Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 57
Chapter 57: Master in the Field of Acceleration
If you ask how much
And I show you how much
Let us think about how much we can do
Point Allocation (Pursuit)
“Things seem to be getting exciting down below.”
In the afternoon sun and inside the tent prepared at the entrance to the ruins, Oriotorai looked over while eating curry from a paper plate.
She was looking to Muneshige who stood at the entrance.
He had his back to the ruins and his hand on his chin.
Oriotorai asked about the slight wrinkle of his brow.
“Muneshige? …Worried about Gin?”
“Judge, why would I be?”
That question stopped Oriotorai as she skewered a leek with a toothpick. She shrugged at the great roar heard from underground.
“Don’t things sound kind of incredible down there?”
“Judge,” agreed Muneshige, so Oriotorai asked another question.
“What if Gin is injured? And divine transmissions seem to be cut off.”
“True enough. I will only run down there on one condition.”
“Judge.” Muneshige smiled a little. “When she loses both her arms. I will not allow her to be harmed any more than that.”
Gin collapsed, but she just barely avoided falling to her knees.
A warrior girl could not allow herself to fall to her knees during battle.
Yes. Something similar had happened several times in the past.
Before he had his inherited name, he had trained in her mansion’s yard. He had fought her, he had been no match for her, he had grown too weary to support himself, and he had collapsed. She had told him that whenever he did.
So she would hold herself to the same standard.
Because he was now someone who would never collapse in the middle of battle.
“If his wife were willing to grow weak and leave everything to her husband…”
She got up.
“…it would disgrace the name of the Peerless in the West.”
She stood up.
Her left arm would not move. It did not weigh her down due to the gravitational control, but combat motions were out of the question.
…Then I need to think of that arm as holding a shield.
She nodded and turned to place her left side forward.
Ahead of her, the dragon stood in the center of the hall. He had turned her way.
He crouched low with his six wings spread, so he was clearly not holding back at all.
“Tell me your name,” he said.
“No need,” she replied as she drew and prepared a Cuatro Cruz to her right. “There is only one person in the east to whom the Peerless in the West must name themselves.”
“And that is?”
“The Peerless in the East, Honda Tadakatsu.”
Gin filled her lungs with air.
And she gave a shout to rid her body of its remaining shaking and weakness.
“If you aim to be the Peerless in the East, you must defeat every last enemy in this land! …Honda Futayo!!”
A moment later, something crashed down into the white dragon’s back with the acceleration of a meteor.
That blue form held a spear vertically and scattered the color of shed blood as it fell.
“Musashi Vice Chancellor!!”
Futayo’s mind was still hazy, but she had woken up.
Pain filled her body and some parts were trembling and numb.
The bleeding was especially bad. During the previous exchange, some of her armor had been knocked away and blood flowed from her shoulders and head.
Oh, no, thought Futayo. This is not good at all.
…The Testament says Honda Tadakatsu, Peerless in the East, was never injured during his entire combat history.
She was far from that now. So…
“At the very least, I must win here…!”
She fell toward the center of the white dragon’s back.
She was bleeding and unsteady, but she realized something.
She saw something familiar on his back. She should not have felt this kind of nostalgia here, and yet…
Her mind fully returned to her.
Saying her mind grew clear was too kind an expression. It was more like her mind itself had been kicked awake. This awakening hit her like a tremor that spread from the tips of her toes to the top of her head.
And she could move just like she wanted. She targeted the nostalgia found on the white dragon’s back.
She swung her entire body downwards and slammed the spear tip down.
Sasuke worked to shake off the enemy on his back.
It was the blue girl, Musashi’s Vice Chancellor. However, her attacks were meaningless.
A dragon’s back was their strongest area. The armor there could not be pierced by a mere spear tip.
This was proven by the solid sound as the spear tip was deflected.
And Sasuke was moving too. He ignored the Musashi Vice Chancellor on his back and moved forward. He would charge toward the red girl in front of him and crush her.
