Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 62
Chapter 62: Waiters on the Dry Land
But so is the enemy
So is everyone
Point Allocation (Look to Your Opponent)
Narumi’s opponent said nothing while standing in a relaxed pose.
That opponent was Treasurer’s Aide Heidi Augesvarer.
She simply stood there with the wind blowing across her summer uniform. And she looked to Narumi and spoke.
“Greed leads to failure. Shiro-kun is injured and, after a quick chat, he said he would entrust this to me, so I have taken his place as his aide.”
“I see,” replied Narumi. She did not particularly care if the aide took his place. Besides: “He can’t prostrate properly while injured, can he?”
“You would think so, wouldn’t you?”
The Treasurer’s Aide wrinkled her brow and spread her mouth horizontally.
But once she took a breath, she held her right hand out toward Narumi. She held a white handkerchief in it.
“Shiro-kun left this 130 yen with me. He said he would entrust this to me, so I’ll be using this money.”
And she suddenly moved.
She got down on her knees, placed her hands in front of her, sat down on her lower legs, and placed her forehead in front.
“Please sell Houjou’s rights for this!”
It was a ridiculous prostration.
Mogami Yoshiaki assessed the Treasurer’s Aide’s action.
…She moves quite efficiently.
Unlike the boy’s prostrations, hers was a tranquil one that adjusted her posture as if placing herself inside an invisible box.
The money from before was placed in front of her on the handkerchief as an offering. Refusing to let the money touch the ground may have been a sign of her pride as a merchant.
Everything about her posture was directed downwards.
Her prostration attempted to place herself lower than her opponent no matter what, as if burying herself in the ground.
…She has excellent movement.
It was not too light but not too heavy either. It was always directed downwards and she seemed to continue rubbing her forehead against the ground.
And the current stage was good too.
She was in public. National representatives were watching, but she still performed the prostration.
Also, she had no money.
“Yes, this is a ridiculous prostration meant to force through a ridiculous request.”
Yoshiaki smiled bitterly when Yoshiyasu gave her a puzzled look.
“A splendid move. Prostrations exist to force through ridiculous requests such as this. So they are best performed when you have lost everything, thrown out even your pride, and have nothing to bargain with and no value as a living being.”
That was why the Treasurer had given his aide the paltry sum of money and “entrusted it to her”. The merchant could still fight even now. And she was the only one he could rely on while injured.
“Do you understand the true essence of a prostration? It is not an unsightly means of apologizing.”
“There is a goal they must achieve even if it requires prostration. …And when that resonates with their opponent, their request will be accepted.”
Narumi looked to the prostration in front of her.
…Expecting this to get their debt forgiven is ridiculous.
The Treasurer behind this prostration had lost to Narumi and to Houjou.
Musashi currently had one loss against Houjou.
So even if Narumi gave them the rights of a victory over Houjou, it would only cancel out that loss and not give them approval to enter the ruins.
Narumi knew someone else was in charge of fighting for that.
“The Musashi Vice President.”
That girl was sure to do something about it. And this Treasurer’s Aide knew it. No, not just her. The Chancellor, Narumi’s partner, and everyone else understood that.
If they gained these Houjou rights, the Musashi Vice President would do something about the rest.
That was the reason for this prostration. So…
Narumi raised her right leg and instantly stomped it back down.
She did not hold back.
“I am ‘angry’. That’s enough, right?”
“I am furious at the power of your prostration, but I accept because that is how it works. …And in exchange for my loss here, I will give Musashi the rights for my victory over Houjou.”
She spoke down at where her heel had stopped a mere 5mm above the Treasurer’s Aide’s head.
Houjou Ujinao looked up at the sky.
The cloudy sky was scarlet. The summer evening was gradually reaching its end.
But a sign frame appeared in the sky.
…The Musashi Vice President?
Yes, she thought to herself. They must have settled everything by now.
“What is it? Are you prepared to head to Kanie Castle?”
