Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 48
Chapter 48: Girl Approaching in Bed
How do you prove
It isn’t true
Instead of just believing it?
Point Allocation (An Oath)
Mitotsudaira was having trouble sleeping as the night wore on.
She was inside a tent.
A non-lit sign frame was opened at the top of the tent to display the stars above.
It was a moonless night. Perhaps because they were in the mountains, the stars were brighter and more numerous than on the Musashi.
Mitotsudaira was not a species whose body was activated by starlight, so she simply found the stars to be pretty and sensed how vast that starry expanse was.
She knew people had once lived, died, and passed things down within that expanse.
The people of that vast and unrestricted world now had trouble leaving the Far East. People called that the decline of the species, but they had also put together a plan to resist it.
“…The Anti-Decline Pro-Tuning Project.”
Thousands of years ago, the people had created the Testament and established those rules.
Thinking back, Mitotsudaira wondered if those people had been similar to Musashi now. After all, the rules they had established were a pain, but they had a clear goal.
…To make sure they don’t lose anything more.
Of course, people would be lost if the history recreation was strictly followed. But even the head of the Catholics, who were seen as history itself, had used the word “interpretations”.
When used in a positive way, interpretations were a way of saying you wanted to keep living.
The king who had used them and the princess who had been saved by them were next to her now.
Right next to her.
…Th-this does not put me “in front”!
She should have been lying above her king’s head, but Kimi had taken that spot first.
From there, the structure of the tent had forced her to place her blanket alongside him, which made her tremble. The princess and then Asama were on his other side.
Asama was occasionally turning over, but she was definitely awake. There was no doubt about it.
As for the idiot…
He was fast asleep and lightly snoring.
His arms were spread and the right one was extended toward her head, but was that what was known as a “pillow judge”? She noticed Horizon was carelessly doing the same thing in her sleep, but…
…Why are her eyes open!?
Mitotsudaira recalled hearing something about “security”, but did she always sleep like that? However…
While lying on her back, Mitotsudaira felt fingers on her left hip. That was the one positioned alongside him.
Five fingers crawled along her as if trying to pull up the hem of her pajamas.
Mitotsudaira’s heart began pounding. He was right there next to her, but…
…W-wasn’t his arm under my head!?
She quickly shook her head to check, but his arm had vanished.
Her head hit the floor hard enough to produce a dull thud even through the mat they had laid out.
As she held her breath and groaned, her squirming allowed the fingers on her hip to move inward.
The pajamas were pulled back to the left, exposing the area from her left thigh to her lower stomach.
…W-wait, my king!
A voice just about escaped her lips, but she suppressed it.
Horizon was asleep and Asama was working hard to pretend she was too. If she let out a strange moan here, those two would realize what he was up to and things might get very bloody. For him.
So should she do her best to suppress her voice?
A variety of thoughts came to mind, such as “why?” and “what is going on?”
She could have mentally prepared herself in a more normal situation, but doing it here would be an inexcusable act against her friends Asama, Horizon, and Kimi.
But at the same time, she was unable to resist.
She both wanted him to get it over with and to do it properly, but she also told herself this was best for her friends.
While making that excuse to herself, she spoke to Asama who was still awake.
If Asama noticed, Mitotsudaira could give up on some things and make some decisions about this.
There was a response.
Asama rolled over in a blatant act.
“Nn… No, Mito… Not so much…meat…”
She went limp in an impressive attempt to feign sleep.
What kind of character am I in her head?
But then the fingers suddenly resumed their attack. Inside Mitotsudaira’s pajamas they moved down and between her thighs where she was not wearing anything.
She tried to say “wait”. If he was going to go this far, she was going to have her say first. So she grabbed the arm, turned toward him, and pulled the arm out.
The arm completely detached.
She raised her hands within the dark tent and saw a disembodied right arm.
The forearm bent in the darkness as it swam through the air and clawed at nothing.
It was Horizon’s right arm.
