Horizon:Volume 5A Chapter 6
Chapter 6: Battle Formation Members in All Directions
I just noticed
My attempt at fortification is more like a siege
Point Allocation (Category of Responsibility)
“It’s surprisingly hard to get information on Hexagone Française without K.P.A. Italia on our side.”
A man’s voice came from an area that was more a cultivated field than a flower garden.
Domed buildings were lined up within the forest atop a mountain near the ocean.
The sun could be seen rising to the east of Tres España’s Alcalá de Henares. In the garden near the hospital building, Españan Chancellor Felipe Segundo was tending to the flower garden in a summer uniform and a straw hat.
The sunflowers growing around him were even taller than he was.
He sprinkled water around and asked a question of Juana who sat next to him sticking a thermometer into the garden.
“They abandoned the battle and suddenly withdrew. Hexagone Française couldn’t have taken very much damage. And yet they fell back and allowed Hashiba to invade their legal territory. …What do you think that means?”
“I would like to confirm one thing first, Chancellor. Do you think all things have meaning?”
“I think you are more than capable of telling apart what has meaning and what does not.”
“Testament,” nodded Juana.
She fixed her summer uniform’s collar and stood up. She looked up at the sunflowers that were also taller than her and spoke.
“I think Hexagone Française’s strategy is not a pre-existing one.”
“Do you think they’re looking ahead?”
“I am sure you understand, Chancellor, but…how many steps ahead do you think they are looking?”
Juana’s lips formed a smile and Segundo held his hands out to stop her.
“Whatever you say, I am from an older age, so you should assume I can’t always keep up with how the kids these days think.”
Are you listening?
“Before this battle, we learned that Hexagone Française had moved out to the forefront to preserve Mouri. At the time, we tried to use that to predict what Hexagone Française’s strategy would be. But…”
“In the end, Hexagone Française preserved even themselves.”
“Testament,” agreed Segundo. “Do you know what that means?”
“Testament. I don’t know if this was only coincidence or why they would have done it intentionally, but I can predict that Hexagone Française has some kind of strategic goal and that they’re outsmarting Hashiba here.”
“Precisely, Juana. You really do understand.”
Juana blushed and lowered her ears, but her eyebrows rose.
“You understand too, mister.”
“I just happened to be right this time.”
“I am not lying.”
“You are.” Juana looked to Segundo’s feet. “There are a few stones lined up there. …That’s a model of Hexagone Française and Hashiba’s battle formations, isn’t it? I was only guessing, mister, but you likely made an actual conclusion based on their positions in the battle. There is still a large gap between the two of us.”
“N-no, this is a kifu! It’s a kifu!”
“It is not.” Juana narrowed her eyes and delivered the finishing blow. “The way you moved the second stone from the right was not a legal chess move. …I saw it.”
Baseball Man: “Do you still call it a kifu when it’s for chess, Fusae?”
Track Woman: “When I see one of those from above, it really makes me want to sprinkle sugar on it.”
Elmo: “Hey, hey. I want a closer look! Let’s go, brother!”
Sister’s Brother: “Sister, peeping is a crime, but observation is love. Know the difference and observe your brother.”
Baseball Man: “Hey, Valdés Siblings. Keep an eye on those idiots.”
Sister’s Brother: “And that would be trust! Right, Captain!?”
Anyway, thought Segundo as he took a breath in front of the sunflowers.
Next to him, Juana poured him a cup of coffee from a pot.
“I more or less understand what Hexagone Française is thinking. It should be much more clear after another battle or two, but this could be both a good thing and a bad thing for Hashiba.”
“Testament,” said Segundo. “They create an attack over a surface with middle gods of war equipped with anti-warship defenses, and they have heavy gods of war in stealth mode to perform a charge. They also have a new kind of shell that can destroy a transport ship in a single shot. …That was probably fired by Isaac of the Three Musketeers. They’re using these new tactics and this new weapon and then they quit while they’re ahead. Remove this from the context of ‘war’ and the answer becomes apparent. I can only guess for the time being, though.”
