Horizon:Volume 6A Chapter 2

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Chapter 2: Children Surrounding a Fire[edit]

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How far will the wolf see you off?

The path beyond

A mountain ridge or two

Is one where children do not cry

Point Allocation (Prey)


With everyone's eyes on her, Masazumi started by raising her right hand.

"Listen."

The campfire provided heat to the front of her body.

Behind her, she felt the chill of a surface night, which reminded her of old times.

She let that temperature difference calm her as she spoke.

"I think we absolutely should take part in Houjou's Siege of Odawara and the Invasion of Mouri. That is our overall policy at the moment. Keep that in mind."

"In other words," said Horizon while raising her right hand. "You want war."

...This isn't about what I want!

But Masazumi chose to hold her tongue on that. Instead, she provided a correction.

"Houjou says they want war and Mouri is saying the same. Yes. Th-that means we have no other choice. Going to war here is perfectly normal. Right? Isn't it?"

"Don't force yourself!"

When everyone said that, Masazumi mentally averted her gaze. This was truly regrettable.

But then she faced them all from the platform once more.

"Anyway. Jokes aside, there is a good reason to consider war with those two nations. So in addition to the overall policy I just mentioned and to our basic understanding of the situation, I would like to decide on a new policy."

She took a breath and placed her hands on her hips.

She looked to everyone with something she needed to tell them all.

It could be seen as the foundation of the previous overall policy.

...Our next policy will be a new one that allows us to handle this more realistically.

She started with some basic information they would need to know.

"Listen." She pointed her thumb toward the southern sky. "Mouri and everyone else is gathering at Odawara right now."

She added a "but" while facing one spot among them all: the Reine des Garous.

She sat diagonally back from Mitotsudaira who had taken up her position next to the idiot and Horizon. She was wearing a yukata after taking a bath and she wore the towel like a stole to keep her shoulders warm, but...

...She will act as our contact point for Mouri and Houjou.

Masazumi ignored Mitotsudaira who had been hanging her head this entire time.

"When you get down to it, we have no reason to fight this battle against Houjou and Mouri as a 'war'."


"Eh? ...We have no reason to fight this war? What does that mean?"

Masazumi heard a voice.

It was Naruze's. She wore a track suit and raised her right hand.

"Do you love war so much that you're willing to start them for no reason at all?"

"That's not what I meant! And don't just assume I'm on the pro-war side!"

"Indeed," said Futayo who wore a track suit on the front row. She shook her ponytail which was tied back with string and slowly turned to face Naruze. "Listen, Naruze-dono. ...Not even Masazumi likes meaningless war. In other words," she said. "Masazumi is feeling heartbroken that she can find no meaning in the war that is about to start. So logically, we can say that it is only meaningful wars that she loves. ...And wars are generally fought for a reason, so we can also say that she loves and supports most wars. Therefore, we can say that she is pro-war."

Futayo paused. After a while, she placed a hand on her forehead and began sweating profusely.

"Where did I go wrong in my logic...?"

"Right from the beginning!"

Futayo gestured for everyone to calm down and Masazumi sighed and opened a sign frame while she watched it all play out.

...Umm.

"Can we get back on topic? How far did I get? Look, I have Tsukinowa as my sign frame wallpaper. Isn't he cute?"

"V-Vice President!" said Adele. "You need to get back on topic, too!"

Next to Adele, track-suit-wearing Mukai tilted her head.

"You said...we have no reason...to fight a war...against Houjou and...Mouri."

Gold Mar: "Bell-rin, that's incredible...!"

Marube-ya: "Yeah, I didn't expect any assistance here!"

Unturning: "Oh? I thought this class preferred to keep the gags going a little longer than that."

Uqui: "Narumi, it is the fact that she did not that is so impressive. That was some expert-level wabi-sabi."

Masazumi wanted to say something, but there was something else she had to explain here.

She used the sign frame to display footage of the recent battles.

"Musashi's primary objective at the moment is to apply pressure on Hashiba. Do you know why that is?"

"To end Hashiba's history recreation for the safety of Europe. ...Isn't that right?"

