Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 58

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Chapter 58: Runner in the Musice[edit]

Horizon6-C431.jpg

Okay

This one will be today’s singer

Point Allocation (Which One?)


The contest has started! thought Kani.

While using the bathhouse’s bath as an audio facility, she used a lernen figur microphone as a weapon and poured her soul into her voice.

She and her opponent moved.

The music had started.

They needed to line up side by side and prepare for battle.

They were preparing for a song battle, so she first needed to breathe.

“————”

The first word was coming.

I need to breathe perfectly for the very first word of the song!

After all, her singing was being scored from the very beginning.

So it was important to be accurate from the very first note. That was necessary if she was to earn a good score as the song continued.

But she saw this first note as a high barrier.

In a song, you could not just sing loudly.

The volume category in karaoke scoring was not just asking for her to be loud. If she was loud when it was supposed to be more restrained, she would lose points.

The scoring standards were stored within the karaoke program’s song data.

The data was calculated from the pitch and relative volume of the original song and it could be cruel. Any deviation from that would be presented to the singer as a reduction in score.

Thus, this very first note was a barrier for the singer.

Before singing that first note, they had no way of knowing what volume standards were stored in the song data.

The desired volume was an unknown.

The only way to fight it was to make an educated guess based on experience.

The more you knew the song, the better you could guess.

And the more karaoke experience you had, the better you know the average volume requested by the control data.

She needed the appropriate volume.

But she could not produce that just by breathing in.

To sing was to release air from the lungs and vibrate the vocal cords.

And it was the muscles around the diaphragm that moved the lungs.

Muscles could expand and contract. To narrow the lungs and expel the air required a contraction of the muscles.

But there was a limit to the expansion and contraction of muscles.

They could be expanded quite far, but the parts that were not fully expanded would pull back and lead to a contraction.

So if she took too big a breath, her diaphragm would rapidly contract when she started singing and produce an unexpectedly loud voice.

To sing was to control the body.

Experience taught you how to handle such things.

And in that sense, Kani knew she would be fine. She had plenty of experience.

Kani breathed in just as Yoshiyasu did. The music picked up speed.

“——————”

They both opened their throats. Kani raised her arm and Yoshiyasu mostly just stood in place.

“…!!”

They sang.


Kani rated her first line quite highly.

“Leaving footprints.”

Her voice started good.

“In the snowy white.”

And it continued strongly.

Her many years of experience had allowed her to guess the desired volume.

The tricky part was the timing of her voice.

That’s always a barrier!

The lyrics were being displayed on a karaoke lernen figur.

What she was to sing was colored red, but for the first word, everything was white. The red just suddenly appeared from the left.

The music and the color change both pointed to the exact instant required. If you missed that, you would fail to sing that first word.

This time, Kani had chosen not to rely on the lyrics display.

She had heard her father sing this so many times, so she had based it on the music.

If she had been wrong, she would have had no regrets because her own memories of her family mattered more to her.

But it had been right.

The music was a slightly different arrangement from the one local to her home, but the timing was the same.

She had matched the timing of her father who had been singing the song for 20 years. There was no way it would be wrong.

How was that!?

Kani took a breath while looking at the lernen figur.

Her score was currently at 103 points.

She had started at 100 and earned some points. Kani understood this scoring system now. The standards inside the karaoke program’s song data were…

Pretty stingy!


Kani thought, This is going to be a tough contest!

After all, the program did not award many points.

With her local karaoke, an opening line like that would have left her with a total of 105 points.

That meant the song data standards here required you to match the original song more.

But that was not too surprising.

It means this is a tough song!

It was her father’s song, so of course it was tough for a child like her. Kani told herself to be careful.

Dad is amazing for singing this…!

That was what it meant, so she did not tense her body as she took a breath.

“We march through.”

She swung her arm, looked up toward the sky, and sang.

“The dark night.”

And while taking her next breath, she looked to her left.

She found it odd that the Satomi Student Council President had not moved at all while singing. Standing entirely still like that would make it hard to sing loudly or take breaths.

Wh-what is her score!?

