Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 49
Chapter 49: Inspired Boy in a Soundless Space
Instead of trying to do my best
I want to do everything I can
No matter how it makes me look
Point Allocation (How did it make me look?)
Steam filled a closed room.
It was a bath. The walls and floor of the thirty-square-meter room were a pale blue.
But the bath was not functioning at the moment. The tap’s water had stopped and something stood out more than the steam.
“…I just can’t seem to narrow it down any further.”
There was a total of fifteen lernen figur spread out in every direction, including the vertical directions.
All of them were facing a boy who sat a bit back from the center of the bathtub.
It was Katagiri. He sat on the edge of the tub with a towel around his waist and his eyes closed.
A pair of headphones hung down from his neck and that word triggered some noise.
All of the lernen figur facing him began to vibrate and they reproduced the sound data recorded from every direction.
It only lasted an instant.
The noise they produced was a quiet one.
And Katagiri’s right hand suddenly trembled.
Then a loud sound played.
It was the sound of leaves. But the sound of branches rubbing together and leaves rustling was so loud that it destroyed the air. It reverberated through the bath like an exploding stream of sand.
His words erased all of that noise.
Then he placed the headphones on his ears and began controlling the lernen figur.
“I think this is about the spot…”
He checked a time graph of the volume level displayed as a wave. He zoomed in on one spot and stretched out the time scale. As he did so, he used a few Testament Kunst to apply acoustic spells that cleared up the sound.
But he made it too clear.
He could return it to normal by canceling one of the acoustic Testament Kunst, but that would mean wasting a spell. Catholic spells were one-use. He felt bad about wasting it, but he removed it anyway.
Once he did, one wave shot upwards on the lernen figur.
He confirmed that the waveform was a long trapezoid that rose just a bit to the right.
Katagiri removed his headphones as he raised both arms overhead.
Banzai. After a pause like that, he collapsed backwards. The headphones fell to the floor, but his body made a wet slapping sound as it hit the water inside the bathtub.
Katagiri let his upper body fall back-first into the bathwater, but he did not sink. He kept his legs tense to support himself so he could lie just a bit below the warm water’s surface.
He had done what he could.
When he had seen Fukushima and Kiyomasa’s battle that morning and heard the result, he had felt motivation build inside him.
…I have to do something.
So he had begun investigating something that had caught his attention the night before.
“I’m the only one that can do this.”
He thought back to what the Asama shrine maiden had told him. This ability was his alone and it was something other than negotiating.
“The highly-sensitive detection and comprehension of sound.”
This ability was necessary for stealth cruising and enemy detection. On an aerial ship, the automatons would handle it, but it was his role within the Ten Spears.
He was sometimes thankful for his excellent senses, but it was nothing but trouble at other times. But at the moment…
“Hundred Crest Land Survey.”
A Klassisch Kunst lernen figur shattered and ripples appeared on the water’s surface.
The patterns on the water stroked across his body, but…
As he hummed, they slowly swelled up and took form.
This was the Hundred Crest Land Survey.
The spell gathered the sounds he heard inside himself and gave them form outside of him. It generally took the form of wind or light and it could be used to provide instructions or messages to his companions under most any circumstances. However…
“I knew it.”
The corners of his lips rose as he looked up to see a feminine silhouette.
The bathwater rose up to create the image of a girl that filled his mind.
The overall form was a bit unclear, but there were definite breasts and the face and neck were recognizable. He knew who this girl was, but…
“Why am I so preoccupied with someone I only spoke to for a few minutes?”
He did not understand.
So he reached out his right hand to figure it out. He tried touching her as she looked down at him from the air.
She was bathwater. She felt just like water with a warmth similar to human skin. However…
He was a little surprised that he was trying to touch her.
This information came from inside him. It was meant to be sent to someone else. Since it had come from him, it would have the “correct” form from his point of view.
So there was nothing he could confirm or learn by touching it.
But touching her had filled him with the same sense of liberation as completing a task.
“I really do want to know more.”
This answer came from inside him, but he still had to touch it to learn more about it.
His motivation itself seemed clear enough.
“Something only I can do.”
She may have only thought she was giving him some simple advice. A shrine maiden would also be consulted through ema and prayers. She may have only given him a boilerplate response.
