Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 76
Chapter 76: Unperceived Dancers
I’d decided that
I’d decided already
I’d decided this
Point Allocation (Without Control)
The battle was at full speed from the very first strike.
Unturning Centipede and the half-dragon both had great height and reach. The half-dragon had greater acceleration, but the centipede was more maneuverable. So when their attacks intersected…
The half-dragon generally pushed while the centipede deflected, dodged, and…
The centipede used her weapons to push back with greater numbers.
As large as the hall was, it was still located within Sendai Castle. In that 100 meter by 50 meter space, the centipede could not make full use of her mandible swords and instead repeatedly summoned them at high speed.
Meanwhile, the half-dragon deflected the mandible swords with his armor, but…
He also used spell shields. He activated smallish handheld ones to respond to the centipedes great numbers. Fragments of shields scattered as they blocked the continuous strikes.
“Inquisition Kit #311! María Tacón!”
He pulled one meter brass hammers from his sleeve. The striking end was made into a model of the Virgin Mary making a heel kick. He held one in the three fingers of each forearm and snapped them forward with his draconic strength. He slammed the dual strikes toward the centipede.
He was fast, but hopelessly outnumbered compared to the centipede’s number of attacks. However, he had the greater strength.
The two hammers struck the arms the centipede used for defense. And she of course repeatedly summoned new arms.
Ether light surrounded the centipede’s swinging arms and they seemed to shake. The half-dragon’s hammers were deflected with what sounded like a sawblade striking rock.
The half-dragon did not stop. He let go of the deflected hammers and moved to grab Unturning Centipede’s arms. Then he caught the flying hammer grips on his forearms and spun them back around.
As the spinning hammers swung up from his forearms like hooks, the half-dragon’s hands moved to grab Unturning Centipede’s defense arms from above.
Unturning Centipede swung her arms down so they would not be caught. And before the half-dragon’s hammers could finish their rotation and strike her arms, she caught their grips on her own arms to steal them.
Then she spun the hammers back around with her arms.
The hammers had been rotating up from below, but they now spun around the centipede’s arms to swing a counterattack against the half-dragon’s arms.
The half-dragon responded by pulling his arms back and once more scooping up the hammer grips.
They did not grab them.
The brass striking weapons that looked like gold continued to spin back and forth between them as they continued avoiding the attacks like that.
“Let’s up the ante!”
He added two, then two more, and…
“A heel-stepping dance is the charm of bondage!!”
A total of sixteen golden spikes danced within their exchange of offense and defense.
Suzu sensed it.
She did not understand colors. She lived her life listening to sounds and sensing heat and the wind. And most importantly, she had lived by trusting in her own heart as it tried to sense the outside world. So…
She could detect and follow Urquiaga and Narumi’s actions, but she could not comprehend them.
She did not understand, but that did not frighten her.
She liked both Urquiaga and Narumi. She had not known the latter for long, but Narumi had helped her put on her dress before the dance. When Suzu had tried to perceive her expression as she performed the work with practiced hand…
“I have long been in charge of dressing Masamune.”
Then Narumi had laughed.
It had been a quiet laugh. Suzu doubted it was something she did often. It seemed to have slipped out. But Suzu thought that was just as meaningful as always laughing.
She thought it had been a nice laugh.
And she liked people with a nice laugh.
Urquiaga was the same. He would occasionally make a quiet nasal laugh. She did not know if he was usually in a bad mood, but when he was happy, he would do that.
She liked their exchange of offense and defense.
The two of them had to be moving around, throwing quick strikes and kicks, rotating around, performing feints, spinning into a kick to keep some distance between them, and otherwise attacking each other.
…They’re trying to take each other’s hand…
Were they up to sixteen hammers that were catching on and spinning around their bodies while passing between them? The hammers were rotating, passing back and forth, and intersecting so often that she had lost count.
