Horizon:Volume 5A Chapter 20
Chapter 20: Converter on the Stagnant Stage
Are always triggered by you
Point Allocation (Ohhh…)
Tenzou quickly got back up.
…U-umm, what was that!?
He remembered trying to run and getting caught in something. But it had tangled around his body and fallen down with him.
He had reflexively grabbed whatever it was in his arms so it would not be damaged when he fell on top of it, but…
He looked down. There he saw giant breasts.
They were covered by a white and blue track suit. That had been put on in a hurry, so there probably was no bra below it. But how much devotion did it take to reach this point where they did not lose their shape even when lying down? He also saw blonde hair.
To sum up, it was Mary.
Her hair was a mess and she looked up at him with her eyebrows lowered in a smile. Tears spilled down either side of her face.
Without warning, she clung to him from below.
…Why!? Yes, more, more!!
The question he should be asking and his honest desire mixed together in his head, but something definitely seemed off.
…Is this a hallucination I’m seeing on the verge of death!?
No. It was not.
After all, these giant breasts were real. The texture of the hair, the body heat, and the scent were all real. They were real boobs. This was booby reality.
But something was not right.
The stagnation was still in effect. When he tried to hug her back, his arms were slow and he found himself entirely at her mercy. But even Mary’s hair showed no sign of the stagnation as it moved.
He heard her voice by his cheek. And…
“It’s my turn to return the favor.”
Just as he saw her blue eyes, she lowered the scarf over his mouth and placed her lips on his.
<Confirmation: Naito-sama has begun recording.>
<Confirmation: Naruze-sama has created a dedicated folder named “Usable Images (13)”>
Marube-ya: “Eh!? What!? What’s happening!? I can’t see from down here!”
Flat Vassal: “Yeah, you’re really missing out…”
Marube-ya: “Oh, damn it all to hell!”
Silver Wolf: “Why are you taking this so seriously…?”
Unno slowed her dance without meaning to and found her voice escaping her mouth.
But a lot about this made no sense.
Why was the English princess there?
Why was the English princess not affected by her spell?
Why was the English Princess kissing?
She only knew what was happening before her eyes.
“What the hell are you doing!?”
Unno threw a fan sword with as much strength as she could muster without breaking her dance.
But as the fan sword flew…
Color instantly blossomed between her and the kissing couple.
The fan sword was broken by the counterattack and the fan spread open and scattered.
As the ninja held the English princess, a fan scattered like an opened umbrella.
And Unno saw the ninja holding something in his right hand while holding the English princess in his left.
…The English princess’s Ex. Collbrande!
But hadn’t the ninja been at the bottom of the “water” until now?
For some reason, his current movements, and even the movements of his scarf, were no different from when he was in the open air.
He stood up, placed the princess on the floor, and nodded once.
“I’m off then.”
“Get going then.”
Unno felt a tingling shudder from that exchange, but was that a sign she was immature? In the distance, the Musashi firing squad and other normal units were opening sign frames and furiously typing up posts for the divine network, so could she assume Musashi felt the same way she did? But…
“Are you coming?”
The ninja moved toward her in lieu of answering.
He’s fast, thought Unno, but she could not stop her dance. Kakei and Mochizuki were fighting to support her. So…
“How about you join the dance…!”
Asama realized the crossdresser was looking her way. She was fairly certain she knew what he wanted to say.
“You want to know why Mary and Tenzou-kun can move, don’t you?”
“Yeah. What was that? Does it not work on the English? Or does kissing give you some kind of power?”
“That’s kind of close, but I can’t really tell you.”
Most of the girls seemed to know what she meant because they all nodded and said, “I see.”
She would have to get Horizon to explain it to him later, but Kimi would probably work as well. What mattered was…
“The Yamaga spell used by that ninja over there is a manifestation of Yomi. Do you know what Yomi is?”
“Yeah,” said the crossdresser. “That’s where tentacles come from. I’ve played enough porn games to know that.”
