Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 55
Chapter 55: Surprise Attacker at the Festival
Um, uh, I
…What is happening to me…?
Point Allocation (Beginner)
Mitotsudaira heard a sudden voice while she and the silver chains cleaned up after eating.
It was Masazumi who was stacking up paper plates.
“Huh? What is this?”
“…What is what?”
“Judge,” said the girl while holding up something related to the next duel for a Musashi fighter.
A request had been sent in advance of the actual duel in the Odawara city.
“That is from the Representative Committee Head, isn’t it?”
She had evidently found a convenient opponent. But she must have needed time to prepare or something because she had sent in a request to ensure she was not attacked or challenged to a duel by another opponent in the meantime.
It was a solid defensive move that was very much like her.
And it provided the type of duel the Representative Committee Head was requesting.
“I could see someone settling on that format after some discussion. …Think of it like Uta-awase.”
“Judge,” agreed Kanou who was waiting to the side. She looked to the Odawara city before continuing. “She often participates in karaoke to entertain guests. She can earn very high scores, so I assume she is using that to ensure an advantage over her opponent in this ‘duel’.”
There are so many different ways to fight, thought Mitotsudaira.
“Hey, everyone, the festival stands are about to be switched out for the night ones, so this is your last chance to order any of the afternoon foods.”
Some occasional blue gaps were visible in the sky as Tenzou walked down from the festival stands.
Tenzou pointed back toward the festival.
“The stands are being swapped out and I only stopped by to inspect the new stands, but I didn’t see any problems. The old stands are selling their food for cheap, so if you want to stock up, now would be the time.”
Adele clenched her right fist when she heard that. And Naomasa raised her hand.
“I’m going to go cool off back at the main base. Righteousness has apparently returned to the Musashi up above, so I want to compare the malfunctions and damaged parts to Suzaku’s patterns.”
“Are you gathering autonomous movement data, 6th Special Duty Officer?”
“More or less. And by checking which parts Suzaku tends to damage more often, I can guess where Righteousness will damage itself. Units that can fight autonomously are rare even on the Musashi, so I’ve suddenly gotten a lot busier when it comes to data management and application.”
“Judge.” Tenzou nodded but then looked to Masazumi and the others who were discussing something. “Did something happen in Odawara?”
“Ookubo says she’ll be fighting a duel via karaoke, so we were discussing what kinds of songs are popular these days. …That’s an area I have almost no knowledge in.”
“Is that so? …Well, competing in verse is an ancient tradition used by the Heian nobles and later in renga matches. It sounds perfect for a literary type like Ookubo-dono.”
“That’s true,” everyone agreed.
Just then, Mary stood up within the group. She held up a bag of burnable trash in each hand.
“J-judge! If you were about to throw out that trash, I could take it for you.”
“Oh, no. I can go too, so please take this one.”
She handed him one of the full bags. After checking the location of the garbage dump on a sign frame, she opened a few more sign frames and bowed toward Asama.
When she noticed Mary’s action, Asama smiled and waved back.
Then Mary turned toward Tenzou with a smile.
“Okay, let’s go, Master Tenzou. And, um…”
Tenzou knew what she was going to say, so he said it first.
“Mary-dono, how about we take a look around the afternoon festival while we still can?”
At first, Mary did not understand what he had said to her.
He had invited her out for some fun while in front of everyone. She hesitated over that fact.
Just as Masazumi had said in the divine chat earlier, they had their diplomatic relations with England to worry about. So it was always her who invited him to share in her interests and curiosities.
Also, he could be somewhat shy. She knew full well that he was taking good care of her and she felt blessed by that, but…
…He generally only invites me to do something when it is necessary…
And this was in front of everyone. He tended to avoid festivals and other public areas like this.
That was why she had tried to invite him while giving him a good excuse, but…
He had predicted it and invited her instead.
Most likely, she thought, he invited me himself so I wouldn’t have to invite him. But when she thought about it…
…He doesn’t think I am an indecent girl who does the inviting herself, does he?
She wanted to deny it. She wanted to say that was not what this was about. But…
She could not raise her lowered head. She could feel heat gradually filling her downturned cheeks.
And what was this?
Ether water lilies were starting to blossom around her.
What do I do? she wondered.
…I’m being indecent, yet I feel so happy that Master Tenzou invited me himself…
Asama saw something unbelievable.
Next to her face, Hanami frantically pointed a sign frame her way. It showed the surrounding ley lines growing abnormally active.
Because Mary had some dryad blood in her veins, her emotions were interfering with the ley lines and raising their energy level. The ether flowers blossoming around her were proof enough of that.
Mary brushed away the surrounding flowers without raising her head.
She was embarrassed to have her emotions so visible. However…
Gold Mar: “You’ve really done it now, Tenzou…”
Mar-Ga: “That was way too much of a surprise attack… This is the kind of bombshell you drop when you aren’t used to dealing with women.”
