Horizon:Volume 5B Chapter 61
Chapter 61: Bearers in a Place of Parting
I will say goodbye
In a way that leaves no regrets
Point Allocation (Promise)
The destruction of the ruins continued.
Mitotsudaira heard the passageway collapse and cave in behind them.
And when she arrived in the hall they had left earlier…
She wanted to tell them to hurry outside, but the words would not come.
The dragon they had been facing stood in the center of the hall and she saw its giant body vanishing into the light.
She looked to everyone catching up behind her, to the two girls who looked back her way, and to the dragon.
“…It’s over, isn’t it?”
That was all she could say here. Not only was the dragon badly injured, but Futayo and Gin’s exhaustion and overall condition were far worse than when she had seen them before. However…
…They got what they needed here.
Everything remained motionless. It was the same as when Mitotsudaira had fought her mother or Rudolf II.
She could tell these people had reached some kind of conclusion.
And she saw the dragon and the two girls exchange a slow nod.
It’s over, she thought. And it’s time to get out of here.
But just then, the ground clearly tilted below her feet.
“…We need to hurry! This hall is going to cave in just like that passageway!”
There was no point in questioning Tenzou’s assertion. The passageway behind them had collapsed while they hurried down it.
The ruins continued to fall apart, but it was more than just damage. Most of the things around them were being irreparably destroyed and rendered unrecognizable.
But as they hurried across the hall to regroup with Futayo and Gin, Asama suddenly looked overhead. She was worried about the fragments falling from above, but…
Asama stepped forward and pointed to the hall’s ceiling.
That stone dome was covered in ivy and eroded. It was all about to fall apart, but the tremors and destruction had shaken free everything covering its surface.
Mitotsudaira looked to see what was above them all. And she saw what was there.
“The same diagram as in Novgorod…!?”
The rumbling and the tilting of the floor would not stop.
But Mitotsudaira realized there was a definite shape on the crumbling ceiling.
The eight images based on the Age of Dawn surrounded the ceiling and another image was carved into the center.
People stood hand-in-hand in a ring around the edge of that central circle.
It looked like they were celebrating something, but when she looked up above their heads….
Whatever should have been in the center had been carved away.
“That’s right,” said the dragon. “It has been like this for a very long time. I have heard the similar images around the Far East are the same with but one exception.”
“One exception?” asked Horizon. “Just out of curiosity, where is that?”
“I only said I had heard that, did I not, Musashi princess?”
“Then…who did you hear that from?”
Mitotsudaira gasped when she heard that name.
“The leader of the Testament Cross-Borders Unit from 400 years ago…?”
“Indeed.” The dragon nodded as destroyed fragments occasionally fell on him. “When we fled here, a messenger from Houjou arrived. They brought a posthumous note from Tokiyori and they told us we were free to use what we found in the ruins. Also…”
“According to that note, ‘if you are curious about the overhead relief, come visit Houjou. If Houjou still exists, you will be most welcome and we can discuss that relief as we have the one place in the world where its full form still exists.’ …Of course, we had given up on the world, so we preferred a quiet life with the people here instead of being welcomed into Houjou.”
“That settles it,” immediately replied Masazumi.
Mitotsudaira nodded as well. She was aware of the strength in her gaze as she turned toward Masazumi.
“We’re going to war with Houjou next, aren’t we?”
“…I don’t like the way you phrased that, but that will likely be the end result.”
Almost Everyone: “She won’t come out and say it, but she won’t deny it either…!”
Me: “I mean, if she just came out and said it, wouldn’t that make her a pretty dangerous person?”
Vice President: “Oh, c’mon! If I did deny it, you’d just make jokes about it!!”
Masazumi was disheartened, but she bowed lightly toward the dragon.
“That was some important information. You have our thanks.”
“You will be going to Houjou then? …If so, pursue this. I assume you already know that the people who left this place 30 years ago created a nonexistent academy with Motonobu as their leader.”
