Horizon:Volume 7A

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

Cover Flap[edit]

Kawakami Minoru: Born on January 3, 1975. From Tokyo. Putting together ideas for a new project and making a few doujinshis in between writing his novels. The breadth of his creative efforts knows no bounds. Please take a break every once in a while.

Satoyasu: Born in Yamagata and raised in Tochigi. “I got really excited when the croquettes at a place I happened to stop at were surprisingly good.” They’re sometimes more destructive, so it’s a real gamble, isn’t it?

Installation[edit]

Horizon7-A000c.jpg

Satomi Yoshiyasu


How should I put this?

Most likely, if you read Horizon and then play some historical games, this will be the #1 character for getting the reactions like “Huh? Satomi Yoshiyasu isn’t in here” or “Huh? Yoshiyasu is really forgettable.”

Anyway, he isn’t the last of the Satomi clan, but this is Yoshiyasu.


The historical Yoshiyasu inherited the Satomi clan at the age of 14 and the Siege of Odawara occurred when he was 17. But at the time, he tried to take back the land that Houjou had taken, that angered Hashiba who had banned personal conflicts, and he was late, so he had land taken away.

Satomi was reduced to 40,000 koku.

Yoshiyasu used the recovery of the Ashikaga clan as a pretext for Satomi’s actions, but due to that, Ashikaga regained their land through a political marriage with Hashiba, so it all ended up the exact opposite of what Satomi was aiming for.

That said, Yoshiyasu received Hashiba’s forgiveness after Matsudaira interceded on his behalf. And since his predecessor Yoshiyori had worked toward Hashiba’s advantage, he eventually recovered all that land.

It’s amusing how it seems like Hashiba and Matsudaira both took good care of Yoshiyasu.

After all, he was given the Hashiba name, he was placed in Nagoya Castle after siding with Ieyasu in the Bunroku Campaign, and he gained even more land during the later Taikou Land Survey.

He sided with the Eastern Army during Sekigahara, but as the guardian of Utsunomiya, a gyoza town. He tried to go with Hidetada’s army and was refused, but if he had gone, he would have been held up at Ueda Castle and not arrived at Sekigahara itself.

You could say he was shown a lot of love and that he was lucky.

And I imagine the superiors who dealt with him knew what he was and was not capable of. I think that was not entirely unrelated to what I said about Yoshiyori’s friendship with Hashiba.

Yoshiyasu died at 30, but by then, Satomi had grown to 120,000 koku, making it the largest territory ruled by a Tozama Daimyo.

I don’t think he could have managed that if he was incompetent.


Based on the incidents mentioned above, I made the Yoshiyasu in Horizon is in a rush to get moving but also someone that the higher ups see a lot of promise in and thus take good care of.

The dog ears hairstyle is based on the Satomi Hakkenden, but it’s also supposed to make her look like a solitary young dog.

(Kawakami Minoru)


Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon - Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere - 7A[edit]

Horizon7-A001.png

Look to me.


Characters[edit]

Horizon7-A003-005.jpg
Horizon7-A006-008.jpg



Gekoku Jaeger Dos[edit]

Horizon7-A002.jpg

Shishido Puppy Scythe

Shishido Growling Flat-Style

Moonlight Choker

My king! Praise me!


Toori: Ohh! Nate’s guild card is finally here! Yeah, I knew she’d choose that hairstyle. But she really likes matching all the equipment, doesn’t she? And isn’t that dialogue pretty incredible?

Nate: There aren’t many good dialogue options at the lower levels. But I’m glad I could show off the equipment I collected! Leave the vanguard to me when we face the rapid-firing Imagawa Eccentrics today!

Kimi: Heh heh heh. I’m glad to see you got all that equipment after all that frantic effort. Now go show it to my foolish brother in game. I’ll follow you in the crouching pose.

Nate: You just want to see the panties and my butt, don’t you!? A-and I was not frantic! Really, I mean it!


Far Eastern History[edit]

Horizon7-A009.png

First of all

Hopefully this will help you understand

How humanity managed to get by

While making all sorts of misunderstandings and mistakes

Table of Contents 7-A[edit]

  • Prologue: Omen Giver on the Gangway – P19
  • Chapter 1: Newcomer on an Accumulating Slope – P53
  • Chapter 2: Girl Who Gathers Happiness – P81
  • Chapter 3: Workers in a Place of Relaxation – P113
  • Chapter 4: Single-Minded One in the Night Sky – P151
  • Chapter 5: Searcher in a Public Place – P175
  • Chapter 6: Representatives on the Decision Stage – P208
  • Chapter 7: Off Duty Ones at the Workplace – P237
  • Chapter 8: Preparers of the New Battlefield – P279
  • Chapter 9: Noisy Girl in a Quiet Room – P301
  • Chapter 10: Conspicuous One on the Spot – P335
  • Chapter 11: Incorrect Girl in a Guessing Game – P365
  • Chapter 12: Joiner of the Stage – P391
  • Chapter 13: Attacker of the Racing Palanquins – P419
  • Chapter 14: Careless One on the Practice Ground – P447
  • Chapter 15: Flower of Immense Happiness – P475
  • Chapter 16: Watcher of the Next Generation – P511
  • Chapter 17: Trailblazer of Empty Land – P531
  • Chapter 18: Busy Crowd on the Snow – P557
  • Chapter 19: Boy Attacked in a Hidden Place – P599
  • Chapter 20: Desiring Girl in the Usual Place – P625
  • Chapter 21: Instigator in the Dark – P669
  • Chapter 22: Leader of the Recovery – P691
  • Chapter 23: Officer of a Redone Foundation – P737
  • Chapter 24: Battlefield Picnicker – P759
  • Chapter 25: Night Sky Ferry – P788
  • Table of Contents – P9
  • Character Introduction – P10
  • Glossary – P13
  • Chat Name List, Relationships Between the Major Powers, etc. – P16
  • Study: State of the Nations - P52
  • Study: Kantou Liberation Layout - P690

Illustrations: Satoyasu (TENKY)

Cover Design: Watanabe Kouichi (2725 Inc)

Book Design Concept: TENKY


Characters[edit]

Horizon7-A010.png
Horizon7-A011.png
Horizon7-A012.png

Musashi

  • Aoi Kimi: Toori’s older sister and worshipper of the god of eroticism and dancing. Fundamentally high-tension and selfish in practice.
  • Aoi Toori: Protagonist. Musashi Ariadust Academy’s chancellor and student council president. Mr. Impossible.
  • Asama Tomo: Daughter of the Asama Shrine, Musashi’s main shrine. Childhood friend and overall victim of Toori and Kimi.
  • Azuma: Child of the emperor and a half-god. All his abilities have been sealed and he lives on the Musashi.
  • Adele Balfette: From a vassal family that arrived from France. Glasses girl.
  • Itou Kenji: Cheerful incubus. Nude, bald, and muscular. Known as Itoken.
  • Ohiroshiki Ginji: Gourmet otaku with a Heart-sama style build.
  • Kiyonari Urquiaga: 2nd special duty officer. Flying half-dragon. Hopes to be an inquisitor. Known as Uqui.
  • Shirojiro Bertoni: Treasurer. Young leading member of Musashi’s commerce and industry guild.
  • Tenzou Crossunite: 1st special duty officer. Ninja and errand-runner who always covers his face with his hat.
  • Toussaint Neshinbara: Secretary. Loves history, wants to be an author, and writes doujins.
  • Naomasa: 6th special duty officer. Older sister type who works in the engine division. Smokes and laughs loudly.
  • Nate Mitotsudaira: 5th special duty officer. Member of a knight family and inheritor of the Mito Matsudaira name. Half werewolf.
  • Nenji: Slime with about 3 HP. Manly.
  • Noriki: Laborer boy who supports his family. Clumsy martial artist. Silent and unsociable.
  • Heidi Augesvarer: Treasurer’s aide. Shirojiro’s partner. Has a white fox named Erimaki.
  • Hassan Furubushi: Calpis logo-style Indian. Lives while eating and drinking only curry.
  • Persona-kun: Super macho man with a bucket helmet. Silent, strong, and kindhearted.
  • Horizon Ariadust: Toori’s childhood friend and current ruler of Mikawa. Currently an automaton. Her emotions were taken as parts for the Logismoi Oplo.
  • Honda Futayo: Former Mikawa student. Honda Tadakatsu’s daughter. Uses a strongly old-fashioned speech pattern.
  • Honda Masazumi: Vice president of the student council. Diligent exchange student who arrived from Mikawa the previous year. Has various issues with her family.
  • Marga Naruze: 4th special duty officer. Black-haired six-winged Weiss Hexen. Member of the manga club.
  • Margot Naito: 3rd special duty officer. Blonde-haired six-winged Schwarz Hexen. Always smiling.
  • Miriam Poqou: Girl who stays in her room because she lives in a wheelchair.
  • Mukai Suzu: Blind but always gives it her all. Acts as everyone’s stopper.
  • Tachibana Muneshige: Former Tres España 1st special duty officer. Amore. Currently working to regain his inherited name.
  • Tachibana Gin: Former Tres España 3rd special duty officer. Muneshige’s wife and possessor of cannon-style false arms. Fifty times.
  • Mary Stuart: Half-sister of English Queen Elizabeth. Well-endowed blonde. Living with Tenzou as his future wife. Owner of Ex. Collbrande.
  • Mishina Hiro: Granddaughter of the engine division’s chief. Loves mechanical things. Naomasa’s underclassman. Her name is pronounced Hiro, not Dai.
  • Mishina Shouichi: Mishina Hiro’s father. Taizou’s son-in-law. Head of Kantou IZUMO.
  • Satomi Yoshiyasu: Satomi Academy’s student council president. Small but does not cry. Uses the god of war Righteousness.
  • Ookubo Tadachika/Nagayasu: A rare Far Easterner with a double inherited name. A second year and head of the representative committee. Speaks in a fake-sounding Kansai dialect.
  • Kanou: Ookubo’s maid. An automaton. Head of the public morals committee. A second year.
  • Date Shigezane [Narumi]: Masamune’s cousin. Vice chancellor of the Date clan and uses a mobile shell named Unturning Centipede. Confident elder sister type.

Academy Officials

  • Oriotri Makiko: High-speed battling teacher. Always wears a track suit.
  • Sakai Tadatsugu: Musashi Ariadust Academy’s president. Used to be a very able person but was demoted.
  • “Musashi”: Automaton that supervises the Musashi and overall commander. Her sharp comments are hard to put up with.
  • Yoshinao: King of Musashi who was sent from Hexagone Française. Has a veto right toward the academy and has the authority to manage Musashi.
  • Sanyou Mitsuki: Class 3-Bamboo’s homeroom teacher. Looks up to Oriotorai. Somewhat sensitive and unlucky.

M.H.R.R.

  • Hashiba Toukichirou: M.H.R.R. Vice President and monkey-masked automaton girl. The nervous bomber type.
  • Olimpia: Innocentius’s older and younger stepsister. Current Pope-Chancellor.
  • Matthias: Representative of M.H.R.R.’s Catholics. Student Council President. Younger brother of Chancellor and Emperor Rudolf II. Being a puppet is fun!
  • Maeda Toshiie: Catholic representative. Treasurer. Samurai attendant that has become a ghost and is peacefully spending his days with his wife Matsu.
  • Fukushima Masanori: Under Hashiba’s direct command. Ten Spears #1. Speaks in an old-fashioned way.
  • Katou Kiyomasa: Under Hashiba’s direct command. Ten Spears #2. The busty blonde type and speaks politely.
  • Takenaka Hanbei: Ten Spears #9. Hashiba’s tactician. Carefree long-lived girl. Has also inherited the name of Kuroda Kanbei.
  • Katagiri Katsumoto: Ten Spears #10. An earnest boy who can also negotiate.
  • Katou Yoshiaki: Ten Spears #4. Gold-haired, gold-winged Weiss Hexen. Speaks sharply, but surprisingly tends to act as a mediator.
  • Wakisaka Yasuharu (Angie): Ten Spears #5. Black-haired, black-winged Schwarz Hexen. The carefree type, but she truly is carefree.
  • Hachisuka Koroku: Shouroku. God of war pilot of the Hidamari Genbu. The cool kid of the Ten Spears.
  • Kani Saizou: Extremely high probability of people misreading her name. The energetic aide to the Ten Spears. Fukushima’s underclassman. Nickname: Kanitama.
  • Suzuki Magoichi: Gunner who joined P.A. Oda by betraying the Saika.
  • Kuki Yoshitaka: Leader of P.A. Oda’s iron ship fleet. His job is to oppose the Murakami Navy.
  • Ootani Yoshitsugu: An earnest, hot-blooded, sincere, and honest virus with a strong sense of justice. Liked by cats.
  • Ishida Mitsunari: An earnest but inexperienced data entity who is often troubled. Ten Spears #3.

P.A. Oda

  • Sassa Narimasa: One of P.A. Oda’s Six Heavenly Demon Army and Five Great Peaks. Delinquent and assault type. But methodical.
  • Shibata Katsuie: One of P.A. Oda’s Six Heavenly Demon Army and Five Great Peaks. Athletic type. Very troublesome after his recent marriage.
  • Fuwa Mitsuharu: P.A. Oda’s local anti-Sviet Rus treasurer. Her, Toshiie, and Narimasa are known as the Triumvirate.
  • Oichi: Shibata Katsuie’s wife. Gentle berserker.
  • Mori Nagayoshi: Manliest young fellow in P.A. Oda. His head spins at the instant of impact.
  • Takigawa Ichimasu: P.A. Oda ninja commander who excels at castle building and ship operation.


Date Clan

  • Date Masamune: Head of the Date clan. Inherits the power of the Dragon God. Chancellor and student council president of the Date clan.
  • Katakura Kojuurou: Vice president of the Date clan. Full of intense highs and lows.
  • Yoshihime: Masamune’s mother. Half demonic long-lived and half human. Principal of Sendai Date Academy.

Mogami Clan

  • Mogami Yoshiaki: Betrayal-loving daimyo known as the Fox of Ushuu. Shrewd leader who unified frigid Mogami in a single generation.
  • Shakenobe: The Mouse that follows Yoshiaki-sama, mon!

Hexagone Française

  • Louis Exiv: Hexagone Française’s chancellor. Refreshing young man known as the Roi-Soleil. Has divine blood.
  • Mouri Terumoto: Hexagone Française’s student council president. Delinquent type. Destined to be Musashi’s enemy as leader of the Western Army.
  • Henri of the Three Musketeers: Female combat-style automaton. Acts as the leader and as Terumoto’s bodyguard. Uses large remote-controlled swords.
  • Armand of the Three Musketeers: Male combat-style automaton. Uses broad-range gravitational control.
  • Reine de Garou: Turenne. Hexagone Française’s vice chancellor. Mitotsudaira’s mom. All-around giant breasts.
  • Mitotsudaira’s Father: The Reine des Garous’s husband. A victim who is full of happiness and readily cries. Not so much passive as always under attack. 24 days.
  • Bernard: A mercenary commander from M.H.R.R., but an old man who inherited the name of someone who betrayed his home nation as a Protestant and moved from battlefield to battlefield, but is actually a Celestial Dragon and siding with Hexagone Française. It’s complicated.
  • Mouri Sisters: Three automaton sisters who have inherited the names of three of Mouri Terumoto’s uncles.

Houjou

  • Houjou Ujinao: Chancellor and student council vice president of the Houjou Association of Indian States. A demonic long-lived, but has an automaton body.
  • Kotarou: Ninja girl Mouse that accompanies Ujinao. Skilled but gets treated like a child.
  • Houjou Genan: An elderly long-lived. A wise commander who has served Houjou for three generations, but also leads the aerial mobile unit.
  • Houjou Ujiteru: He’s Uji-terrific!


Glossary[edit]

Horizon7-A013.png
Horizon7-A014.png
Horizon7-A015.png

A[edit]

  • Academy: An educational facility. Used as the center of political and military power. Tend to have many branch schools.
  • Academy Rules: The basic laws upheld between academies. Agreed to by the Testament Union.
  • Age of Dawn: The age before the Testament was established.
  • Amako clan: Former IZUMO land. Destroyed by Mouri and Hexagone Française.
  • Anti-Decline Pro-Tuning: The action taken during the Age of Dawn that led to the creation of the Testament and Harmonic World.
  • Apocalypse: The end of the world. 1648 when the Testament’s history descriptions end.
  • ArchsArt: England’s primary corporation.
  • Ariake: Floating dock for the Musashi provided by Kantou IZUMO.
  • Armada battle: A naval battle fought between England and Tres España. Tres España planned to land on England but their fleet was destroyed.
  • Artificial Apocalypse: A compressed ley line distortion created in England’s Avalon to research the Apocalypse.
  • ATELL: The smallest unit of ether. Used for spells.
  • Avalon: A space created in England to research the artificial Apocalypse.
  • Azuchi Castle: P.A. Oda’s giant aerial warship.

B[edit]

  • Blessings: The amount of ether needed for a human to exist for one hour. 3600 ATELL. Conversion unit for a spell’s ATELL consumption.
  • Bunroku Campaign: Hashiba’s invasion of Korea. The first one.

C[edit]

  • Catholic: The old mainstream version of Tsirhc.
  • Chancellor’s Officers: An organization led by the chancellor which leads the academy and performs work such as defense.
  • Change of Rank: Having one’s clan taken away.
  • Contradiction Allowance: The foundational ability of the world. Allows the simultaneous existence of all sorts of physical laws.

D[edit]

  • Divine States: Former name of the Far East.
  • Divine Weapon: A weapon that, unlike a normal weapon, has a unique ability.
  • Divinely Ordained Prayer Academies: The original academies that existed during the Age of Dawn. More a guiding frontline base than a place of learning.
  • Dragon Line Reactor: A bomb that uses a runaway ley line reactor to destroy a wide area.
  • Dragon Races: The dragons. There are Celestial Dragons which are spirits and Terrestrial Dragons which are beasts and the Celestial Dragons are of a higher level. They dominated during the history recreation of the Germanic invasions, but ultimately lost. They are now scattered across the land.
  • Dunhi: A religion. Focused on reincarnation.

E[edit]

  • Edel Brocken: Magic brand. Location of headquarters unknown.
  • Eisenritter: Primary corporation of M.H.R.R.’s Protestant principalities.
  • Emperor: A divine individual who is said to control the ley lines using the Imperial Regalia in Kyou. Does not interfere with the world.
  • England: Uses a floating island and does not control any Far Eastern land or Far Eastern daimyo.
  • Ether: Component that makes up contradiction-allowing space.
  • Ether Engine: An engine that uses ether’s space-altering ability. The effect changes based on the internal crest.
  • Ether Fuel: Ether that has been purified into fuel. Used as External Blessings or for ether engines.
  • Ether Reactor: A reactor that extracts and purifies ether from the air. Has a lower output than a ley line reactor, but is relatively safe.
  • Europa: Hexagone Française’s primary corporation.
  • Excalibur: Has a first and second version.
  • External Blessings: Blessings accumulated outside of oneself. Ether fuel is an example.

F[edit]

  • Fan Gang: Qing brand. Durable but a bit rough.
  • Far East: Name of the Divine States after the Harmonic Unification War.
  • Fino Alba: K.P.A. Italian brand. Their use of springs is their selling point.