Flat Vassal: “Um, what are you talking about?”
Asama understood. At times like this, Mary would usually invite Tenzou.
Because Tenzou felt so much responsibility concerning her, he took good care of her. After all, she was a crucial part of England’s future. Carelessly interfering with that would cause an international incident.
Mary understood that as well, so she made a point of inviting him herself.
…When she does the inviting, the responsibility lies with England.
But Tenzou had broken that rule. He had invited Mary before she could invite him.
It had probably been a casual thing for him. It had looked like he simply spoke up so Mary would not have to invite him out for some fun before a major battle. However…
Asama: “For Mary, that flipped a lot of things on their head and affirmed everything…”
Mary must have thought she would continue inviting him until she was confident she could act as a part of England’s history.
But that had changed.
The change had probably come from Masazumi and Mary’s earlier exchange.
Tenzou probably had not thought about it too deeply, but he had made a decision.
He had decided to enjoy the present instead of just using the present as insurance for the future.
Gold Mar: “But Ma-yan has no idea what to do since he sprung it on her without warning.”
Gold Mar: “Tenzou’s in the smooth mode he used to confess and he’s saying he’ll continue on like this forever.”
Mary was troubled.
…What am I supposed to do…?
She could not look him in the eye.
No, he had only invited her to the festival. So couldn’t she just accept that invitation?
She only had to be as detached as her sister.
It had been too much of a surprise attack. He had suddenly accepted her and everything that entailed.
This was not the same as going shopping, on walks, or to the academy. Even if it was a history recreation, they were essentially going out for some fun before a battle.
And he had cut her off so she would not have to act indecently in front of others.
Her invitation played no role here.
If anything happened, all of the responsibility would lie with him.
She understood what that meant.
But that was the entire point.
When he had confessed to her, she had felt like she could leave everything with him and trust him. That same feeling existed in the present rather than in some distant future.
Everything from that London night to now had not just been insurance for the future.
It had all been the same.
She had been relieved to have him taking care of her, but she may also have felt a happy resignation about that luxurious time.
So this had been a surprise attack.
She had indecently felt relieved in their happiness and thought it was all about a distant future.
But now she felt she could experience unrestrained happiness in the present.
And when she realized that, she saw a color around her.
It was white.
The ether water lilies were blossoming so wildly that waving her hand around only spread them meaninglessly around.
Just then, she heard his voice.
“Mary-dono, the fun does not really begin until we reach the festival.”
Tenzou suppressed the urge to run away.
…I need to concentrate! Now is the time to concentrate!
He knew Mary enjoyed the happiness they currently had, but he also knew she felt some dissatisfaction concerning him. On the night that Sanada’s Torahide had fallen on them and caused a commotion, she had gotten drunk and made some complaints.
She was happy the way things were and she thought it was good enough, but she still felt some dissatisfaction.
It was a feeling she could not quite put to words.
She had mentioned moving to another room, but that came from her desire to sleep with their futons side by side.
If she did not like sleeping so far apart…
The problem is my lack of assertiveness, thought Tenzou.
On that night, Mary had eventually settled down with her head in his lap and she had not remembered it all the following morning. But he remembered it all quite well, including how she had placed her chest on his head while she was awake.
He felt really bad about it all.
…Mary-dono is always working so hard at everything.
Perhaps because she had lived with the assumption of an imminent death, she treasured each and every day. And she tried to experience and gain as much as possible during those days.
In that sense, he did not treat her right.
He was trying to take good care of her, but that was a form of “preservation”, not a means of mutual improvement.
They wanted to be together no matter what it meant for England or the Far East, so they would have to spend their time together in a way that allowed them to hold their heads high when faced with the people they had betrayed.
So he had tried saying it. And Mary had blushed and hung her head.
Tenzou had not been using a ninja technique like Smooth Response or Tasteful Handling. He had tried to invite her in as carefree a way as he could. That was all. However…
Water lilies were blossoming all around Mary.
They were in public and near the others. She must have been embarrassed that everyone could see the flowers that were her emotions because she restlessly tried to brush away the nearby ones. However, they continued to blossom and they began to pile up around her.
All he had done was invite her in public without letting his fear stop him. Was that really enough to make her this happy?
If so, he thought. This was for the best.
They had Masazumi and the others for maintaining things between England and the Far East, and they could prepare for battle if need be. Carrying a burden yourself did not mean you could not ask others for help.
They were residents of Musashi.
10ZO: “Masazumi-dono, on the topic of national sovereignty, where do the people fall into the three factors needed to establish a nation?”
Vice President: “Judge, they are protected and given a guarantee by the nation’s laws and military might. Even when their opponent is something greater than an individual. …That is why people desire the framework of a nation.”
“Judge,” replied Tenzou before looking to Mary.
Hanging her head did not hide her blushing or her emotions. She was very different from normal.
When he called out to her, her shoulders finally shook.
