Horizon:Volume 6A Chapter 9
Chapter 9: Technohexen Below the Lamps
If the water level
Everything will be swept away
Instead of sinking
Point Allocation (Ero)
Yoshiaki viewed Paris in the distance.
With Angie by her side, she heard the sounds of festivities and of construction, which sounded like distant thunder. She listened to them both together and spoke.
"I never knew it made so much noise when dragons dug into the dirt."
"It sounds more like they're smashing up the dirt than digging into it."
Angie showed her a Magie Figur.
It displayed a silhouette image with Paris's nightscape in the background. The giant dragon silhouettes were moving and digging around the city while decorated by the wooden jib cranes on the city walls.
...With just the silhouettes, it looks like the city of Mephisto.
From the city's perspective, they had to look like a partying ghost ship floating in the night.
So we're both the same on that front, thought Yoshiaki as she approached the poolside.
"The edge is a bit torn up here. Is that due to the god of war shell grazing it yesterday?"
"I'm amazed Kacky wasn't hit."
"It couldn't reach someone as short as him when he was treading water. But the impact would have knocked him down to the bottom, so it's lucky he didn't drown."
During that battle, Fukushima and Kiyomasa had done serious damage to a god of war each. But they had been stopped by an old man. And Kiyomasa had been injured in a way that could have been fatal.
"Katou Danzou. To think he's here too."
There were a few different ninja said to have been the strongest of the Warring States period.
Katou Danzou was one of those and he was an illusion user. He had preferred illusion techniques to martial arts or ninja techniques, but his illusions had seemed real and concrete and he had even manipulated the very clan he served.
Of all the ninja said to be the strongest, his actions ranked at the very top.
And they had confirmed that this was really him.
They had sent an inquiry to Shibata's group currently deployed to Sviet Rus.
According to that, the old man had served as Novgorod Mayoress Marfa's butler under the name of Toby.
That was of course a fake name. Katou Danzou had originally served the Uesugi clan, which fit with him being at Novgorod.
He was said to have ultimately ended up at Sanada, but...
"I never imagined he would be the teacher of the Sanada Ten Braves."
"He was probably just their lead teacher. They apparently referred to him as their 'great teacher'."
"Then were the other Celestial and Terrestrial Dragons just 'teachers'?" Yoshiaki rested her head in her hand on the poolside. "I wonder what our teacher is doing."
"The current capricious one." Yoshiaki sighed. "She's supposed to be a teacher, but she's only ever thinking about her grudge. She generally just leaves us alone, but I'm glad we weren't caught up in that. ...Because we have our own task to do."
They heard a loud and solid sound from the north.
"Sounds like they split some kind of rock. Dragons sure are powerful."
"That's not going to be fun for our group. I mean, look."
Angie placed an image over the Magie Figur displaying Paris.
It was a moonlit silhouette.
"This is the large dragon that attacked the transport ships before. It was photographed while it fell, but it's different from the 6 dragons around Paris now."
"A dragon mercenary captain. Hexagone Française really aren't holding back, are they?" said Yoshiaki. "But I get why they're so motivated here. If they survive this, then Hexagone Française only has a future of victory remaining."
"It's the same for us, isn't it?"
Hearing that, Yoshiaki thought, That's true, isn't it?
...I can't believe it.
"My bad, Angie. I'm just in a negative mood right now. ...Starting with this time period, Hashiba is almost undefeated in its Testament descriptions, isn't it? Is Komaki Nagakute the only real exception?"
"There's also the retreat from the Keichou Campaign. Still, I understand why you're feeling so negative. Because it's the stake that sticks up that gets pounded. Oh, and that's not a euphemism."
Yoshiaki could tell Angie was being considerate and that made her feel both apologetic and thankful.
It improved her mood a bit. It felt like she was opening her heart as well as her mouth.
"Even if we have constant victories to look forward to, the possibility of interpretations means we can also face real hostility. As long as we're up on the stage, we will have to face people like that. Since we're working for a conqueror like Hashiba, we have a lot of battles and duels we have to fight."
"Yeah... If only we could just take it easy."
Agreed, thought Yoshiaki, but this was their destiny.
"And after we chose Katou Yoshiaki and Wakisaka Yasuharu as the easier Ten Spears names to inherit."