Kani glanced at the lernen figur between them.

And it said…

75!?

Her opponent had already lost a lot of points.


Yoshiyasu had screwed up right away.

There was a simple reason. She had breathed in and prepared herself just fine, but…

I was watching the wrong sign frame.

She should have been looking at the sign frame that appeared in front of her. One had appeared in front of both girls and the lyrics there turned red.

But she had not noticed it at first.

Yoshiyasu had been checking the lyrics on the sign frame Kani had passed her earlier.

Her tension must have narrowed her vision.

So when she had prepared to sing the first line, the red meant to indicate the start had not come.

“…?”

Is it an old system?

Shouldn’t it at least give you some kind of signal? she thought just as Kani got started ahead of her.

The music continued before she could even regret not judging the start from that music.

She managed to start singing from the middle of the line, but…

“…snowy…!”

Her voice was too loud.

The sound from the microphone crackled and that caused her to briefly withdraw.

As a result, her voice grew too quiet.

I screwed that up!

She swore to herself she would fix this and made a gamble.

She chose to give up on this opening part.

The initial loud voice and the subsequent quiet voice allowed her to guess about how loud she was supposed to sing.

So she could not continue singing in fear like this. Do that and everything else would have begun with fear.

A mistake was a mistake.

Continuing and trying to recover while still rattled would not work, so she needed to stop and get a fresh start.

Yes. Calm down, Satomi Yoshiyasu. You are Satomi’s Student Council President.

Accept your mistake as a mistake and do it right next time.

A normal student like Kani is singing just fine next to you, so there is no way you can’t do it too.

That’s right.

So Yoshiyasu stopped singing and listened to the music.

She listened to that half-remembered music and checked her score: 75 points.

What? I screwed up that badly and I only lost 25% of my score?

In a battle against an expert, a single mistake can cost you everything.

This has only just begun, she told herself.

“?”

Kani was looking to her from the right.

The girl looked shocked at the displayed score.

But Yoshiyasu did not let it bother her. The music was approaching the next part.

In that slight gap, Yoshiyasu spoke to Kani.

“Don’t worry about it. …I will catch up.”


Incredible!

Kani was shocked by the Satomi Student Council President: She must be a karaoke expert!

While Kani had worked her mind so hard to acquire those points, the other girl had casually thrown out the first part.

She probably meant it as a handicap. After all…

That comment isn’t in the lyrics, so it cost her points!

Kani looked and saw her opponent’s score was now 72.

The 3 point loss was definitely from that comment between parts.

But she had to know how the system worked. Karaoke was a standard part of a school life and anyone could figure out the scoring system after doing it a few times. So…

“…!”

Kani realized she was up against a formidable opponent.

So she carved a certain phrase into her heart.

I’ll do my best!

Satomi was a small Kantou nation, but this girl now acted as part of Musashi’s forces.

This enemy karaoke master stood before Kani now, so she nodded.

“I’ll do my best!!”

Minus three points.

But that made them even. She and her opponent stood on the same stage. And…

“————”

The next part began.


Kani listened to the music and remembered her father’s singing.

“Dreams of romance.”

Just before she sang, she heard another voice from her left.

It was the Satomi Student Council President. She sang with a slightly different timing.

“Dreams of romance.”

She’s fast!?

The karaoke system was cruel. On that girl’s scoring section of the lernen figur, the “likeness” field was flashing purple.

She had lost some points.

But when Kani checked the Satomi Student Council President’s score as she sang…

74!?

Odd, thought Kani. However…

“Dance before our eyes.”

75.

“The enemy force is.”

77.

And…

“Ten or twenty times our size.”

79.

Kani trembled as she watched her enemy’s rapidly rising score.

What is going on!?

The Satomi Student Council President’s “likeness” score continued to flash purple, but when Kani checked her own score…

104…!

There was a 25 point difference.

But the difference had originally been 28 points.

What is going on!?

She did not understand. She had plenty of karaoke experience and all of her scoring fields were flashing red. That meant she was earning points.

Meanwhile, her opponent’s pitch and volume fields were flashing red while the likeness field was flashing purple.

