Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 89
Chapter 89: The Peerless Out of Range
I doing this?
Point Allocation (Exhibition)
Mitotsudaira ran to the distant northern end of Novgorod.
She and the 1st Special Duty Officer (who was carrying Mary) ran across the roofs.
She could smell her king. And more than that…
It was an exchange of swords. She could hear the solid sounds of at least a 2-against-1 battle with the 1 wielding 2 swords. And she also noticed the Tachibana couple’s unique scent of Far Eastern food. Yes, that smell of Far Eastern food with some ham mixed in is characteristic of them and so irresistible.
But there was something odd about the sounds of consecutive attacks. She had attacked with 6 weapons at once using her silver chains and arms, but this exchange of blows was rivalling that in speed.
…Just how fast are they fighting!?
Muneshige continued the exchange.
The first thing he realized was that Oichi moved in a series of curves. When she swung her weapons around, rotated her body, spun around, and leaped, she never came to a stop and simply maintained the speed and weight of her actions.
He moved around quickly as he faced her. He could not follow her movements and he could not move against them either. If he followed them, she would match her movements to his. If he moved against her movements, she would make a counterattack.
So he stuck to a straight line and charged forward to tear into her as she spun around.
He had to be careful because Oichi was not using any acceleration spells.
She was fighting through pure martial arts.
She is, thought Muneshige. She is a lot like Lord Honda Tadakatsu.
He had to be careful.
She was not as polished as Tadakatsu, but she never stuck with any one action and kept moving to give herself an advantage.
…She does not use an acceleration spell to grasp victory like we do.
She simply fought to grasp what it took to become an expert and she opened the way to victory. But…
Muneshige reconsidered what he had just thought. When he had said “like we do”, who was the “we”?
He was not sure.
Would she be coming here?
Gin spoke as she briefly lined up alongside him to assist.
“Will Honda Futayo be here?”
“This should be even more exciting.”
“This party has gotten pretty exciting!”
Katsuie exchanged fire with Walter.
They were not exchanging sword strikes. The dozen or so gravity swords Walter sent out through the air had no actual blades. If Katsuie blocked them with a sword, they would pass right through it, so he had to attack from a distance, or…
…Go in for a close-range exchange!
A ghost was already carrying his right arm for him, but his remaining left arm was not wielding Kamewari.
“I’ll attack with seven lighter weapons at once!!”
He opposed Walter by throwing out short swords and long swords of Western and Eastern design like he was juggling them. They had all fallen to the battlefield, but they did not all belong to the combined corpse warriors. Some belonged to the ghost warriors and Katsuie would toss them up with his left hand or trap them with his foot and send them up with his knee.
“How about this, you bastard!?”
They both swung, jabbed, and pulled back all of their blades. They would instantly swap them out and sometimes even throw them.
He had a reason for placing those blades in midair. When fighting with a single sword, he would have to move the weapon to the left, to the right, or into the air when he wanted to change from where he was attacking his opponent.
That was only a short distance, but it created a time lag and weighed down his hand.
So he attacked with blade after blade using a snapping motion.
…This is a lot like whack-a-mole, isn’t it?
With that thought, he moved forward. He attacked Walter with seven blades in quick succession. But…
He could not hit him. Walter simply tilted his body gently and adjusted his grip on his gravity sword a few times. That was all, and yet Katsuie could not hit him.
…Can he see through all this!?
Katsuie attacked where he saw an opening, but Walter understood where his openings were and rearranged them. He changed his stance for launching his gravity swords so that he could change the location of the openings at his elbows and sides to lure Katsuie in or to avoid Katsuie’s attack.
So he used a special kind of footwork. Instead of walking, he alternatively slid his heel or toes along. By doing that, he had free use of his knees and thighs and could remake the openings there.
And when his rearranged stance proved correct, he would grip one of the hilts hanging in the air and…
Walter rushed straight in.
But he did not launch an attack. Just as Katsuie was doing, he placed several gravity sword blades in midair and simply placed his fingers on the pommel.
Instead of pushing them, he made a slight movement that prevented them from falling right away.