So in an instant, he threw the blue figure from his back and made a three-stage acceleration straight ahead.
Sasuke broke the sound barrier.
At first, he was enveloped by a muffled roar, as if he were moving through water, but then an extreme lightness reached each of his body parts.
As he moved forward in search of that lightness, he saw something in his dim vision.
His entire body grew lighter, as if he were shedding his skin and pushing himself forward.
Instead, a messy current of impacts washed over him as if pushing him forward and massaging him. But he loved that cold and rough feeling.
Speed was wonderful. The speed gained by using his strength to run was truly superb. Dragons had wings, but power came from one’s strength. There was no substitute for the invisible space gained by an all-out run.
Sasuke continued forward. He would crush his enemy and turn just before reaching the wall. He would not allow even a three centimeter gap between himself and the wall. He would utterly crush the enemy and enjoy his perfect control.
The joy filled his heart in advance.
But he viewed that joy as negligence. So to ignore the happiness in his heart, he raised his speed even further. He leaned forward and launched himself ahead once more.
But as he did, he saw someone running alongside him on the left.
It was the Musashi Vice Chancellor he had just thrown from his back.
She ran alongside the dragon. With each step on the dirt floor, her speed gradually increased.
The source of her speed was not Soaring Wings.
The sign frame for an Asama Shrine original spell had appeared behind her head.
It said Racing Words and it floated alongside a charm.
This was from Gin.
She had to have attached this to Futayo when Futayo had kneed her before.
It could only be used once and for a short period of time, but she could ride the dragon’s acceleration for that time. So for three beats…
She reached a point where the momentum placed a great burden on her body.
This was hard on her body. Her constant bodily divine protections provided strengthening and exhaustion-reduction spells, but not even they could support her if her speed increased further.
Of course they could not. When Gin and Muneshige used this kind of spell, they would also use powerful cooling spells. But Futayo was grateful that she could return to the battle, even if it required this kind of burden.
Her body was overheated, she was starting to sweat, and she was bleeding again.
She was lucky. The blood flowing from her shoulder was stopped by the armor on her arm, so it did not affect her grip on the spear.
So the only other thing to worry about was the enemy running alongside her.
Are you doing this, dragon? Or should I call you Sasuke-dono?
I had felt like the only reason to fight you here was “duty”, but…
“I will be your opponent here.”
Futayo changed spells. She was partially pushed away as the dragon tried to ram into her instead of just running, but she also ended Racing Words and…
She’s so light, thought Gin as she watched Futayo’s movements.
Before, she had moved her body primarily by running, but now she was simply placing all her speed into her body.
…This is her true form…!
This had to be what had defeated Muneshige.
And Gin had seen this during their battle.
After slipping through the return fire from Arcabuz Cruz and Cuatro Cruz, Futayo had passed Gin’s many slashes and struck her.
She had not been intercepting the attacks Gin had sent her way.
Gin only realized it now, but…
…She was simply striking down everything that would obstruct her speed, wasn’t she?
She was troublesome.
This girl is nothing but trouble, thought Gin.
After all, she was not looking at her opponent. She was merely pursuing her own speed, as if trying to catch up to her own back. So to battle her…
“You must first get her to notice you.”
That was why Gin shouted to the high-speed blue charging in from dead ahead.
“If you overlook this, I will beat you to the ground!”
With that, Gin used what she had prepared to get the girl’s attention.
She fired her right Cuatro Cruz toward Futayo as a counterattack.
She fired it thrice.
Futayo was simply facing forward.
Oh? she thought when she saw three stone- or ball-like objects up ahead.
…Are they just sitting there?
They appeared frozen in midair.
So she jumped over one and…
She stepped on another to continue on ahead.
A moment later, light reached her vision. It was a blade. A white blade reflected light toward her eyes as she hung in midair and began to fall.
She saw twin swords by the wall. They were being used as mirrors to shine light on her face.