“Oh, Mori! Why the sudden sneeze? You okay? It’s still pretty cold, so you should probably keep wearing your cold weather clothes. It would be good for the morals around here too!”
As soon as Mori entered the dining hall, he sneezed and spewed slime, but Toshiie readily spoke to him despite the surrounding panic. The cheerful tentacle wiped up the floor with the wooden box of tissues he carried with him.
“Eh? D-don’t worry, Master Toshiie! I-I think someone must be talking about me. That happens sometimes, doesn’t it!?”
“Huh? Who would talk about you?”
“O-oh, c’mon, Mater Sassa. I-I hope it was, um, her… Ahh, now I’m imagining it again! Curse my imagination!”
Mori began slamming himself against the wall like a thick whip, but he soon stopped.
“Kh, i-it’s no good! This only applies the perfect stimulation to the underside and just gets me harder! I-I’m such an inconvenient creature…!”
Fuwa sipped at a teacup and lifted up a spice bottle with her other hand.
“Would rubbing salt on you help?”
“N-no, that would only improve blood flow and make me full-time strong! When I tried it one time, I went all ‘kuwawa’ and couldn’t get myself to settle down, so I had to roll around in the snow outside to cool off! Lady Fuwa, you need to learn more about tentacles so you can have a more intimate understanding of us!”
“I’ll pass on that intimate understanding.”
“Wh-what a mean upperclassman! Just so you know, someone out there is speaking kindly about tentacles right now!”
“So what’s this about the home of tentacles?”
“That’s not what this is about… Well, I was already thinking I should cut out that sort of material when testing games for you. But anyway, Yomi is the realm of the dead, but it originally referred to an underground spring.”
“Like an underground lake? There are a lot of those in Europe.”
Asama nodded at Adele’s comment from Raging Beast.
“Yes, a seemingly bottomless spring located underground. Anyone who dived into it was dragged down by the chill of the water and couldn’t swim back up, and those who died there were preserved just as they were when they died at the bottom… It’s said that concept may have led people to refer to the afterlife as Yomi. And it seems this spell from Sanada’s Yamaga Shrine uses that Yomi.”
The part of Shinto mythology that placed the most focus on Yomi was the birth of the gods.
…Izanagi went to Yomi to bring back his dead wife Izanami. But…
“Izanami was dead and rotted. He was told not to look back as he returned and, if he did not look back, Izanami’s impurities would be cleansed by the purification rules, but he gave into temptation, looked back, saw his wife’s transformed appearance, and fled.”
“What happened to the wife?”
“Heh heh. You want to know? Well, you see? She chased after him with an army of the dead and-…”
Kimi imagined the scene as she explained it, so she fainted and collapsed in an S-shape on the floor. For some reason, the term “self-sufficiency” came to mind, but that was not entirely inaccurate. Regardless…
“The dead rot away, but while contained in that spring, they appear the same as in life when pulled back up. The ancient people probably thought the cold water was purifying them when they were pulled up from the realm of the dead. But when you compare that to the legend, one property of Yomi becomes apparent.”
Asama had a sign frame open by her hands.
It was addressed to Mary. It was different from the one sent to Tenzou and she had not known if Mary would see it, but she had sent it as support all the same. It provided the following explanation:
“The living should be unable to visit or return from Yomi. It is a stagnant land from which there is no escape. So why was Izanagi able to visit it and return? That would be…”
That would be…
“Because Yomi is ruled by emotion.”
Mary held the sign frame from Asama to her chest.
She opened her mouth and released…
A sigh. A heated one of happiness.
…Lady Asama was exactly right.
She had studied up on Shinto since coming to Musashi. To make a hidden contract to match Tenzou, she had gotten him and Asama to teach her about Shinto mythology.
And one of the stories that had interested her was near the end of the birth of the gods: the return from Yomi when Izanagi and Izanami were parted.
