Horizon:Volume 6B Chapter 32
Chapter 32: Conquerors Below the Clouds
Can you hear it?
You can, can’t you?
Point Allocation (Especially Men)
A loud rumbling roared across the wheat fields and waterways.
The sound came from ultra-heavyweight objects being periodically driven into the ground.
In every direction below the summer sun, the breakwaters meant to flood Paris were under construction.
But the battle over that flooding would begin the following day, so…
That word came from every part of the worksite and the movements followed that instruction. Everyone was busy transporting or positioning materials while keeping a watchful eye on Paris and the giant forms of the dragons protecting its perimeter.
Transport ships flew back and forth between the worksite and the Azuchi to the south, so mountains of materials had formed around Paris.
Everyone was carrying the gathered materials to their appropriate locations around the city.
But the people were not transporting or positioning those materials without any assistance.
Most of the workers either wore mobile shells or had strengthened their bodies with spell charms.
A single human could carry a 10-square-meter steel panel and they erected them on the earth as a group.
When performing that kind of work, their footing was important. They lacked the power to use weight lightening or distribution spells, so…
“Lay out the breakwater armor panels on the ground!”
The armor panels that would be erected as breakwaters were used to pave a path between the pile of materials and the worksite.
And once the armor road had reached the appropriate location, it would be removed starting from the pile of materials end and carried forward.
By repeating that process, they could maintain a stable work environment.
But even if they could carry and erect them, driving them into the ground was difficult.
Mobile shells and spell charm strengthening could raise an individual’s strength, but there was one thing it could not give them: height.
It was rare for a mobile shell to stand taller than 3 meters when worn.
That was not tall enough to drive in the 5m panels.
M.H.R.R. and P.A. Oda did not have much in the way of god of war forces.
Work in elevated locations was difficult.
So in those cases…
“Hey, what are you going to do now?”
One of the dragons surrounding Paris asked them that while sitting in a trench with his hind legs sprawled out.
He was more than 100 meters long, so he could cover the few kilometers to the construction site in no time at all. Thanks to the sharp hearing of dragons, he only had to call out to them to establish a conversation.
He placed his elbow on his knee to support the head at the end of his long neck.
“Want some help?”
“Huh!? Are you mocking us!? No, we don’t need any help!”
The workers turned toward him.
They had ropes tied to the erected metal panel. Those would make sure it was not tilted when it was driven in from above.
Driving it in was the only step left. How was a mystery, but they apparently intended to do it somehow.
The dragon let out a deep breath through his nose as he watched.
“You say you don’t need any help, but what are you going to do? You’re too tiny to do it.”
“There are a couple of ways of handling this! Just watch!”
“If you say so.”
The dragon waved over to another dragon protecting the city from a different direction.
“Hey, they say they’re gonna show us something.”
“Show us what?”
A few of the dragons looked to the northeast of Paris.
A metal wall had been erected there, but the bottom was not yet driven into the ground.
“Here are some provisions.”
A dragon from the north arrived with a large water barrel full of wine.
“Take this seriously!” shouted the dragons to the east and southeast, but the other four ignored them and sat down in a northeast trench.
Even the Paris workers who were constructing trenches or reinforcing walls took a break to watch.
Then the first dragon spoke to the M.H.R.R. workers while drinking wine.
“So how about you show us what you can do?”
“You drink alcohol!?”
“Dragons love alcohol. There are plenty of legends to that end, aren’t there? Even the Far East has one about a giant Hydra getting drunk and then decapitated.”
“Yeah, the one with Susanoo.”
The M.H.R.R. group gave a nod of understanding. Then one of them yelled over from the distance.
“Then come join us! Our beer is delicious!”
The Paris group responded to that:
“It’s not that your beer is delicious; it’s that beer is all you have! No one wants to drink that black soup and go ‘pwah’!”
“Come to think of it, your coffee, forest, and clothes are all black. Are you obsessed with the color black!?”
“That’s right! We’ve got wine! That comes in red and white! And it tastes great!”
“Huhh!?” said the M.H.R.R. side as their mobile shells stepped forward.
The mobile shells were made by the Holy Knights Ironworks Guild, the representative corporation of the M.H.R.R. Catholics. They were colored white, so…
“Check out this white.”
Then the normal students in summer uniforms lined up alongside them.
