Horizon:Volume 6B Chapter 45

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Chapter 45: Cool Head in the Conflagration[edit]

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What should you do first

Upon meeting a new opponent?

Point Allocation (Greeting)


Shigenaga dueled against a series of fiery slashes.

They came from Houjou Ujiteru.

His body was that of an automaton and his weapon was…

“…Swords with explosion conductivity!?”

“Ding ding diiiiiiiiiiiiing! But also buzz buzzzzzzzz! Together that would be dingbuzz dingbuzz diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing! In other words, you’re half wrong! Wanna know the answerrrrr!? These aren’t katanaaas! They’re sworrrds! Wait, the other way arouuund! I got it wronnnnnnnng! They’re katanaaaaaaas!”

Shigenaga was irritated by this opponent who twisted his head nearly upside down.

But Ujiteru’s actions were solid. He swung his head back and forth and swung his body left and right like a dog as he rushed at her, but there was no disturbance at all in the movement of the swords in his hands.

He was an expert.

She could not approach him carelessly.

But he was an opponent Shigenaga wanted to take out.

A victory against Houjou would be valuable.

For Sviet Rus, Houjou’s land was past P.A. Oda to the south. Sanada was also in the middle and it was not contiguous, so it would normally not be very attractive land.

But Musashi would be leading the construction of a trade route. Once that happened, southern land for agriculture, fishing, and trade would be very valuable.

Also, Musashi wanted a victory over Houjou. Sviet Rus could view this as the Punishment of Aizu while also providing Musashi with the victory over Houjou they desired.

So this battle should be valuable.

Shigenaga lowered her hips in a combat stance.

Ujiteru responded by sticking out his tongue and swinging his body forward.

“Ohhhhhhhh! Yoooooou ready to gooooooooo!?”

She pulled a portable cannon from her skirt and fired it at him.


That did it, thought Shigenaga.

But she was wrong.

The destruction did not hit Ujiteru. The metal bullet she had launched exploded when it hit the end of the road far behind him.

He had dodged it.

It had been an instantaneous movement. Ujiteru had seen her cannon attack coming and bent his body to the side.

The main entrance of the house far past him was left splintered and smoking.

Meanwhile, he briefly glanced back that way.

“That was cloooooooooose! What do you think you’re doing, womaaaaaaaaaaan!? Do you hate meeeeeeeeeee!?”

“Does anyone like you?”

“I doooooooooooooooooo! It’s called self-loooooooove! Too baaaaaaaaaaaaaad! How about a trip to Hachioji as a consolation priiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiize!? Wanna try falling down a waterfall?! Wellll!?”

He irritated her, so she decided to fire a second shot.

She took her firing stance.

A moment later, the colors black and white spread out in front of her eyes.

It was Ujiteru.

He had closed the gap between them in an instant. That may have been due to his abilities as an automaton, but…

There was no disturbance in his movements…!

He had moved smoothly without any vertical shaking. It was almost like he had slid forward from his previous position.

And he swung his flame swords in a motion that ignored his automaton joints.

“—————”

Flames fell from the upper right. Shigenaga swung her body right to dodge the attack from Ujiteru’s left hand.

She targeted his wide-open left side by swinging her left fist toward it. That fist held the thick short sword that had been in her waist hard point. It was an extreme-close range yoroi-dooshi made of black steel.

She could use that to slice through demon armor like it was a cutting torch, so it could instantly cut through an automaton’s body and wires.

Just as Shigenaga knew she had his left side, a blade flew out from between his vertically swinging left arm and his chest.

He had made a sideways jab with the flame swords in his right hand after extinguishing their fire.

His right arm moved as if to embrace her chest from the left.

It was a forceful action, but she read more into what he was doing and gasped.

What kind of timing is that!?

He had yet to finish the swing of his left flame swords. But to make such an accurate jab with the right ones meant he had already begun making that right attack when he made the left one.

That was before she had made her move.

“Kh…”

He had extinguished the flames so as not to burn his own body.

She knew even he had only just barely been able to pull this off.

But she successfully intercepted it. She raised her thick blade and took a defensive stance.

