Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 32
Chapter 32: Giant Arriving Forms
I have roared
Do you ever roar?
Point Allocation (Different Paths)
“It seems our teachers have made an appearance.”
A woman’s voice spoke above the dirt and accumulated conifer leaves at the bottom of the darkness.
After a while, there was a mechanical sound, but the next voice came from a different direction than that.
“Stop it, Mochizuki. You’ll just give away our position.”
“Testament. Understood, Kakei-sama. …I thought Unno-sama would be redoing her makeup.”
“Don’t worry about that,” said Unno as she looked up into the darkness.
A forest of tall conifer trees gave occasional glimpses of the dark blue night sky overhead. There was nothing visible in those small regions of sky, but instead…
“Takigawa’s accompanying ships have gone to protect the Shirasagi Castle. Based on the sound of their fall, only the Shirasagi Castle’s starboard ship is in any kind of recognizable shape.”
“Maybe this will reduce how responsible we’re held for retreating. I’m hoping people will look at it as the tenants not standing a chance when their landlady was beaten so badly.”
In the darkness, something was heard being stretched out and attached.
“Kakei-sama, about your bone fracture…”
“I’ll sleep with this repair seal attached. It’s forceful, but I can’t move around until the bone is connected again.”
“Are you planning a second round?”
“Of course. Our teachers have shown up and we haven’t been freed from our job working for Takigawa. P.A. Oda hasn’t checked on everything either.”
“I seriously doubt the academy is going to ask P.A. Oda if their ninjas can come home. They’re more likely to say their ninjas are fine and can keep fighting. I mean, Miyoshi-san is in charge right now.”
“Yeah.” Unno smiled bitterly. “Musashi is apparently holding a study camp, but they’ll be back here in a few days. Until then…”
“Testament.” Mochizuki tossed a dark sign frame to both of them. “This is your recovery schedule for the 2-3 nights until Musashi returns. I have already been repaired, so you two must follow this schedule starting tonight.”
“I think I kinda like that side of you,” said Kakei.
“Thank you very much,” said Mochizuki with a nod. And…
A long roar rumbled in from the distant sky.
The leaves shook and the sleeping birds stirred.
And at the bottom of that gathering of noise, Kakei took a deep breath and spoke.
“That would be Sasuke-sensei…”
“Testament.” Unno could be heard lightly spreading out a portable blanket as she responded. “Our teacher is already gone. …I wonder if those 2 feel lonely.”
“That roar sounded really happy.”
Masazumi heard a dragon laugh for the very first time.
Of course, this was her first clear encounter with a dragon. Behind her, the Date Vice Chancellor felt the need to speak.
“I suppose not even a certain idiotic half-dragon would stand a chance against that.”
“Oh? Do you want my help?”
Curious about that, Masazumi asked her about it.
“Date Vice Chancellor… Are you knowledgeable about dragons?”
“A lot of Terrestrial Dragons live in the north…or rather, in Europe and the mountains east of Kantou. The winged Celestial Dragons, on the other hand, wanted a proper home, so they are more scattered around. …They mostly live in Europe, east of Kantou, or along the line from Chubu to central Oushuu. And…”
“I believe the primary faction of Celestial Dragons chose Sanada as their home. …I think Masamune would know more about this.”
“No, that’s enough. In that case, would they be former nonhuman students?”
“Judge,” confirmed the Date Vice Chancellor. “If he poses a physical challenge, I could take him on.”
“Ho ho?” said Sasuke.
He slowly moved his giant body. The people on the Musashi scattered out of the way as he leaned toward the ship.
“We once took part in the suppression of the Germanic peoples and destroyed Europe, but a little girl thinks she can challenge us? I could fire my dragon cannon here and take care of you all. In fact, I kind of want you to give me the opportunity. I could use a warmup exercise before my first rampage in a long, long time.”
“I apologize for interrupting your excitement, but could you possibly leave?” asked Masazumi.
She checked the sign frame in her hand to make sure the firing unit and defense unit primarily composed of gods of war were spread out in a fan shape around Sasuke.
“With such a sudden visit, we can hear what you have to say, but we can’t be very hospitable.”
“Judge. That is correct,” said Horizon to help out.
