Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 82
Chapter 82: Passer of the Royal Road
If you’re going to go
It is better to pass them
Than to catch up
Point Allocation (Fulfillment)
Colors raced through the darkness.
The colors came from a picture: the folding screen sword Saitou held in his left arm. The four panel blades were illustrated with Zhong Kui, they disconnected at the tip, and they rushed toward Niwa in the shape of four spread fingers.
It was a diagonal strike from inside to outside. Each of the blades had its tip set at a different height. Also…
By pushing lightly at the base, the 2nd and 4th panels jutted out as far as an arm.
This provided enough reach while preventing the enemy from moving in close, so…
…It must hit!
Saitou’s experience told him the third panel would slice through Niwa’s body.
But the cut was shallow. The slice at the gut was only about 5cm deep. It would not even reach the lungs.
His Zhong Kui experience had also seen that coming, so Saitou spread four new panels on the right.
This one was from outside to inside. It crossed paths with the previous left attack, but all four of these were pushed in deep.
It reached, it cut, and…
Saitou sliced through both Niwa and the grass and then drove both attacks into the ground.
Saitou was confident that he had cut and sliced.
He had felt the tactile feedback, but he also looked to the enemy after making his twin attacks.
She stood in front of him with her long hair blowing in the wind.
She was unharmed.
“That was a close one.”
One of the cloths wrapped around the end of her hair had been cut, so the stream of black was swimming through the air.
“But that helped me get it in, so thanks.”
His twin folding screens were digging into her feet on the ground. No…
…I bisected her from above, but she negated it!?
How did that work? He could clearly see her body in the darkness. It looked like she was surrounded by ether light, but that was not it. Nor was she a ghost.
Some information on Niwa was released in the Chancellor’s Officers almanac. He had also heard some stories from those on the same battlefield as her. And that told him her Combat Style.
“An Enchant Forcer!”
That Combat Style allowed a spirit or a Mouse to reside inside her to give her some power or divine protection. Anyone working for a shrine or temple and any religion that allowed nature worship could do this to some extent, but Niwa took it to the next level.
Her ears had become animalistic and she had a tail. Her nails had grown and if they were not meant as blades…
“This is not just a possession! Is it a true body borrowing!?”
Instead of borrowing the power of a spirit or Mouse, she became the spirit or Mouse itself.
And this body borrowing was at a very high level. Saitou’s folding screen swords were made to be “all-purpose” to accommodate his experience, so they had an anti-spirit divine protection. If not even that was working…
“High-level? No, I should assume this is at the Great Spirit class. And most likely a Raiju type.”
“Yes,” said Niwa as she pet the beast resembling a puppy or squirrel that appeared on her right shoulder. “This is the Raiju that caused trouble during the Heian period and was tamed by Watanabe Yoritsuna. What happens when you drive your sword into that would be outside the range of Zhong Kui’s experience.”
As soon as she said that, the folding screen swords burst.
Saitou’s arms and fingernails also burst while the blood vessels swelled out on his hands.
His arms split and ruptured all the way up to the shoulders.
This was an attack from the Raiju inside Niwa. Merely touching that thunderous roar produce a reaction and it had traveled back to Saitou from the blades.
Niwa saw warm bloody steam rising as Saitou lowered his hips.
While the old man tried to keep his legs from giving out, his gaze was still fixed on her.
But several lines had been gouged into his arms and the bleeding would not stop. He would not last long if he continued fighting like this.
But Saitou did not flee, so Niwa spoke without smiling.
“You should fall back. I’m not as rough as Shibata, so I’ll tell you that much.” Niwa shook her body a little as she spoke. “You noticed something odd when you came across me here, didn’t you? Why am I the only one at such a crucial position? …You know why that is, don’t you?”
She shook her body again. And a moment later…
Her voice carried and the shaking of her body flowed together into a dance.
“I offer this up via the wind to my Mouse Raiju, the great thunder spirit.”