“If I’m looking at this right, Hexagone Française is prideful, but at the same time, there is no sign of vainglory here. I think they are looking at the Testament to a surprising extent and fighting the war of a new age.”
With that said, Segundo looked up.
Children were looking their way from the hospital building’s windows.
“I wonder what this looks like from above.”
“Ask them once the flowers are blooming and you will receive the most accurate answer.”
“Testament,” he replied, making Juana lower her ears and nod. He then said, “I’m curious what the other nations are doing and how they will respond. We all have to put all of our effort into this, after all.”
“Yes, because they are preserving Mouri and also preserving Hexagone Française. …That means Hexagone Française is looking to the post-Sekigahara period.”
“Juana, you know what it means to be the winners of a war, don’t you?”
“Testament,” she replied.
She looked up one of the stalks that were growing day by day and she saw the large bud at the top.
She stared at it.
“The nation that has taken the least damage and retains the most strength will have the advantage after the war ends.”
“Exactly. …And that means our war has not yet ended. The sun has set and it is rising once more. We still have Tres España and the New World, after all. So…”
Segundo waved at the children looking down at them.
“I am very curious what Musashi will do as the land of the rising sun.”
“So while we’re trying to prepare for our dealings with Houjou, Mouri and Hashiba have already clashed.”
Masazumi sighed in the Student Council Room now that Naomasa, Tenzou, Mary, and Yoshiyasu had joined them.
…I’m not really sure what Mouri and Hexagone Française are thinking.
“Does this mean Hexagone Française is looking several steps ahead to prepare for the post-Sekigahara period?”
If they were preserving Hexagone Française as well as Mouri…
“This could be trouble.”
Masazumi started to fall into thought, but she somehow managed to keep her gaze focused.
And she saw Yoshiyasu raise her right forearm.
“Is it really a problem if Hexagone Française and Mouri have preserved their strength going into Sekigahara? You and them are on friendly terms, aren’t you? …Do you think they’ll betray you?”
“You have a point. It’s being optimistic, but the Roi-Soleil and Mouri Terumoto are not the type for that kind of deceit. They wouldn’t allow it on a personal level and their pride and vainglory wouldn’t allow it on an official level.”
“That’s right,” said Asama. “The Testamenta Arma and Logismoi Oplo choose their wielder. If those two chose to abandon their pride and vainglory, they would lose the ability to use those weapons.”
“But, Asama, we need them to return their Logismoi Oplo.”
The idiot pointed out something troublesome by way of Asama.
But he was right and there was important meaning there.
…Returning the Logismoi Oplo to Musashi is one option available to Hexagone Française.
If they abandoned their right to use the Logismoi Oplo of pride and vainglory by returning them, Musashi would owe them a large debt.
“That would give them an excuse to turn on us at Sekigahara…”
I’m probably overthinking it, thought Masazumi. But there was no point in being overly optimistic, so…
“Neshinbara, give me an answer.”
“…Are you serious!? You don’t hold back, do you!?”
What are you talking about? And are you that happy that someone’s paying attention to you?
But he was the only one to ask.
“If Hexagone Française were going to betray us, why would they do it?”
“Obviously it would be for a major victory that set them up as the ultimate victors.”
Neshinbara answered without delay.
“Listen,” he said with his hands on his hips. “They would win with a fighting force overwhelmingly more powerful than anyone or anywhere else. And not just in a short-term war. They would win the long-term conflicts of the 30 Years’ War and the Warring States period. …Listen. I’m talking about being the ultimate victors. Enough that they can ensure that no more wars are fought in the Far East! If they can do that and they don’t need their pride and vainglory to do it, then they can easily abandon those two things. After all, if everyone else has been badly beaten, then they don’t even need weapons like that. So…”
“For now, they are preserving everything they have while gathering new tactics and a new fighting force. That fits perfectly with a desire to be the ultimate victors. That is why I propose we form a definite alliance with Hexagone Française. Then our single peace can stop Hexagone Française’s ‘what if’ scenario.” He took a breath. “What a simple question. …I kind of wish you had a harder one for me. Do you, Vice President Honda-kun?”