“Judge. We have managed to cancel out our loss to Houjou.”
Ujinao knew what the Musashi Vice President meant. In what could be seen as the final battle of the Siege of Odawara, Musashi had defeated Date and acquired the rights of a victory over Houjou.
“But that only cancels out Katou Yoshiaki’s win for us. …In other words, you still do not have a victory over Houjou,” said Ujinao. “Besides, I still remain here.”
“I have an idea and a suggestion concerning that.” The Musashi Vice President’s words reverberated through the wind. “A transport ship heading here from Suwa should arrive soon.”
“If possible, we would like to swap out one of our representatives. The new representative will fight in what I imagine will be the final duel of the Siege of Odawara. And…”
“We will leave soon for Kanie Castle.”
“We still don’t know if your new representative will win.”
“Oh, he will. Our idiot has taken on his impossibility. …So it’s impossible for him to lose.”
“Testament. Be prepared for what will happen if this does not go as planned.”
“Judge,” she replied with a bitter smile. “Thanks, Houjou Ujinao.”
The divine transmission ended there. And Ujinao spoke.
“The rulers of the coming age thanked me. …If that is Houjou’s final grade, it may not be a bad reward for a doomed Preta.”
By the time Kotarou viewed the encampment, it was all over.
She had not known it was over.
But she had guessed it would probably be over by now, so she stepped through the encampment’s curtain.
There she found a cloudy sky and a plaza.
Ujinao stood there with automatons waiting at a distance.
The scarlet of the sky was deepening, but Ujinao’s clothes were white below that sky.
“Ujinao-sama! Are you injured!?”
Kotarou knew without asking that she was unhurt.
But she noticed something while running over to make sure.
Something was scattered at Ujinao’s feet.
Something was broken beyond recognition. Every piece had shattered like an eggshell, making it unidentifiable.
And she heard Ujinao’s voice.
“I had the brain retrieved. …As it was a duel.”
“T-testament! …Ujinao-sama, um, uh.”
“Testament. That uncle was useless in the duels and holds no meaning after this, so I erred in my judgment of him. …Kotarou, you were correct to dislike him.”
Ujinao kept her eyes on the sky as she spoke. But after a while…
“Kotarou? What is wrong? I am saying you defeated me.”
Kotarou was unsure if she should say what she had just realized and thought.
But conviction as a Mouse put it to words.
“Ujinao-sama,” said Kotarou. “I have determined that Ujiteru-sama retired in the best possible way.”
“…Is that so?” Ujinao did not look down from the sky. “Then I must trust you there. After all, your judgment of him was more correct than mine.”
“Testament! That’s right! Please think that!”
Kotarou looked to the same part of the sky as Ujinao as she spoke.
She looked north to the Suwa sky as she formed the words.
“Someone is sure to be here soon! Someone who will not allow you to be alone!”
Just as Kotarou tried to say more, Ujinao scooped her up in her hands.
Kotarou saw that Ujinao’s eyes were exposed.
They were gold. A trail of residual light followed their movement as they looked at Kotarou.
“That goes without saying.”
And Ujinao gently hugged Kotarou.
“Kotarou. …That description fits you perfectly.”
Narumi looked up into the cloudy evening sky as she viewed the results and following actions on her sign frame.
The duels of the Siege of Odawara were effectively over. A duel between Houjou and Musashi remained, but Musashi would move to the Kanie Castle battlefield first.
Narumi would likely be placed on the rear guard for that.
The nations would be planning what to do about their various rights. And after seeing the result of the Siege of Kanie Castle, they would decide what to do during the Kantou Liberation.
The Kantou Liberation would begin tomorrow. Or tonight depending on what happened at Paris.
“See, look at that.”
The Reine des Garous pointed to a dark spot in the eastern sky.
The Hashiba fleet stationed in the Edo region had taken flight and was beginning to transport supplies and establish a formation.
“And more are coming from the northwest.”
Those would be reinforcements from P.A. Oda.