She was losing points, but she was still closing in on Kani.

“We shout like a maniac.”

The enemy now had 82.

Kani had 106.

What is this…!?

“And charge in to attack.”

The enemy had 85.

And Kani had…

108!

The 28 point difference had been reduced to 23 during this part.


“Huh? The Satomi Student Council President’s score is rising really fast.”

Adele held up her sign frame to show everyone.

They had been monitoring the situation since the previous divine transmission conversation. This was possible since Mogami was being treated as part of Musashi’s forces here, but…

What is going on here?

Adele tilted her head. She was mostly listening in because the Satomi Student Council President had accepted their version of the song, but…

“She lost a bunch of points earlier, so what is happening now?”

Both girls’ scores were rising.

Keeping your score from dropping is impressive enough, thought Adele as the Chancellor spoke from behind her.

“Is it giving her a handicap because she sucks so bad?”

“Heh heh. Foolish brother? You just need to sing the song yourself. Then you would understand.”

“Um, Kimi-san? I sang it and I don’t get it…”

“Oh?” Kimi smiled. “That’s because you sang it with Suzu. Of course you wouldn’t understand when the voices complemented each other.”

She then turned toward the Vice President.

“Hey, Masazumi? I bet you actually figured it out right away. Am I right?”

“Huh?”

The Vice President turned around while organizing some negotiation documents.

“How can you say that after claiming it sounded like I was giving a speech?”

“So you do understand.”

“Huh?”

The Vice President tilted her head further, so Kimi sent her a bitter smile.

“There are a few reasons for Flatty’s rising score. …She might be in trouble if her opponent figures it out, but this comeback is certainly amusing.”

“Wait, wait. Sis, what are you saying is happening?”

“Well,” said Kimi as she viewed the sign frame Adele held up.

The scrolling lyrics had reached the second half of the next part.

“They get the vodka penalty: 120 proof…”

“ ‘Up the ass’,” recited Kimi. “See? Look.”

Kani Saizou had failed to improve her score this time, so she remained at 107 points. As for the Satomi Student Council President…

“…She has more than 100 points!

She was up to 102.

The difference was 15 points. But…

How did that happen!?


Kani realized why her opponent had made this comeback.

I get it now!

She had chosen to sacrifice this part so she could listen to her opponent’s voice.

And she had come to understand two things.

Dad…!

For some reason, the Satomi Student Council President’s voice sounded like her father’s voice.

Of course, that girl could not possibly be a relative.

But it was obvious why she misheard the voice.

The Satomi Student Council President was singing it a lot like a man.

The karaoke scoring system wanted accuracy based on the supplied song data.

So the singer generally focused on each individual note and respected the flow between them. You could say that method focused on the “technique” of the intonation and phrasing and on the “power” of the volume.

But there was a striking difference outside of that “technique” and “power” that showed up between men and women or between adults and children.

Their build and skeletal structure caused their mouths to open differently.

The size of the mouth was linked to the width of the throat, which created differences in pitch and volume.

The Satomi Student Council President opened her mouth much like a man.

Her combat style was Knight Striker.

She lived on the battlefields and in the maintenance bays of the giant objects known as gods of war, so she would be used to speaking loudly.

And this Cossack Enemy Footrace was one of Kani’s father’s favorite songs.

It was originally sung by a man and it was about a group of warriors. The song had a battle image and it was made for a male voice.

Kani had that she was singing it accurately.

But that accuracy had not left her own boundaries.

She had thought she was opening her mouth wide and clearing her throat, but that was only in terms of how she usually sang.

This was different.

She could not sing as “her family’s daughter” during a neighborhood association meeting.

Nor could she sing as “a classmate” during a gathering of her friends.

She had to be the singer of the Cossack Enemy Footrace.

That was it.

And that was exactly what the Satomi Student Council President had done.

Thinking back, Kani understood why that girl had been standing so straight. Singing with a male voice was hard enough as it is, so it was best if she fixed her body in place and allowed her voice through her throat with no wavering whatsoever. In other words…

“——————”

Kani realized something else while listening to the Satomi Student Council President singing.

