Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 53
Chapter 53: Dancer on the Round Stage
It is a lot like taking each other’s hand
A lot like a bond
But very important
Point Allocation (Certainty)
Gin endured the attack by using her arms as a large shield.
This was the Celestial Dragon’s counterattack. They had launched a cutting and artillery attack during their initial charge, but the dragon had responded with a high-speed tackle.
She of course had her arms set to full anti-shock mode. Similarly, the anti-impact divine protection was fully active. Once her body was lifted from the ground, she fired on him with Arcabuz Cruz and used the recoil to move back.
…But he still hit me with this much force!?
She slammed back-first into the wall.
She did not curl up her back. If she failed to endure the impact, her spine could shift out of place or even break. She distributed the impact across the entire surface of her back and even slammed her arms against the wall to let all the remaining force escape into the wall. However…
Her shoulder joints screamed in pain.
Because her arms were prosthetic, the shoulder joints stuck out farther than the flesh in the front and back.
When hitting something back-first, those parts would hit first and the joint would shift or come off altogether. So she had tried to ensure it all hit at the same time. But…
…The harder material makes this much of a difference!?
The solid parts sent a powerful vibration into her bones. She normally could not feel it, but when the joints hit the stone wall at such great speed, it was like taking a hammer blow to each shoulder.
When the tingling pain spread across her entire body, even a great warrior like her felt on the verge of vomiting.
From the very first move, I’m completely at his mercy, she thought.
She finally managed to get a breath out and she fell down the stone wall.
It was a two meter drop. That height was nothing for someone who had jumped around the Musashi for training, but her knees wobbled and…
They held. She was the Peerless in the West’s wife. She was dripping with sweat and the focus of her eyes wandered, but she managed to speak.
What she had needed to protect was in her arms.
“Musashi Vice Chancellor. …We endured the enemy’s attack.”
“Well done, Gin-dono.”
With that, Futayo took a step away from Gin’s arms.
Gin responded with her eyebrows raised.
“I was only repaying you for catching me earlier. In other words…”
She stepped forward.
Futayo tried to support her, but Gin ignored it as she walked ahead.
She would not rest her back on the wall. She simply continued forward and more light returned to her eyes with each step.
“Now we are even, Musashi Vice Chancellor. I will not save you the next time. …You need to figure out why the enemy is unharmed even after a hit from your cutting power.”
Splendid, thought Futayo. So this is a name inheritor.
…No, this is Tachibana Gin…!
Up ahead, the white dragon named Sasuke slid his body along while he crouched low and aimed his right foreleg toward them. Since he swung his tail to keep his balance, he would be charging along an arc instead of a straight line.
This would be difficult to intercept. And…
“Here he comes! Gin-dono!”
Gin saw an explosion.
It was a white burst of speed and a white collision. At that size, the word “tackle” was no longer appropriate.
It was an explosion of power plowing toward them.
Realizing this would be impossible to stop, Gin focused on evasion instead.
She summoned an Arcabuz Cruz and used its blast as a thruster to leap right.
She moved away from Futayo. Just as she thought she had put a decent distance between them, a gust of wind passed by to her left.
Even Gin’s eyes could only see it as a white wind and it was accompanied by a seemingly solid surge of air.
But the dragon used more than just speed and wind.
…This is the identity of the previous attack!
Gin made a prediction about the seemingly invisible attack that had slammed them into the wall.
She had been hit by this once before. But instead of fearing it, she worked to understand it.
So she responded based on her prediction.
She spun around a bit and used Arcabuz Cruz to jump down and to the right.
As her knees slid across the dirt floor, something scraped along her cheek. And…
A horizontal blast of wind struck her entire body.
She was hit, but it was not a direct hit. That was…
She clearly saw it for just a moment. Something like a giant white whip had straightened out as it raced forward.
That swinging movement could easily overtake the white dragon’s charge.
But Gin knew why he did it. If his tail was extended behind him, it would act as a weight and hinder his speed when he accelerated forward.
So he swung his tail forward. And he charged forward at the same time. He initially accelerated using his great strength, and once that lifted him from the ground…
…The forward momentum of his tail gives him a second burst of acceleration…!
That was why she had so much difficulty reading his movements.
There was no point in reading his movements when he could reaccelerate that giant body in midair while already moving so quickly. The two girls felt like they were moving quickly, but from his perspective…
“He’s just using a ridiculous amount of speed to guarantee he can crush us…!”
