Horizon:Volume 6B Chapter 36
Chapter 36: Divider of the Future
A woman’s tears are a weapon
Point Allocation (I Can’t Be Stopped)
“You want to argue for three castles?”
Houjou Ujinao felt her smile grow.
She thought she had cornered him, suppressed him, and beaten him down, but the enemy was still putting up a fight.
She could see the facts and the world was following her vision.
Yes, this was Houjou land which would be flooded and cut off from the outside world.
And she was the Houjou leader who would be made into a puppet by her powerful relatives and similarly cut off from the outside world.
What did those two things cause when combined?
…Houjou has been cut off, so it can only be crushed and destroyed.
There was nothing to fear now.
They would disappear regardless, so she decided to take as much as she could, earn the best reputation she could, and give as much back to her people as she could.
So she thought she had grabbed at and dragged down her enemy. But…
“Three castles?” she asked. “That’s odd. I believe I calculated the number of castles to around 12.”
“It’s 3. I’ll explain why later,” said the enemy from beyond his sign frame. “But 3 is enough.”
“You are saying I can contact Hashiba, aren’t you?”
If he said yes, she would immediately contact them.
She had no intention of making threats.
Threats or not, this was the end for Houjou. So she would have her way with no thought for the consequences. And so she raised a sign frame in her right hand.
She waited for the Musashi Secretary to speak.
She would settle this here depending on what he said. So…
…Our end may be something I create right here.
She sucked in a breath to prepare herself.
And then he gave his answer.
“I do not recall saying anything of the sort.”
His voice reached her from beyond his sign frame.
“Do that and I will declare it a decision made by Houjou and Houjou alone. And Musashi will begin the Siege of Odawara right here and now. Keep that in mind.”
Ujinao’s smile was gone.
…What is this?
What was with this opponent?
Houjou was the victim, the defeated, and the loser.
…And yet he ignores everything I’m saying to criticize us?
This was their end. Surely they could be free to do as they wished at the very end.
They could selfishly make so many of their wishes come true. Surely they could be allowed that once in their lives. But…
“Are you trying to restrict us?”
“I do not recall saying anything of the sort.”
“But you are reducing the number of castles to 3, are you not?”
“Of course,” declared the enemy beyond his sign frame. “We are the future victors. We have no reason to do what past losers like you say. And if we did do it…”
“It would be a favor. That is all, Houjou. Why are you relying on that and mistaking what this is all about?”
Neshinbara saw Houjou Ujinao directly face him.
But that was beyond the lines of text on his sign frame.
…She directly faced me.
He could describe everything about Houjou Ujinao.
So there was nothing to feel afraid or intimidated about. Even a Warring States daimyo like her was only a character within his text.
And Ujinao formed words.
“You are arrogant, aren’t you?”
“I do not recall thinking anything of the sort.”
Neshinbara rejected everything about his opponent.
He completely cut her off. This was his surefire method of winning this “negotiation”.
His opponent was desperately trying to drag him into her world by defining his argument for him. By ending her statements with “aren’t you?” or otherwise phrasing them as questions, a lack of a response would be taken as confirmation.
He was not going to go along with that.
He would respond, but he would make it clear that was not the case and cut her off by countering each and every one. That was crucial.
And then he would get his own words through.
“Three castles,” he said.
Ujinao shook her head and spoke.
“I do not recall approving anything of the sort.”
Was she copying him? That was perfect.
“We don’t need your approval.”
“We are the victors and you are the losers. The losers must obey the victors. So we will acquire the future we want whether we negotiate or not.”
“…Are you saying you will take it from us?”
“I do not recall saying anything of the sort.” Neshinbara typed in the words with his left hand. “You will be destroyed. We will watch it happen and retrieve what you left behind.”
“…Do the rulers of the Far East enjoy scrounging through corpses?”
“I do not recall saying anything of the sort,” said Neshinbara before saying more. “Besides, the dead won’t mind.”
“…Who do you think you are?”