And “this” was…
“Original Spell: City Conquering Stage ‘Surrounded by Azure Lightning’.”
Everyone on the battlefield of eastern Novgorod – both those on Novgorod itself and those on the ships – could hear that voice clearly.
It was a singing voice, but it was shaking and uncertain. And as it progressed, the atmosphere changed.
A light appeared in the heavens and dropped down toward the earth.
The ether lightning attack descended like wings. It either fried or stopped those racing across the eastern side of Novgorod to climb the hill, and…
The lightning also struck the Sviet Rus fleet trying to fire on the land from the sky east of Novgorod. Instead of washing across the ship, it wrapped around it and destroyed the gun turrets where it scored a direct hit.
Niwa’s azure lightning devoured the fleet like an all-consuming serpent. Also…
A lookout spoke while checking on Novgorod with telescopic and night vision spells from behind defensive light.
“Send a signal to the landing unit! Tell them to take defensive measures immediately!”
As for why…
“The enemy has endless reinforcements coming in!!”
Saitou and the rest of the landing unit saw it.
Below the light of the racing and scattering electricity trying to consume them, the color white covered the base of the windy hill.
That white was not snow, stone, or white birch wood.
“Maeda Toshiie’s…terribly named ghost warriors.”
The wide base of the hill had grown entirely white, mostly thanks to the bestial ones that resembled giant apes. And as the lightning attack shattered the skeletons, larger skeletons stood up in their place. They grew in number and the rate of growth increased as the lightning raced through. But more ghost troops rose from the ground to quickly fill any holes in the army.
“Now, is anyone willing to try climbing to the top? I’ll root for you. …Only as someone making it more of a challenge, though.”
Beyond the white, someone in a vermilion M.H.R.R. uniform stood at the base of the path up the hill.
It was Maeda Toshiie. He pulled a few silver coins from the coin roll sword at his hip and dropped them with a smile.
“The battle has only just begun. …Surely you didn’t think it would be over already, right?”
“Commander! Please give us permission to disembark!”
In the sky within range of the lightning, Shigenaga heard her warriors on the ship while that racing lightning lit them from multiple directions.
The demon warriors with especially heavy equipment and defenses were gathered here.
Needless to say, not even they could stand up to a blast from a ship. That was why Saitou’s strike force had cleared a path first. Then these warriors and Kagekatsu’s unit would push into the secured land port and spread out from there. That had been their initial strategy.
But things had strayed far from the ideal.
Only two things were preventing them from frantically scattering at the moment.
…Kagekatsu’s decision and Saitou-san’s predictions.
It was best to trust in those two, and Shigenaga had something else to trust in.
“We will remain here. We will continue to follow the Chancellor’s orders, which means remaining here.”
“Commander! But Saitou’s unit…!”
“Trusting our comrades is just as important as saving them! In this frigid land…and on the deadly battlefield, trusting in each other’s survival comes first, doesn’t it!?”
But a light appeared as if to put a stop to Shigenaga’s words.
It was at the base of eastern Novgorod’s hill. A gigantic azure light appeared there.
Niwa had resumed her battle with Saitou’s group.
The intense battle was filled with unilateral lightning attacks.
Niwa stood in the center and she walked with a rhythmic step.
She also raised her voice and swung her arms. They seemed to only sweep through the air, but several bolts of lightning would tear out horizontally the very next moment.
A scorching sound tore at the air and the scattering electricity and sparks definitely hit her opponents.
Several demons were struck by the lightning from straight ahead or from the sky and they were knocked to the ground as bright sparks flew. Their shells and muscles were strong against blows and blades, but the instantaneous heat and vibration burned them from within while their boiling blood caused their bodies to burst. The demons had never experienced this sort of inner destruction before.
Those who received a direct hit cried out in a way they never had and could not fight the damage.
And once they were broken, the large bone apes and large skeletons rushed in at them.
