Horizon:Volume 6B Chapter 29
Chapter 29: Shrine Maiden at a New Home
Point Allocation (Excuses and Doubling Down)
Asama felt regret.
…I think letting Adele escape was a mistake.
That girl really was one of the fastest in Class Plum. She had made a quick dash away, but Asama knew she had to be nearby.
She could see a tail of black hair sticking out from behind a storage cabin five buildings away.
…That’s Suzu-san hiding, isn’t it?
Suzu would never choose to hide, so someone had to have prevented her from continuing on this way. That was most likely Adele.
Of course, with 5 buildings between them, she would have to talk very loudly for them to hear her. Suzu-san could probably hear me since she has good ears, but that’s fine. I know she’ll accept me and she won’t tell anyone.
But, thought Asama while setting the divine chat to everyone except Toori and Kimi.
Asama: “Is anyone spying on me?”
Almost Everyone: “…”
That silence was suspicious.
Once you started down the road of doubt, you could never escape it, but with her class, her suspicions were justified. So…
Asama: “Hello, everyone within 10 meters who isn’t moving.”
Mal-Ga: “Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?”
Asama: “Well, I used the location data gathered by the Asama Shrine – oh, but I can’t see it myself since it’s personal information – and had a sign frame automatically sent to everyone who matched those conditions.”
She had sent it, but it was a trick.
…I hope someone is dumb enough to self-destruct by asking about the sign frame…
Almost Everyone: “…”
No one fell for it.
I’m impressed, she thought, but in a way, it seemed to reveal just how expertly awful everyone in their class was.
Asama: “…Everyone. Why are you all so cement-like when it comes to finding other people’s weaknesses?”
Marube-ya: “Eh? What are you talking about, Asama-chi? Are you doubting us because of some kind of persecution complex?”
When they put it like that, she could not really deny the possibility.
She knew Adele and Suzu were 5 buildings down, but perhaps no one else was spying on her.
Asama: “Yes, maybe I am overthinking this.”
Marube-ya: “Right, right. We’ll be there soon, so you should probably try being less negative.”
Asama: “If you aren’t there, then you won’t mind if I detonate those sign frames, will you?”
Mal-Ga: “…Asama, I think we can still talk this out.”
Asama: “You give up too easily!”
Six black wings flew from a rooftop two buildings away. They were moving as far away from her as they could.
It’s impressive how they like to double down on their awfulness, thought Asama with a sigh.
…But it looks like my doubts were justified.
Asama: “Then let’s start with Heidi.”
Marube-ya: “Eh!? Wh-why would you do that? You’re supposed to do this in aiueo order, right!? And that would put Toori-kun and Kimi-chan first. Wow, and you would be next Asama-chi. C’mon, Asama-chi, blow yourself up!”
Asama: “Any complaints if I start with Heidi?”
Almost Everyone: “Go right ahead.”
Marube-ya: “Ah! Dammit! What is with all you poor people!? Do you want money that badly!? Then I’ll place a curse on you that gives you long-term employment, effectively ending your life right there! Liiiifetiiiime employyyyymeeeeent!”
Worshiper: “…I’m pretty much employed already and isn’t that curse usually seen as a blessing?”
Marube-ya: “F-fine then! I’ll place a curse on you that makes you all fat!”
Almost Everyone: “What does that have to do with being a merchant!?”
Asama: “Okay, okay. Here we go, Heidi.”
Marube-ya: “You’re going to blow me up that casually!? Bring it on! Shiro-kuuuun! Solve this with money!”
Money Lover: “If you insist.”
A prostration arrived via divine transmission.
Money Lover: “Asama, how much do you want?”
Asama: “The thing is, I don’t really need much money.”
Money Lover: “And you call yourself human!? Normal people get turned on by talking about money!”
Almost Everyone: “Only you do!”
Marube-ya: “Ignore the poor people and focus on Asama-chi, Shiro-kun! That girl is satisfied with her life because of those giant boobs of hers!”
Asama: “Actually, they’re a lot of trouble. They make my shoulders stiff and block my view all the time…”
“Adele!” shouted Suzu’s voice from 5 buildings down. “C-calm down, calm down.”
Asama felt bad about that kind of collateral damage, but…
Asama: “I have realized something after seeing Mito’s mom for the past few days.”
Smoking Girl: “Hm? What’s that?”