Only then did Futayo realize who was by the wall.
Good, she thought. My body’s heat, exhaustion, and pain are being purified.
So she ran. She sent her landing momentum forward and rode that speed. From there, she simply extended her left hand forward.
Sasuke saw the enemy’s actions.
What would that pair do now that they had regrouped by the wall? Would they go right or left?
That was Sasuke’s decision.
The blue girl, Musashi’s Vice Chancellor, held her spear in her right hand. She held her left hand forward and the red girl responded by holding out her own barely-functional left arm.
The blue girl used her speed to pull the red girl along with her.
In that situation, she could only pull her to the right.
So Sasuke raised his tail back and to the left. By returning it to the front and right, he could pursue the enemy to the right.
That was his plan.
His eyes could see high-speed movements and they were locked onto the enemy’s actions.
The enemy did not go right. Hand in hand, the two of them seemed to pull at each other by the wall.
And they spun around.
It was almost like a dance. And during their two rotations, the red girl gained speed. Several acceleration spell sign frames appeared, and…
“Here I go.”
Just as he heard her voice, the enemy was there.
Right in front of him.
One was high and the other low.
The low one was the red girl on the ground right in front of him.
The high one was the blue girl running up the inner wall of the hemispherical hall.
They made simultaneous straight-line attacks.
They were fortunate the dragon had tried to jump to the right.
While his forelegs rose hesitantly from the ground, Gin charged forward.
She made it between them.
But the enemy reacted. He crouched down before she could bring out Cuatro Cruz.
She no longer had enough space to aim the large Cuatro Cruz vertically. But she still ejected it. She just aimed it horizontally backwards instead.
“I will be going on ahead.”
She used it to blast her own body forward. She passed below the dragon and out below his left side.
And from there…
“Go, Musashi Vice Chancellor!”
Futayo saw it.
As she jumped down in an arc from the hall’s ceiling, she saw something on the dragon’s back.
It was right in the center of his back.
There, where she had slammed the metal tip of her spear earlier, she saw a mark that resembled a crack.
She recognized its shape. It filled her with nostalgia.
“That is a cut from Tonbokiri!”
She did not know why it was there, but she knew who had to have made it.
“Did you do battle with my father at some point!?”
“The thing is, we all went to Edo together.”
A voice spoke in the forest clearing as a dragon roared in the distance.
It was Sakai. He was resting his elbow on a wooden table in front of a sign frame displaying “Musashi”.
“It was really only Ii and Sakakibara that had to go there, but Da-chan was a good sport, so he went with me for part of my journey around north. Of course, Oku was doing well back then, so he clearly just wanted to spend the night with her somewhere on his way back.”
“How about you stop reminiscing about the past and actually explain what happened in the past, Sakai-sama? Over.”
“Now, now,” said Sakai. “At the time, he had a prototype for Tonbokiri…well, Tonbokiri itself was a prototype for the Logismoi Oplo, but this was before even that. It was used to test the cutting power and the later Tonbokiri was based on it. Its range was about five meters. But…”
“Yeah.” Sakai nodded, smiled a little, and looked up into the sky. “At the time, those ruins were a refuge for the dragons that had escaped Shimabara. …But, well, we were Matsudaira, right? It was the previous generation that suppressed Shimabara, but the dragons in the ruins still asked for a fight. They were plenty kind since they knew that Sanada’s Masayuki-san and the others would later join Matsudaira. Sasuke and the others understood their situation at the time.”
“The Shimabara group still wanted to have their say, so we had an unofficial academy battle. …The Shimabara Terrestrial Dragons were approaching the end of their lifespans, you see, so they wanted to go down fighting. Against the three of us.”
“Three, including Oku-sama? Over.”
“Yeah, although she insisted she only did it because Da-chan really wanted to do it. …That said, she definitely had the most wins with all those Terrestrial Dragons she hunted down.”
“Did you come in last, Sakai-sama? Over.”