“The victors.” He spoke to Ujinao through his sign frame’s text. “The victors who do not fear being the victors.”
“Even though you enjoy scrounging through corpses?”
Ujinao frowned at the number he gave. But…
She did not realize what he meant.
…That’s convenient for me.
“We do not care what the dead say. We will ensure that the living inherit and use what the dead leave behind.”
“Doesn’t that make you no more than a usurper?”
Nice, thought Neshinbara.
…I was a usurper in England too.
I was Macbeth.
I was the usurper of the throne. Did that curse become a divine protection when it was purified?
That happens a lot in old Far Eastern stories. Like washing and taking care of a dirty wanderer and finding out they were actually a god. Or having a stranger leave you with a corpse, but after sheltering it for a night, it turns into solid gold.
Impure artifacts become something good when you purify them by caring for them.
If that was true…
…Shakespeare gave me an excellent curse.
I am a usurper. I am Macbeth, who can kill a king.
And I know which king I must kill.
Me: “Ah? What is it? Do you want some of the wasabi pasta I’m cooking?”
Novice: “That sounds great. But listen a moment.”
Novice: “My purification in England is finally complete.”
I am something good now. I will not try to kill my king.
“I do not recall calling us usurpers.”
What did Macbeth call himself after taking the throne?
“We have a king.”
He had heard these words long ago and carved them into his memory.
“We are those who accompany our king.”
“The greedy corpse scroungers would lift up a king!?”
…That should be enough.
Neshinbara took a breath and raised his right hand. He pointed to a few spots in his sign frame text and showed them to Houjou Ujinao.
And he slowly explained.
“Three times you have referred to yourself as corpses or the dead.”
“I won’t let you say you don’t recall. …You are of the dead, Houjou Ujinao. You are forbidden to speak in the world of the living.”
“That is nonsense…!”
Neshinbara had an immediate response for Houjou Ujinao’s protest.
“Then shielding yourself with your status as the dead is equally nonsense, Houjou Ujinao.”
“Are you trying to restrict my speech!?”
“Saying that only rejects everything you have said to restrict us, Houjou Ujinao.”
“Do you think this quibbling counts as a win!?”
“Then we can’t accept any of the advantages you won through quibbling, Houjou Ujinao.”
“Logic, logic, logic! Do you think this is all running on logic!?”
“Then let us forget all about your logic, Houjou Ujinao.”
“Do you want me to call off this entire negotiation about the duels!?”
“Then,” said Neshinbara. “There will be no agreement over the number of castles, Houjou Ujinao.”
“You have just abandoned the one bargaining chip you had against the victors. …Houjou Ujinao.”
Neshinbara took a deep breath in his heart.
That statement returned them to the castle count and also reset everything.
He had finally brought it all back.
He had worked his way into her argument and rewound it.
…I couldn’t figure it out just from listening!
He had only been able to build up the order of words after lining them up in text.
Just how abnormal was Honda Masazumi for being able to do that with no assistance?
But, he thought.
…It begins here.
He was not done.
His turn to attack had only just begun.
He swung his right hand.
“Release right hand…!”
Typing with both hands now, he sent his lines streaming across his sign frame. And…
He then added a “no”.
He took a breath to pause for a few seconds and then slowly spoke.
“A nation of the dead needs no castles. …Do as we say, Houjou.”
Masazumi saw Ujinao shout with eyebrows raised.
“This is the arrogance of the victors…!”
She had seen Houjou Ujinao a few times before.
She had first met her at IZUMO and then again this afternoon.
But this was her first time seeing her reveal her emotions so clearly.
“What you want is to crush Houjou’s dignity!”
“You attempted a negotiation predicated on your death and you failed. You were prepared for the risks, weren’t you?”
“You say I was risking this…!?”
“Not just this,” said Neshinbara. “We will have Houjou crushed. …But as per the Testament, Matsudaira will then manage the former Houjou land. How about that? The people of your territories will lose Houjou, who they knew could vanish at any moment, and be instead ruled by Matsudaira, rulers of the entire Far East.”
