Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 33

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Chapter 33: Freedom Lover in the Forest[edit]

Horizon5B 195.jpg

How much is certain

And how much is just for fun?

Point Allocation (Being Toyed With)


A large space had moonlight-colored walls, the same colored ceiling, and a wooden floor.

It was a dining hall.

The wall was engraved with the gourd emblem indicating it was a Hashiba ship.

The rectangular tables and the chairs all bore M.H.R.R.’s mark and the menu lernen figur floating above the tables contained a clock saying it was 1 AM.

The dining hall was currently only being used by those on break or performing routine duties.

Someone with blonde hair walked through those with night duty. It was Kiyomasa who had just completed the early night shift.

She had arrived in search of a light snack, but…

“Oh? Takenaka-sama, are you going over today’s battle results? Hashiba-sama’s unit has arrived from K.P.A. Italia. That means Wakisaka-sama, Yasuharu-sama, and Katagiri-sama have joined us. Did you have that information?”

“Oh, tes, tes. They all dropped by to greet me earlier. Katagiri-kun seems to have had a rough time as a negotiator.”

“Hashiba-sama apparently had a rough time of it as well. And right in the middle of an adjustment phase for her.”

While wearing a long shirt and tights, Kiyomasa regulated her breathing so her chest would not stick out. And she looked to Takenaka’s hands.

It doesn’t look like she intends to talk about the battle results…

That was partially because she was focused on her work, but Takenaka had originally dealt with accounting, so she did not draw any inferences before arriving at the conclusion. She always completed her work swiftly and made her decision only after viewing the result.

So while she was willing to chat, she would not make any inferences about what she was working on.

Kiyomasa bowed toward no one in particular and went to get some tea from the counter. She also took a summer orange tart.

“Kiyomasa-kun. Me too.”

“Do you want the same thing?”

“Grab two extras.”

Eh? she thought as she looked back, but she soon found the answer.

Someone was resting their head and sleeping on a table in the opposite corner from the entrance she had used.

It was Katagiri.


Oh, dear.

He had apparently come here to eat after finishing his negotiations and arriving here.

With Takenaka as the commander, this ironclad ship had long been used by the Ten Spears. Hashiba would move around the Far East for diplomatic purposes, so she was often not around, but there was generally someone in the mobile academy, in the dining hall, or on the deck.

Perhaps as a special treat from the usual head cook, Katagiri’s plate contained a heaping portion of leftover eisbein as well as some sauerkraut and a wooden container of rice. However, he had not touched any of it and slept with a lernen figur open. The sleepiness must have hit him when he was checking something like Takenaka.

Kiyomasa placed a tart plate on the table next to him and then Takenaka sent a hollow voice her way.

“Tell him Hashiba-kun was thankful for his negotiation.”

“Why don’t you tell him, Takenaka-san?”

“I’m not as close to him as the rest of you are.”

Kiyomasa did not think Takenaka needed to keep that distance, but everyone had a different comfort zone. So she decided to send Katagiri a divine mail and returned to Takenaka.

“Trouble sleeping?” asked Takenaka.

“I’m fine. I can use a spell to sleep at any time if I have to.”

“That’s a relief.”

Kiyomasa placed a tart plate next to Takenaka. The girl had a bandanna holding down her bangs and she immediately grabbed the tart with her right hand and took a bite.

“My. Takenaka-sama, don’t you want a fork?”

“This cuts out the effort of washing it. I’m not showing off my navel for no reason.”

“Oh, you’re being economical. But please don’t throw up what you eat.”

“I can’t really help that… I grew up in a mountain castle, so I have trouble with the sky.”

Digging too deep into this would interrupt her thoughts, so Kiyomasa grabbed her own tart.

“How does it taste?”

“Did you make them, Kiyomasa-kun?”

“I chose them.”

“It’s sour.”

They apparently were made with good summer oranges. She thought it was improper to eat while standing up, but Kiyomasa still took a bite of the tart. She stuck the point of the slice into her mouth, which seemed like a fresh new way to eat one.