The world had a lot of legends in which people had once been able to move between the realm of the dead and the realm of the living. There were also a lot of legends in which that path was sealed in a conflict between the gods.
But the Far Eastern legend was a little different.
A husband went to find his wife.
Mary found this strange. And when learning about it the previous night while sitting across a writing desk from Tenzou in their small room, she had asked him a question.
“Had no god travelled between the realms of the living and the dead before that?”
He had not known the answer, so she had asked Asama via divine transmission.
“There was a god who acted as a guard, but the rules generally said you couldn’t return once you went there.”
In that case, the living and the dead lived in worlds governed by different rules.
The path to Yomi was the one-way path of the dead sinking to the bottom. The living could not visit and return.
Then why had Izanagi been able to do so?
Is there some kind of condition? wondered Mary. Was there some kind of condition for visiting and returning, and Izanagi naturally had whatever it was? For example…
…Bringing along a spirit that lets you breathe underwater?
As a spirit-user, her thoughts naturally turned in that direction. But Asama had not rejected the idea. According to her…
“In ancient times, the gods and the spirits were often seen as one and the same, so in the legendary age, I think the gods may have naturally carried spirits with them in addition to using spells.”
In that case, thought Mary. What kind of spirits live in Yomi?
She had initially considered water. And when faced with a spell that created a manifestation of Yomi, she had used the same spirit spell that allowed her to breathe underwater, but she had started drowning.
That was not it.
Yomi was a place of stagnation and sinking made of something other than water.
Mary brought a hand to her mouth as she considered the answer.
“Could Yomi be where the spirits of sadness live after they sink down?”
When spirit-user Mary realized it was not “water”, she came to understand something: death.
When she had begun drowning for the first time in her life, it was fear that filled her heart. But it was not just a confused feeling or the fear that her own life would be ended.
…I’ll be separated from…Master Tenzou…
They would be separated and they could never meet, talk to, or touch each other again.
The word “sad” came to mind.
And then she realized the “water” that had driven her to this state might be made of that.
Spirits resided in all things, even emotions. So Mary saw that sensation. And…
It made sense when she thought about it. Death was always accompanied by sadness and Yomi was where death gathered.
In that case, thought Mary. What can break through that sadness?
And the answer reached her before she even thought about it.
He protected her using Excalibur. Even though he would be targeted next and he had no way of knowing if she was still alive.
He had promised that he would protect her from anything. But separate from that promise, Mary felt something when she saw it for herself.
She did not want to be parted from him for as long as she lived. She wanted to see him, speak with him, and be with him on a daily basis. She knew what it was that made her feel that way. So…
…This is the answer.
As a spirit-user, Mary summoned that spirit within herself. She used a spirit spell to solidify what was originally only a fleeting existence.
It was what brought sadness and could resist sadness.
She could move.
Had Izanagi been the same inside Yomi? But as Mary moved and tried to give him that spirit, they ran into each other.
It’s just like the first time Master Tenzou showed me his face, she thought, which amplified the spirit.
So she kissed him to send him the spirit born from her feelings.
“Lady Asama. …I had a thought earlier.”
“What was it?”
“When Izanagi saw his wife’s transformed appearance, he fled. But why was he able to escape then?”
After escaping, Izanagi had sealed the entrance to Yomi with a large stone and then argued with Izanami.
“In the Kojiki, Izanami said she would take 1000 lives a day, so Izanagi said he would produce 1500 lives a day and they parted ways. But…”
“In the Nihon Shoki, they made their respective positions clear and found reconciliation. And when Izanagi heard the words of the goddess who witnessed that, he praised her words and left. It isn’t clear what that goddess said and that remains a sort of mystery, but her name is apparently Kukurihime.”
That was the other god of the Yamaga Shrine.
“Kukuri means to tie together. And that act of tying two things together refers to reconciliation and marriage. Now, Lady Asama, here is my thought: Izanagi was able to move through the stagnation and he fled through the stagnation on the way back. And Izanami pursued him. So…”
She smiled a little.
