Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 72
Chapter 72: Returners to the Borderline
How often can people
Make “now” their peak?
Point Allocation (It Will Happen Again)
“I get what it means…but are they serious!?”
Yoshiyasu voiced her opinion of Date’s decision relayed to her by Musashi.
The Date clan was matching Masamune lost memories by rewinding their view of Musashi to just before Kojirou’s death. But…
…Does Date really understand what that means!?
“Anyone with half a brain could tell what kind of trouble and grudges that will create!!”
The vassal lowered the ends of her eyebrows and raised her right hand.
“Um, sorry, Satomi President, but I can’t tell. Could you maybe explain…?”
Yoshiyasu groaned and fell silent as the salmon whispered into the vassal’s ear.
“You must not become a short-tempered girl like that, mon. You have nothing to feel bad about, mon.”
“See how stress-free life is with Shakenobe around?” added Yoshiaki.
Dammit, am I the bad guy here!? thought Yoshiyasu with a clenched fist in her heart, but Yoshiaki looked toward the distant festival instead of her.
Yoshiaki was apparently leaving the explanation to Yoshiyasu, so Yoshiyasu turned to the puzzled vassal.
“Um… Well, there’s nothing wrong with a normal person not getting it. It’s a political issue.”
“She’s lying, mon. She is merely trying to smooth things over, mon.”
I’m going to fillet you, she thought while glaring at the salmon who promptly hid behind the vassal.
Well, as long as I can’t see him, she concluded while scratching her head.
“Date Kojirou died two weeks ago. What happens if the Musashi’s state is rewound to there?”
“That was when we had just started on the plan to remodel the Musashi, right?”
“Yes. Musashi had just suffered a defeat. You had been unable to defeat Hashiba and you had yet to remodel to secure your new military power.”
“You have nothing to offer when it comes to the war-related aspects of your Vice President’s decision at the special student general assembly.”
…This isn’t good.
Tenzou felt a cold sweat. Musashi planned to head out and fight Hashiba. But if they were viewed as they had been two weeks before…
…They might reject everything by saying they doubt we could win the battle.
That would be troublesome. They would have to offer a great number of privileges to overturn all of those rejections and Date might make substitute demands. Also…
Marube-ya: “This is bad. I mean, this won’t just be Date…”
That was right. Tenzou looked to Saitou and the Sviet Rus Committee Heads.
“Excuse us,” said Saitou before beginning a discussion around Kagekatsu. Tenzou could read their lips, so he could pick up on some of what they were saying.
…As I thought, they’re trying to apply Date’s conditions to themselves because this is a three nations meeting…
If just one nation had an advantage, it would create a gap between them and the other two. So…
Nine-Tail Girl: “That sounds like fun, so we will be doing it as well.”
That was fast! thought Tenzou as his cold sweat grew.
What would happen at this rate?
…None of the nations will admit to Musashi’s value in battle, but we will have to negotiate on the assumption that we want their assistance in battling Hashiba!
If it was only Date, it might be possible to get through it by offering privileges and accepting substitute demands, but Mogami had already requested to use the same conditions as Date and Sviet Rus would likely follow.
But then he heard a voice.
It was Horizon. She relaxed her standing pose and once more pulled a teacup from somewhere.
“So Date had laid a trap. They pretended to be cooperative while laying the groundwork, but they chose conditions advantageous to their own nation during the meeting proper. Normally, this would be the time to leave the negotiation table…but to Musashi, the cooperation of Oushuu and Sviet Rus is something we would like if at all possible. No, make that three somethings. I have determined we are being given the polar opposite of a good deal.”
She nodded and took a sip of tea.
“Yes, this has been an excellent lesson.”
Kagetsuna-kun: “I appreciate hearing Musashi’s princess say that.”
Suzu listened to Katakura’s voice over the divine transmission.
There was a somewhat guilty tone to his voice that was almost reminiscent of anger. It was low and still, but…
Kagetsuna-kun: “Our policy is to match everything to Masamune and her lost memories. But don’t pity us or see it as a farce. This is a gamble on Date’s part. After all, we have to side with Matsudaira in the end. But…the question is when we start doing that. Masamune’s memories stop when Kojirou died two weeks ago. That means at about a week after the Musashi entered the Ariake. So please think about this.”
