Horizon:Volume 6A Chapter 20

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Chapter 20: Probing Girls on the Dueling Ground[edit]

Horizon6A 639.jpg

Being stubborn

Is exactly what

Untangles things behind the scenes

Point Allocation (True Intent)


Masazumi saw Terumoto's eyes widen and mouth spread horizontally.

...Yeah...

The sudden introduction of the Horizon rules was never good for your sanity.

She watched as Terumoto hung her head with her hands still on the table. A few seconds passed before her head shot up again.

Her bow-and-arrow hair decorations made a noise as she thrust her hand out to the right.

"Here, princess."

She grabbed the teacup offered to her and she tilted her head back to swallow the tea like it was alcohol.

She took a breath and slammed the teacup on the table.

"Are you stupid!? There is no point system here!"

...Ah, you idiot.

Masazumi thought that just as Horizon's gaze sharpened.

The automaton girl slowly nodded.

"There is. Because this is Musashi and I am Musashi's Vicereine. ...Thus, I am the rules here."

After that quiet announcement, Horizon nodded toward Terumoto.

"...That makes two points for us."

"You moron...!" Terumoto raised her voice and pointed at her feet. "This is a Mouri diplomatic ship! A diplomatic ship is an extraterritorial space. The laws of the ship's country apply on the ship! So you can't say this is Musashi!? Got that!?"

"Oh? The laws of the ship's country apply on the ship? Then who gave permission for this ship to function as a diplomatic ship while it is on the Musashi?"

Horizon cut down her argument.

"Three points."


Ujinao thought about the exchange between Musashi's Princess and Terumoto.

...This is so incredibly novel...

Next to the Princess, the Musashi Vice President was drinking tea, typing on her sign frame keyboard, and...

"Sorry, Tsukinowa. That was scary, wasn't it?"

Did that mean she thought their Princess could handle it, or did she simply not want to get involved?

But the Mito Lord stepped forward from behind those two.

"May I say something, Hexagone Française Student Council President?"

That statement emphasized that they were from the same nation.

Ujinao listened to the half-Loup Garou while noting how nimble her movements were.

"As someone born in Hexagone Française, I think Hashiba's invasion is an unforgivable and illegal act, so I know exactly how you feel."

Ujinao assumed that Terumoto would agree with that statement.

However...

...Mouri Terumoto?

Terumoto did nothing.

She was motionless.


Ujinao sensed Terumoto.

But she did not move.

Just like the Musashi Vice President had earlier, Mouri Terumoto remained entirely motionless as if building up her strength.

Terumoto was suppressing her reaction to the statement from Musashi's silver wolf.

...Why?

Ujinao thought about why Terumoto would not agree with this.

"—————"

And she realized that the silver wolf's words had been devastating for Terumoto.


Mitotsudaira gasped when she saw Terumoto's silence and motionlessness.

...How good are her diplomatic senses...!?

Mitotsudaira had made that statement based on an instruction Masazumi sent her via sign frame.

Masazumi had told her to call Hashiba's invasion "an unforgivable and illegal act".

Mitotsudaira had honestly not understood why, but she had figured it out after saying it.

That statement overturned everything Terumoto had been saying.

Righteousness: "Sorry, but what was that just now?"

Silver Wolf: "Judge. Masazumi set a trap for Terumoto."

She explained what that trap was.

Silver Wolf: "I called Hashiba's invasion an unforgivable and illegal act. ...If Mouri agrees with that, they will be calling Hashiba's actions illegal and thus a violation of the international rules. She would be agreeing with our previous 'opinion' that Hashiba's invasion was not our responsibility and she would also be establishing that both we and Mouri find it unforgivable. And if..."

If...

Silver Wolf: "If Terumoto does not accept this statement, it will mean Hexagone Française has accepted something illegal and unforgivable, placing them in violation of the international rules. ...Both responses place either Hashiba or Mouri in violation of the international rules, so Musashi can escape responsibility."

Tachibana Wife: "It sounds like sophistry to me, but I suppose that is why you are still in negotiation..."

"But," someone said.

Flat Vassal: "Why didn't you say this right away?"

Vice President: "Because she could have escaped."