Groups of warships with numbers in the double digits were moving slowly but boldly while accompanied by transport ships. They were all moving from the northwest to the east. They showed no response to anything happening at Odawara, but because of that…
“They’re ready to do this, aren’t they? Look at that ship in the lead.”
Narumi looked where Ookubo’s white prosthetic arm was pointing.
The ironclad ship leading the fleet to Edo bore a name on its side.
“The Toba Castle…!? That’s Kuki Yoshitaka’s fleet.”
“Testament.” Yoshiaki covered her mouth with a fan. “They’ve sent a troublesome group. …We’ll need to be careful.”
Everyone agreed with that.
And Narumi wondered when the real explosion would happen.
If the Punishment of Houjou and the Siege of Kanie Castle were the fuse for the great battlefield of Kantou, at what point in the Kantou Liberation would the greatest explosion occur? Also…
“I hear Paris is at a standstill. Are these coals still only smoldering?”
“Aren’t things progressing oddly?”
A while before the end of Odawara, someone voiced a question on a battlefield surrounded by green fields.
Hashiba’s forces surrounded Paris on all sides and it was the northern formation that noticed the oddity.
Physical shell attacks were coming from Paris without rest.
And the enemy had set up a defensive formation without being pushed back.
But the enemy would occasionally advance and somewhat reduce the distance between them. Each time, Hashiba would also move to deter them. Then the artillery would alter its angle and attack the Hashiba formation after its move.
It was a boring but effective attack.
The Hashiba formation could not avoid some disarray while exposed to concentrated shellfire.
As a result, they would move toward spots receiving fewer attacks, but…
“…This is strange.”
Kiyomasa, who led the northern unit, had noticed a few oddities.
She knew the Paris forces had stopped making proactive attacks.
But after a few hours of shellfire and skirmishes, a thought occurred to her.
…This is odd.
One oddity stood out in particular.
“Why haven’t the Seine’s waters risen?”
…Is the water leaking out somewhere?
Kiyomasa was to the north. The Seine flowed from the south, passed through Paris, and left to the northwest. Including the moat dug around Paris, the Seine flowed in front of them from left to right.
But the river’s water level had not risen.
The Seine had been blocked up and the armor panel breakwaters set up around Paris would hold the water in. That was Hashiba’s strategy. Downstream to the west, the Seine was blocked up and the water was overflowing its banks.
At around mid-afternoon, the water spreading across the downstream area should have flooded this wheat field.
But the scene before Kiyomasa’s eyes appeared no different from when the battle had begun.
The water was blocked downstream to the west and it had formed a shallow lake there, but…
…The water isn’t spreading any further than that?
The moats would be playing a role there.
But there was no sign of those moats filling with water either.
This oddity was clear to her specifically because she was in the north where she could view Paris from downstream. And she sent word of it to Takenaka via divine transmission.
“Takenaka-sama. …It doesn’t look like the floodwaters are rising very much. Can you make a decision about this from where you are?”
“Yeah, I had a feeling.”
Takenaka readily admitted it.
Shells landed around Kiyomasa, but she chose to ignore them.
To check on the others’ situation, she posted on the divine chat.
Kiyo-Massive: “Directional commanders, have you noticed anything about the floodwaters?”
Llaf: “There is no change here in the east. We are waiting for the floodwaters to arrive from thy direction, but progress appears to be slow.”
□□凸: “The flooding isn’t supposed to have started here yet, so it’s impossible to tell…”
6: “Things are submerged here, but it is true the spread is slow.”
6: “Testament, the flooding won’t spread. It looks like it disappears somewhere up ahead. It is gradually spreading, but is it supposed to be faster?”
Kiyomasa tilted her head at Takenaka’s comment.
Kiyo-Massive: “Is something wrong, Takenaka-sama?”
Kuro-Take: “No, I set up a lot of different tricks, so this should turn out fine. I feel like the other side is self-destructing here, so it would be best not to react.”