That answer came from Crossunite who sat next to Mary on a wooden bench. Mary must have been exhausted because she was leaning against him, nearly embracing his arm, and nodding off.

However, even the eyes on his hat remained composed.

"Hashiba is a faction of P.A. Oda — nwoh! — and they have joined with M.H.R.R. — ohhhh! — while they attempt to sweep across Europe — more more! — so Europe probably wants — hwoh! — to suppress Hashiba and set things up — boobs! — for a Europe-only Peace of W-W-Westphalia."

"Crossunite, we don't need a running commentary on how Mary is leaning on you."

That said, what he had said was correct.

"At Magdeburg, we held a meeting with the European powers and agreed to hasten Hashiba's history recreation as well as Nobunaga's which leads into Hashiba's. That way we can get Europe's cooperation at Westphalia."

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The Reine des Garous narrowed her eyes and laughed softly. She lifted her chair and slowly moved from behind Mitotsudaira to behind the idiot. She then placed her chin on the idiot's head while ignoring the way Mitotsudaira cautiously angled her body.

"You have some skilled people working for you."

"Wow, those are big... I, uh, mean, they're not so much skilled as running the whole show without me."

"Very true," agreed Horizon next to him. She wrinkled her brow while blatantly touching the Reine des Garous's hair and chest. "Now this is very different from Mitotsudaira-sama... Anyway, I had only just begun participating in politics at the time, but I believe that was when we were wondering what to do about our respective positions during an away game."

"D-did you just gloss over some kind of weird comment with that 'anyway'!?"

"Now, now, Nate. Are you at that awkward age where you want to discuss your failings?"

The Reine des Garous scooted her chair over behind Horizon and lightly embraced her from behind.

"You are correct about that. Both Mikawa and England were more or less on your side and understood you. It was only at Magdeburg that you really started leaving your comfort zone. That can't have been easy."

"These really are big...! It is true I had only just started to participate back then, so we were unable to handle Guericke-sama very well and caused him a fair amount of trouble."

Masazumi had been there for that, but she saw Naruze, who had also been there, raise her right hand.

"What kind of trouble was that again?"

"Judge," said Horizon regarding that hemisphere sucker. "We should have finished things in a single round, not three."


"Hey, Guericke."

The smell of ink filled the air as factory workers faced the printing presses and kept working late into the night. In the large underground printing office's entrance, Tomoe Gozen asked Guericke a question.

She held a paste-up for a mini-version of the Ninety-five Theses.

"I know you had the printing office expanded during Magdeburg's great remodeling, but there's one thing I keep meaning to ask you about the general-audience printing menu. Why did you get rid of the old partial-submission option, like where you could submit your manuscript in three parts?"

"Testament, I have decided that we must finish all things in one go."

"I doubt needlessly pressuring yourself like that is going to end well."

"Not to worry." Guericke stared off into the distance while checking over a submitted manuscript on a lernen figur. "I prefer at least three censorship bars, not just one. So I am striking the right balance here."


"Anyway, what happened to your promise with Anne and the others?"

The Reine des Garous asked that of their Vice President.

...I would really like to know.

During the Sack of Magdeburg, she had only met her daughter, her daughter's king, a Schwarz Hexen girl, the English princess, and...um, a ninja. She had also encountered their Vice Chancellor at IZUMO, but that was all the contact she had had with them.

With the exception of their king's sister, this was her first time meeting the Vice President and all the others. They would of course have seen her from a distance and she recognized a lot of the scents she had picked up on back then.

They had once been her enemy, even if only temporarily.

It was an interesting and fickle connection that felt like it could turn any which way from a single reaction. And even if it did turn in the wrong direction, she had enough strength to handle it. Her one concern was growing so attached to someone that her strength no longer mattered, but her husband had already filled that role and she felt that king should be given that role for her daughter.

They were a single force, just like the Reine des Garous and Hexagone Française.

So she asked a question of the representative of that group that, just like her own group, had power and was trying to change the world in some way.

"What has become of your promise to do something about Hashiba and Nobunaga? ...That is what I would like to hear."


Masazumi listened to the Reine des Garou speak.