Those uniforms were black, so white and black were lined up side by side.
The leader of the mobile shells gestured toward the two rows.
“Café au lait.”
Then he pulled out the assault spear attached to his back.
“So which idiot was it that said our nation is nothing but black!? Show yourself!”
The Elbe River was located east of the walled city of Magdeburg.
Tomoe Gozen stood on a pier over that river as she listened to a lernen figur relaying the situation in Hexagone Française.
She had been fishing and was about to return to the city.
“All black is more of a Protestant thing. The Catholics are actually quite fond of flashy colors.”
She raised the basket that held her catches.
It was a brown wicker basket, but even the sleeves of her summer uniform were black.
After confirming her color, she opened a new lernen figur.
“Hey, Guericke. Do you remember what color Eisen Ritter’s mobile shells are?”
“Testament. Protestants always go for a sincere black! That understated charm is so cool, isn’t it!? In other words…”
Tomoe Gozen broke the lernen figur with the hand holding her fishing rod.
After a sigh, she lowered her gaze from the pier to the surface of the Elbe.
“Well, from the Protestant perspective, perhaps it’s fine to see M.H.R.R. as overall black.”
In the summer sun, the water reflected her in her summer uniform standing on the newly-built pier.
The ether flare of a ghost created a halo, but her uniform and hair were black.
“I used to wear red to match my husband. …But these aren’t meant to be mourning clothes, so once the Thirty Years’ War is over, maybe it will be time for the Protestants to take on a new look.”
Voices flew back and forth between Paris and the embankments beginning to surround the city.
First, from the Paris side:
“Hey! M.H.R.R.! Don’t be growing barley and making tons of beer just because it’s too cold to grow wheat! Beer instead of bread!? Are you beef cattle or something!?”
M.H.R.R. soon replied: “Don’t be stupid! Think of it as a new form of food! Besides, you’re always chugging tons of wine! And if you look at the wine cellar sites, they always show young girls stepping on the grapes in the wine barrels, but I bet it’s really barefoot fat old men singing a chanson and laughing about it being ‘purple roe’!”
“We don’t do that!”
One of the dragons sighed while drinking from a large barrel of wine.
“Humans, this is pathetic…”
“Hey, M.H.R.R.! Did you hear what he said about you!?”
“He meant you too, Hexagone Française!!”
“So are you ever going to drive in that breakwater piece?” asked the dragon.
The M.H.R.R. group exchanged a glance.
“We’re ready to go! Just look overhead!”
They pointed up where a transport ship floated. It was one of the ones that had been transporting materials earlier.
The deck of the ship directly above the M.H.R.R. forces was visible from Paris.
It was a flat transport ship and its long metal deck was loaded with something other than materials.
It was human silhouettes. And…
“What are those heavyweight things…!?”
Heavyweight mobile shells had been carried up to an altitude of approximately 2km, close to the upper limit for an M.H.R.R. transport ship.
They were 3m tall, but they were not heavyweight because of their thick armor or their movement support system that prioritized durability over mobility.
“Hey! How unhealthy are the people wearing those!?”
“They are not unhealthy!” shouted the M.H.R.R. leader. “They just ended up that way after living a proper M.H.R.R. life of drinking beer and eating eisbein and sausage every day!”
“That’s the same thing!”
“Don’t be stupid! Not one of them has slacked off in their training as mercenaries! …Do you understand what that means!?”
The Paris group gasped when they heard that.
“You don’t mean…”
They were going to do it.
Then the M.H.R.R. leader opened a lernen figur.
“Captain! We’re ready down here! Send the others in!”
A sound came from the lernen figur.
It came from the sky.
The sound of striking metal rang from the deck floating in the heavens.
It was the sound of the men standing on the transport ship leaping in unison.
They were clearly flying through the air.
They had jumped off of the ship.
Everyone looked up as that group fell.
The ultra-heavyweight mobile shells slowly changed their stance in midair so their heads were aimed down.
“Open spell catapult for directional instructions.”
A voice spoke from the M.H.R.R. lernen figur that had been sent into the sky.
“This is M.H.R.R. Hashiba Mobile Shell Battalion’s Charging Company ‘Schau Essen’. We will drive those in.”
The captain wearing a thick mobile shell thought to himself in the air.
