Horizon:Volume 6A Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Sky Viewer on the Ground
The reason someone leaves
Is to go and meet someone
Point Allocation (Planned)
Naito looked up when she heard what Noriki said.
He had said he was going somewhere for a day and a half, but...
...So it's somewhere he can go in a day and a half, is it?
"Where will you be going? I'm assuming it isn't anywhere on the Musashi. Right, Nori-rin?"
He glared at her, but she had always called him that. And he had always glared at her in response, so nothing had changed.
Next to her, Naruze also turned toward Noriki.
"A day and a half or two days? It must be somewhere pretty far away. Couldn't you get there quicker if we gave you a ride on the back of our Schwarz Fräulein or Weiss Fräulein?"
"No, it's pretty close to here. But there's something I have to do there."
Someone responded to Noriki's statement: Asama. She opened a sign frame by her hands.
"It's Suwa, isn't it?"
"Judge." Noriki nodded. "Suwa's main shrine in Shinshu. From this part of Sanada, it should only take half a day on foot."
Naito quickly opened a Magie Figur and called up a map of the Far East.
Asama would normally perform the check of such a wide area, but she could not act here.
...It's on the Shinto network, but this is a shrine from a different affiliation group.
Asama was a shrine maiden of the Asama Shrine that worshiped Sakuya and the Asama Shrine was Musashi's main shrine.
Meanwhile, Noriki belonged to Suwa which had its main shrine on the surface and managed his old home, making it his birthplace shrine.
Since Suwa belonged to a different affiliation group, the Asama Shrine had to act as an intermediary for him to access it on the Musashi.
The Asama Shrine handled the formal processing of his contract and spells, but when politics were involved, it was dangerous to get too involved in issues related to another affiliation group's god. If anything happened, they would have to repay the other shrine in some way.
"It would also be a pain to have Seijun check over this, so I'll handle the map of the area," said Naito. "Since Ga-chan and I do delivery work, we have the map that's been built up since Musashi's construction."
Naito had already displayed the map in her hand. She first had it show Sanada land and the area around Ueda.
The map primarily showed the provisional borders and cities.
The details were centered on those areas and things grew more abstract farther away from them. Some parts were in color, but that was mixed with areas in black and white or drawn in pen.
It was a patchwork collection of small maps drawn from what was visible on or near the Musashi.
The map had been passed down by the delivery business, but not even delivery workers could leave the Musashi. However, they had spent decades photographing a wide area using telescope spells while the Musashi was in flight.
...And this is the result of cutting and pasting them all together.
The images Naruze had taken near Mito would have already been added in.
Naito wanted to check on that, but now was not the time.
She found the area she wanted and zoomed in. Then she held it overhead.
"Does this work?"
She pointed at one point in the Koshinetsu region from behind the Far East map.
"This here is where we are now. It's near the border between northwest Koshinetsu and south Sviet Rus."
"Nori-rin wants to go to Suwa, Shinshu, in western Koshinetsu. That means he needs to travel more than 20km southwest."
"Nori-rin, won't that be pretty tough?"
"The Yatsugatake Mountains that extend down from the southern Alps are located between Ueda and Suwa, so you'll probably be crossing a mountain. Since you're used to life on the Musashi, won't you have a hard time traveling on the surface?"
"That's right," said Naomasa. "You stayed back and looked after the tents today because you wanted to preserve your strength, didn't you? ...That would explain Neshinbara too."
"How could I say no to such a cool request?"
"Don't be dumb," continued Naomasa. "Crossing a mountain will be too much. Especially since that area is pretty dangerous with the Altai Mountains of the continent's central area appearing as a Harmonic Territory. ...If you're going to do this, you need to take a detour either north or south and use a transport ship. That would be safer. Besides, you'll have to go all the way to Houjou on your way back. The battle will be over by the time you arrive on foot."
Asama: "I didn't know Masa could be so considerate..."