There was another decisive difference between the two of them.

Her lung capacity!


“I said this was the song for Masazumi, didn’t I?”

Asama listened as Kimi narrowed her eyes and spoke.

“This is a war drama song in a male voice. It was of course sung by a male singer who focused on intensity. Foolish brother, that’s why you noticed Masazumi was using her speech-giving voice, wasn’t it? That isn’t anything to laugh at. …This song was made for someone with that kind of voice. And…”

“And…what, Kimi?”

“Heh heh. Flatty has another advantage here.”

“…She does?” asked Adele before having an idea. “Oh, with a flat chest, her voice reverberates uniformly inside her!”

Everyone turned to Adele with looks of realization. And they spoke in unison.

“Incredible, Adele! You must have the best reverberation of all!”

“Yes, I can see why Flatty okayed her rendition.”

“Um, Suzu?” said Asama. “You may have some deviation in the reverberation, but that gives the song a necessary ‘tremor’, so it’s actually a good thing. Adele creates more of a digital sound.”

“Huh, huh?” said Adele. “Am I being bullied again!?”

But Kimi smiled bitterly and spoke.

“I don’t know about the chest size, but there is one advantage I know she has: lung capacity.”

“Yoshy-chan’s lung capacity?”

“Judge. Flatty – by which I mean, Yoshy – is a Knight Striker, right? Now, a question: what do god of war pilots do to train?”

“Well…” said Asama while exchanging a glance with the others.

It was not that none of them knew the answer; Naomasa was there.

She held her bamboo bottle’s reed straw in the side of her mouth as she answered.

“Generally, god of war pilot training is a lot more boring than you would think. Since operating gods of war is expensive, it’s mostly doing simulations using spells or training in the martial arts a god of war can use. …But when they do combine with their god of war, stamina is what matters most. As long as you’re within the fuel limits, it’s the pilot’s stamina that keeps the machine moving. So…”

So…

“When god of war pilots have some free time, they’ll go running to increase their stamina. Satomi Yoshiyasu might not do it as much as Adele, but she is often running the course around the maintenance bay.”

“I see,” said Asama with a nod and a look to Kimi.

Kimi turned her narrowed eyes westward. She looked at the outlines of the Odawara city visible there.

“With her lung capacity, she can sing with a male voice and still maintain the proper volume. And Yoshy has another weapon as well.”

“What is that?”

“A god of war pilot knows how to continue breathing while bearing a heavy load.”

Asama knew what she meant.

“So she can fully control her large lung capacity?”

“Judge. Even if she takes in a full breath, she can adjust the volume of her voice as long as she does not carelessly shout. And this will be far easier than when having her body tossed around by extreme Gs at high altitude. That should make Flatty’s singing seem a bit abnormal. In other words…”

In other words…

“She should be able to sing while barely taking any breaths. That allows her to look at the lyrics and focus on singing. She doesn’t have to take a quick breath between every line and reset her throat the way her opponent does. And an unwavering voice is one way of optimizing your singing for karaoke scoring.”


Kani understood her enemy’s combat abilities and weapons.

This is crazy!

Kani had done nothing wrong. She could be called a natural-born karaoke fighter. And she had continually trained her karaoke skills.

She knew the karaoke system inside and out and she knew exactly how to sing for it.

Overall, she could handle any form of karaoke system.

But this was an abnormal opponent.

She was specialized.

This monster’s male singing style and stabilized breathing far outweighed her flaws.

And most of all this song played to her strengths.

So Kani doubted the situation would have worked in her opponent’s favor with a different song. However…

I’ll do my best!

Her opponent was specialized for this song. She was a karaoke expert, but an expert in a single song.

It was not a case of 0 or 1.

It was 0 or 100.

And Kani was up against that opponent’s 100. And to do that…

I’ll do my best…!

She realized something while repeating that phrase in her mind: I can’t just copy the way my dad sings.

She had already analyzed the threat posed by the Student Council President and put together a plan.

She took a breath, bent backwards, and looked at the score display.