Asama: “People say mine are ‘giant’, but they’re actually pretty normal. Yes.”
Silver Wolf: “You can’t compare yourself to her!”
No, no. Compared to the world at large. Yes, the world at large.
Asama: “Okay, it’s time, Heidi.”
Marube-ya: “That’s a complete non sequitur, Asama-chi! And c’mon, let’s settle this with money! You’re supposed to be nice to us when we offer you money. Now, let’s try that again!”
Gold Mar: “Is that some high-level provocation?”
That’s how I saw it too.
Asama: “Okay, Heidi. Care to explain what you’re doing at such close range?”
Marube-ya: “Eh!? Because this looked like a lucrati-…whoops, no, forget I said that! Umm.”
Hori-ko: “You needed to take a dump, didn’t you?”
Marube-ya: Kh…! N-no, um, uh.”
Hori-ko: “We had curry and meat last night, so I was forced to have quite a challenging battle this morning. But fighting that logic battle while listening to the birds in the Sanada forest could be difficult.”
Flat Vassal: “Well said, Vicereine Horizon!”
Hori-ko: “So Adele, who is suspected of owning not a dog but a bug, agrees with me on that?”
Flat Vassal: “Um, uhh…”
Asama: “Okay, here goes.”
Marube-ya: “W-wait! Yes, I’m…I’m taking a dump right now, so stooooop! If you wait just a minute, I’ll move away!”
Sticky King: “Doesn’t that excuse do more damage to her life than the original accusation?”
Obscene: “Hmm, that is a struggle I will never know since I let things evaporate as a gas.”
But that was one enemy gone.
Silver Wolf: “Tomo, aft.”
She looked aftward and saw a small point of light atop the giant raised wall that doubled as a windbreak and as the stern management facility.
It was a familiar light.
Asama: “Naito, can you check to port?”
Naito had summoned Schwarz Fräulein to watch Asama through a sniper telescope spell.
But Asama had just spoken to her via divine transmission.
Musashi was floating in the Houjou sky facing south, so left meant east. She could see the coast stretching toward Edo in the distance.
But there was nothing out of the ordinary there. She could see a few silhouettes moving along the Edo horizon, but those would be Hashiba’s Edo occupation forces.
…Are we eventually going to fight those?
That will be a big deal, she thought. It would be on the same level as the armada battle, but they wouldn’t have any rules saying who the winner had to be.
It would be a serious fight. However…
“There’s nothing there.”
Just as she said that into the divine transmission, she looked in her telescope spell’s frame and saw Asama raise her hand and swing it to the right.
She was saying to dodge in that direction.
First look and now dodge? What’s with this? wondered Naito.
Just then, her telescope spell Magie Figur shattered as an arrow flew in from Asama’s direction.
Gold Mar: “Ohhhhhh! Don’t scare me like that!”
Mal-Ga: “Wait, Asama! What are you doing to Margot!? If something happens to her, I’ll submit the next one without censorship bars!”
Bell: “Th-that will…only provoke…provoke her.”
Asama: “Well, I thought it would be too cruel if I fired without actually letting her see me shoot, so I gave her a warning. Also, I shot her telescope spell, not her.”
Azuma: “Um, how far away was that?”
Novice: “Looking from the side, it seemed to be about 700 meters. With spell-assistance and Asama-kun’s skill, that was probably an easy shot. Anyone within range of her aim should be on their guard.”
Suzu sensed some familiar presences moving away from various parts of Musashino.
…Ah, that’s the sound of Urquiaga-kun flying…
They were all interested in this. Part of that would be to tease her or just out of curiosity, but…
…They must be worried…how Asama-san and Toori-kun’s…relationship will turn out.
Everyone knew about this on some level.
At Mikawa, she had gotten truly angry with him for once.
It happened when he had activated the ether supply spell.
She always called him “hopeless”, but she could not write him off as “hopeless” where it really mattered.
Everyone understood what that meant. So…
Go for it, she thought while watching Asama breathe in.
The girl looked around and then turned toward Suzu.
It felt like Asama had intentionally overlooked her.
But then she faced the door again and opened her mouth.
And just as she prepared to say “Toori-kun”…
“Oh, Asama, you’re here.”
The door opened.
A naked apron stood before Asama.
Asama hid her luggage behind her back.
“Umm, are the others here?”