…So it is finally time for me to be useful.
People had different body types.
He had tried to eat and train the same as everyone else, but once he reached his thirties, things had started getting fairly bad. Especially around the stomach.
He had started to think it was time to leave the front line.
But times were always on the move. M.H.R.R. was spreading its battlefields on all fronts, so everyone had to continue working.
At times, that meant attacking. At times, it meant defending.
At times, it meant fighting other nations. At times, it meant fighting the Protestants of their own nation.
And at times, it meant acting as a Far Eastern group. This was one of those times.
There was always time to fight. That was true of M.H.R.R., of the Landsknechts, and of Hashiba.
During all that fighting, they needed someone to hold the battle line no matter what. That was the role of their mobile shell battalion.
But the constant fighting brought stress and there was only so much they could do to strengthen themselves.
They trained, ate, and rested.
…And sometimes play porn games…!
Needless to say, that kind of lifestyle had dangerous results. They had been in a dangerous position already, but that danger was apparent to anyone who saw them now.
I mean, Hashiba-sama is so damn good at securing supplies.
And as Catholics, they had to eat everything served to them.
As a result, a normal mobile shell was a tight fit for them.
But there was still a place for them on the battlefield.
“Klassisch Kunst: Weight of Life…activate!”
They were heavy.
The volume of a lifeform was its very existence. You could say their volume was their quantity of life.
So by casting a Testament Kunst that valued life, their volume became a weapon.
Weight was the same.
It is not the size of our gut that is dangerous.
“Listen up, Landsknechts…!”
The captain shouted to the others as they slowly began to fall.
“We are those with a greater quantity of life than your average person!”
“…We are those with a greater quantity of life than your average person!”
“We are those who use that life to fulfill our duty!”
“…We are those who use that life to fulfill our duty!”
He took a breath.
“So let us shout and eat our duty. …Schau Essen!”
“Testament! …Schau Essen!”
At the same time, several lernen figurs opened in the sky behind them.
The Testament Kunst provided acceleration and additional weight as they prepared themselves as gravitational hammers.
“…Prepare your arms!”
A weapon formed with the giant, upside-down mobile shells as the core.
They held their arms together as two Testament Kunst hammers that extended down much like a jaw.
They began their fall, but…
They launched themselves straight down.
The men traveled through the air. They dropped down to slam into the ground that was directly overhead for them.
They covered the 2km distance in just a few seconds.
But the men sang. And despite their tension and expectation, their trajectories did not so much as waver.
“…Today we want to march.”
They left their song in the air behind them.
“…To try out a new march.”
And their destination was…
“In the lovely Westerwald.”
The ground was so close now. The breakwater armor seemed close enough to reach out and touch.
“There the wind whistles so cold…!”
And they scored direct hits.
On Paris’s wall, Henri heard the impact and saw the blast rising.
A stealth barrier already covered Paris, so the space between the city wall and the barrier was the only way to see outside.
She looked northeast where dust and smoke rose from a few points in the distance.
“…Humanity does some crazy things.”
Enemy mobile shells had made a powered descent from the sky to drive the armor panels into the ground.
Her Belle de Marionnette vision instantly processed the footage recorded at high speed.
The image from just before the blast of impact showed that the Signe Classique hammers had been around a dozen meters long.
“Hey, Henri, did you measure their speed at about 100 meters up?”
“They did not break the sound barrier. …But given enough power, they probably could.”
Henri briefly closed her eyes.
The armor panels they had driven into the ground were used for large aerial ships.
They were both big and thick.
Judging by eye, they appeared to be made from layers of metal and buffering about 70cm thick.
…The areas they hit were badly deformed.
The strikers had allowed their twin Signe Classique hammers to shatter. They had then used the scattering ether as cushioning for their landing.
They were not disposable.
After landing, the ultra-heavyweight mobile shells were running forward along with the P.A. Oda group that had been waiting further back.
“Yes! We did it, captain!”
“Testament! No one can call us the Shields of the Rear Guard any longer!”
Henri’s eyebrows rose at the voices she heard.
“Honestly. I thought it was odd to give away what they can do for a simple pile-driving job.”
“Were they showing us they have a force requiring our attention while also raising their overall morale?”
“It seems so. …Tomorrow, we will have to worry about that kind of attack hitting Paris whenever a transport ship so much as approaches overhead.”