That was enough to catch Katsuie. Katsuie was trying to push through with strength and power, but Walter’s invisible blades would slip through the small gaps left over.
Simply moving forward caught Katsuie in the counterattack.
Walter was making those small attacks. And once a gravity sword’s fuel tank grew empty, he would throw it to stop Katsuie’s knee or elbow and to distract him.
Yamanaka Yukimori was a samurai who acted a lot like a ninja. While he was skilled at fighting while withdrawing, he also made excellent battlefield decisions as a commander and had sharp instincts toward survival.
When he had gotten P.A. Oda’s help to rebuild the Amako clan for the history recreation, he had ended up with nothing to show for it just as in the Testament descriptions, but he had fought well leading up to that.
He had often fought Hexagone Française’s Mouri clan with only a small group on his side, but even when he was captured, he had managed to return alive under his own power. And now…
“Hey,” said Katsuie as they exchanged attacks that never hit. “I wish we could’ve fought like this back in the day.”
It would have been quite a bit different from now and it would have meant something different. Looking at it like that made Katsuie feel like he had wasted a lot of his past.
But Walter suddenly sent a sword toward him.
It was aimed at his face.
The sudden silent attack was the first one targeting the very center of his face.
But Katsuie felt like he understood what his enemy was saying.
“Sorry. This is the best we can do. We wouldn’t be out on the battlefield otherwise.”
He had lost his right arm, but this was his best. That was not bravado; it was a fact.
…I can attack even more than when I had my arm, and I can do it with even more focus and speed.
The lack of his right arm’s weight affected his body’s balance, but it also lightened his body. He lacked the “power” brought by its weight, but his instantaneous speed had definitely risen. So…
Just as he thought about what his opponent was after, Katsuie sensed that something did not add up.
He did not know what it was that did not add up, but something was definitely off.
He kept his focus on the battle while the back of his mind subconsciously sensed danger and told him something was not right.
Walter’s attack toward his face suddenly shrank.
But it did not stop there.
It ran out of fuel and the blade entirely vanished.
Katsuie was caught off guard.
Walter had targeted his face, but the blade had run out of fuel and disappeared. It was the number of times that sword had been used that had not added up. Their exchange had taught him how Walter used the gravity swords and allowed him to calculate how many times they could be used.
He could not figure out what this meant and a dangerous doubt entered his gut.
And so he acted on pure instinct. He simply sent his empty left arm forward.
He had reason to do so.
Walter was right-handed and he carried a large gravity sword on the right side of his back.
If he was making some kind of decisive attack, he would use that.
And if Walter was going to swing that large gravity sword resting on his shoulder, Katsuie had to move even faster.
Katsuie lightly clenched his left hand but then straightened the hand at the moment of impact.
The attack stabbed into something hard.
He had broken through the fuel tank in the large gravity sword hilt supported by Walter’s right shoulder.
He had needed to rush forward at the very last second, so the spear-like attack would have been impossible with his right arm intact. It was only possible now that his left arm was his only one.
The momentum tore apart and scattered the large gravity sword hilt.
And the giant invisible blade born from the guard scattered as ether light. The same happened by Katsuie’s hand. The ether fuel leaked from the hilt as a spray of light and shined on their surroundings.
He had defended against the enemy’s attack, but then…
The large gravity sword was shattering beyond his hand.
But as it shattered and fell apart, it was thrown a little in the air.
This was not just the result of his strength. Walter had lifted up the large hilt with just his right arm.
Where had the enemy’s left hand gone?
He could not see it. After all, the large gravity sword had shattered and the blade’s ether and the hilt’s ether fuel were scattering bright light below him.
Walter’s left hand had been thrust forward through the expanding light below.
Katsuie could not tell what his enemy was doing, so he tried to put some distance between them. But he had just thrust his hand forward.
His great demonic strength forced his upper body back. If he could pull his legs back too, he would be clear.
He took one step back. And…
Something cold passed through the ground at his feet from top to bottom.
He knew what Walter had done. He had stomped on Katsuie’s left foot and then used one of the short swords Katsuie himself had left in the air to stab vertically through both their feet.