Masazumi gasped and checked Horizon’s hands. Beyond Horizon, Mitotsudaira prepared for action and communicated with Masazumi via eye contact
She isn’t showing any sign of a surprise Logismoi Oplo attack!
Restrain her if she does!
Masazumi was also worried about the way Neshinbara was staring at Sasuke with an autograph sheet in hand. Wait, he has 2 autograph sheets…
Then Horizon took a step forward.
“Sasuke-sama was it? Why are you so concerned about us visiting Sanada? Is there some kind of secret there?”
“Indeed there is.”
“Then how about we make a deal? …If you tell us that secret, we will not visit Sanada.”
Masazumi stared at Horizon’s face, but this was simply too novel. In fact, I kind of feel like I haven’t been in control of the negotiations today.
The dragon briefly stopped speaking, but before long…
“I would be willing to tell you if you let me fire my dragon cannon here.”
“Fire it at what?”
Horizon looked around and everyone, including the normal citizens down below, fled or took cover.
Masazumi also looked around at them all.
“We might all be in trouble if this dragon cannon business were to drag on much longer. …Just kidding.”
Masazumi heard everything fall silent.
A few seconds passed, a few more motionless breaths passed, and she nodded.
“That must have been too novel for everyone.”
With an odd sweat pouring down her face, Horizon silently placed a hand on Masazumi’s shoulder.
And why were Mitotsudaira and Asama looking the other away and hanging their heads? On the folded-up upper armor of the Ariake’s starboard side, Sasuke faced north.
He produced a noise from his throat as he breathed in.
The white dragon spat a phlegmy breath into the sky.
…He’s certainly confident.
Did that come from his pride as a dragon or his power as one?
But Masazumi saw Sakai open his mouth in a horizontal smile.
It looked like he was enjoying himself. And as Masazumi tried to figure out why that would be…
Mukai held her hands out toward the port-side to the left of the bridge.
She looked like she was trying to grab and enlarge something in the air, but then she hesitated.
She tilted her head.
“Just as the 2nd generation said, you are indeed incredible!”
With that voice, something appeared in the sky to port.
It was a dragon. A pitch black one.
“I am the original generation Kirigakure Saizou. Remember that!”
…He slipped past our local quarantine system!?
No, she answered herself. As long as the concept of land exists, any intrusion by an outsider will be detected. We also recently increased the sensitivity for security purposes. And…
“What is this…?”
Several sign frames judging him non-local opened around Saizou after he appeared. And a report was sent to Asama.
He had been detected.
But not while he was hidden.
…What does that mean…?
She did not know. But it was true that Suzu had noticed. Asama made a mental note to ask her about that later, but then she noticed something else.
“Oh? So your name is Suzu.”
It happened the instant Saizou turned his giant face toward Suzu.
Surprised by the dragon’s sudden appearance and loud voice, Suzu leaned back to look up into the heavens.
It started as a simple voice.
But she soon wailed at the top of her lungs.
“Nwoh,” said Saizou as he leaned back.
…I screwed up there!
He had spoken in surprise and joy without thinking.
Not good, not good. Now that I think about it, whether we’re talking about Unno or Isa, all the girls at our place would only laugh if you shouted at them.
This reaction is certainly refreshing… No, I was simply careless, concluded Saizou. So…
“Yeah, sorry about that…”
But she seemed to have completely panicked.
Hearing his voice only brought back the shock from before. What am I supposed to do about this? he wondered as Sasuke spoke from the starboard side.
“Saitou, you’re such a fool.”
“Wahhhhhh!!” cried the girl.
“See? She’s crying again thanks to your voice.”
The girl named Suzu trembled and accurately pointed at both Saizou to port and Sasuke to starboard.
“I-I don’t l-like…these people!”
Sasuke wrinkled his brow at that.
So Saizou also moved as if looking up at him.
…That’s what you get!
Sasuke glared at him, but he did not care. However, this situation was not conducive to conversation. As he wondered what to do, Musashi’s shrine maiden took action.
“L-look, Suzu-san? There’s a butt-shaped cushion on my chest. Oh, but there’s nothing impure about this.”
She comforted Suzu with some contradictory statements. Then some students carrying anti-god of war rifles arrived from the bottom of the stairs and from the academy’s front entrance.
“Are you the ones that made Musashi’s precious bangs girl cry!?”