As the hammers spun around their arms, wrists, elbows, sides, shoulders, necks, and even legs, the combatants would occasionally catch one on the end of their kicking foot and throw it toward the other, or they would catch one on their neck and either swing their entire body to throw it back or throw it back from their thigh as their opponent tried to grab their wrist.
Again and again, they would throw them back when their opponent tried to grab their hand and they would brush their opponent’s hand away while also pursuing that opponent. They would pull back the arm being pursued while also moving the other up in scooping motion to obstruct one of their opponent’s hammers.
It was like several stars were whizzing around them to decorate their motion.
Suzu thought that everything decorating their spinning dance was wonderful.
She did not understand colors. Nor did she understand light or darkness. She knew how those things were “beautiful”, but she could not directly perceive that beauty.
So she believed. She believed that this high-speed exchange of rotation and revolution was beautiful. She simply believed that these two people in the outside world were beautiful, just like they were in their everyday lives.
This was beyond what she could perceive and she could not explain it in words.
She believed that what she could perceive was beautiful.
And then the two of them sped up even further. They would approach close enough that their toes nearly touched, the density of strikes grew, and…
Swords and shields appeared.
No, they had already been there, but within the sixteen rotations…
The continuous exchange of sword strikes and defense resumed.
Urquiaga did not hold back in the slightest.
His shields were no longer for defense. As soon as they opened, he hit them from behind for a shield attack.
Even if they were spells, these shields were meant for inquisition use. Each one could endure around seven mandible sword attacks, so he opened them on the left and right and repeatedly struck the mandible sword with them.
A great noise rang out, but he did not stop moving. He tried to spin to Narumi’s side as if checking on his footing. And he tried to grab her hand in both of his hands.
A mandible sword flew in to stop him, but he did not give up.
Yes, a half-dragon did not give up.
Urquiaga believed that the half-dragons were the strongest race. There were demons, angels, spirits, and half-gods, but the aerial half-dragons could fly swiftly through the air and that was cool.
Yes, it was cool. And what was cool was strong. What could be more obvious?
And since he was strong, he did not need to give up. If he did happen to lose, it would only be a trivial mistake. He would never wholly lose, so he did not need to feel down about it. Half-dragons were strong. They were strong in body and mind. They were unbeatable.
That was why Urquiaga had chosen to become an inquisitor. There was also a reason his father had named him after Naitou Kiyonari, a magistrate. Because he was strong, he had once thought that he could give meaning to his strength by justly judging others.
At the same time, he liked humans. Some claim humans are supposed to be our prey, but I’m not so sure. People like Ohiroshiki do seem like they would make an excellent source of food, but I have no desire to eat him. When I looked at him in that way before, he blushed, so I need to send him to hell at some point.
Oops. A mandible sword got this close while I was lost in thought. I’ll hit it with my shield to spin it around and…there! A hit.
Nice one, Mukai. But unfortunately, I “like” you in a different way too.
My standards for what I like are quite strict.
It likely comes down to me being too strong. And my heart being too just. When I see someone weaker than me, I do not feel a desire to prey on them; I feel a desire to protect them. That may be a racial memory of my ancestors being the guardians who protected inexperienced mankind when we lived in the heavens. A racial memory. Now that’s cool. I feel like I just got a strength boost.
Simply put, half-dragons are strong and I am a just person, so I can handle the weak with ease.
And that is why I love strong women. Which is why…
I love elder sisters.
The Centipede and the half-dragon’s movements were speed itself.
They deflected each other’s arms, sparks scattered, swords became wind and shattered shields, and light surged out. The paths of each element remained in the air, creating a giant flower blossoming around the two of them as they spun around.
But Unturning Centipede increased its number of attacks. She had attacked with great frequency already, but now that they had moved closer together…
Her attacks changed. Before, she had struck with her mandible swords from the left and right, but now she sent them straight ahead as well.
One appeared in front of her, then some appeared on either side, and finally another appeared in front.
She established a series of high-speed attacks from three directions.
She launched them like a rapid-fire cannon.
Front, right, right, front, right, left, front, right, and right. The repeated attacks rushed out and sliced through the wind.
