Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 47
Chapter 47: Seeker of Money
Add a ＼banzai／ to “everything” and you get “money”
Money is everything
Narumi leisurely spent her time in the city.
She was at a café with an automaton in the kitchen. The tempura she ordered was good, so she tried a number of things with salt while enjoying some sake.
She could hear the sounds of destruction in the distance and the smell of curry reached her nose, so she could tell the others and the various national representatives were having a lively time of it. Since she had already left her nation, she had no intention of proactively doing anything. She would fight back if attacked, but escaping would count as a win to her. Because…
…Everyone will be worn out after enough time passes.
Those who had been fighting would be injured and exhausted. Even if she was found, they would be hesitant to pick a fight with someone who was entirely unscathed.
Of course, she had an even bigger reason:
“I doubt anyone would benefit from taking any of Date’s rights.”
Date and Mogami were troublesome figures in this battle. Date was in the north and had few connections to other nations, so no one would benefit much from defeating Date and taking their rights.
Mogami was the same. Since they would decline, there was little reason to defeat them for their rights here.
Of course, Narumi wanted to avoid getting into an unfortunate battle and having those nonexistent rights taken.
…But looking at it the other way around, we would actually gain more if I went on the offensive.
The other nations had far better rights than Date.
So she wondered if she should go for it. However…
She decided against it.
She felt indecisive, but she also enjoyed how her feelings would not stay still.
…I would always set out immediately whenever something happened at Date.
From a Date perspective, she should probably do that now too, but she had left them. Masamune had seen her off, so it would be presumptuous of her to claim she acted on Date’s behalf.
So her feelings on the matter would not stay still.
“Which is such a luxury. Don’t you think…Satomi Student Council President?”
Yoshiyasu had collapsed.
To describe her state, her head was down on the counter. To describe her situation, the sake had done her in.
Yes, she had never been able to hold her liquor.
Drinking with the Date Vice Chancellor in order to speak with her had been a mistake.
The other girl’s drink was fairly strong, but it went down easily. So…
…Oh, this isn’t so bad.
I’ve really grown up, she thought shortly before she found her vision had inexplicably turned on its side.
And there was something below her right cheek and arm extended to the right.
No. It was simply the counter. She had immediately gotten drunk enough to take out her sense of balance. But the counter was well polished. The Houjou automatons were hard workers. The automaton from a certain other café was also a hard worker, but her solution to stains on the table was to pull out a hand plane.
“Are you awake, Satomi Student Council President?”
She said she was. Except when the words left her mouth…
“That’s a no then.”
Oh, no! This isn’t good. The sake is taking over my brain. I could speak human language just a moment before, but now I’m no better than Class 3-Plum.
…I can’t believe this…
She realized she had not had any alcohol since arriving on the Musashi.
It had not seemed like the time for drinking after Satomi went boom.
Also, she did not have the money to drink regularly. She had not forgotten how humiliating it was to borrow basic living expenses after paying the collateral on parts for Righteousness. Remember this, Hashiba. The Asama Shrine was kind enough to give me a god of war collateral contract where I only have to pay back 1% per month, but my grudge would be 10 times stronger if I’d signed the Treasurer’s contract which required 10% per month.
“What are you muttering about? Are you okay?”
She had sort of gotten the words out this time. But it was still far from intelligible.
What was she supposed to do? If she dueled the Date Vice Chancellor now, she would definitely lose.
Please don’t challenge me to a duel. Not that you’d listen.
Narumi stared at the underclassman sitting two seats away.
She pointed at the tanzaku menu on the wall to place an order with the automaton. She remembered the locations without having to look at the wall.
“Give me some aralia sprouts, shiso, and sillago. Also some tempura dipping sauce. Can you also add some grated radish?”
The “testament” response already sounded nostalgic.
…I’ve really gotten used to Musashi.
Her drunk underclassman had to be the same.
She knew why that underclassman was here: she wanted to know what Narumi thought.