Kagetsuna-kun: “You have just suffered a defeat, so how are you going to get Masamune on your side? We informed her of the previous special student general assembly by telling her Musashi’s will is alive and well, so she understands your motivation and intent. But the situation around her as an individual has not changed from shortly after Musashi’s defeat. Keep that in mind during these talks.”
Suzu felt that was a very difficult thing to do. After all…
Smoking Girl: “If we can’t use Musashi’s ability to fight while negotiating, how are we supposed to talk about a future where we fight Hashiba?”
Exactly. Furthermore, this meeting was with three nations at once, but those nations were in a position to share their benefits and losses. So…
Marube-ya: “Judge. …Here it is. Sviet Rus just sent a message to Masazumi via their committees. It says they would like the same conditions as Date and Mogami. It’s even signed by someone named Saitou.”
That settled it.
From here on, they could not use the Musashi’s ability in battle as a bargaining chip.
The three nations would not trust them to be able to fight Hashiba.
…And after we all worked so hard…
A lot of the students had spent the nights in tents pitched on the schoolyard, in classrooms, in the underground gym, or in other similar places. They had taken shifts, but they had been working twenty-four hours a day.
After working, they had bathed at Suzu’s bathhouse or the Asama Shrine’s spring, so all of the bathhouses had been running twenty-four hours a day recently.
They had all spoken to each other there and Suzu had heard a lot of what they had said. It saddened her that she could not use all of that here, but…
Suzu realized Musashi lacking the ability to fight created a certain change to the negotiations.
Bell: “Musashi can’t…go to war.”
Wise Sister: “Yeah! Even Suzu has caught on to the deepest secrets of Musashi’s decision making process! Excellent! I’ll give you a nice groping later to celebrate! With an Ootsubaki spell, they’ll probably grow quite a bit!”
Asama: “What do you mean probably? But it is true this restricts Masazumi from going to war. I know that has to be a disappointment, but let’s do our best here, Masazumi.”
Four Eyes: “This is the nation we were negotiating with…?”
Vice President: “Dammit! Is anyone on my side!? Anyone at all!?”
Masazumi sighed in her heart.
…So Date set us up.
She had known about Masamune’s situation, but during their previous exchanges of information and laying of groundwork…
…They never said anything about returning everything to the time of Kojirou’s death!
There was no point in complaining now. When performing their checks, her father and the rest of the Provisional Council had used the people most familiar with the respective clans. To have that suddenly overturned meant the trap had been targeted at someone who knew them well.
She understood all too well what Date was trying to do.
“They’re putting up a greedy resistance to ensure their future stability.”
For Oushuu, this would almost entirely settle the territorial war fought there during the Age of Dawn. These were the people who had never succumbed to the powerful and always continued resisting, so it was Musashi’s failure for not understanding what that unknown past would lead them to do.
They had likely gone for as big a victory as possible.
Novice: “We can’t force Date to discuss their Seiryu problem here.”
Vice President: “Judge. They’ve set up this three nations meeting so it’s impossible for the three nations to lose. Even if Date wanted to nullify the meeting, they could not back out on their own. All three nations would have to back out at once…so the best move for them is to get us to back out instead.”
It was a matter of pride.
Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date were nations and academies at war. If the negotiation was nullified due to any one of them, that one would be placed in an inferior position among the three.
They were taking advantage of Musashi’s position, but they made no attempt to hide it and had gone all out with it.
…So they won’t accept Musashi’s ability to fight, hm?
Then how was she supposed to gain the cooperation of the three nations?
Backing out of the negotiations would only push them toward Hashiba. At best, Mogami would stay with them, but Mogami would eventually have their clanhood revoked.
Mogami’s backing would only be viewed as a temporary thing.
Masazumi thought about what to do.
The three nations meeting should have been about the power to fight and cooperation. That was why Masazumi had corrected all of the problems and confirmed in which direction Musashi was headed at the special student general assembly.
But their opponents had rejected all power Musashi had.
And unless she accepted that rejection, the meeting could not continue.
They refused to accept anything Musashi had done or was doing. No matter what she said, that refusal was their condition for discussing this in the first place.
She wished she was ignorant enough of politics to call this unfair. After all, her opponents had their own profits and losses and had their own ways of benefitting and finding relief.
She knew that perfectly well, but…
…I…have a choice.
She could give the three nations every possible privilege and serve them in every way possible to gain their cooperation.
That would mean sacrificing Musashi, but it would save the Far East and stop the Apocalypse. But…
She could not sacrifice anyone to save something.