Smoking Girl: "I've always kept an eye on the continent's routes and terrain. I was curious about the land that gave the Suzaku its name, so I did a lot of research into Qing-Takeda which also takes names from there. I've memorized most everything from Mikawa to the Tianshan Corridor."
Mal-Ga: "Judge. ...I understand completely. I can use that for my doujinshi."
Smoking Girl: "How does that make any sense!?"
Gold Mar: "Who said anything about needing to make sense?"
Asama: "That's right! You're senseless! You people are completely senseless!"
Silver Wolf: "If Naomasa joins the lineup too, will it distribute the damage away from me?"
Ohh, Mito-tsan is taking a positive view, thought Naito as she heard Noriki sigh.
But his sigh seemed to sap the strength from his body.
"Nori-rin. ...As you can see, you should really give this some more thought."
She knew why he trailed off.
"You're not a Special Duty Officer or anything else, so there's no real reason to send out a transport ship for you, is there?"
"Then can't Masazumi-sama use her authority as Vice President to make Noriki-sama someone's aide?"
"No, she can't do that, Horizon."
Toori waved his hand in front of Horizon's face. He then moved in front of her and began grinding his hips side to side.
Without speaking a word, Horizon threw a low punch into the idiot's crotch.
The dull and somewhat muffled sound caused everyone to stop moving.
Three seconds later, the clothed idiot fell to his knees with this long black wig fluttering behind him.
Horizon spoke to the idiot who hung his head and stopped moving.
"Toori-sama. You should not move around so carelessly. What if someone hit you with a surprise attack?"
"W-wait, Horizon. L-listen. Just give me, um, hm...th-thirty seconds before we try to talk any more."
"Why do you sound like a girl?" asked Tenzou.
But the idiot sat with his knees apart, tried to keep his hips as high as he could, and slapped his lower belly.
"O-okay! I can do this! I can do this! Y'see, Horizon..."
"Noriki-sama has the necessary combat skill, but he also has his family to look after. So if he became a Special Duty Officer's aide, his work-home balance would fall apart."
"Judge. Sorry about bringing my private life into this, but that's why."
"H-hey! Noriki! She stole my line, so couldn't you have passed that one off to me a little better?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
It was incredible how readily the idiot accepted that.
Mal-Ga: "This is why he's so hard to put in my doujinshi..."
Wise Sister: "Heh heh heh. Are you praising my foolish brother?"
Mal-Ga: "You're even harder...!"
Ga-chan, no need to get so worked up.
But then someone else spoke to Noriki.
It was Narumi. She was seated at the table and sipping on some sake.
"Why are you thinking so much of your family here?"
"My family used to be Houjou retainers."
"Judge." Narumi nodded. "That makes sense."
So that's it, thought Narumi.
...Do I pick up on political issues so quickly thanks to our Secretary?
As she came to that internal understanding, she sensed someone's gaze on her.
It was the vassal. Also the bangs girl and Musashi's princess.
The three of them were giving her a "What does that mean?" look.
...It doesn't really matter if you understand this or not.
But she understood the desire to understand if it did not matter one way or another.
So Narumi looked to the girls who were tilting their heads.
"Listen. Someone from a family that used to be a Houjou retainer will now be fighting against Houjou. Do you know what would happen if he gave no thought to his family in that situation?"
"Judge. In that case, they would have a hard time gaining the trust of Houjou as their former master after we win the Houjou battle."
Gin answered and Narumi nodded.
...I suppose she would have an understanding of how clans work.
This had to do with political negotiations. Since people like her were often influenced by political factors, it made sense they would understand this.
And that seemed to be why their Secretary pushed up his glasses and looked around at them all.
"Listen, everyone. The Siege of Odawara will actually strengthen the Matsudaira forces in the end. ...While trapped in Kantou, Matsudaira absorbed the remnants of the fallen Takeda clan and then takes in the remnants of Houjou here. That allows us to act as a powerful force in the east that rivals Hashiba in the center."
"Because Matsudaira takes Houjou in as their own force, we need to take good care of them. Noriki-kun's presence will provide a foundation and example for them here."
"Sorry about all this."