In order to look at him, she lifted her gaze up to around his neck but then stopped.
And he could tell her gaze was dropping back down as if being boiled away.
So he held out his right hand.
She did not immediately respond. Two and then three seconds passed. The span of a breath passed after that.
…Th-this silence is saying “I’m sorry!”, isn’t it!?
But just as he thought that, Mary suddenly grabbed his proffered right hand between her hands.
She held it tightly.
Her hands were covered in scars which were not immediately noticeable. Those hands and fingers were the proof of her life on England’s third and fourth levels and they had cut down three hundred people.
They held his hand as if biting it. It was a desperate grip that was so like her.
And after fully latching onto his hand, she moved her upper body vertically.
She responded with something of a false start and she no longer tried to stop the scattering flowers.
Tenzou gave her his right hand and lowered his hips slightly.
He picked up the trash bag she had dropped. Or he pretended to. Instead, he pressed his lips against the back of her hand as it held his right hand.
The flowers blossomed all the more. Tenzou stood up and lifted the trash bag in his left hand.
“How about we get going, Mary-dono?”
Asama watched as the couple formed in England walked off.
Mary held his right hand in her left while her right hand held his arm. As for him…
He briefly looked back and nodded.
Once he faced forward again and walked off, everyone else nodded too.
Mar-Ga: “…Yes, I understand perfectly. …You’re saying I can use this in a doujinshi…”
Gold Mar: “Tenzou can be really reckless sometimes…”
Silver Wolf: “But those times almost all have to do with Mary, don’t they?”
While the wolf breathed a sigh of astonishment and envy, Asama felt a cold sweat in her heart.
…I look that way too, don’t I?
Both of us look just like “a maiden in love”! she thought about herself and Mary.
This likely applied to Mitotsudaira as well.
However, there was something else that applied to Mary as much as them.
…Mary also seems to have skipped straight past the romance phase and entered the pure love phase.
Since Asama and Mitotsudaira had known him for so long, they had not really gone through that phase either.
But it was hitting them now.
Realizing your own or someone else’s feelings after the fact was not an easy thing. The rebound from the past was so harsh that she was losing sight of herself.
Of course, there was no need to change the relationship from before.
But she had a choice now that she had realized what a truly happy environment she lived in.
Should she treat him even better than before?
Or should she keep everything the same, hide the happiness in her heart, and trust in their mutual understanding?
She felt that everyone was different, but everyone was a beginner when they first noticed that happiness.
So they would not know what to do about it.
Anxiety and unhappiness could be countered with purification and action. Mary was a well-made girl. She would be able to do the same.
But no one was accustomed to that happiness. When you became old enough to look to your future, you would think your life would end within your current framework.
But that was not necessarily the case.
Your life could also become a life spent with someone else.
And if that happened, that framework was easily broken.
Especially if you made an attempt to change your usual self.
That was true even for Mary who had already been so close to Tenzou. Asama watched those two walking away. Mary was hanging her head and being half-dragged along, but Asama smiled a little.
She tried to say “that can’t be easy”, but different words left her mouth.
…H-how nice!? What am I saying!?
She felt like her emotions had been far too honest lately. But if that was the case…
…Then this isn’t a lie.
She had thought that things could not be easy for Mary and Tenzou, and that was not a lie. But that was less important.
It could not be easy, but it seemed nice.
“Wow what?” asked Mitotsudaira.
…She heard me!?
Had she also heard the previous “how nice”?
Asama gave her a hesitant glance and saw Mitotsudaira’s cheeks were red. Past her, the idiot sister kept a straight face while holding a hand to her ear and directing her ear toward Asama, but that girl was abnormal and was best ignored.
Then Mitotsudaira elbowed her right arm.
Asama gave her a questioning look and Mitotsudaira whispered to her with a frown.
“There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way. …I thought the same thing.”
This friend did not often offer her raw feelings like this.
So there was something she wanted to say.
“Um, Mito? I kind of want us to die together right here, but can I ask something?”
“…That is awfully morbid, but what is it?”
“Well.” Asama took a half step toward Mitotsudaira and spoke while still facing forward. “Did you think ‘how nice’ while watching Mary and Tenzou-kun?”
“Judge. I did.”
“And did you also think ‘that can’t be easy’ beforehand?”
“Judge. I did.”
“Then,” said Asama. “If you imagine us in their place, do you think things ‘can’t be easy’ between yourself and Toori-kun?”
Mitotsudaira was hit by a harsh counter.
That was true. When she thought of them in those positions, she did not think it “can’t be easy” like she did when it was someone else.
It was not a burden. Because it was necessary for her.
So when they thought of themselves in Mary’s place, only the “how nice” remained.
She nearly fell to her knees when she realized that.
Asama had done an impressive job of guiding her here.
…T-Tomo really is better than me when it comes to using words…!
Asama had noticed this, so she had dragged Mitotsudaira into it as well.
“Well, um…do you admit defeat?” asked Asama while blushing.