Yes. That was what they had decided. And it was the lesson they had learned at Mikatagahara.
They had to save everyone while smiling.
Masazumi thought about what they had to do here if they were to save everyone while smiling.
She was unsure whether or not she could just ask the idiot who had been left with that wish.
Me: “Hey. Can I say something real quick?”
The idiot spoke to her.
Me: “Can you all listen for a moment? I just asked Tenzou and it sounds like we’re in a bit of a tricky situation.”
Vice President: “Sorry. I made a bit of a mistake. I’ll fix it.”
Me: “Eh? Oh, that’s not what I meant. That doesn’t matter.”
Me: “What is a king?”
Me: “I thought about this a bit back at Mikawa and I thought I had an idea of the answer. I thought about it some more at England, I met the sun nudist at IZUMO, I asked Nate Maman about it…and a lot happened at Magdeburg and Mikatagahara. Oh, and a lot’s still happening now.”
Vice President: “What?”
Me: “You’re there, aren’t you? You haven’t gone away?”
Vice President: “Yes, I’m here.”
Me: “Then Futayo?”
Tonbokiri: “Sorry. I fell asleep for a bit there.”
Me: Oh, so you’re there. Okay. Tenzo…is here I guess…. Yeah, he’s here…”
10ZO: “Wh-why are you trailing off like that!?”
Me: “Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. …I guess there’s not much point, but Mary.”
Scarred: “Yes. Thank you for all the help you provide Master Tenzou and me.”
Me: “Wow… I’m not sure what to say when someone takes things so seriously… Okay, Uqui.”
Uqui: “Judge. I am doing well.”
Me: “I’m not gonna lose to you! …So are you there, Gold Mar?”
Gold Mar: “Hm? You need something? I’m working right now.”
Me: “Oh, thanks for all the deliveries. …What about Black Mal?”
Mal-Ga: “Judge. …I’m here.”
Me: “Sure. Smuggle me some more doujinshi sometime, okay? …Are you there, Naomasa?”
Smoking Girl: “I’m trying to work. …But I am here.”
Me: “You can act like a real woman sometimes and it’s scary. …What about Shiro and Auge-chan?”
Marube-ya: “We are. Shiro-kun and me both. And it’s all thanks to you.”
Me: “A merchant’s thanks is a scary thing. …Neshinbara.”
Novice: “What is it? Oh, we haven’t spoken since I was a wall drawing, have we? It’s good to be back.”
Me: “Sure. And lend me some porn once I’m back, okay? …Um, Bell-san.”
Bell: “Eh!? Oh, y-yes. I’m…here…?”
Me: “Yeah, sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you. Take care of things there. …Is Noriki there?”
Laborer: “You know I am, so you don’t need to ask.”
Me: “Yeah, but you know I’m gonna ask anyway… Okay, Adele.”
Flat Vassal: “Oh, yes, yes. Judge. What is it?”
Me: “Well, now that We has fixed your mobile shell, show it to me sometime. …Flat Girl.”
Righteousness: “Hm? What do you want?”
Me: “This’ll probably be a pain, but take care of things okay? …Imperial Boy.”
Azuma: “Oh, yes. Miriam is here too. She says good luck.”
Me: “Your shtick sure has changed… Okay, Ohiroshiki.”
Worshiper: “Judge. Leave things here to me!”
Me: “You aren’t at some dangerous peeping spot, are you? …Hassan.”
83: “Do you want some curry?”
Me: “Deliver some to my house. I’ll make curry bread out of it. …Now Itoken.”
Obscene: “Ha ha ha! Good to hear from you! It has been far too long!”
Me: “Yeah. It does seem far too long since I’ve spoken with everyone like this. You there too, Nenji?”
Sticky King: “Yes. I am sure you have given a lot of things a lot of thought since Mikawa. If not, we might have gathered around you, but we would not have done so at a single call like this.”
Me: “You talk too much, Nenji. …Now Pe-yan.”
Almost Everyone: “Can’t you talk when it’s just text!?”
Me: “I don’t think my heart could take it if he just started talking on and on. …You there, Sis?”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. I am, foolish brother. But you won’t get anything from me just for calling me up for no reason!”
Me: “At least give me a snack. …Okay, Nate. Even if you are right in front of me.”
Silver Wolf: “Judge. …No matter where she is, a knight will always answer her king’s call.”
Me: “Good to see you haven’t changed. And don’t you ever change. …Are you there, Asama?”