“No, that was sufficient.”
Masazumi admitted to herself that this was a problem.
…So Hexagone Française, future ruler of Europe, is setting things up to become the ultimate victor.
She needed to keep an eye on that.
She had of course already been focused on the conflict between Mouri and Hashiba, but from now on, she needed to hold meetings on what that conflict would mean and what would happen from there.
“We might suddenly realize that Hexagone Française has already conquered the world.”
She was worried about the Peace of Westphalia.
What if Europe gathered around Hexagone Française to oppose their common enemy of P.A. Oda and the Hashiba-led M.H.R.R.?
Musashi’s friendly relationship with Hexagone Française would only give them the right to participate at the level of “a friend”.
“I will be an obstacle, won’t I?”
That comment came from Mitotsudaira. With Horizon back, she was second in line to ruling the Far East.
“As Lord Motonobu’s daughter, Horizon was given provisional right to rule the Far East back at Mikawa. But if she inherits Lord Motonobu’s name, then my inherited name of Mito Matsudaira comes from the generation after Lord Motonobu…”
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded. “After Horizon’s inherited name and history recreation are complete, the Far East’s inherited names will be reorganized for the new generation and Hexagone Française will be able to use Mitotsudaira to intervene in the center of Far Eastern politics. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
“Judge. Of course…I will not let them do that if I can help it. I am sure Hexagone Française will use the peace of the Far East as bait to get me to listen to them, so I doubt they will simply exploit us.”
Mitotsudaira began frantically waving her hands back and forth.
“Oh, but I’m sure I don’t sound very convincing saying that. And…”
Her shoulders shrunk down and she hung her head.
“I have no interest in serving another king.”
I will not serve two masters, thought Mitotsudaira.
As a child, she had tried to protect but lost Horizon. After some twists and turns, she had found someone she could call her king.
She did not think she could find a greater king.
The biggest reason for that was the knight and king relationship she had with her king and that had become a turning point for her.
Unlike as a child, she had lost something, so she understood what it meant to protect and had made a vow.
There was no problem with her relationship with her king, and the friends around her all had their own roles and goals.
Her heart saw it as a good atmosphere.
Of course, the world of politics was not easy and people could be tossed around by the movements of the world. If Hexagone Française abandoned her, she would lose her title as a knight.
Even if that happened, she was a Far Eastern student and she belonged to the Chancellor’s Officers.
At the very least, their master/servant relationship would continue as Chancellor and 5th Special Duty Officer until graduation.
Besides, she would graduate as a Far Eastern student this year.
Even if they started serving another king, she doubted that king could position himself to make full use of his power before graduation.
Just as Mitotsudaira began to build up her resolve, the half-nudist turned around in front of her. His face was pale with worry and he waved her over.
“Wh-what do you need all of a sudden?”
As he spoke, her pulse began to race.
Had she said something strange and led this in a negative direction?
Horizon was here now too.
Would he try to return things to how they had been in the past? Would he show his concern by trying to grant her freedom?
…I don’t want that…
She prepared those words in the bottom her throat.
And then the half-nudist spoke.
“You’ve got your position, but if you’ve gotta choose, choose me, okay? You’re my knight after all. Isn’t that what we promised way back when?”
Mitotsudaira was at a loss for words. But the idiot turned to Masazumi.
“Umm, make sure you understand this. Nate’s with me. If you’re thinking of her as part of Hexagone Française or a negotiator or something, make no mistake about that. After all…”
“She can hold her own against Hexagone Française’s Vice Chancellor.”
“Th-that was, um…”
“Let’s just leave it at that,” said the idiot before turning to Horizon who sat next to him. “Horiz-… Why are you trying to pull up the tatami mat!? Noriki’ll have to fix that.”