“Wh-why do you sound so victorious!? You stepped on that trap first.”
“Ho ho? So you admit I am ahead of you?”
“That is not something to brag about.”
But at the same time…
“Mary has a ways to go too, doesn’t she?”
While the two of them relaxed their shoulders and watched the couple leave, they heard a voice from behind.
“Heh heh… This is a happy thing for Mary. She doesn’t have to be so obedient anymore.”
“…How long have you been listening in, Kimi?”
“Oh, come now. I wasn’t eavesdropping. …The voices of defenseless girls just have a way of reaching people’s ears.” Kimi narrowed her eyes. “Aren’t you glad you aren’t such a straitlaced girl anymore?”
“Don’t put it like that…!”
Mitotsudaira gave Asama a sidelong glance to say arguing with Kimi was pointless.
But Kimi was already embracing Horizon from behind.
“Now, then. Horizon, let’s review some data afterwards. We need to submit the results of last night’s photoshoot to have posters printed for the two of us.”
“A-are you making more sexy posters, Kimi!?”
“Oh? It is important that you make sure people can see your best side. That way you know what you need to improve upon.”
Just then, he raised his right hand.
“What’s this about posters?”
Mitotsudaira tilted her head and her crossdressing king eventually did the same.
“I mean, I was cleaning up my room and dead last night.”
That’s true, thought Mitotsudaira as she turned toward her friend with a smile.
“Tomo, can you explain?”
Asama: “You’re getting back at me, aren’t you!?”
Silver Wolf: “I need to take whatever chances I can get…!”
But Asama formed a smile and gestured both hands toward Mitotsudaira.
“Toori-kun, you didn’t see Mito’s new swimsuit last night, did you? Because Horizon knocked you out as soon as you stuck your head in.”
“Yeah, that really shook my brain… Judge, I’d love to see Nate’s new one. The previous one was so cool.”
“Y-you saw the previous one!?”
“Judge. I got quite a few glimpses of it. You’re the designer type, so I bet it’d be interesting to hear where you got the ideas from. And the curves from your waist to your hips are so cool, so I’m sure the new one looks great too. So when I heard you’d show it to me, I had to go check it out.”
That was quite the thing to have him say in front of the others. Mitotsudaira thought Asama was going to tease her, but the girl was only blushing, suggesting she had realized the same thing. However…
“M-my king, shouldn’t you ask Horizon about hers?”
“No, no.” Horizon waved her hand side to side. “Mine was chosen by the Blue Thunder’s manager. Yes.”
“Yeah…” Her king hung his head. “I tried asking about that during the study camp.”
“And she said something like ‘I chose it because it was on sale’ while doing an impression of my mom’s voice. I’m not into the real mom genre, so that did a lot of psychological damage…”
Everyone gave him sympathetic looks.
Ookubo did her best to keep smiling in the bathhouse.
Her opponent was Kani Saizou.
Satomi Yoshiyasu would take her side in the discussion here.
Kani and Yoshiyasu were both in their rest periods, so they would not begin fighting right away.
However, Ookubo had an idea.
…I could always duel Kani.
Kani had to be the easiest opponent in Odawara right now.
She had lost some of her weapons in the fight against Mogami Yoshiaki. According to her:
“Testament. Four of my ejection cowling spears were destroyed!”
It’s always worth asking, isn’t it? Ookubo had thought.
Based on what she had seen of the battle held on the Odawara rooftops, Kani had eight ejection spears.
If she had lost four of those, her ability to fight would have been halved.
It was hard to tell why she remained in Odawara. Was she just an idiot, or was she making a proper assessment of her strength? Ookubo could only guess at Hashiba’s decisions here, but since Kani had not been ordered to retreat, it was best to assume the girl could still fight.
…This must not be enough to bring her power down.
But losing half her equipment had to make her feel at a disadvantage.
So Ookubo suggested a different form of competition.
“We will have a karaoke competition.”
The next step was to not let Kani question it or run away.
Ookubo ordered some food from an automaton, both to fill up the girl’s rest period and to recover from her own exhaustion.
Kani had apparently brought some light snacks with her, but…
“You sure are ordering a lot…!”
“Yes, this is for you as well. …Feel free to eat as much as you want. The Siege of Odawara includes the history recreation of a festival held by the Hashiba forces. And if we’re going to do karaoke, it’s best to set the mood.”
“Oh, but I can’t pay you back…!”
“Don’t worry.” Ookubo smiled toward Kani and waved her hand dismissively. “I’m participating in the Siege of Odawara as Musashi’s Representative Council Head. I will be reimbursed for most any expenses and, when you’re ordered to fight on the battlefield, you deserve to treat yourself a little bit, don’t you think? Also…”
“If you eat and drink on our yen, it means you had Musashi spend more of our budget. Should a member of the Hashiba forces really reject an offer like that?”
“When you put it like that, no!”