Asama: “Eh!? Wh-what do you want all of a sudden!?”
Me: “Well, you’ve always helped me out so much and I haven’t said it as much as I should, so…I look forward to the help you’ll give me in the future.”
Asama: “That’s where you would normally say thank you!!”
Me: “Now this shrine maiden is making demands… Oh, but, um, Horizon.”
Hori-ko: “This whole thing sounds an awful lot like one long death flag to me.”
Me: “She said it! She just said what I was thinking but had enough sense not to say!”
Hori-ko: “Anyway, what do you want? Why are you hogging the divine network like this?”
“Well,” said Toori.
Me: “This is a troublesome situation, right? A really troublesome one.”
No, he had feeling their situation had been troublesome for a while now. But…
Me: “Now that I think about it, things have been trouble for all of you ever since Mikawa.”
Silver Wolf: “Um, my king? It has not been that much trouble for us…”
Me: “Yeah, judge, judge. That’s because you all can handle it. But…you’ve spent a lot of time lost in thought lately, haven’t you? When you’re working, when you’re in class, when you’re eating with me, you’re always lost in thought or discussing things with each other at length. It’s been that way for three weeks now. Ever since we lost.”
Me: “Is that necessary for your dreams?”
Me: “If anything, it’s necessary to make me king. You’re doing it for what I started at Mikawa and what I’ve dragged the rest of you along on.”
Me: “What am I doing now? No…I’ve been thinking that ever since England. What does it mean for me to become a king? Yoshitsune said it was to do whatever you wanted, Anne showed through her actions that it’s to guide and protect everything, and Matsunaga was more the Yoshitsune type but while putting up as much of a resistance as he could. Yoshiyori chose a method I don’t like so he could tell me not to be like him. And he told me to smile. And Nate Maman told me that, if I wanted to make everyone’s dreams come true, I had to become a king that could make my own dream come true.”
Me: “I feel like it’s fine as long as all of your dreams come true. I still don’t really know what my dream is, but there is one thing I can say.”
Me: “If you’re getting all depressed and find you can’t act on my behalf, you’re getting it all backwards. I made that request to Asama so I could make sure that wouldn’t happen. I said I would support you to make sure you could make a kingdom that could make your dreams come true and to make sure you wouldn’t be defeated before that happened. So…how should I put it? Things are getting pretty tough and you might be feeling down. But don’t you forget. Don’t you ever forget, okay?”
He said it.
Me: “I’ll take on your impossibilities. Don’t forget that. I’m in charge of all of your impossibilities, so don’t you ever give up. Don’t you ever let it get to you. If things are looking bad, just tell yourself you can leave it with me and come pay me a visit. …That’s the king I can be right now.”
Me: “Since I can do that, I’m a king right now. I’ve been a new type of king since Mikawa.”
Silver Wolf: “Judge!”
Me: “You’re my first knight, so you know what to leave with me, right? Even if everyone’s starting to look down, tell them things aren’t that bad. Sis, you take care of that too.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. What a hopeless boy.”
Me: “Yeah, I can be pretty careless. …Um, Asama, with that, well, keep looking after me. My contract with you is important for being a king, but I’m as frail as a rabbit, so protect me and make sure I don’t die.”
Asama: “You don’t make it easy to respond to you, Toori-kun. …Understood. I will protect you as much as I can.”
Me: “That’ll be a huge help. And if anything’s impossible for you, leave it with me. I feel like that’s setting up a bit of a feedback loop, but thanks. …And Horizon.”
Hori-ko: “What is the meaning of this liquidation sale on death flags?”
Me: “Well, it might only be this way in my head, but this feels like as big a moment as Mikawa. So Horizon, I’ll give you a dream. I’ll take back everything that was taken from you and give you a dream. I’ll give you the same kind of dream as the rest of us.”
Hori-ko: “If I have all my emotions, I will have a dream?”
Me: “Judge. Then you can stand alongside us and my kingdom can finally begin. At the very least, my dream can’t begin without doing that.”
Me: “The identity of my dream must lie beyond that.”
Me: “Seijun, everyone, this is probably getting to be a lot of trouble, but I’ll be moving out ahead of you a little. So you get to following me and surpassing me. If you don’t, I’ll die pretty quickly. …Got that?”
Me: “Oh. That’s good.”
Me: “Sorry, everyone. I’ll be going on ahead. And I’ll have something to say afterwards.”