But the half-dragon fought back. He hit his shields out front as well as on the left and right for his own three-layers of attack.
Right, left, front, right, right, front, right, left, front, right, right, and front. He attacked faster than he breathed and forced his way ahead. However…
Suzu’s yell reached him.
Suzu sensed it. She sensed it clearly. She sensed the beauty come to a stop.
Unlike with the previous actions, she rapidly came to understand the shape and number of the beauty the two combatants had created.
She knew why without having to think about it. It was the same. After Narumi launched her blade through the center, she made a certain attack on Urquiaga.
…Front, right, right, front, right, left…
There was a pattern. It was hard to notice because she would end the pattern after a bit and begin again from a different position, but Suzu thought there was a reason for the repetition. After all…
…It makes Urquiaga-kun attack on the right a lot!
The pattern led Urquiaga to swing his right arm a lot and there were two reasons for that.
A solid sound pointed to the first reason.
It was the sound of a shield attack pushed by his right arm powerfully deflecting Narumi’s mandible sword.
But that had been set up. The sword was blown away with no resistance and Urquiaga’s right arm thrust forward with the shield.
His right arm was wide open as it stretched forward. That was one of the reasons for this, and the other…
By repeating the same actions, Narumi was able to predict the timing of the sixteen striking weapons. She instantly grabbed the sixteen weapons in her own arms. In the sixteen additional arms she summoned, that is.
And then she grabbed Urquiaga’s right arm in her left arm.
Urquiaga tried to pull back, but Narumi repeatedly summoned new arms to grab it.
She held it in place.
A moment later, sixteen hammers and three hooked swords slammed into Urquiaga.
Narumi did not stop. This was an official duel. Holding back would be impolite, so this was expected of her.
And if she could completely crush this opponent, he would likely be able to find resolution and resignation over a number of things. And the same was true of her. So…
“This ends now!”
She sent out her blunt and bladed strikes with a time delay between them. And she knew her own left arm would be caught in the flurry of blows. She could not defeat this opponent otherwise.
The half-dragon raised his left arm. He was not striking her. He made a shield attack on the hooked sword. He had likely judged them more dangerous than the hammers.
A moment later, the hooked blade collided with the spell shield he held out.
The shield broke, shattered, and vanished. The brass heels dropped down beyond the scattering light.
“This is over!!”
But Narumi received an unexpected attack.
What she sensed in front of her was a definite explosion.
She did not have time to dodge. The fog and impact of pressure exploded and struck her entire body.
Suzu sensed it.
It was Urquiaga. He had opened only the thrusters on the front of his right half.
And he blasted his power of flight toward Narumi at extreme close range.
It was noise, heat, and power. That acceleration allowed a half-dragon to fly. If he was a true dragon, that explosive power would be released from the mouth as a dragon cannon. He had used up the contents of his lungs and slammed it into his opponent.
It was true Urquiaga had been moving closer and closer to his opponent.
All of his footwork and movements had likely been to fill his thruster lungs with ether.
Suzu also understood why he had not used his left arm. The thrusters on his left half were not open. That preserved the acceleration of his left lungs but also prevented the power released from his right side from escaping through the opposite side. That sent its full power toward his opponent.
It was an explosion.
Narumi’s left arm detached from the shoulder, flew away, and stabbed into the ceiling. Her entire body bent as if from a blow to the right side, but…
Her right arm and both legs were detached from their bases and new ones were summoned. She also re-summoned her left arm.
It only took an instant for her to land, but Urquiaga used that time to charge forward.
“Here I go!”
He accelerated his powerful left arm.
Narumi’s mind grew clear within the speed and decisions.
After the impact of the explosion, Unturning Centipede made an immediate adjustment. That was partially due to her mind clearing, but more than that…
…I can’t afford to lose!
She was Date’s Vice Chancellor. And she had Masamune as her Chancellor.
Masamune was effectively imprisoned by the Seiryu, but that led from her own decision.