Llaf: “Are thou saying we have a plan even if things do not flood, so we should not worry?”
Kiyo-Massive: “It’s not really a plan, but I do recall hearing about a rather forceful move before we left. Do you really think that will work?”
She tried asking and Takenaka did not hesitate to respond.
Kuro-Take: “With Hashiba-kun’s current power, whoever makes the claim first wins, so it should be fine. But we aren’t quite prepared for that. Umm, are each of the directions listening?”
Takenaka spoke to them all.
Kuro-Take: “The command I’m about to give is a two-stage command with a time delay between, but please obey it. If the other side self-destructs, we’ll escape unscathed, but if they make a certain decision…”
Kuro-Take: “We’ll carry out the second stage of the command for a high damage exchange from 7 to 8 PM. Please be ready for that.”
“Henri, the enemy is on the move.”
Armand viewed the Hashiba forces to the west from atop Paris’s walls. He opened a telescope spell while calling Henri on a signe cadre.
The Belle de Marionnettes were alternately checking the range and firing. Belle de Marionnettes carrying spell gunpowder and artillery shells were using stairs to climb up and down the city wall. And with the din of cannon fire in the background…
“Armand, I can see it to the north too. It looks like units have set up a rotation of falling back to the transport ship behind them and then returning.”
“Do you know what they’re doing?”
“Eating? No, it looks like they are receiving portable food and drink. Humans need a lot of water during this season.”
“And they can’t just drink the Seine’s water.”
With that, Armand opened another signe cadre.
It displayed the Roi-Soleil buying fruits at the market.
“Roi-Soleil, what will you do?”
“My role is to fortify the defense barriers with my Testamenta Arma. But if it is ever absolutely necessary that I take part in the fighting, just call for me. …However, I hope that will not be necessary. Because I intend to improve my skills in cooking, which the Testament lists as one of my hobbies.” He held up an apple. “But if we have a plan, then so will they. …When the enemy does something on the battlefield, you must assume it will lead to their victory somehow.”
“Agreed, Roi-Soleil,” said Bernard whose voice alone reached them from the southern wall. “No living being will take action for no reason. Meaningless actions are only taken by the dead. And the doomed. Roi-Soleil, Belle de Marionnettes, and everyone else…is this enemy dead or doomed?”
“They are not,” replied Miyoshi who was on the eastern wall with Danzou by his side. “At the very least, this enemy was able to do more than us.”
“Testament,” said Danzou. “If we are to provide death or doom for this enemy, we must stick to it. Let us show them that we are capable of persistently seeing this through and seizing everything for ourselves.”
“Testament,” replied the Roi-Soleil. “Then take action, everyone. If the enemy has a plan, then so do we. We might be outwitted in a spectacular fashion, but there is one fundamental rule of battle.”
“Those who continue marching toward victory will win.”
□□凸: “The enemy is advancing! They’re coming this way!”
Kuro-Take: “Wow, they won’t even overlook our show of eating food? Just how cement-like are they?”
6: “…So Katagiri will be the first to fall.”
□□凸: “Th-the enemy is advancing on all of you as well! Please look!”
Kiyo-Massive: “Testament, they are indeed coming here. Except…”
Llaf: “What is it?”
Kiyo-Massive: “Testament, they have stopped after advancing about 200 meters. And I might be overreacting, but it feels strange.”
6: “Testament, I can see it too. They stopped after advancing about the same distance here. Since it’s the same with Kiyomasa, they must be luring us in.”
Kuro-Take: “You mean…?”
6: “They’ve moved to a position that hides as much of the Seine as possible from us.”
Llaf: “So they realized we have noticed the oddity in the water level?”
Oh, no, thought Takenaka.
She was setting up a “last resort”. If she set that in motion, they would quickly approach victory.
And at the moment, they needed to buy time and distract the enemy so it could be set in motion.
Because once it was in motion, it would be a short, decisive battle. The short-term battle would settle everything.