“It really is nice and sour.”

“Do you like them? You are often eating tarts. Then is that the way to get them to grow…?”

“If you are referring to breasts, I can only say it’s a matter of your build and predisposition… Oh, but I do like tarts. I have a prominent memory of one. I think it was handmade by my mother.”

That received no response.

Had she interrupted Takenaka’s thoughts and work? She did not know. But Takenaka said something else instead as she opened a lernen figur and inputted some bar graph data.

“Trouble sleeping?”


Takenaka asked the same thing as before. But Kiyomasa knew she was not the type to ask the same thing twice. So she nodded and looked to Takenaka’s hands.

“Everyone seems to be too excited to sleep.”

“We didn’t win the battle and we were actually toyed with if anything, but the fact that we returned alive and the awareness of the experience we gained will provide greater self-confidence than even a victory would.”

Takenaka pushed up on one of the bar graphs with a finger to add to its length.

“Do you think this is right?”

That was very like Takenaka who did not make guesses.

She asks if “this is right”, not if “this is about right”.

Aware of that, Kiyomasa nodded and spoke

“If you used what I said to adjust it, then I think the addition to the graph is correct.”

“Thanks.”

With her action validated, Takenaka continued her work.

As seen here, Takenaka’s work was more than just money and mass measured in definite numbers. She included her own feelings in it. But that feeling only sought an increase or decrease in the amount. It did not seek a definite amount or absolute correctness.

If she began comparing the numbers, she would get distracted by that.

The people below her can decide on the numbers.

Takenaka was their lead commander. What mattered was that she understood the entire situation and had the right people to delegate the details to.

They were replete with personnel and they could rely on others for the tasks they could not complete themselves. Takenaka had often taught them that. Thus…

“What do you think of my charge toward the side of the enemy god of war unit during the morning battle?”

“If you could have prepared a decoy and diversion, you might have been able to target the god of war unit from behind.”

That “if you could have” part was Takenaka’s style of mercy and strictness.

“I will do my best,” said Kiyomasa with a nod.

At that very moment, the dining hall’s lights went out and an alarm blared.

“Unidentified high-speed shell detected off the starboard side!”

Only the emergency lighting and their lernen figurs lit the dining hall and the only sounds were the alarm and the rustling of people bracing for impact.

Meanwhile, Kiyomasa fixed her collar, placed the rest of the tart on the plate, and listened to the divine transmission voice.

“Incoming!”

Outside the dining hall window, several layers of defense barriers glowed as they shattered.

And the people in the dining hall heard the sound of something thin breaking.

“Shell identified! It was a natural object! A 30m tree! The enemy is…”

Kiyomasa knew the answer. There was only one person who could make an attack like that.

This had happened before as well.

Throwing a massive object that can’t be detected with an ether scan.

Who could do that? While continuing her work, Takenaka scratched her head and answered.

“Would that be the Reine des Garous?”


Still Got It: “Hee hee. They seem to be panicking a fair bit.”

Shining Army: “Was all that throwing you did on the K.P.A. Italia border setting up for this?”

Still Got It: “If you look at it that way, does it increase my value?”

Shining Army: “It is true that way is more convenient for us. …I’ll spread that story.”


The M.H.R.R. and Hashiba vanguard fleet had entered a defensive formation on a grassy field in the forest.

They had advanced around 7km northwest since the morning battle. A tall forest rose up on the left and right and they were surrounded by a shallow mountain range, but…

“That’s why we were able to send the fleet forward to search for the enemy!”

On the deck of the ironclad ship moored at the front of the grassy field, people in mobile shells and M.H.R.R. uniforms walked around while holding up night vision lernen figurs like visors.

Their visual data was the only way to respond to the enemy. That was partially due to the dark environment during the night, but more importantly…

“They’re using natural objects instead of shells, so our ether scans are useless!”

A high-speed shell produced a great noise because it broke the sound barrier when fired. In contrast, a thrown object that never broke the sound barrier would not produce such a loud noise.

