Horizon:Volume 4C Chapter 96
Last Chapter: Residents of a New Place
That we are lighter
And we once more carry our burden forward
Point Allocation (Birth)
The Battle of Novgorod was over. After waiting for the arrival of the Sviet Rus security fleet and the fleet to collect the fallen Novgorod, the Musashi returned to the Ariake in normal cruising.
They did not use stealth cruising. Sviet Rus, Mogami, and Date each sent a fleet to protect them for a leg of the journey, so they returned as something like celebrated victors.
But as the light of midmorning washed over the Musashi, the officers were gathered in the student council room on the front of the academy’s 3rd floor. They were arranging the desks and shelves while speaking with the others who had arrived to help.
The most movement came from Naito and Naruze whose wings allowed them to carry things out of the windows. They also worked in the delivery industry, so they could chat while they carried things out or back in.
“Aren’t our finals coming up soon?”
“And after the excitement over Adele’s testing, I seem to recall something about our class trip being canceled…”
“Do you want to go on the class trip, Ga-chan?”
“It’s sure to give me plenty of doujinshi material, right?”
“That’s right,” agreed Adele. She lowered her eyebrows and sighed. “I went all out on the retest, so it should be fine. You can look forward to the trip.”
“I’m a little afraid that going all out means leaving the category of human…”
“I am also feeling something that I believe is called ‘looking forward to’ the class trip,” said Horizon. “I have few memories of spending much time with everyone.”
Horizon was by the window. She had lined up her desk next to Toori’s and she plotting out a way to place Masazumi’s, Mitotsudaira’s, Asama’s, and Kimi’s adjacent to it as well. She stopped to take a breath and cross her arms.
“But this student council room feels more like your school socialization room. …The only difference from Class Plum’s classroom is the presence of Yoshiyasu-sama and Ookubo-sama’s desks, so should I assume things will be even livelier in here?”
“Heh heh. That’s right. When we’re at the academy, we’ll probably choose either here or on the bridge. And outside the academy, we’ll probably choose either the Blue Thunder or our place.”
Kimi poked her head out through the white cloth of the curtain divider she was checking on.
But she suddenly followed Horizon’s gaze. Asama, Mitotsudaira, and Suzu also turned around to see the idiot in a summer uniform.
He had attached something to that uniform: a thin chain.
It was just the one, but he had made it by connecting a few shorter chains together.
No one asked him what it meant, but Horizon did nod and speak.
“Did you think immersing yourself in the past would make you look cool, Toori-sama?”
“Dammit! You had to point that out, didn’t you!? You aren’t going to let me take anything seriously, are you!?”
The others worked to calm the idiot down and Horizon took a breath.
“A lot has happened, but if I were to sum it all up…”
She made sure to begin with “for now”.
“We have finished resisting and have somewhat managed to recover. But does that assumption qualify as the deadly sin of vainglory?”
Asama nodded at Horizon’s words.
She held a sign frame from “Musashi” with a message asking Masazumi whether or not they would return to the Ariake. Asama forwarded it to Masazumi and spoke to the others with a smile.
“I think our trip to Novgorod worked well as a test flight toward recovery.”
“Judge. …You got to shoot some, didn’t you? But four shots in a row? Maybe you were bottling it up too much…”
“T-Toori-kun, don’t describe my covering fire for Masa like that.”
As the others gave Asama weird looks, Masazumi raised a hand after checking a few things on a sign frame.
“Hey, everyone. The Musashi has started on its route back to the Ariake. We’ll be there in half a day. Don’t forget that we’ll have to fine-tune the Musashi’s parts, correct any deficiencies found in the data we collected, and prepare for what happens next. Speaking of what happens next…”
“Judge,” said Neshinbara while opening several sign frames. “If we’re going to pursue Hashiba’s actions, we’ll be assisting Mouri. If not, we’ll be liberating Kantou. I think we can use the attack on Houjou to lead into Matsudaira’s control of Kantou.”
Everyone looked to Noriki when they heard the mention of Houjou. Naruze stuck her head in through the window and began groping empty air with both hands.
“Will you be okay?” she asked Noriki.
“What are those hands for? Besides, I’m a resident of Musashi and nothing more.”
“As Treasurer, I would like to suggest the attack on Houjou,” said Shirojiro. “If we can control Kantou, we could build up a large (albeit insular) field of commerce. That would be an excellent choice for gaining a foothold and some backup.”
“I see,” replied everyone.
Naomasa walked in carrying five buckets of water with her false arm and she looked around.
“Where’s Urquiaga? Is he not helping?”
“Urquiaga-kun took Narumi-san to Takao so they could find a home,” said Heidi.
“Hmm,” replied everyone.
A sign frame appeared by the top of the student council room window. It displayed Ookubo and Kanou.