Each of them could handle one of those. The demons, and especially those in Saitou’s strike unit, had trained to increase their ability to break through enemy lines. They had also trained how to handle these skeletons based on the records from the Sack of Magdeburg, but…
“Dammit…! The lightning’s in the way!!”
The lightning attacks rushed in from all around them and were nearly unpredictable. They sometimes fried the demons and sometimes just got in their way. Some of the demons were distracted, so…
“3rd Right Squad disperse! The 2nd will absorb you!”
Saitou’s unit was shrinking.
Their overall numbers had already been cut in half, but they still did not fall apart because…
At the center of them all, Saitou walked toward the path up the hill even as he lost blood. He could no longer even move his mouth to speak, so he was limited to his gaze and gestures. Still, he managed to accurately guide them all.
His feet were steady as he ran through the grass and his shoulders never forgot to rise and fall as the wind blew over them.
He dodged the descending lightning and moved to the shallowest part of the oncoming wave of enemies. His men did as well, but…
A female voice spoke from behind them. It contained a smile and definite delight.
“The stage is set. Let me show you a true union with nature.”
A single cloth unwrapped from Niwa’s hair. This was the second one and it was a spell charm.
“Release Stage Limits – Second.”
With that, Niwa accelerated.
Her speed was different from her previous dancing. This was due to the light.
She had previously just been releasing and throwing the lightning, but now it appeared around her limbs and her elbows.
“By letting the power reside within me and making it my own, my attacks gain the speed of lightning.”
“Great Spirit Raiju Martial Arts. Is this inside your Zhong Kui experience?”
The demon elites who tried to protect Saitou were blown away in an instant.
And by the time Saitou turned around, Niwa’s fist was thrust straight toward the center of his body.
He had quickly used a folding screen blade in defense, but he heard both it and his sternum breaking.
Saitou flew through the air.
The man’s old bones could still move.
He tried to land on his feet, but he fell into the grass on his knees instead. The impact caused him to lean back and he coughed up the blood filling his lungs behind his broken sternum. But…
“Everyone, go on ahead!!”
Saitou swallowed the blood in lieu of breathing and gathered strength in his body.
…Just a few seconds.
He only needed a few seconds. Buying that much time would mean a lot on the battlefield.
If he could hold this monster back for just a few seconds, most of the others could advance a few steps, defeat many enemies, and approach their goal.
He would die eventually. So if that still unseen “eventually” was going to be here…
“I would like nothing more…!!”
Saitou coughed up more blood to lighten his body as he faced forward.
He could see Niwa. Or he should have seen her.
But his bloodstained and darkening vision saw something else.
He saw the white short sleeves of a boys uniform. The back of the uniform he saw was decorated with chains.
…It can’t be.
Something impossible stood there. This person should not have been here.
“Musashi’s Chancellor and Student Council President…!!”
The people on the battlefield heard a boy’s voice.
He gave only a brief glance to the ninja and silver wolf standing alongside him.
“Sorry, but it was looking like you were prepared to die, so the three of us got permission from Mary and Horizon and went on ahead. This is, well, Musashi’s policy and all. …But that might not be enough to come all the way out here, so…”
The idiot smiled and looked out across everyone there.
“Let us join that promise of yours.”
No one nodded at that, but someone did move.
It was Niwa. She did not greet them or speak at all.
She used the acceleration lightning pressure in her arms to attack Musashi’s Chancellor and President.
The 18 meter ball of lightning she fired was large enough to also hit the two standing at his sides and Saitou behind him.
As soon as the ball of lightning was launched, Saitou saw the color white move between him and the idiot.
It was Sviet Rus uniforms. The armored backs lined up like a wall.
It was his strike unit.
Why were they protecting him instead of climbing the hill? But before he could ask, one of them spoke.
“We are the Saitou Unit.”
That was all.
And with only that, they tried to move forward. They tried to pass Musashi’s Chancellor in front of them in order to protect everyone. But…
The lightning ball was faster.