"Heh heh. What has become of the promise you made with Anne at Magdeburg?"

She did not immediately reply.

She thought about how they had fought and spoken in the eastern lands since Magdeburg and how Hexagone Française had fought in the western lands.

And on top of that, she knew that the Reine des Garous's question was a test.

The woman was asking what they would do about the world after everything they had experienced since Magdeburg.

...That's probably part of the reason why she's here.

Mouri had to be curious about their plans.

Mouri was currently working with Houjou to complete the Invasion of Mouri, but they had chosen Musashi as an opponent over Hashiba.

Why was unclear.

Optimistically, it could mean Mouri and Hexagone Française were more focused on them than Hashiba and wanted to work with them in constructing a post-Hashiba world.

Pessimistically, it could mean Mouri and Hexagone Française were more concerned about them than Hashiba and wanted to work with Houjou to weaken them.

Masazumi wanted to stay optimistic, but there was one major concern.

Mouri and Houjou had Sanada and P.A. Oda's Takigawa with them.

It was best to assume they were enemies.

...But...

Masazumi breathed in and was aware everyone's focus was on her.

"So you want to know what we have been doing since Magdeburg, do you?"

In other words, after they had met and parted with Anne, Hexagone Française's previous Chancellor.

The Reine des Garous was Hexagone Française's representative, so they had to tell her this.

They had to give Hexagone Française the information they needed to decide whether to work together with or turn against them in the future.

They had to demonstrate their worth.

That result could lead to a mere show of cooperation leading into a battle to exterminate them, but...

"————"

Masazumi faced forward and saw the idiot stick a sign frame over his crotch so that the others could not see.

It said, "If you can read this, you're a perv."

...Die...!

After smiling and pointing her right thumb down, she took a breath.

Then she nodded toward the Reine des Garous and swept her gaze across all the others.

"Are you listening?"


"Currently," said Masazumi as she indicated the past combat footage displayed on her sign frame. "We have almost entirely fulfilled our promise with the European powers at Magdeburg. No, I should say we already fulfilled it with the local battle against Houjou earlier."

Because...

"That Houjou battle, the Battle of Kanagawa, occurs after Nobunaga's assassination according to the Testament. It was fought to drive Takigawa Ichimasu out of Kantou after she learned of the assassination, so holding that recreation means we have forced their hand on the history recreation of that assassination. ...And the following 1st Siege of Ueda is the same. That too occurs after Nobunaga's assassination and the 2nd Siege of Ueda after that occurs during Sekigahara."

Do you understand?

"Currently, there are no major history recreations in Kantou from before Nobunaga's assassination and we have taken two major steps forward with battles that occur after it.

"With the Battle of Kanagawa, we have moved to the age after Nobunaga's assassination.

"With the 1st Siege of Ueda, we have brought things within a step of Sekigahara.

"That means we have acted as representatives of Kantou to apply pressure on Nobunaga."


"Judge," agreed Mitotsudaira.

The Battle of Kanagawa they had fought against Houjou and P.A. Oda had been a turning point both politically and for their standpoint.

...We started off fighting Houjou but we became Houjou partway through...

And in the 1st Siege of Ueda, they had arrived at the ruins and fought the Celestial Dragons who represented Sanada.

"That is very true," said the 1st Special Duty Officer. He used his left arm to support Mary as she dozed off. "In those two battles...Asama-dono fired an overexcited blast that exposed the Shirasagi Castle and Mitotsudaira-dono struck it twice with overexcited hammer blows. And since she did the same to the Celestial Dragon, we have essentially confirmed some post-Nobunaga history recreations in Kantou."

"I-I was not overexcited! I made sure to calm myself before firing so I could hit. So I wasn't overexcited. Not at allll."

"Th-that's right! I was only doing that because our strategy demanded it, so I wasn't overexcited. Besides, the attack I made in front of my king was a stake, not a hammer!"

"A stake!? Nate, you drove a stake into your king!?

...Why does she have to latch onto the weirdest things!?

Should she stop her?