Her score was 117.

And her opponent had 102. That was a 15 point different.

“—————”

And she sang while swinging her body forward.

“How about that?”

She sang and the points changed with each word.

How about that!?


“The enemy is at 121! The Satomi Student Council President is at 105! …The enemy is pulling away!”

Kimi whistled at Adele’s words.

“Heh heh. So her opponent has started using her entire body.”

“…Her entire body?”

“Judge. She has no way of expanding her lung capacity, so the only way to increase her volume is to let out a larger breath while keeping it stable. But diaphragm control is fairly unstable. So…”

Kimi leaned back and then slowly bent her body forward.

“She does this to squish her lungs with her body’s movement. Instead of relying wholly on her diaphragm, she uses her entire body as a pump to stably expel the air.

That’s pretty good.

Kimi thought, Now she can sing more deeply too.

Based on the scores, this was about to become a fierce back-and-forth fight. Approaching by just a point or two would not matter much. From here on…

“It's like a volcano in your pants.”

The enemy had 125.

Yoshiyasu had 109.

The gap was not growing or shrinking.

“But don't blame us.”

The enemy had 128.

Yoshiyasu had 113.

The gap had shrunk by one point.

Adele clasped her hands together in prayer. However…

“Just do the Cossack dance.”

The enemy had 132. And Yoshiyasu had…

“…116!”

The gap had grown again.

“C-can the Satomi Student Council President really do it?”

“I think she needs to give up on breasts… She only has so much growing left, Adele.”

“Please don’t look at me when you say that!”

“A-Adele, calm down,” said Asama. “Okay?”

“Don’t worry,” said Kimi. “Flatty has to know where the true battle is. After all…”

The music suddenly grew louder. That was a sign.

The next part would be sung with the music this loud.

“This is the Cossack Enemy Footrace’s most memorable and most difficult part.”


Kani prepared herself for what was to come.

She breathed in and leaned back. Yes, they were about to reach…

The khorosho chorus!

In the original song, it was a group of men shouting in unison.

Of course, that had to be done alone in karaoke. It could not be done as a group.

So it all came down to volume. It was all about intensity. You won by raising your voice to a yell.

So Kani leaned back and relaxed in a way that felt like opening up her gut.

Dad!

Her father had been best at this part.

He had swung his entire body and let out a roaring voice with each shout.

She understood now why he had worked so hard to sing it.

This was the time to roar and she knew what that meant.

“————!”

She formed a roar with her throat. But just before she unleashed it, she saw the Satomi Student Council President standing next to her.

Eh?

Her enemy was bending back just like she was.


Yoshiyasu remembered. A clear memory came rushing back to her like an emotion.

Ahh!

This was the part her sister had sung.

Her sister had so enjoyed herself while jumping around and shouting loudly.

Yoshiyasu had wondered why the Student Council President would do something so silly, but she understood something now.

You had to do that to sing this part.

And you could use that as an excuse to let out a roar.

Even someone with her sister’s status could act like an idiot in front of everyone when singing this.

That was the purpose of this song.

She understood.

Back then, her sister could not have continued on without singing songs like this.

And doing that with her had been fun.

She understood now.

She could tell why her sister had sung this as a duet with her.

Her sister had hoped Yoshiyasu would be able to do the same eventually. Also…

That’s right.

This was an easy song for her to sing.

Once she started singing, she had found it matched her throat quite well, as silly as the lyrics were.

Had her sister realized this? No, it may have been Yoshiyori’s doing since he had trained her.

Either way, she was grateful. Now that she realized why they had done it, she wanted to thank them.

If only she had been tolerant enough to go along with her sister back then.

But she had reached that point now.

She had made it. She was not as good as her sister and she probably did not appear to be enjoying it, but…

“—————”

She let out a roar.


Yoshiyasu did it.

Her opponent was a good singer.

The difference in skill was clear. Overall, her enemy had the upper hand even with this song.

Yoshiyasu had briefly surpassed her by using what she specialized in, but her opponent had corrected for that and was now maintaining the gap between them.