She had placed her right foot to the right, but now she sent that heel ahead and to the right while also kicking her left leg to the right. She avoided the next sword slash to the right. Or she intended to.

A moment later, triple sparks scattered from an impact.

Her black steel short sword had blocked the three jabbing blades in Ujiteru’s right hand.

Catching the backs of the blades on her upper arm paid off. She blocked the impact with her elbow and lightly stepped to the right.

Or she should have.

This weight…!?

Ujiteru had made a curving jab past the front of his body, but its strength was not what mattered. It had numbed her elbow and provided a weight that affected the right step meant to soften the impact.

What she meant as a light step had her slide half her body-width across the dirt ground.

In an instant, the grip of her shoe’s soles loosened, but…

“Ohh…!”

She had demon blood in her veins, so she could produce physical strength several times that of a human.

So instead of using her light weight, she worked to stop her momentum. She ended the knockback slide and then rapidly circled behind Ujiteru.

The automaton had his right arm across the front of his body and he was swinging his left arm down over the right one. Whether he corrected his stance or turned around, he needed to make a preparatory action before actually beginning his attack.

But Shigenaga only had to make a backhand strike on his back with her left blade.

So she did so.

After circling behind him, she moved toward him and sent out her left short sword.

Just then, she saw something: eyes.

Ujiteru’s face had turned 180 degrees to follow her. His eyes were bugging out, his tongue was sticking out, he looked down at her, and…

“Tooooooo baaaaaaaaaad!”

At the same time, he moved. But not to dodge or to attack. He swung his back toward her.

Oh, no…!

He sent his own back into her black steel blade.

The short sword stabbed into the automaton’s back almost up to the guard.

But it was not a deep wound. The tactile feedback that reached her left hand felt like the blade had caught in something.

Ujiteru had captured the blade between his automaton body joints.

She had to make a split second decision.

Would she pull it out, or would she swing the short sword upwards despite the risk of it breaking?

She chose…

“…This is a dangerous choice!!”

She abandoned the blade and launched herself back to his left side.

A moment later, Ujiteru sent an attack to the spot she had just vacated.

It was his left arm.

He had swung that arm forward, but he had forcibly swung it around to the back.

He had removed the restrictions of his left shoulder joint, and…

Did he use his right arm?

When he swung his right arm toward her earlier, it had ended up below his downwards-swinging left arm. He had forcibly lifted that right arm to push his left arm back up like a whip.

Also…

Here it comes…!

His face was looking at her. His head spun vertically like it was rolling on his shoulder, so now it faced her while upside down.

And as soon as he realized his left arm would not capture its target, he made his next move.

His right arm was already moving upwards, but now he rotated it around to the outside. And…

“Spiiiiiiiinny spiiiiiiiiiiin spiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!!”

He spun to the right on his right leg.

He relaxed his left arm to swing it around from his shoulder. Also…

“Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrn! My manly paaaaaaaaaassion!”

His flame slashes began rotating. He used both arms and he released the shoulder and elbow joints.

“Extend, exteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeend!”

The flame swords raised their output at the end of their 4m radius reach.


The explosion that erupted in the Odawara city was on a far greater scale than before.

“Oh?”

Yoshiaki held a skewer of dumplings in front of a café in the northeast of the city.

“The explosions are spreading. …I get the feeling whoever-it-is is throwing them into their surroundings. Should I assume this gives the attacker the advantage…?”

The city was shaken by the rumbling sound and the blowing wind.

Yoshiaki spoke while letting that wind wash over her and eating the dumplings.

“Even the windswept fields are calm in my Ushuu. We could start now, but how about we have a cup of tea first? …Well?”

She called to the person standing on the road in front of her.

“What do you say, Kani Saizou?”

“Yes! I will have some tea!”

“Good, good.”

Yoshiaki patted on the bench next to her, so Kani hopped over to sit there and shouted to the shop behind her.

“Excuse me! Please give me some zenzai! Two servings with mochi in them!”

“Oh? I see you have an appetite.”

“Yes!” Kani nodded. “Eating helps you grow! And I want to be even taller!”

“Oh? What about your chest?”

“That can wait until I’m tall!”

That is something I wish Yoshiyasu could hear, thought Yoshiaki while sipping at her tea.