Katsuie was pinned to the ground by two things: Walter’s foot and the short sword.
He was currently leaning backwards.
And Walter had launched a gravity sword on the right while crouching low to the ground.
He was aiming above the leg pinned to the ground. In other words, at the knee. The invisible attack arrived in a straight horizontal line.
…Not bad at all!
So Katsuie moved.
“Let me show you what I can do!”
Katsuie demonstrated a certain action. He used his momentum as he leaned back.
Despite the short sword pinning it down, he swung up his foot and performed a back flip.
Both commanders looked up into the night sky as they back flipped on the battlefield of the dead.
Walter had noticed what Katsuie was doing and made a jump of his own.
The short sword Walter had stabbed into Katsuie’s foot had the blade facing Walter’s direction, so when Katsuie kicked up his foot, it sliced out to the gap between his second and third toes and slipped out from there.
But the blade was still stabbed through Walter’s foot.
So he arched his back, sped up his flip, and landed with the stabbed foot placed horizontally on the ground. The strong stomp sent the short sword hopping straight up.
But by the time he grabbed the short sword and held it vertically to his right, Katsuie had already landed.
“How about this!?”
A demonic hand was stabbing straight toward Walter’s face.
At the same time, a light arrived from behind Walter.
An automaton stood there. It was Walsingham who had broken herself apart and hid within the combined corpse warriors.
“Did you hide inside the light of the shattered gravity sword to reassemble yourself!?”
A beam of light left the cross sword cannon, grazed Walter’s head, and flew toward Katsuie’s face.
There were three actions.
The first was Walsingham’s cannon. The second came a moment later.
Narimasa charged in and smashed the twin cross swords with a kick.
And the third was Katsuie forcibly twisting his outstretched left arm inwards to lift up his shoulder. It was only a slight movement, but it tilted his thick demonic head.
“Great job, small fry!”
His hard black cheek skin was shaved off, but the guard dog’s cannon did not score a direct hit.
Needless to say, Katsuie’s hand did not hit Walter’s face either. Walter had also moved his head to the side.
And so Katsuie used the momentum of his arm twist to bend his elbow inwards.
He intended to pursue Walter with the pointed elbow strike.
But then a new movement intervened.
Just as Katsuie’s elbow was going to hit Walter, something arrived from the side.
“Oh, excuse me.”
Walter was sent flying to the left by what was more the bottom of a running foot than it was a jump kick.
The person who had kicked Walter away nimbly landed back on the ground.
“Musashi’s Vice Chancellor!?”
Eh? thought Futayo as she looked around.
This was the battlefield. She had decided to follow Muneshige and Gin and had set off running, but on the way, she had found what she thought was a shortcut.
…I got as lost as naturally as being swept away by the current of a river…
That must have been destiny. In other words, it was not carelessness.
Good, she told herself. I haven’t been careless yet today.
Futayo checked her surroundings. She saw an automaton she had seen in England, she saw Walter who she had just kicked away, and she saw the guy she was fairly certain was named Sassa Narimasa. I remember because I saw him at IZUMO. But beyond him…
She thought it was Shibata Katsuie.
But she did not know any other demonic long-lived, so what if that race all looked the same and had no individual differences in build? And the Shibata Katsuie she knew had two arms, but this demonic long-lived was a little different. No, he was quite a bit different on that front.
So she asked.
“Um.” She tilted her head. “Who might you be?”
“I am Shibata Katsuie, you fool!!”
He scolded me. But what am I supposed to say? You’ve changed a lot, but I guess it was the missing right arm? That probably wouldn’t work.
She chose her words carefully.
“Are you making the switch to being a southpaw?”
“My arm was cut off by your ninja, you fool!”
“Our ninja…? Um, uhh… Oh! The one that stands next to Mary-dono! That ninja!”
“From what I have heard, that ninja has been constantly feeling himself down below these days. And…!!”
“Eh? I…I had my arm cut off by someone like that?”
Katsuie looked to Narimasa.
“Don’t ask me!?” shouted Narimasa. “How the hell should I know!? He’s a ninja, so maybe he can do it without anyone noticing!”