Or, at times, widening that gap.

But this would be different. This was the final shouting match of the song.

This was Yoshiyasu’s time to shine.

The enemy had a lot of points. The gap was 16 points wide.

Her opponent was so far above her.

But here she could catch up. She moved her body to reach the opponent further up the slope.

“————!”

She pursued.

She moved her body, raised her voice, inhaled another breath, and created a voice from the air she had quickly taken into her lungs.

She could sense something in her voice.

It may have been an old memory, or it may have been a sign that she had arrived in the present.

Either way, she ran up the slope of points. She gathered all her strength and sweat scattered from her as she roared.

“…!”

She roared like she was running full speed. And…

“——————”

The music stopped.

The first verse had ended.

A breath escaped her and her body relaxed slightly.

There was a short break before the second verse began, so she sent her gaze to the side.

She viewed the scores.

And she first saw Kani Saizou’s score.

152!

That girl had earned 5 points per khorosho.

That was a ridiculous number. But then she saw the number on the other side of the sign frame.

“——————”

Yoshiyasu saw her own score.


“144!”

Suzu heard Adele shout the number.

Wow…

Yoshiyasu had reduced the gap to 8 points with the ending chorus.

She had not caught up to the enemy yet, but she had reduced the gap to the single digits.

“Um, Suzu-san! Do you remember!? The Satomi Student Council President and the enemy had a 16 point gap before the chorus! Since she reduced that to 8 points…”

“I-if she keeps…the gap the same…until the end of the second verse…”

“Judge,” agreed Adele while clenching her fist. “She can catch up if she reduces it by another 8 points with the last chorus!”


Kani was sweating.

She was out of breath and a lethargic weariness filled her body. However…

“——————”

She looked to the side and saw her opponent there.

That girl was looking back at her. She wiped away her sweat with a towel and clenched her fist.

“…”

The girl held out her fist and Kani did the same with hers.

Their fists lightly bumped together.

Both of them found a smile on their face. And…

“…!”

The Satomi Student Council President resumed singing first.

Kani understood why. That girl was watching the instructions on the lyrics display.

The red coloring of the lyrics customarily began slightly before the singing was meant to begin. There was normally a time lag between when someone saw the color and when they began singing. It took 0.1 seconds or more for the visual information to reach the brain and for the person to produce their voice.

The red coloring provided some leeway for that, but the Satomi Student Council President reacted instantly.

She piloted a god of war in aerial combat, so she had good eyes.

That was why she began singing earlier.

Kani watched it happen and soon followed.

Kani had more points, making her the stronger one. So…

“…”

She bent back and got started. She sent her voice out with all her might to pull away from the enemy.


Singing voices rang out.

“Setting our sights beyond the tower.”

In the festival, on the battlefield.

“We march through the festival hour.”

Two voices pursued each other in that enclosed space.

“We gallop forth to claim our prize.”

One moved her body as if dancing and the other stood still. But…

“Their sword troops are eight or nine times our size.”

They both viewed each other and there was a solid core to their voices.

“We hit their infantry and trample them by horse.”

Their voices overlapped as they collided and separated as if to crush each other. However…

“Once every last one has been flattened on the snowy grass.”

They continued on.

Never stopping, their voices carried them ever onward.

They made it through the difficult parts.

“They get the piroshki penalty: hot spices up the ass.”

Their voices shook the wind and sweat scattered as they raced through the sound.

Nothing obstructed or disturbed the reverberation leaving their throats and it filled the enclosed space.

“Can you feel it in your guts? The Tatars can really fight.”

The gap between them did not close as they pursued each other.

But they understood something.

“If you can feel the battle.”

This was not where the real fight would be fought.

This standard singing was not the greatest challenge. That challenge was waiting at the end.

“Then it's tartar sauce tonight.”

The main dish was the chorus, so they prepared themselves.

“…!”

The point difference remained at 8 as they charged into the true battlefield.


Kani shouted.

This was the end.

She recalled her father, she thought of the friends she had sung with, and she remembered all the time spent with those people.

She had not been trying to sing well every single time, but one thing was certain.