Hearing that, their Chancellor waved his hand back and forth.
"No, no. It's more than enough that you can make an appearance on the front line. ...But how do you plan to get to Suwa and back again in time?"
"Well..." The laborer of a former Houjou family brought a hand to his chin. "If I do make a detour via transport ship, which way would be shorter?"
The Schwarz Hexen had an immediate answer to that.
Naito showed Noriki the map on her Magie Figur.
She moved the speedometer-shaped scale bar to zoom it out a bit.
It displayed the mountain range crossing north to south between Ueda on the east and Suwa on the west.
Naito began by placing her finger on Ueda and drawing a red line south.
...Um, is it here? Midway between Yatsugatake and Yokoo.
She placed a mark at a gap in the mountains leading south.
"You have to go pretty far south before you reach a route connecting east to west. The south leads to the southern Alps, so you'd have to cross that boundary and pass through at high altitude, which would take some time."
"Then I should go north?" asked Noriki.
"It looks like the longer way around, but it should cut down the travel time a lot."
But just as she said that...
Someone stopped her.
It was Masazumi.
She viewed the raised Magie Figur with her arms crossed.
"The northern route would be dangerous."
"Shibata's forces remain in southern Sviet Rus."
...Oh, she's right about that.
That reminded Naito that the Siege of Uozu Castle they held at Novgorod had ended Shibata's invasion of Sviet Rus.
She and Naruze had been on the front line then and had kept Shibata's fleet in check.
Shibata's forces had been forced to retreat from Sviet Rus during that battle. But...
"Even the Testament says Shibata's group continued fighting against Sviet Rus. They continued to defend against attacks from Sviet Rus and showed signs of trying to invade. ...That makes Shibata's forces the northern defenders for Oda."
"But that invasion and defense delayed their arrival during the assassination of Nobunaga." Neshinbara opened his own sign frame and crossed his arms in a solemn fashion. "But these Shibata forces seem to be a little different."
"How so, Bara-yan?"
"Judge. Their battle formation has been moving eastward. The Testament descriptions have them more toward western Sviet Rus, but they have moved to the east instead."
With a comment of "listen", Neshinbara expanded the sign frame.
It displayed a map of the Far East from Kantou to near Kinki.
This one was of Neshinbara's own making, so it was nothing compared to the one Naito had.
But he placed some colors on the map.
An area was colored red from Tokai to Kinki.
"This is P.A. Oda's main force. Nobunaga's troops. And to the east..."
A small area was colored in green.
"This is Sanada. And between Sanada and Nobunaga's main force...we have this yellow. These are the areas ruled by Oda's people such as Mori Nagayoshi or Takigawa. They were here until the other day. Do you know what that means?"
"Judge." Mitotsudaira nodded as she grabbed some cooked chicken from her table seat. She placed the chicken on a container of heated rocks to reheat it. "Takigawa lost her territory during the Battle of Kanagawa. ...She has of course joined with Houjou to recreate a portion of Komaki Nagakute, but that is a different matter."
"Yes. Also, that means Takigawa's territory at the southern end of the Oda-controlled territory is now unclaimed. And Matsudaira will receive that land through the Tensho Jingo Conflict against Houjou."
Neshinbara filled Takigawa's land in with blue.
And that meant...
"Once we complete the Houjou battle, we will border Oda's main forces."
That would explain it, thought Naito.
"Seijun, that's why you want to intervene in Nobunaga's assassination after the Houjou battle, isn't it?"
"Judge. You know what I'm saying now?"
"Yes," said Naruze from next to Naito. "I do. If we border them, we can find some excuse to start a big war with Oda's main forces. The biggest war imaginable will begin, which will turn Masazumi on so much she'll wait for nightfall and...oh, I know what the doujinshi after next will be."
"Wait! You're veering off topic!"
Naito and everyone else ignored her.
And Neshinbara made another change to his map.
"Specifically, this is what will happen to Matsudaira territory after the Houjou battle."
He added blue to the entirety of south Kantou, where Houjou was.