"Angie's just so cute, I couldn't imagine being anyone else."
She had to be referring to her name. Surely she wasn't referring to herself in the third person.
Then they heard another loud sound from the north.
"They sure are noisy."
"They're probably making the moat even deeper than planned. They must be thinking about what comes after the battle."
"You know." Yoshiaki pointed at Angie's image of Paris. "The Seine runs east to west through the center of Paris. That means it isn't built up on elevated land. It's just built on a normal plain. That's what makes it so susceptible to flooding."
"I've been wondering. Is there any point in them digging a moat?"
Angie had a good point.
A moat would only provide a temporary buffer. Especially for a city on a plain.
But there was a point to it.
"It simply makes it harder for ground forces to enter the city. And we can't bring a whole bunch of ships onto land either. That's why the attacker will generally only surround the city after flooding it. This means they want that situation. And if they have another reason..."
It would be...
"So they can divert a branch of the Seine around Paris's perimeter after the battle. And that will have two different effects."
"A city of Paris's size will already have fully developed farmland around it."
"Then," said Angie as she looked up into the sky. She viewed the lamp spell lights hanging down overhead. "For defense on the European battlefront?"
"Yes, that would be one effect. After all, Hexagone Française will continue waging war with other nations after the Thirty Years' War. They also have advance notice of a civil war. So it would be a good idea for Paris to fortify itself for the future. But in addition to that..."
Just as Yoshiaki said that, a voice reached them from the stairs leading up to the bridge-top pool.
"In addition to that, it provides urban development."
It was Takenaka.
Angie had some issues with Takeko but also quite liked her.
Her issues were with Takeko's instructions. She was always asking for ridiculous things and Angie would honestly have no idea what those instructions meant half the time, so she would need Yoshiaki to explain.
...I want to believe that doesn't mean I'm dumb...
She figured she was fine as long as she was still worried about it. And if she was not fine, she had already decided she would blame it on fighting too many battles and call herself a victim of the current age.
But what she liked about Takeko outweighed those issues. After all...
"Takeko. Have you got the battle all figured out?"
"Yes, yes. Mostly anyway."
She was carefree.
Takeko would make ridiculous requests, but she would readily accept ridiculous responses. That came from her focus on their mission and objectives above all else, which Angie quite liked. She did not hide anything when they had the same objectives and she did not act like a strict commander. On top of that...
"Do you want a treat?"
"I do, I do."
Takeko held up a tray holding plates of eclairs.
She was apparently saying to come and get it. When her partner raised her wings in preparation to get up on the poolside, Angie held out a hand to stop her and then stood up.
"Come to think of it, that's an enemy treat, isn't it?"
Angie and Takeko had similar tastes in treats and they tended to get along in conversation as well. Takeko was the type to nod in agreement and then pinpoint target exactly what Angie did not know when she asked questions. It was easy to tell she was smart.
Ten steps away, Takeko set the tray and her shoulder-carried bag down on the poolside. Angie approached.
"So how are things?"
"Right, right," said Takeko while laying a long towel at her feet and removing her coat.
She wore a two-piece swimsuit below.
...She has a surprisingly large chest.
She had been worried about her belly during the physical examination, so this may have been similar.
But Takeko pulled a late-night snack and some nausea medicine from her bag.
"Well, to put it simply, Hexagone Française has done a lot to prepare for the flooding and they're thinking about what comes after that as well."
"You mean the urban development you mentioned?"
Angie arrived, gave a wave of thanks, and took two plates from the tray.
"So what is Hexagone Française doing while they fight?"
"Testament. ...Waterways can be used to wash away sewage in this age. If they can surround Paris with a branch of the Seine, they can then expand the city outside that waterway."
She opened a lernen figur and drew the circle of Paris with the Seine running through the center from left to right. And...
"It kind of looks like the Double Border Crest..."
Angie smiled bitterly at the voice reaching her from behind.
"Yes, yes. I won't say anything."
"Ha ha." Takeko laughed bitterly. "You have a lot to worry about, don't you? ...Anyway, it would look like this." She drew a waterway around Paris's perimeter as well. "If they expand outside the waterway with the same ratio as on the inside, they will double the city's area. Paris is already one of the world's largest cities in this age and this would mean gaining that much space all over again."
