Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 92
Chapter 92: She who Surpasses Her Position
More than a visual
It is the vividly and clearly seen
Destination of the future
Point Allocation (Plans)
Futayo saw a small light in the darkness.
She was descending into a vast emptiness below Novgorod’s city hall.
The wind seemed to blow in from below and the distant light gradually grew.
It was a great hall. The circular stone hall was 200 meters across, but the center had a slope covered in stairs, allowing one to descend further.
The hall was lit, so someone must have arrived here before her. And…
“Welcome, those of you journeying to the depths of the world.”
A man’s voice rang out. It was amplified with a spell and it reverberated so much it was a little hard to make out.
“I am the Prince of Orange, Holland’s ‘Resisting Chancellor’. That isn’t my actual name, but I will omit why that is. I am currently in the ‘classroom’ below the entrance hall.”
“I would like for you to reach me here. I have something to show you. What can you see in the depths of the world, in the abyss leading ever deeper? My teacher was Matsudaira Motonobu,” he said. “And this unworthy student will teach you that you can find here exactly what he said you could.”
A quiet laugh entered the city hall’s central hall.
It was from Marfa who was supported by Kagekatsu in the center of the hall.
The hall was under attack from Shibata’s forces from the central corridors on the west and south. Sviet Rus’s demon warriors had created a wall of ice with a spell and were firing with rifles and spells.
They were so focused on defending by the corridors that the center of the hall was nearly empty. As the gunfire reverberated, Marfa spoke quietly.
“This was my first time letting someone underneath here. None of the other mayors ever did either. …But Novgorod is meant to welcome ‘guests’. The previous mayor’s records say that someone would occasionally show up as a ‘guest’, hoping to view the investigation records left by the historical mayors.”
“Was that Matsudaira Motonobu?”
“Most likely,” confirmed Marfa. “The previous mayor wished to know the truth and identity of the ruins below here. Of course, he was also a disciplined member of Sviet Rus and he was the first to volunteer to become a warrior during the purge in my generation. He said it was all to protect Novgorod.”
“Yes, former mayor. We have a chance of fulfilling your hopes now. …Because you protected this place using the tool known as death, we were given enough time for some others to possibly arrive at the truth.”
“Allow me to speak of older times.”
As the Prince of Orange’s voice reverberated around them, Mitotsudaira took the lead down the large hole descending underground. Futayo and Fukushima had already gone down, so the silver wolf hurried after them.
Her king was wrapped in a silver chain behind her and they were followed by the 1st Special Duty Officer, Mary, and…
Asama and Masazumi were with them too. Sviet Rus’s primary forces had protected those 3 girls and allowed them to arrive from the north. Horizon was seated on a silver chain that supported her back like a chair, but the other 2 silver chains were broken and could not carry Asama and Masazumi.
“I’ll take care of them. …Can you trust me?”
Unturning Centipede ran after them without making a single audible footstep. Mitotsudaira nodded back at Date Narumi who had Urquiaga with her.
But she was not the only one to respond. Horizon and Asama also agreed despite never having met the girl and Narumi picked up the 2 girls while nodding back.
Shortly thereafter, the stairway came to an end and they reached a landing.
The proper route was the staircase spiraling around the inside wall of the large hole, but…
Mitotsudaira noticed a portion of the landing’s railing was bent and cut away. It had long since corroded and rusted, but…
Novice: “This means the ancient people also had some people as stupid as all of you. For some reason, crazy people always feel the need to climb up or jump down when they see an elevated place.”
Silver Wolf: “Wh-what’s wrong with that!? It feels nice!”
With that said, she pulled in her silver chains and held Horizon and her king as they sat on her shoulders.
“My king, when did you start crossdressing again?”
“Oh, c’mon, Nate. Being carried by a knight is a princess’s job. I’ll be a royal court girl from now on!”
“Mitotsudaira-sama, I am the real princess. Please throw out the faker.”
What am I supposed to do about this? she wondered as the stairs came to an end. After glancing back at those following her…
“I will be going on ahead.”