They were both originally from clans outside Musashi. But during the previous three-nations meeting, the Satomi Student Council President had worked to persuade another nation on Musashi’s behalf while Narumi had been one of the ones needing persuading.
Satomi was a small nation. It was easily manipulated by the circumstances of other nations. That made her more sensitive to the interplay between nations than the Musashi students were.
That would be why she wanted to know what Narumi’s stance as Date was. She was acting as Satomi who were friendly with Matsudaira and as Mogami. And even if that had led to a duel with Narumi…
…She was prepared to do it.
Narumi liked that resolve.
The Satomi Student Council President did not often speak or act as a part of Musashi.
So if she had come here to check on Narumi’s uncertain position, was she doing so as a foreigner hitching a ride on the Musashi or as a member of Musashi?
She probably did not know herself. However…
“You need to have a better grasp of your limits with alcohol. Besides…”
Narumi stood up.
“You also need to pay more attention to your surroundings before passing out.”
She got down from the seat and turned toward the café while her summer uniform’s skirt swayed.
“Most of the other nations would have trouble benefiting much from picking a fight with Date or Mogami. …At most, it would be Sviet Rus. Or so you would think. But there is one force that would definitely benefit from it.”
Narumi turned her eyes toward the seat at the end of the table.
“Musashi Treasurer Shirojiro Bertoni. If you could pick a fight with Date or Mogami and take away one of our rights, I imagine you would go for the right to the trade route we settled on yesterday.”
She had not spoken much with this member of their class, but this was perfect.
The drunk Satomi Student Council President and Mogami Representative would have a slightly rude awakening if he picked a fight with her here, so Narumi decided to confirm whether he intended to fight.
“Were you eating soba?”
“Water is plenty.” He stood up. “Because I cannot waste money.”
“Huh? Musashi’s last fighter was Shirojiro-dono?”
Masazumi nodded at Crossunite’s question.
“Judge. …When I got home yesterday, there was a prostration at the front door.”
Someone shouted “she’s treating him like an object!”, but treating him like a person would only go to his head, so she had no real choice.
Nevertheless, she had decided to ask him why he was there.
“When I asked him what he was doing, he asked that I let him join in the duels. I was honestly impressed that even our Treasurer could come back to his senses when Musashi needs it.”
“I assume there is a ‘but’ coming?”
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded. “But… Hey, Heidi.”
She saw Heidi trying to tiptoe away.
“Wh-what!? What is it!? What did I do!? Ohh, I get it. You’re jealous of my good looks, aren’t you?”
“…Asama, what kinds of divine punishments can you dish out without making any charges?”
“Hmm… Those two worship an Inari god, so it would be difficult to do anything directly without any charges…”
“Yay! Long live the Inari gods! Not even Asama-chi can directly blow us up with a divine punishment!”
“Yes, which is why I’ll have to do it indirectly.”
Asama flipped through a sign frame with Hanami.
“Let’s see. I want to reach an Inari god via Asama without any charges… Yes, this questioning one should work. If you disobey, three rolls of ether Inari sushi are shoved up your butt, your skin becomes oily, you pee fried tofu sauce for a week, and you are unable to lie during the questioning.”
“Wouldn’t that last one be enough?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“Well, the Inari gods have always been cruel…”
“Makes sense,” everyone said while Masazumi looked to Heidi.
“When I tried to ask about it last night, he gave me a box of sweets and fled, but what have you two done?”
“Did you eat the sweets!?”
“Yes, I turned them in to the guards.”
“How is that a ‘yes’, Masazumi!? Let’s calm down and think about what you did! There was money in there! 3000 yen!”
“That is an oddly realistic bribe amount given we’re in high school.”
“Dammit!” shouted Heidi as she threw her receipts-and-payments sign frame to the ground. And with a smile…
“Hey, Masazumi? Are you familiar with the issues surrounding Musashi’s vegetable supply?”
She was not. Fortunately, Ohiroshiki explained without even turning away from watching some local children enjoying the festival.