No, trying to stop her would only start a serious battle and cause a fair bit of damage before the battle two days from now even began. Besides, why was her mother wiggling back and forth in her pajamas with her hands on her cheeks?

"Nate! You've overthrown him, haven't you!?"

"Wait," said Horizon. She then turned toward Mitotsudaira's mother and buried her face in the woman's chest. "Foh fuh foor faying fih foo fuh fah foh fuh fuh."

"Horizon! You don't need to force yourself to speak to get your point across!"

"My apologies." Horizon removed her face from the mother's chest before continuing. "I doubt that even Mitotsudaira-sama would drive a stake into Toori-sama just because she was overexcited."

"Yes, I suppose you're right..."

Mitotsudaira was more shocked that her mother had backed down than by what Horizon had said.

...Does this mean Horizon is the strongest!?

That possibility came to mind, but she had a feeling her mother was always going to act like that to her.

...Oh, she's teasing me, isn't she?

After a bit over 17 years of life, she finally caught on.

Asama had been watching the exchange while trying to pretend she was not involved, but was there some way of dragging her into it?

Silver Wolf: "Tomo! Tomo!"

<Warning: Asama-sama is currently in lockdown mode. Please wait and try calling her again later!: Confirm>

Anything goes with Shinto, doesn't it? she thought, but it seemed Asama had made a successfully escape this time.

But while Mitotsudaira's mother smiled, Horizon looked to Masazumi.

"Masazumi-sama, let us end this discussion of the Siege of Odawara by saying that Mitotsudaira-sama is prepared to drive a stake into Toori-sama."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"That is not a good at all."

Mitotsudaira felt the need to say that with a smile, but that led her mother to place her hands on her mysteriously flushed cheeks.

"Then let's discuss this at our leisure later on, Nate. Oh, and everyone else can join us too."

...Kh...!

She wanted to say something, but doing so would only cause more damage. Everyone was probably somewhat overexcited with someone as interesting as her mother here. Naruze was looking at her mother and sketching something, but the way she kept glancing to her and her king as well meant she needed to inspect that later.

Mal-Ga: "Oh, c'mon. What are you so worried about? ...It's just some mother-daughter time with a king thrown into the mix."

Silver Wolf: "That's exactly what I was worried about!!"

Gold Mar: "See, Ga-chan? You rushed this one too much. Let's think it over and give it a twist."

That also sounded dangerous, but at least she knew an inspection was definitely in order.

But there was one other thing she was curious about.

...My king?

She glanced his way to see what he thought about this situation.

He and Horizon were both giving her a thumbs up.

She had no idea what that meant, but she was fairly certain she did not want to know.

...Umm...

While her confused heart brought on a dull sweat, a sign frame appeared next to her face. Kimi had sent a message to only her and Asama.

Wise Sister: "Heh heh. You'll — have — to — wait."

...Wh-what does that mean!?

She doubted she would get an answer if she asked. Kimi's method was to make an invitation but only tell them to "go for it" if they tried to get a proper explanation.

Who was it with the teaching that said those who did no work would be given no sustenance?

Then Masazumi spoke up as if announcing the end of a break.

"The rest of you can debate over whether it was a stake or a hammer, but it is true that those two battles have fulfilled our obligation to the European powers. Also..."

She jerked her chin toward the northern sky.

She looked up at the night sky where dragons could still be seen flying.

"In the north, we were promised the cooperation of Date, Mogami, and Sviet Rus and we gained mutual approval of our path leading beyond Nobunaga's assassination. ...That means our battle with Sanada today gathered most everything we need to get from Nobunaga's assassination to Sekigahara and to the state of the Far East after that."

So...

"Let's review what is to come after Nobunaga's assassination, including Sekigahara."

Meaning...

"This review of the situation is meant to overturn our overall policy and create a new policy while building up the future."


"Listen," continued Masazumi. "After the 1st Siege of Ueda is the 2nd Siege of Ueda which is a battle fought alongside Sekigahara."

"That's right," said Neshinbara. "The 2nd Siege of Ueda occurs during Sekigahara when Matsudaira attempts to control a major road known as the Nakasendou. Matsudaira's child, Hidetada, is provoked into attacking Ueda Castle by Sanada Masayuki and Nobushige, but he fails. ...It is one of Matsudaira's failures related to Sekigahara."