Yoshiyasu was silently glaring at Ookubo.
Ookubo operated the ordering sign frame and smiled as she typed on the keyboard of another sign frame.
Nagaya-Stable: “You don’t have to give me that look. Just leave it all to me.”
Righteousness: “Sorry. …To be honest, I’m terrible at this kind of thing. I’m impressed at how easy you make it look.”
Nagaya-Stable: “I appreciate that you don’t take issue with people who can do this. Also…”
Nagaya-Stable: “This is entirely ineffectual against the awful people ‘above’ us.”
“Yeah,” said Yoshiyasu out loud while looking away, so Ookubo elbowed her in the bathwater. Kani had tilted her head at the girl’s reaction.
“Did you order some kind of weird joke food!?”
“Eh? Um, yes. Look forward to it.”
She could not lie, so Ookubo ordered something along those lines.
…The crocodile steak with bananas should be safe enough…
With that, they would have enough food. That left the drinks.
“Kani-kun. Can you handle alcohol?”
“Testament! I can!”
That’s what I like to hear.
She had guts to drink alcohol in the bath before some karaoke.
For herself, Ookubo decided to go with a strawberry lassi she could pretend was alcoholic. It was an option for the mixed drinks, so Kani would have no way of knowing whether or not it had alcohol in it.
And for Yoshiyasu…
Nagaya-Stable: “I hear you can’t hold your liquor.”
Righteousness: “I can hold it just fine…! It’s just that I keep getting served really strong drinks!”
That was a new one.
But Ookubo did not want to make an enemy here, so arguing would be a bad idea.
“Fair enough,” was all she said while ordering Yoshiyasu’s drink.
Nagaya-Stable: “I’ll order you an umeshu with super low alcohol content. …You can claim it’s to recover from your exhaustion and get some nutrients.”
Righteousness: “Thanks. At this time of year, it’ll either have just started steeping or be from last year.”
Ookubo was reminded of umeshu with a steeped and falling-apart plum in it. When pouring umeshu, it was important to strain out the pieces, and she gulped a bit at the thought.
She reviewed the main order while wishing she had gone with umeshu herself.
…I already ordered the sub order, so it should be arriving soon.
The door slid open and a bathhouse-equipped automaton walked in with a tray. It carried some light appetizers.
The automatons would treat the fighters like they did not exist, but that apparently changed when they were customers.
“Now,” said Ookubo while leaning her back against the edge of the bath. “Let’s eat and enjoy ourselves until the main order arrives.”
She closed her wings.
Those six golden wings were below the eaves on the road. Katou Yoshiaki inserted a coin into a vending machine and thought about what she should get to stay hydrated. She viewed the options before her eyes and, since this was Houjou, they had an incredible number of curry flavors.
“Right now, this sports nectar is probably better than the black tea or carbonated lassi. Although it looks fairly thick. …But before that, it seems it is time to battle.”
She turned to her right.
“I will make up for falling into the red earlier.”
Musashi’s merchant was there.
Yoshiaki took a breath and nodded.
“Just to be clear, I am part of the Houjou forces here, not the Hashiba ones. So keep that in mind.”
“Then this will kill two birds with one stone.”
I don’t like that interpretation, thought Yoshiaki, but she kept it to herself.
Clashing with someone else’s assertions was such a pain. And the duel would settle everything either way.
She knew Musashi’s merchant had fought and lost to Date. Date would work with Musashi for a long time to come, so if Musashi had given a victory’s worth of rights to them…
…They could have more and more taken in the long term.
As a merchant, he had to make back what he had lost. It would likely be best to fight Date again and win this time, but he could never recover if he lost again.
He must have wanted a different opponent as a safety measure.
And that opponent was her.
She knew what his choice meant. His mention of killing two birds with one stone explained everything.
She belonged to Hashiba, but she counted as Houjou here. Defeating her would not earn them rights from both Hashiba and Houjou, but it would make it look like Musashi had defeated both nations.
He thought he could make up for his loss against Date and earn something extra while he was at it.
“Do you know the difference between a merchant and a gambler?” she asked.
“Whether or not they prostrate.”
How was she supposed to respond when he said that with a straight face? But regardless…
“A gambler keeps shoving more money into a game they can’t win.”
“That is not a gambler.”
“Yes, it’s a loser.”
The merchant’s eyebrows moved in response to that. And he opened his mouth.
“And if I win in the end?”
“Is fantasizing about a bright future enough for you?”
Just as she asked that, the merchant flicked some kind of power from his hand.
It was a 100-yen coin. It flew toward her in a high-speed straight line.
…He’s faster than I imagined…
It reached her in an instant.
“So the Treasurer has engaged the enemy,” said Futayo in front of the festival stands built on a hill.
She held a sign frame alerting her of a battle request. Masazumi asked her a question about it.
“Is that a report from Bertoni?”
Futayo looked at the sign frame by her hands.