“If I remember correctly, ever since we left England, most of the transport routes have been filled with materials for repairing and remodeling the Musashi, so the supply has been fairly low. It wasn’t to the point of skyrocketing prices, but some products had a 50% increase.”
“Right!? Right!? So Shiro-kun and I bought up all the vegetables so we’d have a monopoly!”
“But an agricultural wide block was opened up in the Ariake’s empty space, so we began growing our own vegetables,” explained Ohiroshiki. “Mitotsudaira-kun also made direct trades in lieu of taking land taxes from her territory, so the supply has stabilized more recently.”
Masazumi mostly understood now. Simply put…
“You two are deep in the red, so you want money?”
“D-don’t be silly! The first quarter report isn’t out yet, so we don’t know if we’re in the red! You can’t just insult us like that!” Heidi waved both hands around and then pointed toward the Odawara city. “We win as long as we defeat that Date Representative and take their right to the trade route!”
“Don’t destroy the three-nations meeting we worked so hard to bring together!!”
That was when someone stepped up beside Masazumi. Futayo and Muneshige reacted to their presence at exactly the same time.
“Public Morals Committee Head?”
Asama knew her well enough to give a bow in greeting. Kanou bowed back and then…
“Vice President. Um.”
“Is it about Ookubo?”
“No, she seems to be doing well, so there is nothing to worry about. This is a more important issue.”
Kanou opened a small sign frame in her palm and showed it to Masazumi.
Masazumi viewed the text on the non-illuminated sign frame and inhaled. And then…
“Our Treasurer is embezzling Musashi’s budget!?”
Hori-ko: “Now, Heidi-sama, the time for kindness has ended.”
Me: “Ohh. That explains why they were helping hand out sweets to the neighbors even though that wouldn’t make them any money.”
10ZO: “They were trying to ingratiate themselves to us. …Although that’s useless if we catch on.”
Hori-ko: “I suppose they will be fired soon.”
Marube-ya: “No, we’ll pay it back right away! We’ll double it! Easily!”
Silver Wolf: “…Tomo, what can you do if we have actual charges?”
Asama: “Well. …First, there’s the standard oily skin, but then Shinto bonds are attached to all four limbs to force them into a prostration stance and as many rolls of ether inari sushi as their age are shoved up their butt. That generally makes people scream. After that, a man will have a kitsunebi appear on the end of their crotch for ten months and ten days. For three years afterwards, they will randomly pee ether kitsune udon, which generally makes people scream, but it also automatically returns the embezzled money from their assets.”
Worshiper: “It always feels like the last one would be enough.”
Smoking Girl: “So that’s what Heidi has to look forward to, huh?”
Silver Wolf: “I only asked out of curiosity, but that seems like a little much…”
Hori-ko: “No kitsune udon comes out of their butt?”
Mar-Ga: “What language was that question in?”
Asama: “Umm… Oh, it comes from the butt when the embezzlement happened at a corporation. I think that’s the one that would apply to this case.”
Marube-ya: “Noooo! I’m still young, so I don’t want to produce udon like that!”
Scarred: “Master Tenzou. …Does that happen when you get older in the Far East?”
10ZO: “That is the fate of criminals, so you have nothing to worry about, Mary-dono.”
Tachibana Husband: “Doesn’t this mean the Treasurer needs to win? I do not envy him.”
Uqui: “Yes, Narumi is not going to hold back…”
Below the cloudy sky, Narumi waited until the Musashi Treasurer stood up while viewing a sign frame.
He spoke to her in the center of the road behind the café.
“Date Narumi. …Allow me to say one thing.”
“I will attack afterwards.”
“…Have you ever considered the feelings of someone who must produce udon from their body?”
She had waited until he was done, so Narumi made her attack.
The very first attack proved effective.
The mandible sword she had summoned into her hand had definitely caught the Treasurer.
That slash would normally bisect her opponent’s body. The mandible sword was meant for use against Sviet Rus demons or gods of war, so it could easily destroy a human.
But her enemy endured it.