G[edit]

  • God of War: A giant humanoid machine that people combine with to move.
  • Graduation: No limit for nations other than the Far East. Far Easterners must graduate at 18.
  • Grande y Felicísima Armada: Tres España’s fleet for the Armada battle. Made up of cutting-edge ships.
  • Great Return: When Hashiba returned with all his troops while attacking Mouri during Nobunaga’s assassination. The rushed march covered about 200 km in less than ten days.

H[edit]

  • Harmonic Territory: Locations where the fallen Harmonic World Divine States unified with the real world while breaking apart.
  • Harmonic Unification War: A war between the harmonic world residents and the real world (Divine States) residents after the destruction of the harmonic world. The harmonic world residents won and began a provisional rule over the Divine States.
  • Harmonic World: A former alternate space that copied the Divine States. Preserved through ley line control.
  • Hexagone Française: Mouri clan + France.
  • Hidetsugu Incident: Hidetsugu, Hashiba’s nephew who was going to be left in charge during the next generation, earned Hashiba’s anger and was forced to commit suicide. The reason is unknown, but his concubine Komahime had to commit suicide with him.
  • History Recreation: Recreating the Testament descriptions to maintain the path the world takes.
  • Holy Spells: Tsirhc spells. The Catholics are related to the Testament and holy individuals while the Protestants derive power only from the Testament.
  • H.R.R.M.: Holy Knights Ironworks Guild. Primary corporation of M.H.R.R.’s Catholic principalities.

I[edit]

  • Inherited Name: The name of a historical figure given to an appropriate individual for the history recreation.
  • Internal Blessings: blessings stored within oneself.
  • IZUMO: The Far East’s largest corporation. The headquarters for Far Eastern shrines and the corporation that built the Musashi.

J[edit]

  • Judge/Judgment: Means “understood”. Used by criminals.

K[edit]

  • K.P.A. Italia: Association of Aki States + Union of Italian City States.

L[edit]

  • Laws for the Samurai Clans: Laws established after the Matsudaira clan established the Edo Shogunate. It determined the status of the samurai clans, but it centralized power by declaring a ‘Change of Rank’ if a clan or castle had no heir.
  • Ley Line: The thicker of the pathways through which ether flows.
  • Ley Line Reactor: A reactor that extracts and refines either from ley lines. Can easily cause lay line mutations and destroy everything within several kilometers if they explode. Due to their instability, they are banned by the Tsirhc religion.
  • Logismoi Oplo: Weapons of mass destruction created on the motif of the seven deadly sins.

M[edit]

  • Magic: Folk spells currently under persecution in Europe.
  • M.H.R.R.: Hashiba clan + Holy Roman Empires.
  • Mikawa: Destroyed by the collapse of Lord Motonobu’s ley line reactor.
  • Mito: South of Oushuu and north of Edo. Mitotsudaira’s territory.
  • Mlasi: A later non-Tsirhc religion that also worships the Testament.
  • Mouse: A spirit beast device to act as an intermediary between the Shinto religion and its musicians. Other religions use different names.
  • Musashi: Aerial city ship. The sole independent territory allowed for the Far East.

[First Starboard Ship – Shinagawa/Second Starboard Ship – Tama/Third Starboard Ship – Takao/First Central Ship – Musashino/Back Central Ship – Okutama/First Port Ship – Asakusa/Second Port Ship – Murayama/Third Port Ship – Oume]

  • Musashi Ariadust Academy: The Far East’s representative academy which exists on Okutama of Musashi.
  • Musician: A religion’s worshiper.

N[edit]

  • Novgorod: A large trade city on the western end of Russia. It is a floating city, but became a city of the dead after Ivan IV the Terrible’s purge.

O[edit]

  • Oat: A religion based on China’s sages.
  • Offering: Providing a god with something they will enjoy or Internal Blessings.
  • Official Events: Refers to the ceremonies, exams, etc. that an academy must complete during each term. If these are not completed, the academy may not take part in any external politics.
  • Orei Metallo/Nero: Ore or water containing ether. Can be used as ether fuel.
  • Orthodox: The Orthodox Concerto religion. Sviet Rus’s unique branch of Catholicism.
  • Oushuu: The Tohoku region. The Date clan rules the east and the Mogami clan rules the west.
  • Oushuu Fujiwara (Hiraizumi): A hidden village of the long-lived in southern Oushuu.

P[edit]

  • P.A. Oda: Oda clan + Ottomans.
  • Peace of Westphalia: The peace treaty that ended the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Protestant: A new style of Tsirhc created to escape the corruption of Catholicism and to adjust to the new age.
  • Provisional Council: Group of adults who act as bureaucrats toward Musashi’s student council, chancellor’s officers, and student committees.

Q[edit]

  • Qing-Takeda: Combination of China and the Takeda clan.

R[edit]

  • Religion: Organizations or groups that worship a god or the Testament.

S[edit]

  • San Mercado: Tres Españan brand.
  • Shaja: Used in Mlasi regions and means “understood”. Originally meant “courage”.
  • Shinto: Far Eastern religion. Worships the Far Eastern gods and uses divine music spells.
  • Shirasago Enterprises: IZUMO’s shrine brand.
  • Siege of Otate: Conflict over the succession of the Uesugi clan after Kenshin’s death. Uesugi Kagekatsu and Nagao Kagetora fought and Kagekatsu won.
  • Sign Frame: Spell device needed to use each religion’s basic protection.
  • Song of Passage: Prototype of a fairy tale created in the Far East during the Edo period.
  • Spell: Causing a miracle in a certain space by processing ether.
  • Spirit Spell: Primitive spells used by talking to and borrowing the power of spirits, which are ether with a will of its own.
  • Student Council: The organization that handles an academy’s domestic and foreign affairs.
  • Substitution: Offering something to please a god instead of using Blessings to activate a spell.
  • Sviet Rus: Uesugi clan + Russia.

T[edit]

  • Tes/Testament: Means “understood”.
  • Testament: A history book that provides the history of the earth’s previous age. There are seven pairs and excerpts.
  • Testament Descriptions: History of the earth’s previous age that is automatically updated by the Testament. However, it stopped updating after the description for 1648.
  • Testament Union: An organization meant to lead the history recreation.
  • Testamenta Arma: Weapons that use the ability of the Testaments.
  • Tres España: Oouchi and Ootomo clans + Spain. Currently includes Portugal.
  • Tsirhc: A religion which places the Son of God at the top. Worships the Testament.


World[edit]

Horizon7-A016.png
Horizon7-A017.png

The Story So Far:

Good morning. This is Mouri-01. Now, I will explain what has happened recently as simply as possible. In our nation, the Roi-Soleil has set a new record for longest time since taking a wooden sword to the crotch. That is hardly surprising as the princess is currently away. This is his only chance to set such a record.

Anyway, Paris fired lots of shells in the four cardinal directions, shot down some ships, caused some explosions, sent out its Lourd de Marionnettes, and watched a blue bird ascend into heaven, but Hexagone Française emerged victorious in the end. Odawara had a fairly balanced result thanks to the wife curry, child karaoke, and wife ping pong. Then Musashi managed a victory in the Siege of Kanie Castle, visited the underground ruins, and defeated Houjou Ujinao. Now, I must return this microphone to the studio.


Divine Chat Screenname List:

  • Azuma: Azuma
  • Asama: Asama Tomo
  • Obscene: Itou Kenji (Itoken)
  • Me: Aoi Toori
  • Gold Mar: Margot Naito
  • Righteousness: Satomi Yoshiyasu
  • Scarred: Mary Stuart
  • Silver Wolf: Nate Mitosudaira
  • Still Got It: Reine des Garous
  • Wise Sister: Aoi Kimi
  • 481: Mishina Shouichi
  • Tachibana Husband: Tachibana Muneshige
  • Tachibana Wife: Tachibana Gin
  • Smoking Girl: Naomasa
  • 10ZO: Tenzou Crossunite
  • Tonbokiri: Honda Futayo
  • Sticky King: Nenji
  • 83: Hassan Furubushi
  • Flat Vassal: Adele Balfette
  • Vice President: Honda Masazumi
  • Bell: Mukai Suzu
  • Hori-ko: Horizon Ariadust
  • Mar-Ga: Marga Naruze
  • Marube-ya: Heidi Augesvarer
  • 847: Mishina Hiro
  • Novice: Toussaint Neshinbara
  • Musashi King: Yoshinao
  • Four Eyes: Shakespeare
  • Worshipper: Ohiroshiki Ginji
  • Laborer: Noriki
  • Unturning: Date Narumi
  • Kagetsuna-kun: Katakura Kojuurou
  • Fang: Oniniwa Tsunamoto
  • Caretaker: Rusu Makikage
  • Taki: Takigawa Ichimasu
  • Great Upperclassmen: Shibata Katsuie
  • O12: Oichi
  • Lily Flower: Sassa Narimasa
  • Omaeda: Maeda Toshiie
  • Fuwaa: Fuwa Mitsuharu
  • Mory: Mori Nagayoshi
  • Nine Tail Girl: Mogami Yosahiaki
  • Shigeko: Honjou Shigenaga
  • KageV: Uesugi Kagekatsu
  • Tomo-no-Bu: Saitou Tomonobu
  • Nagaya-Stable: Ookubo Tadachika
  • CAN: Kanou
  • Llaf: Fukushima Masanori
  • Kiyo-Massive: Katou Kiyomasa
  • □□凸: Katagiri Katsumoto
  • Kuro-Take: Takenaka Hanbei
  • Kimee: Katou Yoshiaki
  • AnG: Wakisaka Yasuharu
  • 6: Hachisuka Koroku
  • An-Ri: Henri
  • Ar-Man: Armand
  • Super Justice: Ootani Yoshitsugu
  • Nari Nari Nari: Ishida Mitsunari
  • Kanitama: Kani Saizou
  • Nine Horns: Kuki Yoshitaka
  • Three Legs: Suzuki Magoichi



Far Eastern Powers:

[Same map as before, but with some of the arrows a different color]


Relationships Between the Major Powers:

[Same as 4-A, but with some of the arrows a different color]


Musashi’s Plans:

Toori: Sis! Sis! We’re doing the Kantou Liberation, but what’s that about!? Are we gonna take a bath and go to sleep!?

Kimi: Heh heh heh. Bath brother, that isn’t wrong, but after the bath, we’re having a meeting to figure out what we gained and lost in the Siege of Odawara. And Hashiba is making some odd moves, so we need to watch out for that as well.


School Rules[edit]

Article 170

  • Visitors from other academies must be met with respect.


Prologue: Omen Giver on the Gangway[edit]

Horizon7-A019.jpg

Where should I go next?

Whether I choose

Or don’t choose

There will be something there

Point Allocation (Expectation)


A strong salty scent entered the night breeze.

It was a sea breeze.

It began in the Sagami ocean to the south and rose up onto the land to the north.

It was a heavy wind. Instead of just blowing, it was a movement of the atmosphere that gradually grew thicker throughout the night.

That heavy wind swept across the temporary city on the surface while also hitting the giant structure floating in the sky above.

That structure was a giant aerial ship. The waves of the air produced a dull sound as they struck the white and black sides printed with the name Musashi.

That heavy sound permeated the sky. It could be heard from atop the Musashi.

However, the Musashi’s surface was divided between two different activities.

One was the repairs and reinforcement construction occurring across the Musashi. Those areas were filled with light and noise.

The other was the preparations for the coming battlefield. Those areas were cut off by sound-blocking stealth barriers to provide some rest on the way there.

The people who had fought in the Siege of Odawara got some rest or worked on the construction first. Later, those who had fought in the Siege of Kanie Castle got some rest.

They all hurried down the passageways and corridors.

“The Kantou Liberation begins in 4 hours! Those of us operating the ships begin our shift an hour ahead of time, so that only gives us 3 hours to rest! Keep that in mind!”

“I know those of you on the shift before that are tired, but it’s not too much longer now! If you’ve eaten, then get back to your posts!”

“Has anyone forgotten to set their divine radio or TV to record!? I’m taking requests if you need something!”

“I just want to record the local OP for Dragoon-mon!”

“I’ll put in a request to Houjou saying it’s research material, so get back to work!”

They met up and discussed various issues at the intersections and elevators. Some of the volunteer civilians and warriors without any work to do used their sign frames to request a shift for assisting with the transportation and food distribution, but most of them went to get some rest.

And there was another group making their way somewhere they could rest.

“Huh? Noriki, are you not bringing that girl here? Ujinao was it?”

It was Toori and the others.


Toori’s question was answered by Noriki who followed behind the others while they disembarked from a transport ship on Okutama’s bow port. He scratched his head.

“I will be bringing her here, but Houjou’s collapse is not complete quite yet. Plus, we have the Kantou Liberation to deal with. She’ll join me here once those things are complete.”

“Is that how you’re doing things?” said the others while Naito and Naruze flew from the transport ship on their brooms.

Naruze skillfully flew upside-down before spinning around to face them.

“Well, it is true we’re talking about the fall of an entire nation. There are probably some things its final leader has to take care of. If she neglected those things, you would have to wonder why you two waited this long in the first place.”

“Judge. And you never know what Hashiba will try to do if she ends her inherited name before Houjou’s collapse.”

“That’s a good point,” said Naito. She placed a hand on Naruze’s spinning broom and added another rotation to it so the other girl was facing south while upside-down.

“If she doesn’t end her inherited name properly, Hashiba might use the Testament Union to declare someone else as a new Ujinao to properly see Houjou through to the end.”

“Exactly.” Noriki scratched his cheek. “Also, she says she wants to learn how to cook before coming here.”

“Ohhh,” everyone replied before noticing a sign frame opened next to his face.

It was Ujinao.

The others let those two exchange some words that could be seen as unimportant, as a greeting, or as a thoughtful report of their situations. Meanwhile, Futayo asked Masazumi a question.

“Masazumi, what is Lady Ujinao going to do once her inherited name is complete?”

“Judge. Musashi has not received a student transfer request. She must understand what it means to be the retired representative of a former nation rather than a simple military commander.”

That being…

“If she tried to join Musashi as a student, it would give Hashiba an excuse to attack. They would say Musashi had prevented Houjou’s destruction and effectively absorbed Houjou’s authority for ourselves. Also, the Houjou forces that joined us would have unnecessary expectations of Ujinao. She was the Chancellor and Student Council President who led a nation. And unlike that idiot over there, she did so with military strength and intelligence. If she could choose to use those talents for another nation even after retiring her inherited name, it would cause problems on a national scale.”

“So to prevent that,” said Mitotsudaira. “She will decisively part ways with the nation of Houjou and cut all ties. That will bring an end to her responsibility as its final leader and to everything she inherited from that position. And it will also work to protect Musashi.”

“That is the path she has chosen. Also…check that out.”

Masazumi pointed back toward Noriki.

At some point, he had fallen a few steps behind the others, but he was speaking into his sign frame, entirely oblivious that the others had slowed down to wait for him.

“————”

He was smiling a little.

“I see,” said Naruze. “If Ujinao comes to Musashi and joins Noriki’s family, scenes like this will be a common occurrence. And he’ll have a wife at home. This will make for some excellent material. Noriki, thank you for this gift.”

“Some of your views are unhelpful, but it is true she has chosen to retire from the conflicts within her clan and family and from the conflicts between nations. From now on, she will not be an officer or a name inheritor. She will simply be a person with a new family. Whether or not that will change her personality is still unknown, though.” Masazumi’s shoulders drooped. “But you could say she is far surpassing the rest of us in her private life.”

“Oh? Masazumi, do you want a family!?” asked Futayo. “Then you can join mine! We can build a big family together!”

“Wait!”

“Why wait?” asked Futayo while Naruze started spinning wildly overhead. “Family is a wonderful thing, Masazumi. And you can build a bigger one by taking in cats like my father would! They can be a pain, but they are so very cute. …What is the matter, Masazumi?”

“Well, um…you’re even more pure than I thought you were.”

Futayo tilted her head and everyone else’s shoulders drooped. Then Noriki spoke up as he caught up from behind.

“Hey, why are you all stopped here talking? Aren’t we going to Mukai’s bathhouse?”

He said it with a sigh, so they all turned back as one.

“I don’t want to hear that from you!!”

“Huh? What’s with all of you?”

“Noriki-sama, it feels to me like you have been defanged,” said Horizon.

“Um, Horizon?” said Mitotsudaira. “I think you have sharpened your fangs a little too much.”

But there was activity around them now that they were in the port. To aft, Ookubo was exchanging information with the port authority officials and she raised a hand in greeting.

Everyone was about to rest and prepare for the next battle.

But while they gathered strength in their shoulders once more, Naito suddenly looked southward up above them.

“Oh?” She tilted her head and opened a Magie Figur.

“What is it, Gold Mar?”

“Well, I’m not sure telling you would help much, Chancellor.”

“Quit acting like I’m uselessssssssssss!”

“Judge. If you must know, it’s about the other nations’ ships.”

“Okay, yes, I’m useless. Sorry! I’m really sorry!”

“I expected that,” said Naito as she spun Naruze again and viewed some movement in the sky below her.

Then she spoke into the Magie Figur she had opened.

“Um, have you noticed, Bell-rin? We’re trying to pretty up the Musashi, but the other nations’ ships are already here for some preliminary negotiations.”


Gold Mar: “Well, Bell-rin? Can you tell?”

Bell: “Oh…yes. I think they’ve sent out…some ships along with…an escort.”

Suzu answered Naito’s question.

She was currently in the changing room for the Okutama bathhouse named Suzu’s Bath. She was cleaning it, but the Musashi’s sensor data was being relayed to her from Musashino’s bridge. Thanks to that, she could sense several ships ascending to land on the Musashi.

What’s going…to happen?

She wanted to give everyone a chance to rest, so she had left the bridge to prepare the bath for them to freshen up after the battle.

She was just about finished and she was getting help from the kobolds and white algae creatures.

She handed a 5-yen coin to the kobolds and placed a white algae creature in each of the lockers.

“U-um, carry this stack of buckets…over there.”

“Leave it to us.”

“A-and can you all…go in there? And clean?”

“Clean?”

“Clean? Squeaky clean?”

She heard herself laughing a bit as she used this free time to change into her bathhouse swimsuit.

She was not particularly busy, but she found it easiest to complete this familiar work all in one go.

Meanwhile, another question arrived for her.

Vice President: “Um, Mukai? It doesn’t have to be exact, but can you tell how many of the ships below are from each nation?”

Since Masazumi’s request was fairly restrained, she may have known Suzu was working to prepare the bath. So Suzu tried to come up with a more general way to describe the number of ships.

Bell: “You mean like…‘lots’, ‘a bunch’, or…‘a few’?”

Vice President: “Yes, I know you’re busy, so that’s fine.”

“Hmm,” thought Suzu while collecting the white algae creatures in a basket when they finished cleaning their lockers.

Bell: “I can get the…number of ships right away. And if you ask for…a type of ship, I can tell you that…too.”


“Oh, Nobu-tan! Why are you slamming your elbows against the table and crying so soon after intercepting the divine transmission signal!? Our night of karaoke has barely even begun!”

“B-because, Koni-tan! Mu-sama…Mu-sama was actually going to give the number of ships in a super-duper cute way! She was going to say ‘lots’ or ‘a bunch’!”

“D-don’t worry, I’m sure Masazumi-kun will tell her to stick with that! Just listen!”