“You might be dragons, but we stand unified against all who defile our genre!”
“Exactly right! This is our courage! It’s a definite trust that will carry us through to tomorrow!”
There were a few dozen of them, but Saizou was more worried about their sanity than anything.
“Your parents would cry,” he warned them.
“Heh heh. Silly dragon! Have you lived so long you’ve forgotten what parents are like!?” Musashi’s dancer pointed at him from the center of the bridge. “Everyone’s parents’ final genre is ‘my husband’ or ‘my wife’! So as they raise us, they can’t complain when we get hooked on a genre that will eventually lead to the next generation! Everyone looks to reality and learns what their heart desires so they can adjust their genre to match their husband or wife. If you forget that and reject the entire idea of genres, then you end up with nothing more than a mechanical act of combining that is void of all dreams!”
“I see. That does make sense.”
“Yay!” celebrated the dancer as she groped a nearby Loup Garou’s breasts. The meaning of that action was unclear, but Saizou guessed it was some sort of ritual. However…
“That said, we are Celestial Dragons, which makes us a type of spirit. We generally have no parents and are born from the natural world’s ley lines or an ether ‘mold’. So, dancer, we can only understand this idea of yours as a feeling.”
“Kimi! Kimi! He defeated your argument on a species level!”
“That’s fine! Now, Mitotsudaira, you grope me!”
The meaning of that was entirely unclear, but in the meantime, Musashi’s shrine maiden, nudist, and automaton princess had comforted the girl named Suzu and stopped her crying.
They had visited this unfamiliar land for a greeting while having some fun, but…
“What’s so funny, Sakai?”
“Oh, nothing. I know I shouldn’t be laughing.”
“I feel the need to thank you for that time twenty-odd years ago.”
“You know you can’t do that. It wouldn’t make them very happy.”
“…I am in your debt.”
On the other side, Sasuke also nodded. But…
“This is not in lieu of thanks, but we will give you a warning.”
“Judge, judge.” Sakai waved toward Sasuke. “No need. They’re all going. It’s…well, you know. When I destroyed it, I didn’t really understand anything, but my actions still had meaning.”
Saizou remained motionless in response to Sakai’s words. He simply breathed like normal and followed Sasuke’s lead.
“If they go there and enter our land, there will be a battle,” said Sasuke.
“So you’re sending the young Sanada master to Hashiba?”
“Testament. He will be given favorable battle results against Matsudaira for a better position within Hashiba’s forces. Sanada has received word that, if Musashi’s forces fight on Sanada land,” Sasuke breathed a glowing sigh, “it will be counted as a recreation of the First Siege of Ueda between Sanada and Matsudaira.”
Novice: “Now! Tonight’s Super Neshinbara Time has arrived!”
Unturning: “The First Siege of Ueda is the post-Nobunaga battle in which Matsudaira fights and drives out Sanada after having defeated Hashiba at Komaki Nagakute. …At the time, Sanada was allied with Matsudaira, but as terms for allying with Matsudaira, Houjou demanded Sanada’s Ueda Castle. When Matsudaira attempted to do so, Sanada fought a defensive battle.”
Tachibana Wife: “Stating the conclusion first and giving the details second? That is an explanation based on the rules of comprehension.”
Flat Vassal: You can really see the difference in personality…”
Mal-Ga: “Yes, some people have very roundabout personalities. I won’t name names, but it’s Neshinbara.”
Novice: “Are you saying that’s just one name and not ‘names’!? Is that what this is!?”
Masazumi crossed her arms.
The request for Sanada to recreate the First Siege of Ueda had likely been made during the previous meeting. A Hashiba member other than Katagiri must have done it.
…This is real pain.
If they recreated the First Siege of Ueda, they could not withdraw from Sanada and they could not ally themselves with Houjou. But…
“History recreations take priority over school events. For Hashiba, this prevents us from allying ourselves with Houjou. For us, it allows us to complete a history recreation from after Nobunaga’s death.”
“Then will you be doing it?” asked Sakai.
He then asked a sudden question while looking to Sasuke.
“How many are still alive?”
Sasuke took a slow, deep breath before answering.
“Of those from 800 years ago, only 3 Celestial Dragons remain. There are still a lot of Terrestrial Dragons, but not as many as before.”