“Not yet. Nate was already here, but she went on a patrol or something. And Horizon stopped by with some bread.”
His words made her blush in her heart. While Horizon was to be expected…
…He didn’t include Nate in “everyone”!
Was that because she was more like family?
And Asama knew she had to be in that category as well. Which may have been why he said what he did.
“C’mon in, c’mon in. Oh, use the bottom shoe rack.”
She saw that was the same rack that held his and Kimi’s shoes.
Using the same spot sent her heart racing and she left the door open.
After taking a breath, she removed her shoes and entered the café.
…Oh, there’s Mito’s luggage.
She nonchalantly placed her own luggage next to it.
Then he spoke with a smile.
“No, it’s nothing…”
They were close enough that they did not need to thank each other for every little thing. It was always “the usual”, “hopeless”, or “necessary”. So…
“Isn’t this the usual-…”
She trailed off as she realized something.
She stood at the entrance to something outside of “the usual”.
That was why he had thanked her for coming. That was why he had said something he usually would not have.
…Does that mean…?
He was glad she had come here.
That thought made her gasp.
Asama frantically stepped down onto the entranceway’s solid dirt floor.
She shut the door.
Gold Mar: “Oh, she’s sealed them in.”
Mal-Ga: “The Chancellor is in trouble now… And I already gave my imagination a workout with Mitotsudaira’s time earlier.”
Silver Wolf: “Um, what were you imagining?”
Flat Vassal: “Oh, come to think of it, Suzu-san didn’t listen to the sounds inside.”
Bell: “I-it would have been wrong…to listen. A-and I knew…Mitotsudaira-san would be…fine.”
Silver Wolf: “I’m actually still far from fine, but that’s a separate matter… But isn’t this like my king holding consecutive interviews? I hope they’re okay.”
Hori-ko: “Yes, when that boy is forced to negotiate on his own, he will do awful things to win, like the topknot or rock-paper-scissors.”
Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige, isn’t aiming to win by any means necessary a valid strategy for negotiations?”
Tachibana Husband: “Ha ha. It is indeed, Gin. …What matters most is to use everything available to you and to grasp victory in the end.”
Tachibana Wife: “…Thank you very much.”
Almost Everyone: “Ohhh…”
Asama shut the door and returned from the hard dirt to the actual café.
…Ah, I did that without putting my shoes back on.
But she had bigger issues.
She needed to reform herself here.
She looked up and saw him. The naked apron was an issue, but…
“Yeah, what is it?”
“I carry a lot with me.”
That was why she had placed a lid on it all.
Not everything below the lid would be enjoyable.
Did he really understand that?
“I would be a giant pain in the butt. Believe me.”
“No, you wouldn’t.”
“You’re talking about the Asama Shrine and your position there, right?”
Shrine maidens were allowed to marry, but to the god she served, that meant she no longer put the god first.
That would place a restriction on the power she was given and prevent her from doing what she could before. Which would mean…
…I couldn’t stay by his side and help him to my fullest.
She had to be by his side, but it would be dangerous if she was.
That sounded contradictory, but there was no helping that.
And as far as her official position was concerned, it would be dangerous for the Asama Shrine Representative to lose power now.
Could she really take that step when there was no other heir?
I really am, she thought, doing something I shouldn’t be, aren’t I?
So she opened her mouth.
…Should I really be here?
She tried to ask that. He had thanked her before, but she found herself uncertain if that was really what she wanted to do.
“I would be a burden, wouldn’t I?”
“I’m trying to leave myself in your hands because of your and Horizon’s open invitation and because of what Mito’s mom said. …So I would be a burden, wouldn’t I?”
He tilted his head forward.
He acted like he really did not know what she meant.
So she wrinkled her brow and explained.
“This time, I’m forcing something onto you without really thinking it through. Um, to put it more poetically, I’m leaving my feelings in your hands. Isn’t that what you would call a burden?”
He crossed his arms, frowned, and tilted his head.
“What is that ‘hm’ for?”
“Well, Asama? Um.”
“What is it?”
…Why am I answering like normal!?
Kimi would probably die of laughter if she heard this. In fact, she had to be in her room, so she was probably burying her face in her pillow to suppress the noise.
I can’t believe this, thought Asama.
Why did she always feel things unrelated to being the Asama Shrine Representative or a shrine maiden when she was around these people?