Vice President: “Really, Mukai? Then if you wouldn’t find it too mind-numbing, give us the actual numbers.”

“I hate you, Koni-taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!”

“Don’t take your anger out on me, Nobu-tan!!”

Vice President: “Heh, numbing numbers. Did you catch that, Mukai?”

Bell: “M-Masazumi? I think you should…get some sleep.”

“I love you, Koni-taaaaaaan!!!”

“I’m not sure what triggered that, but I’m glad you’ve recovered, Nobu-tan!!”


Suzu counted the ships based on the sensor data sent to her from the Musashino bridge.

Counting the number…is my specialty…right?

This was easy for her. When focusing on a collection of ships, she did not sense each individual one. She understood them as numbers and words.

Instead of tracking them by eye or counting them by hand, she understood them with the full set of senses.

So she counted them like that and sent the information to Masazumi.

Bell: “Houjou has three small ships…and one big one. Mogami has two small ones…and one big one. Oh, but one of the small Mogami ones has different…rigging?”

Righteousness: “That one counts as a Satomi ship. Yoshiaki prepared it for us. It would affect the legitimacy of our Kantou Liberation if there was no Satomi presence there.”

That sounded complicated, but she kind of understood. She had come to understand that sort of thing lately.

On-site experience…teaches you so much.

But Suzu noticed something odd while counting the diplomatic ships.

“There’s a lot of…Mouri ships?”


Two figures in the sky above the Musashi confirmed what Suzu said.

The gold and black winged figures were Naito and Naruze.

Naruze used the Magie Figur in hand to compare the previous Mouri fleet to the current diplomatic ships. She squinted a bit as she scrutinized the images, but she eventually frowned.

“Odd.”

“What is it, Ga-chan?”

“Judge.” Naruze drew a red circle around a few of the ships ascending on the real-time image. “Some non-Mouri ships are mixed in with the Mouri ones.”

“What clan does Suzu say they belong to?”

“Unknown since they’ve covered up the academy emblem. But they aren’t a Mouri model of ship. If anything, they look more M.H.R.R.”

“Hm.” Naito tilted her head. “Would M.H.R.R. be involved in the post-Odawara or pre-Kantou Liberation negotiations?”


“The Siege of Odawara was a battle between the Far Eastern forces, but the Kantou Liberation is between Far Eastern and continental forces.”

Naito spoke in the sky above Okutama’s front port.

They had only just returned to the Musashi now that the Siege of Kanie Castle and the “Lead With That, Noririn” festival were complete.

Her current duty was to transport the equipment and possessions of the people disembarking from the transport ships. She and Naruze had to carry those things to their homes or classrooms.

They would not normally be left with a petty job like that, but…

“We need to give them as much time to rest as possible,” said Naruze.

That was true.

They only had 4 hours before the next battle. However…

“If you think of battles as projects, then the Kantou Liberation is a ridiculously large project. Enough so that we need to hold a meeting and get some rest during the four hours ahead of time.”

Busy did not even begin to cover it. Besides…

Getting some rest in a hurry is kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it?

Asama had ordered some compressed sleep charms from the Asama Shrine.

Also, Suzu was preparing the bathhouse. And below…

Hori-ko: “Now, everyone. I recently learned how to make udon sashimi, so would anyone like some as nourishment before getting some sleep?”

Marube-ya: “Anything but udooooooooooooon!”

Mar-Ga: “Huh? I thought you escaped the udon curse with that prostration negotiation.”

Vice President: “They haven’t actually paid back what they embezzled, so it isn’t over yet. …Asama, when will the divine punishment kick in?”

Asama: “It generally happens at dawn of the day after judgment is passed at the Shinto trial.”

Tonbokiri: “Judge. So the udon will come out tomorrow morning just as the Kantou Liberation is beginning.”

Righteousness: “Will you people stop at nothing when it comes to disgracing Satomi’s liberation!?”

Things were tough all around. But Naito tilted her head while Naruze sent the shape of the mystery ships to “Musashino” for analysis.

“Why would M.H.R.R. ships be involved in the Kantou Liberation?”

“Even if they are M.H.R.R., they’re probably Protestant.”

Naito nodded at that.

The Catholic and Protestant factions within M.H.R.R. were currently locked in constant conflict due to the Thirty Years’ War.

And the Catholic side controlled K.P.A. Italia due to the collusion between Holy Roman Emperor Matthias and Hashiba.

Musashi, on the other hand, had participated in the Sack of Magdeburg and sided with the Protestants.

In that case, thought Naito as she asked just to be sure.

Gold Mar: “Seijun, if M.H.R.R. came here…actually, can they even do that? Have you heard anything from the Protestants?”


Masazumi read Naito’s question while the night sea breeze washed over her.

M.H.R.R. ships, hm?

She crossed her arms and thought atop a ship floating up from Okutama’s bow port.

This was a different transport ship which was used for travelling within Musashi.

The others were aboard the lightly moving ship with her. It would take them to an underground entrance near the bathhouse Mukai was preparing for them.

“Why would some M.H.R.R. ships arrive with Mouri?” she asked herself on that ship.

Those two nations were enemies, so what did this mean?

She turned around to get a quick answer.

“Neshinbara, can you give a serious answer to this? No, I suppose not. Sorry. I shouldn’t have asked for the impossible. So who else could I ask? Well, might as well just ask Mouri directly. …Hm? What is it, Neshinbara?”

“C-Crossdressing Honda-kun! You moved on without even hearing what I had to say, didn’t you!?”

“Maybe so, but let’s be honest: can you give a serious answer?”

“Wh-why do you look so skeptical!?”

Neshinbara swung his right hand and turned to the side. He placed a hand on his glasses and pushed them up.

“Of course I can give a serious answer. For I am always serious.”

She had to wonder how he defined “serious”.

But there was something she needed to ask about.

“Based on Mukai’s scans and Naito and Naruze’s observations, we know there are some M.H.R.R. ships within the Mouri negotiation fleet below. …Why do you think that is? Did the Protestants set it up?”

“That is quite simple.” Neshinbara sighed. “It is the Thirty Years’ War.”

Next to him, the idiot struck a pose and sighed.

“It is the Thhhirty Years’ Worrrr.”

“I-I didn’t say it like that! And if you do that, it will probably catch on, so please stop, Aoi-kun! I beg you!”

Four Eyes: “It is the Thhhirty Years’ Worrr.”

Novice: “You had better stop that!”

Four Eyes: “I had better?”

Novice: “Please stop! Please!”

Four Eyes: “I’m not listening to someone who can’t get his opinion across like a man.”

Neshinbara gasped and turned back toward the idiot.

“Aoi-kun! How am I supposed to admonish someone like a man!?”

“Oh, that’s easy.”

The idiot grabbed Neshinbara’s sign frame, pulled it toward him, and…

“Topknot!”

“Stooooooooooooop!”

“Calm down, Neshinbara! Why do you have to be so negative about everything!?”

“How am I supposed to look at this positively!?”

“Huh!? Try it out for yourself and you’ll see! It feels great! Besides, it’s not like the other person can see what you’re doing.”

Four Eyes: “I can hear everything you’re saying, so should I tattle to the Fairy Queen?”

“Hey! Aoi! Stop before you cause an international incident!”

Gold Mar: “Didn’t the Chancellor already cause an international incident with this one back at IZUMO?”

Oh yeah. That did happen, didn’t it? I had erased it from my memory.

Vice President: “But what’s important is learning our lesson and always facing forward toward the future. Right?”

Wise Sister: “Foolish brother? Did you hear what this flat politician said? But it’s not like you could even do the topknot if you were facing backwards, right?”

Me: “Eh? Yeah, that one would be tricky to pull off. Asama, are there any Shinto warp spells I could use? A portable one would be great.”

Asama: “I’m not giving you one when I know that’s what you’ll do with it!”

“There you have it.” The idiot raised a hand toward Masazumi. “I just proved that the top knot is a technique used when facing forward to the future.”

“Yes, how wonderful.”

The idiot’s expression froze at her deadpan response.

After a bit, he mimed moving some luggage from right to left and looked to Neshinbara.

“Listen, Neshinbara. That was a joke. Here’s the real thing.”

“The real thing?”

“Topknot!”

“I said stooooop!”

Neshinbara struck a pose.

“Stop – right – this – instant! Aoi-kun!”

“Okay, now for a nice deep one.”

“You don’t have to do that facial expression!”

Neshinbara tried to snatch back the sign frame, but the idiot grabbed it back while uttering an “oof”. Then the nudist twisted his hips around.

“C-c’mon, man, don’t move it around without warning me! Your sign frame has a ton of pointy parts, so what if I injured my topknot!?”

“Wh-who cares about your topknot!? I’m worried about what you’re doing to the sign frame I spent all night designing!”

Are they even speaking Far Eastern anymore? wondered Masazumi, but she kept it to herself for fear of getting dragged into this mess.

This is fine. Neshinbara is the kind of person who writes weird novels.

In that case, it’s okay for his language to be a little broken. Probably anyway. Although that might just be who he is. But I can have peace as long as I can love on Tsukinowa. Who cares about the rest.

The idiot pulled the sign frame back and sighed.

“You want to know what I’m doing to your sign frame? Fine, then watch closely: top-…”

Just as he said “knot”, a casual kick from Horizon hit his crotch from below.

The idiot bounced upwards with an “ahee!” and then fell to his knees.

“U-um, Horizon? What if my topknot stops functioning?”

“Cut out that weird falsetto. …Anyway, Neshinbara-sama.”

Horizon turned toward Neshinbara. And…

“What was it you wanted to say about the Thhhirty Years’ Worrr?”

“Et tu? Et tu, Horizon-kun!?”

“Neshinbara, just answer the question. Our sleep time is slipping away at an alarming rate.”

Masazumi could not figure out why everyone gave her accusatory looks when she said that.

Regardless, Neshinbara’s shoulders drooped and he opened a new sign frame.

He looked down rather than at the others and he tapped the screen.

“Listen. Hexagone Française repelled Hashiba’s attack on Paris and has declared their intent to conquer. And what does that mean? Why, it means Hexagone Française has begun the 30 Years’ War.”


“Isn’t it perfectly normal for them to be starting the Thirty Years’ War?”

Asama asked that of Masazumi with her arms wrapped around herself and the shirt Toori had given her.

My shrine maiden uniform was torn up pretty bad.

It had not bothered her too much during the battle, but that had changed now that things had calmed down. Of course, everyone’s clothes had been damaged or soaked in the battle, so they all looked like a mess.

Masazumi must have been bothered by her wet uniform because she kept her arms crossed as she responded.

“Hexagone Française already told us they would be beginning the Thirty Years’ War. But what that means has changed.”

“What it means?”

When Asama asked that, Kimi nodded next to her.

“In other words, what Masazumi thought was going to be a fun war has leveled up to a big fun war! In terms of combining materials, it’s like combining ‘political resolution’ with ‘war’ to drag ‘other nations’ into it all! And if you want a higher success rate, you provoke the enemy nations through negotiation! That’s my quick walkthrough!”

“Isn’t provoking the enemy a bad thing?”

Everyone responded to Asama’s question by looking to Neshinbara.

She did the same, and…

“Oh, right. That’s exactly what he did at the pre-Odawara negotiations.”

“Hold on! Wh-what are you talking about, Asama-kun!”

“Calm down,” said Horizon before addressing a question to Neshinbara. “So how has the meaning changed?”

“Eh?”

He froze in place. He seemed confused what her question meant, so Asama took turns exchanging glances with Kimi, Mitotsudaira, Toori, and Horizon.

Don’t tell me.

Her thoughts were perfectly expressed by the first post she saw on her sign frame.

Mar-Ga: “Don’t tell me that idiot just wanted to say it because it sounded cool.”

Gold Mar: “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.”

Unmoving: “How did you make it this far?”

Uqui: “Narumi, if that was so easy to figure out, the enemy would not be having so much trouble.”

The incredible part was how accurate that was. But the accused swung his arm side to side a few times.

“Please wait! It is crucial that you ask a question first! Don’t you think!?”

Horizon pulled a desk and chair out of nowhere and sat down with her head resting in her hands.

“Judge. Very true, Neshinbara-sama. Now, care to explain the question that has been asked?”

“Eh?”

He was very clearly sweating now, but he pushed up his glasses and swung his right arm.

“L-l-listen, all of you. Th-th-th-the thing is…”

“Just admit defeat!”

Asama had a thought while everyone shouted at Neshinbara. She exchanged a smiling glance with Mitotsudaira.

We don’t go easy on our own, do we?

No, we don’t, replied Mitotsudaira with her eye contact and a nod. Then Masazumi stepped forward with drooping shoulders.

“Well, it doesn’t matter. Actually, it does matter, but I will explain instead.”

“If you say so,” everyone said as Masazumi raised her right hand.

“Basically, Hexagone Française is focusing on their European history recreation instead of their Far Eastern history recreation.”


Masazumi had a thought as she viewed the fleet rising in the southwestern sky.

The world really is looking to the future.

Musashi was doing the same. But these actions outside her expectations filled her with caution and surprise.

The world was not shaping up the way she had expected.

No matter how many predictions she made, they were no more than calculations.

What matters is to have a policy and to have the flexibility to fit your surroundings, she thought.

“This means Mouri has set something up again. …Naomasa.”

“What do you want?”

Naomasa spoke from a sign frame.

The god of war sniper unit held their rifles at the ready on the bow in case any of the diplomatic ships tried anything. Naomasa was still on the scene commanding them.

“I can see that fleet quite well from here.”

“What clan emblem is displayed on the ships marked by Mukai and the others?”

“Wait just a second.”

Naomasa opened a sign frame on the screen.

Jizuri Suzaku slowly tilted its head behind her. The footage on Naomasa’s sign frame scrolled in sync with that.

“Found it. The emblem has been covered up.” She added a disinterested “but” with her kiseru in the corner of her mouth. “It’s a pretty sloppy paint job.”

“Can you see the emblem through the new coat?”

“No, but it’s pretty uneven. You can tell it was a rush job.”

Meaning…

“The unevenness in the color would be because the ship flew here from the west with the sea breeze hitting it. That means the paint job was done in a hurry during the Siege of Odawara.”

“In that case,” said Masazumi while raising a hand to thank Naomasa.

She had a question for the Technohexen pair.

Vice President: “Naito, Naruze. Who do the marked transport ships belong to?”

Gold Mar: “Have you tried asking ‘Musashi’?”

Musashi: “I am afraid the notification sent to me simply said they were Mouri ships. Over.”

Mar-Ga: “Judge. Those of us working transport were told the same thing. Looks like they’re trying to pass them off as Mouri ships no matter what.”

“I see,” said Masazumi as Ohiroshiki tilted his head.

“What does that mean? I don’t really get what that tells us.”

Masazumi prepared to answer his question, but someone else beat her to it.

It was Tachibana Muneshige. He stepped forward while speaking.

“Hierarchy can be established through affiliation.”


Masazumi watched the Tachibana Husband nod.

He looked to the west before continuing.

“When we were with Tres España, we had a hierarchical relationship with K.P.A. Italia.”

He glanced over at Gin who nodded and continued for him.

“Mouri Terumoto participated in the Siege of Odawara as the Mouri clan, but based on the current events, she must have no intention of denying she is also a representative of Hexagone Française. After all, even if the marked ships are M.H.R.R. ships, their owner likely has a Far Eastern inherited name. However, the ships have erased that Far Eastern name to place themselves beneath Mouri in the hierarchy for their own safety.”

“Do you know what those ships hope to accomplish?”

“If they are here for diplomacy, there are two possibilities.”

That response came from the Date Vice Chancellor. With Urquiaga to her side, she organized some sign frame documents for Date and kept he eyes on the screen instead of looking up.

“First, they have Far Eastern business that must be kept secret.

“Or second, they have European business that must be kept secret. I cannot imagine it is anything else.”

“Narumi, if you try to make the obvious sound impressive, you will end up like Neshinbara.”

“Then I should probably explain further. But…” The Date Vice Chancellor looked up. “Date is an eastern nation while Tres España is a western nation. A local could probably explain better. Mito Lord, I would appreciate it if you explained as best as you could.”


Mitotsudaira had been named, so she looked to her king before answering.

She saw him sticking his god mosaic into Neshinbara’s sign frame, so she decided not to look at him. Instead, she stepped forward to block him from view.

“Now, then.”

“Nate! Nate!” shouted her king. “Did you just ignore me!?”

“Oh, what’s this?” asked Horizon. “Is the little boy upset his plea for attention failed?”

“Do you want a knight to address things that will dishonor her king!?” protested Mitotsudaira.

“Hold on, Nate!”

Her king grabbed her shoulders. The strength of his grip caused her pulse to quicken, but when she looked back, she saw him sticking his god mosaic into two of Neshinbara’s sign frames, so she decided not to look at him.

“Nate! Hey! Over here! Look over here!”

“Ho ho? I am currently raising my fist, Toori-sama, so how about you look over here?”

“Nooooo! I don’t want to see anything painful!”

Mitotsudaira ignored them and started speaking.

“Hexagone Française should be preparing to begin the Thirty Years’ War in earnest.”

Which meant…

“They have yet to truly start the Thirty Years’ War.”


“What does that meant?” asked Urquiaga.

Mitotsudaira answered with a nod.

“Hexagone Française has not participated in the Thirty Years’ War as a nation. But now that they have indicated they will soon start, they can wield their strength as a powerful nation and it seems someone has come forward in the hopes of relying on that strength.”

Some of them understood what she meant and some did not.

Someone who was likely in the latter group spoke from behind her.

“That just means one of that sun nudist’s friends wants our help with something, right? And with something only we can help with.”

That was true.

If Hexagone Française could handle whatever the problem was, that conqueror’s nation would have done so.

They would not have gone to the trouble of bringing transport ships with the academy emblem hidden.

Mother must know something about this.

Mitotsudaira had a feeling this was going to be a lot of trouble, but she still spoke to her king.

“My king? We can’t be too accommodating. Even if this is related to Europe, the Kantou Liberation comes first.”

“Oh, right. We’ve gotta help Flatty get revenge.”

Everyone turned toward Yoshiyasu and she spread her mouth horizontally.

“I hate that I can’t insist I can handle this on my own.”

“We are allies, so feel free to rely on us. And we’ll feel free to help you,” said Masazumi. “That’s how nations get along.”

The king turned toward her when he heard that.

“Seijun, getting along between nations like that sure is a pain, isn’t it?”

“That’s what I’m here for. Because it would be far too dangerous to let you do it. And since there are rules – albeit unwritten ones – we can trust in that more than a verbal agreement with your neighbors.”

Mar-Ga: “That’s true. Because we can go to war if they don’t keep their promise. You don’t often get a chance to do that against your neighbors.”

Almost Everyone: “Oh, yeah. That is how she does things, isn’t it?”

Vice President: “That isn’t what I was trying to say!!”

Regardless, things were already headed for the next stage.

The wind washing over the transport ship had changed. The ship was descending toward Okutama’s surface city.

The distant diplomatic ships were eventually hidden behind the Musashi itself.

Bell: “The bath is…ready!”

“Good.” Masazumi had Tsukinowa open a sign frame. “The preliminary negotiation begins in 45 minutes, so we have 30 minutes to rest and freshen up. Let’s go over what information we have while we do so.”

“Um, then I’ll manage everyone’s sign frames and whatnot.”