Having been ordered to wait on her ship, Shigenaga did not call Saitou’s name.
But she did shout at the Musashi Chancellor who had jumped down from the ship without asking.
Niwa’s lightning ball burst. And as she saw its light…
Should she have gone on her own? Or should she have given her troops permission to disembark earlier?
But the English princess smiled bitterly next to her and Musashi’s princess tapped her shoulder.
Wondering what this was about, she turned toward the automaton princess who spoke while holding the teacup the English princess had given her.
“Do not worry. This is not enough to kill that idiot.”
“B-but a direct hit from that would-…!”
“Judge. This is an excellent lesson. Part of not being killed is having others who will not allow you to be killed.”
A moment later, Shigenaga saw the light of Niwa’s giant lightning ball.
It had burst, but not from a direct hit.
“It was destroyed…!?”
The mass of lightning pressure broke apart.
Scorching wind and sparks spread from there. And the torn electric power stretched out in lines.
Everything was dyed in white and two people stood at the center.
They had dove down from directly above.
They had shattered the lightning ball from above, collided with the ground, and yet easily stood up.
One was a half-dragon and the other was a dark green and red mobile shell.
“What, is lightning in vogue these days?” asked the half-dragon. “That makes things easier. I can stick with the same equipment and fighting style.”
“That’s right,” agreed the mobile shell with a female voice.
She looked around the motionless battlefield, looked to Sviet Rus’s Shigenaga fleet, and opened her mouth.
“I am Sendai Date Academy Vice Chancellor Date Narumi. …On my Chancellor’s orders, I have met up with Musashi and have come here to fulfill the Chancellor’s promise in her place.”
“Oushuu’s promise is still valid. …We must not forget that.”
Saitou saw Musashi’s Chancellor turning toward him.
“Hey, old man. Let’s go on up together. I don’t really understand this battlefield too much, but you’ve got to keep going, right?”
“Testament. But this place-…”
“Hey, old man. Could you clear a bit of a path for us?”
“…Why?” asked Saitou. “Why are you supporting us so much?”
“Hm? Well, Seijun’s got all her political and whatever other reason for it, but the most obvious driving force for me would be that you were trying to die. Also…Kagekatsu.”
“What about Kagekatsu-sama?”
“He’s trying to go apologize to the woman he hurt, right?” The idiot smiled. “I did the same thing. I’ll go bow down with Kagekatsu. So, old man, it’ll probably be a lot of work, but can you go on ahead and tell that Marfa person that Kagekatsu is coming? You probably only need to ring the doorbell.”
“That’s really what this battlefield is for you all, right?”
“Do you really think I’ll let you up?”
A voice spoke from the base of the path leading up the hill.
It was Maeda Toshiie. He dropped a few silver coins from his coin roll sword as he faced his enemy. Also…
“Look at the situation. …You’re in trouble, don’t you think?”
His enemy was the Sviet Rus strike force, Musashi’s Chancellor and three Special Duty Officers, and Date’s Vice Chancellor.
As for Date’s Vice Chancellor and Musashi’s 2nd Special Duty Officer…
“Niwa, take care of them.”
“Of them,” repeated Matsu.
“I’d really prefer you asked if I could,” sighed Niwa.
“Calm down,” said Toshiie with a smile. “We’ll be working hard too.”
With that, a color grew from the ground.
It was the color white. White skeletons grew from the middle of the hill, the base of the hill, and the top of the hill. More than just along the path, they grew from the grassy slope as well.
The ghost bones stood from the hill like a dense crowd of withered trees. And…
“Here they come.”
Some people slowly descended the hill path which had relatively few skeletons.
It was a group of combined corpse warriors.
“Novgorod will not take Uesugi’s side, at least not until Nanao Castle is retaken. …This will take more than ringing the doorbell, Musashi Chancellor.”