When Mitotsudaira confirmed it with a “judge”, the white dragon smiled while his body continued to vanish into scattered ether light.
He then looked and spoke to her.
“The ruins are collapsing. I will open the way to the top. But first…Musashi princess.”
Horizon took a step forward and nodded.
In response, the dragon repeated the question that must have reached his dragon ears.
“When is the right time for you to live and to die, hm?”
That was exactly Horizon’s next question.
There was something she had been wondering about for a long time.
She had wondered it after Mikatagahara, on the way to Novgorod, and at Novgorod.
“Everything is eventually lost.”
Nothing was never lost. So…
“Even if you try to prevent loss, you will sometimes fail. When that happens, is there a correct and non-sorrowful way of handling it that will save the people who were lost and not just comfort the people who were left behind?”
“That is a very greedy request.”
Indeed it is, thought Horizon.
“But everything is eventually lost.”
“I see,” said the white dragon. “Then,” he continued. “When is the right time to live and to die?”
Question marks filled Horizon’s mind.
That was her question. But the white dragon asked another question.
“Have you ever thought about that question in reverse?”
Horizon was speechless.
She had not. For one, she did not know how to phrase it.
“When is the right time to live and to die…?”
How would that turn out in reverse?
A voice from the side provided the answer.
It came from the nudist. He patted her shoulder once and readily stated it.
“Isn’t he asking about a way to accomplish what you think is right through your life and to also accomplish it even if you die?”
Masazumi scratched her head.
She could not tell if he had prepared this in advance or if he had come up with it on the spot.
But, she thought. That line is probably his way of accepting Yoshiyori, the others who left, and the people who have arrived.
But Horizon nodded at the nudist’s words.
And she rephrased his words in her own way.
“If you are to do what is right,” she said, “when and how should you live and die?”
Horizon looked to the nudist.
This was the opposite.
She and he were opposites.
They had two different viewpoints. If those were locations, then something else had to exist.
“A horizon and a borderline.” Horizon spoke from the horizon. “When is the right time to live and to die?”
And he responded.
“Yes,” he said from the opposite horizon. “If you want to do what’s right, how should you live and die?”
And Horizon responded.
“These horizons overlap. They have a point in common.”
“And what is that, Horizon?”
Horizon cleared her thoughts.
She kept everything unnecessary out of her mind and simply thought about this question and what led from it.
“That would be…where the horizons overlap. The place where life and death, right and wrong, overlap.”
“The borderline that determines the rightness of life and death.”
She then said “judge” once more.
And this time, she clearly accepted something.
She accepted the identity of her question’s borderline.
“Where is it that the rightness of life and death are determined?”
She chose the optimal word within her to describe that place.
That could be used to replace the “rightness” part of the equation. It contained all of their hopes and their ideals. In order to verify and confirm that, Horizon asked him a question.
“When is the right time to live and to die if we are to fulfill our dreams?”
“If you want to make your dreams come true, how should you live and die?”
“Judge.” Horizon held out her hand. “I say this to move from the one horizon to the borderline.”
“I wish to create a place where everyone’s dreams can come true. I wish to create a kingdom where I can have a dream,” she said. “So…let us go make our dreams come true, Toori-sama.”
She pulled him close while he pulled her close. And she knew this borderline was not just hers but all of theirs.
“With all of you with us.”
Asama heard rumbling laughter.
It was the dragon. He spoke while looking to the crumbling ceiling of the hall.
“An excellent conclusion. So let us celebrate.”
He opened his mouth.
The white dragon was preparing to fire his final dragon cannon.
“This ends the First Siege of Ueda. …Matsudaira, I shall create a path for your retreat.”
He blew away everything directly above the hall, all the way to the top floor.
In Sanada land, there was a natural outlook on a mountain cliff.
Atop there, a wooden academy was hidden by the trees.
To accommodate dragons, a giant entrance on the side led underground, but the front of the building had a small wooden door leading into the entranceway.