“If you understand, there’s no need to say it.”
Everyone averted their gaze. But the idiot spoke to Horizon.
“You’ve got Futayo, right? And I’ve got Nate.”
“Is Tenzou-sama not an option?”
“He’s, well, yeah…”
“Wh-why did you trail off like that!?” protested Tenzou.
“Stupid ninja,” said Naruze as she sat in a desk drawing out a storyboard on a Magie Figur. “He’s saying you and Mary need to focus on your work as the 1st Special Duty Officer.”
“Judge,” said Mary with a nod while Horizon also nodded.
“The information I have gathered has indeed told me that Mitotsudaira-sama has a king and knight relationship with Toori-sama. But…”
“If Hexagone Française expels her and she is stripped of her status as a knight, she will no longer be able to call herself one. And even if she does, I have determined she will only be pretending.”
She said it.
She was not being especially harsh. That was a perfectly realistic possibility in the future.
What would Mitotsudaira do if Hexagone Française stripped her of her status as a knight?
But she had already prepared her answer to that.
…We keep our Chancellor’s Officers relationship until graduation.
“Don’t be silly.” The idiot spoke to the princess. “You’ve got Futayo with you at least provisionally, right? And I’m not a king yet, but Nate’s still my knight. …But you know what? I swear I will become a king in the future. Even if that means relying on all of you and begging you for help. And then Nate will be my official knight. And until then…”
Mitotsudaira heard it.
“Nate can reserve her spot as my knight of her own free will. She won’t be pretending. I’ll just be getting help from my future knight. …There’s no way I won’t become a king if I do that.”
Mitotsudaira noticed something in his wording.
…“There’s no way I won’t.”
He believed he would, but he still had to remind himself of that.
Was her king worried too?
If he was worried about whether or not he would become king, that was her failing as a knight. So…
Mitotsudaira placed her hand on the chest of her track suit.
“Even if I am expelled from Hexagone Française, I will still be my king’s knight.”
“I see,” said Horizon. “It will be a lot of work.”
“It will be an incredible amount of work.”
“He will hide porn games in your house and peep on you in the bath.”
“Waaaaait! Stop trying to kill her confidence!!”
“Why should I stop?” asked Horizon.
She then placed a hand on her chin and slowly said something more.
“This is like a battle formation.”
“I suppose you could say we each have our own roles, trust, and relationships.”
Masazumi listened to Horizon.
“From Mikawa to here, we have had our interactions with Europe, Kantou, and Oushuu and we have built up some of those in a friendly direction. That has greatly expanded Musashi’s political foundation, and…”
Masazumi understood what she was saying. From a political viewpoint, it was obvious.
…If we’ve increased our international political power…
“We have increased the possibility of being influenced by the other nations.”
“Judge,” agreed Yoshiyasu. She crossed her arms and sighed disinterestedly. “The world does not revolve around Musashi. That’s what this means.”
“For example, the nations that have a friendly relationship with Musashi will sometimes fight their own wars. What if you receive a request for support from both sides? If they ask you to transport supplies, which side do you prioritize? That choice will create ‘levels of friendship’. And when Musashi works to expand its strength, let’s say a nation supports that decision. Why do you think they would do that?”
“It either benefits them or hinders one of their enemies,” answered Masazumi.
“Judge,” confirmed Yoshiyasu. “With the notable exceptions of P.A. Oda and the undeveloped regions, Musashi has gone around to almost every powerful nation and engaged in diplomacy. But that also means Musashi can be influenced by all of those nations.”
“Um, Satomi Student Council President? What happens if we just ignore the other nations?”
“A good question, vassal. …A powerful nation can probably trample on the smaller nations and do everything its own way. But if that isn’t possible, it will be crushed by the other nations surrounding it.”
Everyone gasped, but Masazumi had her own opinion of Yoshiyasu’s view.
…That’s a little extreme.