Mitotsudaira suppressed a scream while holding up the arm that flailed around like a struggling insect.
After her misunderstanding and the resultant excitement, this was a letdown in a number of ways.
She crossed out everything in her mind and mentally prostrated herself before her king about ten times. Her mental image of him forgave her after that, so she managed to regain her cool.
…B-but what is going on!?
She realized that her king had not actually lowered the arm she had been using as a pillow.
A closer look showed he had stretched it upwards instead. She had not noticed it before because Kimi was holding it between her arms.
“Nn…foolish brother…no, quit teasing my hair.”
…What kind of dream are you having!?
Angry, Mitotsudaira yanked her king’s arm away and gave Kimi Horizon’s arm instead.
Kimi liked to hold things in her sleep, so she got a tight grip on Horizon’s arm which struggled to escape. But the idiot sister…
“Nn, no… C-c’mon, foolish brother, this isn’t time for the eel game…”
What kind of game is that? wondered Mitotsudaira, but it sounded like something those siblings really would do.
At any rate, Horizon’s arm and Kimi’s grasp canceled each other out.
Mitotsudaira took a breath and sat up, wondering what to do.
Asama raised a voiceless scream and sat up holding an arm.
The shrine maiden’s heart was clearly pounding, so Mitotsudaira held out her right hand.
“There’s someone over here who wants that, so I’ll take it.”
Asama caught her breath, fixed her clothing, and wrapped her blanket back around herself.
…Wow, that was a surprise.
She had known his arm was sticking out past Horizon so she could rest her head on it. So when she had felt fingers crawling across her chest, only one possibility had come to mind.
She felt silly for trying to suppress her voice like that.
He was simply asleep and so was Horizon. As she realized only she had been thrown off balance, a non-lit sign frame appeared next to her head below the blanket.
Silver Wolf: “Can you not sleep?”
Since she did not ask “Are you up?”, Mitotsudaira must have known all along. So…
Asama: “Can you not either?”
Silver Wolf: “Judge. I kind of want to say ‘as usual’. But what was that with Horizon’s arms…?”
Asama: “At night, her arms apparently detach to autonomously do housework and prepare for the morning. They were probably doing that like normal, but they didn’t know where they were and they started feeling around to figure that out. …They should automatically enter sleep mode once they run out of fuel, so we can leave them be.”
The sister was making odd noises, but they ignored it since she seemed to be enjoying herself. However…
Vice President: “Hey, is anyone awake?”
Scarred: “Judge. I am. Master Tenzou was teaching me about the stars.”
Mal-Ga: “You two sure are close for being in different tents.”
10ZO: “N-no, um, that’s…Is Toori-dono still alive!?”
Silver Wolf: “What do you think is happening over here!?”
Pondering that question too much would only increase her impurity meter, so Asama decided not to. When she poked her head out from under her blanket, she saw a few arguing sign frames next to his and her sleeping faces. It was only text, but it would still interrupt their sleep if they noticed. So…
Asama: “Toori-kun and Horizon are asleep, so please keep it down.”
The blanket made it hard to type, so she pulled the blanket toward the outer edge of the tent and opened a sign frame below that. And…
Asama: “Masazumi…did you need something?”
Vice President: “Yes, it’s about tomorrow.”
Masazumi gave her answer.
Vice President: “We will be entering the Sanada ruins tomorrow morning. Principal Sakai said Class 3-Plum’s mission for the study camp is to see ‘something’ in the depths of those ruins. We’re prepared for that and everyone understands what we’re doing, but…still.”
Asama understood why Masazumi was worried.
Asama: “I heard about that at dinner. Twenty-odd years ago, after Principal Sakai visited those ruins, they were given to a certain individual. But fifteen years ago, Principal Sakai destroyed them.”
And who was that individual?
Asama: “Matsudaira Nobuyasu. …Lord Motonobu’s younger brother.”
Masazumi sat up when she saw Asama’s words.
The sign frame on the tent ceiling displayed the sky above and that starlight illuminated some others who had sat up: Adele, Gin, and Narumi.