But if those words hit the mark, they could still change something.
Katagiri destroyed the bathwater.
He then worked at using the steam to create a different internal answer.
“A diagram of this morning’s attack.”
The density of the steam created a clear image of the pool where Katagiri had been and all the way to the gods of war making their charge on the first ship.
It was scaled for viewing from his position lying back in the bath. It was also compressed in each direction, but the front to back compression was especially large. The steam images clearly extended into the distance like a row of kakiwari backdrops in Kabuki.
Some parts of the festival were a little poorly made, but he would be able to make a better version using the ship’s external observation data.
With that, the steam began to move. The floating smoke accurately represented the movements of the gods of war and the opposing movements of Fukushima and Kiyomasa.
…Their battles are never normal.
Humans had defeated gods of war.
Gods of war were meant to be used against opponents too powerful for humans or to utterly rout a human force.
The beings meant to be denied by gods of war had instead denied the gods of war by force.
At least two of his companions could be described in such unbelievable terms.
In fact, almost all of the Ten Spears were at that level.
“…Fukushima-san and Kiyomasa-san weren’t satisfied, were they?”
Not even he fully understood how Katou Danzou’s attack had worked. At some points his perception had not matched what was really happening and at other times it had. Without a tactical point of view or an expert opinion on spells, he could not even tell whether or not he was fooling himself here.
But as the replayed battle reached its conclusion, Fukushima was weeping and Kiyomasa was injured.
…They poured everything they had into what they could do there, but we still lost.
That brought a thought to Katagiri’s mind.
“I need to do everything I can.”
His Hundred Crest Land Survey was a spell for replay analysis and information transmission.
But there had to be lots of things he could do with that. And…
“Will the things I can do be enough to support everyone?”
He had to phrase it as a question because he was uncertain.
However, he had no one to ask and no one to give him an answer. So…
The steam gathered together and once more created an image of her.
That girl showed him the way to solving his usual problems.
…If I could speak with her…
He wanted to tell her he had started giving these things some thought and doing what he could.
It might be too late now that his companions had lost and he did not know if this was the right answer, but…
“I’ve started,” he said to the smiling girl made of bathwater. “Huh?”
But then he realized the image was different from earlier.
Katagiri realized the breast size was different.
…Huh? This puts her on the same level as Kiyomasa-san or Nagayasu-san…
What am I doing? he thought.
This was rude to everyone involved. He could not be doing this.
So he worked to change the image.
Now she was the same size as Fukushima.
That was not good either.
He was apparently hesitant to create the correct answer, so he was drawing on other nearby memories.
He could not keep doing this, so…
…W-was it about halfway in between…?
He tried it.
It worked well.
Okay, he told himself with a nod as he reached out toward the bathwater creation.
This isn’t why I drew out the correct answer.
…Then why did I?
To enjoy looking at her? That seemed wrong somehow too. No, if he had drawn out the correct answer in order to convey his thoughts, there was only one way to describe it:
Yes, this is faith.
That’s a good excuse.
No, I can’t call it an excuse. This is my faith. Yes, that’s what it is.
And it’s a proper faith. There are those pedophiles who call themselves life worshipers, but this is completely different.
…After all, my religion believes in getting advice from lewd and busty shrine maidens!
He was conflicted.
That isn’t right at all. Lewd and busty have nothing to do with my faith.
Yes, I’m just worshiping an individual. That’s all it has to be.
Okay, he told himself with a nod as he reached out toward the bathwater creation.
“…I mustn’t touch the target of my faith!!”
Even the Catholics got in arguments over whether or not you could kiss a cross. Some factions used the kiss as a sign of affection, but that led some of them to take that sign further to show just how deep their affection was. They would stick it in their mouth and suck on it. There were far too many cases of people taking it way too far and needing a trip to a medical facility.
Crosses are dangerous, but water should be fine.
That’s not the point. He waved his hand, but then his feet slipped.
His upper body sank into the water.
Oh, no, he thought as he quickly tensed his legs.
His long, wet hair felt heavy as he formed a bridge with his legs a bit higher up.
And just then…
“Katagiri-sama? I hate to do this two days in a row, but we just finished our recovery interview. It would be great if we could take a bath now.”