Gin raised her voice and was blown away by the wind, but she also took action.
She used her Arcabuz Cruz as a thruster to slide along the ground while…
She fired thrice toward the white dragon as he passed by.
Gin used the shells as a foundation to view the white dragon’s path.
How would the enemy respond to shells from Cuatro Cruz which was designed as a siege weapon?
…Will he dodge…!?
He did not.
The white dragon kept his back turned to the high-speed shells and took a zigzagging saw blade of a path.
He was not just moving out of their way. He made a game of passing between them and letting them fly past.
Gin sensed the enemy’s next action.
The white dragon swung his tail to accelerate, but this was not just to move forward.
After ducking to let the shells pass him by, he made an immediate leap to the left and right to move back in front of them.
But that was how this dragon attacked. He used the physical strength of a Celestial Dragon to perform a massive charge with overwhelming speed. And not only was his accuracy incredible, but he could take evasive action even in the middle of an attack.
He was a monster.
Wind exploded and the entire hall shook as the white dragon tore into the ground to spin around.
He used the turning motion to bite through the first of the three shells he had just passed and he swung his head to avoid the remaining two.
By that point, he was facing Gin.
Just as Gin realized another charge was imminent, she heard a voice in the wind.
On the other side of the dragon from Gin, Futayo raced through the wind and ran below the dragon.
…How did my cutting attack work!?
This was the second time.
The first time had not worked.
She had tried to attack head-on as he charged, but he had adjusted for it.
And during the following charge, she had avoided his body, but his tail had come for her instead. If Gin had not covered for her, she might have been killed instantly. So for her next try…
“How about an attack on the thinner belly armor!?”
With that, ether spray burst out.
This was not a cut. The cut had been negated and its power had reverted to ether and burst.
…So that’s it!
Futayo understood now. This enemy naturally possessed one method of defending against Tonbokiri and other weapons that reflected one’s name.
“Does his white armor reflect me!?”
But what happened next overturned those words.
As Futayo looked to Tonbo Spare’s blade, it appeared to be wrapped in light.
Except it was not.
It was not the blade that was shining. All of Sasuke’s white armor was emitting light.
Futayo recognized that light.
“A dragon cannon!?”
It can’t be, she thought. Aren’t dragon cannons fired from the mouth or thrusters?
But the answer was simple.
“Indeed,” said Sasuke as he prepared to attack. “I am a white dragon. A dragon of light. …My entire body can launch a dragon cannon.”
After a beat, light exploded from his entire body.
The underground hall of the ruins rumbled with light.
In the upper hall, Mitotsudaira received a direct hit from a dragon cannon.
Even with Loup-Garou blood in her veins, she was helpless in midair. However…
…I have to do something!
Several dozen defense barriers opened courtesy of Asama and they were all shattered in the span of a single breath.
Two silver chains were extended toward Asama and Kimi and she used them to pull herself toward the two girls. But…
The dragon’s light had been weakened by the defense barriers, but it was still on its way. And it was still large enough to harm the two behind her as well.
It was going to hit. However…
Mitotsudaira swung her arm and sent an attack down toward the approaching power.
It was the piece of the ceiling she had wrapped a chain around when leaping above Saizou. She forcefully broke it off and slammed it down toward the dragon cannon.
“…How about that!?”
This would not be enough to stop it, but the dragon cannon lost further power and scattered somewhat as it shattered the solid mass.
The dragon cannon still had power left, but at this point…
She looked back to see Kimi there.
Kimi had already started up Turning Point, the base foundation of her acoustic spells.
“Dance at that stirring party of the past.”
It played a song. Kimi sang and danced along.
“I will reach this place no matter what it takes.”
More and more sign frames opened between the dragon cannon and the girls. This was Kimi’s Summit Dance defense.
“One day, the starry flowers will bloom beyond the sunset.”
It reached Mitotsudaira and collided with the dragon cannon.
Light burst and scattered like water.
As Mitotsudaira watched, the sign frames displaying the Summit Dance flowers shattered, but the dragon cannon was also split.
The raw power did not reach her.
It had been blocked.
Mitotsudaira spun around and landed. And behind her…
“The shooting stars tell tales of the dark night.”
White lines flew out in time with Kimi’s song.
Those were the paths of the two shots Asama had fired.
…That was fast…!
