Horizon:Volume 5A Chapter 19
Chapter 19: Wall Builder in a Clogged Place
What is surprising when it catches you
And also surprising when you escape it?
Point Allocation (Unexpectedness)
Unno knew she held a fleeting control of the battlefield.
She was being fired on, but the bullets could not reach her. Even the shellfire from the sky was weaker near her.
There was no need to ask why.
The power of Yomi was in effect.
It had originally been a local divine spell of the Yamaga Shrine. The spell produced the “water” in which the dead sank to be preserved, and it was used to celebrate their ancestors.
Long ago, the local leader had likely used it to preserve the bodies of their ancestors so that he could act on their god’s behalf and so his power could be passed down to his descendants.
She had altered it by activating it through her dance.
She had created a spreading preservation. It created stagnation and sinking. Anyone nearby who sank into this “water” would slowly enter a state similar to hibernation and their body would ultimately shut down, leading to death.
But the most important aspect was not the deadly close range effect.
It was the long range effect that caused all movements to waver.
That prevented the firing squad from attacking her.
They could fire, but their bullets would not fly right.
And it had to be causing some slight trouble for the enemy fighters.
Of course, Kakei was using his movements to prevent the enemy from targeting her and Mochizuki was doing the same using her explosions and smoke.
Kakei was not registered with Yamaga, so the process for excluding him from Yamaga’s effects was a bit troublesome. However, Unno had had her restrictions removed this year, so that was less of a burden now.
She only had to give him a temporary registration, and…
“I guess I need to focus on my own work.”
As she danced, Unno raised her fan swords.
12 meters in front of her, Musashi’s 1st Special Duty Officer and his aide were collapsed and sinking.
They had come to a stop. They appeared to be dead, but at this rate, they would remain alive.
“Killing them or doing something with their bodies would probably help with Sanada’s reputation.”
Asama saw the idiot walk up to her and point toward Tenzou.
What is this about? she wondered as the crossdresser frowned and spoke.
“Hey, hey, Asama. Aren’t Tenzou and Mary in trouble?”
“I think Tenzou-kun did something to help Mary. And Tenzou-kun…should be fine.”
“Really?” he asked.
…I guess he can’t help but be worried about what worries him.
This really isn’t the time, she thought, but since he had shown how he felt and had come to her for help, she decided to show him the answer.
She showed him a sign frame.
It contained just a few words:
10ZO: “I am okay.”
The crossdresser looked at that, looked at Asama, and then looked at Horizon, Mito, his sister, and the others.
“If he’s trying to keep it short, did he really need to spell out ‘OK’ as ‘okay’?.”
“N-now, now. Tenzou-kun is doing his best to get through this. And I’m doing what I can to analyze that spell, so we’ll manage.”
“Um, but, Asama-chi.”
Naito pointed at the scene and Naruze continued for her.
“That dancer ninja is planning to throw her fan sword at Tenzou while he can’t move.”
“Oh, then maybe it’s not okay at all.”
“Asama-sama, I admire how quickly you gave up,” commented Horizon.
“W-well, it’s just that fan swords are outside of my area of expertise!”
“Can’t be helped then,” said the crossdresser. “We’ll just have to cheer him on from here!”
“If we do that, she’ll figure out Tenzou-kun can move! Let’s trust in Tenzou-kun!”
“Uqui, do you trust Tenzou?”
“…Sorry, I was watching Narumi.”
“Wow,” said the girls and Asama heard Naomasa sigh.
“If only Tenzou had come to the engine division. We would’ve squeezed a lot of work out of him…”
“That’s not very nice, 6th Special Duty Officer,” pointed out Adele.
“W-wait.” Mitotsudaira spread her arms to scold the others. “Mary is there! So it’ll be okay.”
They all exchanged a glance and smiled.
“Oh, yeah!! Mary’s there!”
While still collapsed and holding his breath, Tenzou heard his awful classmates’ distant conversation through the vibrations in the floor.
But they had settled on complimenting Mary, so he considered giving them a pass this time.
As he had informed Asama, he was alive and not stagnated.
He had detected Unno’s spell and used a countermeasure. An incredibly simple one.
…I held my breath and kept any of it from escaping!
He had a dark sign frame displayed on the bottom of his hat’s brim. It displayed Asama’s instructions for the standard countermeasure for mysterious phenomena and spells.
Asama: “Please hold your breath to prevent the ‘ki’ from getting inside you. This is not evil energy, but holding your breath with the intention to keep it out will prevent the ether ‘ki’ from entering your body and will prevent the enemy’s spell’s effects from activating within you. What I’m saying is…”
From there, she began with a long explanation which caused the initial important bit to scroll off the screen, so he was glad he had checked it right away. Towards the end, she was saying something about the Shinto legend of Yamato Takeru crossdressing, so Asama-dono must be quite the Shinto nerd.
But the enemy’s spell was still an unknown.