The slash became an impact that only sent the Musashi Treasurer flying.
She knew what he had done.
“You used money as a substitution to gain some other power. …You’ve used it as an attack before, but you can use it for defense too, can’t you?”
Narumi moved forward.
It was a summer afternoon. The heat felt refreshing at first, but the sweat would eventually become an annoyance.
Date was a northern land and she was not used to the heat. So…
“Date Narumi. …You lose.”
The Musashi Treasurer stood in the center of the road after receiving her attack.
He was not unscathed as he stood in the sunlight. His summer uniform had been torn by the slash, but below that…
“I am wearing ballistic armor woven from 1000-yen bills. Thus, I am invincible.”
“Are you?” Narumi nodded. “Then I’ll just have to aim for the head.”
Uqui: “Excellent… Narumi, I’ve fallen for you all over again.”
Marube-ya: “Wahh!! Don’t do that, Shiro-kun! We haven’t taken out an insurance policy for you!”
Almost Everyone: “You two never stop, do you!?”
Narumi summoned a mandible sword into each hand. She instantly checked on her grip.
She was not going to let him catch his breath.
And he spoke to her.
“Date Narumi. …You lose.”
That was the same line as before, but he had more to back it up this time.
“Because this is the hottest part of the day. That cannot be easy for someone raised in a snowy nation.”
“…Judge. It’s true this is not the best time for me.”
Narumi summoned Unturning Centipede which was being fine-tuned.
She instantly joined with it. After Novgorod, she had reduced the time lag when starting up Unturning Centipede. So that a certain stupid someone could not interfere like he had before.
…So it happens in an instant.
Once it fit around her, she could adjust the temperature inside the mobile shell for her comfort.
The scent of her camellia shampoo was surprisingly cute and reminded her she was a girl. But…
“Now I won’t be too warm.”
Narumi adjusted her grip on the two mandible swords and moved forward.
Gold Mar: “Ahh, Narumin is really into this, isn’t she?”
Uqui: “Judge. As I said, she never holds back.”
Silver Wolf: “Umm, Masazumi? What happens if Narumi defeats the Treasurer here?”
Vice President: “They’ll be producing udon, I guess…”
Smoking Girl: “Masazumi… Are you trying not to face reality?”
CAN: “If I might interject, I believe it may be necessary to reevaluate a number of things about the trade route with Date. I recommend getting Lady Ookubo’s assistance when you do.”
Ookubo saw a sign frame as a large mechanical phoenix pursued her through the city of Odawara.
HQ had just contacted her. And it said…
“Hey, this is an emergency message. Ookubo, you’ll probably have a large job waiting for you when you get back, so take care of it. You’re perceptive, so you probably already know, but if that udon gets made, we need to negotiate with Date.”
“What in the world does that mean!?”
Ookubo broke the sign frame with a karate chop and kept running.
“Sounds like she’s up to the task. Kanou, sorry about this.”
After Kanou bowed, Masazumi raised her right hand toward her and took a breath.
…Looks like we can handle this if Bertoni loses.
Who can do it? Can-ou... She added that joke in her to her mental collection and turned toward Augesvarer.
“Augesvarer, how likely is Bertoni to win?”
“Just so you know, Shiro-kun is really good at throwing money around and striking at his enemy’s weaknesses!”
“He sure plays dirty!!”
After joining everyone in that comment, Masazumi faced Urquiaga.
“Urquiaga, how likely is Narumi to win?”
“…She is even stronger than when she fought me. That is the type of girl she is.”
The half-dragon immediately answered her. Then he sighed and scratched his head.
“She was originally a Vice Chancellor, if you recall. If you are not as compatible with her as I am, you will need quite a bit of wiles, strength, and skill to defeat her.”
Just as he explained that, Augesvarer suddenly looked up.
Text danced across the non-broken receipts-and-payments sign frame next to her face.
The score providing Bertoni’s amount of money was rapidly reducing.
“Shiro-kun has started throwing it around!”