This was nothing like his former combat experience. In the past, it had taken a bit longer to fire an attack powerful enough to affect a dragon.
But the times had changed. Shinto could be seen as the Far East’s history, but if even they had polished their combat techniques…
…They probably grew stronger in their battles with us!
There were no records of the Testament Cross-Border Units’ activities. Because they were not a part of history.
But that experience had remained in a different form. That is…
“The evolution of humanity’s resistance!”
Saizou saw the path of the arrows and took action. He used his power as a dragon.
Saizou vanished from Mitotsudaira’s vision.
She could only see Asama’s arrows as they passed through the broken ceiling and disappeared into the forest and sky.
Then the 2nd Special Duty Officer raised his voice.
He and the Date Vice Chancellor immediately took action.
The 2nd Special Duty Officer protected everyone with a barrier of ether light formed from a thruster explosion. And the Date Vice Chancellor…
“Now this is dangerous.”
She rapidly pulled blades out of empty air and stacked them up horizontally to build a massive sword shield.
Some light appeared without warning.
The Date Vice Chancellor’s blades were shattered with a diagonal cut. As for the 2nd Special Duty Officer’s thruster explosion…
He suddenly closed his spread arms and there was a slash running through his arm armor.
The half-dragon’s armor had been split with a creaking sound.
…Just how strong is that cutting power!?
As Mitotsudaira wondered that, the 2nd Special Duty Officer took a step back and the Date Vice Chancellor did the same.
With an instantaneous snap, she grabbed a surviving mandible sword from the air and then threw it.
It flew, and…
“Ohh, that was close.”
Saizou appeared there in the center of the hall.
He had just leaned back to dodge the mandible sword.
Just then, Mitotsudaira noticed the Date Vice Chancellor giving her an instantaneous glance.
It only lasted a moment, but Mitotsudaira sensed meaning in her eyes. Namely…
Uqui: “Oh, so you want to eat some natto.”
Unturning: “The scary part is that you’re not exactly wrong.”
Silver Wolf: “I have no idea what that means.”
But there was no time. Saizou had already retaken his combat stance and he was leaning toward Mitotsudaira once more.
He was going to charge. And the Date Vice Chancellor chose that moment to speak.
Unturning: “This is the same as the night before last.”
Eh? thought Mitotsudaira. Behind her, Asama had yet to nock her next arrow. Saizou was learning, so he would make this charge in the gap between Asama’s arrows.
He swayed his body toward them.
“Here I go.”
And he vanished just as he started running.
He became invisible once more.
Saizou viewed the enemy while erasing his visual form.
The shrine maiden was not yet ready for her next attack. That meant his enemy was not prepared to counterattack.
But there was still something they could use: an arrow.
The shrine maiden’s arrows could be used as direct spears instead of bow-fired projectiles.
Of course, it would be difficult to rival the power of a bow-fired arrow with human strength or even Loup-Garou strength. So they would not attempt a penetrative attack.
…It will be a scattering attack!
Of course it will, thought Saizou.
It was an obvious tactic depending on how the enemy viewed his invisibility technique.
He might not be visible, but his giant dragon body remained. Even if he silenced his footsteps with a stealth spell, he was still there.
So they would use a scattering attack to hit an entire surface
And a purifying power would be able to destroy his stealth. That was the basic strategy.
So as she danced, the dancer held an arrow between the fingers of her right hand. It had to be heavy, but she swung it around like it was a light bag.
“Vanish into the sunset.”
She aimed for his chest.
“The bountiful summit.”
And she threw it.
In that instant, Saizou moved with his visible form entirely erased.
Mitotsudaira sensed the enemy’s presence.
She had some information from Asama and she had him more or less located, but she was not entirely confident.
After all, this enemy was massive and powerful. A single mistake could get them all annihilated.
So she looked to two people for further proof of what she was sensing.
The first was Suzu. That girl had been facing straight forward this entire time.
She looked very nervous.
And the other…
Their eyes met. She thought it might have been a coincidence, but then the princess next to him also looked her in the eye.
Once she noticed, the other girl nodded and pointed her right thumb downwards.
Mitotsudaira found it a little worrying that she could almost hear the princess’s voice saying “go get him” in her mind. Nevertheless, she took action.
She had the confidence she needed to win this.
And a moment later, the scattering arrow exploded in the air.
A roar rang out.
Narumi saw the black dragon appear in the space ahead of them.
He had been hit by the scattering power of the arrow.