The explosive wind was still blowing in from the distance. That battlefield only continued to accelerate.


“Hiiiiiiii! Helloooooooooooo!”

After burning away everything within a radius of more than 10 meters and blowing away everything in a radius twice as long, there was nothing but rubble left of the city there. Buildings were ultimately just a collection of boards and columns and those could not withstand the explosive blasts and powerful gusts of wind.

The attack only left behind collapsed wall materials, broken pillars, light objects like buckets, and collections of objects like drawers.

At first glance, it looked like all of the city’s structures had been hit by a giant wave.

At the center, Ujiteru spun his body around and swung two sets of three flames for a total of six.

His opponent was Shigenaga.

She generally focused on dodging while he sent a series of high-speed slashes against her.

They were not simply slashes. Not only could he move his arms’ joints at unnatural angles, but he could switch between the front and back of his body or even spin his hip joint all the way around.

“Hold stillllllllllll! Yesssss! Is your stabby meal cooked to your likiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!?”

“I don’t want one, you fool…!” said Shigenaga. “It’s time you were blown away!”

She put some distance between them and fired the portable cannon attached to her right hip.

She immediately stuck the next round in the barrel and rotated the cannon to load it. After all, she had predicted the path of Ujiteru’s attack and had to leave her stance to dodge it.

And after she dodged him…

“Th-that was clooooooose! Weren’t you taught never to aim at another perrrrrrrrrson!?”

“You’re one to talk!!”

He sent a fire slash at her while they spoke.

Those spell katanas would detonate even the dust in the air on contact.

“This guy is such a pain…!”

With that, Shigenaga moved forward. In the widened city street, she passed between wreckage and used it as cover while charging toward Ujiteru.


Shigenaga made her move.

She ran forward.

Ujiteru responded with a casual strike of his right arm.

It was a somewhat diagonal strike, but she could not focus too much on that. He could change the trajectory of his swords midflight.

It was better to think of it like homing projectiles.

And the beginning of that motion was his vision. The unrestricted joints of an automaton allowed him to change the trajectory of his swinging arms, but it was even more of a problem with his head.

No matter how she moved, she was doing it further out and away from him. That meant her speed could never match that of him turning his head at the center.

And that allows him to follow me with his gaze while he attacks!

Since he followed her with his eyes, attacked, and then followed her again, she had to be constantly on the move. And since his flame swords caused explosions, he also had to stay on the move. So first of all…

“Honjou Shield…!”

Shigenaga used a spell to produce an ether shield from her left palm and sent it toward Ujiteru.

The shield was literally launched toward him for a shield bash.

She targeted his right arm so it would hit the flame swords. But…

“Buzzzzzzzzzzzz! You miiiiiiiiiiissed!”

He released the elbow joint of his right arm during the slash, so the arm bent around the outside of the Honjou Shield.

And immediately after dodging it, he reset his elbow joint to normal. Also…

“How about anotherrrrrrrrrrr!?”

He also sent out a slash with his left arm.

Kh!

He was too fast.

And his attacks would not hit the ground.

He used his great speed to rotate the flame swords, but he would pull them back before they hit the ground and begin his next rotation.

It was a forceful series of slashes and pushes. That was Ujiteru’s sword technique.

Since it was based on forceful action, it was powerful.

Shigenaga, however, had not fallen back. She used Honjou Shield.

“Ohh…!”

After dodging his attack, she sent out the shield to fight back.

The shattered shields exploded and the dodged slashes roasted the air.

A high-speed exchange of roars and flames was held below the cloudy summer sky.

Within that, Shigenaga heard laughter. Ujiteru was laughing as his tongue shook and his throat rumbled.

“Excellent…!”

“What is!?”

“That so many people like you are gathered here todayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!”

She did not reply with “so what”.

This enemy wanted to fight all of those people.

Is he a battle-crazed warrior…!?

When referring to Houjou Ujiteru, the term “battle-crazed” formed a certain baseline. He was not truly looking at her anymore.

He thought of her as a waypoint.

That fact created a heat in her chest.

“Don’t underestimate me, you doll-bound vengeful spirit!!”

She would stop him. Sviet Rus would stop this madman here.