Two people stood on the wooden terrace in front of that entranceway: Sanada Nobuyuki and Masayuki.
Nobuyuki had his luggage for moving to Mito at his feet and he was looking back and forth between the sky and his father, Masayuki.
“Papa! I saw Saizou ascending earlier and now that’s Sasuke’s dragon cannon…!”
“…Watch,” the father said to his son. “This is the First Siege of Ueda. The power that supported Sanada is leaving us after bringing victory to Sanada. Those people supported this land since long before you or even I was born.”
With that, Masayuki sat down on a simple chair carved from a log.
“I never managed to tell them…but they were too kind.”
“You mean that they let this count as a rebellion so Nobushige and the others would be welcomed by Hashiba?”
“Not just that,” said Masayuki.
He lowered his gaze.
A few figures were visible in the schoolyard. They were Sanada students. Nezu, Yuri, and Anayama of the Ten Braves were among them. Torahide and the other Terrestrial Dragons would be in the forest and the land port down below.
Masayuki watched those students who were motionlessly viewing the sky.
“Time for a lecture, Nobuyuki.”
“Please not a long one, papa!”
Masayuki ignored his son. He also ignored the students who looked back and muttered “not again”. He simply viewed the light piercing the sky as he spoke.
“Listen. What really matters is not some spur of the moment whim. …It is something constant, like an unmoving stone. So…”
“I will not tell you to be like that. But after you leave and then return once more, this place will belong to you. …This land was supported by thousand-year-old dragons. And we are headed to battle. Support this place and live a long life…even if a thousand years is out of the question.”
“Not to worry, papa! My teachers always said I was bound to live a long time!”
“That worries me in a number of ways, but I am relieved.” Masayuki smiled a little. “The Celestial Dragons are finally ascending into the sky. It will take time before they are fully released into the ley lines. It is our duty to see it through. They supported us for 160 years yet we can only watch over their departure for a few hours. …Humanity really is irreverent.”
He relaxed and his entire body shrank in a little as if it were sighing.
“Sakai-sama. Thank you for giving them a real battle in the very end.”
Sakai looked into the sky from a mountain path in the forest.
The dragon cannon cut through the distant sky and vanished.
Instead of being launched at an enemy, that light was simply using up all of its power.
“That would be Sasuke…”
He finally arrived at the ruins. However…
“Sakai-sama? Why have you stopped? Over.”
“Well… I can probably see it better from here when he ascends into the sky.”
“What is this? You sound like an old man. Over.”
“You say that, but I am pretty old compared to those kids running around in the ruins. Also…”
Sakai opened a map of the surrounding area.
He instructed “Musashi” to perform an anti-air search of that area.
“There’s something odd in the air. And the dragons circling in the sky are afraid of something. …I hate that we can’t stop any rude interruptions, but get a lock on it anyway, ‘Musashi’-san. I’ll ask Naito and Naruze to get the others out of there.”
Asama watched the hall collapse.
The floor above fell as well, but there was no sign of Saizou any longer.
…He must have ascended into the sky as light.
Celestial Dragons would return to the ley lines. That had happened already and it was about to happen again.
She could see the sky far overhead. A hole had been opened all the way through to the upper hall.
She could see the dragons circling in the sky to see the white dragon off.
And the dragon spoke as he released light from his entire body and faded away.
“Musashi princess.” He narrowed his eyes toward Horizon. “…It is fortunate that you are nothing at all like Motonobu.”
“Did you meet my father?”
“We discussed many old matters. He was very childish. …I imagine he talked about what we discussed as if he had done it all himself. But there was one thing he would always say.”
“ ‘We must create a Testament Cross-Borders Unit.’ ”
Sasuke spoke of what had once defeated them and, whether they were real or fake, had occasionally existed before that and after that.
“The Testament Cross-Borders Unit exists for a certain purpose.”
“…To fulfill the Testament descriptions?” asked the silver wolf.
He had to shake his head. After all, the Testament Cross-Borders Unit itself existed by rejecting the Testament.
