Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 53
Chapter 53: Iron Woman at the Bar
What is with me?
Why is my mind wandering
Onto other topics?
Point Allocation (Home)
Narumi watched silently as Yoshiaki sat across from her.
“Hey, automaton over there. I’ll have some barley tea and tokoroten.”
“You mean meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!?”
And who are you? Oh, right. Houjou Ujiteru.
“Yes, yes.” Yoshiaki nodded and pointed back toward the front entrance. “Take some slightly salted ice water to the girl sleeping out front. Also add some mandarin orange flavor.”
“…I hear you defeated Hashiba’s Kani.”
“What kind of woman starts a discussion with combat?”
Yoshiaki sounded exasperated and did not seem to have even broken a sweat.
But she did laugh quietly. It was a “ko ko” from her throat.
“You smell more like a woman now, Narumi.”
“And what do you mean by that?”
Just as Narumi asked that, the fox’s fan touched her left shoulder from the outside.
As the fan pushed lightly inward on Narumi’s shoulder, Yoshiaki lifted it up and spoke.
“It looks like there is someone there next to you.”
“Are you hallucinating now?”
“I will never have a chance to do that. …I do have a lot of children, though.”
It took Narumi a few seconds to realize what that meant. But once she did, she felt something settle down in her heart.
“Does that seem like a happy thing because I am not directly involved?”
“I am old enough to find it cute when children push their limits.”
“I see,” said Narumi while taking a sip of sake. “How do you find it when ‘others’ push their limits?”
“Ohh, how scary.”
Hearing that, Narumi slightly shifted her head to the right.
Something passed vertically by to the left of her face.
It was the fan that Yoshiaki had suddenly lowered.
After being dodged, Yoshiaki followed the movement of her hand with her angular eyes.
“…Ohh, how scary. What kind of woman can avoid a fox’s tricks?”
“Did you think mere tricks could affect a dragon?”
“I see,” said the fox this time. “A dragon drinking sake, hm?”
“I can’t let the children drink it.”
“Agreed,” said Yoshiaki before speaking to the counter. “I will have three bottles of sake.”
“What about the barley teeeeeeaaaaaaaaa!? I feel bad for the barleyyyyyyyyyyy!”
“I will take that too.”
“Never mind theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!”
What a noisy café. Narumi asked a question after taking a breath.
“You have something to say to me, don’t you?”
“Testament. Because you do not seem like much of a politician. ….You can call back home before finishing the sake and taking a break.”
Narumi frowned as two sign frames appeared before her eyes, one on the right and one on the left.
The right one was from Date.
“Hiii! It’s your friend Kojuurou-kun!”
Narumi tried to ignore him, but the sign frame had some setting or another active and it stayed in front of her eyes even as she tried to avert her gaze.
“Surprised!? Were you surprised!? You were, weren’t you? Oh, c’mon! Give me some kind of reaction! Oh, I get it! You hate me, don’t you!? Well, I hate you too, so we are parallel. The pair of carriage wheel tracks continues forever in the same direction, but your power of hatred is way stronger than mine, so I’m kinda screwed, aren’t I!? Can I come off the axle!? I can, can’t I!? Wow, that glare! Don’t look at me like I’m the bug you found in the flower pot when you were enjoying looking after the flowers! Bugs exist for a reason too, you know!? Doesn’t change that they’re bugs, though!”
“You’ve gotten pretty annoying since I left…”
“Huh!? So I wasn’t annoying when you were here!? Was I cute? So that’s it! But it’s too late telling me that now! I won’t strip for you! Got that!? Only one piece of clothing! Okay, fine! It would be imbalanced if I removed a piece from the top without also removing piece from the bottom! Now, tell me why I was so not annoying! It’s cause I was cute, right!?”
“Because when I was there, I could physically silence you.”
“Wh-why are you so cement-like with us even after leaving!? Aren’t you feeling homesick and spending every evening worrying over whether you should send a divine mail!? Something like, ‘Kojuurou, if you make too much noise, I’ll have you fed to a sea lion’! But I prefer seals! I mean, it would sound like I was being sealed away!”
He would not shut up.
Yoshiaki was laughing across the table, but Narumi looked to the sign frame on her left.
The illuminated frame was labeled “Emergency Issue” and it displayed…
It was Musashi’s Vice President.
The girl ignored the Musashi Princess who was beginning to peel a melon behind her.
“Listen, Date Narumi. As Musashi’s representative, I have something to discuss with you as Date’s representative.”
“What is it?”
“Is there any way we could cancel out your victory over Musashi?”
Masazumi thought about the meaning of this negotiation.
She had already considered what form it would take.
This was a transaction.
It was a transaction in which the two nations attempted to come out on top by trading the rights they had won.
War was not a sport. It was a political act and it was a fight for national interests.