She jumped into the abyss. She heard a voice as she felt a sense of floating in her freefall.
“It happened around 30 years ago. In a certain place, we were researching a solution to the Apocalypse.”
The voice came from down below, but she also heard…
“The greatest minds of every nation went into hiding and gathered together for 2 years. Lord Motonobu visited each of us individually and invited us like this: ‘Let’s form a new Testament Cross-Borders Unit.’ It was such a childish dream.”
The voice continued as sharp metallic noises rang out.
It was Futayo. She was fighting in the hall below.
“And to save the world from the Apocalypse, we came to know a certain individual.”
“We referred to that friend as…the Princess.”
Fukushima battled Futayo.
She had no time. She knew that all too well. After all, she was not stopping the Prince of Orange from saying anything unnecessary and the rest of Musashi’s group was falling from above.
If she could intercept Musashi’s group with an anti-air attack, her worries about the future would probably vanish. But Musashi Vice Chancellor Honda Futayo did not give her time for that.
…She is very different from the other day!
Her top speed was not that different, but she no longer crumbled at low speeds.
Her acceleration spell was a cumulative purification one. So any disturbance in the acceleration direction would cause the spell to misfire and send her flying.
But that did not happen. She appeared to move frantically, she would move on unsteady legs, she would swing her arms around, she would whip her string-bound hair behind her, and it all looked disturbed despite how gentle it was.
But she contained it all inside herself and unified it.
As her body was nearly blown away, she seemed to be holding it back, restraining it, soothing it, and containing the overflowing power within while allowing it to flow elsewhere undiminished.
Fukushima felt it was like the wind. It blew wildly and roughly, but it never scattered and it would continue blowing wherever it pleased even when one held their hand up to stop it.
Just when Fukushima thought the girl was going to circle behind her, Futayo would pass by her, collide with her, pass through, or approach as if entangling the two of them.
When she seemed heavy and slow enough to touch, she was fast. But when she seemed light and quick, she actually grew heavy.
This was nothing like before.
She had moved like a person before. Where had she learned to express the wind instead? Fukushima could make a guess, but…
She had to focus only on her desire to battle this opponent and on her hope to defeat her.
The battlefield was where hopes were fulfilled. So…
Fukushima threw herself into a fall as if to circle around the wind.
Narumi was the one to increase the speed of her descent. She sent power to Unturning Centipede’s back wings and began a power dive along with Urquiaga. She was supporting Musashi’s shrine maiden and Vice President, so she had to worry about the opening created in the moment of landing.
“I will cover for you!” announced Urquiaga. “Let’s head down at full power!”
Asama: “Eh!? Ah, wait, um!!”
Vice President: “If this is enough to scare Asama, I might not be able to handle it!!”
Should we really do this? wondered Narumi as she flew straight down. The faster they got to the bottom, the sooner they could hold off Fukushima Masanori. So she did not hesitate to take the shortest route down. But…
“Would you look at that…”
Narumi noticed something about the battle far down below.
She did not know much about Musashi’s Vice Chancellor or Fukushima Masanori of the Ten Spears, but something stood out about their exchange of offense and defense.
Asama: “They seem to fit together really well…”
Narumi agreed. It probably helped that they had both mastered similar techniques and were both wielding spears. And they had also fought once before, so they both knew what the other could do. But…
Their evasions and attacks were different actions, but they fit together so well.
Musashi’s Vice Chancellor would spin and circle around her opponent with light steps.
She generally swung her spear up from below and spun it around, so if her opponent moved to her right or left, she too could place herself beyond her spear and the spear’s rotation would turn her around.
She moved in circles. Her body was disturbed and had an unsteadiness that threatened to send her flying at any moment, but she just barely bore with it and kept moving. To make the ideal movements, she moved gently but kept her entire body spinning in a certain direction to shift her body weight. And occasionally…
She would pass through in a pure straight line.
