Horizon:Volume 6B Chapter 44
Chapter 44: Runner at the Start Time
Wait a little
Wait a lot
Point Allocation (Not – Possible)
Katou Yoshiaki heard a certain sound.
An explosive boom reached her from far beyond the roofs of the buildings.
…Has the battle started?
This got bloody fast, she thought, but she was a part of it.
As a Weiss Hexen, she normally fought in the sky, so she was not exactly in her element fighting on the surface.
But, she thought. I know how to fight like this.
That just left using it in an emergency, but…
“I hope I can meet up with Kani.”
She had been sent in on Houjou’s side. Houjou and Hashiba were enemies, but as long as they each had another enemy, they would not be forced to fight each other.
Kani’s skill level was unknown, but ground battles had to be her forte. Yoshiaki had not expected her to run all the way to Shimoda in half a day. According to Kani…
“But the mountains are really scary at night!”
That was the line of someone who had experienced the mountains at night.
So Yoshiaki concluded that Kani was fairly capable. However…
Now, what to do? she thought.
“I want to avoid getting into any serious fights if I can.”
Yoshiaki thought about the battlefield and the battle participants.
Based on the order, she was the only one that could fly. So she could always take flight and flee as soon as a battle began.
There were plenty of obstacles and plenty of cover in the city. Her wings made her easy to see, but she still had an advantage since she could retreat and escape. Also…
…Could I also hide inside a home or store?
But there were figures in the city.
They were automatons.
Perhaps as a service from Houjou, automatons in Houjou maid uniforms were cleaning the roads and running some of the stores and restaurants. They would clean up the damaged battlefield and they would provide assistance if anyone needed it.
Of course, they did not greet or speak to anyone so they would not give away anyone’s position.
The participants were treated like they did not exist.
There was another explosion. It was farther away than before.
…In that case…
This was dangerous.
The representatives would move away from the site of a battle in progress. They would not want it to interfere with their own battles. But in that case…
“Where am I now?”
She was on the southwest side of the Odawara city. She was near the corner.
She had nowhere to run if she was pursued.
She needed to get moving and soon. An enemy could be approaching from the center, so she always kept a building between her and the roads leading to the center.
She wanted to remain as passive as possible. So she avoided an automaton cleaning the road, and…
“…Outta the way.”
“Oh, excuse me.”
Hearing that, Yoshiaki tapped the automaton on the shoulder and hurried on. She kept her pace light, but she also used her wings.
She used some horizontal acceleration to quickly leave that place.
“I was careless,” said Yoshiaki. “I can’t believe they got so close.”
Seki watched the wind leave.
She placed her right hand on the shoulder Yoshiaki had tapped.
“I thought about ending that quickly with a surprise attack, but it didn’t work out.”
She held a black knife in the hand on her shoulder.
She looked back to see no sign of Yoshiaki, not even some scattered feathers.
That girl had made an excellent escape.
And she had done so after tapping Seki on the shoulder to tell her she had noticed her. Seki had immediately prepared for battle when she realized she had been noticed.
Yoshiaki had used that opening to escape, but…
…I should count myself lucky that I did not have to fight with my surprise attack equipment.
Staying positive is for the best, concluded Seki. And…
“Okay, let’s get going.”
Houjou maid uniforms could be quickly removed using the shoulder clasps.
She wore her normal clothing below: a Hexagone Française combat maid uniform. She straightened the collar, rewrapped the scarf, and checked the armor.
Then she opened the lid to a nearby water bucket.
It contained a pallet of rifles, pistols, and swords.
She lifted it with her gravitational control and then looked up.
She had heard a noise.
This explosion was even more distant than the last and she noted something about that roar of air.
“That is not an attack. …They are pursuing someone as a game.”
Ookubo ran through the city.
It had been a long time since she set foot on the ground. The surface was more humid than the Musashi and she saw a thick layer of shimmering heat in the distance.
…Yes, the surface is such an elegant place. No weird upperclassmen anywhere.
“…Wait, this is no time to let that soothe me!”
Just as she shouted that, there was an explosive blast behind her.
A flame spell consumed several homes in an instant. This was more than just a fire spell, as it apparently had an explosion spell included as well. The rumbling produced a shockwave that sent the fragments of broken buildings shooting through the city at high speed. They literally pierced through other buildings to attack at unexpected places.
And once again…
The building behind her to the right was apparently an inn. A Far Eastern wall with a terrace on the second floor was smashed through on the second floor. The building itself had not been destroyed. The fragments of the house destroyed in the explosion had collided with a building in the adjacent block.