A brief report on battle information was generally sent to the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor first. However…
“I prefer to leave all the thinking to you, Masazumi, so any reports should be sent to you at the same time as me.”
“Then he must still be fighting. After how quick his previous fight was, I thought this one might be the same.”
Masazumi looked toward Odawara.
“His opponent is Houjou, so I’d really like for you to give us a win here, Bertoni.”
Shirojiro saw the enemy’s response and movement.
Yoshiaki defended against the coin bullet he had launched. And she used…
“A sheet of metal…? No, an armor panel?”
She had ejected a panel of metal from the air. It was about 20cm wide and 1m long.
The panel floated in midair alongside her arm as she turned her right side forward in a guarding stance.
Then she stood up from her low, crouching stance. The metal panel circled around her and came to a stop near the back of her waist.
He could tell this used gravitational control.
And she swung her right arm.
Ether light sprayed out as she ejected something at her hand.
It was a large white blade shaped like a chisel.
The blade portion was thin and long. The flat chisel sword grew to about 4m long. It had a white luster to it and it floated in her hand.
“Carve him…Weiss Fürstin.”
Just as she said that, something shot from atop the blade in her hand.
…What is that!?
Shirojiro took a defensive stance right before it collided with him.
It was a direct hit.
…Did that get through?
Yoshiaki spun around the blade that had fired a rapid shot.
She had launched a single coin past the thin mist created by the high-speed shot.
It was a Groschen silver coin. It was growing outdated, but it was equivalent to a Far Eastern 500-yen coin. It was thick for a coin, which gave it a lot of destructive power. It was primarily used as an armor-piercing anti-ship round.
She had used one of those on the enemy.
The shock of impact had created a cloud of dust where the Musashi Treasurer had been.
But Yoshiaki saw something.
“I would expect no less from a merchant with an Urban Name…!”
The Musashi Treasurer was there.
He had caught the silver coin in his outstretched right hand.
But he had not stopped that 500 yen barehanded.
He had used money.
There was a stack of coins in his palm.
“These are 100-yen coins.”
He did not even glance at the coin as it fell from his hand to the ground.
“If it is currency, the god of money can exchange it for an equivalent value. By touching my money, it became my possession, so your silver coin was exchanged for my five 100-yen coins.”
One, two, three – the falling silver coins had something in common.
They had become no more than round and flat pieces of metal.
Yoshiaki tilted her head when she saw it.
“If it was an exchange, shouldn’t that money come to me? I thought this was an equivalent exchange.”
“You consumed its value by firing it.”
“…So you overwrote its existence as money and consumed it using the power of your god?”
“Judge.” He nodded and held up the fourth coin before it could fall. “And that leaves only these plain coins. You are really meant to spend a little extra to ensure the used coins can be used again. But…”
He threw away the fourth coin as he spoke.
“I cannot spare that money at the moment.”
“Because you’re poor?”
“I am not poor.” He squeezed her silver coin in his hand. “I simply have no money…!”
I don’t care how forcefully you claim there’s a difference, thought Yoshiaki as the Musashi Treasurer raised his hands.
He spread his hands like he was drawing a bow and several acceleration spells activated.
“Let us end this in a single blow.”
“Because you’re short on money?”
“No. …I tried to do my best earlier and failed. A simple battle is better.”
It happened just as he said “so”.
An impressive water vapor explosion occurred at the Musashi Treasurer’s hands.
The enemy had fired a coin bullet with multiple acceleration spells. Which was…
…The same technique he used against Tres España’s Vice Chancellor during the Armada battle…!
Yoshiaki did not hesitate. She could not capture the approaching coin bullet. However…
…I can read its path…!
This used acceleration spells.
Several of them were lined up in a row.
They formed a perfectly-aligned row in order to provide the coin with speed directed straight ahead.
So if they only looked like a single acceleration spell, you were in the target location.
She did not use her own eyes to search for that.
Yoshiaki opened a Magie Figur. The enemy’s acceleration spells were visible to the naked eye. She had Weiss Fürstin recognize those spell lernen figurs and opened a sight-linking system.
She set Weiss Fürstin’s autopilot to fire a counterattack once the spell lernen figurs overlapped perfectly.
…Will it be fast enough!?
It all happened in an instant. And she heard a sudden but quiet sound.
It was the soft knocking sound of a targeting lock.
This would work.
But then Yoshiaki saw Weiss Fürstin’s counterattack location displayed on her Magie Figur.
…It’s right on my centerline!
That was dangerous. The enemy had targeted a location that was difficult to dodge no matter which way she moved her body.
It was a shifted up toward her chest a bit, so he may have predicted she would fly.
She sensed his intent to prevent her from escaping. And…
Something else from the Musashi Treasurer flew over her head.
They were ten 10-yen coins.
He had made change using a distribution spell.
That meant it had originally been a 100-yen coin. If that was flying in now, he must have set it up earlier.
…When did he do that…?