Mitotsudaira nodded at what Masazumi said.

That was true.

This enemy wielded vainglory, attacked with rapid arguments, and swiftly fled out of harm's way.

Vice President: "So I had to wear down her argument until she had established Hashiba's invasion as an absolute fact. I made several attacks while waiting for her to proclaim the fact of Hashiba's invasion as an argument against us. That was the time to turn everything around. But..."

Silver Wolf: "If Horizon hadn't intervened, we might not have had time to pull everything together."

They had just barely made the timing.

Horizon had acted in order to buy them some time to set up the proper situation.

Of course, there was a trick to that.

"...Tomo."

Mitotsudaira had quietly called out and Asama had met her gaze and nodded.

Her king had stood in front of them and he had given a push on Horizon's back.

"Help us out a bit," he had whispered.

Horizon had nodded and had indeed helped them.

Asama had as well. She had been recording everything Terumoto said, checking for the parts that emphasized the Hashiba invasion, and sending them to Masazumi.

Masazumi had been able to instruct Mitotsudaira to say what she had because she had seen the frequency of Terumoto's relevant statements ramping up.

They had thought Terumoto might let her guard down if the statement came from someone else from her nation, but she had not fallen for it.

She had chosen silence so as to avoid either answer.

Looking back, it had taken all five of them to restrain Terumoto like this.

...This is ridiculous.

She had power.

She had vainglory and pride. She wielded that power to do as she pleased.

She was being restrained at the moment, but...

Vice President: "Here it comes."

Everyone tensed when they saw Masazumi's words.

Then they saw a quick motion.

Terumoto had started to lower her head, but it shot up again.

Just like before, the bow-and-arrow hair decorations made a noise, but her hair shook even more sharply than before.

And her exposed face revealed a sharp gaze directed their way.

Her closed mouth spread horizontally.

"You idiots."

They heard a familiar word in that short time.

"I went to all that trouble to let you save face while transferring your rights to us...but now war is the only option. What are you going to do about that?"


Terumoto sighed.

...Honestly.

"This means war."

Do you understand?

"Mouri's full power is effectively the same as Hexagone Française's. Recently, we've been working at our anti-ship attack methods, but what enemy do you think we were expecting when we did that?"

Her question received no response.

I didn't really expect it to, she thought. No one would give the correct answer in this situation.

But she wanted to hold the full rights to the Far East.

She had enough of a reason to want that. So...

"Let's fight a war, Musashi," said Terumoto. "Mouri and Hexagone Française will use this Invasion of Mouri to obtain all of Matsudaira's rights. ...We will inherit the Matsudaira name and rule this world. Got a problem with that?"

The Musashi Vice President looked her right back in the eye.

And the girl placed her anteater Mouse on her shoulder.

"A giant one."


Azuma: "Um, should we laugh at that?"

Bell: "Y-yes...I feel bad...for Masazumi."

Sticky King: "But that took guts, Masazumi! I am impressed!"

Vice President: "Ugh. You wouldn't believe me if I said that wasn't on purpose, would you!?"


Masazumi sighed at the posts on her sign frame and thought, They're the same as ever.

But then she saw another message appear.

Scarred: "Why is Lady Terumoto so fixated on the right to rule the Far East?"

That was a good question.

Mouri was united with Hexagone Française, the ruler of Europe, so it would make sense that they would want to avoid having the decline of their clan cast a shadow on France's rule.

But it was odd to be this fixated on it.

...Is there some other reason for this?

Masazumi swung her right hand to the side as if to brush aside something unnecessary.

"Let me make one thing clear."

That being...

"We do not want war. If possible, we would like to resolve the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle and the Siege of Odawara without any fighting whatsoever."

Wise Sister: "Oh, dear. Have you gone insane?"

Vice President: "How does that warrant an 'oh, dear'!?"

She could not keep up with that crazy person's dialect.

But a report on the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle arrived from Neshinbara.

"Listen, Mouri Terumoto. Summer break is arriving soon, but you have completed your history recreations quite well. That means the Bitchu Takamatsu Castle will be your final history recreation of the first term."

That pointed to a certain fact.