It was a column that broke through the inn’s second floor wall and flew her way. The column was burned to charcoal in places and it carried fragments of the plaster wall with it.
They flew by overhead, but then they lost speed.
Ookubo sped up to escape the pillar that fell down toward her like it was trying to hit her.
She avoided it.
Behind her, the pillar crashed into the ground with a surprisingly light sound. She feared it would slide along the dirt and she did indeed hear it rolling with a hollow sound.
But the burnt plaster fragments and clumps of dirt were raining down from above.
Ookubo was familiar with the effects of explosions and how much damage they could do. She had learned that all too well on the way to England. But…
She swore, but that felt like the only appropriate word.
“Curse those upperclassmen! Curse them…!”
Just saying it isn’t enough. I have to do something about it once I get back. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I feel like I’m violating a law against casting unauthorized curses, but I can have Kanou-kun do something about that.
Besides, thought Ookubo.
…I did think this sounded like a good idea…
Ookubo recalled what happened the night before.
When she visited the cleanup after the meeting, the Vice President had handed her a Main Blue Thunder tart in a box.
“Oh, Ookubo. Take this home with you. The idiot made them while crossdressing, but they’re pretty good. And don’t worry about tomorrow. We have the rules already and you can negotiate on the battlefield. Take a look.”
- Each duel is limited to 30 minutes and a draw will not be counted as a victory.
- If there is a disagreement in the desired type of duel, a discussion will be held and each type will be used for 15 minutes.
- If the winner or loser are deemed fit to continue fighting, they may move to a different battlefield.
- After a duel is complete, the participants must wait an hour before fighting again.
- Divine transmissions on the battlefield will generally be restricted to those being sent out. Mutual communication can only be done at predetermined times or while the warrior is unable to fight.
“See? We’ve all settled on accepting negotiation, so you relax and prepare for that. The other nations will follow along with that. …Oh, there’s a tea pack too. Eat and drink these and get some sleep. Okay?”
She had left when the anteater waved goodbye, but she should have protested on the spot.
After all, there was a flaw in those battlefield rules.
…You can choose negotiation as your duel type, but there’s nothing you can do if your opponent has no intention of negotiating.
Or to sum it up…
“It’s useless against a crazy person.”
That was what happened to her.
Just in case, she had written “Requesting a Negotiation” on a sign frame and held it over her head.
She had chosen the center of the city for her battlefield.
Everyone would have their own ideas, but she had decided no one would be dumb enough to start fighting in the very middle. After all, that would make you stand out and the battle would be visible from all four directions.
In the center, something more inconspicuous – like a negotiation – would be preferable to a flashy battle.
So Ookubo had decided to head to the center of the city, raise her negotiation sign, and wait for an opponent.
And that was what she had done.
There was a plaza in the center of the city. It was a dirt plaza with a well in the center. She figured her negotiation sign would be quite visible from there. With everyone watching, no one would be stupid enough to ignore her request for negotiation and attack instead.
And just as she had left the streets and entered the plaza, someone had run out from behind a house.
It was a maid automaton. It was Houjou Ujiteru.
Houjou was an important opponent for Musashi. They would join Musashi later and their permission was needed to enter the Houjou ruins the Vice President and others wanted to visit. So…
“Negotiate! I wish to duel via negotiation!”
Just as she yelled that, Ujiteru hid his face behind his hands. Then he swung his arms around in a large circle to reveal his automaton face and stuck out his tongue.
“Baaaaaaaahhhhhhh! It’s meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!”
And who are you? Oh, right. Houjou Ujiteru.
“Hiiiiiii! Little giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl! Let me show you the wayyyyyyyyyyyy!”
That led to her current predicament.
She heard another explosion behind her. And…
“Hellooooooo! Where are yooooooou!? Come on ouuuuuuuut! Or are you happy where you arrre!? That’s terrific! Just like meeeeee! I’m Uji-terrific…!”
The lunatic’s voice pursued her below the summer sun.
Uncle seems to be doing well, thought Ujinao.
Ujinao sighed in the center of Odawara Castle’s center citadel.
She sat below a bamboo parasol. The tea prepared by the automatons was on the hot side, but…
“Even with an automaton body, it feels wonderful to work up a sweat and then cool off.”
“Testament,” agreed the automatons before stepping back.
She viewed a sign frame map of the battlefield.
The water source, Odawara Castle, and the city. Knowing everyone’s location was her privilege as the manager of the Siege of Odawara.