"After the Siege of Odawara, Matsudaira will gain all the land and troops from east and south Kantou. That is what will be happening in the world next. So Shibata's unit is placing their battle formation to the north as a deterrent."
Noriki spoke up as if in response to that.
"So if I go to the north, Shibata's forces or the main Oda forces will interfere?"
"Correct," said Neshinbara.
Adele raised her hand at that while looking back and forth between Naito's map and Neshinbara's map.
"But Suwa is in P.A. Oda land, isn't it? They helped Takeda prepare for their destruction as part of the history recreation and they gained the right to protect Qing in exchange, but if Suwa was taken into P.A. Oda, isn't it the same whether he goes north or south?"
"Going north gives them an excuse to interfere," answered Narumi. She used a chicken skewer to point at Neshinbara's map and she spoke plainly. "We originally came to Sanada for a study camp and we drove Takigawa out of the land south of Sanada. So traveling to Suwa from the south means visiting from our provisionally-held territory. And Musashi would send out the transport ship while heading south to Houjou, but that means it happens while the threat of Musashi leaves to the south."
"That's right. ...If he chooses the north route, Musashi will be sending a transport ship north before moving south, so it could look like a provocation of the Shibata forces."
"So south then," said Noriki.
Naito nodded and used her finger to draw a red line circling around to the south on her map.
"That would be a total of about 120km. By my estimate, that would take about 6 hours at full speed on a transport ship."
"That was my estimate as well."
Since Naomasa concurred, it was likely accurate.
"That just leaves the ship..."
But just as Naito said that...
"Um, everyone? One thing." The Reine des Garous raised her right hand. "About that former Houjou boy. ...While you haven't mentioned what he will be doing in Suwa, should you really be discussing all this in front of me?"
Mitotsudaira turned toward her mother.
The woman tilted her head as if to say "Yes?", but she was across the campfire from them. She could leap to any part of this clearing in a blink of an eye if need be, but that cushion of distance was still appreciated.
Mitotsudaira spoke while focusing on her role as a knight.
"Mother, you will be our enemy two days from now. So we aren't about to mention here just what tricks we have up our sleeve."
Her mother narrowed her eyes.
That teeth-baring smile was a dangerous sign, so Mitotsudaira mentally prepared herself for whatever might come.
"Tricks up your sleeve? ...Are you saying he will be participating in the battle the day after tomorrow and he is going to Suwa in order to learn a spell for that battle?"
That was a leading question, or a leading response, or something.
She felt like her entire body had gone pale. However...
"But, Nate, your king said earlier that it's more than enough that he can make an appearance on the front line. ...Heh heh. So the answer to my question was plainly obvious to begin with. Right, Nate?"
Her mother was teasing her. She felt completely set up.
But in that case...
"Masazumi, how much information were you planning to reveal to my mother?"
"That would be up to Noriki...or I guess Neshinbara since he set this up," said Masazumi with a slight lowering of her shoulders.
Neshinbara chose to respond to that.
"Reine des Garous."
"Heh heh. What is it?"
"Please give me your autograph. Oh, and I mean for both Turenne and Masuda Motonaga. And two autographs for each."
"My, my." Mitotsudaira's mother only smiled more. "Is the second one for your girlfriend in England?"
Mal-Ga: "See? She's your girlfriend."
Gold Mar: "If you don't agree, you won't get those autographs."
Hori-ko: "Now, Neshinbara-sama, how will you respond to this challenging dilemma?"
Asama: "Um, we're inside a barrier right now, so should I open a special connection to England for just Shakespeare-san?"
Novice: "Why are you all so unified on this one!?"
"I only need autographs for myself. But please give me an extra of each as a spare."
Mitotsudaira saw her mother laugh at Neshinbara's request.
Smoking Girl: "He really doesn't know when to give up, does he?"
Flat Vassal: "Why are boys so stubborn about the weirdest things?"
Gold Mar: "Reminds me of Asama-chi."
Asama: "What does this have to do with me!?"