Thus, a nation could use the rights won in war as a political tool to negotiate with another nation.
Masazumi had chosen Date as the first partner for such a deal.
In truth, the loss to Date would not hurt Musashi too much.
Musashi was taking Houjou’s side due to a request from Hashiba, so if Date requested some rights from Musashi – assuming it was not simply money or land – it would likely be something that benefited both nations.
…Even if they tell us to be more accommodating with the trade route rights, that would ultimately benefit us too.
If they could not cancel out that victory, Musashi could likely guide Date toward requesting rights of that nature.
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded. “What would Date like to cancel it out?”
“Well,” said Narumi. “Don’t you just have to defeat me?”
Gold Mar: “Uqui… Narumin is being extremely unreasonable…”
Uqui: “Well, the actual blame lies with Shirojiro for turning into udon…”
Me: “So that idiot will be making noodles now, huh?”
Marube-ya: “Please don’t put it like that! He isn’t udon yet! The dough is still being kneaded!”
Vice President: “Come to think of it, the goal of my negotiation here is to make Udon Bertoni human again…”
Asama: “That doesn’t sound like fun…”
Marube-ya: “And whose fault is that, Miss Big Boobs!”
Worshiper: “Why did Bertoni-kun even go to the battlefield in the first place?”
Marube-ya: “Huh? To get money, of course. What kind of stupid question is that?”
Worshiper: “Wh-why are you looking down on me for not knowing that!?”
The divine transmissions were set up so the people at Odawara could not see Musashi’s divine transmission situation.
Narumi watched as the Vice President closed the sign frames whenever they appeared around her.
…It looks a lot like she’s trying not to remain uninformed as she holds this meeting…
In truth, it was no more than the master of the control room holding back the overexcited barbarians.
That said, Narumi could not blame them for being that way.
The skill of Musashi’s people was undeniable. In a way, they did not match the averages of other nations, but they had personnel with the important skills. So from the perspective of other nations, Musashi was a troublesome opponent who made attacks and responses that did not fit the normal rules.
She had dealt with that troublesome aspect herself, so she decided to say what she had to say.
“Do you not want to fight me?”
“Hmm, wait just a second. I’ll call this an emergency and ask.”
The Vice President opened a new sign frame.
Ookubo was in an automaton-run bathhouse.
But not because she wanted to be.
The Satomi Student Council President had tried to hide there and she had followed.
Righteousness had returned to the Musashi using its autonomous movement and the Satomi Student Council President was carrying a survival kit bag she had taken from Righteousness.
Taking a bath on the battlefield was a silly idea and the Vice President might use it as part of a pun about a bath-tle, but it was a good hiding place since no one would expect anyone to be there.
Just to be sure, they took a ten minute break in the changing room to make sure no one was headed in after them.
After that, the Satomi Student Council President waved Ookubo further in.
“This is some emergency underwear. It was made at the Asama Shrine, so the charms give it some defensive effects. Wear it in the bath just to be safe.”
That meant Ookubo had to change her equipment and get a fresh start. The Satomi Student Council President had said she wanted to wash away her sweat, but now that they were here…
…She was really just helping me out, wasn’t she?
This was her rest period, but she was instead helping protect Ookubo. But Ookubo’s personality made it easier for her if she was being dragged around by someone else.
…Oh, this is why the Vice President is always walking all over me, isn’t it?
She sighed in her heart and asked a question while unfolding the underwear.
“The processing and the material are more like a swimsuit… What size is it?”
“The sides can be adjusted if it’s too tight around the hips.”
I see, she thought as she started changing. But then a sign frame popped up:
“Hey, Ookubo. I have an emergency matter to discuss.”
“…Huh? What is it, Vice President?”
“Well,” replied the Vice President. But then she looked at Ookubo. “What are you doing?”
“Oh,” said Ookubo while feeling annoyed she had to explain this. “I’m just stripping for a bath.”
Scarred: “Is something the matter?”
Vice President: “Eh? Well, there was some static at the end, but Ookubo just said something about stripping for a battle…”
Bell: “Eh? S-stripping for…a battle…?”
Flat Vassal: “Suzu-san, stop! Stop right there! You’ll overload the meter!”
Mar-Ga: “So it’s one of those types of battles? Yes. That’s right. It must be. Yes. Definitely. What else could it be? That has to be it. It is. Don’t you think, Margot?”
Gold Mar: “Sure, let’s go with that.”
Silver Wolf: “Why do you encourage her!?”
Ookubo saw the Vice President ask a question with an oddly refreshing smile.
“As the person responsible, I guess I should ask: who is it with?”
“Judge. I guess you would say it is with the Satomi Student Council President.”
Masazumi saw Adele tilt her head.
Adele asked a question while using a toothpick to pick up some melon sashimi that had been made at some point.