The rights no longer mattered to her. Houjou Ujiteru had turned her into a mere waypoint.

As one of the leaders of Sviet Rus, that was…

“Unforgivable!”



Shigenaga swung her body to the left to dodge the slash Ujiteru sent down from the right.

She stood in front of him, but his slash would immediately pursue her. And it would do so by hopping back up from extremely low to the ground.

So she hurriedly took two actions.

She fired her right portable cannon to the bottom right while sending a Honjou Shield toward him.

The right cannon blast was crucial. Because…

“Hit…!”

His flame swords arrived from the bottom right. A moment later, they would hop up to cut her down.

She was prepared for it to be a lethal attack.

And after the slash, the flames produced by those swords would reside within their target and trigger an explosion. The fire she saw came from the explosion spell and was something like a fuse.

So there was a time lag from the slash to the explosion.

That prevented the flame swords from damaging themselves or injuring their wielder.

But what if she fired her cannon at the blades in advance?

The flames would reside within the hit to the slash, but the impact would be unable to leave the blade.

So it’ll explode!

With the force of the cannon blast included, she guessed it would destroy Ujiteru’s left arm along with the flame swords.

Her bullet hit as planned.

It happened instantly and Shigenaga gathered strength in the left arm swinging her Honjou Shield.

A moment later, the flame swords would shatter and an explosion would erupt.

But she had demon blood in her veins. Her biological divine protections could endure a small-scale blast at close range.

So she relied on that. And…

“Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid you try somethiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!?”

Ujiteru’s upside-down face approached as if ducking below the Honjou Shield.

Huh!?

Her confusion was not directed at Ujiteru.

It was directed to the bottom right where she had fired her cannon.

The bullet should have collided with the flame swords.

And she could see that had definitely happened.

Except the blades were not producing fire.

Three flame swords were abandoned on the ground. At the moment of impact, Ujiteru had extinguished the fire and let go of them.

The bullet had knocked the three swords to the dirt.

“—————!”

And just as they shattered…

“Toooooooooo baaaaaaaaaaaaad! One morrrrrre!”

Ujiteru sent out a flame slash using the three swords in his right hand.

Shigenaga did not have the proper timing or stance to dodge.

I was careless…!

That thought sank into the pit of her stomach and she moved.


Ujiteru thought he had sliced through his opponent.

But he felt no tactile feedback from the three right flame blades. And…

“Hmmmmm!? Hmm!?”

He shook his head a few times in a trembling motion.

As his right arm moved up and down to tilt his head, he found his clothing was disturbed at that arm and its shoulder.

His maid uniform’s apron was torn and the right half of his face was covered with scorch marks.

That was proof of an explosion going off at close range.

“Wait, waaaaaaaaaaaaait! What is thiiiiiis!? Where’s the enemy!? Well!?”

He shouted out into the city where the rubble moved a little.

Shigenaga slowly stood up after having been blown away and embedded in a collapsed house.


Shigenaga stood up.

She breathed heavily and faced Ujiteru from a distance of 12 meters.

She looked forward.

But her knees were shaking.

“Heyyyyyy! Is your consciousness blinking in and out therrrrrrrrrrrrre?”

The impact had given her a light concussion.

But it was not a lethal injury. And…

“That’s cause of that shieeeeeeeeeeeld!”

The Honjou Shield.

She had tried to send the left shield toward Ujiteru, but she had thrown it to the left in the instant she realized he had abandoned his left flame swords.

She had predicted that he was already swinging his right arm down.

As a result, that shield was hit by the flame sword slash, but…

“I’ve been cooked well dooooooone! I smell tastyyyyyy!”

When the Honjou Shield exploded between the two of them, it had sent her flying before the slash could reach her.

That was why she still lived.

Her only injuries were from being thrown backwards by the explosive blast.

The same was true for Ujiteru. But there was a difference between Ujiteru’s automaton frame and Shigenaga’s demon physiology: the protection of their brain.

Ujiteru had not taken a blow to his brain and he could immediately continue fighting. Shigenaga, on the other hand…

“——————”

She had stood up on instinct, but she could not move. She was gradually coming to, but she still could not move.