“Musashi” sighed, but Sakai raised the corners of his lips.
“No, no. I came in second.”
“Hm? You mean Lord Tadakatsu came in last? Over.”
“Judge. Da-chan only went for the big prizes. He focused on the biggest Terrestrial Dragons and ended it with a fight against Sasuke on the pretext of teaching him a lesson for not stopping the commotion.”
Sakai then looked to “Musashi”.
“Am I boring you with all these old stories?”
“As long as you are not mixing nostalgia with sorrow, I have no problem with it. Over.”
“That ain’t easy.” Sakai crossed his arms and looked up into the sky. “Since Masayuki-san allowed this, I can only assume Sasuke and Saizou have made up their minds. They must want to leave something behind when they leave this world. So I hope our kids give their all in these fights.”
“How does that make you feel as someone who has been left behind by others so often? Over.”
“Looking at the Testament, I should really have been the first one to go,” he began. “But I think our kids have the power to give Sasuke and Saizou what they want.”
Futayo prepared to attack while she dropped down.
Of course, Tonbo Spare’s attacks were ineffective against the white dragon below her.
But her father’s cut had reached him.
What was different between her and her father?
The specs or traits of their weapons?
Or, she wondered as she dropped toward Sasuke. But he moved below her. Gin had circled around below him and forced him to lower his legs, but…
…Is he using his wings!?
The white dragon slammed his six wings down, using the recoil to lift his body.
He immediately moved forward.
With an instantaneous action, he moved several dozen meters and made a turn that seemed to simply reverse his front and back.
He had used the full power of his wings, his tail, and the twisting of his body.
Futayo was now falling right in front of him. Which meant…
“A dragon cannon…!”
As soon as she landed, a beam of light shot straight toward her.
Futayo simultaneously defended against and attacked the dragon’s blast.
She stabbed Tonbo Spare’s tip straight toward the oncoming attack.
This was not just a jab. She was running toward the dragon as she did it.
It hit and stabbed in, but…
Just as she thought that, something happened.
Light burst before her eyes.
It split, scattered, and shattered into a spray. And then…
The outthrust spear tip destroyed the dragon cannon.
The glowing wind pummeled the surrounding area and piercing fragments filled the air.
Gin saw Futayo moving through that.
She was unharmed. She had fully pierced through the dragon cannon and continued straight toward the dragon.
She was running forward.
…But what was that?
How had she shattered the white dragon’s dragon cannon? Gin pondered the reason.
The dragon had initially called himself a dragon of light. And after having her attacks deflected a few times, Futayo had realized that he reflected her attacks.
Tonbo Spare’s cutting had no effect on this dragon of light.
But Futayo must have realized that, if her blade was reflected, then he was the same.
Just like the version emitted from his full body, Sasuke’s dragon cannon was light.
So she had intercepted with a reflective surface: Tonbo Spare’s tip.
By thrusting it into the light, it had reflected that power. And the dragon cannon’s deflected power had enveloped her surroundings, broken, and fallen apart from within.
Futayo had done it.
But, thought Gin. That should not be possible.
She should not have been able to pull off a stunt like piercing the very center of an incoming dragon cannon.
Who could make a head-on counterattack against such an unbelievably fast blast of light?
But Futayo had done it. Gin did not understand how, but…
This was what that girl was capable of.
And as the strands of light blew in the wind, the Musashi Vice Chancellor continued forward. That blue figure had lost her hair tie, so her black hair fluttered behind her as she nimbly raced toward the white dragon.
And the white dragon responded.
He unleashed a roar and threw himself forward.
He attempted to collide with Futayo head on.
It was a long, long roar.
He was a dragon and he had once been a corps commander of the Gaul Invasion Army.
He had made himself known through constant battle and slaying his enemies.
That had lasted 400 years. Another 400 years had passed since he had been defeated and forced to flee.
He had spent the same amount of time slaying humans and living alongside them.