They were using sound-gathering spells to pick out the sound of the rustling branches of the thrown trees, but…

“Damn, it’s no use with all the noise from the forest creatures!”

They then noticed something floating in the night air beyond the tall forest.

“Here it comes!”

By the time they realized it was a large tree, it was high above their heads.

Some of its branches had broken, but the roots were still attached as it flew artlessly through the air.

They could hear it coming. The tree and its branches shook as they struck the air and the leaves rustled. And…

“Figure out where it’s going!!”

A few students held the spell visors to their eyes and raised their right hands to confirm hey had the answer.

And as soon as the word “transmit” flew from their visors, two lights appeared.

One was the light of the defense barriers that appeared in the sky.

The other was the cannon fire launched at the source of the thrown object from a turretless ether cannon on the side of the ship.

The defensive light shattered in the sky, but the tree was not broken. The ultra-massive object lost its speed, but it fell straight down from there.

Meanwhile, the attack launched on the enemy flew in an arc.

Even if it was an ether cannon, the turretless cannon from P.A. Oda fired a highly-tracking blast. The Garuda riding the glowing shell corrected its course via surfing and then sent the shot towards its final destination with a kick.

“Damn! The trees are in the way!”

The shell had been fired from quite a steep angle, but the forest was very tall. It knocked down a few trees before arriving at the ground where the enemy was.

It did not reach them.

Meanwhile, the enemy moved quickly away and launched another attack.

“Another tree is coming! Determine its location!”

All they could do in response was block the flying objects and fire back.

That was all. They had personnel, they had defense barriers, and they had ether cannons, so they would be fine. But…

“Damn…! How long is this going to keep going!?”

Everyone on the ship was bound by the forest and sky to starboard.

All of them knew the purpose of this situation.

“Are they trying to wear down the frontline warriors!?”


Kiyomasa listened to Takenaka’s words while changing in the equipment storeroom connected to her own room.

Takenaka was working as usual, but she seemed to understand the current situation.

“Shibata-kun would often do this. He would fire blank shells so his enemy couldn’t sleep.”

“But these aren’t blanks. This can actually damage us, so it’s a lot more troublesome.”

“Yes, yes. And that’s why we have to head out and fight back. We’re up against the Reine des Garous who doesn’t mind working at night and she’s gathering her ammunition on site, but she’s forcing us to dedicate some personnel to a serious counterattack. From the perspective of wartime cost performance, she is in a far superior position.”

Takenaka continued with an “And you know what?”

Kiyomasa stripped off her shirt, put on an inner suit starting from the bottom, and fastened it at the stomach and chest.

“What?”

“Testament. This is about morale, which can’t be quantitatively measured, but…”

“Are you saying their morale is quite high, whether we’re talking about the Reine des Garous alone or Hexagone Française as a whole?”

“What do you think?”

Kiyomasa could not immediately answer. Takenaka was working, but Kiyomasa was changing. She quickly fixed the chest cloth in place and fastened it on up to the collar.

Kh.

They seemed heavier and more cramped than that morning, but was she just imagining that? Or was there some secret to that tart?

At any rate, Kiyomasa forced the inner suit closed up to her neck.

“Personally, I think we’re being toyed with here.”

She knew it was dangerous to come up with her own image of the enemy, but when she compared the enemy to them…

“I wonder if she thinks this way is easier.”

“What makes you say that?”

“The enemy is not changing her tactics. She simply throws attacks in from long range and lets us respond. That means she’s set this up so we have to deal with her this entire time. That suggests she thinks we will not be able to resist or fight back very much. …Now let me ask you, Takenaka-sama: What do you think will happen to us if the enemy keeps this up?”

“We’ll be utterly exhausted.”

Takenaka’s tone really sold that opinion, but was that because she was working?

“We’re in unfamiliar enemy territory. The morning’s battle ended in a baffling way. Everyone is relying on this frontline fleet. And now the Reine des Garous’s ridiculous presence is forcing us into a defense-focused response. …Even the people following behind will be worn out by the anxiety of it all.”