“It would put your people at ease if Houjou were crushed and gave authority to us sooner rather than later.”
“All of your people will say things are so much better than during the Houjou era.”
Ujinao wondered if there was any way to strike down her opponent’s argument.
He had acted rudely toward another nation’s Chancellor and Student Council President.
That was reason enough to strike him down on the spot.
And was it possible he had said that in order to get her to draw her sword here?
Then attacking him was perfectly acceptable. It was what he wanted.
Yes. She realized that no one would normally make that kind of provocation at a meeting. That meant he had said that so she would strike him down.
What other reason could there be?
Ujinao decided she could strike him down, so…
She made her move. But just as she did…
“Oh, so the dead can move?” The Musashi Secretary swung his right hand and struck a pose. “What a strange nation Houjou is.”
Ujinao saw an opening in those words.
She saw the logic she needed to turn this around.
This will work, realized Houjou Ujinao.
She could still figuratively grab him by his collar. She could then knock him over and bring him down.
Heat wavered in her heart. What was meant to head straight out and roast her opponent instead wavered as if enveloping him.
Ujinao lightly shook the fire in her heart and sent it toward the Musashi Secretary.
“It is a strange nation.”
It really was.
“The dead can move in Houjou. My uncle here, the others, and I are doomed to destruction.”
“Even the dead have the right to speak.”
…What a childish argument…
Mitotsudaira was half exasperated and half impressed.
She honestly thought Houjou Ujinao was incredible. Because…
…She instantly outdid our Secretary.
Class Plum’s best negotiator and orator would have to be Masazumi. Mitotsudaira wanted to say it was her king, but she knew that was favoritism speaking. Kimi did not count since she seemed to speak using something other than words.
But the Secretary was another special case.
Silver Wolf: “Yes, the Secretary’s argument is entirely hopeless and it must feel silly to play along with it.”
Gold Mar: “It’s kind of amazing that Nori’s wife is facing it head on.”
Novice: “What’s that supposed to mean!? We’re in the middle of a fiery debate!”
The two participants were probably the only ones who thought that.
Mitotsudaira glanced to the side and saw Horizon sweating while she clenched her fists with a serious look on her face. A closer look showed she had soy sauce flavored popcorn on the table in front of her.
Mitotsudaira decided to pretend she had not seen that.
…But what do we do now?
After forcibly defining themselves as the dead, Houjou Ujinao had been forcibly driven from the debate stage, but then she had forcibly recovered by forcibly accepting that hers was a nation of the dead. I’m overusing the word “forcibly”, but I don’t know any other way of describing it.
Meanwhile, Ujinao straightened her posture and took a breath.
“So you say there are only 3 castles?”
She returned to her method of debate by constant questioning.
And the Secretary frowned and swung his right hand.
“I have no intention of giving the dead the right to speak.”
“This is a negotiation,” said Houjou Ujinao. “You do not get to decide the rules.”
Terumoto took a light half-step back.
…Wait, wait. So do you make the rules?
She sensed danger in what Houjou had just said, but Houjou was not done speaking.
“A negotiation is a place for those with the right to speak. We are the representatives of Houjou and we are the dead. But in Houjou, even the dead have the right to speak. Thus, we can speak in this negotiation.”
It was a fictional argument that she and the rest of Houjou were the dead.
That kind of statement could not be allowed at an official meeting, but Musashi had allowed it and was continuing the negotiations based on it.
That meant there was a problem they could not solve without using a fictional arrangement. That likely involved the future of a doomed nation and the assumptions of what Hashiba would do even though they were not here.
And Houjou had just begun to go on the attack.
Before, she had only discussed what she had control over, but now she brought up the rules of the negotiation.
That meant she had reached for something she could safely use as a weapon. And since she shared a “worldview” with her opponent, that weapon would work against that opponent.
…But she is using her own personal logic to utilize that weapon.
That was dangerous.
Houjou was trying to take control of these negotiations. She would use this statement as the foundation from which to change the rules as she saw fit.