"Are you listening?" Masazumi swung her right hand forward again and clenched the fist before her eyes. "If the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle is limited to the actual siege lines around the castle, there will only be two initial rounds of attack and defense before the flooding begins. Some Mouri reinforcements led by Terumoto arrive afterwards, but they only end up staring down Hashiba and finally make peace."

Thus...

"Looking at the history recreation, you cannot use that to create a large battle between us and Mouri."

"Huh? ...Interpretations can take care of that easy."

It happened again.

Mouri was once again fixated on war.

No, what she wanted was to gain the right to succeed the Far East through war.

...Why?

Her pride as a conqueror's wife? Pure greed? A means to provide peace to the Far East? Or...

"——————"

One term in particular stood out to Masazumi.

It felt off. There was a discrepancy between the direction Terumoto was headed and the direction of Masazumi's thoughts.

...The Far East?

That term felt oddly off.

It was correct, but still wrong. It made her feel like she was mistaken about something. But...

...This is dangerous!

Her instincts sounded the alarm. She felt like she was bound to fail somewhere if she continued speaking with Terumoto like this.

The way things were, she could not follow what Terumoto was saying.

The danger was war. If they started the kind of war Terumoto wanted, it would end badly.

So Masazumi tried to speak to the others.

She wanted someone to buy her some time to prepare.

But just then...

"Hey, this is getting pretty complicated, so what's going on here?"

The idiot stepped forward.


Masazumi was somewhat surprised.

Vice President: "Hey, idiot. Are you interested in political negotiations now? Stop! Are you okay!?"

Me: "Th-think before you speak!"

But the idiot's presence was exactly what she needed.

Masazumi used her finger to write some text out on a sign frame and pushed it toward the idiot below the table.

She wrote it as simply as possible so even he would understand: Buy some time.

The idiot held it to his crotch.

"Ahn."

"Why are you making creepy noises!?"

"Huh!? I'm not sure a girl like you would understand even if I explained it! Or do you want me to keep explaining it until you get it!? I'll explain it as sensibly and sensitively as I can, but are you sure you want that!? Well!?"

"Just look at what it says!"

The idiot did so and then frowned.

"Um...what's this say? Buy some time?"

"Don't read it out loud!"

A coin flew in from the distance and struck the idiot in the side of the head.

It produced a wonderful sound and sent him flying over the table with three flips.

Mal-Ga: "Yes! That was an amazing shot for this distance, Margot!"

Gold Mar: "Judge! We just keep improving our skills, Ga-chan. Let's aim for a more niche area next time!"

At least the Technohexen were doing well.

But as Masazumi nodded along, she realized something.

...Now the idiot can't buy us any time!

That was truly regrettable.

She wondered what to do and considered sending out another distraction.

But before she could, the idiot stood back up. He was now right next to Terumoto.

"Hi. You're the wife of that guy who copied my nudist shtick, aren't you?"

Terumoto turned toward Masazumi.

"Can I hit him?"

"That will mean another point for us," warned Horizon. "So what will you do?"

"Then I'll pass."

As Terumoto sighed, the idiot crossed his arms behind his head and spoke to her.

"War, huh?"


Vice President: "Waiiiit!!"

Asama: "Th-that's right, Toori-kun! No matter how much Masazumi loves war, we can't do it now!"

Silver Wolf: "That's right, my king! No matter how much Masazumi loves war, we can't do it now!"

Wise Sister: "Wait, you two! No matter how much Masazumi loves war, you can't say that now! You need to read between the lines of what my foolish brother is doing! Now, Masazumi! Enjoy your war."

Vice President: "Who is on whose side here!?"


Asama thought, Masazumi's reactions are becoming more and more like Toori-kun's.

She was not sure what to think of that, but she did think lively reactions were good for your mental health. It had to be far better than bottling things up.

But, she thought.

...Are you serious, Toori-kun!?

Accepting war was certainly one method of achieving world domination.

But doing so now was exactly what Mouri Terumoto wanted.

It may have been because of how shrine maidens used words, but Asama sensed something off about what Terumoto was saying. And Masazumi had to be feeling it even more.

It felt to Asama like Terumoto was using the same words as them while aiming for something different.

...But for what?

They could not agree to anything until they knew that. But...