She could make a guess.
When he had caught her silver coin, he had used 100-yen coins.
If he had defended with the concept of equivalent value, he would have used five coins. But he had given his explanation after raising the fourth coin.
Where had the fifth one gone? Now she knew.
The enemy had paid for insurance on the final coin and recycled it.
He sent a cluster of 10-yen coins from the sky when she could not fly or dodge. And from ahead…
The recycled Groschen silver coin flew toward the center of her body.
There were multiple actions.
The first was Yoshiaki swinging her bullet-accelerator blade in front of her body.
But not even that accelerator could send the high-speed bullet back the way it had come.
So she did something else.
She rotated the blade.
But this was not a normal rotation. The blade itself drew a U-shaped path in the air.
“Spin around, Weiss Fürstin!”
The scraping of the bullet created a burst of sparks as the blade spun around.
She used that arcing path as the margin and supplied the rest of the rotation speed with…
Yoshiaki had placed a 500-yen coin on the blade. The gravitational control used to fire it repelled the coin perpendicularly instead of letting it slide down the blade. The recoil spun the blade with the force of a ricochet.
It rotated in front of Yoshiaki as she took a step back.
The enemy’s bullet was scooped up by Weiss Fürstin’s blade, changing its trajectory.
And its path was bent all the way around to send it back the way it had come.
Immediately afterwards, Yoshiaki swung both arms toward the cluster of 10-yen coins dropping from the sky.
Ten blades were ejected into the air.
All of the coins were caught and rotated. And at the center of them all, Yoshiaki looked forward.
She faced the merchant who had launched his acceleration spells and closed his hands.
The silver coin already had the force of the enemy’s acceleration spells and the firing of her blade was added on top of that.
She also redirected the 10 shots from the sky.
She released them all.
“Oh?” said Narumi just as she was preparing to pay her bill.
She heard a familiar sound from the distance outside.
…That was the Treasurer’s cannon blast.
But the sound overlapping it was odd.
It was almost familiar but not quite. If anything, it reminded her of…
…The 4th Special Duty Officer’s gravitational acceleration ejection pattern?
The Musashi Treasurer’s opponent was Katou Yoshiaki, a Weiss Hexen. So…
“A close-range artillery battle? Talk about reckless.”
Mogami Yoshiaki turned toward her while drinking sake at the table.
She tilted her head but narrowed her eyes.
“Very noisy, isn’t it?”
“Judge. But it will prove fruitful. …For one of them.”
“Your bill will be 2700 yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!”
Narumi sighed as she pulled exact change from her wallet and placed it in Ujiteru’s hand.
“I need to fight my next duel too.”
Just as she said that, she heard another solid sound from outside.
It was a familiar but loud noise.
Yoshiaki watched her attack.
She had honestly not needed much accuracy from the ten shots she redirected from the sky. She had only wanted them to hold her opponent in place.
But they tore through the enemy’s surroundings before the real attack arrived.
The cluster of 10-yen coins exploded near the Musashi Treasurer.
The blasts reverberated out and dust sprayed high into the air.
Meanwhile, the Musashi Treasurer had his hands thrust forward on either side of him.
Was he preparing a wide-range defense?
But the bombing had come from above.
One of them was in position to pass diagonally through his face. If it hit, it would blow a hole through his head below the forehead.
He dodged with no more than swinging his head to the side.
Of course, that was not quite enough to fully dodge it.
The coin diagonally grazed his cheek and some of his hair scattered through the air.
But that was all. The Musashi Treasurer had not moved.
Yoshiaki had sent the silver coin right back toward him.
So why had he not used his body to dodge it already?
She did not know. So she quickly pulled back the ten blades scattered overhead and focused on the Musashi Treasurer’s actions.
She had trained her eyes for firing and aerial battles and she used that to accurately view his movements.
The right hand he had spread out for defense was thrust out in front of his chest.
Of course, there was no way that was enough to catch the high-speed silver coin.
Besides, there were no defensive coins in his hand.
But she had seen something else.
“…An acceleration spell!”
The Musashi Treasurer had opened a spell lernen figur in his palm.
And that was not all.
The vermilion light her eyes sensed did not come from his hand.
It was larger but hidden.
“Don’t tell me…”
It came from behind him.
He had spread his arms and thrust them forward earlier, but there had been acceleration spell lernen figurs behind them.
It was an arc circling behind him. Countless acceleration spells were arranged behind his back in great enough numbers to reach from his right hand to his left.
He had already prepared that many acceleration spells.
He was likely in the midst of stopping her counterattack. He had taken a defensive stance to hide the acceleration spells behind him.
And he had not refrained from moving his body to dodge because he could not let her see them.
His actions had come from a focus on winning.
It was a gamble that erased the fear that she would catch on and respond with some kind of countermeasure.
But he had won that gamble. And his expression had remained stony throughout.
…That would be where he got the Urban Name of Ice Face!