Ookubo reported on the results and various problems found during the Musashi’s outing.
Kanou displayed diagrams of their course and of the battle to assist in the explanation. And afterwards…
“The biggest result was repairing the relationship between the three nations of Date, Mogami, and Sviet Rus. And we have received an assurance of their cooperation, which addresses our biggest concern during the special student general assembly. With this…” Ookubo looked directly out of the screen at them. “Musashi has settled on the policy put forward by the current Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers. The Committee Union will follow your lead. Musashi will now work to stop Hashiba while attempting to stop the Apocalypse by seeking the Logismoi Oplo and negotiating with the other nations. We will do our best to assist you.”
Kanou bowed and raised her head to reveal a smile. There was no tension in it and Asama felt it was entirely unplanned. Good, nothing is out of place.
“I’m sure you already know this, but I’m bringing Unturning Centipede and you with me. Not many places are going to work for that. Should we try to find a way to rent a place on the surface?”
“Do not say you are bringing me. I am a man of mystery who always slips through your fingers.”
“Is that supposed to be a joke?”
Narumi and Urquiaga were walking through the Kabe wide block in underground Oume. They had requested a place near the adjacent long block, so they did not have to walk far.
They compared the key they held to the room numbers.
“Oh, we just passed it. But this room…”
“It was originally a storeroom for the wide block’s materials,” explained Urquiaga. “That means the door is nice and big, so that’s a good start…”
They unlocked the door, opened it, and were met by the scent of flour.
The room was nearly 10 square meters. The floor was made of stone and the room was entirely empty without even a bed. However…
“Perhaps we should look at it as being able to make it however we like.”
“I would like a poison testing room to help out Toori.”
“As long as you’ll respond when I talk to you, that’s fine with me.”
“I quite like your lack of tension…”
Narumi just about replied with an exasperated “testament”, but caught herself and said “judge” instead. Then she lightly grabbed the entrance column and checked its strength. It seemed solid enough. So…
…I like this place.
She turned around to say that out loud, but she found the half-dragon was already reinforcing a corner of the room with spells. He just does whatever he wants, doesn’t he? she thought and she started to smile.
“What is it?”
She only managed to get an “eh?” out of her throat.
Then she breathed in and let her senses spread to her surroundings. They were the only ones in the vicinity. The men were out working and the women were doing laundry or cooking where the water was. And at the edge of the wide block, no one would be watching them.
“How should I put it? When I was at Date, I wanted to leave.”
“When we drove back the Seiryu, I was resisting along with the others. And…”
“Judge,” she replied. That was a sinner’s response and so she continued as if to carve the word into herself. “I feel like I shouldn’t have been trying to escape that place alone. Everyone was desperately trying to preserve and lift up the Date clan, so I shouldn’t have been thinking about fulfilling my role and then running away…”
“Your role was something only you could have done, so rest easy.”
“But…if I hadn’t told her to do that, Masamune wouldn’t have suffered so much.”
“That is probably true.”
He admitted that. But…
“That is why I am sure Masamune is glad that she did not have you do it instead.”
“I can’t just avoid facing the problem like that…”
“It all works out if you view it as Masamune choosing to protect you there. You…no, Date, Mogami, and Sviet Rus all used your promise as an excuse to fear who would be the most harmed and to try to keep anyone from worrying about you. If you are to resist that, you cannot just deny it outright. Both sides caused trouble for the other and so you are both judged. Viewing it like that would be about right.”
“You’re really looking down on us with that judgment.”
“Judge. I am the 2nd Special Duty Officer and my name comes from Naitou Kiyonari, head of the magistrates during Matsudaira’s rule.” He kept his back turn as he worked. “So when you must make a decision that comes with troublesome feelings, you can listen to my decision. You might not agree, but you can force that onto me and lighten the burden on yourself. After all, I can shove things onto Toori when they get too troublesome.”
“Won’t that increase the burden on your Chancellor?”
“We make up for it with our results. The idiot has his burdens, we have ours, and we all have something to accomplish. …It’s a mutual exchange. No single side is entirely unhappy or happy. You cannot simultaneously emphasize emotions and results without allowing a mutual exchange of the benefits and the burdens. So we will make up for the idiot’s burden with the results we bring back to him.”
He scratched his head.
“Yes, and then we can smile together and slap each other’s shoulders.”
“That’s how boys do things. What about the girls?”
“I am not a girl, so I wouldn’t know.”
“That is an impressive lack of reliability.”
“Narumi. …I want you to trust me about one thing.”
“Let us say you had always lived in a destiny that was very convenient for you. Full of happiness and full of dreams. That kind of crazy destiny.”
“Judge. Even in that case, you would still be here. I would have taken you with me.”
Narumi was at a loss for words. And after breathing for a few seconds…
“W-wait. I need to go buy some drinks.”