Even if Musashi did ignore the other nations in its actions, they would not necessarily be surrounded by enemies right away. After all, Musashi had the unique advantage of being mobile.
In that case, the surrounding nations that could not share in that benefit and the alliance of nations that sided with Musashi would be pitted against each other. But…
…Making sure we have as many allies as possible while also achieving the greatest benefit for ourselves is what we call politics.
With more allies, they could escape being surrounded by enemies and some nations would change their position.
It all came down to politics. And they were making as many preparations on that front as they could. Also…
“Horizon, that is why you called this a battle formation, isn’t it?”
“Judge.” Horizon nodded. “A great number of nations, academies, and factions are sure to get involved with us in the future. But during all that, I would like for all of you to keep your own roles in mind. And if you fulfill your role, Toori-sama and I will reward you the best we can as a sign of trust.”
That confused comment came from Mitotsudaira. She quickly waved her hands back and forth.
“Don’t worry, Mitotsudaira-sama. You made a very important example for everyone else. No matter what might happen, you will stand before Toori-sama as his knight. …And, Futayo-sama, you are the same for me, correct?”
“Judge. Even if you lose your provisional inherited name, you will still be Lord Motonobu’s daughter. And my father served Lord Motonobu.” As she sat on the floor, Futayo picked up Tonbo Spare from the floor next to her. “If you will inherit and fight for Lord Motonobu’s will, then bringing you victory will be my goal.”
Masazumi thought to herself as she watched Horizon nod.
…They really have changed.
Horizon would sometimes do or say bizarre things, but she could now give her opinion on political matters.
Futayo had decided on a goal and was living her life to prepare for that. (Even if that life seemed awfully focused on food.)
As Masazumi watched them…
…Would it be prideful to feel like they’re catching up with me?
But Masazumi herself did not have an inherited name and had yet to complete her goal of world domination. That put her in the same place as them and her growth rate was actually inferior to theirs.
It’s time to pull myself together, she thought with real faith in herself.
“I think this battle formation will change in the future,” said Horizon.
“But for now you’re next to me, Horizon,” said the idiot.
“Indeed.” Horizon gave a small nod. “I appreciate having that position in the formation.”
Masazumi heard Horizon begin her explanation.
…Is this what I think it is?
Horizon and the idiot are confirming each other’s position in the formation, thought Masazumi.
And then those two exchanged a glance.
“Toori-sama, you said you would create a kingdom where I could dream. But before that, you have to become a king, don’t you? And just as I will be able to dream in the kingdom you create, I believe everyone else will have their dreams come true.”
Asama’s shoulders trembled at those words. She looked over in surprise and Horizon continued calmly.
“If you are to allow me to dream just like everyone else, then the hurdle in front of my dreams will only continue to rise during the time it takes you to become king. Are you sure you can do this?”
“Y-yeah… I’m feeling really worried now.”
“Aoi, this isn’t the time for that kind of reaction.”
“I was just kidding!” insisted the idiot, but Masazumi knew he was not.
And Horizon must have taken his words seriously, too.
“But even if you are worried, you will do everything you can to make it happen, won’t you?”
“Oh, well, yeah,” readily admitted the idiot. “And everyone’ll help me. So no matter what happens in the meantime, Horizon, you don’t have to feel sad. And I won’t feel sad either. Neither of us is alone. We’ve got a literal ton of people with us. Well, maybe not literally. But that doesn’t matter. Anyway, everything from now on will have some meaning to it, don’t you think? After all, it’s all a step toward us being happy and you being all kinds of happy.”
“You can stand next to me, look to all the others, and get your best tsukkomi in on me and the others.”
When she heard that, Horizon looked up a bit. A few sign frames appeared and disappeared.
“Judge. I understand. Musashi’s first objective is to raise you up to the position of king and to allow everyone else and me to dream. Right?”
Masazumi gasped when she heard that.
…Our first objective? You mean that isn’t our final objective!?
But the idiot nodded.