It had happened three weeks ago.
When Hashiba had arrived to confirm they were following the history recreation, Masamune’s brother Kojirou had felt he was duty-bound to commit suicide. He had not let it show, but the result had become apparent soon enough. A few days later, Kojirou had attempted suicide in an unused tea room within Sendai Castle.
Masamune and Narumi had been worried and gone to search for him, so they had been the first to discover him.
He had inherited a dragon’s power. He had used an Orei Metallo blade, but it had not been strong enough. So as they attempted to rescue him, he had made a request.
He had asked them to act on Date’s behalf.
Masamune and Narumi were both name-inheritors. What would happen if they stopped Kojirou from carrying out his history recreation? And that was when Hashiba had arrived in Kantou to check on the history recreation.
Masamune had been the one to act. The Testament descriptions mentioned a theory that she had been the one to do it, so she had figured Hashiba could not complain. And so she had taken her own brother’s life.
Narumi still wondered if she should have done it instead.
She wondered if it was her failure to do so that had allowed Masamune to be imprisoned by the Seiryu and to lose her memories.
If she had taken Kojirou’s life, Masamune may have shunned her, but that would not have harmed Date and they could have cooperated with Musashi. So…
“Let me tell you something!”
Narumi moved and thought. She thought while sending out her right arm to block the half-dragon’s left thrust.
“I lost my arms and legs as a child when Masamune accidentally summoned the Seiryu! It was when we were training together and I made her cry…”
She said it.
“She was never able to summon it afterwards! But now she can summon it again! …These are my bonds! This is the punishment I must accept!!”
Narumi thought while summoning a mandible sword into her left arm.
…What good did Kojirou’s death do for Date?
They had followed history, so it had helped on a political and foreign front, but in the resisting land of Oushuu, everyone was like family and they all lived with no concern for race.
Musashi. Future rulers of the Far East.
Have we failed? Will I only ever feel regret? And are Masamune and all the others nothing more than a lost cause now?
We don’t know our destiny. We only view the Testament as something to use if it will benefit us. We all huddled together in the cold only wishing happiness for ourselves and our comrades.
I must leave Date, but can I retrieve everything for Date before then?
In search of an answer, Narumi slammed her opened right hand toward the end of the charging half-dragon’s forearm.
To settle things for herself once more, she defended with a rapid and repeated re-summoning of her hand.
Narumi repeatedly re-summoned her right wrist and hand. Her opened hand struck his hand. If it was deflected, she would immediately summon the next hand.
By repeating the process countless times in rapid succession, she could fully stop an opponent’s attack.
This was not the same as before. She had used a finger before. This time, it was her palm. She could distribute his striking force more than before and she could grab onto him once she did stop him.
To turn that around, he would likely create an explosion with his left thrusters.
But she would not fall for that a second time around. She only had to prepare for a repeated summoning and immediately summon her limbs afterwards. And once she endured his thruster explosion, he would remain before her with no acceleration left.
Once she grabbed him, she could handle an opponent who was nothing but strength.
So Narumi stopped him. She did not hold back in re-summoning her hand to stop him. And…
She suddenly felt something wrong about her right arm.
Wondering what it was, she visually checked within the high speed. She found her right arm was breaking.
She was letting it be deflected as she stopped him, but that was not the cause.
The palm was being broken. Then her wrist and forearm were also being destroyed by his left arm.
Her continuous defense had not stopped him. As her arm shattered…
She did not understand. This should have stopped him. And yet he was approaching. So she took a half step back while summoning a whole new right arm.
While expressing her confusion, Narumi thrust her right arm toward him.
She continued her defense through continuous re-summoning while trying to block his approaching left arm.
But it was broken again. The continuous summoning was occurring, and yet…
Her question was immediately answered through her vision.
The thrusters on his left half were all open, but he had not used them all at once.
Each of them was producing an intermittent barrage of acceleration. It was…
Narumi realized what he was trying to do and what he had accomplished. When the half-dragon had known she was going to use her continuous re-summoning defense, he had tasked himself with matching his acceleration to those summonings.