So since their preparations were not yet complete, she did not want the enemy to notice anything odd about their actions. However…
…They’re on the lookout…
The enemy wanted to see if Hashiba had noticed the oddity in the water level.
They must have decided Hashiba would likely notice at around this time.
But they had still moved forward to see for sure.
Hiding the Seine was the enemy’s tactic.
Of course, the Seine flowed across a large area of land and Hashiba’s forces were all on elevated areas of land. They could still see most of the Seine from those vantage points.
But they could not take proper measurements with the enemy in the way.
To observe the Seine, they had to send out scouts or take some other kind of action.
Kuro-Take: “Hachisuka-kun? The water has spread a lot in your downstream area, but you mustn’t do anything to measure the water level, okay?”
6: “I’ll take a time-lapse recording with Genbu’s vision. I doubt it will matter, though.”
“But,” said the girl.
6: “What game is the enemy playing here?”
“Testament,” replied Takenaka while looking down at the deck below her feet.
There was something green there.
Kuro-Take: “It’s the wheat.”
Kiyomasa started to look around in response to what Takenaka said, but…
…Oops, I shouldn’t show any sign that I’ve realized something.
Kiyo-Massive: “The wheat? It’s growing everywhere around here, so what about it?”
Kuro-Take: “You know this wheat is a product of selective breeding, don’t you? After all, this is not the season for wheat. It’s generally harvested at around May. …So all of that growing around you is a new variety bred to grow enough for two crops a year.”
“Al – so,” said Takenaka.
Kuro-Take: “I had Katagiri-kun bring some here during the earliest stages, but…Katagiri-kun? How tall is the wheat you see around you now?”
□□凸: “Testament, it’s a little lower than the top of my legs.”
Llaf: “Is that about 80cm?”
Tsurugi: “81cm and 7mm is the average. It fluctuates a bit from day to day.”
Kiyo-Massive: “Oh, I remember you mentioning that before.”
□□凸: “Why do you know more about me than I do!?”
Hachisuka curtly interrupted.
6: “It almost reaches my navel.”
Llaf: Is that about 90cm?”
Kiyo-Massive: “Hm, that does sound about right.”
□□凸: “Wh-why are you so much more unsure than with me!?”
6: “You creep.”
□□凸: “I wasn’t saying I wanted to know!”
Kiyo-Massive: “…Katagiri-kun? Saying that is rude to Hachisuka-san. You’ll regret it once she grows up into a very attractive woman. So apologize, okay?”
6: “Kiyomasa, you’re overprotective.”
Since she waited until he had apologized, Hachisuka must have wanted him to apologize.
…But the height of the wheat is curious.
Kiyo-Massive: “What does that mean? Is the wheat in the flooded areas growing?”
Kuro-Take: “Wheat does not require much water to grow, but it appears this variety is a little different. When given a certain amount of water, it sucks it all up and grows. So…”
Kuro-Take: “The vast wheat fields surrounding Paris are soaking up the Seine’s floodwaters.”
Takenaka thought, This must be a long-term trap.
…This wheat was a variety created via selective breeding to increase Hexagone Française’s food production.
Kuro-Take: “But if it absorbs too much water, the quality drops, so they can’t export it. However, that doesn’t matter in an area with a poor food supply. For example, during war…or while cultivating the outside world.”
That was it.
This variety grew rapidly, but had too poor a taste for export. By linking that to Hexagone Française’s planned cultivation of the outside world and the flooding of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle, it had been used around Paris to research its production.
Hexagone Française must have been waiting for the Hashiba forces to get this close.
Wheat fields this large would likely be able to suck up all of the Seine’s water.
That explained the enemy’s confidence.
Then what were the Hashiba forces to do?
There was an option. Takenaka had prepared a Plan B in case the breakwaters were destroyed.
…But this is not going to be easy.
6: “What do we do? Play dumb? It would be hard to believe we still haven’t noticed anything.”
Kuro-Take: “If we show we’ve noticed, they’ll charge forward again. …We still aren’t quite ready.”