“Some dreams can continue forever and others can be updated. There are some you have to continually work at and there are some that come true all at once so you can move onto something else. So Horizon. For you, having a dream and then making it come true are only your first objective.”
The idiot breathed in and turned around.
“Seijun. …How are we compared to Hexagone Française?”
“In what way?”
“You’ve said Hexagone Française is looking several steps ahead, right? Then where are we looking? We’re after world domination, retrieving Horizon’s emotions, and creating a kingdom full of dreams…but all that’s only our first objective.”
The idiot asked his question.
“We’re looking that far ahead, so how is that compared to Hexagone Française?”
“It’s not even comparable.”
Honestly, thought Masazumi. She crossed her arms, raised her eyebrows, and closed her eyes, but she could not stop the heat from rising to her cheeks.
Tsukinowa swung gently on her shoulder because it understood how she was feeling.
This is nothing but a bluff, she thought as she spoke.
“All we have are our goals. We don’t have a path leading there.”
“You’ll make us a path, won’t you?”
Was he referring to Mikawa? He always remembered the weirdest things.
But back then, she had promised to do just that and then she had resisted even the head of the Catholics. So…
“No matter what Hexagone Française might be plotting, I’ll do something about it.”
“Oh, I don’t think we need to worry about that. At the very least, they won’t ignore us.”
Masazumi’s eyes widened at the idiot’s words.
“What do you mean?”
“Heh heh. I think I know what he’s saying.”
Asama listened to what Kimi had to say while sitting with her knees to the side and reaching her hands forward to approach Toori.
“The Apocalypse, right?”
“…? Um, Kimi, why would that mean Hexagone Française won’t ignore us?”
“You don’t understand? …There might also be that Genesis Project thing, but the Apocalypse can be influenced by retrieving Horizon’s emotions. That’s what her cruel papa said.”
“No matter how much pride and vainglory they have, Hexagone Française can’t call themselves the ultimate victors or conquerors if they can’t stop the Apocalypse.”
“Even if we have a friendly relationship now, we will definitely come into conflict with Hexagone Française somewhere. And because they understand that, they are working to preserve their forces and doing what they can to plan ahead. …They are very much focused on us. Just like no one can keep their eyes off an excellent woman.”
“They want my Logismoi Oplo that badly?”
“Sin is an attractive spice, Horizon! That means you’re like delicious furikake every day! You’re noritama! Yes, noritama is great! It makes me think of oyakodon!”
The crazy person held a hand out toward Asama for some unknown reason, but Asama did not have anything to give her. She wordlessly slapped away the idiot sister’s palm, so…
“What was that!? Isn’t this when you’re supposed to give me what you have for me!?”
“I don’t have anything.”
But, thought Asama before saying more.
“I don’t know if they’re focused on us, but if they are, that would be all the more reason to find a chance to speak with them.”
“Judge,” replied Masazumi. “We need to avoid fighting if at all possible. Since Hashiba will begin conquering the Far East after their war with Mouri, we want to avoid conflict with Mouri until Sekigahara. Even setting the Logismoi Oplo and Apocalypse issues aside, I hope Hexagone Française can become a stable ruler of Europe.”
“Yeah, that sounds about right,” said Toori. “Then,” he added while turning toward Horizon and Mitotsudaira. “Seijun, you think about what we’ll do from now on. It sounds like the situation’s really changed. And as for our ‘formation’, um…Tenzou you stay over there somewhere. Just do whatever.”
“Wh-why are you being so vague and not even looking my way!?”
“Master Tenzou, he is telling us to keep it casual.”
In her track suit, Mary relaxed her sitting position on the cushion.
Toori started with Horizon.
“I’ll say it again: You’re next to me, okay?”
Next, he looked to Mitotsudaira.
“Nate, you’re in front of me, okay? Well, you’re physically behind me right now, but this whole formation is figurative.”
“A-are you sure?”