She somehow managed to get her trembling mouth moving and held her lips with her hand as she stepped out into the corridor.
Narumi jogged over to the end of the wide block.
A few small shops were located there. She turned the corner to hide herself from where he was and finally came to a stop.
…What am I supposed to do about this?
She was not confident she could answer that feeling of his in kind. She was still dragging around her past and even if she did cleanse herself of that…
“How am I supposed to believe I would have come here no matter what?”
I’m really not used to this sort of thing, she realized. This is pathetic, Date Vice Chancellor, she told herself with a bitter laugh.
Would this solve itself with time? Summer break was coming up before long. The second term would begin after that and Date would be changing the rhythm of their lifestyle by then. By that point, would the traces of that have faded inside her and would these worries lose all meaning?
…The second term.
It seemed so far off yet so close. But the word “September” reminded her of him.
When he had given her some underwear in the main garden, he had told her his birthday was September 7.
Her birthday was in June, so that meant he was younger than her. He had used that reasoning to nonsensically claim she would be his elder sister if they got married.
But once that day arrived and they were the same age, would her feelings and her connection to Date have changed?
I hope so, she thought as she looked up to see not the café but the small clothing store next to it.
It was selling men’s underwear hanging from the wall. She considered giving him some for his birthday as a reversal of the main garden incident.
“Huh? Narumi? …We’ll be resuming classes once we get to the Ariake, so I look forward to seeing you there.”
A woman teacher in a track suit left the nearby café with a paper bag full of fried chicken. She wore a sword on her back and she looked to the shop Narumi was facing.
“Men’s? Do you prefer that kind?”
“No, I don’t. …I was thinking of buying some as a birthday present for Kiyonari.”
“Ah ha ha. As a prank? But you’re really planning ahead.”
“Really? It doesn’t seem that far away…”
“It doesn’t? May of next year is still a long way off.”
The teacher tilted her head at Narumi’s confusion.
“Did you have the date wrong? Urquiaga’s birthday is in May. That was while we were traveling from England to IZUMO. Since he’s Catholic, we burned a bunch of the scrap materials, cooked meat over it, and pretended to burn people at the stake.”
The teacher looked confused, so she raised a hand to say “don’t worry about me” and let out the laughter she could not hold back any longer.
He really was an idiot. Holy men were not supposed to lie. And it was a lie that would obviously come to light later on. He had said he had seen her birthday in the almanac, but he must have thought up that lie on the spot in the main garden.
How much had he wanted her? But…
“Thank you, sensei. …You’ve put my mind at ease.”
“Sure thing. I don’t know what I did, so I’ll just leave it at ‘judge’.”
“Judge,” replied Narumi as she bowed and turned around.
Judge. That’s right. A sinner’s response. It’s perfect for a liar. So I need to use it myself from now on.
And she began to walk to her new home.
She thought about him. About that half-dragon who was undoubtedly an idiot.
He was an idiot. He was a truly idiotic person who would readily lie.
But I love that idiot.
There’s no point in fearing these feelings, she realized. I don’t need to worry or think negatively about the fact that he loves me or that I love him.
After all, he would accept any of her burdens.
She did not have to respond to his feelings in kind because they were already mutual. She just had to tell him how she felt. It was mutual. It was a cycle. The Ouroboros loop created by two dragons was a symbol of eternity. So it was not the quantity of their feelings that mattered; it was how much importance they placed on the feelings they sent out.
She would make sure to leave him with the burden of her love. And with that, the burden would accelerate them, would lighten them, and would lead them to real results. And for placing that burden on him…
…I just have to make sure we’re happy together.
There were probably also some “girly” ways for her to do that.
So she would cook. And sew and clean. There were a lot of girls on the Musashi. She would probably enjoy talking with them. And so she would support their happiness to make up for burdening him with her love.
Their relationship with their Chancellor was probably the same.
It had also been the same with the Date clan, Masamune, and the others.
She loved Date, but she could not place that burden on them right now.
But she had someone here who would accept that burden in their stead. And he always would.
His birthday is September 7, she told herself as she arrived at their new home and peered inside. She found him setting down a table he had carried in from somewhere. When he looked back at her…
“Did you buy the drinks? Then let us take a break.”
She had said she was going to buy drinks, but she had come back emptyhanded. He seemed to have noticed, but she spoke up before he could say anything.
“I don’t know what you like.”
“Let’s go together this time. We’ll probably be busy with the fight against Hashiba and everything else, so I want to know more about the Musashi and about your preferences.”
“You’re in quite a good mood.”
She could only agree with a ‘judge’. When he walked up to her, she placed herself by his side.
“I put up a resistance and I recovered. …So I’ve decided I’m going to go someplace new. And I’ll let an idiot guide me there.”
We will not forget it…
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