Terumoto glanced over at Mouri-01.
There, she saw meat. Mouri-01 was using chopsticks to hold out some beef cooked in sake.
“Princess, this might be a little heavy to start with, but eat this.”
Terumoto ate the meat as if pecking at the chopsticks.
…Oh, that’s good.
She then quickly swallowed it and whispered while pretending to chew.
“If the effects of Houjou’s ploy reach us, we need to put a stop to it.”
“Testament. I will be on the lookout.”
She gave a smile that said “perfect” and then faced forward again. And…
“Bow your head, Musashi Secretary.”
Houjou brought out their own rules.
“Because you are lower than us in this negotiation.”
…That doesn’t make any sense at all…!
…I had a feeling this was coming…!
Neshinbara listened to Ujinao.
“Now then,” she began. “This negotiation is about planning for the Siege of Odawara.”
Neshinbara said nothing because a careless reply would be dangerous.
But Ujinao asked a question while well aware of his caution.
“Isn’t that right?”
She pressed him for an answer, so he replied from beyond his sign frame. He pointed out her mistake.
“It also doubles as the Sieges of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle and Kanie Castle.”
“They are essentially renting out space within Houjou. As the landlords, we hold the greatest authority.”
Everyone gave a quiet “eh” of surprise at the end. But…
…Why doesn’t everyone understand…!?
Neshinbara knew that statement gave her great power.
This was dangerous.
Asama: “You know? Um, this is hard to say, but aren’t we wasting a lot of time here?”
Hori-ko: “What are you talking about, Asama-sama? Houjou just increased their own power.”
…So Ariadust-kun understands!
Me: “Hey, everyone. Who wants popcorn?”
Silver Wolf: “U-um, my king? Do you have any beef consommé flavor?”
Things were growing lively behind him, but Neshinbara faced Houjou once more.
“So you have the greatest authority?”
“Then where are you planning to hold the Siege of Odawara? Without our approval, I mean? …You cannot advance history without our approval. Surely, you had not forgotten that. Heh heh. I guess I can’t blame you. I doubt you ever gave any thought to a doomed nation before. Yes, so I will tell you how the rules work at times like this.”
Me: “Did you just feel your crotch tense up?”
Tonbokiri: “Masazumi, did you?”
Vice President: “Calm down…!”
Gold Mar: “Man, Noririn is going to have a tough time in the future.”
…Why don’t they ever show that kind of concern when it comes to Shakespeare and me?
Was it because they thought he would be fine?
But he had to focus on the negotiation.
“Are you really doing this?”
“Of course,” said Houjou Ujinao. “The Kantou Liberation is something Musashi wants as well. But you require Houjou’s assistance. You are asking for our help here. …Am I wrong?”
She once more pressed him for an answer.
So he decided to ask a question of his own.
“Who is the moderator of these negotiations?”
“That would be me. Because the negotiations are centered on the Siege of Odawara.”
“Wrong,” said Neshinbara. “In negotiations, the moderator is a representative of the nation that supplied the venue. Yes, for example…”
Just as Neshinbara placed a hand on his chest to say it was him, everyone looked to a certain individual.
“Is it Horizon…!?”
Me: “Umm, me. Me, me, me. It’s me. Have you all forgotten about me? Well?”
Hori-ko: “This is a popularity contest.”
Novice: “U-umm, Ariadust-kun? Could you grant your position to me?”
Hori-ko: “Which would you like: Blue Thunder employee or normal student?”
Novice: “I was talking about the moderator!”
Hori-ko: “How very honest of you. To reward your honesty, I will lend you both positions: Blue Thunder employee and normal student.”
Almost Everyone: “You’re only lending them!?”
Wait! thought Neshinbara.
He had tried to become the moderator to take control of the situation, but things had taken an unexpected turn.
Musashi’s Princess was approaching. She looked alternately between Houjou Ujinao and him before pulling a sumo referee’s fan from the storage space behind her.