“Isn’t the Satomi Student Council President in her rest period? Why is she taking part in that kind of battle?”
“Hmm, they may have made some kind of deal on the scene…”
Masazumi tilted her head. But…
“If Ookubo is engaged in a battle – so to speak – then I guess we can’t use her against the Date Vice Chancellor.”
Mar-Ga: “More importantly, Masazumi, shouldn’t we be stopping this ‘battle’ between two second years?”
“That’s awfully reasonable of you. What happened?”
Mar-Ga: “Well, I finished drawing the storyboard, so my wicked thoughts cleared up, leaving my heart pure.”
“That was supposed to be rhetorical and now I really wish I hadn’t asked!”
Naito responded to Masazumi.
Gold Mar: “How should I put this? When neither side takes the dominant role, beginners tend to fail with this kind of thing…”
“Yes,” agreed Mary while nodding a few times in agreement. “My sister always acts so tough because she likes to maintain an image of being in control.”
“Mary-dono? I do not think Elizabeth-dono is doing that on purpose. I feel more like it is just her personality…”
I have to agree, thought Masazumi as she sent a divine transmission to Ookubo.
“Hey, Representative Council Head, hurry into the bath! My god of war rescue equipment had spell charms for exhaustion reduction and injury healing divine protections, so I used them on the bathwater. You’re not really supposed to transfer it to the water like that, so the effects don’t last long!”
Why does she always seem ready to fight at any moment? wondered Ookubo as she held up a sign frame.
“Wait just a moment. How should I put this? I just got a weird divine transmission.”
The Satomi Student Council President turned back, so Ookubo held up the divine mail in front of the sliding door to the bath.
It said, “Listen. If you and the Satomi Student Council President are beginners, I’m being told you shouldn’t be doing this.”
“…Beginners at what?”
It made no sense.
But after a bit, the Satomi Student Council President looked up at the ceiling.
“Oh. If she means at bathhouse etiquette, then she may be right.”
“No, I know that well enough. …Because Musashi has a lot of bathhouses. For example…”
Ookubo clapped her hands. The surprisingly dry sound reverberated across the heated bath.
An automaton in a bathhouse swimsuit and apron slid open the glass door.
The Satomi Student Council President tilted her head and Ookubo nodded.
“If you take a bath after working up a sweat from running and fighting, you can get dehydrated. So how about ordering something to drink? …Okay?”
When the other girl tilted her head further, Ookubo continued.
“This is how experts do it.”
“I told the beginners what you said to tell them. I don’t really get it myself, but that should be enough right?”
While Masazumi explained that to Naruze via divine transmission, the Date Vice Chancellor tilted her head on the next sign frame over.
“What is going on?”
Oops. I kept her waiting, thought Masazumi as she hurriedly got back to that girl.
But next to her, Futayo replied in her stead.
“Narumi-dono, Masazumi has an idea, so could you wait a moment?”
“What kind of idea?”
“Judge. …Ookubo-dono and the Satomi Student Council President are currently in a bathhouse having a certain kind of battle as sex friends. Masazumi is in charge here, so she is obligated to supervise.”
…What are you saying…!?
“Okay then,” replied the Date Vice Chancellor.
…Don’t just accept that…!
But Horizon tapped her on the shoulder.
She held out a plate of melon sashimi and spoke.
“Just let it slide. If you try to help out every single time something awful happens to someone else in Musashi, you will never have time for anything else.”
“And for some reason, they end up resenting me afterwards.”
Fine, then, thought Masazumi. It was about time for Ookubo and the Satomi Student Council President to learn how cruel reality could be. As second years, they were only a year away from the third year, so there was no need to hold back.
“So for that reason, we do not have anyone we know who can defeat you, Date Vice Chancellor.”
“What about the curry fairy?”
“He is in his rest period.”
Uqui: “Ask her if she wants to eat some.”
Should I really do that? wondered Masazumi as she asked.
“Did you want to eat Furubushi’s curry?”
No response. However…
Uqui: “For the next choice, go with ‘You can eat all you want when you return to Musashi’.”
…What do you mean by “choice”?
Masazumi was sweating in her heart, but she said it anyway.
“Y-you can eat all you want when you return to Musashi.”
“…Are you trying to lure me in with food?”
Vice President: “Hey! Urquiaga! Now she’s wary!”
Uqui: “You fool! The emotional response is proof that this was the right choice!”
Vice President: “You’re clearly treating this like a porn game.”
Uqui: “This is nothing so shallow, Masazumi…! I have completed an elder sister porn game every single day since I came of age. That is approximately 700 of them. And if you include the all-ages elder sister games from before that, the number would be at least 1500!”
Vice President: “…Couldn’t you have made some kind of incredible accomplishment if you had used that time on something else?”