So this is Musashi’s Vice Chancellor, thought Narumi. She was still unsteady, her movements showed great room for improvement, and she would suddenly shift between fast and slow. And…
…As for Fukushima…
She made constant changes between fast and slow. By limiting the effective range of her falling acceleration spell named Headfirst Fall, she could use it for short distances or long distances. It could be a single step at the shortest and several meters at the longest. During it all, she would spin her body around, take somewhat heavy steps, and yet always accelerate.
She continually kicked off the floor and launched herself forward in a pose that looked like she was sitting in the air. She attacked with horizontal sweeps or spinning her body to make a jab.
Their movements were different, but they fit together well.
Sudden shifts between fast and slow versus constant changes between fast and slow.
Maintaining speed versus repeatedly accelerating.
Martial arts meant to preserve speed versus martial arts meant to continue accelerating.
Vertical attacks versus spinning attacks.
All of those came together, they rotated around as if entangling their feet together, they jumped or ducked, and they moved out or circled in.
…It’s almost like they’re sparring.
Was I like that with Masamune? Narumi thought she had seen something like this back when the main garden’s cherry trees had green leaves and were still shedding their flowers. And…
“There are flowers here too…”
They were sparks. As the two combatants sped up, they came into contact in more places.
Narumi and the others would land in a few more moments. She kind of wanted them to continue a while longer, but…
She figured that girls as skilled as these would settle this by the time she landed, so she poured further acceleration into the wings on her back.
A moment later, the number of scattering flowers grew below her.
The battle between Musashi’s Vice Chancellor and Fukushima had begun to fit together perfectly.
The two girls had chosen to move clockwise.
Futayo pursued while Fukushima fell back. They ran in a circle measuring 5 meters across.
And their attacks constantly clashed inside that circle.
After a few exchanges, Futayo held Tonbo Spare below her right arm and targeted Fukushima’s chest from her lower right. Fukushima responded by sweeping her spear horizontally from her right to her upper left.
Sparks flew as Tonbo Spare was swept away. And as Futayo rotated her weapon back, Fukushima placed the horizontally sweeping Ichinotani below her right arm and spun her entire body to the left.
With Ichinotani below her right arm, Fukushima pushed and spun it to the right with her right hip so that the bottom end would sweep out and strike Futayo.
Futayo responded by ducking below Tonbo Spare as it spun vertically to her right. She placed the rotating Tonbo Spare on her left and caught Ichinotani’s shaft on the center of the rotation.
Fukushima had made a wide swing of the bottom of her spear and Futayo did not fight it when she caught it on her weapon.
Her feet left the floor a little, but she slowly spun Tonbo Spare as sparks flew, and…
She let Fukushima’s weapon push her in a circle around the girl.
After it pushed her and finally released her, Futayo twisted her body and placed Tonbo Spare on her right.
Meanwhile, Fukushima pushed the bottom of her spear with her hip and turned her body toward Futayo. Fukushima had no weapon in front of her, so Futayo swung up her spear tip to slice through the girl’s crotch from below.
Fukushima accelerated her body. But she was not trying to move away. By falling over the extremely short distance toward the spinning spear bottom, the left side of her back was pulled back and she turned her right side toward Futayo.
With Fukushima turned to the side, Tonbo Spare’s shaft shot up just in front of her body, grazing her breasts and nose, but it did not actually hit her. Instead, she moved her spear forward while still holding it under her right arm. She swung it up to strike Futayo’s now undefended body.
Just as Futayo’s rising spear tip pointed diagonally upwards, she lifted her feet from the floor.
She used the upwards swing of the spear to pull herself upwards and somewhat dangled from it in order to turn her right side forward. She kept her toes just barely on the floor throughout, but Fukushima’s spear tip raced past the front of her slightly shifted body.
And once Futayo returned Tonbo Spare to her right, they both faced each other at close range with their spears held outwards.
They clashed. They slammed their left shoulders together and spun around on that point.
They both tilted their bodies to the left and pushed at the other’s shoulder while making feints disguised as attacks and using accelerated footwork to spin in a circle once, twice, and then thrice. And…
They simultaneously pushed back the other’s shoulder and jumped back themselves before simultaneously sending the spear held under their right arm at the other.