But it was not a direct hit. It had only grazed him lightly on the front left shoulder. However…
Narumi questioned that. But Saizou shook his head as dark armor scattered from his shoulder.
“That was a close one…!”
What does this mean? wondered Narumi with a frown.
Based on her understanding of the situation, this should not have happened.
…That shouldn’t have hit!
Narumi questioned herself about this.
But Saizou crouched low as if to push aside her confusion.
And he started forward.
Just then, the Asama Shrine Representative fired her next shot with perfect timing.
This third one was a penetrating arrow.
The flash of light was launched with a great roar, but…
Saizou vanished again. He swung his body forward and used his charging motion to disappear into thin air.
Everything about his motion seemed to fit together, so as Narumi watched it play out…
…This is dangerous.
She drew eight mandible swords at once and prepared to intervene.
She leaned forward and warmed up her prosthetic legs.
The half-dragon to her left interrupted. He pointed at the floor.
“You were correct. …And someone convinced of the same thing is asking for assistance.”
Sure enough, Narumi saw something in front of where the dragon had disappeared and the arrow vanished into the sky. Something was moving toward them along the floor.
…A silver chain!
His voice seemed to reach her from overhead.
“Assisting a lost wolf might make for a decent change of pace. Amen.”
Undetectable Saizou charged toward the enemy.
He raced forward in a pose much like a human with their hands on the ground and their knees pulled up to their chest.
He aimed straight ahead at the throats of the girls whose gazes were racing through the air diagonally up from them in search of the vanished dragon.
First the wolf, then the dancer, and lastly the shrine maiden.
They had done it.
Yes, they had done it.
It had happened 800 years ago and 400 years ago.
800 years ago, their king and his aides had been slaughtered in a single night.
He had heard that the human-side forces had been led by a group that included a shrine maiden wielding a bow decorated with cherry blossom flowers, a dancer, and a nonhuman knight.
At the time, he had found it hard to believe such an uncertain and common-sounding group could have defeated their king. And he had felt the dragons’ defeat was inevitable if their king could be defeated by a group like that.
So he, Sasuke, and the others had left the main group and conquered southern Italy.
They had worked with the surviving clans while planning to create another dragon age one day.
And 400 years ago, it had happened to them.
Their group and the surviving clans had been utterly destroyed in a single night.
They had only realized the truth of the matter after the Harmonic Unification War.
After deciding to settle in this land on Sasuke’s suggestion, they had learned of those attackers’ origins.
Whenever they described the central figure of that attack, the people always identified her outfit as that of a shrine maiden.
Their enemy was a Shinto force and a Far Eastern battle group.
They should not have existed in 13th century Europe of the Harmonic World.
For the dragons, that was the identity of the Testament Cross-Borders Unit that seemed to appear from nowhere and disappear without a trace.
It seemed the attacks on other areas had been led by representatives of other shrines. Most notably, there was one armored shrine maiden who had wielded a sword. She had been skilled in battle and had apparently hunted down the majority of the surviving clans’ main force.
But the one that had attacked Sasuke and Saizou’s group had used a cherry blossom flower as a symbol. That was the only difference.
That group wielded a seemingly divine power that could drive back even dragons and they were the identity of the Testament Cross-Borders Unit.
Because he was undetectable, he did not roar aloud.
Saizou moved in to hunt the enemy.
The dragon ran.
800 years ago, he had lost his king without a chance to face them.
400 years ago, the attack had been so sudden he was forced to retreat.
So this was his first time holding a proper battle that allowed for introductions. So…
…Let’s do this…!
As he charged forward, Saizou saw something out of the corner of his eye on the left: blades.
The wolf’s chains had taken them from the Date Vice Chancellor to the left. There were six of them in all.
They could not stop the dragon’s charge, but…
…It can’t be…!
Saizou’s bestial eyes widened as he saw something in the center of his vision. Unlike the two girls behind her, the silver wolf was not looking up into the air. She was directly facing him with her eyes closed.
Saizou gasped, but this was not worth feeling shock over.
He saw this as a continuation and a beginning.
It was a continuation of the battle from 400 years ago, but it was also their first confrontation.
So he sent out every attack he could muster.
He used everything for the hunt.
Everyone in the hall saw sparks scattering around Mitotsudaira.
But not from a swordfight.
She had no opponent.
Her body was swaying as she swung her arms and chains around like some kind of one-girl show.
