, the final lightning strike burst, and it vanished into the air.
It was over.
Kagekatsu placed his staff on Kanetsugu’s limp form and worked to catch his breath.
“I will leave it at that for now… Health Committee Head, you must carry him out of here immediately. Heh heh… And treat him with care. Yes, do not misinterpret me here. I want you to treat him with the utmost care…”
“Yes, treat him with great care to express my…happiness that he returned alive after such a devastating loss. Heh heh heh… And make sure to give him the best of food to eat. I’m sure you know what I mean. Hah hah…!”
Worshiper: “Th-the hidden implications there are pretty amazing! He’s one hell of a demon!”
Novice: “Dammit! I should have gone there instead of becoming a wall drawing! Kagekatsu-sama is so cool! He’s the ideal demon king!!”
Four Eyes: “Not again… If you love him so much, why not become one of his retainers?”
Meanwhile, Kagekatsu returned to his throne and looked to Shigenaga.
“Well? How was that, Shigenaga…?”
Kagekatsu saw Shigenaga nod.
“I believe that was a most suitable treatment for someone returning from a defeat…”
Shigeko: “Don’t ask me that! You caught me off guard! Why are you always like this, Chancellor!?”
KageV: “Eh!? Ehh? B-but if I don’t ask…I-I don’t know if I screwed up. Um, but, uh, Shige-chan? Wh-what, um, do you mean by ‘like this’?”
Shigeko: “Just get this meeting over with before you let anything slip!!”
Tomo-no-Bu: “Um, Shigenaga-kun? I don’t think you should be so rude.”
Shigenaga glanced at an elderly human who stood down the hallway. He was 1st Special Duty Officer Saitou Tomonobu and he lowered his head when she looked his way.
Tomo-no-Bu: “We will give Kanetsugu a special dining hall coupon and some top quality vodka. He was investigating P.A. Oda’s forces as well as Novgorod’s, after all. Um, and when should we let him take a bath?”
KageV: “Eh? Can’t you do that tonight? All of his injuries and pain should be gone. Oh, but he must be exhausted, so make sure he doesn’t fall asleep in the bath. And give him three days’ worth of medicine just in case…”
KageV: “This may not be the best time, but is there any way we can make the expansions to the botanical garden and zoo like I mentioned before…? We should be at war soon, right? So, um, it may not be the time, but I’m sure the children in our territory will be worried. If we can put out information on a daily basis about how that kind of enjoyable places are being built, that can help support them and it should really help their parents too… So can’t we do it? Or would it be going too soft?”
Asa-no-Bu: “No, I think it is an excellent idea that can also lessen our warrior’s concerns for their children.”
The committee heads also nodded and spoke in unison.
“Such superb judgment!”
Good, thought Kagekatsu while feeling himself grow timid.
And he knew it was childish, but he still instructed them to announce this decision in a public forum right away.
It only took a few seconds for this decision he was so fond of to be uploaded to a Sviet Rus site as a real promise. This was his authority as Ivan IV. So…
I love this side of things.
We are at war now and I am considerately telling the others to fight, but my heart can’t seem to focus on that side of things. I enjoy training in combat and it delights me when my skills can help them in some way, but I can’t help but love “these things” so much. And it makes me grow timid when my heart isn’t in the same place as theirs.
The more I help them, the more I realize my desires are different and the more timid I grow. But…
Kagekatsu asked a question so he could respond to everyone’s efforts.
“Allow me to ask again: What are your demands, people of Musashi…?”
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