“Hey, I know we’re in the middle of a meeting here, but could you listen for a second?”
Tenzou heard a voice within the icy atmosphere.
It was Toori. He crossed his arms and looked to Kagekatsu.
“Hey, you seem like a cool guy. Will you listen to what I have to say?”
Kagekatsu did not respond. He simply looked to his sankt okno. Instead, Saitou blatantly wrinkled his brow and took a step forward.
And just as Saitou prepared to speak, the sankt okno must have finished gathering the necessary information. Kagekatsu nodded and held out a hand to stop Saitou.
“Wait… We have gathered here for a meeting. Preventing him from speaking would be folly…”
“Do you intend to make me look a coward…? You must be as exhausted as Naoe after heading out to battle… If necessary, I can provide you with plenty of my lightning attacks. How about it…?”
Saitou immediately bowed and stepped back. Kagekatsu laughed and looked toward the Musashi group again.
“Now, what do you wish to say, Musashi Chancellor…?”
“Oh, judge, judge. Looks like you’re surrounded by trouble too. I’ve been thinking lately, and being a king who keeps a nation running really is tough. For me, Seijun and the others do a lot of the work, but with you, it looks like a lot of the burden falls on you.”
Tenzou mentally nodded at Toori’s comment.
Russia’s leader Kagekatsu had also inherited the name of Ivan the Terrible, who was viewed as a tyrant. He did not hesitate to carry out purges, he had his own personal army, he would execute powerful people he did not like, and he had confiscated lot of private land as “national land”.
When his subordinates had betrayed him, he had been temporarily driven from the capital, but politics had gone poorly afterwards.
…So with the support of the commoners who only wanted stability, he reclaimed the throne.
This age required a powerful state. Even as a tyrant, everyone had obeyed and followed a leader who had forced them along to ensure their nation was not destroyed.
It was nearly the opposite of Musashi. The king made all decisions and corrected everything.
Tenzou did not know whether or not Toori knew this, but the boy could likely guess what kind of king Russia had based on the interactions with Naoe and Saitou. So…
“I have one thing to say. And I want the people who went to the other nations to listen up too.” Toori gave his usual smile as he opened his mouth. “I can’t do anything. But my friends can do anything. They’ll do anything for me. And they will end all war in the Far East. …Seijun confirmed that earlier, right? So…”
“We won’t use Musashi’s ability to fight for these negotiations. After all, we’re gonna win. If our victory is already assured, why use that for negotiations? Right? We won’t lose again. We’ve already decided that, so we don’t need to worry about any enemies.”
“Seijun made her point pretty clearly, so I’ll make my point pretty clearly too.”
“And what is that?” asked Kagekatsu.
Musashi’s leader answered clearly.
“I won’t lose again.”
He gestured toward Tenzou and Mitotsudaira who stood in front of him.
“They won’t let me lose and I won’t let them lose. So Musashi will always be like that. No matter what might happen, Musashi will remain, Musashi will resist, and Musashi won’t give up. So what we’re about to do isn’t resisting.”
It was what came after resisting.
“We’re making a comeback.”
Mitotsudaira listened to her king.
“Listen. …Let’s base all our upcoming talks on that assumption. If we don’t, I won’t understand what we’re talking about. Just like I trust myself…”
He turned toward her and the others.
“You all do the same.”
Mitotsudaira nodded at her king’s words. She felt this in her heart, so she nodded in her heart.
How long had it been? How long had it been since her king had so clearly relied on and trusted in her? She knew what he would say if she asked him:
“It’s always been like that.”
And that was true. Otherwise, he would not have influenced her so much during middle school. But that had just been him telling her to follow him.
That was why he had taken the lead alone when he went to save Horizon at Mikawa.
He had relied on and trusted everyone, but he had gone ahead when descending from that bridge.
As if to say he did not want to get anyone else involved in something so dangerous…
…He did not call out to us.
He had almost certainly not understood what he was doing. He had known it was “doable” because Masazumi had told him so, but he had almost certainly not understood why he could do that as king. But…
Yes, realized Mitotsudaira. That really was the beginning.
She still remembered it.
She remembered the moment of running after him down the academy stairs as her king’s knight.
She remembered the instant when she had started truly answering her king who had showed such concern for her.
She remembered the situation in which even a king had cared so much for his companions that he had tried to keep his distance.
She remembered the moment when he had clearly made an enemy of the world.