Kiyomasa and Fukushima opened the door to the bath.
Kiyomasa saw it while pulling on Fukushima’s hand.
She had opened the door to the bath. It was the officer’s bath, but on this ship, that effectively made it exclusive to the Ten Spears.
It was always at the top of the list of places the warriors wanted to see, but…
She saw something on the tiled edge of the bath.
Katagiri was naked, his legs were spread toward them, and he was leaning back into the bath.
It was an impressive bridge.
Kiyomasa slammed the door shut.
“Wh-what was that for, Kiyo-dono!?”
Kiyomasa answered Fukushima’s question with a smile and a shake of the head.
“He should not be doing that.”
“Eh? D-doing what?”
“He should not be doing that even if he has a good reason, but he especially should not if he does not have a good reason.”
“What are thou talking about? Thou need to tell me if you want me to understand.”
“Good point…” Kiyomasa placed a hand on her chin. “To put it delicately…”
She could not exactly say he had his legs spread while he performed a bridge and thrust himself toward the sky. The thought alone was making her blush. However…
…He is a boy, after all.
They might mess around like that when they were under a lot of stress.
But that pointed to a certain fact.
…Something unpleasant must have happened.
It may have been something today or it may have been something from earlier. They had just had their exams, so it was not too surprising that a teenage boy might be acting oddly.
He was stressed and he had a lot on his mind.
How did you describe a situation like that? After seeing that scene, Kiyomasa blushed and could not look Fukushima in the eye as she answered.
“Katagiri-sama is feeling down…”
Huh? thought Fukushima with a tilt of her head.
Kiyomasa was blushing and had tightly closed her mouth. She seemed to have some tears in the corners of her eyes above the flushed cheeks. However…
…Katagiri-dono is feeling down?
What does that mean? wondered Fukushima.
Today, she and Kiyomasa had sort of won and sort of lost.
So it was them that should be feeling down, not Katagiri.
…So why Katagiri-dono?
However, one look at Kiyomasa told her the other girl would not be saying it again.
So Fukushima thought about it. Could she have misheard? Or had a foreigner like Kiyomasa misspoken?
But what had she meant to say? Fukushima tried to think of a similar phrase.
Given the location – the bath – Fukushima figured it out. And out of concern for Kiyomasa, she decided to continue while using the term the other girl had used.
“So when thou said Katagiri-dono was feeling down, you meant feeling himself down below?”
Eh? thought Kiyomasa.
Something seemed off about the way Fukushima said that.
But a Far Easterner like Fukushima would know the language better than her. So…
“Y-yes. Testament, Katagiri-sama was feeling down. While alone in the bath.”
“Alone in the bath!?” Fukushima raised her voice, but then gasped. “No, that might be most convenient for a boy.”
“Does being alone in the bath help when feeling down?”
“Indeed. Inside his room, he could receive an emergency call that forces him to stop before he is finished.”
That’s true, thought Kiyomasa.
“A rude call while feeling down alone in your room would be distracting…”
“Yes, and there would be little point in feeling down while distracted… Oh, not that I am the type to, um, feel down. I am only guessing.”
Kiyomasa laughed at what Fukushima said.
“You say that, Fukushima-sama, but aren’t you the type to feel down in secret?”
“Testament. In secret.”
Fukushima gave her a shocked look.
“Well, um, isn’t it usually something done in secret?”
“Hm? Well, I suppose it is largely a mental thing.”
“True. There is, um, a largely mental aspect to it.”
“Testament,” agreed Kiyomasa.
Spiritual topics were her specialty, so she said more in order to cheer up Fukushima.
“Fukushima-sama, I know you can’t control when you feel down, but if it is ever too much to bear, I might be able to help.”
“Are thou…sure that would be the best solution…?”
“Yes, I would love to help out.”
“Thou would love to!?”
Then the door to the changing room opened and a skinny figure with six black wings stepped in.
“Huh? Kiyo-chan, Fuku-chan, I thought you were injured.”
It was Wakisaka, #5 of the Ten Spears.
Wakisaka saw Kiyomasa and Fukushima turn back to give her a shushing gesture.