The silver wolf rapidly sent out the mandible swords. Each time, sparks and light scattered.
The sounds were loud and numerous. And finally…
“If you are to run, let your body ring.”
She sped up as if pushed on by Kimi’s song.
Countless Summit Dance shields appeared around the wolf.
“Let heat permeate your heart like the roaring sea.”
As they shattered, Mitotsudaira did not even bother raising her swords anymore. She instead used the momentum provided when the swords were deflected by the unseen enemy.
“The shooting stars fly toward the deserted flower garden.”
Within the sparks, the wolf incorporated her attacks and other movements into a dance of her own.
…What the heck is this?
Masazumi honestly admitted she had no idea what was going on.
Mitotsudaira had her eyes closed while she danced within a storm of endless clangs, light, and sparks.
She spun her arms, twisted her body, and used it all to provide more speed as she sent out the blades.
The swords were launched from her hands, swung around by her chains, and…
But the wolf did not allow the blades to fly away. Like a fanged mouth snapping shut, she would catch the airborne blades once more. With her eyes still closed, she started forward as if in search of something.
She advanced step by step, and…
“Have some more, Mito Lord!”
The Date Vice Chancellor tossed the wolf four more blades. They flew toward the advancing storm of sparks and light, but once they were within range…
The noise and sparks suddenly doubled in intensity. And Mitotsudaira leaned forward while swaying her body to the left and right.
Masazumi could see Mitotsudaira’s hands shoot out and grab the airborne blades’ hilts for just an instant.
But that was as far as she could see.
Instead, something else came into view: the enemy’s blades.
Several dozen simultaneously-fired scythes of light drew arcs in the air.
Each glowing blade was twenty meters long.
They were made of ether. They must have been too pale to notice normally, but now that they were overheating, a yellow light surrounded them.
That was the enemy’s primary weapon.
But Masazumi was confused as she watched Mitotsudaira send her own unseen blades to clash with those rapidly-fired blades.
“How can Mitotsudaira see those?”
They had to be nearly invisible at that speed, so how could she see them coming?
“Nate’s got a good nose,” said the idiot with a smile in his voice. “When Horizon and I were cut, our blood must have gotten on him. …And that lets her see the coming attacks. Or smell them, I guess.”
“You idiot, the scent can’t possibly propagate faster than those attacks, can it?”
It was not the idiot who answered that question.
It was Mukai. She was sitting with her knees together atop Adele’s mobile shell.
“The scent is…carried by the wind…and the surrounding air…and that reveals…him,” she explained. “So Mitotsudai…ra-san…is surrounded by Toori-kun…and Horizon’s…scent.”
Mitotsudaira was intoxicated by the scent.
Last night and the night before that, she had been exposed to her king’s scent quite a bit thanks to sleeping with her head on his lap or elbow. The scent of his breaths had permeated her as they slept and it had refused to come out during the day, but telling him would have accomplished nothing and all it did was make her feel some Loup-Garou-style guilt.
But here, something even more powerful reached her: blood.
Her king and princess’s blood.
She had not smelled his blood from this close since middle school. She had learned that scent alongside her tears when they had established their king/knight relationship back then.
The foolishness that led to it being spilled showed she had not changed since then.
No matter what her king or her princess said, she had said she would protect him and then failed to do so.
So she had decided she would use his blood to achieve victory.
She would vindicate herself using the very blood that had been shed due to her carelessness.
In the past, it had been blood of a promise and of tears. But now, she would offer her king the blood of victory. And…
…Here it comes!
Within the many attacks, the slight scent of her king reached her from the enemy’s body.
It was faint, like it was being fanned over to her, but that was exactly why it sharpened her sense of smell as it stroked across her cheeks and brushed through her hair.
The more she crossed blades with the enemy, the more of her king’s scent reached her from his blades and the wind.
Compared to what she had smelled in her sleep, the blood scent was much thicker and made her think of solid flesh.
That thick scent mixed with her memories as it embraced her dancing body.
It intoxicated her.
She wanted to loosen her collar and let it reach her chest and the rest of her body. She wanted it to stroke her throat, pass through her lips, and tease the back of her teeth and her tongue.
But this scent was not strong enough for that. So…
“…Is that all!?”
Mitotsudaira raised her voice with her eyes still closed. She danced, swung her body around, and launched the swords as she spoke.
“You need to hit me with more than that!!”
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