And a pale light revealed some silhouettes on the other side of the cloth wall to the left.
Vice President: “Crossunite’s group? What are you doing with a light on?”
10ZO: “W-well, Uqui-dono had captured a rhino beetle, but then it disappeared. Later, when we were eating snacks and discussing porn, Neshinbara-dono rolled over and we heard a crunch. …So we had to see whether it was a snack or if he was a bug murderer.”
What an unpleasant kind of excitement. But…
Vice President: “Oh, right. It doesn’t seem like much to Futayo or me since we grew up in Mikawa, but things like rhino beetles are a rare sight for the rest of you.”
That would explain why Futayo and Mary had been the ones in charge of fishing. However…
Vice President: “I’m pretty nervous about this ruins expedition, but the rest of you are probably fairly used to that kind of thing.”
Gold Mar: “Yeah, Musashi is kind of like a dungeon when you go deep underground.”
Mal-Ga: “And with mysterious phenomena, you get to battle monsters from time to time.”
I see, thought Masazumi as she remembered something like that had happened in the past. In that case…
Vice President: “Can I leave this to all of you?”
Silver Wolf: “Have you forgotten we defeated a Terrestrial Dragon last night?”
She had not.
But they had to fight two Celestial Dragons in a row next time. And in their territory.
“How can she sleep?”
Gin was talking about Futayo who was asleep with Tonbo Spare in her arms. She had let her hair down and she was barely contained in her blanket anymore.
“She’s always been able to sleep anywhere.”
“I’m not sure if I should call that hardy or insensitive…”
Gin must have had a variety of thoughts on the matter.
But then Narumi faced Masazumi.
“To be honest, there’s a lot I don’t understand about what your Principal said. I understand the things like Lord Nobuyasu’s suicide that were in the Testament, but what exactly are these Sanada ruins?”
“I don’t understand any of that either…”
Masazumi thought over what Sakai had said and what the Testament said.
Vice President: “This goes back to twenty or so years ago.”
“At the time, I passed through here to pick a fight with Innocentius.”
A clearing with an excellent view of the night sky had four wooden cabins with “School Faculty Only” signs hanging on them.
Sakai sat at one of the wooden tables and chairs set up around that clearing. The table had a sake pitcher and a sake glass on it.
“And you know what happened then, ‘Musashi’-san?”
He was speaking to a sign frame on the table. It displayed “Musashi” who was operating a few different sign frames.
“The records from the time say you went out of your way to move from Mikawa to the Edo region. From there, you circled around to the north in order to hit K.P.A. Italia from behind. Over.”
“Right, right. I went to Edo for some fun. While Ii, Sakakibara, and the others were having fun at Edo’s Akihabara, I snuck out through here. And I was caught by Sanada.”
“Sanada was having some internal trouble at the time, so they needed some outside help.” Sakai took a sip of sake. “That was a difficult time.”
“The records say you mostly traveled along the surface, but couldn’t you have used an aerial ship? Over.”
“Yeah, but I wasn’t too fond of aerial ships back then.”
“Ho ho? Over.”
Oh, that speech style, thought Sakai with a hand on his chin. He also grabbed some of the leftover yakiniku chicken that he had prepared as a snack.
“But, well, that was the first time. And that’s when the current ‘ruins’ were opened up. They were placed under Edo’s management.”
“And Edo’s manager at the time was…”
“Matsudaira Nobuyasu. Lord-sensei’s younger brother. The Testament said he was supposed to live at Okazaki Castle, but Mikawa’s neutrality requirements were really strict and a relative wasn’t allowed in neighboring Okazaki. That’s why he ended up in charge of Edo where Matsudaira would be later on. But that’s why we never had any trouble going to Edo for some fun,” said Sakai. “Lord-sensei and Brother-sensei apparently used those ruins for a lot of things, but I’m something of a delinquent.”
“I am well aware. Over.”
“Judge,” said Sakai as he nodded and looked up into the sky.