Asama raised her hand while holding together the shirt which smelled of their king.

And when the wind of their descent grew especially strong, a thought occurred to Mitotsudaira.

Horizon 7A 050-051.png

This is the next stage.

A lot had changed at the Siege of Odawara, but those changes were not stopping.

Next up was the Kantou Liberation. And…

“Now, then.”

What was approaching them and their future?


Does it mean they have something they must do?




Horizon7-A052.jpg

Study:

State of the Nations

Toori: Sis! Sis! We finished a lot already, but now we’re moving on to the Kantou Liberation, right!? But what are the different nations like right now?

Kimi: Heh heh heh. What brother, this is probably going to change before long, but these are the problems the different nations are carrying around.


Musashi: Since we are close with Satomi, we should gain a lot if the Kantou Liberation succeeds. However, we have not moved from Kantou for a bit, so our connections with Europe are weak even though we need to go to Westphalia in the end. It is also looking more likely that summer break will begin before we can force the history recreations of Nobunaga and Hashiba.

Mouri: They need support when settling the outside world, so they want to use the Kantou Liberation to earn some favors with the Kantou nations. Hexagone Française has said they will be beginning the Thirty Years’ War in earnest, but that also means they have yet to actually start on that.

Hashiba (P.A. Oda): Since most of the eastern Far East will side with Musashi if the Kantou Liberation is carried out, they want to stop it no matter what. However, they must hurry back from Hexagone Française if they are to intervene in the Kantou Liberation. But with summer break coming up, they plan to complete a lot of internal history recreations during the break.

Houjou: By continuing their fall, they can avoid Testament Union interference and join Musashi.

Date: The 1st Apology for Masamune arriving late for the Siege of Odawara has yet to be officially completed. That and the later 2nd Apology require cautious observations of Hashiba’s actions.

Uesugi: As they are currently allied with Hashiba, they cannot carelessly work with Musashi. However, they would like to do so in order to reduce their losses in the later Punishment of Aizu against Matsudaira.

Satomi: “I sure hope we can do the Kantou Liberation.”

Mogami: “Yoshiaki-sama is a free spirit, mon!”


Kimi: Well, some are more free than others, but that about sums it up. They all have their own problems and they’re trying to see how they can take control.

Toori: What a pain. I sure am glad we have Seijun for this stuff.


Chapter 1: Newcomer on an Accumulating Slope[edit]

Horizon7-A053.jpg

Should I apologize for

Or feel sad that

I was late?

Point Allocation (Look Ahead)


The trees were moving below the night sky.

A vast forest stood with a field to the east and mountains to the west.

That spacious area was shaking near the mountains where the lights of a forestry village could be seen to the east. A few long shapes cast shadows in the starlight there.

They were aerial ships bearing Hashiba’s emblem.

Eight ships was not many, but the emblems on them were new. And something else existed in the depths of the shaking forest below those new ships.

A giant metal wreck sat on a large scorched slope.

The ships’ floodlight spells shined on three distinct objects, each a few hundred meters long.

People were examining those objects. The students wore M.H.R.R. summer uniforms with stoles to keep off the night dew.

One of them sighed below the lights while standing atop the central wreck.

“The Shirasagi Castle really took a beating.”

Nine Horns: “That just proves Takigawa did not hold back, Ikeda.”

“Testament,” replied the student while casting a short shadow on the wrecked frame.

He was a tall boy with long hair. He opened a lernen figur by his hand and began recording his surroundings.

The lernen figur gave the name Ikeda Terumasa. He looked down at the wrecked frame he stood on.

“Takigawa has retired, hasn’t she?”

Nine Horns: “You will inherit the Shirasagi Castle after her.”

IT: “Can I say I would prefer I had inherited my name a little earlier?”

Nine Horns: “Did you ever meet Takigawa?”

IT: “I only ever saw her at a distance or exchanged a nod with her at a meeting.”

Nine Horns: “Testament. Then that is enough.”

IT: “Why do you say that, Kuki?”

It took Kuki a few seconds to respond on the divine transmission.

But the demon’s words did finally reach Ikeda as if carried by the night breeze.

Nine Horns: “Takigawa cared a lot about people.”

IT: “That just makes me more jealous of all you upperclassmen.”

Nine Horns: “Underclassmen should not actively try to rely on the kindness of their upperclassmen.”

Kuki’s comment came with a hint of a bitter smile.

“Anyway,” he continued.

Nine Horns: “We have had a number of issues to deal with since you inherited your name, so this was just how it worked out. And all name inheritors are plagued by lots of petty recreations soon after inheriting their name. Did you have to do anything interesting?”

“Hmm, I don’t really know,” said Ikeda before remembering he was speaking to an upperclassman.

He briefly panicked before realizing his lernen figur was not picking up his voice.

“Phew. I really should actually try to answer an upperclassman’s question.”

IT: “Um, do you mind if it’s kind of silly?”

Nine Horns: “Not if I can go punch you if it irritates me too much.”

IT: “Oh, well, there was this one annoying thing I had to do. You see, I was late showing up this time because I burned my hand.”

Nine Horns: “Was that burn in the Testament?”

“Just look,” he said while holding up his currently unharmed hand.

IT: “Tsuneoki is my history recreation dad, you see. And my Testament descriptions include something Tsuneoki did to test Terumasa.”

Namely…

IT: “It was this ridiculous trick where you place a cooked chestnut in your hand.”

Nine Horns: “Did he test you like that?”

IT: “Yes, but completely out of the blue. I was walking home after club activities and that idiot runs up, says ‘catch!’, and threw it at me. I caught it, but it was really damn hot.”

The memory of the event led Ikeda to shake his hand, but the surrounding lernen figurs copied the action.

“Oh, whoops,” he said while stopping his hand.

IT: “Now, in the Testament, I apparently peeled and ate the chestnut without saying a word.”

Nine Horns: “Not reacting is certainly different.”

IT: “That’s not the point, though. See, I thought I might lose my inherited name if I said anything at all, so I held in my voice. But the reaction found another way of getting out. So there I am making the craziest faces that you can only describe as ‘hahiiiiii!’ or ‘hohiiiiiiii!’ and that idiot films the whole thing with the biggest grin you ever saw. I only got through it by swearing to myself I’d kick his ass afterwards.”

Nine Horns: “Did you?”

IT: “He ran away, so I chased after him and gave him quite the ass kicking. But I messed up my fist in the process and it took three weeks to fully heal. Yes, that’s why I was late coming here.”

Nine Horns: “Sounds like you were both to blame. But…”

Kuki’s voice came from Ikeda’s lernen figur.

Nine Horns: “Ikeda, you are part of the rear guard this time. You know why, I trust?”


“Testament,” confirmed Ikeda.

That’s really all I could do. Or rather, I hadn’t really thought about it that much.

“I mostly get it. In the Testament, I didn’t actually cross over to the continent during the Bunroku or Keichou Campaigns. I was left behind to guard the eastern nations at the time.”

At this time, Ikeda Terumasa was said to have taken part in the Siege of Odawara under Hashiba’s command.

But unfortunately…

“The Testament says I was the last one to restore the Shirasagi Castle in this era, so I hurried here instead.”

The Siege of Odawara had essentially passed him by since it was led by Musashi and Mouri and fought using duels.

He wished he could have gotten here sooner, but it was what it was.

He had not come here so he could be involved in the Siege of Odawara or the Kantou Liberation.

He was not prepared to do that and his support came in a different form.

Nine Horns: “What are your plans now?”

IT: “Testament. I will retrieve the Shirasagi Castle to restore it and then send as much support materiel as I can manage. Also…”

Also…

IT: “Some idiots will be arriving a bit later to support me, so I guess I’ll be assisting with that?”

Nine Horns: “Yes, some of the Seven Generals, right?”

It was kind of embarrassing that Kuki knew about that.

In the Warring States period, it was common for a numbered group of elites to gain a special title, like the Four Heavenly Kings or the Sixteen Divine Generals.

There were also the Five Great Peaks, the Eight Great Dragon Kings, the Seven Spears on which the Ten Spears were based, and the Ten Braves. The other nations also had things like the Three Great Knights or the Nine Heroes.

He too was part of such a group.

We’ll apparently be known as the Seven Generals later on.

They were seven protégés of Hashiba. While the Seven Spears were the center of attention while Hashiba gained independence, the Seven Generals were the center of attention when the Hashiba forces really started to fill out. They were as follows:

  • Fukushima Masanori
  • Katou Kiyomasa
  • Nagaoka Tadaoki
  • Ikeda Terumasa
  • Asano Yoshinaga
  • Katou Yoshiaki
  • Kuroda Nagamasa

I just noticed all of their family and given names are two kanji long. Is this a major discovery? No, I guess not.

Fukushima and the two Katous were also part of the Ten Spears. And Kuroda Nagamasa would be taken over by Takenaka who already inherited the name of Nagamasa’s father, Kuroda Kanbei.

That left three: Nagaoka, Ikeda, and Asano. He was one of those.

But in this case, the focus was on his later work building castles.

IT: “Edo Castle and Nagoya Castle will be my jobs. I considered building Edo Castle early so I could use it to resist the Kantou Liberation, but there just wasn’t time.”

Nine Horns: “History moves quickly. And since you are still a first year, you had never experienced the rush of history recreations just before summer break.”

IT: “I had watched it from the outside before, but it really is a mess when you’re on the inside.”

He had recently come to realize how infrequently reality did what you wanted it to do.

IT: “So Asano will be coming here with Nabeshima…do you know who they are? Anyway, it sounds like they can make it on time, so I need to have some materials ready for them.”

Nine Horns: “Aren’t they friends of Kani who is headed here with Yoshiaki? I am still not old enough to call them ‘young’, but we are gaining plenty of new blood.”

IT: “It’s kind of hard for us to tell. We have our hands full just following after all you upperclass- aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Nine Horns: “What’s wrong?”

“Oh, nothing,” said Ikeda as he stared at his lernen figur.

The students below were looking up to see what the deal was and they were mostly older than him.

He wanted to be appropriately polite, but there was no reason to be too modest either. So he called down to them.

“I’ve found the Shirasagi Castle’s control core!”

Excitement filled the students.

“For real!?”

“Is it the automaton type!?”

“I hope she’s a cool-headed one! Y’know, the kind that ignores everything you say!”

“No.” Ikeda shook his head and pointed down where they were 30 meters below him. “Oh, there she went.”

“ ‘Went’?”

“Testament.”

Just as he said that, the wrecked frame shattered and a bluish-white woman burst out. The female ghost with disheveled hair and tattered clothing raised her broken arms.

“Was it yooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuu!?”

They all screamed and ran away. Ikeda looked down at the commotion while the floodlight spells swung about.

“Yeah, that’s her. According to the Testament, the Shirasagi Castle had a live-in god that called herself Shogyobu Daimyojin who might have been really powerful or maybe not. She caused a lot of curses and stuff, so I called in a priest to have her pacified. A note in the Testament says she later becomes known as Osakabe-hime, she curses me to death, and she helps out…Miyamoto Musashi, I think it was?”

“Wait, she kills you!? How do you just gloss over that!?”

“Was it yooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuu!?”

They all screamed and ran away again. And while he watched, Ikeda opened a spell lernen figur.

Nine Horns: “Ikeda, it sounds like you’ve run across some excitement. If necessary, I could fire a shell down there for you.”

IT: “No, destroying that would make fixing the Shirasagi Castle a lot harder. I’m going to try something while she’s down there playing with the others.”

Ikeda readied both hands.

IT: “Konishi, you’re there, right? I might be borrowing some money, so please link to my dowry. That should be enough for now.”

He lowered his hands and placed his fingers on the lernen figur there.

“Oh.”

And he released his voice.


“Kuki, what is with that howling?”

Kuki heard a colleague’s question with the night sky above and the night sea below.

It was Suzuki Magoichi.

She wore a cloak to block the night wind, but she kept her right shoulder exposed to carry the three rifles on her back.

She must have come out because the voice had confused and worried her.

Kuki initially looked across the aerial ship deck on which he stood.

And he explained the voice audible from the northwest.

“That is Ikeda’s voice. Of course, only a small number will be able to hear it.”

“Ikeda? You mean Ikeda Terumasa?”

“You know him?”

“Yes, I do.” Magoichi walked to the front of the deck with her gaze directed up into the sky. “Before I joined P.A. Oda, I took care of a certain history recreation to show off my strength. Do you know what that was, Kuki?”

“The Battle of Fushimi Castle, correct? In it, you slayed Torii Mototada, one of Matsudaira’s main fighters. That was significant to those of us in Hashiba because it reduced the Matsudaira forces.”

“According to the Testament, Fushimi Castle was built by Ikeda.”

For that reason, Ikeda had greeted her back at the end of rainy season when he had just inherited his name.

“He said he was disappointed he had missed his chance to do that job.”

“Fushimi Castle does later become Hashiba’s residence. And the Testament also says it is where Hashiba breathes her last breath.”

“Well, Fushimi Castle is destroyed in an earthquake and rebuilt, so he said he hopes to have a second chance then. But…”

Magoichi opened two insha kotobs in front of her.

They were telescope spells and the double layer provided a high level of magnification.

Kuki smiled bitterly behind her.

“Why do gunners love using such overly complicated techniques?”

“Everything we use is complicated, so I like to get used to it through everyday life,” explained Magoichi. “Oh, and I’ve come this far because I’ve had a permanent position on your ship since the Second Battle of Kizugawa, but that’s really just a bad interpretation of the fact that it isn’t really known what my name was doing at this time period, so don’t send me to the front line or anything.”

“Shaja. There is a theory that ‘Magoichi’ is a composite of a few different people, so it really should be fine either way.”

“I really wish I could have taken Inadome as a second inherited name.”

“Yes, he was known for his theoretical and practice firearms techniques. Oh, but I heard the name was inherited recently, so it’s too late now.”

“I had a feeling,” sighed Magoichi.

She used her telescope spells to view a certain scene.

“What is that?”

Bluish-white light was rising from a point in the mountains to the northwest.

That was the same point that Ikeda’s voice came from.


Kuki watched on the insha kotob he had open.

Light was rising from the distant western mountains.

It was ether light. It was colored bluish-white, but with some yellow of overheating.

The ether light came from the ships floating above the mountains. Several hatches were opened on the bottom of the ships and narrow streams of ether fuel were descending to the surface from there.

The ether fuel passed through several torii-style lernen figurs on its way down. Those controlled its fall, but also applied several spells.

Ultimately, the fuel spiraled around and…

IT: “Lower the materials.”

Panels that reflected the starlight and ether light were dropped from the ships one after another.

They were armor panels and bundles of reinforcing bars for construction.

The light-enveloped panels whipped up the wind as they dropped down like bamboo blinds being lowered.

“Oh?”

Magoichi’s voice almost sounded like a sigh as a change occurred in the falling supplies.

A few panels were torn away and some of the rebar twisted and broke, but it all continued along the spiraling path down.

Once it was complete, the ether light and materials were spread out like rows of standing stones.

It was all focused around the bow of the central ship of the Shirasagi Castle’s wreckage.

The primary sound was of blowing wind. The occasional sound reminiscent of glass clinking together sounded refreshing to an aquatic demon like Kuki.

The light soared and the materials danced in the distant sky. But while Kuki watched, a sudden voice reached his ears. It came from a girl who had climbed up onto the deck.

“Oh? I just received a divine transmission begging for some money, but he’s already started?”

“Konishi.”

Kuki looked back to see a long-haired girl. Her hair was bleached to a light brown and she wore a white merchant’s outfit.

“Testament,” replied the girl named Konishi Yukinaga. “I thought I should let you know I’d arrived.”


Konishi opened her narrow eyes and looked to the light in the western sky.

What she saw there only looked like merchandise to her.

Ohh.

So she immediately opened a filming spell and began recording the scene on her lernen figur.

For the first two seconds, the settings were automatically adjusted before settling on the best setup. She missed recording to the juicy beginning, but…

“Can I sell this to make some money?”

“We aren’t exactly hiding it, but it’s not really appropriate for one of our own to do it.”

“Is that what you call ethics?”

“It is based in the warrior regulations.”

“Then I’m selling it. I’m a merchant, after all.”

The demon glared at her, but she did not mind. In fact, she took three snapshots of that expression.

“What do you think you are doing, Konishi?”

“I won’t treat you badly. And I’ll make some money off of it.”

Magoichi slowly and nonchalantly tried to move away, but a filming lernen figur had already locked onto her. Konishi was not going to miss a thing.

“So what is…Ikeda, was it? What is he doing over there?”

“Constructing the Shirasagi Castle.”

“Constructing? Isn’t he a little shorthanded for that?”

“He has a healing spell for inorganic objects. It costs a lot of fuel and materials, but it can repair things pretty well in a short period of time. It was originally designed for use on weapons, but his talents have made it general-use. As long as he has the designs, he can apparently even construct something brand new.”

“How long will the Shirasagi Castle take him?”

“I heard he can have it more or less repaired in a month.”

“You morons.” Konishi voiced the feeling in the very depths of her heart. “I have to give you money for construction and shipbuilding when the focus is shifted way over to the efficiency side of things? Are you insane?”

“You do know how busy we are, don’t you?”

“No, I don’t. I’m a merchant. I leave politics to the politicians. Kuki, I know you like all that nonsense, but I hope you know it makes you lag behind a single-skill worker like me.”

“That is one downside of being a leader.”

“If you understand, then I apologize.”

With that, Konishi opened another lernen figur.

It displayed a program that let her allocate the funds she had on hand. Several of the shown amounts were changing, but…

“Looks like there’s no room for me to intervene. Did you tell Ikeda how good at this stuff he is?”

Kuki responded by making a slight adjustment to his divine transmission insha kotob.

Nine Horns: “Ikeda, Konishi says you’re good at what you do.”

IT: “Eh!? Eh!? Konishi did!? Hell yeah…oh, no!”

A point in the sky shined extra bright. Ikeda had apparently made a mistake.

“What a lively kid.”

“First years are still learning in everything they do.”

“Kuki, I heard you were always brimming with confidence in everything you did.”

“That illusion is one advantage of being a demon. What about you, Konishi?”

“I was in Sakai back then. My dad’s on Musashi, but going there was a pain and I came here instead.”

Konishi checked her lernen figur again. The “emergency loan” pool that she shared with others had no changes outside of the existing loans. Which meant…

“Oh, darn. Looks like he’s going to keep this pretty cheap. He’s good, but he’s my enemy.”

“No, I think he just did not need your help for funding the test repairs. Look.”

Konishi looked in the direction Kuki pointed with his chin.

“Oh?” was her reflexive response to what she saw there.

Her telescope spell showed a white shape visible on the ground to the west.

It was the Shirasagi Castle’s bow.

It was not the entire bow, just the very tip that sliced through the atmosphere’s waves and stabilized the ship in the virtual ocean, but it was indeed formed anew on the ground there.

“That is only the exterior,” explained Kuki. “There is nothing inside. You could say he has only repaired the armor. His spell cannot create the details, so engineers need to be sent in to perform a long-term check. But his spell still greatly reduces the construction time and also does that thing you hate so much: saves money.”

“From the look of things, I’m betting he really can repair it in a month.”

“No, I bet he will complete this job even faster than that.”

“Why?”