“Heyyyyy! You’re not out yet! You’re not out yet! Not yeeeeet!! Keep it up!”
Three of the girls ran up, restrained her, and dragged her away.
Musashi’s Princess responded to her wordless removal while her legs dangled above the floor.
“Oh? What is the matter, everyone? I was merely giving my best judgement in the Shounosuke Kimura style.”
“Please,” said Naomasa. “Don’t say anything.”
The girls did not stop until Asama had placed Horizon Ariadust in the center of their group. And Asama spread out a few things in front of her.
“Look, Horizon. There are new popcorn flavors.”
With that new scene beginning, it seemed the position of moderator would not be coming to Neshinbara.
…This is bad.
With such a liberal moderator, he would have to do something about Houjou’s advantage on his own. That would of course take a few different things, but…
This is Plan A, he decided as he continued the negotiation.
“Houjou Ujinao, this means you do not have the greatest authority here.”
“But we are higher than you. Because we have the right to control the Siege of Odawara.”
“Then let’s do this,” said Neshinbara. “Three castles.”
Neshinbara limited the number once more.
“Three. That is all.”
He would not compromise. Houjou Ujinao responded with a slight smile. The smile formed at the corners of her mouth as if she did not mind if he acted that way.
“Twelve,” she said. “Let us start the negotiation from the 12 castles that Matsudaira was involved in attacking.”
“No, I’m saying it’s 3. …Out of concern for you.”
“Do not be silly. This is a history recreation.”
“Yes, it is a history recreation. And you intend to follow the rules of the history recreation, do you not?”
“Testament. We do indeed.”
“Then it’s 3. …As Hashiba’s agent here, I cannot back down from that number.”
“Oh?” Ujinao turned her head somewhat. “As the attacking force, it is true you are being left in charge of the history recreation that Hashiba would have completed had they been here.”
Neshinbara braced his mind against what Houjou was saying.
…Here it comes.
Vice President: “Hey.”
Honda Masazumi must have also sensed the danger in this.
Her senses were accurate. After all, if they were going to name themselves an agent of Hashiba in the Siege of Odawara…
“You are also obligated to conquer the castles which were attacked by Hashiba.”
Ujinao smiled as she displayed the list of castles once more. It included all of them, from the preliminary battles to the supporting castles.
“Including Odawara Castle, that is 26. …26! Let us negotiate over all of those castles!”
Yoshiyasu ran to the meeting area.
She had been listening in via divine transmission.
A few lights had been set up to illuminate the meal area inside the fence as the sun set.
In there, she saw a familiar face at the table on the left.
It was Houjou Ujinao.
While finding the scent of cooked tomato to be a little too strong, Yoshiyasu spoke up.
Just like that Ookubo girl had said, you could not let your guard down around that girl. But Yoshiyasu had something else to say now.
“I thought you wanted the Kantou Liberation!?”
“Of course I do, Satomi Yoshiyasu.”
Ujinao replied with a smile.
Yoshiyasu had never seen that smile before. It was relaxed and natural, but…
Ujinao thought to herself.
“Are you crying…?”
Suzu trembled when she heard Yoshiyasu.
She knew now why only she had reacted differently when she had sensed this smile before.
When she used her senses more closely, she could indeed detect tears dripping from Ujinao’s eyes.
But this whole time…
…She seemed so happy.
That was why Suzu had not noticed.
And Suzu remembered what Neshinbara had said about this opponent.
She was Kali, the second face of the virtuous princess. If Ujinao had that inside her…
Suzu voiced what she had realized and the others may not have realized.
“Are you…happy, Ujinao…-san?”
Her question received a definite answer.
Ujinao turned toward her.
Houjou’s leader slowly turned toward her from the depths of that maelstrom of forced arguments.
She was smiling.
And tears spilled from that expression as if to say she did not even need to nod.
Ujinao realized the scene had been reset.
She had been cornered, she had cornered them, and everything had been rewound, but she had rewound it even further to regain her initial advantage.
Of course, this was more than just rewinding. Houjou’s right to speak gave them an advantage.