"Only a large nation could pull that off. Anyway, Takenaka, how is the battle looking?"
"It really is going to come down to the flooding."
"Will you be able to settle things quickly?"
"It's a method of defense, but there is a way."
Angie frowned at what Takeko said.
They were supposed to be going on the attack with a flooding.
They would build levees to hold in the water, cause the Seine to overflow its banks, and flood Paris.
That was how it was supposed to work, but...
"Why would we be using a defensive method? Aren't they fortifying Paris so they don't have to come out? And even if they do come out, it'll only be a surprise attack using that Bernard's mercenary dragons, right?"
"No, no. They'll have their full forces work hard and come out to fight."
As usual, Angie had no idea what Takeko meant.
...I really have issues with this.
But she heard a voice from behind her.
"Angie, stop eating and bring me mine."
She had started eating hers without thinking.
They had to get going early the following morning. And they would have to be on their best behavior if they were carrying Kani to Houjou. It was not that she would have nothing to eat tomorrow, but she wanted to feel like she had "filled up" in advance. So...
"Here, here. ...Thanks, Takeko."
"Want to hear about our tactics?"
"We're not actually going to be here."
"That's right," said Yoshiaki as she climbed up onto the poolside.
...Ohh. Your boobs are so big, Kime-chan.
Her wings forced her to climb up with her chest hanging down, which accentuated its size.
"The air on the ship is adjusted, but Hexagone Française is pretty humid this time of year, thanks to the Far Eastern climate. ...Hey, Angie? What are you looking at?"
"Where that eclair will end up."
With that, Angie arrived at her partner. She looked back to see Takeko splashing herself with the pool water and uttering an "ahyah!"
"Takeko. The water is heated, so you don't have to be so nervous. And you're still wearing your glasses."
"Don't worry. They're waterproof."
Does that actually mean anything? she wondered, but she had something else to say.
"If you throw up in there, they'll probably get mad at you."
"I'll be fine. I just ate an easy-to-digest Far Eastern pizza."
"Oh, yeah. The Testament Union gets after us if we call it an okonomiyaki, don't they?"
"When I was mixing it in the bowl, I thought it looked a bit like vomit and nearly threw up right then."
"You're doing it to yourself now?"
"I didn't actually."
Finished splashing water on herself, Takeko swung down her hand to get the water off.
...Is there any reason for that when she's about to get in the water?
This was another side of Takeko she liked. Even after knowing her for years, the girl still seemed so bizarre. But there was something she had to ask her at the moment.
"Can we win?"
"That's the plan."
"How much damage will we take?"
"Well," said Takeko as she got in the water. "Oh, it is warm! This isn't bad at all."
She's trying to avoid answering me, thought Angie as Yoshiaki spoke to her from the side.
"I hope she has the same opinion the day after tomorrow."
She was glaring and she spun around on the poolside. She turned to face the water.
But she did not let her wings move. She simply faced the water which did not reflect the night sky due to the bright lamps. Then she sat on the poolside and looked up into the night sky with her feet soaking in the water.
Angie looked up too.
There were two moons there. Angie silently held out the eclair and Yoshiaki took it, so she was not completely self-focused. That was why Angie spoke to her while viewing the moons.
"I wonder if we'll be able to see this tomorrow morning."
"Good question." Yoshiaki looked up at the same moons. "It's such a nice night with no real pressure." She took a breath. "Our battle with Musashi begins the day after tomorrow, but the sky is such a beautiful bluish-black."
Below the night sky, a waterfall roared and a river flowed.
Like the bottom of a canyon, the river banks had cliffs rising up on either side.
The pebbly river banks had a few tents with lights on inside and a giant bamboo launcher towered from the ground near the center.
The emblem of Musashi Ariadust Academy was painted on the outside of the tents.
Someone was wandering restlessly between the tents.
It was Mitotsudaira.
She was slowly walking between each tent and looking around.
She had been with her mother, her king, and the others as they entered the tent, but she had concluded that tent would be like hell on earth for her and she had left on the pretext of "standing guard outside". However...
She was sleepy.