And Ujiteru did not hold back. Even as he spoke, he inspected different parts of his body.

“Ooooone, twooooooooo! Threeeeee, fourrrrrrrrrrrr!”

He jumped and ran toward Shigenaga. And in his emptied left hand…

“Jackpoooooooot! Three morrrrrrre!!”

He now swung three new flame swords there.


Shigenaga did not really understand her situation.

She felt some kind of intense anger and she remembered she had been fighting.

But when she tried to remember what she had to do and think about now…

Kh.

It felt like there was a fog in her mind. Her thoughts were wrapped in a white emptiness.

Why is that?

It was all such a pain. Thinking only gave her a headache.

Something black and white was rushing toward her with long hands raised.

This is bad, she thought, but she did not understand what it was or why it was bad.

But she knew it was bad.

Yet her mind was simply blank. So…

“————”

Her mind wanted something she did not have to think about.

She saw the sky. It was cloudy and dull, just like her mind at the moment.

There was a city below the sky and the area around her was badly destroyed.

And just then…

Eh?

She saw a color beyond the flowing clouds.

It was blue. The color of the sky.

Ohh, she thought. Has spring arrived?

Clouds covered the sky throughout winter in Sviet Rus. The clearing of the clouds was a sign of spring and the spring lightning was guaranteed to follow.

And follow it did.

“Shigenaga-kun. …You have yet to report back on your situation.”

It was Ivan the Terrible, wielder of lightning.

This was a divine transmission from Sviet Rus. And that strongest demon clearly spoke to her.

“Surely you are not sleeping. It is past noon, but I will say this just in case.”

She could imagine the smile on his face.

Zdravstvuyte. Good morning, Shigenaga-kun.”


“—————!!”

Her mind woke up.

Yes. This was a privet.

It was a clash with an enemy. In Sviet Rus, that combat ritual was an exchange.

So below the cloudy sky, Shigenaga awoke to the charging enemy.

This was her specialty. This was Sviet Rus’s specialty.

It was a head-on battle. She had won countless of these and been blown away by countless of them. So she had a technique for it. That being…

“Honjou Shield…!”

She forcibly gathered strength in her hands and opened several of them.

There were 16 in all. She arranged the ether shields in a fan shape before her. And…

“…!!”

The shields flew out, blowing away the rubble as they went. The wreckage of nearby houses and other buildings was blown and rolled away and the ether shields burst out.

But something took evasive action directly ahead.

It was Ujiteru. He swung his entire body around as he charged in.

“Waaaaaaakey waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakey!”

The automaton sharply bent his legs to clear the flying shields and accelerated toward her. The two sets of flame swords flapped like wings and his racing feet galloped like a horse.

Meanwhile, Shigenaga had moved forward while the Honjou Shields were still flying.

And she launched a second wave of 16 shields.

“Go…!”

She launched them at Ujiteru’s waist height.

But it only took the enemy an instant to dodge them. He rearranged his body’s frame as he ran and dodged the close-range attack by shifting a portion of his torso to the side.

He was closing in on her, but Shigenaga moved forward as well.

And…

“Ohh…!”

She clenched her teeth and launched another 16.

She aimed for his face, but not to hit him. To blind him.

However…

“Bahhhhh! I’m down herrrrrrre!”

Ujiteru lowered his face.

He released his neck joint, literally bent his body forward, and placed his head below the Honjou Shields.

His attack had already begun. He swung his right arm to send the flame swords’ fire straight down through her left shoulder.

At the same time, Shigenaga swung her right arm. She held a portable cannon in her right hand.

“There…!”

She fired on empty space. But she scored a direct hit on something: Ujiteru’s left arm.

That was a second attack he was trying to make. She had predicted it and fired there.

In that instant, he released his left elbow joint. With an obvious light noise, his arm bent sharply.

It dodged the bullet.

Shigenaga had no weapon.

So the enemy spoke.

“Time to punish the sleepy heeeeeeeeeeead!”

Meanwhile, Shigenaga took a light step. Instead of focusing on weight like before, she took a stance that focused on speed.

“Allow me to teach you about the privet.”

“I know that! I know thaaaaaaaaaaat!” roared Ujiteru as he made a deep swing of his left flame swords to raise them once more. “'Zdravstvuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuyte!”