“You don’t know?” asked Kuki. “When you were working to open your first shop, did you not hurry to complete it? Ikeda is a first year who only just received his inherited name. And he will have connections to a lot of the other first-year name inheritors. Having an aerial ship will mean a lot to him, so I am certain he will reduce the construction time even further. Then he can pick up where Takigawa left off.”

“In that case,” replied Konishi while closing her lernen figur to stop viewing the monetary changes. “The new blood is going to outdo the rest of us. You get that, don’t you?”


“I’m exhaaaaaaaaaaaausted!”

Ikeda sprawled out on top of the frame wreckage.

Above him, he saw the opened bottoms of the ships that had helped with the construction test. They were all closing their bottoms and recording the results of the test.

When he raised his head, he saw the white ship’s hull visible beyond the frame wreckage he lay on top of.

He had constructed the front of the Shirasagi Castle’s center ship.

It was about 50 meters long, which was miniscule compared to the full ship’s length of a more than kilometer.

And it being a test is no excuse.

That was the source of his exhaustion. The spell did not use his stamina as a substitution, but he had to use his voice to control it.

Ether reacted to spoken prayers, incantations, and emblems, so the existing construction spells used incantations and emblems for the construction while also summoning and using spirits.

But his was different.

Controlling the ether flow was a pain, so he had engineers create molds he could send the ether inside. Then he pictured that shape in his mind while using his voice to send the ether in.

The preexisting mold stabilized the ether and minimized failure. And since the engineers created the molds instead of relying on the one spell user, larger scale projects were possible.

He was aware he was a second-rate, if not third-rate, spell user. After all, he had started preparing molds in advance because he had trouble controlling the construction spell

What mattered was controlling his voice and the timing and direction of the ether his voice sent in.

Only he could produce his voice, so if he simply sent the ether into the mold, it would all come from the one direction.

So he opened the mold in a spiral and begin injecting the ether from multiple directions at once. However…

“I’m not used to so much mental work and controlling the tone of my voice is not easy.”

I tried training with karaoke, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

At this rate, how long would it take him to finish the Shirasagi Castle?

That hint of disappointment and worry drained his body of energy. But just then…

Mory: “Good evening! It’s your ever-cheerful friend, Mori!”


IT: “Oh, Mr. Mori?”

Mory: Um, Ikeda! How are you doing? I heard you were running a test!”

Ikeda received a divine transmission from one of life’s oddities: a tentacle schoolmate.

Ikeda had never actually met Mori Nagayoshi. P.A. Oda was a big place and divided between multiple school locations. And his group was more aligned with M.H.R.R. than anything, while Mori belonged to the Hokuriku school location. But the tentacle was quite well known, so he still felt like an acquaintance.

Even if he barely knows me.

Ikeda decided to keep that in mind as he spoke with Mori.

They discussed the work he had just completed.

Mory: “How are things in my territory!? In those green mountains, the people are so polite and the morning air is so healthy that I can forget all about my days on the Dark Continent and enjoy a peaceful life!”

IT: “Yes, testament, testament. The breakfast served at the visitor’s quarters was quite good. Rice with yams, mountain vegetables, a thick omelet, and some miso soup. Do you always eat that well, Mr. Mori?”

Mory: “Lately I’ve been eating a lot of junk during karaoke and my superiors have sent down a lot of fatty foods. Even though I don’t really like that greasy stuff.”

Ikeda learned that even tentacles had to look after their health.

IT: “Do you look after your health to keep your weight down?”

Mory: “Testament! I can’t be too heavy when it matters most! …Wait, Lady Fuwa, don’t say losing weight makes tentacles more sensitive!”

Mori was apparently with the other top members of the Shibata forces.

I’m talking with some incredible people here, aren’t I?

Mory: “So did I have enough supplies stored up for you?”

IT: “Testament. It was enough for the test. From here on, I think I’ll have to prepare a different ether and supply source. I have some other Keichou Campaign activities, so I’ll ask the upperclassmen if I can use the resources for those.”

Mory: “So you’re saying it was a success!? Congratulations!”

This tentacle is a pretty nice guy, thought Ikeda.

IT: “I did complete what I had planned to complete, so I guess that counts as a success. Although Lake Biwa says they want some data on my method so they can inspect it.”

Mory: “Why? Is the Lake Biwa shipyard thinking of switching over to your method?”

IT: “No, I haven’t heard anything about that. It just seems like the higher ups want to take this method of mine into consideration. How should I put it? Um…”

He remembered what it was they had told him.

IT: “They said they might be able to ‘reproduce and verify’ my method.”

Mory: “I see… Well, good luck with the Shirasagi Castle. I never did get to have a proper conversation with Lady Takigawa, but she did take good care of my territory.”

“Testament,” said Ikeda while learning just how skilled his predecessor had been.

He had heard Takigawa’s group planned to see her off to her birthplace and then go their own ways.

She had wanted solitude as she left, so they would watch from afar out of respect for her wishes.

It’s incredible.

He was not sure what was incredible, but he still felt that way.

IT: “For now, I’m going to construct the Shirasagi Castle as quickly as I can and move on to my next job.”

Mory: “Your next job? Do you mind if I ask what that is?”

IT: “Investigating Nagoya Castle. The Testament has me building that too and, y’know, it’s been reduced to a bay with some ley line abnormalities, so I was asked to go check it out.”

So…

IT: “I need a ship that can get through any negative effects of the ley lines.”

Mory: “I see. Then please use my territory as much as you need. The people there are so kind. Yes, the children are so pure that, when they see me forest bathing, they shout ‘it’s the mid boss!’ and go call the warriors. It really hurts my feelings! I mean, I manage the entire area, so I should be the final boss!”

Being a tentacle must be rough, thought Ikeda.

At any rate, he had confirmed his current position.

Based on his conversations with Kuki and Konishi, he would not be participating in the Keichou Campaign, so he would only be borrowing some troops and supplies to set up a defensive line in eastern Kantou while repairing the Shirasagi Castle.

IT: “Mr. Mori, what are your plans? Are you coming here?”

Mory: “No, no one in the Shibata forces participate in the Keichou Campaign. And I think Lady Hashiba’s group is going to do their very best once they reach Kantou. The rest of the Seven Generals are headed there too, right?”

That made Ikeda tremble.

“————”

He got up and looked into the western sky for no real reason.

He could only see the silhouettes of the mountains there.

But he knew what was beyond those mountains: the Hashiba forces and their fleet centered on the Azuchi.

They were preparing to travel quickly to Kantou in what was known as the Great Return.

If they arrived in time, they would participate in the Keichou Campaign.

Of the Seven Generals, Fukushima Masanori, Katou Kiyomasa, Katou Yoshiaki, and Kuroda Nagamasa would be among them. The other two, Asano Yoshinaga and Nagaoka Tadaoki were headed here as well.

“That means I’m the only one who isn’t ‘here’.”

He had no real choice in the matter, but he still regretted it.

Of course, he was not big on fighting. He had improved his construction spell to the point of inheriting a name as a justification for sitting out of the fighting.

Mory: “We too have been ordered to take some action. Master Ikeda, please work hard at your job.”

“Also,” said Mori.

IT: “Hm? What is it?”

Mory: “I’d love to ride the Shirasagi Castle once it’s done, so remember to invite me over! Even if it might be a bit tricky since the Testament never says I went there! But they say you’re taking one of P.A. Oda’s fastest ships and making it even faster. I’m so jealous!”

I feel like you’re exaggerating, thought Ikeda, but it still put a smile on his face.

IT: “If the route matches up, I’ll give you a ride on the way to or from Nagoya.”

With that, he stood up.

The Keichou Campaign was beginning in another four hours, but he was facing a job that would take a month.

“How’s this going to turn out?”

He turned his gaze to the southwest. There was a large silhouette there.

The Musashi was on the ocean side of the mountains stretching southward.

That ship was even larger than the Azuchi. It was already fortifying itself with combat equipment and it was currently slowly turning to the east.

“It’s incredible.”

Ikeda took a breath while arranging to have this footage of the Musashi sent to Kuki’s group.

At times like this, everyone had to do what they could.

“I guess you could say I’ve already been assigned my summer homework.”

Now.

“I bet they’re busy inside the Musashi too.”


“Hi! Did we keep you waiting!?”

Naruze’s voice rang through the Suzu’s Bath bathhouse on Okutama.

She and her partner Naito dove through the center ceiling of an underground long block. That would normally be the main plaza, but it was currently being used as an elevator shaft to manage all the supplies being moved around.

The two Technohexen dove down that pit along with the others who were in too much of a hurry to wait for the elevator. They had two baskets hanging from their brooms. Those contained…

“We’ve brought your change of clothes!”

“Thanks!”

The idiot and Horizon raised a hand in greeting in front of the bathhouse.

Behind Naruze, Naito grabbed a feather that flew off from Naruze’s wings.

“Ga-chan, here.”

The elevator used a divine protection sensor to detect life forms and avoid crushing them. Freshly molted feathers could trigger a false positive, so it was best to be careful.

So Naruze took the feather from her partner.

“Thanks. I was careless.”

“Don’t worry about it. And I can tell it’s lost a lot of its oils. You’re tired, aren’t you?”

Naruze smiled at Naito.


“Will you help groom my wings in the bathhouse?”

“Of course, of course.”

The two of them landed in front of their waiting classmates.

“We’ve arrived!”

“Oh…yes. Come in, come…in!”

Suzu could be seen leaning out from the entrance of the girl’s bath with a yukata draped over her bathhouse swimsuit.

Every guy in the long block immediately turned in that direction. And…

“You idiots! The sensor’s caught more than a dozen of you for sticking your heads out from the elevator! You’re in the way!!”

The spirit in charge of the elevator sounded the alarm to indicate an emergency stop, so Toori, Horizon, and the rest rushed into the bathhouse.

They had to hold a meeting before resting for the Kantou Liberation.

They would be examining and sharing their information. And they had chosen the bathhouse as a location because it let them freshen up while they were at it.

The time limit was 20 minutes. While Naruze thought about that, she rested her broom over her shoulder with a basket of clothes hanging from either end.

“I’m not a bird, but we’re gonna have to make this as quick as a bird in a birdbath.”


Chapter 2: Girl Who Gathers Happiness[edit]

Horizon7-A081.jpg

Finding a place for yourself

Is done by confirming your relationships

Point Allocation (Somewhere to Settle Down)


Asama thought while standing in front of a bathhouse locker.

Adele and Yoshiyasu had already removed their clothes and Yoshiyasu loudly slapped a towel over her shoulder and entered the bath area, which seemed oddly dashing or even yakuza-like.

At any rate, Asama’s problem was not her tattered shrine maiden outfit.

What am I supposed to do with Toori-kun’s shirt?

Washing it and returning it would be the normal option, but since he had been caught in the collapse as well, the hem of the shirt was shredded and it had holes torn in it.

Also, it was for his crossdressing, so it was a women’s shirt.

It was too badly damaged to wash and returning it would feel like fully approving of his crossdressing jokes.

Although come to think of it, he does have a full shrine maiden crossdressing set in my room!

She did not feel particularly proud of that.

But in all seriousness, what was she supposed to do with the shirt? She had removed it, but she did not know what to do next.

Throwing it out was an option, but she felt like she needed his approval for that. Plus, it was a memento of what had happened just a few hours ago.

But keeping it also felt like something she would need his approval for. There was no way her personality would let her keep it around without permission.

But even if I do keep it around, I would have to wash it. It has blood on it and all the dirt is unsanitary. You can’t keep around clothing that’s this filth-…actually, Mito might do it in order to preserve the scent. Yes, and her mother almost certainly would.


“Honey? We had a busy day, but we’re going to have an even busier night, so how about we start by changing clothes? Yes, your clothes are over here. Yes, it’s a full set including a handkerchief. …Oh? Don’t be silly. I will be taking your clothes with me to the battlefield. And if that isn’t enough, I can run back in a jiff to get a whiff to help tide me over, so make sure you’re ready for that. Oh, you don’t need to prepare a place for us. I know that you enjoy the more impromptu locations better. And it gets me more excited too. …Yes, so please get changed. Right here. Yes. Don’t worry, no one will notice, so there’s nothing at all to worry about.”


Yes, Mito’s mother would definitely go with the smell.

How do you say “smell” in French? wondered Asama before realizing something.

My pain-in-butt-ness is reaching a whole new level, isn’t it!? It must be!

All of her thoughts had been about making excuses for herself or rationalizing her thoughts.

I really have changed, she belatedly realized.

After all, she had used to make excuses for why she should suppress her real feelings, but now she was making excuses for why she should let those real feelings out.

In other words, her lid had evolved. It was now an Advanced Lid.

No, looking at the expression again, it was no longer a lid meant to hide something. It was more like a tray meant to present something. And if she was to follow that metaphor even further…

I’m presenting myself to him on a tray!

Wait, what am I even thinking!? she corrected herself 3 seconds later, but then she realized something else.

N-none of this solves my problem!

“Ugh.”

She could not believe herself.

The old lid had been bad, but this new lid almost seemed worse about sending her thoughts spiraling endlessly without accomplishing anything.

I really can’t believe this, she thought while hanging her head.

This lid did not leave her in a bad mood like the previous one had, but that provided less of an incentive to stop her thoughts from bouncing back and forth and she felt like she ended up trapped like this for even longer.

Time was the real problem. It scared her how much time could pass while she worked her brain meaninglessly.

Especially at times like this when I have to work with the others.

This is a group effort. I need to stay on the same page as the others so we can work toward a solution. So I need to stop these meaningless thoughts, look to the others, and make a real effort here!

“That’s right!”

With the crossdressing shirt in hand, Asama turned around to face the others.

They were about 5 meters away and they had already removed their clothes.

“Eh?”

She was the only one still dressed.

And Mitotsudaira took a step forward from the group.

“Tomo? You’ve been lost in thought and groaning over there, so are you all right?”

“Eh? Oh, um, well, sorry.”

“Heh heh. I know what this is! You’re thinking about all sorts of things cause you and my foolish brother smooched in the depths of Yomi! You’ll be saying stuff like ‘O-oh, no. How can I ever sleep tonight? I’m just way too hot and bothered. Heh heh heh.’ and then make something go boom with an arrow in the middle of the night!”

“I will do nothing of the sort!”

“Well, that aside,” said Horizon. “This means Asama-sama has taken the lead over Mitotsudaira-sama.”

“Wh-what is that supposed to mean!?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Nothing really. And do not worry. I have the #1 spot.”

Just as Asama assumed that was Horizon’s brand of jealousy, Horizon sighed and continued.

“And it means that idiot is still alive because Asama-sama was there for him.”


Mitotsudaira agreed with what Horizon said.

That is very true.

“Judge,” continued Horizon. “We should all celebrate this. So I will treat everyone to some coffee milk later.”

It was impressive that Naito could cheer and high-five Naruze over that.

But Mitotsudaira understood what Horizon was saying.

I’m glad Tomo was there.

Asama had understood the Yomi spell and she had been thinking about their king.

In other words, she had saved their king after he fell into Yomi.

Meanwhile, Horizon had done nothing this time. If anything, Mitotsudaira had saved Horizon.

But Horizon had given Asama a place for her relationship and that had saved their king.

Asama had done something Horizon could not. And…

“That does not make her a replacement for Horizon.”

“Judge. If she had done something I could have done, then you could call her a replacement, but that is not what happened. She did something I could not, so Asama-sama earns 1 point.”

The Horizon Rules seemed to be in play here, but Mitotsudaira chose not to ask about it. Doing so would be far too dangerous.

But once she thought about it, it all kind of made sense.

We approach “completion” as we tie all our relationships together, don’t we?

That kind of reminded Mitotsudaira of the concept of a nation.

A nation was not just its king or prime minister, nor was it run only by them. It was only a complete whole when the roles were split up between different organizations and individuals.

So Mitotsudaira decided to ask the question that came to mind.

“Um, Horizon?”

“Judge, what is it?”

“Judge.” Mitotsudaira nodded and spoke her mind. “You said everyone is welcome to join you, but the relationship you were referring to is centered on all of us, and not just you and my king, isn’t it?”


Mitotsudaira only asked to confirm what she already knew.

“Judge.”

And she heard Horizon’s immediate response.

“Relationships are a mutual thing. I do think your relationship includes a master/servant aspect, but when looking at it from your relationship with all of us or from the king’s viewpoint, you are the first to consider your king when it comes to the things that are impossible for him. There are also problems that Asama-sama and I solve, but I think this is getting a little long already.”

Naruze raised her hand.

“Can you simplify that so I can use it?”

“You’re going to draw us, aren’t you!?” accused Mitotsudaira. “You are, aren’t you!?”

“Who would be dumb enough to miss out on this fantastic material?”

For some reason, Mitotsudaira felt like she had lost this round.

But Narumi spoke up after sealing up her parts to waterproof them and draping a towel over her shoulder.

“Just as a knight will help her king, it is only natural for a king to help his knight. And for the things that are too much or too trivial for the king to handle, it seems fair to me if someone else from that web of relationships helps out instead.” She took a breath and smiled bitterly. “Again, it’s only natural. If you don’t help someone and that relationship breaks down, the entire web will fall apart. So you build a community where everyone exists at the same level and can support each other.”

Besides…

“Date will be in a situation like that before long. With the Siege of Odawara complete, they have to deal with Masamune’s late arrival problem.”


Adele was not sure what the Date Vice Chancellor meant, so she tilted her head asked the girl who was gathering up her hair.

“Late arrival problem? What’s that? Was Date late shipping out some local products or something?”

“What are Date’s local specialties?” asked Mitotsudaira.

Naruze was quick to reply.

“Kiritanpo. …Now, Adele, can you tell me what other Date specialty is like that? And by ‘like that’, I mean a long rod that people like to put in their mouth!”

“Wh-why would you ask me!? Ask the Date Vice Chancellor!”

“Calm down,” said Masazumi as she intervened. And she answered the riddle with a troubled smile on her face. “I assume you mean a straw. A straw for their Date latte.”


Mar-Ga: “Okay, I’m done… I just want to go home and crawl into bed… I can’t keep going… A straw? Ha ha, oh, it smells like Margot here. Can I blow on it all? A Date latte?”

Gold Mar: “Ga-chan! Come back to me! Medic! Mediiiiiic!”

Smoking Girl: “Don’t the Weiss Hexen usually play the medic role?”

Vice President: “Dammit! Dammit! Don’t you forget this! I’ll definitely make you laugh with the espresso joke I’m brewing up! So I hope you’re ready!”

Unturning: “Also, this has nothing to do with shipping out local products.”


Mitotsudaira heard Narumi explain while glaring at everyone else.

“During the Siege of Odawara, Date was thinking of working with the other nations to fight back against Hashiba. Because of that, they missed their timing and were late arriving at Odawara, so they will be criticized for that. Masamune has to go make a theatrical apology to Hashiba by wearing burial garb and saying she is there to die. And later, after earning suspicion for a different issue, Masamune has to go apologize to Hashiba in Kyoto while wearing burial garb and carrying a cross.”

“As the Mito Lord, I have read up on most of what happens, but hearing it again, it sounds a lot like something the Secretary would think up.”

“I would rather Date did not take things to his level,” said Narumi. “Anyway, Date has to be careful about that for the time being. If Masamune is called in now, she would function as a hostage. The retainers and everyone else need to help out so she can avoid that.”