“It is fine, Mitotsudaira-sama. Besides, I cannot become Toori-sama’s knight and he and I cannot build mutual trust based on a relationship of master and servant. I do have the Logismoi Oplo, but I only really have a shield-shaped battery, the Muneshige Cannon #1, and the Muneshige Cannon #2.”
“Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! You’re throwing yourself to the floor instead of just falling to your knees!? That’s new!”
That couple is putting together a nice performance there, thought Asama as she watched Mitotsudaira breathe in.
“Then that will be my position in your formation.”
The wolf breathed a sigh of relief and Kimi laughed quietly.
And then Toori turned toward Asama and delivered a verbal surprise attack.
“Asama, you’ll be by my side, won’t you? I’d really appreciate it if you were.”
The words seemed so sudden that Asama was unable to react right away.
By his side?
She remembered that morning and her heart briefly pounded hard in her chest. Then he nodded once and spoke.
“Yeah. I guess I’m saying you could support me in a number of ways. There’s also my contract. I know you’ve got a lot of work to do, so you only have to do it if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
“Eh? O-oh, right. This is about your contract! Yes. Um, Toori-kun, I am in charge of you and Kimi there and I can handle that.”
“Oh, so that’s an OK? Then keep it up like always. Oh, and if you can, make my lunches and do my laundry too.”
“Oh, well, we have always been something like a family in that regard. So yes, I can do that too.”
“Judge.” Horizon nodded too. “I would appreciate that as well. Not only can you manage me, but you are a rare individual who can actually get Toori-sama to listen to you.”
“Eh? Does he really listen to me…?”
“You didn’t know…?” muttered everyone else as she put a hand on her chin and groaned in thought.
But if Horizon said so, it was likely true.
…I-I should try not to think too much about that. Yes.
Kimi smiled bitterly next to her and swept her hair back.
“Foolish brother! Horizon! Where does your wise sister fit into all this!?”
“Kimi-sama, you can be freestyle.”
“Sis, you get to be ‘my sis’. And…”
“I’ll keep my promise. So help me out.”
Hearing that, Kimi’s eyebrows briefly rose, but…
“Silly boy… You really are a foolish brother.”
Without hesitation, the sister smiled, hugged her brother from behind, and rubbed her cheek against his.
“Ah, wait, sis, that tickles. Ahh, stop, stop, stop, stop. I’m naked on the bottom half right now.”
But Kimi only laughed quietly and refused to stop. She frolicked with him like a kitten.
Asama and Mitotsudaira exchanged a glance, but…
It was what Kimi sometimes did with the girls. When she liked the person or what they had said, she would embrace them, rub her cheek against them, and get close to them to better know them. Suzu was the most common victim, but Asama and Mitotsudaira were also often on the receiving end. However…
…It’s unusual for her to do it to Toori-kun.
Those siblings often seemed on the same wavelength to the point of being nearly identical, so it was quite something if they were growing even closer.
As Horizon watched the two of them, she spoke as if she now understood something.
“Toori-sama and Kimi-sama seem to come as a single set, so I am glad to have you both so close by.”
“Heh heh. Well done noticing that, Horizon. Then I’ll give you what you want: I’m right here, right now.”
Kimi moved in between Asama and Mitotsudaira.
And then she spoke so only Asama could hear.
“Now then, now then. …Asama?”
“Wh-what? You seem to be in a really good mood.”
“Indeed I am.” Kimi narrowed her eyes and let out a heated breath. “Combine what my foolish brother said here with what he said at Novgorod. …Mitotsudaira and you have basically married into the family with approval from the wife, haven’t you? So,” she said. “The rest is up to your own efforts.”
“Wh-what are you talking about, Kimi!?”
Mitotsudaira listened as Asama raised her hips and her voice.
…Wh-what is this about?
She had a feeling she knew, but before she could say anything…
“Anyway, I’m looking forward to how you handle this, Asama, Nate.”
Mitotsudaira was within arm’s reach, so Kimi rubbed her head.