…Trying to act dignified is useless with them…
She silently sighed at the fact that she just had to accept it and he straightened his tilted head. But his “hm” expression remained.
“Asama, do you think you would be a burden on me?”
“Yes, I’m forcing all of this onto you…”
“We’re the ones that told you to come join us, so you’re not forcing anything on anyone, are you?”
He was right about that. And she remembered what Horizon and the others had said the night before.
…They wouldn’t be able to get along very well without me with them…
Part of her wanted to suggest they hire a good maid, but they likely saw something other than that in her. She felt that was what it meant to leave your daily life with someone and take responsibility for that, but…
“Toori-kun, you wouldn’t think of me as a burden?”
“I would be grateful to have you with us. Do you know why that is?”
“No, um…why would you be grateful?”
“Because I can’t imagine living without you.”
“Y-you’re just flattering me with that!”
“Now, now,” said the idiot while raising both hands to calm her.
He wanted to live with her.
“I think you coming to live with us is a cause for celebration and I can’t see any reason why it would be a burden. Besides, I’m like a bunny: I’ll die from loneliness. So how should I put this…?”
“I can just be myself around you.”
“Everything would be way easier with you here, so I’d be really happy.”
“Well, um, I…”
She too had accepted the odd fact of life that he would come visit her.
And she realized something else too.
“I don’t think of you as a burden either.”
That was it.
“I’m the same. I want to depend on having you around.”
His eyes widened a little at that.
Then he smiled.
“Then this isn’t something you feel obligated to do. You’re really coming here.”
The tension left his shoulders.
“In that case, I’ll take responsibility for every little thing that makes it hard for you to live here.”
Asama was dumbfounded.
She said nothing because she did not know how to respond.
And he said more while scratching his head in a fairly unreliable way.
“I’m sure there will be some tricky stuff with the Asama Shrine. …But I’ll do something about it.”
“Th-that’s not possible.”
“It is. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have asked you to come here. Also,” he said. “If things aren’t working out, we have everyone else.”
“Judge. Even if you can’t do your Asama Shrine stuff anymore, you can work at what you can do while everyone else makes up for what you can’t do. …I get the feeling they wouldn’t do that for me, but there’s no way they could just ignore you if you were in need.”
“Relying on people like that…isn’t how I do things.”
“Then,” he smiled. “I’ll do something about it, so you help me out.”
She thought about what he meant.
A quiet laugh escaped her mouth because of what this idiot was saying.
“You say you’ll take responsibility but now you’re telling me to help you take responsibility?”
“You wouldn’t be satisfied with yourself if you didn’t, would you?”
He pointed at her luggage which she had placed right alongside Mitotsudaira’s.
“You gathered your courage and came here. …If that will cause problems, we can think about it and do something about it. You couldn’t irresponsibly just ignore those things, right?”
That was true.
But she belatedly felt heat in her cheeks and said something.
“A lot about this is still up in the air, so there is something I can’t come out and say at this point.”
The groundwork was not complete, so she would lose a lot if she took action now.
So even if she had “entered” this home, she wanted to confirm something about herself first. And once she knew it was okay for her to truly “enter” this home…
…It starts there.
That would be the final lid.
She had already opened it and seen what was inside and she was aware of that fact, but…
“Once I can convince myself and feel more at ease with this…I’ll say it for myself.”
She would speak the words that allowed and permitted herself everything.
“So can you wait until then?”
She had said it.
I said it, thought Asama.
Her gaze gradually lowered.
She could not look at him head-on.
But when she looked down, she saw his naked apron.
…I-I worked up the courage for something like an attempted confession and this is the view I get!?
Also, she added while thinking back on what she had just done.
…That was backwards!!!!
It was normally the guy who was supposed to say that.
That was clearly backwards.
In a game, it was the line the protagonist said to the heroine. Saying he would be back for her once he had grown worthy of her was generally a death flag or an NTR flag, but it was that sort of pretentious line.
But, she thought. It was still backwards!!
She could not believe it.
She was hanging her head more out of exasperation with herself than from bashfulness.
She was aware she had closed her lid and was automatically selling herself too highly.
And in the process, she had ultimately reversed their positions.
…Now I’ve done it…
But there was another way of looking at this.
She looked up and saw him there. With his usual expression.
“Then this is our little secret, okay?”
“…Yes, I suppose so.”
That was right.