Kiyo-Massive: “What exactly will we do?”
“Testament,” replied Takenaka.
Kuro-Take: “Some of the power being used for the breakwater defense barriers will be rerouted to the transport ships. To prepare for a long-term battle, please connect the ether pathways between the transport ships and the reinforcement facilities’ fuel systems. By my estimate, the preparations will be complete in about 3 hours. After that, we can flood Paris guaranteed.”
6: “And high damage is guaranteed too.”
“True,” agreed Takenaka.
Three hours from now meant 7 PM.
After the fighting following that and after resupplying, when could they return to Kantou?
…Early tomorrow morning.
That was later than planned. In the worst case anyway, sighed Takenaka.
…I should probably tell Hashiba-kun sooner rather than later…
Kuro-Take: “We need to fool them for another 3 hours. Let’s try not to provoke them too much. We need to make it look like we’re settling in for a long-term battle. …Let’s play dumb.”
The Roi-Soleil walked through a Paris street holding a basket filled with a towering pile of apples.
There was a security Belle de Marionnette behind him, but his gait was carefree and he would bow or raise a hand in greeting when he saw someone. He started with a woman selling fried snacks on the street.
“Roi-Soleil! Will you be cooking with Lady Anne’s favorite: apples!?”
“Ha ha ha. That’s the plan anyway.”
“Roi-Soleil! Aren’t all those apples heavy!?”
“Ha ha ha. The basket is a bit prickly when it touches me down below!”
“Roi-Soleil! Should I strip too!?”
“Ha ha ha. …Guards, arrest this criminal.”
“What about you!?”
The Roi-Soleil responded to everyone’s accusation with a flare and a spinning turn.
“I am a natural-born nudist. I am nothing like that faker from Musashi.”
Everyone started whispering.
“…So it is bothering him.”
“…He must have hated being beaten by a crossdresser.”
“…He can’t pull off a naked apron after all.”
He shook his head at their quiet voices.
“It is a trivial matter. …The sun only need remain in its natural state.”
He then opened a signe cadre.
“Henri, I would like to know how to cook an apple tart, so introduce me to a good cook. Also, it seems a festival has begun outside.”
“Testament. Some of the Hashiba forces have begun a history recreation of the festival while they resupply. They have an orchestra hiding behind them playing loud music.”
“They are playing dumb. Because they must have noticed what is happening by now. …They cannot complete their flooding with the Seine’s waters. And we dug deep ditches around Paris, so we are prepared to stop a ground attack. Do you know what happens then?”
“The enemy will see there is nothing they can do and the Princess can complete the Kantou Liberation in the meantime.”
“No. Hashiba is playing dumb here, so they must have a plan. A plan to complete the flooding instead of having to flee from here.”
“It couldn’t be…” said Henri before stopping and starting again. “No, you’re right. They must have a plan to complete the flooding.”
“Testament. That is why they have not fled.”
The Roi-Soleil resumed walking. Walking toward a garden in northern Paris.
That was his current home: the Louvre Palace.
The garden had been opened up during the battle as a place for the people to rest.
He walked toward that calm place.
“Everyone, advance close enough to make your very best attack. And from there, make yourself an audience for their terrible performance. As soon as they try something, immediately crush them.”
“Roi-Soleil, how far along do you think the enemy’s preparations are?”
“Armand, can you perform simple arithmetic?” He smiled. “The Siege of Odawara is underway in Kantou. I imagine it will be complete by 6 PM. Then Musashi will begin the Siege of Kanie Castle. …At most, that will take 2 or 3 hours.”
If a break period and the invasion of Edo followed after that…
“The Kantou Liberation will likely begin at around 2 AM tomorrow.”
The Roi-Soleil thought, That battle is sure to end by the time the morning sun has risen.
“That battle will likely last about 4 hours. It will be over at 6 tomorrow morning.”
…I just hope the sun will protect Terumoto.