“Sounds like a lot of trouble,” said Mitotsudaira. “But the best response to trouble is to help each other out.”

“True. And even though not all of us have inherited names, the different academy committees are always helping each other out.”

That response came from Ookubo who entered the bathhouse with Kanou.

“Oh, I already bathed plenty at Odawara, so I’ll wait here. Think of me as a guard.”

“If you say so,” said Mitotsudaira as Horizon nodded.

“Now, Mitotsudaira-sama, if you ever feel the need for some help from a right arm that can crawl around on its own, that idiot will be no help whatsoever. So in those cases, I can help you.”

Mitotsudaira looked down to see Horizon’s detached right arm looking up at her from the floor.

“I really don’t think that’s ever going to come up.”

The right arm hung its hand and crawled sadly behind Horizon.

When the others saw that…

“Mito-tsan is bullying the arm.”

“The poor thing thought this was its time to shine and she just dashed its hopes to pieces.”

“She maybe could have found a better way to say that.”

“H-how is this my fault!?”

But then a confused voice arrived from the entrance.

“How can you pull off a trick like that?”

Everyone’s focus shifted to Ookubo (the speaker) and then Horizon (the one spoken to). Futayo tilted her head with her towel draped over Tonbo Spare.

“Is that a privilege exclusive to Horizon-sama?”

“Wait just a second.”

Narumi tilted her head and slowly detached her prosthetic arm from her right shoulder.

It simply fell toward the floor.

“Oops.”

She must have thought it would damage the floor because she caught it with her prosthetic leg’s foot and then rolled it along like a soccer ball. And…

“————”

She narrowed her eyes.

“Ah.”

The prosthetic arm’s fingers moved and the wrist shook, but…

“Can you not do it?”

Naito asked that just as it came to an end.

For a few seconds they all grumbled in understanding and Narumi nodded a few times.

“Mine enter sleep mode to preserve their functionality, so it might be different if I shut that off.”

“I see,” said someone else.

It was Gin. She looked at her prosthetic arms.

“Mine are forced into sleep mode if I do not switch them to remote control mode while removing them, so they could not move around autonomously.”

“Does that mean Horizon’s don’t enter sleep mode?”

“They will if their fuel is close to running out,” explained Horizon. “But they are more like a part of my body than prosthetic arms, so they don’t normally go to sleep. In other words…”

In other words…

“They are hardy.”

“Hardy!?”

“Judge. You could say they are very strong and healthy prosthetic arms. …So how about it, Mitotsudaira-sama? Do you feel the need for a helping hand now?”

Mitotsudaira found a way to politely turn down the offer.

But someone laughed and placed a hand on her shoulder.

It was Kimi. And the girl spoke while glancing over at her.

“Looks like you still have a lot to learn about your knight and king relationship.”

“Really?”

“Judge. Of course. I mean, isn’t there one thing my foolish brother can do for you that none us can do in his place?”

“Eh?”

Mitotsudaira was confused at first, but Asama eventually realized what Kimi must have meant.

“Wait, Kimi!”

When Asama blushed and protested, Mitotsudaira figured it out too. But the smile on Kimi’s face only grew.

“Heh heh. I was talking about the snacks and meals he cooks for you. …What were you thinking, Asama?”

“K-Kimi, you are getting really carried away today!”

“What’s wrong with that?” The idiot sister’s smile would not die. And, “Mitotsudaira? If you’re jealous of Asama’s shirt, you just have beg. The wolf did her job too, after all. You might not be rewarded if you sit around waiting for it, but there is a way to beg without speaking a word.”

She was not sure what to say to this. That girl would be so much easier to deal with if she could figure that out.

But I’m so bad at this kind of thing!

Kimi then looked back behind them.

“Of course, being able to carry on like that is one form of happiness. And there are other forms of happiness as well.”

Everyone followed her gaze and found flowers in the bathhouse entrance.

It was Mary.

For a while now, she had been hanging her head with her hands on her cheeks and ether flowers blossoming around her. She suddenly noticed their attention within the light of the fallen flowers.

“Eh? U-um, am I in the way?”

“No, you’re fine, Mary. But you can go take your bath without waiting for the rest of us.”

They could hear Yoshiyasu doing some solo bath karaoke with an auditory spell.

But Mary glanced at them for a moment, and…

“Um, and what are they doing in the men’s bath?”

“Judge. My king and the others should be preparing to share their information.”

“Y-yes, that’s right. But, um, I...” Mary blushed and hung her head. “I shared a bath with master Tenzou back in England, but now I’m thinking maybe that was innapropriate.”

Naruze readied her pen, but Mitotsudaira was impressed that not one of the girls there even considered stopping her.


“Okay, everyone! You ready for some peeping!? Watch me and then copy my every move!”

Tenzou watched the idiot make that bizarre statement and then start climbing up the wall separating the men’s and women’s baths.

The wall was wooden and the idiot was surprisingly nimble as he scrambled up the narrow support columns and the crossbeams.

He made his way to the ceiling where there was a 50cm ventilation gap connecting the two baths at the top of the wall.

Peeping through there would be the standard route.

Tenzou could use his wall-climbing skills to reach that opening in less than a second, but in his opinion, that would not be true peeping. To him, the value of peeping was that sense of hope that a great treasure might await you at the end of a long and arduous journey.

Not that it has anything to do with me now that I have Mary-dono so close by.

But then why is he performing a climbing peep when he has Horizon-dono, Asama-dono, and Mitotsudaira-dono?

“Toori-dono, why do you peep?”

He felt like he had asked this boy that question countless times, but things seemed different now, so he asked again.

“You don’t have to peep anymore, do you?”

Hearing that, the idiot looked down from above.

He gave Tenzou a look of absolute contempt.

“Tenzou, can you say that again?

“I was pointing out that you don’t have to peep anymore, Toori-dono.”

The idiot turned to the side.

“Kahhh, peh!”

“Wh-why are you mime-spitting!?”

“Hey, everyone! Right here we’ve got the boring kind of guy who won his game of sugoroku by pure dumb luck!”

“What is it with you and those weirdly accurate analogies!?”

Tenzou pointed up and shouted at the boy, but then he felt something hard on his shoulder. It was Urquiaga’s finger.

“Tenzou, you disappoint me.”

“U-Uqui-dono, you don’t have to peep either!”

“Only because Narumi would be entirely unfazed if I did. If there is no reaction, you might as well not have peeped. Don’t you understand that peeping is a two-way interaction!?”

The half-dragon argued quite forcefully.

And then he pointed up.

“Look! The idiot is almost at-…no, I should not call him an idiot. Even if that is how I see him. Anyway, look, Tenzou! Toori is almost at the top! That means the idiot…no, I should not call him an idiot. Um.”

“I-I get what you’re trying to say, so that’s good enough.”

At any rate, the idiot had arrived near the ceiling.

And he looked through the vent.

So he can view the girls until they notice him.

“Actually, wait! Mary-dono is over there, so stop that, Toori-dono!”

“Then you join me! C’mon!”

As soon as the idiot said that, two black arms appeared from the other side of the vent.

Eh? thought Tenzou as the left arm wrapped its elbow around one of the vent’s support bars and grabbed the idiot’s neck. The right arm wrapped its elbow around the next support bar and…

“Ah.”

While the idiot dangled down with his neck in the one arm’s grasp, the other began swinging to deliver blow after blow.

Neshinbara spoke up while typing on his keyboard in the bath.

“Ka-thwam, wha-crunch. These sound effects are gold.”

After punching him about 40 times, the left arm tossed the unmoving idiot into the air.

After some short hang time, the nudist belly flopped right into the bath. The splashing sound and the pillar of bathwater were both impressive.

“A-are you okay, Toori-dono!?”

Tenzou saw the two arms high-five each other and hop down on the other side of the wall.

Now that is a formidable foe!

Tenzou was not quite sure why that term came to mind, but then the idiot stood up from the bath.

He pointed toward the women’s bath.

“H-hey! Horizon! What the hel- heck was that about!?”

“Why did you tone down the one word?”

“Huh!? You don’t get it, Tenzou!? It’s called being polite!”

Tenzou had no idea what this lunatic was saying.

Regardless, the crazy person pointed toward the women’s bath again and struck a pose this time.

“Horizon! Normally when girls use the vent, it’s for passing soap or scrubbers back and forth!”

Just then, a bar of soap flew through the vent at super speed, ricocheted off the ceiling, and hit the idiot right in the face.

It hit the nudist diagonally in the jaw, so he wobbled while still in his pose.

“——————”

And he collapsed to his knees in the bath.

Tenzou dodged the splash and moved to the washing area.

“Now, then.” He looked around. “I should go ahead and wash up.”

His eyes searched for a rice-bran bag scrubber in the washing area, but…

There aren’t any?

There were no scrubbers in the tray or basket that usually held them. He wondered why until he saw Urquiaga and Neshinbara holding a basket full of them.

And Neshinbara had a recording sign frame at the ready.

“So what do you do when you don’t have a scrubber on hand? I’d like to know as future reference for my writing. Okay, Crossunite-kun?”


Naito formed a circle with the other girls to listen to Mary.

Mary sat with her back to the edge of the bath and hung her head as if looking down at her chest.

“So, well, when all of you were in England, um, we had yakiniku, right?”

“Judge, judge. That we did.”

“That night, Master Wet Man suggested we take a bath…”

“Wet Man?”

Narumi questioned that, but Naruze stopped her with a sharp “sh”.

Mary did not notice any of it.

“Master Tenzou was considerate enough to not join me in the bath, but then I invited him in with me.”

“I bet the 1st Special Duty Officer was seated outside muttering some gloomy stuff to himself.”

“M-Master Tenzou is not a gloomy kind of person!”

Mary scolded Adele.

But then she gasped.

“Oh, s-sorry. I shouldn’t have taken that so seriously.”

So she was serious about that, thought Naito while worrying about the ninja’s place on the divine network’s search rankings. Adele also seemed mostly surprised by Mary’s reaction.

“No, thank you for giving us such a valuable response.”

Whatever Ma-yan does, it seems to be a plus for the rest of us.

At any rate, Naruze nodded and urged Mary to continue.

“Please, go on.”

“What are you drawing over there, Naruze?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Something 7 times more incredible than whatever you’re imagining.”

“Oh,” was all Mary could say.

Then Tenzou’s voice reached them from the men’s bath.

He sounded somewhat hesitant and unsure of himself.

“M-Mary-dono! Do you have a scrubber over there?”


Eh? thought Mary.

A scrubber.

Those Far Eastern scrubbers were rice-bran bags that functioned a lot like body soap. She had used them a lot since coming here.

But hers was not within reach since she was in the bath.

And…

Master Tenzou is asking about mine.

That meant he wanted to share the one she had used.

She gasped when she realized what he meant.

“Mary, what’s the matter?” asked Mitotsudaira. “You need to hurry up and give the 1st Special Duty Officer your-…”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because…”

It took all of Mary’s effort to raise her head to look at Mitotsudaira. She looked right in the other girl’s eyes and plainly spoke her heart.

“It’s already touched my body. For example, it will have soaked up my sweat. So if Master Tenzou uses it, not only will it get him dirty, but he might notice how filthy I was.”

Everyone exchanged a glance at that.

And Naito took action. She spread her hands, lowered them to the surface of the bath, and then raised them again.

“One, two, three, go.”

They all shouted in unison.

“Not a chance!!!!”


“Wow, that was powerful. I thought I was going to die, Ga-chan.”

“The bath temperature rose by 7 degrees.”

Mary must have thought the Technohexen were teasing her because she clenched her fists and protested.

“B-but I worked up a sweat during the battle.”

As she tried to argue, Asama placed a hand on her shoulder.

The shrine maiden pointed at the purification spell sign frame that was applying divine protections to the bath.

“It’s okay. It really is, Mary. Besides, if you were too filthy, then I think everyone on the Musashi would be.”

“Judge. Even when I focus on my nose, I can only smell flowers,” added Mitotsudaira.

“Heh heh. That’s probably the dryad blood at work,” said Kimi.

“Judge. Then what do all of you smell like normally?”

Everyone but Kimi froze.


Hori-ko: “Mary-sama has taken us in a very kinky direction without warning.”

Mar-Ga: “Margot! You don’t have to answer for me! You don’t, okay!?”

Unturning: “It can influence combat, so I generally have a deodorizing divine protection active.”

Tachibana Wife: “In my personal life, I have recently started using a peony scent from a divine protection.”

Tonbokiri: “When I work up a sweat, I hop right in the bath.”

Silver Wolf: “That is the best way of handling it. The smell of sweat is generally caused by the oxidation of metabolites and reproduction of germs.”

Gold Mar: “Mito-tsan, you’ve been running with Adele a lot lately, but you’re always so clean. Are you compensating for that with some grooming divine protections?”

Mar-Ga: “Then what about Adele who doesn’t have those?”

Flat Vassal: “W-wait! Why are you all looking at me like I never take a bath! I do take baths! Like today, for example!”

Mar-Ga: “Why do you love giving me story ideas so much?”

Flat Vassal: “Ah! I shouldn’t have said anything!”

<Flat Vassal-sama has earned 18 Sympathy Points.>

Asama: “Oh, look at that, Adele. With this new system given to us by the divine transmission god, you get a sympathy message from the god once you earn 300 points. Work toward that prize, okay?”

Flat Vassal: “I don’t want a sympathy message!? Why couldn’t my prize be bigger boobs!?”

Gold Mar: “Now you’re not making any sense. Are you feeling okay?”

Tonbokiri: “That is right, Vassal-dono. No one sees you that way. Because we all looked away just now.”

Flat Vassal: “That’s the same thing! There’s no difference!”

Asama: “Anyway, Mary, how would you say Tenzou-kun smells? To be blunt, he always focused on his work before meeting you, so he could be careless about that sort of thing.”

Mary: “Judge. When he pushed me down when we first met, I was too panicked to notice. When he lay on top of me next, I was too surprised. And then we were in the bath together.”

Flat Vassal: “How many crimes did the 1st Special Duty Officer commit?”

Silver Wolf: “And when we were stuck in England, we had built a decent laundry room on that transport ship by that point.”

Wise Sister: “So did Tenzou start doing his laundry when he realized Mary was a girl? Heh heh. If so, he was being pretty thoughtful right from the beginning.”


“Um, what’s the status on the scrubber, Mary-dono?”

The girls had started pressing their foreheads together as they chatted, but they quickly returned to normal when they heard that voice.

As for Mary…

“W-well, about that…”

“Heh heh heh. Mary! You should rub it all over your body for some indirect fun with Tenzou!”

“Indirect fun?”

When Mary asked that honest question, Asama tried to hit Kimi on the back of the head, but her attack was canceled by Summit Dance. After missing, Asama raised her eyebrows in a smile and pointed at Kimi.

“Kimi? Please don’t teach Mary anything inappropriate.”

“Oh? Like what?”

“Eh?”

Asama froze and looked around. Everyone returned her gaze but looked away immediately afterwards, so she frantically waved her hands side to side.

“I-I didn’t mean anything in particular! So about indirect fun! That um, means to throw the scrubber back and forth to play a game without directly interacting! Yes, that’s what it means.”

Asama repeatedly brushed Kimi’s hand off her shoulder while turning back toward Mary.

“So! To get back on topic! What will you do, Mary?”

“If you ask me,” said Horizon. “You should toss him a scrubber used by some old man so none of Mary-sama’s scent will reach him.”

“This is the women’s bath! The women’s bath!”

“Heh heh. Then how about an unused one? …Horizon!”

“Judge!” said Horizon while her arms slid rapidly along the washing area floor. The left arm stopped in the middle of the washing area while the right arm continued onward. The right arm snatched up a new scrubber from the basket and…

“——————”

The right arm passed it to the left. After catching it, the left arm bent back and leaped. Then it made an overhead swing in midair.

“Nicely done!” said Futayo as she caught the scrubber.

When Futayo passed it to Mary, Horizon spoke.

“Now, Mary-sama, throw it over.”

“J-judge!”

“Yes, throw it to Tenzou-sama!”

Saying that was a mistake. Mary’s arm stiffened mid-throw.

“Ah.”

The scrubber hit Adele square in the face.

There was a wet splat and Mary rushed over to Adele. She held the girl’s head in her arms.

“A-are you okay, Lady Adele!?”

“Nwohhhh! If I was a guy, this would be the view of a lifetime! Actually, this attack from Mary-san might give me some kind of spirit divine protection to make mine bigger!”

“Heh heh. Is your current chest flat or nonexistent? …To reward your honesty, you may have both.”

“Also, Mary is part dryad, so wouldn’t she absorb your nutrients and make yours smaller?”

“Please don’t scare me like that, Kimi-san and 4th Special Duty Officer!”

“Ignoring that idiocy, how about you try again, Mary!?”

“Judge.”

Mary held up the scrubber in both hands. She slowly kissed it and spilled flowers all around her before looking up in sudden realization.

“Listen, everyone. That was a good luck kiss to ensure the throw works out.”

“That’s fine. So continue. Show me everything.”

“Ga-chan, you’re really into this, aren’t you?”

Mary smiled bitterly, took a breath, and threw it. And then…

“Judge. Thank you very much, Mary-dono!”

For some reason, Tenzou’s voice was followed by the sound of water being kicked up and the boys fighting.

Meanwhile, someone sighed.

It was Masazumi. She and Tsukinowa had been opening and closing different sign frames for a while now.

“Okay, I’ve got everything together. That took some time, but it probably gave you all time to relax after the battle. Are you ready to exchange some information to reach a consensus?”

She took a breath and wiped sweat from her brow. And when she moved her hand, she revealed a smile with raised eyebrows.

“Most likely, an issue other than the Kantou Liberation will eat into summer break.”

She turned to face someone sitting at one end of the bath to stay out of trouble.

“Satomi Student Council President, let’s reconsider a few things while discussing our plans for the future.”


“There are a few things I want to confirm about the present and the future, Satomi Student Council President.”

Yoshiyasu nodded at the Musashi Vice President.

It’s so hot.

This was her second bath today.

She had taken a long bath and participated in a karaoke contest after fighting at Odawara, so there was no real reason for her to use this bathhouse. She had never taken a second bath in the past. But…

I can look at it as a purification between battles and a place to share information.

She was with the core of Musashi who were leading the Kantou Liberation. This doubled as a strategy meeting, so it was important for her to spend this time with them.

I really have changed, haven’t I?

If she had needed to spend time with people like this back in Satomi, she would have canceled and had her sister or Yoshiyori handle it instead.

But times had changed and she was Satomi’s representative now.

If she had a younger sister a lot like her and that sister had wanted to cancel something like this, would she have been able to smile and allow it?

Of course, there was no need for her to be the same as her sister and Yoshiyori. Grabbing that hypothetical sister by the collar or ear and dragging her along was a perfectly valid option. But…

“I guess it doesn’t matter.”

Yoshiyasu washed her face off with the bathwater and turned toward the Musashi Vice President.

“I would like to hear Musashi’s plans for the Kantou Liberation.”

The Musashi Vice President nodded in response.

She used a sign frame to display an outside image sent from Musashino’s bridge.

“Let’s see, how should I put this? It’s looking like Musashi might not be able to take part in the Kantou Liberation.”

“Waiiiit!!” shouted Yoshiyasu on reflex. “Then what’s the point of this bath!?”