And she remembered the instant when everyone had decided they had to follow him for that very reason.
…But he never said anything.
She had made a promise with him in middle school, but her decision to go help her king had been unrelated to that.
Her king could not do anything, so they had all decided to do everything they could to help him.
So when they had all decided they could not leave that king alone, he had likely understood that he would not be left alone and there was no need to be alone.
And now, he was finally aware of it.
After suffering a defeat and seeing the gloom hanging over everyone, he had grown aware of everything he had learned by moving out ahead.
There were probably all sorts of things he still did not understand about being a king, but that understanding had definitely begun.
When it came to helping people, waging war, and everything else, he had started down his own path as king. Mitotsudaira felt she had just heard that first footstep.
As long as her king remained a king, she would be his knight. So…
Mitotsudaira listened to her king speak the words that would once more pull everyone after him.
“Listen carefully, everyone.”
“Let’s go conquer the world. Come at us, world. We won’t lose again. Keep that in mind when you face us.”
The idiot spoke to everyone from this closed space.
“Let’s go make our dreams come true, everyone.”
Masazumi realized her lips had loosened into a smile. …Oops.
The situation surrounding her had just undergone a radical change.
She felt like the people and things behind them and next to them had all been bound together.
It was support.
Someone was supporting them. Someone would always trust in and support them no matter what happened.
During Mikatagahara, she had let that support control her a little. He had said it was not like her. He had told her to enjoy it like normal.
She now realized just how right he had been. She wondered why she had been so worried back then.
The idiot supporting her was willing to smile at the world as he made it his enemy. He showed no fear even when facing people with far too much authority, military might, and personal ability.
What did she have to fear or worry about with that kind of idiot supporting her?
That idiot was no longer worried about her. Not even with an idiotic sort of worry. And just like at Mikawa and England…
“We will pave the way no matter what might happen.”
This is what they call a royal road. Did you know that, idiot? And I’ll pave it for you. So…
Vice President: “Out of the way there. …I’m moving out front.”
Me: “Oh, Seijun, are you feeling it now? …Are you smiling?”
Vice President: “Let’s just say my expression is exactly what you’re imagining. And…”
Vice President: “Let’s resume the meeting.”
“As Musashi’s Vice President, I have something to tell the three nations.”
Masazumi inhaled and made a clear statement.
“We will accept the Date clan’s suggested basis for judging Musashi. We agree to not consider the Musashi’s battle ability in the coming negotiations.”
In Sendai Castle’s great hall, Katakura stood with the Committee Heads along the wall as he listened to Musashi’s ambassador speak.
She frequently paused to breathe and spoke slowly, but what she said was clear.
“Sh-she says…we will not…consider the Musashi’s…ability to…fight.”
She straightened up before continuing.
Musashi had said they would not accept their own value in war as a topic for negotiation.
They’ve destroyed themselves, thought Katakura.
The ability to protect one’s own independence was a necessary part of being a nation. If they could not use that in this negotiation, they could not even be accepted as an independent nation.
They would be nothing more than a pacifist transport ship.
Then was there something else Musashi could do?
…It can’t be…
Once a possibility occurred to him, he looked to Musashi’s ambassador.
She was smiling.
She was smiling toward Masamune as if telling her to look forward to what was coming.
A moment later, a sign frame opened. It was from Musashi and it contained the words of their Vice President.
Vice President: “Musashi has a proposal.”
She showed how they would negotiate without relying on their ability to fight.
Vice President: “Date, Mogami, Sviet Rus, and the minor clans of Oushuu and Kantou. We will build a largescale neutral commerce city at Edo that will allow you all to trade freely. It will become an eastern trade hub for the entire Far East.”
Vice President: “To earn the friendship and cooperation of Date, Mogami, and Sviet Rus, Musashi will construct a land route with land ports that will act as way stations for the three nations. Oushuu and Sviet Rus will be commercially unified and you will have a secure air and land route. Through largescale and constant travel to and from Edo, you can buy or sell resources and products, and your range of distribution will spread to any nation capable of reaching Edo. That commercial distribution will involve various fees such as those for transportation, but the Far East will not apply any tariffs that are not part of the history recreation. Meaning…”
Vice President: “Oushuu and Sviet Rus were said to have formed a single community during the Age of Dawn. We propose reviving that peaceful community around commerce and cultural exchange. And this is unrelated to anyone’s ability to fight, so it can be implemented quickly. After all, this would be impossible without the cooperation of all three nations and it must be acted on immediately if it is a reaction to the world’s upcoming actions.”