Based on the sensation that had grabbed his foot, he knew Unno’s spell had something to do with water. So when he had charged in, he had intended to overcome it with an underwater movement ninja technique.
Mary could contact water spirits, so he had figured she would be fine even if it was virtual water. However…
…I never thought she would sink.
His heart did not protest that it was impossible. It was an undeniable fact that Mary was drowning. He could only blame it on his mistaken decision. So he had sent her everything he had and “dived down” using pure martial arts.
He had no way of knowing if Mary was conscious.
He was waiting for a divine transmission from Asama, but it would be best not to assume Mary could fight.
After all, this “water” was dangerous.
After sinking into it, he found it to be cold but pleasant.
The chill seemed to cleanse and pass through his body as it soaked him from top to bottom.
But he soon realized that this chill was dangerous.
The chill focused on the important parts of his body: the ankles, the wrists, the armpits, the waist, and the neck. He also found himself growing horribly tired.
The chill appeared where his heartbeat could be best heard. His pulse was there. So…
…This “water” detects movements and sounds and then brings stagnation.
Holding his breath and hiding his pulse were standard ninja stealth techniques.
Asama: “Oh, the way you ‘stop moving’ for your stealth techniques is derived from Shinto methods of stopping your ‘ki’. By not moving and keeping the location’s ether from entering your body, you might as well not exist there. A single reverse search will find you right away if you do that, but those spells didn’t exist in the past, so assassins could apparently get all the critical hits they wanted.”
You sure do enjoy explaining things! he thought, but the situation was getting pretty bad.
Unno began swinging her fan swords more strongly as she danced.
She was targeting him. And she likely intended to throw a fan sword to slash at him from a distance.
This was not good.
His body was quite heavy while sunk to the bottom of the stagnation. It was more like being at the bottom of a mud pit instead of water.
Of course, he could move from here.
But he would only manage a few steps from his initial velocity. Any more and the “water” resistance would sap him of all speed.
If that happened, it was all over. So…
Novice: “You have to get close to the enemy! This is a standard scene in ninja stories: the battle between the ninja playing dead until the enemy gets close and the enemy trying to figure out if the ninja is dead!”
Smoking Girl: “Which one generally wins?”
…Did you have to ask that so bluntly, Naomasa-dono!?
Me: “C’mon, don’t be silly. Tenzou’s not like a manga MC. …If anything, he’s a background character, so there’s no way he can win if we look at this in manga terms.”
If I get out of this alive, I am scolding him so hard.
But in cases like this…
Uqui: “The normal course of action would be to attack Mary, not Tenzou.”
That was true.
If Unno attacked Mary, she could simultaneously see if he would react to Mary and if Mary could move.
Mal-Ga: “But why not the other way around? Do you not think it would move Mary’s heart if the ninja got stabbed? Actually, that doesn’t seem very realistic. Yeah, I guess that’s just not how it works.”
…Don’t answer your own question like that!
This was not good. The enemy had not even done anything yet, but he was about to make a mental fumble with his tsukkomi skill and say something out loud.
But then Unno took action. As she danced, she swung her entire body, and…
She threw the fan sword.
And just before she did, a cannon blast rang out.
It came from the main Musashi group that was otherwise busy saying silly things.
A shell was launched using a spell’s repelling acceleration and it noisily tore through the sky.
A voice accompanied the great roar.
It was Naito.
The Schwarz Hexen used the seated crossdresser’s shoulder as a support and fired a roll of coins toward Unno.
The roll of coins trailed the ether acceleration light and targeted Unno’s follow-through after throwing the fan sword.
Before Unno could correct her posture, it arrived right in front of her.
And it exploded.
Naito saw the coin roll bullet explode and send its 100 guided bullets toward Unno. But…
Those bullets had the divine protection of Techno Magie. They would normally weaken and break through an enemy’s defense spell or barrier, but these clearly slowed down and sank.
They were obstructed.
…That spell sure is powerful…!
She was briefly reminded of Tres España’s Testamenta Arma: Crus Temperantia – Novum. That had divided the power of any ability by the number of times it had been used, but this was like a version of that which only affected a smaller area and was limited to speed.
Naito decided it would be a good idea to research a way to shoot through this kind of spell.
“I’m already firing, Margot.”
She looked behind her where, hiding behind the idiot, Naruze was supporting a schale besen on his head.
But that Weiss Hexen partner’s eyes were not directed Naito’s way.
She was looking into the sky.
In the night sky, the enemy’s shellfire was being fired by the Shirasagi Castle’s 1st unit that flew in a wide circle overhead. But something flew up toward it.
It was Naruze’s guided bullets.
Naito’s shots had been a distraction to hide these 4 shots behind her.
…Nai-chan’s really are most powerful when fired horizontally.
But in that case, they would sink and might not reach the enemy.
However, the shots were a sure thing if they dropped from directly above the enemy’s head.
So while Unno was distracted by Naito’s shots…
“If you’re all about sinking, how about some guided bullets from directly overhead, Far Eastern shaman?”