“…What did Hashiba-sama say?”

“She said she’s been making some decisions about this but we need to keep working a little longer.”

“You mean…?”

Kiyomasa unlatched the waist armor and removed it from the wall.

“Trees aren’t the only thing in the forest,” said Takenaka.

A moment later, a solid sound shook the sky.

A stone!?

That was something else found in the forest. And the sounds of them being thrown and destroyed sounded like rain pounding on the ship’s exterior armor.

“Kh…”

I need to hurry, she decided as she grabbed the waist armor in both hands and stood tall, pushing out her chest.

That caused the inner suit to burst open at her chest, opening down to below her navel. She let out a shriek, but more due to the cold air reaching her skin than the opening clothing itself.

“Umm.”

While listening to the alarm rise to the emergency level, she opened a lernen figur.

“Hello, Katagiri-sama? This is a little hard to say, but… Yes, it’s an emergency, so… Yes, I’d like some help getting my armor on. Could you do that for me? Eh? Oh, no, no. I won’t force you…”


The new objects flying through the night sky were not just large trees.

They were stones that two adult men would only just barely be able to carry, and…

“Those are materials for building a military camp!”

And that was not all. The moonlight illuminated what looked like pieces of human bodies.

“Those are light god of war parts!”

This all pointed to a certain fact.

“Was there an Hexagone Française camp set up around here!?”

They had searched for enemies before stopping the fleet here. A scout unit primarily made up of P.A. Oda warriors had supposedly checked everything as far away as the trees and boulders which were being thrown. But…

“The Reine des Garous could probably carry something like that in from a distance…”

“Hey! Don’t worry us like that! Now, how far away are we talking here!?”

“If you don’t want to be worried, y-you really shouldn’t ask that.”

“W-well, I’m worried regardless.”

Perhaps to distract themselves from their worries, the boys discussed the situation like small children. When the girls saw that, they sighed, looked up into the night sky, and held a discussion of their own.

“So do her breasts give her more inertia for throwing things?”

“If anything, wouldn’t it be her height? Not that I have either.”

“I’ve seen images of the Reine des Garous’s husband and he’s pretty cute.”

“He really is,” someone agreed. “She’s tall, she has a large chest, she has a slender waist, she has a cute husband, she smashed a portion of IZUMO, and she held back Sassa-sama of our Five Great Peaks…”

Honestly.

“Is that monster just toying with us here?”

They looked up in the sky again to see the first tree in a while.

It was large. It was a size thicker and longer than the previous ones. After they all confirmed its presence, they set up the defense barriers, and…

“…Eh?”

They heard a solid sound from just in front of the tree.

The tree’s silhouette had been used as camouflage for the object thrown with it.

“A rock!”

“No, a stone!”

“Technically, it’s a boulder.”

“Oh, shut up!” they all shouted as the glowing defense barriers broke and the solid fragments scattered.

The hunk of rock was caught before anything and it shattered.

It broke apart.

But as the pieces of rock rained down on the deck, the giant tree remained intact.

Its speed and angle remained unchanged.

If they had been able to respond quickly, it would not have been a problem. But even if they were slow…

“Starboard side! It’s going to fall into the camp around the ship!”

There were materials and guard personnel there. They had already noticed the situation overhead and the people below had begun to evacuate to the ship, but…

“Not good…!”

The tree was more than 50m long. And due to its angle…

“It’s going to fall on us after it hits!”

Of course, the ironclad ship was 800m long. It was more than 100m tall, so even if a 50m tree fell on them…

“Don’t worry! That won’t be an obstacle to us!”

The girl who had detected the situation around the ship displayed the result of the fallen tree on a diagram of the ship.

It showed…

“Even if this one hits, the secondary cannons on the bow can-…”

She trailed off.

But not because the tree had been caught by the defense barriers overhead.

“Ah…”

Three more large trees were flying toward the bow.