Yoshiaki covered her mouth with her fan as she spoke.
“So Musashi’s Vice President is telling us we are not to side with Hashiba, but we need not side with Musashi either. …We are to side with our own futures and act on it now.”
Interesting, thought Yoshiaki. One common factor shared by Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date was poor trade power. That was partially due to their long and cold winters, but it was also due to the Far East’s central mountain ranges obstructing travel.
All three nations had open sea routes, but that required passing through other nations’ territorial waters, which meant paying tolls and going through inspections, so they did not do so often.
But Musashi was different.
They also had to pay tolls and undergo inspections, but they could transport far more. And due to travelling between so many nations, their international trade goods were less strictly inspected in order to avoid trouble between nations.
“But…if you build a trade base at Edo…where are you planning to go next?”
Hearing that question, Yoshiyasu opened a sign frame, typed on the keyboard, and responded after a few seconds.
“According to the Treasurer’s suggestion, IZUMO, Sakai, Hirado, and – if possible – Mikawa… What do you think about that?”
“They’re focusing a lot on the history recreation. But it is not a bad idea. After all, narrowing their bases down to those few will shorten the distance of Musashi’s travels and increase the frequency of trade.”
“Musashi is offering us trade with the entire Far East. They will build a major commerce route and urge us to take part as a single northern community. The entire Far East will profit as long as Musashi remains in the air, but even if we do not cooperate, Musashi will likely bring this same deal to the other nations. If that happens, we will fall behind the rest of the Far East on the economic front…”
Their lack of military might did not matter here.
This is a politician’s idea, thought Yoshiaki as she considered the Musashi Vice President’s plan. A merchant would not come up with this plan based on their own calculations.
After all, developing the land route would require a massive investment of money, personnel, and time.
But it was well worth that investment.
“Matsudaira owns Edo, so if it becomes a base of commerce, they will always have a means of trading with our three nations and the other nations. …They will make back their initial investment in no time at all. And they can likely add to their business plan by using that recovered money as collateral…”
This plan had been built up by the Musashi Vice President, but something else had built the foundation.
…Their discussion with Hiraizumi’s Yasuhira…
They were suggesting a revival of Oushuu and Sviet Rus’s community from the Age of Dawn. But if Musashi built the transportation routes and the land ports to act as way points, it would no longer be a community of just Oushuu and Sviet Rus.
…Musashi Vice President…
After accepting the conflict from the Age of Dawn, was she still attempting to create a great community that encompassed the entire Far East?
And had she chosen to begin with the land that had once resisted and never let go of that resistance?
“Is she being naïve?”
Yoshiyasu had hit the bulls-eye, so Yoshiaki could only nod.
“That idealistic vision is so very naïve, but that is exactly what makes it so attractive.”
“Eh? That mean it’s actually a bad idea, doesn’t it?”
Hearing the vassal’s question, Shakenobe tilted his entire body.
“Is it a bad idea, mon? Would it never work, mon? Sometimes I feel like swimming in another river, mon. But is that a bad idea, mon?”
“I end up being far too kind with you around, Shakenobe.”
But there was something Yoshiaki had to say.
“That plan will not last long. It is a pipe dream. …Satomi, you understand, don’t you?”
“Do you mean Mogami losing its status as a clan? Or Sviet Rus’s territorial reduction after Sekigahara?”
“I mean both. Talk all you want about a northern community to be created here, but by the time that happens, Mogami will have nearly vanished and Sviet Rus will have lost its strength. Only Date will remain. Only Date will survive by preserving enough national strength to be called the rulers of Oushuu, so only they will benefit from this community.”
“I cannot agree to this community idea. The same will go for Sviet Rus. And Sviet Rus should make a much more obvious display of their opposition.”
“Eh? A much more obvious display of their opposition? What do you mean?”
This vassal was a nice person, so Yoshiaki decided to answer her kindly. She pulled a rice snack from her sleeve, handed it to the vassal, and waited until the girl had started munching on it.
“Are you listening? Sviet Rus is facing your Chancellor’s group.”
So Sviet Rus would adopt a certain method.
“Hos – ta – ges.”
“Don’t think too badly of us. This is only the natural response for a negotiation between nations.”
Mitotsudaira took a defensive stance and saw Shigenaga place a hand on the sword at her hip.