They both turned their left side forward at the same time and grabbed at the enemy’s spear.
They forcibly spun their bodies to the left, turning their right side toward their enemy this time. They used their entire body to pull the other girl’s spear to the left, stole it, and raised it before swinging their left arm like a whip to send a high-speed horizontal sweep of their enemy’s spear from the left.
They both immediately moved forward. They approached their enemy beyond the center of their enemy’s horizontal sweep and caught the shaft on their waist.
This was not a hit.
The principle of leverage meant the blow was weaker when they moved further in than the fulcrum point. This put a greater burden on the one supplying the leverage, so their opponent’s hand was knocked from the spear shaft. Now that the two spears were free again and they had both built up their momentum, the circled past their enemy’s waist and around to their back.
They both grabbed the spear tip passing by there. And they reversed their wrist to make an attack, Futayo from the lower left and Fukushima from the upper left.
The two diagonal paths grazed past each other and the two girls caught them by moving forward. Fukushima supported hers below her right arm and Futayo supported hers on her right shoulder.
And from the shoulder and side, the spears spun around to their backs and then diagonally to the other side and shoulder.
They both grabbed the rotating bottom of the spear. And this time…
Futayo attacked from the lower right and Fukushima from the upper right.
They did not stop.
The two spears passed back and forth, circled around their bodies, and changed direction entirely when they moved their hands. The two girls continued a literal exchange of weapons as they spun around.
The ideal acceleration and the ideal falling brought them through a high-speed series of spear strikes while within arm’s reach of each other.
Their toes collided. They had nowhere else to go, but their acceleration spells did not break.
Fukushima activated Headfirst Fall to rotate herself and Futayo opened her mouth to sing.
She used a phrase she liked. For this technique, she would determine the axis line of her feet and then shift that line slightly to continue her acceleration. She repeated the same phrase again and again, but then she suddenly changed the words.
Fukushima’s expression changed when she heard the song.
Fukushima’s eyebrows rose, but…
“Is that how thou expresses thyself…!?”
The corners of her mouth rose and she looked on the verge of laughter. But there was no mockery there. She immediately clenched her back teeth, wrinkled her brow, and seemed unable to contain herself.
“What comes next…!?”
Futayo slowly spoke. She spun her body and rotated the bottom of her spear around from her back to her right side.
She sped up.
“Toward your destination.”
Futayo approached Fukushima. She did not approach from the front. She accelerated her rotation and quickly moved in from the side.
Fukushima gasped when she saw Futayo almost seeming to descend toward her from the left.
She was currently using Headfirst Fall right up to the limits of what she could control. How could the enemy produce enough speed to easily ignore that?
No, she understood the logic behind it. And she understood why the girl was able to draw out that logic.
It was the song. It was probably a song she had been given to maintain her timing when she had learned this speed technique. It acted as a trigger and allowed her to use this high speed technique.
This gave her even greater speed than before.
“Are you honing your axis of movement!?”
Asama: “Kimi, can you hear Futayo singing!?”
“I can.” Kimi smiled bitterly on the academy bridge. “It’s a bit of a problem that she can’t sing without getting worked up first, though. But I’m stealing a look at your display of Futayo’s ether output and it looks stable enough. She’ll be fine.”
“What’s the trick to this?” asked Neshinbara as he stood on the stairs. “I highly doubt her previous acceleration spell suddenly got faster. If we learn the trick to this, I think we could strengthen all of our fighters’”
“That wouldn’t work. You need skill on my or Futayo’s level and you need the earnestness of a ‘specialist’. After all…”
Kimi spun around while looking up at the exchange of cannon fire in the sky.
She used the toe of her shoe to make a perfect horizontal rotation without wobbling in the slightest.
“Do you get it now?”
“No, not at all.”
“You’re so useless.” Kimi placed both feet back on the bridge and shrugged. “Before, Futayo would kick off the ground with the bottom of her feet or her toes, but her body learned something in our training today: to move her body, she only needs to alter her axis of movement. And…”
“The smaller and sharper that axis of movement, the more of the power she gives it will be used.”