"That's right. We can expect quite a battle since Sanada has already split in two, but given the Osaka Campaign, it is also quite convenient."

"How's it convenient, Seijun?"

Masazumi nodded at the idiot's question.

"The Osaka Campaign follows after Sekigahara. ...That is the final battle between weakened Hashiba and victorious Matsudaira. During that battle, the Sanada forces that sided with Hashiba perform a charge that reaches Matsudaira's battle headquarters. ...You could call that the last time Ieyasu's life is threatened."

So...

"It would help if we could battle Sanada's main force in advance at the 2nd Siege of Ueda. It would wear us both down, but Sanada is a small nation. ...They would have a hard time recovering before the Osaka Campaign. And as long as we can overcome that problem..."

Masazumi calmed her breathing.

"Driving Hashiba out of Edo, the Battle of Komaki Nagakute, and the Siege of Odawara. If we can complete those three things, we will be ready to place Hashiba in checkmate."


"But," said Masazumi as she looked directly at the Reine des Garous. "That should be enough of a bargaining chip against Hashiba for the European forces being invaded by them now. You can point out that they are only a few moves away from being in checkmate and ask what they are going to do about it. ...So we do not need to proactively complete the Siege of Odawara and use up that bargaining chip. We would like to wait and see what Europe will do."

That meant they had no hostile intent for Mouri or Hexagone Française.

Of course, she could not plainly state that.

As Matsudaira, Musashi would oppose Mouri as the Western Army at Sekigahara.

If they announced here they had no hostile intent, they would have to retract that statement during the history recreation of Sekigahara.

...That would be a lot of trouble.

She did not have any negative feelings regarding Mouri and she hoped they were the same.

"Heh heh. Don't worry. I understand exactly what you mean."

Masazumi felt relief fill her when she heard the Reine des Garous's sudden words.

She had gotten through to her.

She had proven their worth and conveyed it to her.

She had implied their lack of active hostility and that woman had understood.

In that case, she thought.

...It's our turn to ask something.

She had a question.

It related to the movements of Hexagone Française and Mouri.

"Hexagone Française...no, Mouri. Why are you here?"


Adele listened to the Vice President's words.

She knew what the girl was trying to say. After all, it was those of them soaking in the mountain stream hot spring that had first encountered the Reine des Garous.

...Why did Mouri and Hexagone Française come here?

"Was it to show off your boobs to do psychological damage!?"

"Calm down, Adele. You said that out loud."

In front of her, the Reine des Garous's back was trembling slightly.

She was laughing.

"Umm," hesitated Adele, so the Vice President cleared her throat.

"Reine des Garous. ...I would like to know why Hexagone Française and Mouri are here."

"Why do you want to know that?"

"That should be obvious. ...Because we have solved the problem given to us by Europe. Given that, why would you be driving us to war as if to monitor us?"

This was likely an act, but the Vice President continued her patronizing explanation.

"We could have begun our summer break without fighting the Siege of Odawara, so your intervention here is extremely regrettable."

Adele and everyone else had a response for that.

Almost Everyone: "Liar...!!!"


Vice President: "Wh-what!? Why are you calling me a liar!? How rude!"

Hori-ko: "Masazumi-sama, didn't you announce that Houjou was next while we were eating curry? Or is my sense of hearing on the fritz? Which is it?"

Bell: "Y-yes...she did. She...said that."

83: "The curry must have gotten to her brain."

Vice President: "I refuse to accept that explanation!"

Sticky King: "Oh? I'm shocked to hear it, Masazumi. For me, it goes to every part of my body."

Obscene: "It is more or less the same for me as well!!"


Masazumi stared at Nenji and Itoken.

...The most infuriating part is that I don't really have a rebuttal for that...

I need to study up on nonhumans some more. Yes, let's do that.

"Umm."

Masazumi resumed thinking. She had just demonstrated the value of their nation in a number of ways and she had set up the pretext needed for her question. That just left asking it.