This will be trouble, she thought while seeing someone moving out of the corner of her eye.
It was a dragon.
He nodded while drinking some wine and watching that performance.
“Humanity is a real pain in the ass.”
“Yes,” agreed another dragon. “We can’t afford to hold back tomorrow.”
“If they want to complete Musashino’s construction by tomorrow, they can’t hold back here.”
Yoshiyasu sighed at a Musashino teahouse.
It was a simple teahouse without any seats and it was located near the construction site for repairs.
She was on her way to the Main Blue Thunder. She had been going through some Satomi-related documents in the Student Council Room, so she was running later than the others.
The sun was already lowering in the west and the shadows were growing angled.
She was of course running a bit late for the gathering at the Main Blue Thunder. Even if this was about the Kantou Liberation, the main topic of discussion would be the Siege of Odawara, the Tensho Jingo Conflict, and the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle.
She was in no hurry. And…
…I want to avoid any actions I see as “rushed”.
After tomorrow’s battle brought them together with Mouri and Houjou, it would be time for the Keichou Campaign.
That was the Kantou Liberation.
It meant retaking Satomi. And…
She did not have the courage to speak Yoshiyori’s name as well. However…
“Herrrre y’go! Y’r ord’r’s r’dyyyyyyyy!”
The teahouse’s maid cosplayer placed some shaved ice mixed with cream on the counter in front of her. It was inside a dried bamboo container, but she suspected it was cut out of the bamboo used for scaffolding.
At any rate, Yoshiyasu grabbed the spoon and scooped some of the frozen treat into her mouth.
Eating this below the teahouse’s overhang seemed like a nice summer break thing to do, but…
…It isn’t actually summer break yet.
They just barely still had classes left.
She looked inside the teahouse from below the eaves and saw a calendar on the wall which was clearly made from the scaffolding plywood. It was an Asama Shrine calendar. She checked the number visible next to an image of the Asama Shrine Representative praying in her shrine maiden outfit.
Including today, they only had 3 days until July was over.
…We’ll be forced to start summer break once it’s August.
That meant the Kantou Liberation had to start tomorrow or the day after.
Even if the history recreation was given higher priority than school activities, they would have difficulty starting something during summer break. So…
“…We’re going to be busy, aren’t we?”
“You mean the Kantou Liberation?”
A voice reached her from the side.
She looked to the right and saw a girl below the eaves with several sign frames open.
She knew the girl. But only at the level that they knew what each other looked like.
“Satomi Student Council President Satomi Yoshiyasu. …I am Musashi Representative Committee Head Ookubo Nagayasu,” said the girl without turning Yoshiyasu’s way. “Before even getting to the Kantou Liberation, the Siege of Odawara is going to be a lot of trouble. …So be prepared.”
“Okay, we can do this while we eat. Given how late it is already, I want to start the meeting during the meal.”
The colors of sunset dyed the sky to starboard.
The Main Blue Thunder was on the starboard side of the road, so its shadow gradually extended onto the road.
But Masazumi raised a glass of barley tea with her chest and below sinking into that shadow.
She was looking at a group of visitors.
“Mouri Terumoto. …And Houjou Ujinao.”
But that was not all. Mouri had brought a group of automatons. Houjou had brought Ujiteru and…
“Who is that third person with you, Houjou Ujinao?”
There were two figures standing behind Ujinao.
One was Ujiteru the automaton. The other was a long-lived man.
Perhaps because it was summer, he wore a short-sleeved cloak with the hood up. His arms and face were quite wrinkled.
His bent hips were positioned fairly low and he looked Masazumi’s way from below the gray hair inside the hood.
Then he slowly opened his mouth and nodded.
“I am the Mechanical Phoenix Battalion Commander and Vice President of Houjou’s Odawara Academy. …I am known as Houjou Genan.”
Once he said that, his mouth bent to the side.
He formed a smile.
“Heh heh… We are facing the Sieges of Odawara and of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle. The plan is to determine how many days those battles will last and what either side stands to gain from each victory. But where’s the fun in that?”
“Indeed,” he said. “The Siege of Odawara and the Tensho Jingo Conflict are a gamble. You have some thoughts on the matter, don’t you? On what kind of battle would be worth betting your nation on, I mean.”
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