“I’m honestly a little impressed you could come up with a proper response to that one. …But, I see. That would be why he was crouching down so much. Oh, and he must have attacked me because I’m just too sexy.”
“Given the size of your chest, Shibata-dono, I suppose you would count as ‘busty’.”
“Ha ha ha,” laughed Katsuie while thrusting Kamewari forward.
Walsingham saw it after she moved away from Narimasa and escaped to a rooftop.
She could determine that Katsuie’s attack had entirely caught Musashi’s Vice Chancellor by surprise. But…
The girl circled around to Katsuie’s side.
Walsingham thought it must have been an acceleration spell, but she could detect none of the wind that accompanied high speeds.
To Walsingham’s eyes, it simply looked like Musashi’s Vice Chancellor was walking. But Soaring Wings’s sign frame was displayed at the girl’s feet.
This was a new one. She had shattered the previous one when moving, but…
Walsingham was confused. Why was the girl’s speed not rising?
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor’s movements were light. They were even lighter than simply walking, so it was more like she was standing still. She stood by Katsuie’s side as if she had no weight at all. And so…
Katsuie moved half a step away.
He was not fleeing. His eyes were somewhat narrowed and directed straight ahead. He was viewing everything around him.
He too had noticed there was something different about Musashi’s Vice Chancellor. And…
“Hey. You said you ran here, right? How many steps did it take you?”
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor looked puzzled by that.
Walsingham concluded that it was a silly question. Why ask how many steps it had taken after arriving from the Musashi floating in the northern sky?
It would not even work as a trick to distract his opponent. Except…
Walsingham began some abnormal thought patterns. Her Mouse main body hanging from the back of her neck was telling her something about Shibata Katuie’s question.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor was trying to answer it. She briefly looked up, raised her left hand, and started folding down the fingers.
“One, two, three, four…”
As the girl counted, Katsuie took action. He made a horizontal sweep of Kamewari in his left hand.
Katsuie saw it.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor dodged his blade as it rapidly slipped horizontally through the air.
She had used Soaring Wings. But…
…Hold on. What’s this!? It looks like fun!
Katsuie had come across a few Soaring Wings users in his considerable combat experience. It and its derivatives were the stereotypical Shinto acceleration spells, so it had long been a popular choice.
It created a cumulative acceleration via purification, so it could only be used with long strokes and it could not pull off changes in direction over short distances. But…
His opponent was relaxed. She had no speed and, instead of walking, only seemed to transfer her body weight over, like she was on top of a pulley.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor broke through 37 instances of Soaring Wings and calmly dodged Kamewari’s blade.
She dodged it slowly.
No, she dodged it because she moved slowly.
…She lowers and suppresses her speed enough to fully control each and every one of her joints and then she makes the ideal movement!
She did not move quickly. While staying slow, she watched carefully, moved her body properly, and dodged with the smallest possible movement.
This was the ideal.
It was a technique that only upper level swordsmen could pull off.
Katsuie did not know what method she had used, but she had created an unbreakable Soaring Wings.
She was light.
And she circled to his side once more.
He looked to her face and she looked back at him.
Her eyebrows were raised and her eyes were firmly focused on him. The way her mouth was shut showed him she was feeling a fair bit of tension.
That was not the look of a coward.
Katsuie recalled when he had confronted this girl at Magdeburg.
He remembered her focusing on defense and putting up an insulting fight.
The cold look on her face back then was nowhere to be seen now.
Instead, he saw a girl’s tense and serious expression. She had taken her own fighting techniques too far, so one wrong step and she could kill herself. She had the look of fearing her skill but also trusting in it.
Her own power would not let her grow careless. She would always stay at the top of her game to draw out her full power which could even harm herself.
There was somewhere she could not reach without doing so.
She might die without reaching it even if she did do so.
The look on her face said she understood that, but she still pushed herself and chose the battlefield.
I like that, thought Katsuie. So you’ve finally arrived here, have you?
He thought about who he should call out to.
But whoever he directed his words to, he had a feeling it would get depressing.
He had promised Lady Oichi that he would have fun with it to the very end.