The one would definitely fall on the deck at that angle, but the other three…

“They’re being used to block the bow’s secondary cannons!!”

Defense barriers opened in the sky, but those glowing panels were shattered by something.

It was not a stone. Nor was it a tree. It was not even the materials or Grösse Panzer parts from before.

“…A cannon blast!?”

It was a volley of anti-ship cannon fire.


“Does the Reine des Garous have a god of war unit working with her!?”

Someone asked that on the deck as the shellfire raced through the sky between the forest and them.

These sharp sounds shaking the night sky were different from the previous noises.

They reverberated across the forest.

The shells were fired along ballistic paths from the distance and they came from several distinct locations. And they passed below the flying trees.

“The defense barriers are going to break!”

The ones opened over the bow did indeed shatter. At the same time, the large trees fell toward the bow.

“Kh,” someone groaned. “What happens if these cover the bow’s secondary cannons and the bow’s deck!?”

“The enemy will only attack from the starboard bow!”

Hearing that from the girl checking on their surroundings, everyone looked up.

The large trees were directly overhead and above the bow. The defense barriers would not arrive in time.

“Will they be too late!?”

Just as that voice reached the sky, a silhouette was launched into the moonlit heavens above.

They heard sounds of breaking and vibrations. Four in all.

“Ah…”

The large trees broke apart into countless pieces.

The four of them were destroyed in an instant.


The giant trees split apart like they were flowers.

A power pierced them from the roots to the top of the trunk.

That piercing force ran straight until it pushed out the moisture-rich trunk from within, causing it to split outwards.

No two trees split apart in the same way, but once the destruction reached the branches and leaves, it rapidly divided into smaller pieces. The splitting returned to the roots as they submitted to the influence of the trunk as it continued to swell out from within.

So with an area near the center as the foundation, the entire tree swelled out in two parts and then burst.

The tearing noise sounded like fibers ripping and separating. The splitting noise sounded like the creaking of a maw opening too wide.

The trunks blossomed.

Then the entire trees were no more than small fibers as the torn branches flew everywhere.

All that remained were the scattering leaves and…

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“We made it in time, Angie.”

“Yes, we did, Kime-chan.”

…voices. Two girls called out to each other.

A round ship’s bridge existed on the back of the ironclad ship. The two figures standing on top of it each had 6 wings and held long cannons.

The cannons were longer than 5m and were made of panels.

The long cannons had few definite joints and were instead made by fitting the panels together. As for the colors…

“Angie, what should we do?”

The one with gold wings had a white cannon and clothing.

“Isn’t this good enough?”

The one with black wings had a black cannon and clothing.

They simply looked at each other. Everyone on the deck spoke their names in unison.

“Ten Spears #4 and #5, Gold Katou Yoshiaki and Black Wakisaka Yasuharu…”

Gold and black. The combination of those two colors was known as…

“Zwei Eisen…”

“That’s right,” said gold-winged Yoshiaki. “We didn’t arrive in time for the morning battle, but we can take you on now. …Then again, it doesn’t look like we’ll be needed.”

As soon as Yoshiaki said that with a smile, a sword slash was sent out from the deck and to the starboard forest.

It was a great sword of light. Black-winged Yasuharu looked back as she spoke its name.

“Caledfwlch. …Kiyo-chan, aren’t you a little late?”


From atop the ironclad ship’s bridge, Kiyomasa had sent her glowing sword to the position from which the final tree had been thrown.

Did I make it in time?

The question was whether or not the enemy was there.

She thought she had made a complete surprise attack, but she did not detect the tactile feedback that should have been present had the enemy not dodged it.

Llaf: “How did it go?”

Kiyo-Massive: “I missed…I think.”

Llaf: “It is not often that thou miss, Kiyo-dono.”

AnG: “Yeah, those boobs are really in the way…”

She glared over at Yasuharu and Yoshiaki and then heard a voice from below.

“W-wait, Kiyomasa-san, don’t move! The fastener will come undone!”