When his speed was blocked and reduced, he immediately reapplied it. And that rapid-fire acceleration was not just coming from his arm. It came from across his left half. His shoulder, side, hip, and leg blasted in order like a wind instrument.
His speed could not keep up with her continuous re-summoning.
But Narumi knew that his strength was greater.
The half-dragon approached by making up for his inferior speed with his strength.
Narumi’s right arm broke. The continuous summoning defense was meaningless at this point. It would not work on this half-dragon. But that continuous acceleration with his left side would have used up the ether inside him.
He could no longer use his thrusters.
That meant he could no longer move. He was only rushing forward on inertia. But…
“The centipede’s mandible survived!!”
Narumi held a mandible sword in her left hand, so she swung it diagonally down toward him as he charged in.
A moment later, she heard his voice.
“Let us speak, Date Narumi.”
Then something impossible came from his arms as they reached hers.
A thruster explosion burst out from his arms.
Suzu sensed the end of the battle.
Her first impression was that the noise was incredible. But…
Urquiaga had produced a second thruster explosion. He had used both arms for it, which should have been impossible after using up his ether. That was why Narumi had been hit without even trying to defend. But…
Suzu felt it on her hand.
There was a somewhat cold but definite current to the air.
It was ether.
A wave of ether was beginning to flow toward them from the Seiryu’s gate behind Masamune.
That was what had supported Urquiaga’s second thruster explosion. He had taken in the Seiryu’s ether and used it to settle things.
The battle was over.
Fog was probably whirling through the center of the hall. Suzu sensed fog as a temperature difference, but she had been told it was hard to see through.
In that case, the others would be unable to see the two who currently stood in the center of the hall.
Suzu placed her hands on her cheeks as she sensed the two of them.
Narumi had lost both arms and legs. They had been blown off by the explosive blast. And then Urquiaga pushed her to the floor.
He spoke quietly within the whirling wind.
“Open up. I wish to speak with you.”
Narumi cried in the darkness.
Unturning Centipede was making adjustments after the extreme close-range blast, but she had not approved it. So it did not activate or open. And…
She inhaled and could not wipe the tears from her cheeks, so she simply cried.
It’s over. It’s over for me. I couldn’t save Masamune and I couldn’t act as a shield for Date as Vice Chancellor. I failed. I really failed. When was it I failed? It must have been back when we lost Kojirou.
I’m sorry, she apologized in her heart. She apologized to Masamune, Kojirou, and everyone else for her inability to do anything. The tears spilled not just onto her cheeks but to her hair as well. She arched her back while lying limbless on the floor.
She felt regret. And she felt pathetic. That regret opened her mouth and brought out her voice. But…
A sudden impact reached her throat.
It was an unrestrained strike.
“Damn, does this not have a weakness on the throat?”
He was trying to open Unturning Centipede’s armor. She could hear and feel his hard hands touching her chest, stomach, and neck.
Idiot, she thought. She could not move at the moment.
Her face was likely red from crying.
She had lost. And he was trying to force her out instead of letting her wallow in defeat.
“Are you okay?”
Only once he asked that did she realize he was worried about her.
Hadn’t they just been fighting? She was fine since she had Unturning Centipede, but he was different. He should have been worried about himself first and foremost, but…
She had utterly lost. Countless thoughts mixed together in her head and she had no idea what she should do. She had to worry about Date and Masamune, but his concern stung the most because it seemed to take advantage of those weaknesses.
But then he grew more forceful. While she lay on her back, he lifted up her lower chest armor.
“I shall open it.”
And he did.
At the bottom of the thin darkness, the ether wind and wave passed by and the fog hid Urquiaga as Narumi finally came into view.
Inside the opened Unturning Centipede, a girl lay on her back, unable to move.
Tears wet her face, her hair was disheveled, and her red dress fluttered from her heavy breathing. But her teary eyes were looking up at him.