So he simply moved. His enemy already held her spear at the ready. He certainly couldn’t just say nothing and then get taken out.
Okay, he thought. I won’t hold back.
He had never held back before either.
After all, Shibata Katsuie was the fierce commander known as Demon Shibata in the Testament descriptions.
If he had been known as a demon in a human body, how ferocious did he have to be to be called that in a demonic body?
If he was going to hold back, it had to be as a demon.
So he took action. If his opponent was going to determine the ideal action and move oddly, then…
Shibata dodged his enemy’s jabbing spear.
He slowly drew out all of his strength but used it to control himself.
His movements were the demonic ideal.
Narimasa noticed Katsuie’s “technique”.
He had seen Musashi’s Vice Chancellor move in what he could call the ideal.
But with Katsuie…
…Is he serious!?
In an instantaneous exchange, Katsuie had measured his enemy’s skill. So unlike normal, he did more than just not hold back.
…He added in something extra!
He used his demonic strength not for explosive movement but for calm action.
He made the smallest possible movement at the lowest possible speed. To do that, he had to be perfectly aware of his enemy’s attack, perfectly see it coming, and perfectly respond to it.
The Vice Chancellors of Musashi and P.A. Oda slowly swapped places.
It was like a dance performance. It would have looked silly had Narimasa still been inexperienced, but with his skill, he could tell they were making the best possible actions over the shortest distance and he could sense the great thought that had to go into it all. Similarly…
They took the best possible action over the shortest distance to apply a lethal blow to their opponent and they took the best possible action over the shortest distance to dodge that.
In that dense space, the strongest attack was met with the ultimate evasion over and over.
Katsuie would dodge a jabbing spear by a layer of skin and send out his own blade alongside it without even ducking.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor would respond by letting the blade pass in front of her eyes by a hair’s breadth and then use the pulling back of her hips to pull back her spear while re-aiming the tip toward the demonic long-lived’s torso.
Their movements were almost leisurely, but with all excess excised from their movements, there was a lot of tension. But…
…Shibata’s pretty damn good!
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor was using an acceleration spell, but Katsuie was only using his own strength. He also had only one arm and he was matching things to his opponent’s shorter height.
How much strength did all that take? And…
Katsuie slowly bent to the right to avoid the spear swung down on his left.
Narimasa had “read” that one too. And so he reached a certain conclusion: Musashi’s Vice Chancellor would lose.
As if to prove him right, her ideal movement – the best possible action over the shortest distance – went exactly where it should have.
While bending to the right to avoid Musashi’s Vice Chancellor’s spear, he raised his left arm to counterattack.
He was not just relying on his strength. He did not use any more strength than necessary, he did not rush himself, he kept his elbow out while sending his arm and blade on the most accurate route, and he pushed them forward.
She reacted by trying to calmly circle to his left side. She tried to dodge his rising left arm and Kamewari like that. But…
Her pace was relaxed and calm, but she took the long way around.
He had kept his left elbow held outwards, so avoiding that elbow had eaten up some time.
…You won’t escape my rising left arm fast enough.
But she had avoided Kamewari’s blade. Activating its smashing power here would not help. She was leaning out to the left, which put her outside of Kamewari’s firing range.
So he used the guard.
As Kamewari rose alongside his body, he pushed the guard against Musashi’s Vice Chancellor’s spear as she passed by.
And from there…
He threw the spear and Musashi’s Vice Chancellor as if placing them on the sword guard.
He tossed them. It was a lot like gently pushing a paper airplane out into the air.
But that action definitely sent her flying. When she twisted her body and rose up a little, he lifted her.
And he calmly threw her.
The overall distance was 40 meters.
As Futayo flew in a parabolic arc, she searched for the closest place to land.
She found it. She moved her legs over and placed her feet on…
The wall around a house had been broken in the battle, so just one piece of the white birch wall remained standing, albeit tilted. It was unsteady, but…
Futayo landed on it regardless.
To keep her body level to the ground, she bent her legs and she killed her momentum while…
She used her footwork to gently but surely adjust her position on the pillar.