She had needed to get out here in a hurry, so she had let Katagiri attach her armor. But while Katagiri operated her waist hard point with one hand, he held his headphones to his ears while linking them to the ship’s sensors.

“…They’re gone?”

“Did they withdraw?”

When she asked that, Katagiri remained motionless to check what he could hear through the headphones.

But after a while…

“We should be fine. …I don’t hear the cries of the moving animals anymore.”

He stood up and spoke to everyone on the deck.

“I think we are safe for at least a range of 3km. So use this chance to-…”

The ship shook below their feet.

“Oh,” said everyone on the deck as they lightly spread their legs.

The ship had begun to rise. The reason why was shown on a large lernen figur that opened above the deck. The screen was made so the attacker in the starboard forest would be able to see it.

“Hashiba-sama, are you okay?”


Even if she was in front of everyone, Kiyomasa did not hesitate to show concern about Hashiba’s health.

Concern for one’s superiors was not something most armies would allow to be seen.

But it would be best if we shared this.

Everyone understood that Hashiba had great power and was very decisive. From there, they had to balance the scales between the people who could rely on her and those who could protect her.

And they chose…

“We can take command here, so please don’t push yourself too hard.”

“No, I-I’m fine. Testament. Um, I was just making some adjustments to my body, so I got some rest while preparing for that. And, um, everyone?”

“Testament!”

The response came not just from the deck but from within the ship as well.

Hashiba bowed in response.

“We seem to be in a worrisome spot for the other side. It would be dangerous to ascend too far, so we are going to shift the ships a bit to the southwest…to the left, okay?”

Sure enough, their view began to move to the side.

More than a wind, it was like a dense patch of air gently enveloped them as it passed from left to right. “Ohh,” said everyone on the deck.

“Hey, wait. The ship’s moving a lot more carefully than normal.”

“That’ll be because it’s on Hashiba-sama’s instructions.”

“I hope Takenaka-sama is okay.”

I’m fairly certain she is anything but okay, calmly decided Kiyomasa as she looked back toward the fleet behind them.

The 7 ships behind them were moving in the same way.

This would place the vast grassy field between them and the enemy in the starboard forest. If the enemy pursued the ships, they would have to expose themselves on the open field.

“Please stop the ships above the left forest such that the bottom of the ships just about touches the trees below. That will cost fuel, but we can now receive an ether fuel supply through a ley line divine transmission.”

Everyone looked up at that.

They were receiving an ether supply through the ley lines.

This was the system that Shibata’s forces had used to bring their Testamenta Arma into other nations and to receive emergency supplies. This would be crucial for the attack on Mouri and everyone had heard it was being prepared, but…

“We’re using it here, Hashiba-sama?”

“Testament. It was designed with times like this in mind. There is a supply source nearby.”

Once Hashiba said that, another lernen figur appeared to the right of hers.

It displayed a man with the starry sky in the background.

“Hi, good evening. Are you doing well?”

“Emperor-Chancellor…!”

It was Matthias.


Katagiri noticed that the fastener on Kiyomasa’s side had come undone and her skin was visible through the opening.

I should probably warn her about that…

He got down on one knee while wondering what to do.

Everyone on the deck did the same. Next to him, Kiyomasa set Caledfwlch aside and raised her head.

“Hashiba-sama, will this supply be provided by the Emperor-Chancellor?”

“Umm.”

Hashiba did not know where Matthias’s lernen figur was in relation to hers. She looked up, down, left, and right before finally looking back toward Kiyomasa.

“How should we do this, Matthias-san?”

“First, could you stop kneeling like that? You’re on alert, aren’t you? Also, y’know, when a puppet shows up, it’s just because he wants to be pampered. …Right now, I’m just greeting you concerning the ether supply you want and I’m the one that wants to bow my head low so I can continue being a puppet. If you don’t pick up on that, then I’m not really a puppet. Then I become a supplier or a proper emperor. Got that?”

“Testament,” said gold-winged Yoshiaki as she raised her long cannon and stood up. “That was good, Emperor. You did well. Now keep it up while you hand over the fuel.”