“Motonobu said the Testament Cross-Borders Unit exists to prevent the world from declining and to retune it. But it also surpasses the Testament.”
“So he said they are the greatest overseers and stoppers for the Anti-Decline Pro-Tuning Project established in the Age of Dawn.”
Masazumi pictured Motonobu saying that.
…Yes, he did seem like that kind of character.
But Horizon bowed toward the dragon.
“I hope I can hear of this topic again.”
“You could write a book on it. And you should find this information in Houjou. Go there.”
“Listen, princess. Also my two opponents, the rest of you, and…um, that nudist.”
“S-see, Toori-kun!? You’re placing unneeded pressure on him!”
“I can’t help it! My crossdressing stuff was destroyed!”
“About that.” Masazumi waved a hand toward the idiot. “Aoi, that crossdressing outfit is off limits from now on.”
Why did he act so shocked?
But Masazumi opened a sign frame and displayed a letter from M.H.R.R.
“That Katagiri boy who negotiated with you while you crossdressed has asked for a meeting. But if someone who knows what to look for saw that, they’d realize it was you. And in a way, having people figure it out is part of the act. So…”
It is accepted by Shinto, I suppose, she decided.
“If you’re going to crossdress, play a different character.”
“Ban it!” insisted Mitotsudaira. “You should completely ban it! Tomo, you say something too!”
Asama averted her gaze, but was that because of the crossdressing material in Shinto?
At any rate, Narumi cleared her throat.
Then the white dragon laughed quietly. He apparently was not angry.
“I have lived the right way for the past 400 years.”
Asama did not understand what he meant.
But he looked up to heaven. Directly above the slanted floor, the sky was the color of afternoon’s end.
The white dragon kept his gaze on the fading colors of the heavens as he spoke.
“Musashi princess. …I am about to leave you. And much more will leave you or come to you. But even if there are those that leave you, I want you to remember this. …Those who seek what is right will never wish to find that rightness in death,” he said. “Even if death is the conclusion they reach, that does not mean that death was their dream. It merely means death has visited them on the way to their dream. So…”
“This is a lot like what Toori-sama told me in England. If you spend your days having fun, you need not feel sad about the deaths along the way.”
“Yes. You need not feel sad. But you can do so if you have it in you.”
“That’s right,” agreed Asama. The dragon turned to face her, but was he telling her to continue or criticizing her for interrupting? She tensed her shoulders without thinking.
“…Do you understand this because life and death are so close to a shrine maiden?” he asked.
“Oh, y-yes. …The sorrow of the survivors shows the people who have left just how much they are missed. It is like their pride.”
“I think that is why the emotion of sorrow is avoided but accepted.”
“The Far East’s shrine maidens are very strong.”
“N-no, not really.”
Why is everyone glaring at me when I deny that?
Mal-Ga: “That dragon has a good eye for his enemy’s power…”
Sticky King: “Yes, that’s Asama for you…”
Obscene: “Indeed! Asama-kun is the only one powerful enough to shoot us to our destination!”
No. I’m not shooting you. I’m transporting you. Yes.
But the dragon was not done speaking.
“Take care of the Ten Braves. They too have dreams they are unsure they should have. And they have already had those dreams taken from them.”
“Yes.” The white dragon nodded. “They originally belonged to P.A. Oda in order to serve Hashiba in the future. They would have been the Seven Spears and three aides. But…”
“They lost that in a battle against a group of ten that Hashiba brought in. That group defeated them and is now known as the Ten Spears. They-…”
The white dragon stopped there.
Eh? thought Asama as she looked up. It was too soon for the dragon’s end.
Then she saw the reason why he had stopped.
A long ether sword had pierced the white armor on his neck. And it was stabbed in all the way to the hilt.
Asama knew what that ether sword was.
“That’s the anti-dragon sword arrow used by Oda’s Tsurugi Shrine, the primary shrine of P.A. Oda!”
|Back to Chapter 60||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 62|