“You mean it won’t just disperse?”
“No.” Kimi spun her hair around. “Life can be broken down to a single cell. And an axis of movement is just as simple. But as it grows, it grows wasteful, gains various ways of expressing itself, and loses that simplicity. So it isn’t that she’s keeping her power from dispersing. She’s returning it to its simplest form. And to do that…”
She kept a light rhythm with her feet and she repeated the same phrase again and again.
“You take a pulse-like rhythm, convert it into words, and make those your own Words. It moves gently and never stops. I would say we all know it from before we were born, but I’m not sure about that. Still, it is familiar to us all. It is a phrase from when we were little and would trip far too easily. From when we were held and rocked. If you can remember that, regaining a simple axis of movement is easy. I mean…compared to standing up for the first time in your life, this is the easiest thing in the world.”
Futayo caught up to Fukushima and asked her a question.
“Are you a coward!?”
She received no clear answer, but Fukushima’s expression did change. Her eyebrows briefly shot up and her eyes widened, but a moment later she was smiling with her eyebrows raised.
That was all the answer Futayo needed, so she moved forward and briefly leaned back.
She hit Fukushima with a headbutt.
Their hair shook and their bodies shook. And they sent out the spear bottoms they had held at their hips. But while Fukushima targeted the center of Futayo’s body, Futayo set her sights on something else: the bottom of Ichinotani thrusting toward her.
The two spears collided, sparks flew, and both girls’ bodies shook further. But…
Futayo stepped forward as if twisting her toes on the floor.
She used her toes to suppress the shaking of her body.
She made quick adjustments from her toes to her ankles, knees, thighs, hips, gut, back, shoulders, and arms.
“Toward your destination.”
Her rotating spear tip struck Fukushima. It was a direct hit, but it hit the shaft of Ichinotani that Fukushima had lifted back up as if embracing it. However, Fukushima had already lost her balance, so she failed to control her Headfirst Fall acceleration spell.
A noise rang out. It was the sound of Headfirst Fall’s spell circle shattering.
The light burst and her entire body flew.
She was thrown through the air by her out-of-control acceleration.
Fukushima controlled herself in midair.
She used her martial arts and physical strength to pull back her twisting and spinning body and she aimed her feet toward the floor.
She ended up landing on her knees.
She slid backwards across the stone floor and her hair followed her as it was pulled in toward her. Beyond it, she saw her enemy gently rotating her body. She was 50 meters away. New enemies had finished descending and landed behind her. And…
…The entrance leading further down is behind me!
Fukushima knew it all came down to this, so she pulled her arms back.
She opened Ichinotani’s tip and held it at the ready.
Ichinotani had two different abilities.
The first was to absorb an approaching attack inside the opened tip to neutralize it.
And the second was to…
…Fire the absorbed power from the opened tip!
So she raised her voice in her intent to settle this here.
After descending under Narumi’s power and yet landing softly, Asama looked forward.
It happened in just an instant.
Futayo was standing near their landing point, but then she disappeared.
Asama looked further forward.
Futayo was there. She had leaped 50 meters in an instant. She charged in before Fukushima’s spear could finish opening its firing system.
And in no time, a metallic crash shook the air.
Fukushima flew through the entrance behind her and slammed into the wall beyond.
The tip of Futayo’s Tonbo Spare had stabbed into the opened tip of Fukushima’s spear and prevented it from firing.
But Asama recognized the way Futayo had moved.
Futayo had used it after falling from the scaffolding and into empty air at the end of her training with Kimi. After falling, she had just barely managed to plant her feet on the vertical scaffolding but could not stop her fall. She had then subconsciously done this.
She had focused her body’s axis of movement on just her toe tip and thrown all of her acceleration into that.
“That must be how the Hassou Tobi works…”
But in Futayo’s case, her acceleration was much sharper. Her course was nearly a straight line and her speed was high. She had shot forward too quickly for her enemy’s projectile.