“Doesn’t that just mean she’s one hell of a tsundere?” asked the Musashi Chancellor with a smile on his face. “A lot happened in the past and she really wants to be with him, but she just can’t accept the things she can’t accept. So she won’t let those things go unaddressed. Isn’t that all this is? She’s just refusing to run from it all.”
Then he looked up at the combined corpse warriors descending the hill.
“Similarly, you all can’t accept this either. Just like me. You’re going to fight so that result can carry all of your resentment away. You want to go all out and hit us with all of your resentment so you can let it go afterwards.”
“I guess that would be your regrets about Oushuu’s dawn. …It’d be bad to let that go unaddressed, wouldn’t it?”
As the mist made even the night hazy, a long-lived elder woman exhaled on a deck sinking into that white current.
A sign frame was open by her hands. That Musashi divine transmission was sent via IZUMO and it carried the voice of Musashi’s Chancellor to her.
“Let’s do this right,” he said. “That’ll help things afterwards too.”
“Honestly, this is what we get after all that trouble and that forced thanks last night?”
She sent out a few divine mails bearing the seal of Fujiwara Yasuhira.
“The war Musashi seeks is about sending out everything you have and receiving that with everything you have… It is a conflict of the present that erases or clears up all lingering sorrow.”
“Now,” said Toori.
While on the battlefield and surrounded by enemies, he turned to Urquiaga and Narumi first.
“Uqui, is that tough-looking girl your girlfriend?”
“She is not my girlfriend. …She is my wife.”
“Eh?” said Narumi as she turned his way, but Toori whistled and nodded.
“Girl, Uqui’s Catholic, so he won’t cheat on you or divorce you. But could you allow him porn games at least?”
“As long as he does not compare me to them and as long as he has time for me, I don’t really mind.”
“Then we have an excellent understanding,” said Urquiaga. “How about that, Tenzou? Your wife lacks the knowledge needed for you to even have a misunderstanding about such things, so you have no chance of complete the routes to satisfaction.”
“Heh. I have learned how to play through each route with great care.”
The three boys formed a triangle by using both hands to shake each other’s hands and they brought their foreheads together.
“We might get our hands on the games early, but we always complete them at the same time!”
“If we completed it early, we might spoil it for each other after all.”
“Yeah,” agreed Toori as he let go.
“Uqui, I’m leaving this to you. Now, Nate and Tenzou?”
“Judge, are we moving on ahead?” asked Mitotsudaira.
When Toori said “yeah”, she did just that.
“Only I am allowed to stand at the front of your path on this sort of battlefield.”
“Judge. I need you protecting me from there.”
“Judge,” agreed Mitotsudaira as she lifted her nose a little and laughed quietly. “It is finally time.”
It is finally time, repeated Mitotsudaira in her heart.
It was finally time to walk ahead of her king on the battlefield. She could move out ahead, turn back and ask him if this was the right way, and hear him say that it was.
She could walk down the path she thought was right and she had someone to support her when she looked back.
She had hoped for this sort of situation ever since middle school. But at Mikawa, they had been looking in the same direction, but it was hard to say she had moved out ahead. On the way to Mito, she had been taught again and again how lacking she was.
…But all of that will fade away in the happiness to come.
She had the silver chain suppliers for her summer uniform. They only had an ejection device, so pulling them back was a little slow. But that changed nothing if she continued using what was out without pulling it back in.
As soon as she raised two chains with both arms, the enemy began to move. So…
“Here I go, my king.”
Mitotsudaira walked out ahead of her king.
“I will clear a path as your knight. And to support you…”
Mitotsudaira looked up.
“You have heard that sound for a while now, haven’t you?”
“Judge. The ringing of a fulfilled promise.”
Once she said that, the bone warriors and large skeletons in front of them were beaten down with a deafening noise.
Several massive objects had descended on them.
Within the ether light fragments of the white destruction, six figures rose from their landing stance. They were gods of war wearing dark gray armor. All six resembled dragons.
“The Date clan’s gods of war have arrived to assist us!”
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