The gentle hold on her head and hair tickled, but Kimi did not seem to know where her head was. So…
Mitotsudaira raised her head and exposed her throat.
…If she’s going to treat me like a dog, I prefer it like this.
“Oh, are you itchy here?”
The idiot noticed what she was doing and scratched her throat.
The first thing she noticed was that his nails were shorter than the other day. The skin of his fingers touched the skin of her throat, so she felt the texture of his flesh directly.
It felt like his hand was licking her throat.
But the way his nails sometimes caught on her skin was a problem.
How was it a problem? The soft stroking of his fingers tickled and filled her with hesitation over how defenselessly she was letting him have his way with her skin and flesh. But…
Something like faint pain mixed in like a spicy flavor.
It was like finally getting to eat something delicious and finding it had clumps of strong spices mixed in. But her body reacted more to the spiciness than the sweetness, so…
The sweetness and spiciness arrived intermittently where she most strongly sensed this flavor.
“Are you itchy here?”
She did not want to say no and she started wondering how long until he would stop, but…
…I-if this is my reward for confirming my position as his knight, I am a very cheap girl…!
But she could focus on the happiness for the time being. She had confirmed her position as knight while taking Horizon’s presence into consideration.
And as Horizon looked her way, the automaton girl started stroking her hair.
She felt a heat building deep inside her. If she had a tail, she was certain it would be wagging. And…
“Did you pee yourself in joy? Are you okay?”
Behind her, Kimi’s hand lowered along the center of her butt.
“Hyah! Wh-what are you doing, Kimi!?”
Asama listened as Mitotsudaira quickly raised her hips and her voice.
…I know this all too well. Whenever Kimi does or says something, we spring to our feet like toys.
It felt like the girl was completely manipulating them, but Mitotsudaira seemed to be handling it well. She thoroughly protested Kimi’s actions and then she held her hands to her cheeks.
“I need to go wash my face.”
Naruze’s pen came to a stop.
“…Should I draw up a sketch?”
“Ga-chan! Ga-chan! Even among friends, that would be a crime!”
“I-I’m just fixing my makeup.”
“In that case.” Asama got up. “I want to use some water for a bit of purification, so how about I accompany you?”
…Without Mito here, all of Kimi’s damage would focus in on me…
After standing up and taking a breath, Mitotsudaira turned around. Her eyebrows were raised in slight surprise, but then she smiled bitterly.
Why was she smiling like that?
Without answering Asama’s unspoken question, Mitotsudaira turned toward the door. Yoshiyasu stepped out of the way and Mitotsudaira’s smile lost its bitterness before she spoke.
“Let’s go then, Tomo. …We’ll be right back, so wait a moment, everyone.”
The door closed and the two girls’ footsteps echoed down the hallway in front of the Student Council Room.
Then the bathroom door could be heard opening and closing.
After 5 seconds, Naruze spoke up.
“…She definitely pissed herself in joy.”
“Nate isn’t that much of an animal.”
“Foolish brother, all women are animals. You need to understand that. You’re something of a heroine, so who knows when one of them will try to devour you.”
“My crossdressing’s reached that level, has it?”
“Wait a moment,” said Masazumi. “We’ve more or less decided on our future policy, right?”
“You mean deepening our friendship with Hexagone Française?”
“That’s part of it, but there’s more.” Masazumi looked across everyone gathered there. “I said it before, but I will now reiterate what we need to do first: In order to support Hexagone Française from Kantou…we must think up a way of defeating Houjou.”
“So we start off with thinking, huh? That isn’t going to end well.”
“Don’t speak for me, idiot.”
Masazumi smiled with the ends of her eyebrows lowered and looked to the idiot and Horizon. Then she returned her expression to normal.
“Anyway, all of that is the beginning of the ‘path’ I will pave for you this time.”
“Then we’ll just have to head down that.”
“I would appreciate it if you did. After all…” She nodded. “That is how we can get actively involved in the Far East’s history from here in Kantou and it’s how we can gain more allies.”
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