Musashi’s Princess was the moderator here, but she was an observer. She was on the enemy’s side, but she was not an enemy.
Ujinao only needed to calmly swim through the negotiation like a water snake and then constrict her opponent.
“26 castles. Every single one of them involved either Hashiba or Matsudaira. If we are to follow the history recreation, then you must be prepared to conquer them all.”
She was thankful for this.
“Of course, if you cannot conquer all 26 castles, you will have to negotiate for some other terms. …In other words, you must compensate us in place of conquering the castles. You are prepared for that, I assume?”
Conquering all 26 would simply not be possible.
They did not have enough time or personnel.
So that settled it. The shape of the future would be decided here and now.
Matsudaira, who will take control of the Far East. This ship called Musashi.
“We of Houjou have had our fall predicted for more than 100 years, so bow your heads, oh victors, to decorate our final moments.”
Ujinao took in a breath.
…Victory, existence, glory, and all else.
Musashi looked isolated as it flew through the sky, but they had the possibility of gaining all those things.
On the land, the nations were connected to each other and to the ocean through the development of roads and other means, but that would not erase Houjou’s historical fall.
The same was sure to happen to Musashi or Matsudaira eventually.
But at the moment, there was a world of difference between those destined to lose and those destined to rise.
…This ship carries everything away.
She had looked up at it countless times over her life.
And now Houjou held it in their hands while accepting their destined fall.
She had used forceful methods, unseemly tactics, and pathetic stratagems.
But if they accepted their fall in this way, would they be able to purify their losing karma?
“Now,” she said clearly. “Future victors, bow your heads to the present losers. …And the future living, lower your heads to the present dead.”
They were negotiating the number of castles.
“26. Will that number destroy your ship or carry it? The wave of Sagami is still quite large.”
Yoshiyasu launched her voice toward the girl she had long thought of as her nemesis.
This was not her place.
She was not the leader of negotiations here.
But Houjou and Satomi had a long history together.
She was really just giving in to emotion, but there was something she wanted to say about this negotiation.
“Is this what you want!?”
“Satomi Yoshiyasu.” Houjou Ujinao smiled. “Due to our nations’ relationship over the past several generations, I want you to see this unsightly display.”
“According to the Testament, Satomi Yoshiyasu took Hashiba’s side during the Siege of Odawara, but he was late to arrive. A lot happened afterwards and Satomi had its territory confiscated by Hashiba. So after that…”
“Judge. …After that, Satomi relied on Matsudaira.”
“Exactly.” Ujinao swayed a bit as she spoke. “You too will be taken away from me by this ship.”
Yoshiyasu did not know what that meant and was at a loss for words, but Ujinao moved.
She faced the Musashi Secretary and showed off her teeth.
“Now, let us begin, Musashi resident who will achieve victory by living. Let us begin the negotiation over these 26 castles.”
Neshinbara opened his mouth to respond to Ujinao whose hair fluttered as she swayed.
There was one thing he had to say here.
“There will be 3 castles.”
He breathed in.
“I have no intention of accepting your 26.”
Ujinao smiled and tilted her head. She swayed her body, swayed back, and asked a question.
“You intend to follow the history recreation, you are Matsudaira, and you are also Hashiba, so how can you possibly reject the 26 castles?”
“Let us confirm some things.”
Ujinao replied immediately to the Musashi Secretary.
She knew what he was planning: he would trap her.
He would have her unwittingly step on a few traps, reveal them in the end, and use them to keep her from escaping.
So she could not go along with it.
“I will not listen to your cheap confirmations. …We are discussing the Siege of Odawara here. And I am Houjou’s leader. You only need listen to my words.”
“I see,” he replied.
He then swung his right hand and asked a question.
“Then are you saying…that you are the leader of this negotiation?”
The Musashi Secretary had asked his question.
…That would mean…
Ujinao froze in place.
She could not give a simple yes or no answer.
Silver Wolf: “You got her, didn’t you!?”