Shirojiro moved accurately.
His enemy used a mobile shell which could fly with high-speed mobility. His thrown coin bullets would not cut it here.
“Heidi, borrow some bullet acceleration spells from Takemikazuchi. …Upgrade the usual 10 yen ones to 500 yen!”
“500 yen isn’t enough for Takemikazuchi ones! The retail price starts at 800 yen!”
“Get a discount by buying them in groups of ten!”
A purchase of 150 shots had already appeared on his sign frame. The bullets themselves were 10 yen, so firing them all would be an expense of 75,000 and 1,500 yen.
…That is more than expected.
Withdrawals from Marube-ya’s safe had been stopped.
But not to prevent him from using too much. Withdrawals had been stopped to prevent investigators from acquiring or confiscating the money if the embezzlement of public funds was discovered.
So the money he had on hand was still only the clean money used for business and for running the Marube-ya. Use too much of that and it was possible the Marube-ya would be unable to function tomorrow.
That would not be good. It would distance him from his happy days of swimming in money.
He could not waste this. And…
“…I must make back what we lost!”
With that, Shirojiro fell back. Narumi instantly filled the gap between them.
Her mandible swords were clearly targeting his neck.
…What a dangerous girl!
With that thought, the sword reached him. She was definitely one tempo faster than him.
…I suppose she is the Date Vice Chancellor!
Narumi realized the advance tactile feedback had vanished.
This was not about the actual tactile feedback.
…What was there has vanished?
Once a fighter reached a certain level, they could feel some tactile feedback before the attack actually hit.
That did not mean they had precognition. The impacts and habits that had permeated their bodies from so much training and combat would cause them to subconsciously feel “the usual feedback” in advance. That allowed them to more quickly take their next action and to detect the depth of a hit, so it was a standard technique for experts.
But that had vanished.
A change in her vision had caused a change in that predictive feeling.
This was not “the usual feedback”. An odd change had occurred, so her experience had not predicted “the usual”.
So what had happened?
Narumi had seen the enemy fall back.
While doing so, he would have used a swayback motion. That meant bending his back so his opponent’s attack would pass by in front of him. Swaying forward once more could then lead into an attack, so it was a basic evasive maneuver.
Since the Treasurer had used a swayback, his neck or face should have been bending backward in front of the mandible sword’s tip.
But this enemy was different.
She did not see the enemy’s face, neck, or chest beyond the blade. She saw only empty space.
That was not possible.
She could in fact see him. The Treasurer’s tall form was curled up below the mandible sword.
He had not chosen to bend backwards as he fell back.
“Don’t tell me…”
He had done the exact opposite. He had bent forward to dodge the attack.
He had ducked.
Narumi frowned in her heart.
Bending over to duck required swinging your body forward. That evasive maneuver was used when jumping toward the enemy instead of moving away.
But the Treasurer had used it while falling back.
…Why would he do that?
This violated the standard rules Narumi knew.
She briefly thought he might have jumped toward her while ducking, but he really had fallen back.
But that was odd. If he bent forward while falling back, he would be moving his head closer to the enemy despite falling back. He would have wasted most of the distance earned by his backwards movement.
And he would have to make his evasion a lot sooner.
He had used a retreating duck.
It had caught her off guard, but it was very wasteful.
But, thought Narumi. I didn’t sense any waste in his movements.
This was definitely the product of training. He had spent a long time repeating this action countless times. That was how he had reacted to her attack and successfully dodged it. So…
…What is this?
She saw him get up after falling back.
And when she saw him, she realized something: his hands were placed on the front of his thighs.
That meant he had just completed a bow.
He had fallen back while bowing.
“…You use that to leave a business negotiation, don’t you?”
Well done, thought Shirojiro.
He had not expected her to see through that movement right away. She really was Vice Chancellor class. He could not let his guard down.
That retreating bow was a standard merchant evasive maneuver.
You made a shuffling backwards dash while bowing. It was a technique used to leave a bad business negotiation or to avoid a business card attack from someone you wanted nothing to do with.