From now on, she would carry this secret in her heart.
Mitotsudaira probably had something like this too.
Horizon, Kimi, and the others would as well.
Everyone knew those things existed.
And her latest secret was this.
…Oh, then Mito, Kimi, and Horizon will more or less know what it is…
But a secret was a secret.
They had confirmed that they were prepared to follow through with their respective feelings, but she had not yet actually confessed. However…
“I-I still haven’t really told my dad about this and I didn’t bring as much luggage as Mito, but, um, this is an important time period.” She breathed in and continued. “So I will be staying here for a while. So like we said before…”
A smile escaped with her words.
“I would appreciate it if you could just be yourself and depend on having me around.”
Flat Vassal: “She isn’t coming out…”
Mal-Ga: “So starting in the middle of the day is an option for them. I’ll have to add that to my list of possibilities.”
Righteousness: “Hey, I just finished prepping Righteousness. What are all of you doing?”
Hori-ko: “Judge. Naruze-sama fled after a bomb threat, Heidi-sama is def! – ecating, Naito-sama was sniped at, and Mitotsudaira-sama screamed.”
Righteousness: “Could someone explain properly?”
Flat Vassal: “Yeah, that’s not much of an explanation is it? Umm, to put those in the proper order, the 5th Special Duty Officer screamed, the 4th Special Duty Officer was found by Asama-san while preparing a porn doujin on the roof, and the 3rd Special Duty Officer was sniped at. Oh, and the Treasurer’s Aide is doing battle in the bathroom to avoid getting blown up.”
Righteousness: “Could someone else explain properly?”
Flat Vassal: “B-but, Satomi Vice President! That was a serious answer!”
Righteousness: “I didn’t want a serious answer; I wanted a good one!”
Sticky King: “Calm down, Yoshy! Good answers are hard to come by in this world!”
Obscene: “That’s right! The pursuit of them is a noble thing, but not if you refuse to accept the truth because of it. You must be able to flexibly accept the more bizarre answers as well!”
Unturning: “But when they’re too bizarre, they can be rather incomprehensible.”
Uqui: “…Narumi, choose your words better.”
Almost Everyone: “How about denying what she said!?”
Marube-ya: “And I’m not really pooping!”
Smoking Girl: “It probably doesn’t matter anymore, but…Suzu.”
Bell: “Oh, right. …You can…go in. Because…I can hear…a knife.”
Gold Mar: “Murder?”
Bell: “N-no, not like…that. …It’s the sound of…Asama-san…cooking.”
Suzu smiled and nodded at the sound reaching her ears.
She tapped Adele’s shoulder with the same tempo.
It had to be the sound of Asama slicing up an eggplant.
But Suzu was more focused on the strength and rhythm of the sound than the action it represented.
“That’s a…good sound.”
“It means Asama-san…is happy.”
Fukushima heard the distant sound of something being struck.
She must have been asleep. Her eyes were staring at something dark.
It was not night. Her eyelids were closed.
She had come to, starting with her ears.
She was still enough asleep that she had to consciously open her eyes. And…
When she opened them, she found the sky was still blue.
She was lying on her back. However…
…I thought I was in the wheat field with the waterway running through it.
She had pursued and fought Sanada’s Miyoshi Nyuudou.
And she had made a mistake in the end and self-destructed.
She had known she would be trapped by the enemy’s counterattack if she kept going, so she had caused her acceleration spell to malfunction and send her flying.
That had been a crude method, but she felt it had been her best option to escape that battle.
As a result, she had been thrown into the wheat field.
This was not the wheat field.
She lay face up on the grassy dirt ground.
A gentle breeze blew in from below her feet and it carried the scent of river algae.
…I must be near that small river.
What was her state as she lay there?
She shifted her focus to her surroundings and found there was a resilient pillow below her head and something softer than a pillow resting on her forehead.
The overhead object obstructed her view. It was also heavy and sweaty.
What is this? she wondered as she lifted it up. And…
She heard Kiyomasa’s voice and the overhead object shook.
That was when Fukushima caught on.
“So this is Kiyomasa-dono’s chest.”
“Testament. Where are we?”
“This is a path running alongside the wheat field. I am healing and examining you.”
Kiyomasa’s answer told Fukushima something.
“…So the enemy really did escape.”
No, that was not it. There was something else she had to say.
“So I let the enemy escape.”
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