She spoke to the individual on the way to the castle’s main gate.
“Kotarou, do not push yourself too hard.”
“You say that, but I don’t have much of a choice with these opponents!”
“That is why I am warning you.”
Ujinao smiled and saw a few movements.
Musashi’s main group was at the hill near the water source. Takigawa wanted a group battle, so if that was to be viewed as a duel, it was a unique one. The three from Sanada were there too, but how was that going to turn out?
There was one thing she had told Musashi.
She had sent a single divine transmission to them while they were considering their lineup before the battle.
As a result, she could see two people in the Musashi group headed to the water source.
“The Vice President and Chancellor are with them…”
That was a good decision. After all…
“The Houjou ruins are at that same water source as Takigawa’s group.”
Masazumi stood before a hill.
The artificial lake where Takigawa awaited was naturally at a higher elevation than Odawara Castle.
The artificial lake was surrounded by a forest, so it looked easy to approach it using that as cover. However…
“…Sanada and Takigawa are ninjas, so the forest is dangerous.”
“We should take the lead.”
She could only agree with Neshinbara and Crossunite’s comments.
Due to the cloudy forest and hill, she could not yet see the lake.
“Are the ruins there?”
“Houjou says so. …And I can understand why there would be ruins at that water source. In order to use the ocean for trade, the newer parts of the city were likely built in the lower area.”
“So what are we gonna do, Seijun? Go check it out now?”
“We don’t have the right yet.” Masazumi looked to Odawara Castle and the city where she could see and hear explosions. “We need someone to defeat someone from Houjou so we can win that right. And political factors could change the other nations’ stance. It would be safest not to head there right away. So for now…”
She looked to the explosive Odawara city.
“We wait until someone has won a victory over Houjou.”
“And if no one does?”
“We ask some other nation or Houjou to give us one victory’s worth of rights. This might call for a prostration.”
She heard another explosion in the distance. However…
“Mh?” Urquiaga turned toward the Odawara city. “The direction of the explosions has changed. Has something happened on the battlefield?”
Ookubo realized the pursuing explosions had suddenly veered away.
…To the right!?
They had shifted, but she could not let her guard down. This could always be a feint.
Ookubo ran. She raced forward while telling herself she could relax if the explosions did not return after another 3 seconds of running.
There was another explosion behind her. Its position was still shifted.
But she ran. There was a three-way junction coming up and she wanted to turn right or left at it.
She accelerated her legs to hurry up.
Oh, whoops. I haven’t activated enough cooling spells. I only have the usual two for keeping away the summer heat.
She approached the three-way junction and the explosion was shifted again.
Good, she thought. The enemy lunatic really has given up on me. He must have spotted someone else when he lost sight of me. So…
After turning right at the three-way junction and moving behind a house, she took a breath.
She was safe.
That series of events had been far too much.
Why did a liberal arts type have to be chased around by an athletic…no, insane automaton?
“I’m protesting this once I get back…”
With that comment, Ookubo released a heated breath toward the ground and straightened up.
There was a mechanical phoenix in front of her.
It was gold and red, it was at least 15m tall, and its head was facing her.
What is this doing here? she wondered as light entered the sight devices on its face. They moved like eyes to focus on her.
“Ohh, ohh. You are a Musashi child…I think? Well, it does not matter. I am Houjou Genan. I have come here as Houjou Ujikuni. Oh, and this is my prototype. It is a mechanical phoenix specialized for ground battles.”
Hold on, thought Ookubo as she bent backwards.
…First a lunatic and now a mechanical phoenix? What kind of theme park is this…!?
The mechanical phoenix stood up with a “yo” and a sound like spraying metal came from its entire body.
“I am merely opening up my cannons a bit, but don’t worry. …I know how to do it so it won’t hurt. Now…which one would you like?”
Without even answering, Ookubo dashed back the way she had come.
Racing destruction was added to the city.
Houses were scattered into the air, but what exactly was racing through the Odawara city could not be seen past the roofs and destruction.
However, a voice spoke up from a position overlooking that wave of destruction.
Two figures faced each other on the shopping district roofs of north Odawara.
One was a white-skinned woman standing on a water bucket.
“Sviet Rus Representative Honjou Shigenaga.”
Her opponent stood on a bathhouse roof with arms crossed.
With his arms still crossed, he spread out some swords in his hands. There were three in each hand. He held the blades between his fingers and flames burst from them to extend their reach.
“You think too much of yourself, little girl…!”
The water bucket foothold exploded when the fire touched it.
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