“Yes! That’s it! If you don’t keep acting like that, I won’t be a puppet emperor. You all need to treat me like that. Yes, I will be truly happy if I can be emperor in exchange for a bit of fuel. Being a puppet is nice and easy!! Call me as soon as you’re out of fuel or food.”

The Emperor-Chancellor is kind of amazing.

After all, Matthias’s behavior went far beyond modesty.

Katagiri had never seen anyone else who was so optimistically obsequious. But…

□□凸: “The fuel itself belongs to K.P.A. Italia, doesn’t it?”

AnG: “Testament. K.P.A. Italia’s trade cities are offering ether fuel in lieu of giving up control of their trade to the Emperor-Chancellor.”

Since Itsukushima had fallen, K.P.A. Italia lacked the military might to resist them. Instead, they were working to increase their trade power which, since the Age of Discovery, had fallen behind that of the nations bordering the ocean. They were shifting focus to local trade with the Middle East and the Mediterranean and they were gaining income from the brand-name products that had been developed as a result.

Money was preserving them. But…

Kuro-Take: “They are accumulating money through trade, and once they have enough money, they can buy ether fuel from other nations. That lets them adjust the amount of their own currency while also allowing them to support and donate to other nations without disturbing the other nations’ interest rates. …And by sending us the fuel they have bought, they don’t have to waste their own reserves.”

Merchants and nations had a variety of ways of describing this sort of thing, but one phrase in particular came to Katagiri’s mind.

Give and take.

Because Hashiba and Matthias had already prepared the infrastructure within M.H.R.R., the ether fuel supply and transportation could be carried out quite swiftly. When sending objects or information, it was often faster to route it through M.H.R.R. instead of sending it directly from K.P.A. Italia to Hexagone Française.

In this case, it was possible to receive supplies through a ley line divine transmission in an emergency.

They were waging war using the supply line that created.

Matthias was the central figure in this plan.

He was a puppet, but he put in all the effort and arrangements he needed to be a puppet.

He would often do as much work as a Cabinet Minister or Committee Head and claim it was all just “to be a puppet”. Even now, he seemed to be holding a diplomatic meeting, as Hashiba pointed out:

“Are you viewing the stars with Pope-Chancellor Olimpia, Matthias-san?”

“Testament.” Matthias smiled bitterly. “She said she wanted to perform the star fortunetelling method developed by Professor Galileo. And it turns out she does not know which stars are which.”

Honestly.

“The emperor is obsequiously teaching things to the pope… It’s almost like the pope recognizes my right as emperor thanks to this, which is simply wonderful. Even among puppets, I have made myself into a puppet.”

“Have the stars told you anything?”

Matthias answered Hashiba’s casual question with a slight smile.

“There is an omen in the west and the east.”

“An omen…?”

Katagiri spoke up without thinking, so Matthias turned toward him.

“Do you know what that means?’

“No, um…”

Today seemed to be his day for speaking with people ranked far above him. He longed to be back with that shrine maiden who was only a normal student.

But he also realized what Matthias meant.

When Matthias had asked if he knew what that meant, he had not been asking about the meaning of the omen. After all…

“That means you don’t know whether it was a good omen or an ill omen, doesn’t it?”

“Testament. Exactly right. Then do you know what that means?”

“Testament. It means the world is splitting in two. Most likely, your view of the stars is an objective one, not a subjective one. So I would suspect that, to the entire world, this can be seen as both a good omen and an ill omen, depending on your point of view.”

“Splendid.”

Katagiri blushed at Matthias’s praise.

He suppressed the urge to modestly reject the compliment. After all…

“As the puppet emperor, I am so glad I can act like a proper puppet by simply providing the facts without having to think about it myself. If I come off as too skilled, I would no longer be a puppet. But if I come off as incompetent, I would just be a nuisance to all of you. However,” he said. “So that I might remain a puppet for as long as possible, I am praying that this omen in the east and west is a good omen for all of you.”