She tilted her head in confusion, so Kiyomasa explained.
“Katagiri-sama is feeling down inside there.”
Eh? thought Wakisaka as she stopped removing her summer uniform.
“…Is that supposed to be a euphemism? Surely there’s a better way of putting that.”
“But I feel bad for Katagiri-sama.”
“Yeah, you don’t want to be seen doing that. Then again, it’s his own fault for doing it here.”
Wakisaka decided to handle this as calmly as possible.
Now it was Fukushima’s turn to tilt her head.
“Wakisaka-dono. …Which way did thou mean that?”
She had no idea what that meant. But it implied she had to choose between a number of options.
What choice was there to make about Katagiri’s biological reaction?
Oh, I get it, she realized.
“If you’re asking if we should allow this or not, I guess I’d go with not.”
Kiyomasa was flabbergasted.
Wakisaka and her sister Yoshiaki always seemed somewhat strict. She had known them for a long time, but that strictness tended to be directed toward each other. However…
“Wakisaka-sama. …Isn’t it a little strict to not allow him to feel down?”
“Well, um, wouldn’t you normally kick someone out for doing that? It’s a definite red card.”
…She’s that strict…!?
Just as Kiyomasa thought that, a gold-winged figure entered after Wakisaka.
It was Yoshiaki. She loosened the collar of her uniform as she spoke.
“Fukushima, I’ve finished the arrangements for Ichinotani, so…huh? What are you three doing?”
“W-well.” Kiyomasa could not hide how shaken she was. “Katagiri-sama is feeling down inside, but Wakisaka-sama said he should be kicked out for it.”
A question mark formed in Yoshiaki’s mind.
…Something weird is happening again.
But she more or less understood. Most likely, Kiyomasa was correct about the current situation. Probably, anyway.
Katagiri was feeling down for once. She thought that was a good thing for them all.
But just like her, Wakisaka could be strict with others. Looking at it one way, feeling down on the battlefield could be dangerous.
This is so silly, she thought as she took Kiyomasa’s side.
“This sounds like a pain, so here’s a solution for Katagiri feeling down: How about someone give him some advice or help him out?”
I should have known Yoshiaki-sama would know what to do, thought Kiyomasa.
“Th-that’s right. Since Katagiri-sama is feeling down, he could probably use some advice.”
Fukushima stared at her in shock.
“Thou want to give him advice!?”
“Yes, I do.”
Was that question really worth leaning forward for? But Yoshiaki nodded and answered it.
“Katagiri is a boy, so he’d probably love some advice from a girl.”
“Testament.” Wakisaka nodded. “That’s kind of embarrassing, but that would probably be best for Kacky.”
But she then brought a hand to her chin and asked Yoshiaki a question.
“But what kind of advice?”
“Angie, if a boy is feeling down, wouldn’t he be worried about how to make a comeback?”
“…You mean how to stand back up again?”
“Wakisaka-dono! That is far too blunt…!”
“No,” said Kiyomasa. “We need to make sure he can stand up again and again.”
“…Kiyo-chan, what if Kacky dies?”
Kiyomasa fell silent because she had not considered that. So…
“W-we can all help out to make sure that doesn’t happen…”
“Kiyo-dono…help out how?”
He probably wouldn’t like it, but still, she thought as she gave her answer.
“We listen to what he has to say, give him some hands-on guidance, straighten him out, and help him grow big and strong,” she said. “We all need to share responsibility here.”
“I’m pretty sure Kacky would be the only one taking responsibility after that.”
“What are you talking about, Angie?” asked Yoshiaki. “We already have that kind of bond.”
“True. Only together do we form the one and only Ten Spears.”
“Thinking about it now, that catchphrase puts a lot of weight on our shoulders…” said Fukushima.
Then they heard a knock on the door to the bath.
“W-wait! Why are all of you here now!? Didn’t I tell you stop being so lax with the bath order!?”
It was Katagiri. Everyone exchanged a glance before answering.
“…If you’re ever having trouble, you can confide in us.”
“I haven’t told you anything yet and you’re already spreading weird rumors about me!” he shouted. “Anyway, I’ve figured out some things about Hexagone Française’s tactics, so meet me in the briefing room later!”
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