She had fought hard that afternoon and then she had eaten dinner, taken a bath, and eaten even more just now. Of course she was feeling sleepy. Her king and Horizon had already gotten some sleep, but Tomo and Kimi would...No, Kimi is probably fine.
Whatever the case, she felt like whoever went to sleep first would lose.
So she needed to keep moving as much as possible. She patrolled between the tents, sat down on a large rock on the river bank and sighed. Then she looked around and viewed the tent's light from outside.
...It would be so much easier if my mother would just go to sleep...
The problem was her mother's seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. She seemed similar to Kimi in that regard, so it was game over if those two joined forces.
What am I supposed to do about this? she wondered, but then...
"5th Special Duty Officer?"
She looked over to find Adele next to her. And Adele said...
"You fell asleep."
Mitotsudaira quickly sat up straight. However...
When had she started resting her head in her hand? The last thing she remembered, she had been viewing the light of the tent.
She realized she had bent forward and that her hair was quite heavy.
Adele gave her a bitter smile.
"Want me to take over for you?"
"But you have family visiting."
"Yes, but that's the whole-..."
Mitotsudaira looked to Adele and trailed off before saying "problem".
Adele no longer had her parents.
But Mitotsudaira also noticed that Adele carried her vassal spear over her shoulder. So...
"Is my shift over?"
"Yes, they're only 2 hour shifts. We weren't too strict about it last night, but there's a lot going on in Houjou tonight."
That meant they did not have to show any extra consideration for each other's situations. They could focus entirely on their duty.
...So it's already midnight.
"Who has the shift after yours?"
"Judge. The 1st Special Duty Officer said he'll do it. And it's apparently Persona-kun-san after that."
Adele spread her mouth horizontally in a smile.
Then she raised a hand next to her mouth.
"I'm thinking of sending Mary-san out of our tent during the 1st Special Duty Officer's shift."
"That's a great idea...!"
No matter what might happen to Mitotsudaira, it was guaranteed to be overwritten by another topic in two hours' time.
"Well done, Adele!"
"No, no. I still have a lot to learn."
Mitotsudaira was not quite sure what that meant, but now her safety was guaranteed.
...I guess I'll have to return to our tent now.
She overheard some voices from the boys' tent on the way.
"Hey! Someone play a 7 already! I'm about to lose here! And after I made sure to use this deck of cards with an 'Elder Sisters of the World' theme for good luck!"
"Then you hurry up and play the 12 of hearts based on Mary-dono! Then lose and hand over that Weird Juice that came as a bonus with My Elder Sister is a Popular Gaul: Norman Conquest Edition!"
"Did they just try to cram in everything they could there? Besides, what idiot is holding onto a 6? This Husband Otto III that I won isn't going anywhere otherwise."
It was an ugly argument, but if the 1st Special Duty Officer was that fired up, he would be fine standing guard for a shift.
At any rate, her king's tent came into view.
Standing in front of it, the light within showed her the actions inside via silhouette.
The silhouette that looked like a large pyramid was likely her mother.
She was still awake. And she was saying something.
"Yes, Nate can be so silly. When she first swam in our spring, she was afraid of the water and couldn't point her belly down. I had no choice but to help her, but she insisted she didn't need any help. I wasn't sure what to do then. And then she must have let her belly get too cold because she p-..."
Mitotsudaira threw open the tent's entrance, but Asama had apparently been leaning against it because she fell back.
Mitotsudaira had two reasons for her confusion. The first was Asama's unexpected presence, but the second was...
...My king is sitting directly across from her.
Asama was the type to not wear anything below her yukata.
After losing her balance and falling back toward Mitotsudaira, Asama frantically held her hands between her thighs.
"That got exciting in a hurry," said Naruze while poking her head out from their tent's entrance.
Adele stood by the entrance.
"Yes, they do make things exciting..."
"That they do. But Adele." Margot poked her head out above Naruze's and smiled at Adele. "That was a good job. Set up Tenzou and Ma-yan next."
"Eh? ...Oh, judge! I can manage that, yes."
Adele smiled a little and raised her right thumb.
She then sighed and looked across the group of lit tents.
Her gaze stopped on the one from which they could hear Mitotsudaira and the others' voices.