“Wh…what do you want?”
“Judge. Date Narumi… I have something to tell you.”
This situation finally allowed him to say what he had been thinking the entire time.
“Date Narumi. …I love you.”
“Come to Musashi. Then we can save the world together.”
A giant blank filled Narumi’s mind.
She did not understand what he meant. Even so, her tears stopped and heat gathered in her face.
Once she gulped. Her trembling voice gained a different sort of tremor. Instead of the weak strength brought by her tears, it was the tense strength of not knowing what was going to happen. She clicked her teeth together and all thought vanished from her mind.
“But, um, you were always talking about elder sisters…”
“Not to worry. I looked you up in the almanac and your birthday is June 21.”
“Wh-what good is knowing that?”
“You don’t get it?” asked the half-dragon. “My birthday is September 7. …If we married and became family, I would be your husband and younger brother. That means you just need to marry me and become my elder sister.”
Narumi had a thought and she put it to words.
“I’m pretty sure that means you’re insane, but it doesn’t surprise me at this point. …But since when?”
“Since you arrived as a diplomat. But I knew a girl like you would only fight back if I played this simply. Heh. So I used Masamune as bait and pretended to be a tsundere in order to approach you. But it all goes back to when I first saw you. Do you remember what I said then?”
She did. He had seen her and asked if she was an elder sister.
But it had likely already begun by that point. The fact that he even asked meant one thing.
…If I had been an elder sister, that would have settled it for him?
“I felt you were beautiful.”
“How!? I have all these prosthetics thanks to an old mistake and I was wearing this mobile shell…”
“That is exactly why, Date Narumi. Half-dragons have no interest in weak creatures. We like someone who is strong, someone who is noble, and…if I am being greedy, someone who wears cool armor. And if I am being even greedier…someone who inspires predatory desire with the softness inside that armor.”
He reached for her dress.
“I shall take a look.”
She had lost, so she saw no meaning in opposing it. So…
“If you had asked permission, it only would have angered me.”
No words answered her. He simply tore her dress away.
He exposed her.
Narumi’s honest opinion was that she felt cold.
Unturning Centipede was her bed, her prosthetics were her bonds, and what remained of her body was exposed to him. Not only did she have nothing to cover herself with, she even lacked arms to cover herself and could not so much as twist her body around. Her mouth trembled, tears welled up in her eyes, and heat filled not just her cheeks but her neck and chest as well, but she still feigned strength.
“Beautiful, aren’t I…?”
How much easier would it be if he said no? She could settle on that view of herself and continue to act as she was. But…
“You are indeed beautiful, Date Narumi. …Even the history recreation sometimes does some good.”
“Come to Musashi, Date Narumi. I would not want anyone else.”
“D-don’t be stupid! I’m Date’s-…!”
“But the history recreation has you running away, does it not?”
No. That was not the point. That was not enough for her.
“I have the Seiryu and Masamune to deal with!”
“Judge. I see. Then,” he said. “If we deal with that, you can come with me. …Very well. The two of us shall slay the Seiryu.”
Those were the words she had hoped to hear. And yet…
“You idiot. You’re from Musashi, so if you get involved in this…”
“What are you talking about? If we defeat the Seiryu, you will become a resident of Musashi, will you not? And with the Seiryu gone, Date can cooperate with Musashi. That is what matters. Or am I wrong?”
It was a forceful argument, but Narumi suddenly realized something.
Shimmering heat was rising from the thrusters across his body.
He was also shining. So…
She did not know what would happen, but…
“Can you see me as someone who hasn’t failed yet?”
“Believe in me, Date Narumi,” he said. “Nothing has begun between the two of us yet. …I will take you back to Musashi. You will solve Date’s problems. Everything will succeed from now on. And then it can begin. That is what this is.”
“Then what am I supposed to do now?”
“Decide how you are going to say goodbye to your friends in Date. Also…”
He awkwardly tried to push her chest armor back together.
“The fog will clear soon. It would be a shame to let the others see, so tell me how to close this.”