"Toori-kun must have had an idea."

That quiet comment caused Mitotsudaira to turn toward her with a bitter smile.

"Tomo? You're supposed to say that with a sigh."


Terumoto was surprised by what the Musashi Chancellor said.

...Does that idiot have some kind of plan?

She had not expected them to agree with her without any caution whatsoever.

...Is he serious?

She lightly gasped at this unexpected development.

No one said anything around her. She could only sense the scent of the tea and the blowing of the wind.

The afternoon had only just begun.

She took a breath while feeling the sunlight on her in the blue sky.

"...Okay."

She had cooled her head. She may have actually been overheating, but she chose to believe she had. Then she asked Musashi's idiot a question.

"Are you going to wage war against us?"

"Yeah. You're not gonna stop until we do, right?"

That was true.

And that was why she said what she did.

"This will mean war. Is that okay with you?"

"Yeah, it is."

...Is he serious?

But there was no joy on her face.

Only surprise. That was the only emotion she could sense there.

Because this had been too easy. Also...

"Aoi!"

Based on the Musashi Vice President's tone, this was the Musashi Chancellor showing off. But the Chancellor/President's words had more authority than the Vice President's.

That meant it was all over for Musashi. No, the Far East itself was now unnecessary.

So Terumoto though, Now I can bring it all to an end.

"Okay, Musashi. Our war begins tomorrow, but-..."

"Ah, wait. Hold on."

The Musashi Chancellor held his right palm out toward her.

He stopped her, but why now?

"Chickening out?"

"I'm not gonna change my mind from one second to the next. It's just that all this talk of war reminded me that we have a prior engagement."

Namely...

"You there, the busty Houjou girl. ...We have a prior engagement with you."


Ujinao questioned the Musashi Chancellor's assertion.

"A prior engagement...?"

Had she and Musashi made any kind of agreement related to war?

She searched through her automaton memory, but found nothing.

...I do not recall this.

They had not discussed such a thing at IZUMO. And she had not held any kind of meeting with Musashi since then. So...

"What is this prior engagement?"

"There are two actually. Two."

...Two?

She could not recall even one, but now there were two.

What kind of promises had she made? She was confused as the Musashi Chancellor continued.

"The first is about Noriki."

That was an unexpected name.

It was like a physical blow from head-on, but...

"...Oh?"

She managed to restrict her reaction to just that.

That name reminded her of her past, but this was not the place for it.

Her high-speed automaton thoughts rebuked her over and over and she managed to recover.

Instead of suppressing her feelings, she calmed them. Just as she had done with so many things other than him: her nation, herself, etc.

"You call that a prior engagement?"

"Yeah. I mean, Noriki's gone to Suwa so he can fight you."

That was an unexpected fact.

It was like a physical blow from head-on, but...

"—————"

She managed to restrict her reaction to just that.

That was an unexpected fact, but this was not the place for it.

Her high-speed automaton thoughts-

"He said something about pulling you down from your current position or destroying it or whatever."

That was an unexpected fact.

It was like a physical blow from head-on-

"Ujinao-sama! Ujinao-sama! Your reactions are looping!"

Kotarou pointed out her mistake, so she nodded.

"Using a stable method is the safest option, Kotarou."

"But that loop feels an awful lot like how a maiden in love would respond, Ujinao-sama."

"Oh? Kotarou, are you saying I am not a maiden?"

Ujinao smiled toward Kotarou and froze in place for about 2 seconds. Then she placed a hand over her mouth.

"...Hee hee. There's nothing wrong with it from time to time."

"Y-you're wasting your high-speed thoughts again, aren't you!?"

"Kotarou, you must make use of what functions you have."

"But what you're doing isn't useful! Ujinao-sama, are you once more going insa-...oops, almost went too far there!"

"This is an important meeting, so I am just a little nervous is all."

"Ahhhh! I hate how reasonable that sounds if you ignore what you're actually talking about!"

Kotarou was so cute when she flailed around like that.

But part of what Musashi had said had her interest.

"Musashi."

So she tried asking.

"You have told me one of the two prior engagements. So what is the other one? And if you do have a prior engagement with us in Houjou, does that really take precedence over Mouri?"