Worrying for her was the prideful thing to do. Because it assumed she was lacking in strength and needed assistance.
But Hashiba’s actions were a problem.
“Let us calculate in reverse. The Musashi once traveled from M.H.R.R. to Kantou in about 4 hours. We estimate the Azuchi Castle’s speed is about equivalent to the Musashi’s. It is a giant and ridiculously fast ship, but if you include the time needed to collect their warriors and gather the individual ships, it should take 6 hours to reach Kantou. …Also, they must resupply for what they have used here. After all, going to Kantou while low on supplies would be their downfall.”
He could predict the amount of supplies and the time it would require based on the recent observations of the Azuchi.
“About 2 hours. …So 8 hours in all.”
“If Hashiba is held here until 10 PM, they will not arrive in time for the 6 AM ending of the Kantou battle. So what is it we must do, Danzou?”
“Testament. Observe them after 5. And if we can tell they are preparing an imminent attack…” Danzou spoke with the distinctive low and quiet voice of an old man. “We crush them. Or hold them here until after 10.”
“Precisely, Danzou. …There is also the previous generation’s grudge. I do not know what they will try to do, but we must swiftly analyze it and prepare some means of delaying them. Listen,” said the Roi-Soleil. “It appears as if the enemy has nothing prepared. In that case, what do you think they will use? Bernard, do you know?”
“Spells.” The reply was immediate. “Humans have long relied on spells when they lack equipment.”
“Exactly. So we must monitor the ley line movements and determine where the ether readings are concentrated. Then we do what we can to harass them.”
With that, the Roi-Soleil continued forward. He set foot in the garden and smiled.
“I wonder if apple tarts are good when freshly baked. I should have asked Terumoto.”
While the cloudy sky was dyed in the colors of evening, Terumoto received a question from Mouri-01.
“Princess, the Roi-Soleil would like to know if freshly baked apple tarts are good.”
“Huh? Can’t he figure that out on his own by baking one and eating it?”
“Princess? I think he wants to eat it with you.”
“I see.” Terumoto lifted up the book she was reading and looked to the sky. “Then tell him not to bother with a freshly baked one. I’ll probably be back in three days, so have him bake one we can eat then.”
“Testament, I will pass along your message.”
After that, Mouri-01 followed Terumoto’s gaze into the sky.
A giant ship’s silhouette was slowly moving there.
“Musashi is headed for Kanie Castle, aren’t they?”
“Once the Siege of Kanie Castle is complete, we need to immediately go over the rights from the Siege of Odawara and prepare for the Kantou Liberation. But…” Terumoto looked Mouri-01 in the eye. “The transition has gone pretty smoothly for us. So tell our idiot to do his thing without worrying. …Our stupid sun shines on Hexagone Française even at night. Right?”
While Hashiba and Hexagone Française made their moves in the west, the scarlet sky rapidly grew dark starting from the east.
Evening was becoming night.
Takenaka took a certain action from a position giving a view of that time change.
She was vomiting over the edge of the deck.
“Ero ero ero ero.”
Azuchi: “Takenaka-sama, I would like to focus exclusively on operating the ship, so could you please refrain from taking such actions? Over.”
Kuro-Take: “Oh, sorry, sorry, ‘Azuchi’. I had you make so many adjustments and here I am getting in your- ero ero ero.”
□□凸: “T-Takenaka-san! Calm down a little!”
Kuro-Take: “No, that’s not happening. Things are pretty bad right now.”
Kiyo-Massive: “Did something happen?”
Kuro-Take: “Testament. I’ve been sending ether fuel to the transport ships this whole time, right? But a lot of that fuel is being lost to ley line interference.”
6: “Is Paris causing it?”
Kuro-Take: “You get it?”
Hachisuka responded with a “testament”.
6: “Measure it while ‘Azuchi’ has some spare time. A massive amount of ether fuel is being consumed in Paris. It’s probably for the festival inside and to strengthen the defense barriers with the Roi-Soleil’s Testamenta Arma.”