Sounds accurate to me, thought Mitotsudaira as her mother accepted the autograph papers.
Then her mother pulled some lipstick from her cleavage.
"W-wait, mother! Why are you carrying that around with you!?"
"Heh heh heh. Don't be silly, Mitotsudaira!” said Kimi. “All women need to be ready to pretty themselves up at a moment's notice! Look, I'm carrying a microphone there! Oh, but I guess that wouldn't be possible for you... I know! I can teach you how to carry things between your butt cheeks! Won't that be great!?"
That crazy person needs to shut up.
At any rate, her mother smeared some lipstick on her finger, wrote out her signature with it, and passed the signatures back to Neshinbara.
"Okay. The simplest explanation is that Noriki-kun is going to Suwa in order to alter March. That way he can set the version."
"I can register an original spell at Musashi's Suwa, but when I also want to include a change to the settings, I can't provide very detailed instructions. I need to do that at Suwa's main shrine."
Noriki then looked to Mitotsudaira's mother.
"And it's not about you."
Her mother looked calmly back at Noriki.
And Noriki suddenly scratched his head, presumably because of what he had said.
"No, that's a bad way of putting it. ...This isn't about something to use against you."
"Hee hee. So I've been rejected?"
"I will fight you if need be," stated Noriki. And he continued from there: "But this settings change I'll be doing at Suwa...is for use against Ujinao."
"My." Mitotsudaira's mother placed a hand on her cheek. "You're a lot more passionate than you look."
"If you understand, there's no need to say it."
Noriki then added a "but" while turning to face everyone from his chair. He placed his hands on his spread lap and lowered his head.
"I will be leaving for a bit. Please give me this time."
"Wait." It was Futayo that spoke out. "Noriki-dono, what if the battle ends before you arrive?"
"That's fine. This is my personal issue."
"And you are fine with that too, glasses boy?"
"Glasses boy..." everyone muttered before Neshinbara nodded.
"From a tactical standpoint, Noriki-kun's March is a balance breaker that can destroy barriers, defensive or otherwise. He played an important role during the Novgorod battle for that reason. But..."
"If he can gain a spell for use against Houjou's Chancellor, that should lead us to even greater results than March has had before. If we can set things up to conclude with a duel between Noriki-kun and Houjou Ujinao, then our victory is guaranteed."
"Judge. ...Then as Vice Chancellor, I grant authorization for a portion of our fighting force to leave."
"Okay." Masazumi clapped her hands. "Does anyone else have something to say?"
Mitotsudaira just about shook her head, but...
...At this rate, we'll be headed back to the base camp!
Her mother would finally discover the tent arrangements.
Mitotsudaira frantically turned toward her mother.
"Mother! ...You have to go join Houjou now, don't you!?"
"Oh? What are you talking about? I'm spending the night here tonight."
...Why does she sound so unsuspecting!?
But this was dangerous.
"Um, we don't have a tent ready for you."
"Well, then I can just stay in your tent, can't I?"
Once she thought about it, that was the natural solution.
No matter how much she thought about it, she could not come up with a good reason to send that bombshell of a mother to another tent.
Silver Wolf: "Adele? Would you believe me if I told you sleeping next to my mother made your boobs grow?"
Flat Vassal: "5th Special Duty Officer, you're living proof that isn't true."
Silver Wolf: "Th-then what about Futayo's tent?"
Tonbokiri: "I toss and turn a lot in my sleep, but if that is fine with her..."
Why does that tent sound so dangerous?
And Gin was sharing a tent with Muneshige.
"U-um, mother? ...There isn't much room in my tent!"
"Oh, my. Who all is in there with you?"
...Why did I bring it up!?
Mitotsudaira thought long and hard. She felt like she was desperately pulling in a rope.
At the table, Horizon spread her arms and measured the width of her own head.
"So each side has one, two... I believe we could fit one more."
"That's gotta be bad for your circulation..."
"Oh? Foolish brother, then should I sleep on top of you?"
"K-Kimi, how do you always think outside the box like that!?"