Scarred: “I don’t think they ever abandoned their love for each other.”
I need to end this quickly, Tenzou swore to himself as he raced forward.
He would hurry back and bring Mary to rejoin the others.
…And I need to keep Mary-dono from unwittingly saying something dangerous!
If the battle continued for too long, the others could gather together and begin a sign frame conversation. As the 1st Special Duty Officer, he had already checked Musashi’s divine network. For some reason, “that ninja” was at the top of the most searched list, so this was dangerous enough already.
But blades danced before his eyes.
It was Unno Rokurou.
Based on what he had seen of her at IZUMO…
“Is this your normal fighting style!?”
“Don’t be dumb! This is still a dance! I just happen to be holding swords.”
Judge, he thought as he sent his own sword out toward Unno.
He could not stand still. He had to constantly take the initiative and attack. If he did not…
…I will be swallowed up by the dance!
Unno held a fan sword in each hand, but she was not gripping them and swinging them around. She used the rotation of the opened fans to provide the speed of her slashes and she adjusted how she held them in her fingers to direct them in the direction she wanted.
She used two at once not because she was predicting the gaps in his defenses and attacking then, but because the rotation of the fans made her attack automatically. The dangerous part was how she would sometimes pull back the hand operating the fan to shift the timing of the attack. But…
“This is nothing compared to fighting Lord Shibata…!”
He said that nice and loud to distract his enemy.
He was questioning her skill, but…
“Huh? Why are you comparing me to someone else? I’m a woman and he’s a demonic man. Why are men always in such a rush to compare people?”
…N-now she’s lecturing me!?
Tenzou did not let it get to him. To prevent her from using her fan swords, he primarily used jabs and short slashes that targeted her wrists. And to further distract her…
“Indeed! I love comparing people! I mean, you’re neither busty nor blonde!!”
He ended up criticizing her body, which she could not change. So…
“Oh, shut up. You can go after someone’s looks to her face?”
…Th-this isn’t working!
“And do you actually think that’s funny or something?”
“Then why say it? Did you think I would like it?”
He felt like her attacks were pushing Excalibur back. In fact…
Me: “Is it just me or is she doing a great job of distracting you?”
Flat Vassal: “Eh? I thought he had started hitting on her.”
Mal-Ga: “If that’s his idea of hitting on her, then I feel really sorry for her. He’s not just a waste of time; he’s a waste of existence.”
Asama: “Oops, that was close. I almost sent that one to Mary.”
Tenzou changed tack.
…I’ll go in low!
Ninjas excelled at aiming for the legs. But…
“Right back at you.”
She too was a ninja.
Fan and sword clashed low to the floor and sparks flew.
Her swords were speeding up. When she blocked his blade, she did not fight it and transformed the impact into an attack of her own.
He felt like his attacks were being returned with twice the strength. But…
He had a target in mind.
…The thatch reed ring!
Ether formed a ring of thatch reeds and a mirror behind Unno. That was the source of the “water” covering the Ariake.
If he destroyed that, she would lose Yomi and the “water” would disappear. But…
“Isn’t your sword a little too focused on defense?”
She was pushing him back. And…
“You’re after the gate to Yomi behind me, aren’t you?”
She had seen through it.
Unno looked at the ninja’s face.
She could not see it.
This was more than just the brim of his hat. It was probably a spell or an optical ninja divine protection. Instead, there was an expression display on the front of the hat, but it was currently set to be expressionless.
So as she sent out slash after slash to drive him back, Unno asked a question.
“You think only Excalibur can destroy that gate, don’t you?”
The ninja said nothing and held Excalibur close to deflect the fan sword aiming for his legs.
That was fine with her. She simply asked her questions.
“When Excalibur blocked the sword I threw earlier, it wasn’t affected by the ‘water’. I imagine a divine weapon must have some powerful divine protections.”
The ninja still did not answer, so…
“How about it?”