“Precisely.”

Shigenaga lowered her body.

A moment later, a certain power produced destruction.

It was the cannon blast she had fired. It had missed his arm and continued behind him where it shattered a light.

One of the Honjou Shields she had sent out earlier had yet to fully disperse when the bullet split it.

“——————————”

The light shattered.


Ujiteru turned just his head to view it.

He saw light.

He had magnificently dodged the shot fired by the demon woman in front of him, and yet…

Huhhhhh!?

Blue shards of ether scattered, but they flew out forcefully.

Zdravstvuyte.”

The light ignited as soon as the woman said that.

The shield fragments had come in contact with his flame swords’ fire.

The rest was simple.

The fire raced to the other shields flying through the air.

It only took a short time for the ignition to become detonation.

Ujiteru gave a shout.

“Take better care of your surroundiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiings!”


The explosions sent a series of blasts into Ujiteru from behind.

He had been right to face forward once more. His hair was roasted and the impact rattled his head, but that only disturbed his vision and did not actually blind him.

However, his frame was bent and a few wires had snapped.

“Ohhhhh!” he yelled. “I’m so damn stroooooooooooooong!”

In an instant, all the previously-fired shields were detonated. That was a total of 32. They were all a good distance away, but with that many blasts…

“…!”

The impacts cracked his frame and just about blew his arms off in random directions. However…

“Surviving this makes me so damn cooooooooooooooooooooool!!” he roared.

Hell yeeeeeeeeeeeah!

It was not often that life placed you in such a predicament. The niece he had so thoroughly underestimated had just about killed him at some point, but when was that? It was unimportant, so he had forgotten.

But this did not happen often.

And it had been done by someone he had not just underestimated but had not even considered an opponent.

However…

“I enduuuuuuuuuuured!”

He got through it.

The blasts, wind, and impacts had all passed the peak of their threat.

So the rest did not matter.

“Heyyyyyyy!”

He faced forward, but the enemy was not there.

“I’m baaaaaack!”

He moved forward and placed his left hand over his eyes to take a look around.

“Ohhhh!?”

Something caught on the left of his back.

Had a joint broken from those explosions?

He turned his head around to take a look and saw something behind him: the enemy.

She was behind him. She stood with her back to him and her hair fluttering in the remnants of the blast.

However, she was not simply standing there.

She held something in her hand.

It was a weapon.

It was the thick short sword made of black steel that was stabbed into his back.

She held it in both hands and she dropped her hips down.

“Let me tell you the proper greeting for times like this.”

The demon woman used her strength to transform the sword in his back into a powerful downwards strike.

Ujiteru’s left arm was severed at not just the shoulder but the very base.

His tall automaton body tilted forcefully to the right.

The released tension in the joint wires sent them snapping to the right now that the left half of his body was gone.

He bent backwards and staggered back for a few seconds, but he did not lose consciousness.

Zdravstvuuuuuuyte!”

The doll forced his body to hop up as if lifting it out in front of his face.

And Shigenaga sent her Honjou Shields there.

To fill the gap left by his severed left half, she launched 7 ether shields.

They hit and shattered his doll frame. And…

“…!”

She fired her cannon at close range.

The doll’s body split, fragments scattered, and his struggling lower body went stiff. A whirring sound came from his hips before they rose up into his torso and….

“Kotsukakeeeeeeeeeee!”[1]

They were destroyed.

That was all there was to it.

Shigenaga spoke quietly to the collapsed automaton.

“The word is da svidaniya, Houjou Ujiteru.”

The automaton lying in the rubble did not move.

His wide eyes and protruding tongue had no strength to them. They were simply there. Seeing that, Shigenaga took a breath and opened her mouth. She spoke into the windy and cloudy Odawara sky.

“Sviet Rus Representative Honjou Shigenaga. …Houjou Representative Houjou Ujiteru has been defeated…!”


Oh, something’s started.

Hiro thought that from the deck of the transport ship as it prepared to leave port.

She had two sign frames opened. One provided text information on Odawara and she relayed that information.

“Noriki-san, Houjou just lost a duel.”

“That’s fine,” replied the other sign frame.