The others were joining the discussion, which only increased the danger.
Mitotsudaira quickly faced and spoke to her mother.
"I-it's just that, um, my hair takes up a lot of space."
"Can't you let it rest on top of you? Loup-garous are perfectly capable of sleeping on our stomach."
She knew that. And she realized it had been silly to think her mother would not know that.
And her mother bent her eyes in a smile.
"Nate? ...You're hiding something, aren't you?"
"I-I would never! What would I ever hide from you, mother!?"
"So you'll tell me the truth?"
Gold Mar: "Ture-yan sure is good at this."
Mal-Ga: "Yes. I knew Mitotsudaira was bad at arguments, but I didn't realize it was possible to be this much better than her."
Silver Wolf: "Stop acting like you're not a part of this!"
But her mother's smile had not budged.
This was bad.
She considered running away and spending the night elsewhere, but her mother would probably hunt her down in the mountains. Plus, she still remembered her mother saving her long ago when she got lost in the forest and fell asleep.
...Wh-what am I supposed to do!?
And just as Mitotsudaira gasped, an unexpected voice reached them from outside.
"Okay, everyone. Is your meeting about over? We have to head out early tomorrow, so get to sleep."
It was Oriotorai.
Mitotsudaira used a burst of acceleration to turn toward their teacher.
"Sensei! Do we have a tent for my mother to use?"
"She won't be sleeping in a tent, Mitotsudaira. She's your mother."
A den then? she thought, but she did not want to waste this opportunity. So she worked to form a smile and remain calm as she spoke.
"Judge. Then, Sensei, do we have a bed for my mother to use?"
"Yes, how about..."
Oriotorai pointed back toward the faculty bungalows lined up on an elevated area bordering the clearing.
"...she joins us in there?"
"My, what a lovely place."
Hallelujah!, thought Mitotsudaira.
Her mother had been distracted. Thank you, sensei.
...I'll give you a year's supply of Mito natto as thanks!
But then Oriotorai put her hands on her hips and smiled a little.
"It's a bit cluttered with sake bottles, though. Still, it's roomier than the kids' tents."
"Oh? Nate mentioned that too. Are the tents really that cramped?"
"Mitotsudaira's is, what with Toori, Horizon, Kimi, and Asama in there with her."
After a while, Naruze sighed.
Mal-Ga: "How long should I wait to peek inside if I want a good illustration?"
Scarred: "Hee hee. All of them sleeping together would make for such a nice picture."
Gold Mar: "Oh, it would. It definitely would."
Silver Wolf: "This is no laughing matter!"
But her mother turned her way with a smile.
"Sensei? On second thought, I think I'll be staying in my daughter's tent tonight."
"Yes, Nate?" asked her smiling mother. "You said you wouldn't hide anything from me, didn't you?"
"Why are we holding a festival at night without bothering to hide anything? This has gotten completely out of hand."
There was noise.
A gold winged figure listened to that noise by the water's edge which was as bright as day even though it was night.
That figure was Katou Yoshiaki.
She was in the open-air pool built atop the bridge of a transport ship. She was listening to two things along with Wakisaka Angie who was sitting on the poolside and operating a Magie Figur.
One was the noise from the festival being held on the ship.
...They're even livelier than during the day.
The festival was an advance recreation of a portion of the Siege of Odawara.
According to the Testament, Hashiba showed off how confident they were by holding a multi-day festival while flooding Houjou's Odawara Castle. But this was dangerous if they tried to hurry through the Siege of Odawara. As a delaying tactic, Houjou could claim they had to do the festival before the battle.
That was why they were holding the festival in advance, but...
"Since the two of us will be heading out for the Siege of Odawara soon, we have to actually take this seriously."
"That's right, Angie. ...But I'm disappointed in the night pool. It's way too bright."
However, the sounds of the festival were lively.
There were flutes and drums, but the Far Eastern sounds were joined by M.H.R.R. ones as well.
And beyond those sounds, a second set of noise arrived from the north.
"That would be the noise of the construction in Paris."
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