It was fun!

She would do her best.

That fun was here as well.

Right now, she had to draw out everything inside herself to sing. That was something she had never done before.

And she doubted she would do it again either.

So she had to enjoy it.

So she had to do her best.

Yeah…!

I’ll do my best, she thought with pride burning in her heart. She used those words to keep that fire burning.

I’ll do my best…!

This was a rare experience, so she would be able to brag about it to the others.

She could say it was fun.

And it was amazing.

That it was difficult but fun.

And if she was going to say that…

“————!”

She had to do her best.

To pull away from this monster pursuing her.

So she could raise her arms and smile when she returned to those waiting for her.

“…!”

I’ll do my best!

Kani realized she was moving forward.

She threw herself forward to swing her body and produce the greatest voice she could.

She used all her strength to throw her sweat and everything else forward.

“—————!!”

She ran up the roaring hill.


Yoshiyasu felt her memories growing clearer.

These memories of karaoke were both bitter and heartwarming.

Now that she understood everything, it felt so horribly clear but also tangible.

She thought of her sister, of Yoshiyori, and of everyone else who was there.

She felt like she had absorbed everything needed to be there again.

She felt like she knew exactly how any one of them would respond if she asked them a question.

Honestly.

Would she experience this kind of thing again?

And each time she reached that point…

“————!!”

Would she roar like this? And when she came to understand everything…

“…!!”

Would everything become so clear and would she absorb everything to the point that the roaring was meaningless?

She did not know.

But there was one thing she did know.

The enemy. The enemy was right in front of her.

The point gap was within reach. What would she see beyond that single digit number?

Would she find what her sister had taught her? If so…

I will take it!

She had climbed halfway up the hill of points. Now she only had to reach out and grab the enemy’s back.

“…!”

Yoshiyasu roared.


Their yells coincided like two animals snapping at each other.

And…

“——————”

The second verse ended. The music grew slower and…

“Ah.”

The two singers took a simultaneous breath.

A moment later, the point display changed.

Their scores appeared on the sign frame.

“…How did it turn out!?”


Adele saw the points on the sign frame. It started with Kani’s.

“342 points!”

Incredible, thought Adele.

On average, she had done better on the second verse than the first.

She had made some adjustments after singing the first verse.

But the other side would have done the same.

The Satomi Student Council President actually sang the first part this time!

So her score would be high.

With that in mind, Adele looked at the sign frame with a mixture of hope and worry.

Behind her Kimi tilted her head and said “oh?” as a number appeared.

It was the Satomi Student Council President’s score.


Satomi Yoshiyasu: Total Score: 340


Yoshiyasu was aware she had lost.

It was not that she “understood” it. This was the result of using everything she had.

She had accepted the result, but it was not something she “understood” in her mind.

It was something in her heart.

I see.

She felt her own inadequacy and the clear memories she had gained.

She remembered singing a part of the song back then.

But she had been dissatisfied with the result and felt angry. She had told everyone to never mention it again.

That had been the result of her inadequacy and her intolerance.

How had she improved since then? She had learned so much more about singing karaoke, and…

It was fun.

Using every last ounce of your strength was always fun. It was the same as training and sparring.

Thinking back, they had been focused on having fun and no one had taken it seriously. If they had been competing for points like this and she had understood the technique behind singing the songs, her memory of it may have been different.

But the past was the past. It was different from what lay ahead. The future always held value when viewed from the present.

And Yoshiyasu turned around.

“Ah…”

Kani was staring at her.


Kani could not believe she had won.

What had happened was so absurd.

Her opponent had not sung the A-Part of the first verse.

Yet that opponent had come within 2 points of her.

If that opponent had sung the entire song, Kani would have lost.

No matter what the scores said, Kani had been no match for her.

Instead of feeling like her power was lacking, she wanted to apologize to her father and friends.

Um…!

The Satomi Student Council President had turned toward her, but she had no idea what to say.

She was not a true winner here. She had been given a win out of pity.

She had wanted to win with an 8 point lead, but since she had not accomplished that…

What do I do!?