“Could I visit their graves?”
“Spirit dragons leave no bones behind. The Terrestrial Dragons are different, though. …Have a drink in their honor in Sanada land.”
“I see.” Sakai’s shoulders lowered. “So we ended up as enemies after all.”
Masazumi saw Sasuke’s body briefly lower down. He was preparing to take flight and leave. His giant body would spring up and float, but…
Musashi’s princess fired a Logismoi Oplo at Sasuke.
The Sanada father and son yelled at them, but Masazumi ignored it. No true Musashi resident would let this surprise them.
…I’m not sure how much I want to be a true Musashi resident, though…
“Masazumi! Why are you hanging your head!?”
But it was not just the one attack.
There were two movements.
The first was Futayo, who stood by Horizon’s side, turning to stand back to back with Horizon and raising Tonbo Spare. She then spoke to Saizou who was reflected in the blade.
“Bind, Tonbo Spare…!”
At the same time, something appeared in the sky.
They appeared in order to separate Sasuke and Saizou from the Musashi group. “Musashi” had lightly raised her hand to protect them. Also…
“I will not allow you to escape. Over.”
The barriers overlapped above Sasuke and Saizou’s heads to form a shallow dome.
Immediately afterwards, the Tachibana Husband raised his voice.
“If this does not hit them, they are the real deal!”
What does that mean? wondered Masazumi just as the result was seen.
Mitotsudaira saw Muneshige fall to his knees with a smile on his face.
Around them, all motion had stopped.
Horizon had fired at about 20% power, Futayo had used Tonbo Spare, and “Musashi” had raised the defense barriers. Those 3 and everyone else spoke in unison:
“They’re the real deal…?”
Sasuke and Saizou had entirely vanished. They were gone. And that meant…
Nothing remained to answer that question, but…
Suzu trembled while Kimi embraced her from behind. A moment later, a roar reached them from the distant sky. No, two of them did. The first sounded like ferocious laughter and the other sounded like a great sigh.
Asama looked to her sign frame and nodded in agreement with Suzu’s hesitant interpretation. She showed concern for Suzu while also giving Masazumi and Mitotsudaira a raised-eyebrows look.
“They have withdrawn.”
Mitotsudaira gasped a bit at what Asama said.
“I was able to detect them flying away. But…”
“I must investigate the sudden appearance of that one dragon. We have increased our security level, so this is nothing but an embarrassment for the Asama Shrine.”
Asama took a breath and relaxed her shoulders.
Mitotsudaira decided to say something to her.
Even if she said not to worry about it, further investigation was necessary. Not worrying about it would be weird.
Simply telling her to do her best would probably be best for now, but that felt irresponsible.
Trying to cheer her up with an offer to go eat yakiniku would be perfect, but why did that seem too self-serving? And as she considered all this…
Yet again, she was getting trapped by her own harmless but troublesome thoughts.
But then she remembered something.
About half a month before, on the way from IZUMO to Magdeburg, she had been similarly trapped by these endlessly circling thoughts, but she had managed to shake free of them.
She thought back to then. She had been unsure what to do about her situation or how to act around Mary, but what had she done in the end?
The memory she found was not a bad one. What she found was…
Mitotsudaira realized that her personality caused her to hesitate when it came to worries, concerns, and cheering others up. But if it only made her hesitate, then she only had to look at it this way:
They were classmates and friends. She sometimes found herself questioning their actions, but, well, that was just the kind of relationship it was.
However, that relationship was accompanied by their recognition of each other’s skill. So…
“We will leave that to you.”
Mitotsudaira would not even know where to start with this and Asama had the necessary skills.
So she would leave it to her. That was all there was to it.
There was no need to hesitate.
“Only you can do this, Tomo. If anything happens, just tell me. I will help to the best of my ability.”
The meaning of those words changed Asama’s expression. First, her eyebrows rose and she did not seem to understand what she had just been told. But then her eyes narrowed in a smile.
“I can handle it.”
“You sure can.”
Mitotsudaira looked over to that voice from between Horizon and Futayo. The idiot sat there looking back and forth between Horizon’s skirt and the gap in Futayo’s skirt. He ignored the two armed girls who glared back at him and he spoke to Asama instead.