"Well, of course."

Ujinao sensed the Musashi Chancellor nod.

He crossed his arms and gave a dignified nod.

"I mean, you came to IZUMO, didn't you? You said you would welcome us in Kantou and you ate a bunch of the food I made in the nude."

She called up her memories and confirmed that was accurate.

She had drunk a lot back then.

She had also eaten a lot.

She remembered it tasting good, but the ingredients had come from that bar. So...

"You are a good cook."

"What you had there was nothing. ...But to get back on topic, that's what I mean."

What was what he meant? He explained.

"What you said still lives on within me. So..."

So...

"As promised, how are you going to welcome us now that we're in Kantou? Just so you know, everyone who was at that meeting — Hisahide, Yoshitsune, Yoshiyori — sided with us. Yoshiyasu is actually living with us now."

He then pointed at her.

"You're the only one that hasn't taken our side yet, so keep your promise."


...That does sort of count as a prior engagement.

Masazumi released the air from her lungs to calm her body's tension.

What had happened at that IZUMO bar had been a product of that specific discussion.

It had been less of a promise and more of a way to confirm each other's positions. Ujinao had simply been saying Musashi had to go to Kantou before they could truly do that.

So it was not an agreement between nations and it was not a definite promise.

That seemed to be why Ujinao said what she did.

"I do not believe I said much of anything in our discussion at that IZUMO bar. ...I did not state anything definitive about joining Musashi's side. So I have determined your interpretation goes too far."

Yeah, thought Masazumi.

But out of the corner of her eye, she saw the idiot scratching his head.

"Hmm..." He tilted his head. "Then why did you go to IZUMO?"

Ujinao froze in place when he asked that.

She remained expressionless for a few moments, but then she nodded.

And she provided an answer.

"To make trade arrangements."


That's a lie, thought Mitotsudaira.

It was obvious Ujinao had hesitated before answering.

...Because what if?

What if she prioritized her promise with my king in order to assist Musashi?

What if she prioritized her promise with Noriki if he does come to meet her?

Of course, Noriki's promise had been made without her input, but since she had avoided it...

...Something must have happened.

She must have had some kind of promise from back when Noriki was in Houjou.

She was trying not to touch on that.

And that led Mitotsudaira to realize something else.

Silver Wolf: "Masazumi. You know what this means, don't you?"

She had to have noticed.

Silver Wolf: "Houjou is the same."


"My, my. It would seem my daughter has noticed the signs."

Naito heard the Reine des Garous speak.

They were on Okutama's bow deck. They had gathered there to declare the end of the study camp and those not participating in the meeting up above had remained there.

Just in case, Naito and Naruze were using Schwarz Fräulein and a telescope spell to aim at the meeting area.

"It sure is hot..."

They were sipping at drinks below a parasol while they monitored the situation.

However, Naito turned back toward the Reine des Garous.

"Ture-yan, what signs are you talking about?

"Hee hee. That is a se – cret. But," she added while turning back toward Kimi who was sunbathing on a bench. "The best women are the ones with secrets, aren't they?"

"Judge. I did say that long ago."

Kimi smiled bitterly and rolled over. She rolled from her stomach onto her back. She covered her chest with her hands as she was not wearing a bra.

"Long, long ago...I met a woman living in a Technohexen house deep in the dark forest. She asked me where I was going and where I had come from, so I smiled and told her that line."

"You mean...?"

What did that story have to do with anything? Naito felt like she knew, but also like she did not know.

If she performed a search, she would probably find the answer. But...

"The best women do not attempt to divulge secrets, do they?"

"Oh, well said."

The Reine des Garous sat on the bench prepared for her.

She brushed her massive hair back and spoke.

"But a wolf will not let her prey escape once she has noticed it. And the prey here are those signs. ...Now, what answer will she find?"


Masazumi trembled and she was not sure why.

All her body's hair bristled. The sensation ran from her toes and fingers to her spine and head, but it was not caused by fear.

...Oh, no.

She had noticed the signs before Mitotsudaira said anything.

No, she should say it was Mitotsudaira that had confirmed it for her.

And those two were not the only ones.

Asama: "Masazumi, about what Houjou-san just said..."