There were variations that included waving your right hand side to side to deflect the business card or an evasion reversal where you continued back and shifted into a prostration.
A merchant would use it in combat countless times and learn it through hours upon hours of training.
His body did not waver at all and his stable legs and hips bent his upper body smoothly forward.
As long as the timing was right, it could avoid any attack as long as that attack was from the front.
It was especially effective at slipping below a jab or impact. That was because the enemy’s attack itself would provide cover for him.
The one thing it had real trouble with was an attack from the side.
If he bowed his head too far, a single horizontal slash could take out everything from his hips on up.
That was why a merchant required equipment that protected their stomach and the rest of their torso.
But even after all this, he could not let his guard down against an officer.
…That was my mistake in my duel against Tres España.
That was why Takakane’s attack had hit him. Someone at the Vice Chancellor level could see through this evasive maneuver.
He had to make clever use of its variations. Meaning…
…Mix in some left and right combinations!
An impressive wind blew through the city of Odawara.
A merchant was fighting a mobile shell. The former used bowing motions to retreat and dodge to either side. The latter repeatedly sent mandible swords his way.
The merchant used his long strides and momentum to slide down the street, but his movements were dangerous. He bent forward with each acceleration, so the mobile shell’s swords nearly hit him. However…
Those attacks were a lot like handing him a business card or a gift. And there was a reason why he could move left and right while falling back.
“I understand,” said the mobile shell. “When there is a line of petitioners, you can’t move straight back after making your greeting.”
“So you saw through that as well. Then…”
While falling back, the merchant swung his hands forward in a scooping motion. The hands held 10-yen coins. The coins flew into the blowing wind, and…
Lightning suddenly raced down the road and toward the mobile shell.
The power residing in the coins slammed into it.
“Go, Takemikazuchi! Do the work I paid you for!”
500 yen’s worth of lightning scored a direct hit on the metal centipede.
Neshinbara saw white light erupt from the Odawara city.
Everyone was preparing a late lunch on the hill overlooking the water source.
Mats were laid out on the slope and Naomasa and Persona-kun carried over bundles of products from the stands. Neshinbara had been placing them in empty bento boxes, but now he stood up.
“Do you know what it is, Neshinbara-sama?”
“Judge! That was Takemikazuchi’s lightning, one of the strongest powers of Shinto!”
Four Eyes: “One of the strongest powers of Shinto…? That’s too many ofs and is it the strongest or isn’t it?”
Novice: “Shinto has a lot of things that claim to be the strongest. Like Susanoo’s power, Kusanagi, Totsuka, or Hinokagutsuchi.”
Mar-Ga: “So what really is the strongest?”
Scarred: “Wouldn’t it be Lady Sakuya who set fire to the delivery room and then gave birth in order to prove her child’s legitimacy?”
Gold Mar: “Only hearing that part of it makes it sound entirely nonsensical, or maybe like harassment.”
Asama: “That’s our god! Keep that in mind, okay!?”
But that had been an attack at the level of Shinto’s strongest, albeit on a small scale.
No one would escape a close-range blast unscathed.
“Is Date Narumi-kun all right…!?”
Shirojiro fell back another 5 meters with the shockwaves and scorching smoke so nearby.
…That was a direct hit…!
He was not just assuming. He had fired directly at her. It had definitely hit.
The air-splitting sound of lightning filled the sky and the wind blew through while carrying the smell of iron. And…
“Shiro-kun! What now!? Should I take 50 of the Takemikazuchi bullets we bought and sell them at a markup on Musashi’s Musao auction!? I can use the money to buy more bullets!”
“No, I still need to ensure my safety.”
He lined up 10-yen coins in his hands. He clenched his fists so the ten 10-yen coins all stood up at once.
He then activated the spell for a further attack straight ahead.
“Go! 5000-yen’s worth…!”
- The kanji for “everything” is 全 and for “money” is 金.
|Back to Chapter 46||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 48|