"Things have gotten even more exciting since Vicereine Horizon arrived. Also..."
"Lately, I think Vicereine Horizon has started becoming a driving force. For all of us, and for the people around her and the Chancellor in particular."
Adele held some words inside herself.
She chose to not say the line she had been about to say:
…Vicereine Horizon is a lot like the Chancellor, isn’t she?
At some point, an individual desire to avoid feeling sorrow had grown into an attempt to create happiness over a wider range that still included herself. But…
…She isn’t seeking the greatest happiness for each person individually…
For example, there was everyone in that tent. The Reine des Garous was different, but Asama, the 5th Special Duty Officer, and Kimi were included in a single “relationship” for which she sought the greatest happiness.
That was likely her hope that everyone could be happy. And it had to be…
It was wrong to think that one person’s happiness meant the loss of someone else’s happiness.
It was not two parallel lines of happiness and unhappiness. It was a borderline where they could all gather together in happiness.
That seemed to be what those two were searching for.
Would that happy borderline reach the group in that tent and the others surrounding the tent before it reached anyone else?
“What is it, Adele?”
“Oh, um, a study camp really makes you think about a lot, doesn’t it?”
“It really does…” Naruze rested her head in her hand and stared off toward the chirping of summer insects. “I’ve gotten some incredible material here.”
“I knew you were going to take this in that direction! I just knew it!”
She was the same as ever. But then the Schwarz Hexen raised her pen.
“I’ll list up all the material born from the idiots’ tent later. …But how is your tent?”
“Oh, we swapped some people around, so now it’s Suzu-san, the Vice Chancellor, and the Vice President’s tent.”
Adele then recalled the state of things in her tent. They had laid out their blankets and the Vice Chancellor had immediately fallen asleep, but…
“She tosses and turns as badly as I saw back in England, so Suzu-san and the Vice President have stacked up their things to protect themselves. Also…”
“In a way, Masa-yan and Narumin’s tent must be the tent from hell.”
“Yeah, the Treasurer’s Aide was supposed to be in there, but she’s on the Musashi…”
Adele looked over to that tent with a tone of resignation in her voice.
The silhouettes were moving and Naito commented on the shapes and movements.
“Are they swinging something big around in there?”
“Judge. They’re apparently getting drunk while discussing prosthetic arms. They have that in common, so earlier they were drinking like crazy and chatting away about joint structures or something.”
“Yeah, there really aren’t many other people around to discuss that with…”
They could hear some voices from that tent.
“Huh? That would improve efficiency, but it’d kill the precision. And you call yourself an engineer?”
“Something solid is good, but the engine division needs ease of maintenance too. …That should be obvious!”
And so on like that.
“It sounds to me like they’re arguing…”
“But they’re actually hitting it off really well. Once they get back to the Musashi, I bet you they’ll go out shopping for tools together. I guarantee it.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. But unlike with Uqui, I bet Narumin won’t speak all that much while out with Masa-yan. I guarantee it.”
…How can you guarantee that?
The scary part was that Adele kind of felt like Naito was right.
At any rate, there was one more tent of interest.
That was the only tent with its light out, but there was a small light source inside.
“Persona-kun-san and Ohiroshiki-san are playing a fighting game against each other on their sign frames, aren’t they?”
“Why would you play a game after coming all the way to Sanada?” asked Naruze.
But drawing up doujinshi storyboards is fine?
But, thought Adele. Everyone has started to move.
As she had thought before, the Vicereine’s arrival had set a lot of things in motion: the things that had come to a stop or the things people had settled for.
…Including Asama-san and the 5th Special Duty Officer.
Back in spring, no one would have thought those two would be sharing a tent with the Chancellor and Vicereine on their study camp.
…And including me too.
“What is it, Adele?”
That was the same question as before, but she had a different answer now.
“Well, I was just thinking we’ve come a long way and done a lot since Mikawa.”
“Yes, you’re right about that. Back when we were losing to Sensei at Mikawa, we never would have dreamed that you would be doing anything as extreme as having a chain slam you and your mobile shell into a dragon.”
“D-did you have to zoom in on something I’d prefer to forget!?”
That made Adele realize something: They had done a lot and come a long way, but…
…Our actions and reactions haven’t changed at all…
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