Masazumi viewed the words on her sign frame as a verification of her thoughts.

Asama had noticed something and she was typing it out for confirmation.

Asama: "Houjou-san also wants war. An official war with no kindness behind it."


Mitotsudaira nodded at Asama's observation.

...That's right.

Houjou had rejected what her king had said.

Silver Wolf: "She rejected the opportunity to take Musashi's side. ...But my king was talking about going to war in the first place."

Meaning...

Silver Wolf: "My king was talking about a war where they compromise and take our side. Since she rejected that, she must not want a war made up of interpretations and compromise."

Excellent job getting that out of her, my king!

Hori-ko: "Is that what you were doing, Toori-sama?"

Me: "Eh!? U-uhh! Yeah! Sure! Definitely!"

Hori-ko: "Really? Can you look me in the eye and say that?"

Me: "U-uuh... It just kind of worked out that way..."

Must you two crush my respect for him?

But looking at it like that, it made sense. Ujinao had avoided Noriki with the talk of "trade" because...

...She intends to fight a true war.

Why? wondered Mitotsudaira.

She knew why Mouri would want that. They were trying to gain the right to rule the Far East.

...Isn't that why Mouri Terumoto wants to have a proper battle with us?

But why would Houjou want that as well?

"Kh..."

What is it? she thought while mentally clenching her teeth.

She was so close.

She felt so close to arriving at some incredible answer.

But she had too few signs. Several gears were missing, so the answer-revealing machine would not run.

Mouri and Houjou. Why did those two nations want war?

...Why?

Just as she thought that, she saw something in the distance.

It was a single aerial warship traveling west through Houjou's sky.

It was a flat-topped galley painted black.

...Is that a P.A. Oda ship?

No. It was probably a warship given to Takigawa by Houjou.

"Excuse me."

Mitotsudaira opened a telescope spell.

The image showed the southern sky shimmering in the summer air, but she focused in on the ship's bow.

The side of the ship bore the name Kanie Castle.

It was likely on the way to Takigawa's battlefield as part of her forces.

And Mitotsudaira realized something.

...Why isn't P.A. Oda's Takigawa at this meeting?


Mitotsudaira was briefly baffled.

If Takigawa's group was not there, it meant she was not working with Houjou and Mouri. At the very least, they were not working together closely enough to appear at this sort of international meeting.

That meant the P.A. Oda force was a diversion tactic being used by Houjou or Mouri. It was a factor meant to divert some of Musashi's forces elsewhere.

That meant Takigawa's group was not seen as very important, but it also meant they had some freedom as a P.A. Oda force and would be eliminating the defeat at the Battle of Komaki Nagakute in advance.

Thus, the three of them were not allies but were working together.

That was how it had looked until now. But...

...What does this mean?

Mouri was a powerful nation and Houjou was Kantou's representative nation.

They wished for war, but they had not spoken a word about their allies from P.A. Oda.

That was strange.

It did not make sense under the assumption that they wanted war.

...What is it they want from this war?

A certain word came to mind.

"...It's a secret, isn't it?"

Asama turned toward her and asked a question.

"A shared one, you mean?"

"No, this isn't about that," replied Mitotsudaira while looking away and feeling heat in her cheeks.

But the word secret fit the current situation well.

Mouri and Houjou. Those two representatives had to have a shared secret.

...I just hope it's a simple one like my king's peeping.

According to Kimi, her king did not want to peep. He wanted to use the peeping to have a shared secret with the other person.

That discrepancy between method and objective is a lot like him, thought Mitotsudaira.

"...!?"

She looked up.

It must have been a sharp movement because Horizon, her king, and Asama all turned her way. Houjou and Terumoto also glanced in her direction.

But she did not mind the attention.

She made up her mind and opened a sign frame so they could see. And...

...Everyone.

She used it to send a message to Asama, Horizon, Masazumi, and her king.

She spoke to Musashi's representatives here as a shared secret that the enemy could not see.

"Their method and objective are different," she said. "Mouri and Houjou's objective is not something they will gain in the war. ...It is something beyond that. They are using a victory in war as the means to gain something else."

Her king used his peeping to gain a shared secret with the other person, not anything he actually saw with his eyes.