“You have a pretty good idea of what this was, don’t you?”
“I wouldn’t call it a ‘pretty good’ idea when I have no proof whatsoever.”
Asama’s words were belied by her light tone. She turned toward Suzu in Kimi’s arms.
“Suzu-san, can I ask you about something later?”
“Yes. About them. Also…can I ask you something too, Mary?”
“Judge.” Mary took a step forward from the 1st Special Duty Officer’s side. “There was something that caught my attention about this as well. I think we can figure this out if we all compare what we found odd. And Master Tenzou too…”
“Judge. There was something a little odd about that compared to normal covert ninja techniques. I can at least provide my thoughts on the matter.”
“Heh heh. That settles it then.” Kimi narrowed her eyes toward the distant roars to the west. “We’ll go to Sanada for our study camp. We need to make those dragons cry for mocking us and making Suzu cry.”
“That would be it, yes.”
Masazumi heard a hint of cheerfulness in Sakai’s voice.
He gave a light wave of his hand to tell her to stay here a while longer. And then…
The idiot who had been comparing Horizon and Futayo’s butts was now wrapped in Mitotsudaira’s chains.
“What is it, Principal?” asked the chain-wrapped nudist.
“Well, I can guess how most of this is going to go, so let me tell you as well. …Go to Sanada for your study camp, Toori. These two will probably go on ahead and prepare the place for you. And then fight the 1st Siege of Ueda.”
“Principal, did Sanada help you out in the past?”
There was a lot they did not know about Sakai’s past, but there was one thing they had learned on the way here. So Masazumi used that knowledge to make a guess.
“Did you pass through Sanada territory to get to Europe when fighting the Pope-Chancellor?”
“Judge. That’s pretty much it.”
He readily admitted it, but that did not account for Sanada Masayuki’s bowing. What had happened?
“Will we find out when we go there?”
“Masazumi-kun, there’s nothing about a place you can’t figure out by going there, is there?”
Sakai raised the corners of his mouth.
“But,” he continued with a hand on his chin. “I couldn’t figure it out when I was there. Oh, but that was the second time. And I was ordered to go that time.”
“The second time?”
“Judge,” confirmed Sakai as “Musashi” glared at him from his side.
“This is all news to me. Over.”
“Well, you were still just an OS back then, ‘Musashi’-san. Do you want to hear about those times?”
“There is no point in discussing a version of myself that I do not remember. Over.”
Flat Vassal: “Why does she sound so confident that it would be about her?”
Gold Mar: “Are you gonna draw this one, Ga-chan?”
Mal-Ga: “That would be undeniable defiance of authority… But perhaps that would be perfect for a Technohexen.”
“But,” said “Musashi”. “We have our own security in place using our management system as automatons. Since we did not detect this until they were that close, I can only judge it-…”
Just as “Musashi” prepared to say “a failure”, Ohiroshiki raised his hand.
What is this about? wondered Masazumi, so she prompted him to speak with an “ah?”
“Wh-what kind of pathetic prompting was that!?”
“Just say what you have to say.”
“Okay, then.” Ohiroshiki looked to the two from Sanada. “Since this is a pain, couldn’t Uqui-kun torture them until they spill the beans on all the dragons’ techniques and such?”
“W-wait!” Sanada’s Chancellor frantically got up. “Sanada’s reputation is on the line here!”
“Papa! Sacrifice yourself for my safety!”
But Neshinbara shook his head and looked to Ohiroshiki.
“We would not look very cool if we-…I mean, that would look bad politically.”
“Did about 80% of your real reason slip out there?”
“Don’t worry about it, Ariadust-kun. …Now, to get back on topic, if we did that, all of the small nations would grow wary of Musashi. That would be especially bad with how many people should be defecting to Musashi from here on. Even if they were on the run, we do not want Musashi to be seen as a place that forces people to give us their nation’s information.”
“Yes, we can’t have all of our doujinshis being torture ones.”
“Precisely, Naruze-kun. …Wait, that’s not it at all, Naruze-kun. Please listen.”
“Think before you speak!!”
Everyone yelled at him, but Neshinbara only pushed his glasses up his nose and looked to Masazumi.
“Besides, you know what they are saying, don’t you?”