"So. While we were enjoying our study camp, Mouri shows up. And they have teamed up against us with Houjou while insisting we have the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle right here."

...What are they trying to accomplish with that?

Did Europe intend to make some kind of deal with Hashiba? Since Hashiba was approaching the end of their history recreation, was Mouri offering them the Invasion of Mouri and Siege of Odawara while Hexagone Française made peace with them? Was that their plan?

...But in that case, Paris should have begun negotiations.

Hexagone Française was preparing for battle, so they could not make peace at the moment.

As she wondered what this was about, Masazumi asked a probing question.

She took a breath first.

"Is Mouri beginning down the path of a ruler?"


Asama was confused by Masazumi's question.

...They're becoming the ruler of Europe?

Why would that lead Mitotsudaira's mother to come here?

...What does that mean?

She was not all that knowledgeable about European history.

So she asked.

Asama: "Isn't Hexagone Française guaranteed by the Testament to become the ruler of Europe? Why are you asking about that here?"

Uqui: "Hm, the real question is when they will take the first step toward become actual rulers and not just rulers in name only. And Masazumi is saying that is happening here."

Vice President: "No, um, I was just asking a leading question. I was only saying it to say it."

Almost Everyone: "Way to ruin everything!"

Tsukinowa: "Maa!"

...Oh, Tsukinowa is angry.

She apparently had an excellent relationship with her Mouse, but she had more to say.

Vice President: "Well, Urquiaga is mostly right. Since they aren't thinking about making peace with Hashiba, I think this must be an effective starting point for them."

Unturning: "Kiyonari...I see you can actually take things seriously. That's a bit of a relief."

Uqui: "Narumi...I am serious about everything I say about you."

Unturning: "I only meant that as a compliment, not something to take so seriously."

Uqui: "Does that mean you actually think otherwise?"

Unturning: "I'll just say thank you and leave it at that."

It was kind of incredible that they could talk like that with everyone watching on.

But Masazumi still had her eyes on the Reine des Garous.

Vice President: "Intent is what matters here."

Me: "In tent!? Then why are we outside!?"

Horizon raised her right hand, waited until she had everyone's attention, and then punched him with that same hand.

"Was that supposed to be funny?"

"W-wait! You're supposed to say the tsukkomi while you hit me! Now try it again!"

Horizon gave the idiot such an intense sidelong glance that it seemed almost audible.

However, one person tilted their head at these antics: the Reine des Garous.

"What was that just now?"

Asama: "Oh, she's not part of the divine chat!"

Vice President: "Wait! Letting her join now would be dangerous!"

Silver Wolf: "Agreed! ...It would be dangerous for me as well!"

Asama had no choice but to put it off until later. Since the Reine des Garous could not participate, she explained for her.

"U-umm, Toori-kun made a gag on our cannibalistic divine chat."

"Oh, my. What kind of joke was it?"

Out of the corner of her eye, Asama saw Horizon raise her left fist. She could not reveal what Masazumi had been saying, so she chose her words carefully.

"Um...Masazumi used the word 'intent' and he interpreted it as 'in tent'."

"My," said the Reine des Garous with a slight smile. She also grabbed him and held him close.

"Ohh," he said as the side of his face sank into her chest.

...Nh.

Asama felt some anger she could not quite explain, but then the smiling Reine des Garous spoke.

"He must have been suggesting you hold this discussion in a tent since that is the historical standard for Far Eastern military camps. I imagine that was his intent here."


Laborer: "Well done."

Worshiper: "It's a shame that she's an old hag, but that reversal back to the word intent is a feat a little girl just couldn't accomplish! The real shame is that she needs to be an old hag to pull it off!"

Gold Mar: "Come to think of it, Mito-tsan's maman does seem to bring luck to everyone she interacts with, doesn't she?"

Mal-Ga: "A wolf helping him get lucky...!?"

Silver Wolf: "Why are you looking at me!?"


Mitotsudaira realized her mother was staring over at her while pulling the idiot into her chest.

...Eh?

When she wondered what this was about, her mother narrowed her eyes and briefly winked.

She did not initially know what that meant, but it hit her two seconds later.