When Mitotsudaira saw Houjou Ujinao fall silent, she realized what the Secretary had done.
She did not know what argument he was going to make since he was something of a crazy person, but he had gotten her somehow. She just knew it.
He had needed to prevent Houjou from acting like the leader of the negotiation.
Silver Wolf: “The previous series of denials and attacks is working.”
Smoking Girl: “Huh? What do you mean?”
Vice President: “He made himself into a pain in the butt.”
Silver Wolf: “Judge. Before, the Secretary would respond to everything Houjou Ujinao said and work to crush it. And he did so every single time. So Houjou has to be cautious to prevent him from attacking after everything she says.”
The best way to prevent an opponent from using their specialty was to ignore it or reject it.
…Houjou probably intended to make her own attack after rebuffing the Secretary’s words.
But the Secretary had made a different sort of attack.
Silver Wolf: “He asked Houjou about exactly what it is they want here. …He asked them if they are the leader of this negotiation.”
The result was clear.
Silver Wolf: “Houjou cannot do anything. Because if they respond, he might attack like before, but if they deny it, they will be accepting that they are not the leader.”
However, Houjou Ujinao had an automaton body. She had high-speed thoughts.
She would be quick to recover or rethink her plan. So…
Vice President: “Hurry, Neshinbara.”
Mitotsudaira thought she heard a voice saying “judge”.
Just as Masazumi encouraged him, the Secretary turned to the side, brought a hand to his face, and pushed his glasses up with his middle finger.
“Three. …I will now have you accept that line of thinking.”
Ujiteru heard a quiet comment from Genan who was seated next to him.
It was an impressed-sounding breath, so Ujiteru elbowed Genan in the head.
“What’s that ‘oh’ for? C’mon now.”
“Testament. It was for their Secretary. …‘I will now have you accept that line of thinking’, hm?” He spoke and nodded as if confirming the meaning of those words. “When he puts it like that, we cannot say we have not accepted it or ‘do not recall’ accepting it. At best, we can say we will not accept it. After all, you cannot deny the future.”
“Ujinao must listen.”
Neshinbara breathed in.
“I will say it as many times as it takes: 3 castles.”
“That is not possible.”
“Indeed it is not.”
That briefly confused Ujinao.
And Neshinbara immediately continued.
“There are 3 reasons why.”
This was an important statement because his opponent could not immediately reject it either.
If she did, she would not have to reject all three reasons he was about to give.
So he started by stating the first reason.
“The first reason is that Musashi has very few name inheritors. And we have almost none who were involved in the Siege of Odawara.”
“Who are you saying will represent the attackers in conquering each of the castles, Houjou Ujinao?”
She could not respond.
So he kept going.
“Similarly, the second reason is the name inheritors on the Houjou side. At the very least, you have the 3 who are present here.”
“We have 4!” said Ujinao. “Me, Kotarou, my uncle, and my great-uncle.”
“That great-uncle is dead by the time of the Siege of Odawara. You can only talk about using 3 of those here. If you have any others, then please provide a list.”
Neshinbara made sure to keep going.
“Of course, no matter how much personnel you have prepared, we cannot respond in kind.”
“You cowards…!” Ujinao scattered tears as she raised her voice. “Would you waste all of Houjou’s preparations!?”
“Let me provide the third reason.”
“The history recreation of the Siege of Odawara.”
Neshinbara typed text into his sign frame while reading it off.
He was working quickly. His reading was fairly wooden, but there was no helping that.
“As this will be the history recreation of the Siege of Odawara, we must follow the Testament descriptions. We of Musashi are to play the role of the attackers, but we lack the name inheritors of those attackers. If you are to hold an accurate history recreation, we cannot participate,” explained Neshinbara. “But we have been permitted to participate in the Siege of Odawara as Matsudaira and as agents of Hashiba. That is based on a request from Houjou and Mouri and, since the agreement has been made, it cannot be unmade without both sides’ approval.”