“I do.” Masazumi nodded and looked to the two from Sanada. “We will still prepare a residence in Mito for Sanada Nobuyuki, but we are visiting Sanada territory for a study camp. I would like for you and Masayuki to return to Sanada territory once more. We will send out a ship, so could you arrange for our arrival in Sanada territory for our study camp?”
“Testament…!” Masayuki bowed his head and forced his son’s head down as well. “If that will help preserve Sanada!”
Masazumi glanced over at Sakai who shrugged and nodded.
The people in front of them were apparently not the type to lie. She had already understood that, but the Principal’s confirmation meant a lot.
That was all she said before facing south from the bridge.
There was a sign frame there and she spoke to the boy displayed on it.
“Katagiri Katsumoto. …Musashi has decided on its destination for the school event. I assume you have no complaints.”
Katagiri slowly nodded at the Musashi Vice President’s words.
He pictured a map of the Far East from Kantou to Chubu and he thought about the location of the various powers there.
…Sanada is close to Houjou.
They likely intended to head to Houjou after completing their study camp in Sanada.
Kuro-Take: “I think that negotiation turned out well, Katagiri-kun.”
That was Takenaka. She was complimenting him, but he had one thing to ask her.
□□凸: “Takenaka-san, were you the one that suggested Sanada recreate the First Siege of Ueda?”
Kuro-Take: “Are you mad?”
“No,” answered Katagiri.
□□凸: “It was your instructions that struck back and drove them to action. I was only losing ground.”
Kuro-Take: “You prevented Musashi from reducing the length of their study camp, didn’t you? It’s set at 3 days and 2 nights but with another day and night included for travel. …Do you have any idea how much funding and personnel it takes to keep an enemy stopped for 3 or more days in war? That’s how much you won us in this single negotiation.”
If so, he was grateful.
…I still have a lot to learn.
Katagiri then began searching for someone beyond Musashi’s Vice President.
Was that shrine maiden there?
He was briefly confused when he saw the Asama Shrine’s gunner shrine maiden, but she was different. The real one was blonde. But…
…She isn’t there.
He could see Musashi’s Chancellor nude but wrapped in chains and being lectured by the silver wolf and others, but what was that about? He thought that boy needed to take his life more seriously.
“Does Musashi intend to complete its study camp before summer break begins?”
“That is our business,” said their Vice President. “We don’t have to tell you.”
“Testament,” he replied. And…
□□凸: “What should I do, everyone? I think we could send someone to that place.”
Llaf: “Even if we could use Takigawa-sama, I do not think we should split up our forces at the moment. …I believe our only option is to prepare ourselves for the worst and rely on Sanada’s Nobushige faction.”
Tsurugi: “My role leaves me emptyhanded, so once I’m ready, I can head near the border. After all, I can move around if I’m within range of Mori-san’s forces.”
□□凸: “Then please do.”
Tsurugi: “Eh? …Oh, um, yes, I’ll do my best. I’ll do my best, okay!?”
Had he said anything to surprise her? At any rate, he sent his acknowledgment and then looked to the lernen figur.
To the Musashi forces visible on that screen, they were a large nation. And he was that large nation’s agent. He had corrected Musashi when it came to school event equality, so there was one thing he had to say without fear.
“I hope you make some nice memories during your study camp in Sanada, Musashi.”
“Judge. To be honest, given who’s going, the odds are slim any of the memories will be worth remembering, but that’s just how it is. …You have my thanks for approving this.”
Just as she ended the divine transmission, Musashi’s Vice President spoke quietly.
“Until we meet again.”
“Weren’t you being a little too charitable back there, Saizou?”
“Ninja techniques are always found out eventually. The question is what you do afterwards.”
A voice responded at cloud level while traveling west.
Sasuke and Saizou, the white and black dragons, tore through the night sky.
They turned their eyeballs backwards in their long slit-like eye sockets to view the Ariake behind them.
Their vision contained the light of the place they had just left.
“Compared to the distant past, mankind has eliminated their anxieties by gathering into groups and surrounding themselves with light.”
“Are you a poet now, Sasuke?”
“You have lived as long as I have, so you should understand, too.”
Sasuke flapped his 6 main wings to lift himself higher in the sky. Saizou turned his body to increase the air resistance enough to knock his body higher.