“N-n-n-n-no, I-I wasn’t th-thinking that at all.”
He was too obvious.
But, she thought while speeding up her swords. She no longer spun her entire body around. She simply swayed left and right and used the motion to send the fans rhythmically back and forth. And as she did so…
“…How about it!?”
Sparks scattered to the left and right.
I’ll attack him as much as it takes, thought Unno.
She moved forward to distance the ninja from the gate to Yomi.
She also pushed on the ninja to distance him from something else.
To their right and a bit to the north, the other Excalibur had fallen to the Ariake’s armor.
The Excalibur the ninja currently held was freed from Yomi. That would be thanks to the spirit given to him by the English princess.
The power of Yomi did not work on him. So to prevent him from gaining or swapping out weapons, she needed to keep him away from that other sword. Even if Excalibur did decide on its own to fly toward him, she could deal with it as long as she kept it in her field of vision. And she could use the ninja as a shield to deter the princess waiting further back.
Unno pushed forward.
She worked to push him back. She swung her weapons left and right with large, speedy movements and then she closed the fans she held.
She gripped the thick bundles of blades in her hands and increased her attack speed.
More and more sparks scattered and the ninja kept low.
The dancer bent her body like a snake as she attacked.
The closed blades were like fangs as they brought destruction to the ninja from above and below or left and right.
The metallic sounds rang loud and the steel sparks scattered through the air.
The ninja kept up with the rapid exchange, but he was pushed back.
His feet scraped along the floor as he moved back, but…
He held his blade diagonally and attacked again and again to push back at the left and right slashes.
But the dancer laughed in response.
The ninja was almost down on his knees now and the corners of the dancer’s mouth rose. She swayed to the left and right.
“Your head is mine!”
She launched an attack toward his face and the ninja blocked it.
Sparks flew and the impact shook only the ninja.
But what happened next was different from before. Before, the fan slash had been deflected at the moment of impact and that had kept the dance going. But this time…
“I won’t let go.”
The blade had previously used the bounce-back as a part of its rhythm, but now it was held against Excalibur by the ninja’s shoulder.
The dance had stopped. Or so it seemed. However…
“This one was the primary attack. …See?”
The dancer sent the other fan toward the ninja. He was holding the left blade with his right shoulder, so he could not avoid the slash from the right blade.
Tenzou made a split-second decision.
He was holding the enemy’s left blade between his right shoulder and Excalibur. That was how he had defended against that left blade, but…
…I can’t move to the right!
And another blade was swinging in from the left.
The blade drew a diagonal curve, so he could not duck down to dodge it.
In that case, he decided.
…It’s a gamble!
With that, he took action.
Unno saw the ninja abandon something.
He let go of Excalibur.
He removed both his hands from it.
And instead of standing up, he slid backwards.
He moved away. And that left…
Unno’s slash should have hit Tenzou from his left, but it would instead strike Excalibur.
But she dealt with Excalibur appropriately. The sword had been released into the air, but striking it between her two swords could do great damage to those swords.
So Unno pulled back the left sword which had been pressed against Excalibur.
Only the right sword struck Excalibur and it flew far off to the left and away from the battlefield.
Unno then gathered her hands together, lined up both fan swords, whirled her body around, and looked to Tenzou.
There he was.
The ninja was running toward the Excalibur that had fallen to the deck after blocking the earlier attack meant for the English princess.
Unno spun around and began the dance needed for her next attack.
Meanwhile, the ninja slid over and scooped up the other Excalibur.
At that very moment, Unno realized light was scattering behind her.
A metallic sound and sparks scattered there, leading to a certain result.
A light sliced horizontally through the center of the ether thatch reeds and the Yomi gate she had created.
Unno looked back in time to see the destruction of the Yomi gate.
She had eliminated one of the dangerous Excaliburs from the battlefield and the ninja held the other one.
The only external attack so far had been the Technohexen cannon fire, but…
…The stagnation makes that useless!
But then another possibility occurred to her.