It was night. The stars were visible in the heavens, but he looked straight up, as if to look past even them.
“And that all led to Brother-sensei’s suicide.”
Vice President: “All of you should more or less understand that part.”
Masazumi saw everyone’s reactions to what she said.
Silver Wolf: “Judge, I have heard about that. Principal Sakai was a leading member of Mikawa but he failed to stop Lord Nobuyasu’s suicide, so he was demoted and sent to Edo…”
Smoking Girl: “How is someone in Mikawa supposed to stop someone in Edo from committing suicide?”
Naomasa seemed awfully fired up, but was that because they were speaking late at night?
This was a silent sign frame, so Masazumi could hear the insects chirping, the occasional rustling of underbrush from a mountain animal, and the waterfalls.
The surface is noisier than I remember, she realized. And…
Vice President: “But did anyone think that thirty-year-old story was connected to a fifty-year-old one?”
Vice President: “Fifty years ago, the early recreation of a Far Eastern Catholic rebellion was held at Shimabara. And twenty years later – which is thirty years ago now, okay? – the remnants of those Catholics held a second rebellion in a certain place.”
And that place was…
Vice President: “That rebellion thirty years ago was held at the Sanada Ruins we’re visiting tomorrow.”
“I still don’t really understand,” said Sakai. “According to Sasuke and the others, after their loss 800 years ago, they lost again 400 years ago and the dragons leaving Europe split between the east and the west. The ones that scattered in the east were Sasuke and the others. And the ones that scattered in the west went to the warmer Shimabara region after the Harmonic Unification War. So the dragons that lost yet again during the Shimabara Rebellion fifty years ago came here. Sasuke and the others said they let those dragons live in the ruins that had been left alone since they had first moved to Sanada. But…”
“But what? Over.”
“Well, you see.” Sakai scratched his head. “There’s a lot I don’t understand. For example, it wasn’t just dragons that fought in the Shimabara Rebellion. But when I visited twenty-odd years ago, the only survivors were a dozen or so Terrestrial Dragons. That was after Lord-sensei’s second suppression, so at the time, I just thought that was how it was.”
“…Are you suggesting they left to go somewhere else?”
“…I have no proof, though. Still, Sasuke and the others had to have known that Lord-sensei had ‘suppressed’ them thirty years before. Masayuki-san and the others didn’t interfere so as not to upset Lord-sensei, but I’m sure Sasuke and the others understood the truth of the matter. They didn’t tell me…but maybe they will now that they’re facing their final days. Is it wrong of me to think of it that way?”
“That is no more than the masochism of someone who is barely involved anymore,” said “Musashi”. “You said Sasuke-sama and the others entered the ruins and the Shimabara survivors used the ruins after Sasuke-sama’s group moved to Sanada. However, what were they doing there until they began a rebellion and were suppressed thirty years ago? Over.”
“I don’t know. It seems Sasuke and the others don’t know either. And after the suppression, the survivors living in the ruins…well, let’s just say you couldn’t call them survivors anymore.”
Hearing that, “Musashi” went through the motions of a sigh.
“I more or less know the reason why, but in a way, this means it was your fault that we lost some valuable witnesses of history. Over.”
“As I said, I just thought that was how it was.”
“This time, it looks like it’s Sasuke’s group that wants things to be that way.”
On the other side of the clearing, Oriotorai and Sanyou walked in front of a wood cabin. They were carrying a telescope bearing the Fino Alba logo, so they were probably on their way to do some astronomical observation.
Oriotorai gave him a light bow, so Sakai waved back.
“…For the rest, it would probably be faster to go ask them yourself.”
“I do not understand why you will not tell me. Over.”
“Yeah, I suppose not.” Sakai rested his head in his hand. “The problem is I don’t know where it begins or where it leads. Does it mean I’m getting old that I can’t stand not having a clear picture of that?”