“It really is like soaring wings.”
Unable to rid herself of her momentum, Futayo spun around and landed. And the instant she stood back up, Fukushima raised her voice from where she had collided with the opposite wall.
As if peeling herself from the wall, she landed and tried to attack Futayo.
Her spear was already opened, so this spear jab would include cannon fire.
But Asama saw that Futayo was already moving.
She held Tonbo Spare vertically. And that meant…
…Is she using it!?
Asama’s question was answered by Futayo’s voice. It was far clearer and calmer than expected.
Futayo did not hesitate.
She knew all too well that Tonbo Spare had yet to activate even once.
She had only just made a great leap with Soaring Wings and she could not correct her posture in time to use it again.
So as she landed, she reflected her enemy in Tonbo Spare’s blade and raised the spear. Tonbo Spare’s internal processing speed was slower than Soaring Wings’s acceleration, but she had decided that would not matter if she prepared it in advance.
…Will this work?
Her hands did not feel it activating.
Perhaps because she was so focused, time seemed to pass excruciatingly slowly.
If it did not activate, she would lose. So her heart felt a temptation to jump away with Soaring Wings. But…
She chose not to trust her hesitation.
Instead, she chose to stop holding any doubts in Tonbo Spare. Because she was absolutely certain that Tonbo Spare would not “activate”.
It was not something that “activated”.
Tonbokiri had not been either.
The divine weapon left with the Honda family possessed great power, so it decided for itself who was a worthy master.
So, she thought.
…The will of this weapon of war would never choose a master who doubts it.
So she told herself that this was not a Tonbo Spare she held.
It was power.
That power had been left in her care. It was the same as her arms and legs.
She knew what she had to do to produce the results she wanted.
Words were needed to activate it, but what came next was not done by Tonbokiri or Tonbo Spare. She herself had to draw out the power left in her care.
That power would move once it was released.
Move, Tonbo Spare. Move, my power. It was like reaching out a hand or moving a leg forward.
She had a single goal. Her father had left that goal with her as a member of the Honda family.
“I must simply win!”
A moment later, a dragonfly-shaped sign frame appeared around Tonbo Spare’s spear tip.
It had already locked onto the person reflected in the blade.
“Understood,” it said.
The locking sign frame shattered. And…
Fukushima reflexively raised her spear for defense, but it was too late.
The spear’s shaft was split diagonally and the weakened power struck her.
The cutting power was even weaker than Tonbo Spare and shattered easily for a blade, but the diagonal strike hit Fukushima and once more slammed her against the wall behind her.
The power hit a 30 meter section of the wall and Fukushima was caught in the aftermath.
“You have my thanks!”
Futayo bowed and turned her back as the wall collapsed.
A quick thought occurred to Futayo.
It came to her through the activation of Tonbo Spare.
If she would flinch in the face of a name inheritor’s resolve, she only had to give herself that same task. She knew someone who had taken up a far higher position and became a more formidable foe than any other name inheritor: Honda Tadakatsu.
If she set that name as her goal…
…What would my father have thought?
When she faced forward, she saw everyone there: Masazumi, the princess, and the idiot too, but the idiot raised his hand.
“Hey, looks like you’ve finally got your groove back. That’s a real help.”
“Judge. I was a bit of a burden, wasn’t I? I look forward to being more useful in the future.”
She had recovered enough to say that, but the idiot smiled bitterly. He gave a thumbs up while standing next to the princess.
“We were right to take you in at Mikawa. I heard from Seijun that you’d have gone to Aki otherwise.”
“Judge. That was my intention as commander of the guard unit.”
Saying that reminded Futayo of something.
What had her father said at Mikawa?
…He told me to do whatever I wanted once I arrived in Aki.
She could not arrive in Aki now. Itsukushima had fallen. But she had arrived at Musashi.
In her heart, she bowed to her father and Kazuno and gave herself a command.
…Do whatever you wish.
And so she spoke.
“From now on…I think I will work toward inheriting the name of Honda Tadakatsu.”