Her eyes were facing forward the entire time. In her current position, up was straight ahead and there she saw Katsuie directing a power toward her.
It was Kamewari.
Narimasa sensed the result.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor would lose.
Her acceleration spell, Soaring Wings, used purification by removing any impurities in the direction of her acceleration.
She needed somewhere to plant her feet if she was to accelerate.
Her current footing had her directly facing Katsuie, but…
…It’s gonna collapse.
If she lightly kicked off, she would push it back and it would fall over. She had just landed, so she had to be just barely maintaining her balance.
He knew what she was trying to do. He did not know how she had managed it, but during her ideal movements, she had built up Soaring Wings without it shattering.
So she would use that to charge straight across this long distance. However…
The pillar would fall over. The momentum she could not fully rid herself of in her landing was pushing at it.
What would happen when she took that first step?
The pillar would definitely collapse and when her feet met empty air, she would stall out. All of her accumulated acceleration would explode and she would be blown away.
Even if she did manage to jump forward, Kamewari’s counterattack awaited her.
Even with the accumulation from Soaring Wings, she would have difficulty moving forward faster than Kamewari could activate. After all, she would be smashed as soon the blade recognized her.
Narimasa knew it simply was not possible. But…
He heard a voice.
It was a song.
Within the calm but dense series of ideal and short actions, Musashi’s Vice Chancellor sang.
He heard more.
In that instant, Katsuie’s voice reached Narimasa’s ears.
He made a counterattack to break apart the girl’s singing.
“Get her, Kamewari.”
After the destruction, the result arrived in silence.
Kamewari’s smashing power had cut through and smashed up everything for 30 meters ahead of him.
Houses had scattered, the road was split, sounds of dust and rubble rang out, and all that noise finally ended.
With Kamewari still lowered in his left arm, Katsuie looked back.
He looked a dozen or so meters away just once, but he immediately nodded.
“Over there, huh?”
He looked about 30 meters away.
In the war-torn city, someone was facing away and kneeling on the roof of an old house.
It was Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.
She was breathing heavily, unable to control herself, and supporting herself with her metal spear to just barely avoid collapsing.
Seeing her from behind, Katsuie asked a question. Even on the battlefield, his booming voice reached her. And it said…
“Is your heart still not ready to use that Tonbo Spare?”
She did not answer, but he smiled thinly and bitterly.
“No, at your current speed, you’d have a hard time reflecting me in the blade. You should probably increase the spear’s processing speed. And I think I’ll do the same.”
“How the hell’d you outdo Kamewari’s recognition speed?”
After he said that, Musashi’s Vice Chancellor began to collapse forward.
The deer antler hair decoration on the back of her head split and her hair split, but…
That was all. She clung to her spear to stop collapsing. And…
Just as she took a breath and stood up, the front of Katsuie’s left shoulder split open and blood sprayed out.
A tremor similar to the beat of his heart shook his body. But…
“Now that was fun.”
He bent his left arm, his shoulder swelled out, and the bleeding stopped. He had tensed the muscles in his side.
But he moved no further. His left arm had been about half-severed. He could use neither arm now, but…
“Wanna keep at it a little longer?”
“No.” Musashi’s Vice Chancellor took a deep breath. “I have somewhere I must go.”
“I’m just one step along the way then?”
“No. You are a great wall that I will run across wherever I might go.”
“Then you’ll run across me again, huh?”
“Judge. I may have lost this time, but it was a necessary step toward eventual victory.”
Katsuie smiled bitterly.
“True enough. …It was my left shoulder and your hair. My attack was closer to the center of the body. If we did it again now, I’d definitely kill you.”
“I’ve lost use of both my arms this time. Bring Tonbokiri next time and I’ll take you on then.”
“I am in your debt.”
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor bowed, and…
She vanished. As she stood up, she must have already started accumulating Soaring Wings. There was no point in trying to follow her by eye. She was already gone.
“I suppose she’s gone on to the friends she needs to catch up with. …Hey”
Katsuie turned around to find Narimasa waving a hand and saying, “You stink, you stink!” So…
“You son of a bitch!”
Katsuie threw a stone only to have blood spray out again.
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