Chapter 3: Workers in a Place of Relaxation[edit]

Horizon7-A113.jpg

[On sign frame: House of Habsburg / Thirty Years’ War]

Unplanned

Unexpected

Unimagined

Which is the odd man out?

Point Allocation (To answer seriously, plans are more solid than expectations or imaginings)


Sakai thought while the night wind washed over him.

I’ve really been living the delinquent lifestyle lately, like being out at night like this.

He would really have preferred to be back in his house inspecting the black disk boxes and collections he had bought. That way he could take some of the workload off of “Okutama”, but…

“The other nations don’t give any thought to my leisure activities when they make their plans, do they?”

He was on top of Musashino’s bridge where a wind-blocking partition and a table had been set up. He asked “Musashi” a question from there.

“I feel like I’ve been a little too busy lately. What do you think?”

“I believe principal is a year-round job, or am I wrong? Over.”

“That’s just a title and I really think public service jobs should end at 4 to 6.”

“Judge,” said “Musashi” as she picked up a plate and a peach from the side table she had pulled over with her gravitational control. “You will be busy tonight, so you should avoid sake and instead eat some of the fruit we got at Sanada. Over.”

“There’s just no time for a good night’s sleep, is there? Masazumi-kun is pushing things a little too hard.”

“If you look at it that way, then Hashiba is pushing things even harder. Over.”

“Musashi” then opened a sign frame.

Since she was wearing gloves, she peeled the peach while it was floating in midair. She used her hands to prepare some tea while turning the sign frame toward Sakai. It displayed a map of the entire Far East.

“These are the paths of the Hashiba and P.A. Oda transport ships which have recently flown within the Far East. The information was gathered from optical observation, the price fluctuation from the influx of supplies to other regions, and information supplied by cooperative nations. This reveals something.”

Several ribbon lines were headed toward a single point on the sign frame.

“Lake Biwa. We predict that is currently a giant shipyard for P.A. Oda. Large amounts of materials are being shipped there from across the Far East. During the night and the day. It is unusual.”

“Do you think they’re building another ship like the Azuchi?”

“No, not unless they are reusing supplies. The supplies they are shipping in cannot be used for cannons or heavy armor. Also, most of the shipped supplies have already been seen. Over.”

“What do you mean they’ve already been seen?”

“You are full of questions today, Sakai-sama. Over.”

“Only because you’re full of riddles.” Sakai looked to the western sky. “Paris, huh?”

“That is correct, Sakai-sama. Over.”

“Could you maybe sound more impressed with that, ‘Musashi’-san?”

She placed the plate of peach slices in front of him.

“What made you think of Paris? Over.”

“Judge. The materials Hashiba brought in to flood Paris had to be materials within P.A. Oda or M.H.R.R. that Hashiba was free to use. At the very least, the other factions would have to be okay with Hashiba taking them away in a hurry. The reports we have received say all of those materials were aerial ship parts and armor panels.”

Meaning…

“Hashiba is using the Lake Biwa shipyard to construct a fleet of transport ships?”

“What makes you say a ‘fleet’ of transport ships, Sakai-sama? Over.”

“When transport ships get large enough, their frames and hulls have to be reinforced to the point that they are little different from warships. ‘Musashi’-san, it’s the same for you, isn’t it? Your parts are special made, right?”

“Judge. I was originally designed to have defensive capabilities making me inviolable and thus unusable by the others nations, so I was equipped with specialized frames and armor that match or surpass those of ships of equal size. Over.”

“In that case, since the materials P.A. Oda is gathering are standard grade, they must be constructing a great number of transport ships smaller than you.”

“Why are they doing that? Over.”

“Is there an answer to this riddle?”

“There is not. Over.”

“I had a feeling,” responded Sakai. “If this was Hexagone Française we were talking about, we could always say it was for their largescale settlement of the outside world.”

“I wonder what P.A. Oda is thinking. Over.”

“Got any predictions?”

“Judge. They may be creating a large merchant fleet to take control of the Far East’s economic distribution. Of course, doing that would require controlling the infrastructure of Shinto and the other religions and building a command structure would not be possible. Over.”

“Then we should probably be careful. And there is a more pressing problem.”

Sakai grabbed a peach slice with the supplied chopsticks and looked to the southwestern sky.

Several small pilot boats had left the Musashi to meet the ascending diplomatic ships.

But Sakai’s gaze was directed past them.

Odawara.

A fleet floated in the dark night sky there and a few ships had left it to cruise east.

“The Siege of Odawara is over, so that fleet is joining the Edo Hashiba fleet for the Keichou Campaign. So up through the Siege of Odawara, they sided with Mouri and Musashi to assist the history recreation, but now they will be working with Hashiba. That is what this means.”


“Musashi” heard Sakai say “being a grownup isn’t easy” with a bitter smile.

“As a 0-year-old child, I would not know, but are you saying Hashiba’s rule in Europe is all but established so the neighboring nations will have a hard time siding with Toori-sama and the others? Over.”

“Looks like I’ve found a clever child, ‘Musashi’-san. Shall I praise you?”

“Go ahead. Over.”

“Way to go, ‘Musashi’-san. You showed the insight of a 30-year-old.”

“Do you want me closer to your age that badly, Sakai-sama? Over.”

“No, that isn’t an issue. Men have low mental ages, after all.”

“Thank you very much. But what do you think the other nations will do? Over.”

“Good question.” He viewed the ships quickly flying east in the southern sky. “To be honest, this is a pain from Musashi’s point of view, but it’s the right thing to do from the history recreation’s point of view. They took part in the Siege of Odawara like they were supposed to, so now they’re taking part in the Keichou Campaign like they’re supposed to. …Mouri is the one being weird here. They sided with Hashiba during the Siege of Odawara, but now they’re turning on Hashiba for the Keichou Campaign.”

Sakai counted the ships traveling eastward and he narrowed his eyes at the emblems on the sides.

“That isn’t all of the ships we saw arrive. I think I know who is missing, but this might be a bit troublesome.”

“Are you saying this will not be an easy battle? I expect that will please Masazumi-sama. Over.”

“No, it’s not about that.”

Sakai took a breath and picked up the teacup.

He also shook the peach slice with his chopsticks.

“These are sweet.”

“Statistically, you tend to say that, so I made the tea on the stronger side. Over.”

“Musashi” nodded and looked to the ships heading east and the diplomatic ships approaching the Musashi.

“What makes you think that, Sakai-sama? Over.”

“Is there an answer to that riddle?”

“If I told you, you would dodge the question, so I will not tell you. Over.”

But she had more to say.

“In other words, I have determined my prediction was correct. Over.”


“Wait just a second! What kind of prediction is that!?”

Masazumi listened to Yoshiyasu’s protest within the bathhouse’s thick steam. Yoshiyasu had risen to her knees in the bath.

“What do you mean Musashi won’t be able to take part in the Kantou Liberation!?”

“Hm, it’s not that clear a prediction.”

Maybe I stated that too strongly.

Masazumi felt a little bad for that. But she could not remove the word “possible” from the reality of that happening.

“Listen, Satomi Student Council President. First of all, our #1 goal is the Kantou Liberation.”

They had already stated that at the beginning of the negotiation with Houjou and Mouri two evenings ago.

“That remains true. That is what we told Houjou and Mouri and it is how we set up the Siege of Odawara.”

“Then why are you predicting you won’t participate?”

“Because of Hashiba,” said Masazumi. “Hashiba will want to prevent the Kantou Liberation no matter what. Because if they can keep a military force stationed at Edo, we won’t be able to leave Kantou.”

Naruze raised her right hand.

“You say we wouldn’t be able to leave Kantou, but isn’t Sanada in the Koshinetsu region and not the Kantou region?”

“That’s a neighboring region, so it’s Kantou-ish.”

“Just admit you were wrong!” everyone shouted, but that had been a study camp.

“If they had invaded from Edo while we were participating in a student event, we could have protested it. But Hashiba is the Testament Union, so they can’t be do anything so forceful. They’ll overlook something like a trip to Sanada.”

This time, it was Naito who raised her hand.

“I have a question. If that had happened, how would we have protested?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” Masazumi went on to state the obvious. “We would’ve roughed up Edo a bit and demanded some rights or some land as a bridgehead for the Kantou Liberation.”


Uqui: “I had a feeling she meant war.”

Unturning: “So Hashiba can’t try anything because anything they do to us means war.”

Obscene: “Ha ha ha. How comforting!”

Vice President: “No, wait! That’s the normal response! Right!?”

Azuma: “I think this is more about your method than the response.”


Asama had created a virtual space for the meeting by managing the divine transmission with the boys, so Masazumi made sure her words were reaching the men’s bath before continuing.

“Now then, Satomi Student Council President. You can believe me when I say we are thinking of the Kantou Liberation first and foremost. If Hashiba tries anything, we need to see how we can steer things in the best direction for the Kantou Liberation. That is our main focus right now.”

“Then why?” asked the Satomi President while sitting back down in the bath. “Why might Musashi not be able to participate in the Kantou Liberation?”

“Because of something external to Musashi,” said Masazumi. “Because of the Thirty Years’ War.”


“The Thirty Years’ War?” asked Yoshiyasu with a tilt of the head.

She represented the Kantou Satomi clan, so she was not too familiar with European wars.

She did of course have some knowledge of the Thirty Years’ War, but she did not know why anyone would bring it up here. Besides…

“What does the Thirty Years’ War have to do with this?”

“Simply put, this is about the conflict between Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R.”

“Huh?”

Yoshiyasu tilted her head again.

Why would the conflict between Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. be an issue now? After all…

“Haven’t they already begun that war?”

They had fought at Paris and they had clashed several times during the lead up to that.

But…

“Yes.”

Some people answered her question in the affirmative.

It was the Tachibana Couple and the Date Vice Chancellor. So did the Mito Lord, the two Technohexen, and the English Princess.

“Oh, I think I get it,” said the vassal with some uncertainty.

And on the divine transmission…

10ZO: “Judge. This might be leading in that direction.”

The English Princess responded to the 1st Special Duty Officer’s words with a hand on her cheek.

“That’s Master Tenzou for you.”

The Schwarz Hexen turned on the bath faucet to add some cold water.

Yoshiyasu had a thought as she saw their responses and reactions.

Huh? Am I dumb if I can’t figure this out?

When she thought of Class 3-Plum, words like “cruel”, “the worst”, “merciless”, and “psychological aggressor” came to mind.

So what did it mean when they could understand and predict something but she could not?

Then Musashi’s princess faced her.

“Now, Yoshy-sama, give us the answer.”

“M-me!?”

“Do not worry. I do not understand it either.”

Yoshiyasu felt like that “either” signaled her defeat. But, she thought.

Righteousness: “You’re saying ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of, right!?”

Me: “Ohhh? Is this too much for Flatty’s itty-bitty braiiiiiiiin?”

Righteousness: “Don’t you dare!!”

“Calm down,” cut in the Musashi Vice President.

She wiped her face off with a towel and then placed her anteater on her head.

“To be honest, my knowledge of the Thirty Years’ War isn’t the best either. When I first reviewed it all, I was focused on the Far Eastern side of things.”

You would say that, thought Yoshiyasu.

It was true the Musashi Vice President knew a lot about Far Eastern politics. But that allowed her to look up at the state of the world from the Far East’s perspective instead of looking down on them from the viewpoint of Europe with their provisional rule.

That was why Musashi was not bound by the unwritten rules of the other nations. And why they sought further freedom.

That was the essence of Musashi that allowed them to manipulate the other nations.

And on top of that, thought Yoshiyasu about the Musashi Vice President.

It probably meant a lot that she began diplomacy with England.

England’s Fairy Queen had shown her how a powerful nation handled diplomacy and Tres España had taught her the meaning of history.

So when she and Musashi came to Kantou after experiencing all of that, she was capable of including the whole world in her viewpoint as she negotiated with the Kantou and Oushuu nations who had their foundation in the Far East.

Now she was working to grasp and understand the European events of the Thirty Years’ War.

“I see.”

The Musashi Vice President had judged herself inexperienced and now she was trying to understand the Thirty Years’ War.

That means that war must be a turning point for the world.

“Then tell me. What effect will the Thirty Years’ War have on the Kantou Liberation and Musashi?” Yoshiyasu had more to ask. “For one thing, the Thirty Years’ War has already begun. It started quite a while ago. There was just a battle at Paris and Hexagone Française has announced the beginning of their conquest. What does any of that mean for the Kantou Liberation and Musashi?”

“Judge.”

That reply did not come from their Vice President.

It came from the Mito Lord.

That girl had the strongest connection to Hexagone Française and she directed her wolf eyes toward Yoshiyasu.

“Unfortunately, you are misunderstanding something.”

That is…

“Hexagone Française has not actually started the Thirty Years’ War.”


Mitotsudaira listened to Yoshiyasu’s question while gathering together what they had discussed on the transport ship earlier.

“Hexagone Française hasn’t started the Thirty Years’ War?”

“Judge. That is correct.” Mitotsudaira nodded. “Or to put it more accurately, Hexagone Française is not at war with M.H.R.R.”

“But they just fought.”

“Then I have a question for you.” Mitotsudaira spoke slowly to make sure Yoshiyasu understood the purpose of her question. “Is Satomi at war with Hashiba?”

Yoshiyasu started to nod, but then…

“————”

She held a hand to her mouth and lowered her gaze.

She was thinking.

And after a few seconds, she looked back up at Mitotsudaira and glanced at the others too.

“It was their alliances.”

“Judge.” Mitotsudaira smiled this time. “Hexagone Française is currently allied with nations that have begun the Thirty Years’ War and they have only fought in response to that. The attacks from M.H.R.R. have been dealt with by counting it as a later part of the Thirty Years’ War, saying M.H.R.R. was ignoring the Testament with their actions, or calling it a Hashiba attack on Mouri. You understand what Hexagone Française has set up this time, I hope?”

“You mean something they’ve set up with those alliances and with their position as Hexagone Française?”

Yoshiyasu caught on quickly.

“I can only guess, but I would assume something is at play that will draw in the Protestant M.H.R.R. principalities or nearby Protestant nations.”

“So you aren’t sure which nation we’re talking about?”

“Judge. I couldn’t tell you that much. But I can make some guesses.”

Me: “Hey!”

Vice President: “What is it, idiot?”

Uqui: “Toori, don’t interrupt.”

Flat Vassal: “That’s right, Chancellor. Try to stay out of the way.”

Hori-ko: “Okay, today I will be introducing you to the Unpopular Chancellor! You can see just how unpopular he is from the critical responses he gets. And as a special bonus, he comes as a set with the Student Council President! Twice the unpopularity at no extra cost! Call now and we will add a free printing press!”

Me: “No faiiiiiir! I can’t do that joke about myself!”

Hori-ko: “I was afraid someone else would do it first, but it seems I got it in quickly enough. …What did you think, everyone?”

Wise Sister: “Oh, dear. Horizon? Where are you planning to ship my foolish brother to? Does he have to get himself back home?”

Asama: “Um, well, in that case I would have no choice but to go pick him up just like with the guard stations. I don’t need the printing press, though.”

Silver Wolf: “No, as his knight, I will retrieve him in a flash!”

Gold Mar: “Retrieve him, not protect him?”

I had a feeling I phrased that wrong. But…

Silver Wolf: “My king? So what did you want?”

Hori-ko: “You are only going to get some lame joke in response, Mitotsudaira-sama.”

Me: “Oh, c’mon. Don’t get her hopes up, Horizon.”

Horizon used a high-speed wrist snap to launch a bar of soap and they heard something collapsing into the men’s bath. And after a short pause…

10ZO: “Um, I will answer in his place. He basically wanted to ask what the Thirty Years’ War is.”

Asama: “Oh, I’m with Toori-kun there. I know the general idea, but Europe is outside my area of expertise.”

Wise Sister: “Oh, dear. Asama, you’re saying you’re the same as my foolish brother? You are, aren’t you!?”

Silver Wolf: “…”

Flat Vassal: “5th Special Duty Officer! Don’t just smile silently like that!”

Asama: “C-calm down, Mito! You have the advantage here because you understand it!”

Me: “So, Nate, could you explain all this to me?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge! I can. It will be from Hexagone Française’s point of view, so the rest of you can make corrections where necessary.”

Mitotsudaira took a breath and opened a sign frame.

It displayed a part of eastern Europe even further south than M.H.R.R.

But that was not all.

Mitotsudaira displayed another sign frame showing…

“This has a lot to do with Holy Roman Emperor Matthias and the next Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, whose name he has also inherited.”


“Let’s review.” Mitotsudaira asked them all a question. “The Thirty Years’ War was a war between nations with many complexly-intertwined factors. Does anyone here have a good understanding of it all?”

No one raised their hand, but a voice did arrive over the divine transmission.

Worshiper: “I believe it was a conflict between the Protestant and Catholic parts of M.H.R.R.”

Silver Wolf: “It began that way.”

Mitotsudaira typed some words onto the sign frame.

Silver Wolf: “I will start by summing up the causes of the Thirty Years’ War.”

Causes of the Thirty Years’ War

1. Conflict between the Protestants and Catholics inside M.H.R.R. and the nearby nations.

2. Branching off of #1, some areas fight for independence from M.H.R.R.

3. War between the emperor (of the House of Habsburg) who commands the Catholics and the other houses.

Some nodded in understanding and others tilted their head.

This could be tricky, but the later meeting would be easier if everyone understood this now.

Mitotsudaira spread the one sign frame and zoomed in on a map of Europe with M.H.R.R. at the center.

“To start with #1, the conflict between Protestants and Catholics began with the work of Tomoe Gozen, aka Luther, who leads the Protestants. At the Peace of Augsburg, the Catholics and Protestants within M.H.R.R. agreed to a treaty.”

However…

“There is a principality called Bohemia to the southeast of M.H.R.R. It is large for an M.H.R.R.-controlled region, rivalling Austria or Hungary. It was Protestant land, but Ferdinand II, who was set to inherit the imperial throne from Matthias, was chosen as the king of Bohemia.”

Mitotsudaira saw everyone glance at the image of Matthias.

She then gave an explanation about him.

“It seems Matthias always planned to take Ferdinand II as a second inherited name. Looking back, Hashiba was secretly pushing for that.”

The rest was quite simple.

“Ferdinand II was passionately pro-Catholic, so he began oppressing the Protestants in Bohemia. The people responded by attacking Prague Castle, throwing five royal advisors out the castle window, and using that to signal the beginning of a revolt. That incident became known as the Defenestration of Prague and it began the Thirty Years’ War.”


Masazumi was familiar with what Mitotsudaira described.

That defenestration had of course been carried out as a history recreation.

It had happened just a few years ago.

She remembered seeing it on the news from Europe while she lived in Mikawa.

“For the beginning of a major historical war, the recreation of the defenestration didn’t get much focus, did it?”

“Judge. According to the Testament, there was a hay pile below the window, so three of the five thrown out the window were fine.”

“Judge. I can see how people wouldn’t be sure how excited to be about such an important event.”

Masazumi did not know how it had been recreated. The news reaching Mikawa had only said the recreation happened. She could probably look up the answer herself, but…

“How exactly what is recreated?”

“Judge. Five people were selected for ‘looking like someone who would get thrown out a window’, but it would be unfair if three survived and two did not, right? And it would leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth if they really did fall to their deaths. Plus, it would hurt the nation’s reputation. They knew it would gather attention due to the background of the incident, so they made sure to pile up plenty of hay and they got everyone fired up like it was a festival.”