“I believe rejecting the unreasonable is a privilege of the young,” said “Musashi”. “Thus, as I am zero-years-old after my renewal, I will reject your unreasonable refusal. You do not have to tell anyone else, but please tell me what you know. Over.”
Scarred: “There are some things about that I don’t understand.”
Tenzou nodded in agreement with Mary. Next to him, Noriki was silently lying down and looking up at the stars. Neshinbara and Urquiaga were searching for the rhino beetle, but Tenzou could not care less.
He was not sure if he was right or wrong to be joining a meeting so late at night, but…
10ZO: “What don’t you understand, Mary-dono?”
Scarred: “Judge. From what I heard, Edo was being managed by…Lord Nobuyasu was it? But according to the records, it wasn’t him that suppressed the Second Shimabara Rebellion thirty years ago.”
Tenzou nodded at Mary’s words.
This is what was left in the official records, he thought as he gave the name.
10ZO: “Lord Matsudaira Motonobu. So thirty years ago, it was Horizon’s father, Lord Motonobu, who managed Edo and not his younger brother, Lord Nobuyasu.”
Unturning: “Maybe he suppressed the Second Shimabara Rebellion and then left Edo with his brother. The official records say the Testament Union arranged it, but I think we can assume he did it himself as the Yes Man.”
This would be a somewhat awkward topic if Horizon-dono was awake, thought Tenzou.
But saying it anyway may have been Narumi’s way of doing things.
And her view was not wrong.
…If he suppressed a Catholic rebellion, the primarily-Catholic Testament Union wouldn’t let him hear the end of it.
So he had abandoned his control of Edo and sent in a close relative instead.
But, thought Tenzou.
10ZO: “I’m surprised that was enough to placate the Catholics after their own had been harmed.”
Marube-ya: “What!? Are we talking about money!?”
Gold Mar: “Maybe it had to do with how many dragons were in the Shimabara forces?”
Novice: “No, I don’t think it was because there were so few humans at Shimabara. …I hope our visit to the ruins sheds some light on this issue.”
Tenzou turned toward Neshinbara.
“Did you find the rhino beetle?”
“Yeah. Your drinking water must be nutritious, Crossunite-kun, because it was in your cup.”
“I-I was just drinking from that!”
“Now, now.” Neshinbara held his hands out to stop Tenzou before standing up and opening the tent’s entrance to let the bug out.
Novice: “By my estimation, our visit to the ruins tomorrow will amount to a hiking trip. But I can’t say much of anything about the battles once we are there.”
“Besides,” he said.
Novice: “Remember what Principal Sakai said? In accordance with Lord Nobuyasu’s will after his suicide, the ruins were destroyed. …There won’t be much for us to see. So the battles are going to be very localized.”
Tachibana Wife: “That will be for us to decide.”
“But,” continued Muneshige.
Tachibana Husband: “What is inside these ruins?”
Someone responded to that question.
Asama: “There’s a bit of a problem there.”
Asama typed out her words while lying on her side.
Behind her, Mitotsudaira was awake with him and Horizon between. She could sense the girl’s presence.
Asama: “Calling them ruins might make you think they’re from the Age of the Gods, but it seems the Sanada ruins are not that old. Shinto has no records of or registration for them.”
Silver Wolf: “? Then are they historical ruins?”
All this terminology is confusing, she thought, but there was no helping that.
She tried to keep it as simple as possible.
Asama: “We’ve heard of nonexistent ruins before, haven’t we? The Divinely Ordained Prayer Academies. …Those academies, such as the one below Novgorod, exist across the Far East. Couldn’t one of those be the Sanada ruins?”
Asama: “Remember what the Prince of Orange said before he disappeared below Novgorod? Thirty years ago, there was a two-year period where talented people from around the world were gathered in an attempt to create a Testament Cross-Borders Unit. And…”
Asama: “There they met the Princess. …Couldn’t that have happened at the Sanada ruins we’re about to visit?”
I see, thought Masazumi. The date of thirty years ago and the idea of an academy both match.
…Then is that really what this is?