But he had fought a human once during that life with them.
It was one of Sakai’s friends. He believed the man’s name was Tadakatsu.
After a few dozen minutes of battle with him, the man had avoided all his attacks, smashed his dragon cannon, finally split his back, and then said, “I’ll leave it at this. You’ve still got stuff to do, don’t you?”
That had reminded him of the past.
Of 400 years ago.
The Testament Cross-Borders Unit led by a cherry blossom shrine maiden had crushed his companions. There had been deaths on the other side as well, but the shrine maiden had asked a question after it was all over.
“What will you do?”
There were countless ways to interpret that question, but this was how he had responded:
“Are you asking if I intend to continue fighting?”
“No.” The shrine maiden had lowered her eyebrows in a smile. “I am asking if you want to try a different lifestyle as a dragon.”
“Can’t you wait until you have tried that out for a good, long while before you decide whether or not you wish to die?”
He had thought it was a clever way of putting it.
So he had done as she said. A lot of them had been frustrated, but…
…Twenty-odd years ago.
Someone capable of outdoing him had put a stop to that and said they still had “stuff to do”.
But now their lifespans were at their ends. Most of his friends had already left and Saizou had likely returned to heaven as well.
In that case, thought Sasuke. His battle here would act as a memento by sending those who inherited his will to Hashiba, but in addition to that…
…Shrine maiden of the past.
The white dragon thought to himself as he charged forward, slammed his feet against the ground and used his multi-stage acceleration to leap.
…We lived two different lifestyles as dragons.
They slayed humans and they protected them.
Even now, he was fighting to protect the future of Sanada’s people and attempting to slay those who would harm Sanada’s future.
But, he thought. I already had that twenty-odd years ago.
He had been given that by the shrine maiden 400 years ago.
So the white dragon gave voice to what he was settling here.
“This right here is the ‘stuff’ I still had to do…!!”
Futayo did not let up on her speed.
She would be in serious trouble if she did not continue moving forward and setting her center of gravity and central axis further and further forward.
She had to keep her axis straight for what she was about to do.
…Send my cutting power into that dragon.
She knew she could do it.
She had figured it out from the fact that her father had done the same. She had only needed to ask herself how he could have done it.
And her thoughts had led her to a single answer.
Futayo moved straight forward to reveal that answer. She bent back as if to thrust her stomach forward and she charged in a straight line. She raised Tonbo Spare toward the enemy, who was charging toward her with a burst of speed, and she gave a cry.
“Bind, Tonbo Spare!!”
Gin saw the scattering light.
It was a spray of ether light. But it was not the rejection of a cut.
It was the destruction of a Celestial Dragon.
As he charged forward, Sasuke’s face was cut from the tip of his nose to his forehead.
The attack he had deflected and negated until now had suddenly hit him.
Gin’s vision had seen the position of the slash.
It had been along the dragon’s central line.
And Gin understood: it all came down to the central axis.
…That white dragon’s entire body, from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail, is symmetrical.
The scales covering his body were angular and could reflect anything.
But while the scales down the center of his body were symmetrical, they formed a mountain shape.
The ridge of that mountain could not reflect anything. Due to the mountain shape, that reflecting power was slanted.
“So if she targets the ridge of the scales and hits that with her cutting power, it won’t be deflected…!”
That was why she had charged straight toward him.
That complete head-on attack had been to ensure she hit her enemy’s central line.
And she had raced toward him to ensure her own axis was not shifted.
If her timing had been even slightly off, the cut would have been deflected and she would have been sent flying.
But she had just passed below the dragon and come to a stop.
Her hair was undone and she spun Tonbo Spare around before propping it up against the floor.
A moment later, the white dragon rose up.
With that, he wobbled. And he collapsed onto his side in the center of the hall.
With a rumble, the hall shook, and Futayo opened her mouth.
Her dignified voice rang through the hall.
“White Dragon Sasuke…defeated…!”
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