Uqui: “You fool! …Then let me ask you this: Have you simulated more than 1500 conversations with an elder sister character!?”
Vice President: “Of course I haven’t.”
Uqui: “Well, I have…! Ergo, I win…!”
Had they just shifted into a world where the rules were defined by the most pathetic people?
Uqui: “Now, for the next choice, say ‘We will include a box of sake.’ ”
If anything happens, I’m blaming him, she decided as she said it.
“We will include a box of sake.”
“…That sounds nice.”
…She’s going for it…!
Uqui: “Heh heh heh. Well, Masazumi? How do you like my elder sister character conversational skills…!? Now for the final choice: ‘How about some pickled leek to go with it?’ ”
Vice President: “How about some pickled leek to go with it?”
The Date Vice Chancellor smiled bitterly. And…
“Kiyonari is there, isn’t he?”
Mar-Ga: “He’s been found out! This is getting juicy!”
Asama: “Of course she’ll notice when he uses her exact preferences and drinking etiquette…”
Flat Vassal: “What are yours like, Asama-san?”
Asama: “W-well, I’m trying to cut back. Yes…”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. That’s right! If she told us that, we could win her route right away! If she doesn’t try to put on airs, she’d be worth even less than the wolf who shows off her love of meat dishes for all to see!”
Silver Wolf: “Why am I receiving friendly fire again!?”
Narumi compared the two sign frames.
On the one to the right, Katakura was dancing and making strange noises.
On the one to the left, the Vice President was forcing a smile while sign frames appeared and disappeared around her.
They both had their issues. But…
…This is not good.
She was on Date’s side right now, but she was curious what everyone was saying on that left sign frame. They had probably used her as a starting point while getting sidetracked in a number of strange ways.
But that felt like a present matter rather than something nostalgic. So by Musashi’s rules…
…My present is in danger if I let them say weird things about me.
Nothing Katakura said and none of the strange noises he made mattered since she had left there. But Musashi’s aggressive world was a current threat.
She needed to end this conversation properly.
“I more or less understand.”
Narumi thought about the Musashi personnel.
“I defeated the Treasurer earlier. The curry fairy is currently in his rest period, but you’re going to have him retreat soon anyway, aren’t you? Lastly, the Representative Council Head is presently occupied with a ‘battle’ against Satomi Yoshiyasu.”
Satomi Yoshiyasu had really changed.
In the past, the girl had never talked about anything sexual or even romantic.
…Coming to Musashi really changes a person.
Narumi was no exception, so she was not going to find fault with Yoshiyasu’s change. But…
“If there is no one from Musashi for me to fight, then it would be time for negotiations.”
These would be international negotiations, but she was a fighter and she was not familiar with Date’s current situation.
Since she knew she could not negotiate via combat…
“Katakura, I’ll act as the intermediary, so you make the decisions. …What kind of rights would we accept for canceling out my win over Musashi?”
Katakura pondered it.
…Oh, what’s this? Yes, what is this about?
The situation in Odawara was being sent to him. Houjou had informed him of the divine transmission restrictions with Narumi, so he had access to all the information someone on the scene would have.
Also, this exchange was being viewed as an “emergency issue” between nations, so Data and Musashi could negotiate via Odawara.
With that in mind, the topic at hand was their victory over Musashi and what rights they could be given.
…Musashi must not want any losses on their record.
After this, they had the Kantou Liberation, several more large battles, and finally Westphalia.
What would they do if they had a disadvantage placed on them with all that on the horizon?
If they could erase it, they would want to make an immediate counterattack. That was the purpose of this discussion.
But, thought Katakura. How is exchanging rights for a battle outcome any different from post-war reconciliation?
Musashi had to have an idea here.
In that case, thought Katakura while sticking a finger in his ear to reduce his energy level.
A high energy level was only really useful for combat and harassment.
A low energy level was the correct choice for negotiations.
He lowered his shoulders in something of a disheartened mood.
“What are you proposing to trade for our victory, Musashi Vice President?”
Masazumi realized Date was onboard with this.
Looking at this normally, they were simply holding the reconciliation in advance. But doing it here showed a different intention.
If they did it in advance, could Date maybe gain something more beneficial from it?
But Masazumi did not want to lose more than necessary. And most importantly…
…I want to know their true purposes in this battle and how they will respond to Musashi.
The latter was especially important with the major battle of the Kantou Liberation approaching.
So she opened her mouth.
“There is something I would like to ask.”
This was what she had to ask here.
“What about Musashi does Date like?”
This was a political discussion, but she avoided directly stating it.
If she made it sound too much like a transaction, it would give them an out by letting them balk at being “bribed”. So even though it was a pain, she stated it more indirectly.
“You discussed this with our ambassador before, didn’t you? So could you tell us what you like?”
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