"—————"

...C-curse my mother...!

Her mother was acting as an example.

Her mother probably thought she had placed herself "above" her daughter. And that positioning was correct given how things had gone here and given Mitotsudaira's relationship with her king.

...Sh-she really got me here!

Even Horizon was spinning the forearm of her raised arm and waiting to see what happened.

...Does this mean my mother is the strongest!?

No, wait. This means my mother and Horizon both have one victory each.

Mitotsudaira realized her mother's versus-Horizon score was tied at the moment.

And three seconds later, she realized something else.

...Isn't tying against Horizon pretty amazing!?

She looked over in shock and found her mother was already taking action. She once more lightly embraced Horizon from behind. She held down Horizon's raised hand as if gently taking a toy from a child.

"Now, let's hear what your Vice President has to say. I'm sure it will be interesting."

Horizon looked back, but the mother looked her in the eye and then looked to Masazumi. The action also drew Horizon's gaze toward Masazumi.

"Judge."

Everyone was focused on Masazumi once more.

...Kh...!

In a way, this was two losses for Horizon. Mitotsudaira was furious.

Gold Mar: "You can really tell she has experience raising a kid, can't you?"

Flat Vassal: "Does that mean she used to do that with the 5th Special Duty Officer?"

...Why did they have to point that out!?

Honestly, aren't we supposed to be listening to Masazumi now?

...Huh?

Mitotsudaira realized something.

Hadn't Masazumi gotten to the point where she was asking a question?

So why was it all of a sudden time to listen to Masazumi?


...That was well played!

Masazumi was angry and impressed with the overwhelming volume in front of her.

She had started to ask about Hexagone Française and Mouri's intent here, but the Reine des Garous had instead demanded Masazumi speak to settle down the idiot and Horizon.

...Could I point out that I had just asked a question?

If so, the Reine des Garous would probably just say "Oh, did you?" and answer the question. However...

...That would be playing into her hand.

After all, the Reine des Garous had asked her to speak once more.

She had ignored the question about beginning down the path of a ruler.

So she was probably asking Masazumi to guess their intent in coming here.

...Then I need to repeat what I said before.

So she did.

"Here are my thoughts: I thought that Hexagone Française was finally starting down the path of Europe's ruler by recreating the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle in Houjou land."

"Oh? What made you think that?"

"Because that is the last definite loss in Mouri's history recreation."

"My, my." The Reine des Garous formed a smile on the corners of her mouth. "Mouri makes an enemy of Matsudaira at Sekigahara and is somewhat punished for it, you know?"

"I am well aware," said Masazumi. "But we have a choice as to how we will oppose each other at Sekigahara. ...And that will be determined by how we settle this Houjou battle."


Masazumi looked to the Reine des Garous's smile.

"I think Mouri came here with the intent of announcing and negotiating what kind of relationship they will have with us as preparation for Sekigahara and beyond."

That also meant to apply pressure on Hashiba through the Invasion of Mouri and the Siege of Odawara.

...That means it is a strategy looking to the post-Hashiba world.

"And if we are to negotiate, there is an option on either extreme: cooperation or separation. Am I wrong, Reine des Garous?"

"You certainly are self-conscious," said the Reine des Garous with a smile. "But it does seem you can think about how the world will change. ...Fine, then. Let us hold a tea party with Terumoto during your travel day tomorrow."

Everyone looked up.

They were all focused on the Reine des Garous who rested her chin on Horizon's head.

"Staying over on the Musashi tomorrow sounds like a lot of fun. I can say hello to everyone who has looked after my daughter. And her friends too."

"What!? No!?" shouted Mitotsudaira.

Gold Mar: "Does this mean Ture-yan brought Mouri all this way just so she could have a home visit with and harass Mito-tsan?"

The problem was that Masazumi also felt like that might be the real answer.

"Anyway," she said with a clap of her hands.

They had scheduled a meeting with Mouri for the following day. So...

"Ohiroshiki, Aoi, we have a visitor, so cook up whatever food you can manage with that small campfire. She already bathed in the hot spring, so make sure it isn't anything with a strong smell."