Masazumi heard the idiot say, “I see.”
I see, she thought herself as Futayo moved alongside Horizon.
Inheriting the name of Honda Tadakatsu would probably take a lot of effort, but she was probably prepared for that. If that meant Futayo was looking to the future, that was enough for Masazumi.
Her classmate had found a plan for the future. Sensing expectation, joy, and loneliness in the girl, Masazumi recalled Futayo’s attack and asked about it.
“Was that a cutting power?”
“No, instead of cutting, it more broke it with an impact… You could call it a splitting power.”
“So it’s missing the last part?” asked Mary with a smile. “Just like ‘Tonbokiri’ becomes ‘Tonbo’ Spare, you removed the end of ‘cutting’ or ‘katsudan’ to get ‘splitting’ or ‘katsuda’. And that Far Eastern wordplay might also work as a good luck charm, since ‘katsu da’ means ‘it is victory’.”
“That’s right.” Masazumi nodded and opened her mouth. “And if it’s a splitting power-…”
For some reason the others stopped her.
“Calm down, Masazumi. There are no enemies around right now!”
“That’s right, Masazumi-dono! You should save that until we’re surrounded!”
“But I have determined she might need to periodically make small puns to let off the pressure. Otherwise the pressure might build up until a devastating one is released without warning.”
“Stop making things up about me!”
Asama looked the other way and started viewing some kind of frequency graph with Hanami, but Masazumi decided to ignore that. At any rate, that was when a voice reached her ears. It was the Prince of Orange’s low voice.
“Now, come to me. …Everything is here.”
“The battle underground is complete. The only question now is what the Musashi group will see down there.”
Shibata’s forces continued their assault on the main hall and Sviet Rus’s warriors held them off with barricades and counterattacks. As Kagekatsu supported Marfa, she asked him a question.
“How about we settle things between us now, Kagekatsu?”
“What do you plan to do, Marfa?”
Despite saying that, he stopped supporting her. That likely meant he was prepared to do this, so she announced his crimes.
“Not only did you have me inherit the name of Kagetora…but at the time you needed the Testament Union’s help to fight back against P.A. Oda, so you were forced to faithfully carry out the history recreation. That is why you simultaneously recreated the purge of Novgorod and the purge of the Kagetora faction that lost the Siege of Otate fought over who would succeed the Uesugi clan. Do you have any idea how many precious subordinates and friends I lost?”
“Your subordinates and friends were my subordinates and friends as well.”
“Then,” said Marfa. “Do you have any idea how much wrath there is in my heart?”
“Then,” repeated Marfa.
And she pulled a weapon from her back.
“This is Maska Orge. …Do you know what that means?”
“Testament,” confirmed Kagekatsu. He placed his staff in front of him and both hands on top of that.
There was no hint of resistance in his action, so Marfa raised Maska Orge and aimed it at him.
Saitou looked back while commanding the interception unit. His eyebrows rose.
“Kagekatsu! You must not do this!”
“It is fine. There is nothing to fear. After all…”
He looked Marfa right in the eye.
“Marfa… You will not shoot.”
“Nonsense. …None of your conceited words can change the way I feel at this point.”
“But you will not shoot, Marfa. That is certain. To shoot would be an insult to your subordinates and friends…to my subordinates and friends who laid down their lives for you when you accepted my orders and resolved yourself,” explained Kagekatsu. “You would not want to find peace alone, would you? So let me say one thing.”
“Do not shoot me, Marfa. Do not think about shooting me…and thus bringing peace only to me, Marfa.”
“You will not shoot. Marfa…I will always remain with my subordinates and friends…with your subordinates and friends. And…”
“I am with you. That is our promise, Marfa.”
“When did we ever promise that? I don’t remember anything of the sort.”
“I am making it right now,” said Kagekatsu. “Promises are not just made in the past and fulfilled in the present.”
He thought about the idiot who he had only met a few hours before but had ignored everything to walk right up to him.
He knew that idiot had always regretted a past mistake and had decided to move forward so as to never feel that kind of regret again.