A bitter laugh escaped and the remaining tears fell from her eyes.
But there was no tremor in her lungs as she inhaled.
I failed, she thought. But…
…God, please give me the chance to make up for it.
Someone befitting of prayer stood by her side. She felt relief in that fact and then she spoke.
“Unturning Centipede. Reactivate.”
Suzu felt her own heat in the hands on her cheeks.
…I-I heard all that!
That was incredible, she thought.
Vice President: “Suzu! What’s going on there!?”
“Right,” agreed Suzu. There was a lot she wanted to say: Thank goodness, it’s okay, let’s do our best, etc. All of those words filled her heart, but…
Suzu sensed something.
Vice President: “What is it?”
She could tell the two people were slowly standing up.
One was a half-dragon and the other was Unturning Centipede.
They got up side by side and faced the same direction.
They faced the source of the ether wind. Something had finally appeared on that end of the hall.
An alarm sounded. It indicated danger within Sendai Castle. It had sounded in the main garden the night before and Suzu could tell the level of danger had grown. But…
Bell: “It’s okay.”
Vice President: “Is it?”
Masazumi no longer asked what was going on. And…
Me: “Hey, Uqui. You havin’ a good time?”
Uqui: “Judge. A very fulfilling time. This world undoubtedly exists for Narumi and me at the moment. After all…”
He said it.
Uqui: “No matter what we do, it is our turn to act.”
Me: “You can do something?”
Uqui: “Have you forgotten that I used one final spurt to guide us to the top during last year’s Far Eastern Inter-Academy Porn Game Championship? Hm?”
Me: “That’s just because you’d let the non-elder sister characters build up too far.”
“But anyway,” he said.
Me: “Take care of this one. Go save Date. Oh, and you keep up the good work too, Bell-san.”
As soon as Suzu nodded, several figures appeared around her.
They were all armed and they faced her.
Vice President: “What is it, Mukai?”
Bell: “It’s okay.”
When she said that and nodded, the surrounding people lowered their heads in response. Then the man who stepped out front spoke.
“Musashi Ambassador. Last night, you must have perceived the Seiryu’s violent pressure from up close. Could you guide us?”
“Then…can we go…together?”
Suzu sensed a slight tremor in the immediate response, but she shook her head. Going with them would hold them back in some ways, but…
“I can guide you…more accurately that way…maybe.”
She could not help but lose her confidence at the end, but everyone around her exchanged a glance and finally nodded.
“We are honored to be guided by the Musashi’s Acting Captain who has commanded and protected such a giant ship ever since the Armada battle.”
She had not done anything so impressive.
Bell: “Th-they mean that…right? I-I was just…reading the movements of the…wind and other ships…reading, um…what they would do…and moving that model…around.”
Musashino: “To provide some supplementary information, Suzu-sama’s standard margin of error while commanding the ship’s movements during gravitational cruising is around 27 cm. …And embarrassingly enough, her allowance for that kind of fuzziness…well, without her, we would have been blown away around three times by now. Over.”
Asakusa: “That is correct, Suzu-sama. To be blunt, anyone except for Neshinbara-sama and Toori-sama would increase our odds of survival, so having someone act in that role is meaningful. Plus, you have shown the results mentioned by ‘Musashino’, so it is an impressive accomplishment. Over.”
Novice: “You pretty clearly rejected my very personality there, didn’t you!? Didn’t you!?”
Four Eyes: “Don’t pretend you’re not happy. You just like it when people pay attention to you.”
Suzu did not quite understand, but apparently what she always did was helpful. She decided she needed to continue doing it as best as she could.
Then Urquiaga’s voice reached her.
“Now, how should we settle this?”
Unturning Centipede answered him as her sight devices lit their auxiliary lights.
“Musashi Acting Captain, you secure Masamune. As for us…”
Suzu heard Narumi’s voice.
“We will calm the Seiryu.”
Narumi’s anti-Seiryu plan was clear.
“We just have to beat it down.”