Sviet Rus warriors had just left the left and right hallways to surround them. It was a triple ring of demons.
Some even targeted them from the vents near the hall’s ceiling. The staffs held by the shelled figures were the hexagonal focusers unique to the Russian spell factory of Umnyi Vedma.
The warriors would fire some initial shots from above, they would face up to defend against it, and the rest of the soldiers would use that opening to rush in from the sides. It was an obvious but effective strategy.
“Musashi group,” said Shigenaga. “This space has limited entrances. You will find nothing even if you break through the walls. We hold the exits, so you have nowhere to run. So…”
“So we should stop holding a meeting that won’t benefit Sviet Rus?”
“Testament. That is correct. …The community your Vice President suggested holds no future benefit for us. Musashi is simply holding some delicious-looking bait just out of reach in order to gain our immediate cooperation. …Am I wrong?”
Someone nodded. It was Saitou who stood at the front of the dais to protect Kagekatsu. His arms hung relaxed at his side and he held his hands somewhat opened.
“Musashi’s Chancellor and President as well as the Logismoi Oplo princess should make excellent hostages. It will also give us influence over the other two nations.”
“Don’t you find this to be underhanded?”
“The victors write history and decide what is justified. That is exactly what Shinto did during the Age of Dawn.”
Shigenaga responded to Saitou’s words by lowering her body. She was not targeting Mitotsudaira; she was targeting the king behind Mitotsudaira.
So Mitotsudaira took a step forward. If anyone was going to treat her king rudely, it was a knight’s duty to be his shield and his sword. The surrounding demons deepened their combat stances, but Mitotsudaira felt no fear in her heart. After all…
“Hey, you guys surrounding us? You need to be careful.”
She heard her king’s voice behind her.
“My first knight here held her own against the Reine des Garous in a one-on-one fight.”
“M-my king, do you have to compliment me in such weird ways…?”
“I do. And when she climbs up to high places, she gets real excited, starts singing ‘lu lu la la’, and does some crazy stuff.”
“That really is weird and it isn’t even a compliment!!”
…Ah, the demons look a little disturbed!
In a way, this may have been the right thing to do, she realized.
“I really think you should stop this,” said someone else. “…But what do you think?”
It was Mary.
Mary finally understood why Masazumi had placed her in this group.
“I am Mary Stuart, currently exiled to Musashi where I am helping the Chancellor’s Officers.”
She inhaled and gently tensed her chest.
“According to the Testament descriptions, Ivan IV viewed England as a possible destination if he had to flee Russia and the two nations engaged in trade. The nations around Russia even sent England a letter asking them to cease trade with Russia, and Ivan IV once asked to marry one of the Fairy Queen’s maids but was rejected because the Fairy Queen ‘could not bear to send her somewhere so cold’. …That is apparently the relationship between our two nations.”
Her meaning had to have gotten through to them.
And Saitou proved it as he stood in front of the dais.
“So you are the mother of England’s heir…”
“Judge. …The father is here too.”
Just in case, she did not restrict his movements by taking his hand. Instead she held her hand out toward him but not enough to reach him.
But he reached out and grabbed her hand anyway.
She sensed why in his stronger than normal grip and she wondered if it was wrong that that made her feel happy. But instead of escorting her, he intertwined their fingers so as not to let go.
“Well done,” he said so only she could hear. “It is because of that identity and history that we were able to meet and arrive where we are. And since you are able to use that properly…”
He squeezed her hand even harder.
“I can feel proud that you came to me and showed me the future, Mary-dono.”
“…Thank you very much.”
That was true. Just a few months earlier, Mary never would have thought of “using” her name. But now she felt no aversion to doing so and she wanted to use her presence to save her current home. This was due to how she felt about arriving at Musashi, experiencing so much there, and being taken better care of than ever before.
…I appreciate all of it.
Nothing made her happier than being able to have someone openly call her “Mary-dono”.
So she wanted to protect the person who did so and the place where they lived. And…
“Please remember that England is watching Sviet Rus.”
Saitou moved. He raised his right hand to have the surrounding demons move back, but then he spoke.
“Stand back, future of England. Do so and we will not touch you. I would also like for you to not assist them with Excalibur. …This is Russia’s way of showing our friendship with England.”
After saying that, he audibly descended a step.
At that moment, a burst of motion exploded in front of him. Shigenaga kicked off the dais’s bottom step to accelerate forward while holding her sword low.
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