But that idiot had shown Kagekatsu something else now.
He had moved forward, not to rid himself of regret, but to leave regret in the past while gaining a world where he and everyone else could be happy.
If Musashi’s Chancellor had been trying to wipe his past clean, Kagekatsu would not have been moved. But that boy had the same thing as Kagekatsu, he had held it with him as regret, and still…
…He said he would go apologize with me.
He was not wiping that regret clean.
If the regret was lost, nothing would remain.
Instead, he would leave the regret as is while obtaining happiness.
That was worth working toward. He could look to the future while still holding that regret inside. And…
…If the happiness you wish for is true happiness, everyone will follow you!
He had to walk forward based on happiness, not regret.
Musashi’s Chancellor had shown him it was okay to do that.
The boy may have forgotten all about that because he had continued underground with his friends, but that was fine. Kagekatsu was king of Sviet Rus.
It had been more than enough just to teach him that he could start forward on his own.
That was an important starting point for him. And he had definitely seen that in the boy. Instead of wallowing in past regrets, he could move forward to avoid future regret and to obtain further happiness.
So he spoke to Marfa.
“We will be bound together until our promise is fulfilled in the future. So…”
He looked her in the eye.
“So, Marfa, will you grow accustomed to regret and grab the reins of happiness with me?”
But silence could be taken as agreement, so she forced out a breath.
“I will shoot.”
“Because I’m stubborn, Kagekatsu.”
The corners of her mouth rose and she fired Maska Orge.
But she did not fire it at Kagekatsu. She reversed her wrist and aimed at herself.
“Honestly. …Most of my anger has always been directed at my unlovable self.”
Maska Orge materialized one’s anger for the target as damage.
…I really am stubborn.
She was not so pathetic that she would take issue with that purge from the past. She had been one of the leaders then too. If she had anything to say now, it was that she should have resisted it more herself. But she had not, she had chosen to go with the flow, and she had led her subordinates and friends to lay down their lives out of concern for her. She had only her own softness to blame for that.
She understood that the anger she expressed was only the reverse side of what she felt for herself. So…
“I wonder how effective this will be.”
With that thought, she began to close her eyes, but she suddenly stopped.
An external power moved the hand holding Maska Orge.
…It can’t be.
Kagekatsu stood before her after throwing aside his staff.
His right hand had grabbed her right hand which held Maska Orge. And…
He had aimed Maska Orge at himself.
It had fired toward him.
Kagekatsu thought to himself after turning Maska Orge’s blast toward himself.
…I-I’m scared! This is way too scary!
Part of it had to do with the fact that she had actually fired, but he was also surprised by his own actions.
Marfa had to know he was sweating bullets in his heart. They knew each other long enough for that. But even if she knew how he was feeling, he knew exactly what he had to say.
He moved forward. He nodded and took a step toward her with Maska Orge on his right.
“That did not even hurt.”
He held her in his arms.
…I’m not scared! I’m not scared at all!
He could tell his movements were stiff from nerves, but demon skin was nice and hard. His movements would look normal to the others. Or the others were at least kind enough to overlook it if they did not.
But he also felt someone shrinking down and struggling in his arms.
Marfa was not used to this either. And so she spoke.
“You fool… Why would you have me shoot you before myself? …You’ve had enough interactions with England, so surely you’re familiar with their culture of ‘ladies first’.”
He was. During wartime, English Queen Elizabeth liked to fire Ex. Caliburn before anyone else did anything. That had to be what it meant.
…Such a violent culture.
He would prefer to keep things more peaceful. So…
“I am familiar with it. And that is why I have this to say.” He embraced the woman in his arms. “I will give you a happy future. And that will bring me happiness. That will mean you are always happy slightly before I am, Marfa Boretskaya. In that way, I will allow you to get ahead of me as a traitorous Vedma.”
He heard a breath that might have been a laugh, but she did not struggle.
So he wanted to stay like this for a while longer and he wondered if his friend had found the path ahead while underground.
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