The rest only took an instant.
The acceleration spells split and the silver coin flew behind him.
After a series of solid sounds and spraying ether light, the Musashi Treasurer swung his left hand forward.
With vermilion light spilling from his left hand, he created an exit to the acceleration spells prepared behind him.
He had established an unbroken path of speed.
“If I am to make money, I cannot sell victory to you. So…”
She heard his voice.
“I will repay you…!”
After its second and third round of acceleration, the shot broke the sound barrier when it was launched.
Shirojiro could tell the fingers of his outthrust left hand had split.
There was no blood yet because a vacuum had formed. The nails were broken, but…
He placed his right hand over his left. He had been supplied with a healing spell when he left for the battlefield, so he could place the divine protection on his left arm without it feeling like a waste of money.
A moment later, a water vapor explosion occurred at the leading edge of the acceleration and the surrounding heat and moisture were blown away.
As the silver coin split the air, it flew toward the enemy as if repelled.
It targeted Katou Yoshiaki.
She was one of the Ten Spears that Hashiba had prepared to oppose Musashi. Was her number 4?
If he could defeat one of them, it would be…
…Three birds with one stone!
He scolded himself for only realizing that now.
Lately, he had gotten carried away and screwed up some business deals.
A lot of money had been changing hands to guarantee Musashi’s finances, but it had been a mistake to try to supply Musashi’s repair materials in order to line his pockets.
Since they were fighting a war, he had worked behind the scenes at buying repair materials for cheap, but when he started having Musashi, the academy, and the Asama Shrine acquire such things, they had begun making changes for the Musashi Mk. 2.
The materials he had prepared were for the old model and they became a liability. He had made the transactions using a secret second account book, so it automatically counted as embezzlement and, as a result, he had sold vegetables.
But this would bring all that to an end. This opponent counted as both Houjou and Hashiba.
Shirojiro opened his right hand. In the wind, he swung his left hand and snapped the fingers.
“We have the money back, Heidi…!”
With that, he turned his back on his opponent.
Just then, he heard the loud sound of the bullet reaching her.
It was the ring of a direct hit. However, it was…
Sensing something was off, Shirojiro looked back.
Yoshiaki was standing a mere 10 meters away.
Or she had been.
But she was no longer there.
…Did she run away?
No. She was there. He could see her six golden wings.
But she was not 10 meters away.
She was much more distant. She was at the very end of the road they stood on.
That was a distance of 500 meters.
The answer to his vocalized question mark was obvious.
Yoshiaki’s entire body moved as she gasped for breath and she held something under her arm.
It was a schale besen.
The thruster nozzle was aimed his way and he recognized that stance.
It was the same one Naito used in the gunner mode that was Schwarz Techno’s greatest attack.
She would load a bullet into the broom’s brush and then fire it.
His enemy was in that exact same stance. So…
…That loud noise…
It had not been the ring of a direct hit. It was the ring of the enemy firing.
Yoshiaki felt a cold sweat covering her body.
She had constructed Weiss Fürstin’s foundation just before a direct hit from the Musashi Treasurer’s attack.
She had been right to pull back the ten blades she had ejected into the air.
She could not have used them to fly, but she had successfully built the engine that provided acceleration.
And there was a reason she had managed to do it instantaneously.
“Thank you, Weiss Fürstin…”
“Weiss Fürstin is a schale besen constructed using gravitational control. And it uses spell composition, so the engine does not use any bolts.”
It was like origami or a 3D puzzle. The main long blades were necessary, but the other parts had specialized roles and no rated value.
Each individual part had a program applied via magic, so while they all combined to form a gravitational thruster, they could also become a controller or armor.
Just now, she had used the bare minimum of parts to build an acceleration system.
She knew Zwei Fürstin could break the sound barrier in just over three seconds.
But what about with only the thruster?
The result was her own survival.
She had produced an explosion of instantaneous acceleration, connected the acceleration gears, and blocked the enemy’s coin bullet with the nozzle.
But she had not stopped the enemy bullet inside the schale besen.
She had added thruster settings to each of Weiss Fürstin’s parts and swung it around at high speed.
She gave it a 360-degree rotation.
In the end, that re-aimed the nozzle toward the enemy.
If she fired like this, she could fire back at the Musashi Treasurer with even more acceleration placed on top of his.
“But I won’t do that.”
Yoshiaki pulled out what was in her right hand.
It was a roll of Groschen silver coins.
Converted into Far Eastern terms, it was a total of 10,000 yen. She shoved them into the muzzle as it spun around.
She fired the bottom end of the coin roll.
The silver coin, that had been super-accelerated by Weiss Techno, struck the coin roll offering like the hammer of a gun.
And the coin roll shot out with the force of a ricochet.
The explosion of air blew away four of the blades forming the barrel.
But the projectile had indeed taken flight.
Yoshiaki saw the destination of the blast: the Musashi Treasurer.
It was a direct hit.
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