But Hiro tilted her head at his bluntness.

“…It was Lord Ujiteru, you know? That idiot is strong.”

“That’s why I said it’s fine.”

“Oh.” Hiro realized what Noriki meant. “It’s fine because it wasn’t Lady Ujinao.”

“If you get it, you don’t have to say it.”

Hiro raised her eyebrows at that. And after a beat…

“I take it things are going well?”

“What do you mean?’

“I mean I can see that behind you.”

The screen displayed the part of Suwa Shrine’s grounds that was set up for the testing of his spell.

There had been test strike boulders there earlier.

Those stones weighed more than 10 tons and they had been lined up after they were ejected from the Suwa Shrine. But now…

“I can tell something incredible is happening.”

Those boulders were gone.

Instead, there were piles of pebbles. Instead of being split, those pieces scattered across the ground had been shattered from a blow.

“Well? Think it’ll work?”

“It isn’t perfect, but I’ll have to go with it. I also have something to prepare at the Suwa Shrine.”

“What’s that?”

“Judge.” That upperclassman viewed her with his usual squinted eyes and raised eyebrows. “It’s something I need for my duel with Ujinao. Once I have it, I’ll be right there. …Will I make it in time?”

“That’s up to them and you.” Hiro smiled bitterly as the information on the Odawara sign frame changed. “See? Another duel’s started! Hurry!”


“Oh, dear. One of the Houjou duels was just used up,” said the Reine des Garous while she wiped her mouth with a handkerchief in front of a café.

She had wanted to have something on her stomach before fighting, but she had gone a bit overboard with the Odawara cuisine. The next thing she knew, a few battles had begun within a few kilometers of her.

She would soon join them, but…

Terumoto wants some of Houjou’s rights.

She was Vice Chancellor, so she wanted to give her boss what she wanted if possible. However…

“The Far Eastern flavoring is surprisingly good. The sweet soy sauce leaves your mouth a bit sticky, though.”

She sniffed the used handkerchief to enjoy this post-meal moment.

It was a nice smell.

That was partially because of the food, but also because of the handkerchief itself.

Her husband had chosen it for her.

On the night he had given it to her, she had repaid him by placing it in her mouth and licking and rubbing his body with it.

When carrying that cloth that was so permeated with his scent, she felt like she had his protection. And over the past few days, her daughter’s scent had gotten on her body and hair.

She felt like she was sharing the battlefield with her family.

But, she thought.

Musashi and Mouri are effectively enemies here.

Mouri wanted Houjou’s rights and Musashi wanted to visit Houjou’s ruins.

If possible, she would like for them each to win one duel against Houjou, but one of those Houjou representatives, Ujiteru, had apparently been defeated by Sviet Rus.

Knowing who Ujiteru was, this was quite the upset for so early on.

The remaining Houjou fighters were Ujinao, Genan, and the Mouse named Kotarou.

Ujinao was in Odawara Castle, so the Reine des Garous could head there if need be. But after losing, Ujiteru would be injured.

“If Lord Ujiteru stubbornly insists on returning to the fight, he should be easier to defeat now, but this sounds like it will be a lot of trouble.”

She could take him on, but as a wolf royal, she wanted to avoid finishing off an injured opponent.

But in that case, she knew which opponents to prioritize.

The Houjou and Musashi fighters who are still going strong.

Fighting Houjou would be for Terumoto’s wishes.

Fighting Musashi would also help with Terumoto’s wishes. Musashi was definitely targeting Houjou, so it would help to take them out first.

Such a dangerous way of thinking, she thought with a bitter smile at herself.

Just then, she noticed someone standing in front of her.

They were clearly waiting for her.

It was one of the Musashi representatives.

“Oh?” The Reine des Garous smiled at them. “Were you thinking the same thing? …Then I suppose we could fight here.”

The other person lightly slapped their skinny chest and stood tall.

“I am a Musashi representative. I challenge you to a duel.”

Then they spoke their name.

“Hassan Furubushi. …I will do my best.”

The Reine des Garous thought, This is not at all what I expected.


Notes[edit]

  1. Kotsukake is a karate technique of retracting the testicles to defend against hits to the crotch.