The 4 high-speed coin bullets soared high into the heavens but made a sharp curve to drop straight down.
The 4 coins dropped down toward Unno and her thrown fan sword.
They were right on target.
Tenzou watched Naruze’s bullets from below his hat’s brim.
…Will this work!?
After flying high, 2 of the coins dropped toward Unno, 1 dropped toward the thrown fan sword, and 1 was clearly dropping between his legs. It was going to just barely miss his crotch.
Was she telling him not to move? Or was she telling him to move?
However, the enemy was targeting Mary. If Naruze’s bullet did not knock down the fan sword, he would have to make a choice:
Save Mary, or not save Mary.
If he saved Mary, Unno would realize he could move.
…And I would sink and lose my speed.
That’s fine with me, he thought. But, he also thought. Because…
…Mary-dono might be delighted by that, but she would not want it!
As soon as he realized that, Tenzou heard something.
He heard the 4 high-speed guided bullets falling from the sky.
But he did not hear them hit.
He only heard 4 dull and muffled sounds.
Naruze’s guided bullets had been caught in the “water” spread out overhead.
…It doesn’t take the fall speed into account!?
Naruze frowned at the result.
“What is that? I thought it was like water or mud, but is it a space of pure ‘stagnation’!?”
The sinking and the brief floating did not come from anything based on water.
…She’s transforming stagnation into something like water, isn’t she!?
This is bad, thought Naruze as she saw scattering light.
Above and in front of the stagnation dance, Naruze and Margot’s coin bullets were slowly falling while reflecting the colors of the surrounding shellfire and explosions.
And Unno stood beyond the coins that fell as gently as scattering leaves.
She shifted from her follow-through to her dance and she looked toward the Technohexen.
She was smiling. And they could read her lips.
“Thanks for the money offering.”
As a dancer, did everyone on the outside count as part of the audience? In that case…
The thrown fan sword reached Mary.
A solid sound rang out and sparks flew.
And Tenzou definitely heard two steel sounds rolling along the solid floor.
…Did it work!?
He looked over the best he could without moving his eyes and found Mary was not moving.
That meant nothing had happened to her.
The object that had taken the fan sword on her behalf stopped rolling and produced a quiet metallic sound.
It was Excalibur.
It was the half he had wielded. Holding onto it had paid off.
He had used his breathing to time when the fan sword would arrive and then pressed the pommel against the slanted floor to raise the sword. He had thought using only the edge of the pommel to lift Excalibur via leverage would be difficult, but…
…The stagnation has Excalibur in its grasp, but it doesn’t seem to have sealed off the sword’s will.
Excalibur could not float like normal, but it had stood up to protect Mary.
This was the result.
He had lost his weapon, but that was fine.
Like this, the enemy would be unable to tell whether Excalibur had acted on its own to protect Mary of if he had had a hand in it.
And this meant Unno would not target Mary again.
Me: “Tenzou? Was that you, Tenzou? Or did the sword move on its own? Which was it? Tenzou isn’t answering. Should I call his number?”
…Don’t do anything so dangerous!
Then someone else’s words reached his sign frame.
Asama: “Wh-what are you saying, Toori-kun? Stop that. It’s dangerous!”
Yes. Yes, yes. It’s dangerous!
Asama: “Besides, it was Tenzou-kun’s love that saved Mary! His love! Excalibur stood up when it sensed his loving desire to protect Mar-…wow, so much passion! I said it myself, but I can feel the passion burning!”
Silver Wolf: “No, um, what are you joking around for, Tomo? You can’t get all heated up over this. That was the 1st Special Duty Officer’s loving resolve to protect Mary even if it put him in dang-…sweet That’s super sweet! I never knew we had anything so sweet in our class!”
The girls really are sensitive to this kind of joke, he thought.
Meanwhile, Unno began to throw something from beyond the falling coins and scattering ether light.
It was a 2nd fan sword.
Based on the movements of her dance, he predicted it was headed straight for him. That was exactly what he wanted. So just as she started to throw it…
I have to go for it, he told himself. He got up, he faced the enemy, and…
He went for it.
Tenzou got up and faced the enemy.
He entered a high-speed dash from the very first step.
But his body was heavy.
…I’m being dragged down…!?
The power of stagnation pulled down and clung to his body as he tried to move forward. But…
He used all his might to pour acceleration into his body.
And just as he somehow managed to reach something like his normal speed…
He heard a cry and something white appeared in front of him.
Just as he questioned it, he tripped and dove face-first into it.
He had stumbled and failed right on the starting line.
Unno saw it play out just before she threw her fan.
…So the ninja really could move!
She felt it was wrong of her to feel so happy the enemy had survived just because he was a fellow ninja. But for that very reason…
“I won’t hold back!”
It did not matter that the enemy had tripped.
She fully pulled back the fan sword in preparation to throw it. But at that very moment, she realized why the ninja had tripped so suddenly.
…The English princess!?
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