There was something she had wanted to say. She had wanted to say something to her opponent once the match was over.

But she no longer felt like she had the right.

“…Kani Saizou.”

Her opponent suddenly called her name, so…

“Y-yes!?”

“Um? Kani Saizou.” The Satomi Student Council President looked her dead in the eye as she spoke. “I had to do that, so this is your win. And…”

She held out her right hand.

“It was fun. Thanks.”

Kani took that hand on reflex. She nodded and thought to herself.

It was fun!

That was true. She had given it her all, been pursued, and ultimately kept her lead, but she trembled when she thought back to the tension she felt while singing.

It had been fun. Just like karaoke with her father or friends was. So…

This is the same!

This loss was the same as when she challenged her father or friends and lost.

It was incredible that she got to do this with the leader of a nation.

I’m so lucky! thought Kani.

Just then, text scrolled by on the lernen figur to her side.

“Let us go together,” it said.

“Eh?”

Kani and the Satomi Student Council President both looked to the lernen figur while still shaking hands.

“To the west and to the east,” it continued.

These were lyrics.

Eh!?

For some reason, more lyrics for the Cossack Enemy Footrace were scrolling by.


“Koni-tan! Koni-tan! Look, it’s the Toukai Region soundtrack for Dragoon-emon!”

“Ohh! Now this is rare! They rebroadcast it so many times there that they got bored with the same OP and created a third through fifth verse exclusive to the Toukai region!”

“Indeed. And that localized version was used here in the Houjou region too! Now, let’s go do some karaoke! The Yogakara systems are based on the local broadcast data, so we should be able to sing all five verses of the Cossack Enemy Footrace! Let’s do it, Koni-tan!”


Yoshiyasu did not know these new lyrics.

Kani also spread her mouth horizontally while still holding her hand.

Umm.

Yoshiyasu pulled in the lyrics sign frame that Kani had given her earlier.

“I see…”

“Wh-what is it!?”

“This. Just take a look.”

The sign frame showed two verses of lyrics, but there was a scroll bar on the right side.

And when she scrolled down…

“There’s a third verse…no, a fourth and fifth verse too.”

“I-I had no idea! What is this!?”

I couldn’t tell you, thought Yoshiyasu, but the lyrics completed while she was scratching her head.

“Umm,” she said again. “What happens if we only sing the first two verses of a five verse song?”

“Well, um…!” Kani smiled bitterly. “Since we didn’t even sing half the song, it isn’t scorable!”


“Oh, dear. I had a feeling this would happen.”

Asama glared at Kimi and her bitter smile. With Mitotsudaira at her side and the crossdresser and Horizon in front of her, Asama wiped off her sweat with a towel.

“Um, Kimi? If you had noticed, shouldn’t you have told her?”

Kimi narrowed her eyes and looked Asama’s way.

“Oh? You think I should have told her?”

“It would have helped, yes.”

“But do you think Yoshy would have liked beating her opponent that way?”

“…Now that you mention it, no…”

Asama wondered what would have happened if those two had been informed.

But she simply sighed because the results from Odawara had arrived.

The official result of Yoshiyasu’s duel was not a surprise.

“It looks like they’re treating that as a draw. Yoshy-chan put up a good fight.”


Yoshiyasu smiled bitterly and lowered her shoulders.

Both her duels had ended in a draw.

I’m just not very good at this, am I?

But she was utterly exhausted. And she felt she had gained a lot from this.

So she considered returning to the bath to wash away her sweat. But just then…

“Um!”

Kani opened a sign frame while also approaching the bath.

“Can we exchange divine mail addresses!?”

Yoshiyasu had not expected this.

She had done so with the important people in Musashi for her official duties and for exchanging information, but…

She’s from another nation and it’s a personal thing.

She had a number of thoughts about this and she was cautious, but…

I can have the Asama Shrine Representative put together some security for me.

Then it would not be a problem, so she nodded.

“Yes, I would like that.”

Kani cheered and smiled.

What a nice smile, thought Yoshiyasu. My sister smiled just like that when she finished singing, didn’t she?