Llaf: “It feels like they are standing up to the night, does it not?”
The enemy was preparing everything they had.
Hashiba’s forces were transferring ether fuel from the reinforcement facilities set up along the breakwaters to the transport ships.
That was because Hexagone Française’s wheat fields had rendered the breakwaters meaningless.
And the Plan B they were preparing in secret required the transport ships and lots of ether fuel.
So the breakwaters were being used as a pipeline to send ether fuel to the transport ships. However…
Kuro-Take: “The ley lines are interfering, probably because the breakwaters are stabbed into the ground. And I guess because Paris is consuming so much ether all at once, the ether of our fuel is being consumed too.”
Kiyo-Massive: “In that case, when will the necessary fuel be gathered in the transport ships?”
Nari Nari Nari: “Hello, everyone. It is nice to speak with you again after so long. …My preparations are complete, so I performed the measurements for you. Most likely, the target amount will be reached at 8 PM.”
6: “So we’ll reach the Kantou Liberation with 2 hours to spare?”
Nari Nari Nari: “No. …The length of the fighting here will influence it.”
Monkey Girl: “Mitsunari-san? Let’s make some final adjustments to your exterior, okay?”
Nari Nari Nari: “Hashiba-sama, you need not call me that just because I am complete…”
Monkey Girl: “No, no. Calling you by your model number or compatibility would be rude at this point.”
Llaf: “So Mitsunari-dono will finally be able to stand alongside us.”
Takenaka gasped a bit at what Fukushima said.
…So it’s finally happening…
Kuro-Take: “Mitsunari-kun, the eight of you, and I will finally be together.”
“Then,” said Takenaka.
Kuro-Take: “I will ensure we complete the flooding no matter what. I will use all of you and it will require high damage, but it will happen. So afterwards…”
Monkey Girl: “Testament, we do everything we can and make the Great Return.”
Takenaka took a breath and checked the time on her lernen figur. It was almost 7 PM.
…One more hour. If we can hold off an attack until then, we can win this.
I need to do my best, she thought. But just then…
□□凸: “Everyone! …I’m detecting an ether reading from the back of the enemy formations! There are large ether readings moving to the front of the east, west, and north formations! Their god of war unit is on the move!”
As soon as Katagiri’s words ran across the screen, the outskirts of Paris were filled with light.
In front of the enemy formations that extended far to either side, light scattered across an area of the same length but several times as high.
They were defense barriers raised skywards. And they were carried by…
□□凸: “Middle gods of war! These are rows of Hexagone Française middle gods of war specialized for defense!”
Kiyomasa saw a familiar enemy in the center of her vision: middle gods of war.
These could be seen as the enemy’s main fighting force, but they had appeared at the opening stage of the fighting.
They were deployed in three directions: the west and north that led to the downstream region and the western downstream region itself.
“So they’re finally here.”
She had clashed with these middle gods of war during the beginning of their invasion of Hexagone Française.
She remembered being made a fool of by Hexagone Française’s new weapons and new tactics. So…
“I must vindicate myself.”
While the middle gods of war slowly approached, she saw an enemy on Paris’s wall behind them.
It was a female automaton in a red coat: Henri the Musketeer.
Kuro-Take: “So they’re trying to ‘shake’ us. I doubt they intend to make a direct strike at this point, but they will do so before 8. They have Terrestrial Dragons too, so please be careful, everyone.”
Llaf: “What are thy orders for us?”
Kuro-Take: “I want you to endure the enemy’s attacks until at least after 8. And after that, just keep it up until the flooding is complete.”
6: “That’s easier said than done.”
Kuro-Take: “If I said it in a more difficult way, it would only depress you.”
Was that Takenaka’s form of kindness?
Still, it felt like they finally had a goal.
The enemy had made their presence known. Then we must do the same, thought Kiyomasa while opening her mouth before the middle god of war unit that had come to a stop.
“So our instructions are simple: just fight.”
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