So what was it Mouri and Houjou wanted here?

If Musashi was the peeping victim, then Mouri and Houjou wanted a shared secret with them.

It had to be something Mouri and Houjou would gain via war.

It would be the full rights of Matsudaira, just like Mouri had said. In that case, thought Mitotsudaira.

What were they trying to share by gaining those Matsudaira rights?

She did not know.

But this was as far as she would get. After sticking with her king and stating her clever opinion, the wolf came to a stop.

Because...

"Masazumi!"

There was someone else here who could better bare her fangs in the political field.

They had their Vice President who had full authority over Musashi's negotiations.

So Mitotsudaira spoke to her via sign frame.

"The wolf will only carry you this far. So you follow the path from here, Masazumi. What would happen if Mouri, the bearers of one conqueror's path, gained the full authority of Matsudaira? And what can Houjou gain from that result? The point in common between those two things is the answer to everything!"

She sent her words toward someone's back.

That back had not moved or reacted at all to her words.

It was Masazumi.

But now she moved.

She slowly raised her right hand and breathed in.

Then Mitotsudaira heard Masazumi's words. It was the same thing she always said when gathering her thoughts.

"Can I say one thing?" she asked.


Masazumi realized what that bristling feeling had been.

Mitotsudaira had provided a lot of help here. She likely had her thoughts on the matter since they were up against Hexagone Française here

...I should probably treat her to yakiniku when we get back. ...I hope my part-time pay is enough...

While wondering about that, Masazumi began speaking.

"I mostly understand this now, so let me make something clear about the initial topic."

That being...

"Mouri Terumoto, I cannot transfer Matsudaira's rights to you."

Terumoto kept her arms crossed and her expression unchanged. She continued staring at Masazumi with her eyebrows somewhat raised and no smile on her lips.

...That's fine.

Masazumi had yet to strike at the core of her opponent.

So she looked away from Terumoto and toward Ujinao.

"Houjou Ujinao. We will wage war with you."

"But..."

Masazumi did not nod.

"As far as Mouri is concerned, I do not think we should fight Bitchu Takamatsu Castle any more than necessary. ...But Matsudaira had a lot to do with Odawara."

Novice: "That's right. People often focus only on the flooding part, but that only happened after several supporting castles fell and Houjou reinforcements were kept away. ...Houjou has not fought any of the battles in which those supporting castles were defeated, so I think that is why they are talking of a major war now."

Four Eyes: "Continue. I'm taking notes."

Worshiper: "...I assume everyone knows the answer and just isn't saying anything, but taking notes for what?"

Four Eyes: "I like to copy dialogue down by hand."

Almost Everyone: "Eeeek."

They really never changed.

But Neshinbara was right.

"Houjou must fight a major war if they are to follow the Testament. ...But we will not make that a largescale war."

"...Hey."

Terumoto called out to her, but Masazumi ignored her.

"Houjou Ujinao. ...I would like to carry out the Siege of Odawara as a series of duels based on the supporting castle battles and the actual Odawara siege."

She placed her hands on the table, took a breath, and opened her mouth.

"As a representative of Musashi, I, Vice President Honda Masazumi, have a request for Mouri and Houjou."

She lowered her head as she continued.

"Mouri and Houjou. As Matsudaira, Musashi would like to form an alliance with your two nations."

She had said it.

And a moment later, Terumoto responded.

"No. I can't agree to that."



Terumoto gave her answer.

They had indeed considered an alliance with Musashi at this point.

After all...

...Something would happen if Matsudaira joined us to form a single large force.

The Musashi Vice President had to know what would happen. So...

"If you have anything to say, then say it."

She did not need to tell the girl to raise her head.

The Musashi Vice President was already directly facing her.

Her bangs shook and her cheeks were somewhat flushed.

It was a look of expectation concerning what she was about to say. It was the look of a girl who knew she could rejoice in herself.

It was an excellent look.

Her glossy lips moved to form the words.

"Then I will say it."


Masazumi spoke to Terumoto.

"I know what Mouri and Houjou hope for after waging war with Musashi. First of all..."

This is the entrance, she told herself.

"You want to liberate Kantou from Hashiba."