“You have something prepared, don’t you? I doubt you put the Siege of Odawara in motion while ignorant of these rules.” Neshinbara typed the words into his keyboard. “Basically, if you want to say a battle recreated history when none of the name inheritors were present, you need an interpretation. …And history is made by name inheritors. If we do establish the Siege of Odawara here, the only name inheritors in the battle will be on the Houjou side. Since we are acting as Hashiba and Matsudaira, we can establish that simply by facing Houjou’s representatives in duels.”
“Then we only need to place representatives in the 26 castles, correct?”
“No, not correct. …This is a history recreation.” Neshinbara spoke directly to her. “During the Siege of Odawara, most of the Houjou forces were closed up in Odawara Castle. You were, as was Houjou Ujiteru there. How many fought outside the castle?”
“Are you saying we can only fight that many battles?”
“You must have known this from the start.”
“Earlier, I gave a list of your castles that have a lord, remember? That has to be the result you ultimately wanted.”
Neshinbara displayed that list of castles he had proposed earlier.
- Preliminary Battle: Yamanaka Castle, Nirayama Castle, Shimoda Castle.
- Main Battle: Matsuida Castle, Tsukui Castle, Hachigata Castle.
“These 6 castles plus Odawara Castle are the 7 castles we should use.”
“So your total is 7?”
Neshinbara did not back down.
He swung his right hand forward.
“Our intent is as follows: First we look at 4 of the 7 castles. For 2 of those, we will send in name inheritors to duel and achieve victory for us. We will also send name inheritors to the other 2, but if we win the previous 2, we can afford to lose these 2. And…”
He said it.
“Then we send our own people for the remaining 3 castles. Thus, 3 castles. That’s three people.”
Impossible, thought Ujinao.
The idea of accepting the 7-castle list and sending in Musashi’s forces for 3 of them made sense.
But hadn’t Musashi said they did not have any name inheritors that fit the Siege of Odawara?
…Do they have enough for the other 4 castles?
Ujinao looked around and found some people. First…
“Exactly.” The Musashi Secretary spoke from beyond his sign frame. “Now, Musashi has the advantage of being able to send in another nation’s Vice Chancellor and Student Council President as our representatives. Houjou Ujinao, what about you?”
“Are you using them as a shield?”
“I do not recall saying anything of the sort.”
“True enough,” replied the Date Vice Chancellor. She brushed back her hair before continuing. “This is a Date clan history recreation. …It’s sort of like paying rent.”
“Yes,” agreed Yoshiyasu. “And I have my own reasons for joining this battle.”
The Musashi Secretary raised his right hand.
“We can argue over the castles if you like. …But do you have anyone capable of defeating these two, Houjou Ujinao?”
“You only have two, don’t you? The Date Vice Chancellor and Satomi Yoshiyasu. …These two might be able to win, but what about the other castles?”
“We will handle three of them. Because we have to deal with the three of you.”
That was three from Musashi. And the Date Vice Chancellor and Yoshiyasu were in charge of two. That only left…
“Two more castles. …Where are you going to find that many name inheritors? Surely you are not going to suggest we begin a political negotiation over it at this point.”
“I do not recall saying anything of the sort.”
With that statement, the Musashi Secretary raised his right hand.
Two sign frames followed his hand and they were both quite large.
“These are my trump cards. …Destiny Frame! Take a look at these!”
The decorative frames were as large as a tatami mat and each one displayed someone.
One was a white demon standing in a dimly-lit stone hall.
“I, Uesugi Kagekatsu, shall send my warriors to participate in the Siege of Odawara.”
…Sviet Rus’s king…!
“Lord Kagekatsu was one of Hashiba’s main forces during the Siege of Odawara. He participated in conquering quite a few castles, including Matsuida Castle and Minowa Castle. And…”
He gave a smile and the other frame showed a woman with the evening sky in the background.
“The history recreation has me arriving late, but if Yoshiyasu and one of Masamune’s troops are participating, then I have no choice but to join in.”
With a rolling voice, the figure placed a large fan over her mouth. She was…
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