Saizou was a little slower, but Sasuke glided to match.
“Mankind’s methods of driving out their anxieties are always a threat to us.”
“Meanwhile, we are anxiety itself to mankind. So are we mankind’s enemy?”
“That cannot be the case. …How could we coexist in Sanada now if it were?”
“Well.” The strength left Saizou’s voice. “It must be an issue of intelligence and pride. Once we exchange words, we can generally coexist as long as we do not act on emotion. That is what we did and that is why we came here.”
“It’s a little late to ask now…but was remaining in Europe just too much to bear?”
It took several seconds before he answered that question. But…
“You answer first, Sasuke.”
“That was 400 years ago. My memories have faded a fair bit.”
Sasuke used his wings to move out ahead. Saizou followed and tried to fly up alongside him.
The wind loudly struck the dragon’s giant body and Sasuke spoke.
“Being one of mankind’s anxieties is a difficult thing. The Loup Garous must have experienced something similar.”
“Experienced what exactly?”
“Mankind will isolate its most brutal anxieties and allow them to fade. It is a fantastic method. After all…”
Sasuke raised his head somewhat as he looked far into the western sky.
“Those who remained in Europe proudly proclaimed that mankind was ignoring them because they were powerful, but they were really being isolated. …After all, mankind once defeated the dragons. The isolation was only a way of avoiding something troublesome. We had already been weakened, so nothing would change no matter what we did. Not even fighting us was a way of dealing with us without even viewing giving us the dignity of being their enemy.”
Sasuke breathed a sigh wrapped in ether light.
“The most troublesome thing about mankind is the way they don’t brag about being the strongest of all creatures. We have our pride as a higher being, but that is why we were satisfied with our cage of vainglory.”
“That’s because we’re powerful as individuals,” said Saizou with a tone that said “how many times have we discussed this now?” “They only seem strongest when gathered as a group. And since a group can’t be in absolute agreement, mankind as a whole can’t claim that they’re the strongest. So even as a group, they can’t escape the awareness of how small they are. No matter how many anxieties they drive out, they never think they’re the strongest.”
“Do you pity them?”
“What do you think after living with them?”
“Well,” replied Sasuke. “I do not pity them as individuals or as a group. I suppose they only seem pitiful to me when viewed through my own vainglory.”
“If only you had seen it that way 800 years ago or 400 years ago…Commander of the Gaul Suppression Army.”
“There was no helping that, Subcommander. Did you see that just now? That Loup Garou descendent, that shrine maiden, and the others…they all reminded me of that group that intervened as the Testament Cross-Borders Unit. The ones that prevented us dragons from making a long-term invasion of Europe using the Germanic invasion.”
“There aren’t enough of them and I doubt that knowledge has been passed down.”
Sasuke smiled bitterly at Saizou’s words as they flew through the wind.
“Perhaps they do not see us as all that important.”
“You know, it’s your tendency to be really blunt that made everyone in Europe hate you.”
“You and the rest of the 10 Celestial Dragons that came with me were no different.”
“Now it’s only 3, including you.”
Saizou spat out that comment and eventually spread his wings.
He lowered his altitude in a glide.
“Sorry. I’ll be going on ahead.”
“Testament,” Sasuke replied to Saizou.
But he did not lower his altitude.
Sasuke continued soaring while only looking to the western sky until a voice called out to him.
Of the two at separate altitudes, the lower one spoke into the sky above him.
“Commander, there’s something I’ve noticed over the past 400 years.”
“And what is that?”
“When you fly high into the sky, you always look to the west. And I have a thought on that.”
“…And what is that?”
“Well.” Saizou took a breath. “I think your intent to fight now is born from your intent to have Sanada’s land be the last image you ever see.”
There was no immediate response. But eventually, after the two of them had completely moved apart, Sasuke opened his mouth.
He spoke into the western sky.
“We are Celestial Dragons. From generation to generation, we are born by inheriting the dragon ‘mold’ that was created long ago, so you could call us incarnations of the world itself. …But finding pride in that would be vainglory. But if we find no pride in it, would that be modesty or the pride of the powerful? The only person who could answer that question was that man who left us 30 years ago.”
His words vanished into the night sky.
“800 years ago and 400 years ago. …Did I make the right decisions back then?”
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