Unno shouted at the Musashi ninja holding Excalibur out toward her.
“Was that a diversion!?”
And she heard a sound behind her. She heard something metal rolling far to the northeast, which was behind her and to the right.
She knew what had fallen in that distant location.
…The previous Excalibur!
She had knocked it far to her left, but now it was far to her right.
What did that mean?
To find out, she turned to the southwest, which was to her left.
The god of war sniper unit and Musashi’s main group were there. Someone there had knocked back the Excalibur she had eliminated from the battlefield. And who of Musashi’s main group could fire so accurately?
“The two Technohexen!!”
As soon as she said that, an impact struck her right wrist.
It was a sniper shot.
The Technohexen sniper fire that had once hit Yuri had shattered her fan sword as a warning.
Naito had placed her schale besen across the idiot and Horizon’s heads and fixed it in place.
…That was close…
Tenzou’s idea was simple enough.
…Excalibur is surrounded by the spirits that negate Yomi, so I’ll throw it outside of Yomi’s effects and you shoot it back in to slice apart the thatch reed Yomi gate.
It was simple enough to say.
But this was on the battlefield, with no practice, and with almost no advance warning.
If Kimi had not noticed what Tenzou was doing, they never would have made it in time.
Kimi herself was speaking with the Chancellor.
“Heh heh. How about that, foolish brother? It turned out just like I said it would, didn’t it?”
“That was amazing, sis. That ninja woman’s dance went just like you said it would.”
“Judge. If her dance had really been an old Yamaga Shrine dance, I wouldn’t have been able to see through it like that. But she must have become a Yamaga shrine maiden later in life, so she must not have fully mastered the Yamaga dance. …And that means she remade some of the most important pieces into the more modern style she was used to.”
“At the most crucial points, her normal pattern shows through. And since those are the modern patterns, I know them as well as she does. The way she swayed back and forth is the same as my summit dance.”
Even then, it was quite something to predict the movements of the dancer’s opponent instead of just the dancer herself.
Naito groaned in her heart. Everyone in our class is at such a bizarrely high level.
…Of course, I’m an Edel Brocken tester, a Special Duty Officer, and the top of the delivery business.
But even then she did not feel near the “top”, so there was definitely something wrong with this class.
And just as she started to wonder if she was using that to compromise in her desire for advancement…
“Gold Mar, I don’t really understand, but that was pretty amazing. How’d you do it?”
“Eh? Well, um, I just made a spur of the moment decision.”
“It’s fine, Margot.” Naruze walked up in her Weiss Hexen outfit. “Only you could’ve done that.”
“No, no. That only worked thanks to the guideline you drew, Ga-chan.”
“Then.” She smiled. “We’re amazing.”
Naito briefly thought about what that meant. And…
Naito tilted her head and brought her cheek to Naruze’s. Then she pushed her cheek out of the way to…
She pecked at Naruze’s lips for a kiss.
Tenzou slowly circled in front of Mary and deterred Unno with Excalibur.
Defeating Unno was his top priority here, but…
He kept his guard up
She had stopped her dance and lowered her hips a bit. She turned her body to face south, probably with Naito’s sniping in mind.
But she did not immediately flee.
…Perhaps because she intends to keep my focus here.
She would also be keeping the attention of Naito’s sniping, Excalibur, Asama, and the others assisting him.
Unno was sticking around to demonstrate that she could still use the Yomi gate spell if she needed to. If she fled, she would put her companions in danger.
“Such excellent teamwork.”
They had defeated her technique, but the situation that caused was still troublesome.
…She intends to singlehandedly hold back a large group.
That was the original job of a ninja. So…
“I suppose I should hope that the rest of your team is defeated.”
Narumi-dono and Futayo-dono’s results will decide this one, thought Tenzou as he deepened his defensive stance toward Unno.
At that very moment, an explosion erupted on the west end of the Ariake.
Sanada’s Mochizuki had thrown an explosive at Narumi.
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