If so, what were they doing there? she wondered. But…
“What is it, Vice President?” asked Adele with her hair down.
“I feel like something is out of place or doesn’t quite fit together.”
She could not quite place her finger on it, but she felt like something did not fit or they were overlooking something. And it seemed the others felt the same.
Bell: What…is it? I feel like…we’re missing…something.”
After a while, Mukai spoke.
Bell: “Because…Principal Sakai…said he doesn’t…understand.”
That’s it, thought Masazumi.
Sakai kept saying the same thing about this.
…He doesn’t understand.
Sakai had seen inside the ruins, so if Asama was right, he would have “understood” once he received their information from Novgorod.
Then what was it Sakai did not understand? There was one thing they could say.
Asama: “Does this mean we’re standing at the entrance to the mystery just like Principal Sakai?”
Asama felt a twisting in her chest.
…We can’t jump to conclusions.
What had happened below Novgorod had been submitted to IZUMO and IZUMO was investigating it.
She had been the one to put together the report on what they had seen there, so it was easy for this kind of situation to remind her of it.
But if she just assumed she was right or made speculations based on other speculations, her reasoning would stray further and further from reality.
She could not let that happen.
She was still not suited for these kinds of discussions when she was not simply reciting historical facts. That realization made her sigh.
But in the end, they were all the same.
She looked back to the divine chat:
Uqui: “There is no point in wasting our effort discussing things we don’t know and things we might learn tomorrow. We should get to sleep.”
Some agreed with him and others continued chatting. Mary and Tenzou resumed discussing the stars, and Asama’s tent…
Asama: “Mito, are you still up?”
Silver Wolf: “Y-yes, I am.”
Then let’s talk about something, she decided.
But she heard someone stirring.
Toori had woken up.
Mitotsudaira was lying on her side with her back to him, but he was right there.
She panicked but tensed up so she would not make a noise.
She held the blanket between her arms and hid the sign frame behind it. Asama had to be doing the same thing.
Behind her, he sat up and took a sleepy breath.
The deep breath told her he was still half asleep.
But then she heard his voice.
“Oh, that’s not good…”
Eh? she thought. What’s not good? And then…
With that, she felt something warm on her body.
It was his blanket.
He must have turned it sideways so it fit across her, her king, Horizon, and Asama. After adjusting it, he laughed bitterly. He had realized their feet stuck out now that it was on its side.
“I’m useless,” he said with self-deprecation in his voice.
Mitotsudaira mentally replied to what his comment meant.
She considered getting up.
She wanted to tell him that was not true.
She wanted to tell him he was doing more than enough already.
“I need to pull it together.”
Mitotsudaira could not say anything to her king’s words.
What did he have to pull together?
He had Horizon, he had his sister, and now he had two extra people with him.
He’s already accepted our impossibilities, so what more is he planning to accept?
But he said nothing more and collapsed back down.
He spread his arms, lay on his back, and bent his head back.
Before long, he was snoring again.
Mitotsudaira cried as she listened to him breathe.
She felt these tears were selfish and deceptive, but while thinking about that natural breathing behind her, she allowed the drops to freely flow sideways from her eyes.
The edge of the blanket did not fully cover her, but when she pulled on it…
Something was holding it in place on the other end.
That something was Asama. She pulled back as if to answer Mitotsudaira’s tug.
And Mitotsudaira realized this blanket was an indulgence. It was normally his, but he had given it to them and he was accepting some difficulties in order to accept them.
Mitotsudaira had trouble indulging in things.
But if her king was giving it to her and accepting some difficulties in exchange…
…A knight must not indulge in anything that makes her king feel like that.
Mitotsudaira decided that was why she was crying.
…From now on…
I need to work hard enough that my king will not receive any blame or difficulties even if he lets his knight indulge in something like this.
That was what she thought.
She wiped away her tears while still pretending to sleep.
She turned over to face her king and moved closer to him.
She scooted over to her king so that the edge of the blanket would cover as much of her as possible.
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