“You mean teach it who its master is?”
“You can view it like that if you want. Our 2nd Special Duty Officer and I already calmed it twice yesterday. Its damage is clear and its weakness on the throat has been destroyed. If we can show that its power has no effect and if we can weaken it,” said Narumi, “then control should shift to Masamune.”
“And if it continues to oppose us?”
“Then we’ll have to destroy it. And of course we have the perfect opportunity to do that since it’s damaged,” explained Narumi. “But this is an injured beast we’re dealing with.”
“I have not overlooked that, so do not worry. Our opponent is injured and I am at the pinnacle of my life’s happiness. …It’s obvious which one of us is stronger. Even if this god of war is trying to expand its power due to some kind of complex, we are the real winners here. This battle has already been decided!”
“That’s some wonderful logic. …Why not go out ahead and prove it?”
“Judge. Then follow me.”
The half-dragon took a step forward. Narumi smiled bitterly when she saw it.
The soldiers surrounding Musashi’s ambassador gave them an “eh?” look.
None of them had expected him to actually “go” after that.
How naïve of them.
“Let’s go, everyone.”
She said that and came to understand something.
This half-dragon’s suddenness had to be a constant thing for him. After all, she had seen the words of Musashi’s Chancellor and President on the sign frame he was using.
…“Go save Date”, hm?
They were treating Date’s problems as something someone could simply head out and deal with.
But at this point, she did not feel like telling him to take this seriously. And she recalled something else. When they had met on the diplomatic ship the day before, the half-dragon had said something on the deck.
He had commented on the Date clan at the time.
“A land of mere decoration…hm?”
That was right.
They were trapped by so much, unable to do what they had to, and ultimately bound by themselves.
But he could ignore the decorations, look at the essence of the issues, and act without worrying about those bonds. So…
“He can just go save us, can he?”
That was not bad.
That’s right, thought Narumi within the blowing ether wind.
She had to keep the mindset of someone intent to leave Date.
…So instead of looking at Date’s problems from within, I need to face them head on.
What did she need to do now? That was simple.
“Defeat the Seiryu.”
As the alarm sounded, the Seiryu’s upper body appeared behind Masamune and the throne. Its armor’s self-healing had not acted in time, so its throat scales were still damaged.
It would be dangerous for it to open the ether gate and step out. Based on Katakura’s reasoning…
“The Seiryu intends to secure Masamune. It may pull her back into the ether gate and then they will never appear again.”
“Judge,” nodded the half-dragon. “Who was it that forced that dangerous god of war onto Masamune? …Talk about a failed project.”
“Huh? Yoshiaki-san, I’m looking at the Date clan’s commentary and their Vice President is going nuts, but why are you averting your gaze? …Eh? Did I say something harsh?”
“Vassal, I don’t think I can bear any more of your innocent questions…”
“Just to be clear, Principal Yoshihime agreed to it.”
“If it was a parental decision, then there is no helping it. …Even Catholicism says to face the trials presented to us,” he said. “And now is the time to face a trial.”
“Testament,” agreed Narumi.
They would defeat the rampaging dragon. They would defeat and calm the Seiryu.
She did not need to think about anything else.
The Seiryu was trying to move further forward into the hall.
It was likely trying to secure Masamune to receive a definite ether supply from her.
She needed to stop that. She needed to break and calm the Seiryu.
And of course, the Seiryu would try to prevent that. So…
Bluish-white light began to trail through the sky. The Seiryu’s River was beginning to show its effects. The hall would soon be filled with the violent pressure of rushing lightning. So…
Musashi’s ambassador seemed ready too. They were slower than Narumi and the half-dragon, but the commander in the lead raised a hand toward her to say they were ready to go.
They were only about 70 meters away. An ether wind had already formed and the lightning was creating electrical discharges. But…
The two of them matched their breathing without speaking a word.
As the half-dragon took the first step and ran straight ahead…
Narumi no longer hesitated to use her full strength in an unturning charge.
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