“Oh? That sounds pretty peaceful.”

“Judge. But the festivities got a little too fired up and the hay pile caught on fire. The town hall went up in flames and so many people jumped out of it they nearly had to cancel the entire event.”

“So it was an utter failure!!”

“No, so many people jumped out the windows that they ended up choosing the five with the highest score for artistry.”

None of this makes much sense… thought Masazumi. But…

Mar-Ga: “I mean, Prague is like a connoisseur of defenestrations, isn’t it?”

Vice President: “What, is it a traditional event or something?”

Gold Mar: “Judge. There was actually a First Defenestration of Prague a long time ago. Back in 1415, the Council of Constance said the Hussites, who were the main faction in Bohemia, were heretics. The people were super mad, so they attacked the town hall and threw the German mayor and others out the window. Since this involved the Technohexen hunt, it’s known as the Festival of Prague among us Technohexen.”

Mar-Ga: “Throwing them out the window would be dangerous, so the first one’s recreation just threw them from the first floor window.”

Vice President: “That was awfully peaceful of them. Was it so the Catholics would be lenient during the Hussite Wars meant to oppress the heretics?”

Mar-Ga: “Yes. They covered up the window so the victims couldn’t see out and had secretly dug a ditch of muddy water to throw them into. And after the victims crawled up out of the muddy ditch, the Bohemian Representative apparently said ‘Welcome to Huss TV’s hidden camera show!’ …The whole thing enraged them so much the Hussite Wars ended up being harsher than necessary.”

Vice President: “What were those heretics thinking!? And how is that a ‘yes’ answer!?”

I don’t get how Europeans do things. But she had more or less seen how it had started.

“If the Protestants rebel in the next emperor’s home territory, he can’t exactly ignore it, can he? And that established a definite split between the Imperial Catholics and the Protestants within M.H.R.R.”

What happened next was clear to an extent.

“The war presented an opportunity to other nations and principalities that wanted independence from M.H.R.R., so they attacked the Imperial Catholics.”

“Judge. That is correct. But it all involved another somewhat troublesome conflict as well,” said Mitotsudaira. “”During the Age of the Gods, there was a group that could not allow the emperor to fall. They were the House of Habsburg who effectively passed down the title of emperor within their family.”


Masazumi heard someone respond to Mitotsudaira.

“The House of Habsburg!”

It was Horizon. Everyone reflexively turned toward her. And…

“Sorry. I spoke before thinking and then I could not come up with a good joke. Masazumi-sama, you handle it.”

“Me!?”

Please no, she thought, but everyone was already focused on her.

She could tell she had to say something, so she took a breath and placed a hand on her chin.

“Here’s a riddle, Horizon. What is the House of Habsburg like a good school?”

“They both have lots of kids.”

Horizon immediately answered, but then she fell silent for a few seconds.

After a while, she tapped her head with her right hand, which made a surprisingly nice sound.

“Sorry. I should not have said that. I got the ancient rules of comedy wrong.”

“Yeah,” everyone agreed as they began judging the riddle.

Tonbokiri: “Does this count as Masazumi’s joke bombing?”

Wise Sister: “It wasn’t really a riddle at all.”

Novice: “It was much too straightforward.”

Vice President: “Well, excuse me! I tried for some nice wordplay, but I couldn’t come up with anything good!”

Mar-Ga: “So you thought you could sidestep the ancient rules of comedy passed down from the Age of the Gods?”

Why is our class so strict when it comes to jokes?

I bet it’s his fault, she thought while seeing the idiot’s name on the list of divine chat participants, but glaring at that was meaningless. Also, the idiot made a new post.

Me: “Nate, what is the House of Habsburg? The name reminds me of Holstein, so is that right?”

Silver Wolf: “It’s kind of right, but not really.”

Mitotsudaira sighed at his words and opened her mouth to speak.

Silver Wolf: “You can think of the House of Habsburg as an old European family. They ruled over Germany, but they were originally from Switzerland and lived in Austria.”

“Oh?” said Futayo.

Tonbokiri: “So in terms of the Shugo Daimyo, would they be like the House of Habsburg, Protector of Germany? What do they do for Europe?”


“Judge,” confirmed Mitotsudaira.

This part can get a little tricky.

But like Futayo had said, a lot of it had comparisons in the Warring States period.

Silver Wolf: “The Habsburgs used political marriages. First, that allowed them to easily choose the Holy Roman Emperor from their own family. And once they had pretty much established hereditary succession for that position, they wed their children to other nations to establish a connection with the nations that wanted their power. So while ruling as the king of Germany, they spread their bloodline around via political marriages so they had blood relations both within M.H.R.R. and with other nations.”

In other words…

Silver Wolf: “In the preceding age, there was no international law to establish a consensus between nations, so religion played that role instead. But by spreading their bloodline around, they set up a Habsburg pipeline between those different nations.”

Wise Sister: “But did they do that on purpose? Did they have an ambitious plan to create ‘Habsburg controlled territory’ that crossed the national borders?”

“No,” said Mitotsudaira while tilting her head.

Silver Wolf: “The spread of Habsburgs was done with political marriages, so it was primarily women. It was difficult for them to wield much power in that patriarchal era. Even if these were political marriages, the Testament says most of the marriages were done willingly, the wives were blessed with children, and they lived happily with their husbands. So it wasn’t that the Habsburgs had some conspiracy to rule Europe. It just ended up that way and the men in the family tried to take advantage of it.”

Meaning…

Silver Wolf: “The Habsburg blood relation system established infrastructure and stability between nations, so the kings of those nations worked with the other Habsburg-connected nations and attacked the anti-Habsburg groups. And when those anti-Habsburg groups were facing defeat, they could avoid or mediate the fighting by establishing their own connection to the Habsburg bloodline.”

Tonbokiri: “That is very similar to the Warring States period.”

Futayo was probably only stating a fact, but her words held powerful meaning.

Blood relations.

You could find safety by establishing a strong connection with powerful people and forces.

They had seen a tragedy like that already.

Flat Vassal: “Mogami’s Komahime, right?”

“Judge,” agreed Narumi while everyone else nodded too.

Komahime had been sought as a concubine of Hashiba Hidetsugu, who was Hashiba’s #2.

If she had refused, it would have made her a burden on Mogami.

Even in the Testament descriptions, Mogami had been prepared to go to war rather than hand over Komahime, but she had convinced Yoshiaki to give in. But in the end…

Unturning: “Hidetsugu was suspected of treason and everyone close to him was executed. Connections by blood are not always a good thing. Both in the Warring States period and in Europe, the nations had to consider the risks as they made that choice.”

Masazumi took over to sum it all up.

Vice President: “There are political marriages in the Far East as well, but a much larger-scale version was underway in Europe during this era.”

“Judge, the Habsburgs were said to be a prolific house and that played a role too. After the middle ages when religion was shaken by corruption and the Reformation, many nations sought Habsburg blood as a trustworthy connection and a communication network in case of emergencies.”

“I see,” said Asama. “So the nations had a mutual understanding, didn’t they?”


Asama thought of the infrastructure privileges the Asama Shrine used and managed.

We take the divine transmissions for granted.

Just how meaningful was that blood relation system during the Age of the Gods?

“In the Age of the Gods, poor communication often led to suspicions and misunderstandings between nations, but when the power of religion waned and the monarchies grew in power, did those monarchies feel the need to establish a unique communication system with the other nations? But…”

Asama had a question.

After all, now was now. Things were different from the past. So she asked Mitotsudaira about it.

“We have the divine transmissions centered on the Shinto infrastructure, so the Habsburg blood relation system has lost its usefulness, hasn’t it? How has the history recreation handled that?”

“Judge.” Mitotsudaira nodded to confirm she understand what Asama’s question meant. “The concept of hereditary succession within a family has lost its meaning, so the Habsburg name inheritors have had their authority cut back to being the ‘original source’ of the information the Testament says they were passing back and forth. So the current Habsburgs do not have as much influence as they did at the time. But,” she continued. “The recreation of the Testament descriptions forces the world to act as it did at the time. And the Habsburgs created a strong blood relation between Catholic M.H.R.R. and Tres España. Thus…”

Mitotsudaira once more opened the map of Europe and image of Matthias.

She was back to the original topic.

The House of Habsburg, a house that had constructed blood relations across Europe, was deeply connected to the Thirty Years’ War.

“The Thirty Years’ War was initially a conflict between the Catholics and Protestants within M.H.R.R., but Catholic Emperor Ferdinand II was a Habsburg. In this age, the imperial throne was essentially passed down within the House of Habsburg, so they could not allow the emperor to lose his power. So…”

So…

“While the Thirty Years’ War was indeed a conflict between Catholics and Protestants, it was also a war between the Habsburgs, who wanted to keep their bloodline within the European nations, and the forces who opposed them. …Do you understand now?”

“Understand what?” Masazumi more or less knew what the girl wanted to say, so she asked a leading question. “What does this have to do with Hexagone Française?”

“Judge. The Hexagone Française throne belonged to the House of Bourbon, an anti-Habsburg house. So despite being Catholic, they opposed the M.H.R.R. Catholics. Also…”

Mitotsudaira explained why that was not all.

“The Habsburgs had spread their bloodline to Catholic España. Hexagone Française was surrounded by those two powerful Catholic nations to the east and west, so they could not act carelessly. And yet Hexagone Française chose to wage war against both of those nations.”


Mitotsudaira took a breath and looked across the others.

“Hexagone Française had not started the war ‘as a nation’ because they were cautious of the two powerful nations on either side of them and because they have to maintain the image of being Catholic. That is why they have only taken part in the Thirty Years’ War by allying with Protestant nations and providing defensive assistance when those other nations are attacked. But now that Louis XIV has taken the throne, Hexagone Française intends to participate in the Thirty Years’ War ‘as a nation’ and overwhelm M.H.R.R. and the Habsburg forces.”

That means the conqueror of Europe has chosen the path of conquest. And…

“And Hexagone Française is beginning to do just that.”

“In that case,” said Masazumi while pointing toward the bow. “What do you think about that unidentified ship approaching us with them?”

“It is most likely a nation that plays a crucial role in the Thirty Years’ War. That or a related nation or individual. But for some reason, they are unable to reveal their nation and negotiate. Hexagone Française must be bringing some small nation to meet us.”

“You mean…” began Yoshiyasu.

Satomi was a small nation. They were often influenced by the actions of larger nations, so she understood what it meant for a small nation to act at a time like this.

Silver Wolf: “Small nations must use larger nations’ actions to their advantage. That must be what is happening here.”

Mitotsudaira tapped the text she had typed up about the cause of the Thirty Years’ War.

Causes of the Thirty Years’ War

1. Conflict between the Protestants and Catholics inside M.H.R.R. and the nearby nations.

2. Branching off of #1, some areas fight for independence from M.H.R.R.

3. War between the emperor (of the House of Habsburg) who commands the Catholics and the other houses.

Silver Wolf: “Look at #2. To the north of M.H.R.R., there is a territory known as Holland or the Netherlands. The territory belongs to España thanks to Holy Roman Emperor Carlos I. They will begin a war of independence here. …And do you remember who disappeared before our eyes at Novgorod?”

That was…

Silver Wolf: “Holland Chancellor William.”


Yoshiyasu listened to the Mito Lord’s explanation.

“Even for cause #1, there was a lot of fighting over national territory and land in Northern Europe and Eastern Europe during this time. But Sweden, a powerful nation and representative of the anti-M.H.R.R. nations, lost their skilled leader and king, Gustav II, and his daughter is inheriting everything.”

“You mean…Europe is also made up of large nations and the small nations resisting them?”

“Judge. And then Hexagone Française, a new large nation, plunges right into that chaos. What do you think Hexagone Française wants from that?”

Yoshiyasu had an immediate answer.

“To support the nations already fighting, especially the smaller nations who are key to the Thirty Years’ War, to give their own nation greater freedom in the war. That will eliminate any trouble during the war and help provide stability after the war.”

That also described the relationship between Satomi, Musashi, and Kantou.

I see.

Something was underway in Europe even as the Kantou Liberation began here.

Hexagone Française was fully participating in the Thirty Years’ War. To put that in Far Eastern terms…

“So Hexagone Française is assisting the smaller nations in what you could call a European Liberation.”


“Judge,” responded Mitotsudaira. “Ending the Thirty Years’ War will establish the map of Europe. Most of the fighting will end, the small nations’ independence and authority will be recognized, and the growth of the House of Habsburg will be stopped. In other words, the chaotic war and the system of unwritten rules that grew from it will come to an end. Europe will be liberated to a new era.”

She tapped her sign frame to close it.

She sent its contents to everyone else while looking their way.

And her eyes finally stopped on…

“Masazumi, you understand, don’t you? Holland is working with Sweden and some other nations to oppose M.H.R.R. and the Habsburgs. Depending on who this unannounced visitor is, we might be able to learn more about the Princess.”

They had seen something in the Houjou ruins during the Siege of Kanie Castle.

The Double Border Crest was carved into the ceiling.

They did not know why it was there.

The Secretary said it was a celebration of the people reaching and meeting with the Environmental Gods and then returning once more.

How was that connected to the Princess? But they did know one thing now.

“Isn’t this great, Masazumi? We might not be out of clues after all.”

“This is just one more problem that’s still plaguing us.” Masazumi wiped off her face with a towel. “I don’t know what the ‘What’s keeping Mitsuhide-kun?’ message left by the Princess at Novgorod was supposed to mean. And there is a lot of other information that doesn’t seem to fit together. But the most troublesome thing of all is…”

Masazumi turned toward Yoshiyasu.

“Satomi Student Council President, you understand the situation in Europe now, right? Hexagone Française is facing their own troubles, so who knows what kind of unreasonable demands they will make of us. Especially with Terumoto, since she’s something of a delinquent.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

Yoshiyasu breathed an exasperated sigh.

She opened the sign frame data Mitotsudaira had sent her and searched for information on the various nations. Asama had made sure she was linked to IZUMO, so she could pull up public information related to the academies.

“Small nations are always at the mercy of the large nations.”

“Judge. But without those small nations, large nations tend to get carried away. The political decisions large nations make based on the actions of smaller nations are a way for large nations to restrain themselves.”

Masazumi looked up at the ceiling as she said that.

She helped Tsukinowa climb down onto her shoulder as she continued.

“It is important for Musashi to participate in the Kantou Liberation. I currently intend to do so. Even if Hexagone Française demands something of us, we don’t have to do it immediately. If the battle progresses as expected, the Kantou Liberation will be complete by 6 in the morning tomorrow. Waiting until after that to obey Hexagone Française’s demand makes the most sense.”

“There you have it.” said Mitotsudaira.

“True enough.” Yoshiyasu nodded and smiled bitterly. “There’s no reason to do what the large nation wants right away.”

Everyone agreed with “judge” or other words and they all smiled in a way that softened the tension a little.

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. I wonder what Hexagone Française will demand.”

Novice: “Maybe they’ll demand we give them all the credit.”

Sticky King: “They probably do want to be known as heroes in Kantou.”

“They probably do,” agreed Mitotsudaira.

But then a sign frame opened in front of Asama. And when she read it…

“Masazumi?”

“Hm? What is it?”

“Well, Terumoto-san says, ‘We’ve got some super urgent business to discuss, so get your butt out here’.”

Everyone spread their mouths horizontally when they heard that. And…

“Why is she being so unreasonable!?”


Chapter 4: Single-Minded One in the Night Sky[edit]

Horizon7-A151.jpg

People’s actions are others’ actions

What happens when

You divide them between enemy and ally?

Point Allocation (Cooling Down and Firing Up)


Wakisaka Yasuharu, aka Angie, loved the night sky.

The best part is how clear the air is.

When she flew above a city during the day, she could smell food cooking and ironworking and ether smoke sometimes affected her schale besen’s flight. And even when she flew above a forest, there was a lot of pollen and dust during the day. That meant flying higher up, but flying at such great altitudes used a lot of fuel. So…

“Testament! Leaving after 10 at night is so great!”

She said that on the outer edge of Paris. She was on the eastern wall.

A festival was underway inside Paris and the victory celebration was reaching its peak.

The streets were filled with light and inundated by music, but unlike a normal festival, there were not that many people dancing in the roads or plazas.

Everyone was cheerful but exhausted.

And as the festivities continued for the Paris residents, others did something else.

Those others were the Hashiba forces.

Wakisaka saw people in M.H.R.R. or P.A. Oda uniforms raise a hand toward the Parisians they were speaking with and then leave the festival stands. People were standing up from the festival fires as well.

“Bye. I guess we’ll be fighting the Thirty Years’ War for real next time, huh?”

“Testament,” replied someone from the Paris side. “It was always supposed to be that way. But the late night is when evil demons come out to play.”

“What, so you’re calling us evil demons?”

“Of course. To Catholics, the people of P.A. Oda are nothing but evil demons and the people of M.H.R.R. are unsophisticated barbarians.”

“You have guts saying that, you kingdom of farmers.”

“Oh, you wanna fight?”

Wakisaka watched from above as those two rolled up their sleeves.

If this goes anywhere, I guess I’ll stop them.

She could not help but add “with a cannon blast”. And if that led to more conflict, that was someone else’s problem.

But then everyone below suddenly lowered their shoulders and lightly raised their hands.

“Oh, right. We’ve already ended everything here.”

“Yeah. I guess we’ll be fighting the Thirty Years’ War for real next time, huh?”

“It was always supposed to be that way.”

“Wait! We’ve started looping!!”

“Since it was you and not a cute girl who noticed the loop, I think I’ll just stay in the loop and eat a ton of meat.”

“I’d love to do that too, but come on! They’re ready to transport us back to the Azuchi!”

“That’s right,” said Wakisaka while raising her schale besen and looking south.

She saw wildly moving lights in the dark distance there. The transport ships were ready to bring their personnel back to the Azuchi.

Kuro-Take: “Okay, listen up, everyone. We’ll be leaving all the fuel and materials behind. Making a quick departure matters a lot more.”

6: “…”

□□凸: “What’s the matter, Hachisuka-san? Why are you so quiet?”

AnG: “Oh, Shouroku wanted to go to the festival, but the Genbu’s really heavy, right? So she had to leave early to get it loaded on a transport ship.”

□□凸: “Th-then I can bring her something from the festival.”

Tsurugi: “Really!?”

Llaf: “Then could thou buy me three ginger-flavored pork skewers?”

Kuro-Take: “I’d like some pain d'épices with berry sauce.”

Kimee: “White wine. The finest they have. Angie can get it to me.”

Kiyo-Massive: “Calm down, everyone. You’re troubling Katagiri-kun. …One item per person.”

□□凸: “That doesn’t change anything! Oh, Hachisuka-san, they have a Paris pennant! It shows the Roi-Soleil rising from the eastern sky!”

6: “Keh.”

□□凸: “Th-there are nicer ways to refuse, you know!?”

Why does Kacky always get so worked up describing the situation? wondered Wakisaka.

But Fukushima and Kiyomasa had climbed the stairs onto the wall while she read the divine transmissions. Fukushima had bandages and charms all over her body.

“Wakisaka-dono, thank thee very much for carrying me.”

“Yeah, yeah. I hope you appreciate it.”

“Again with that?” said Kiyomasa with a bitter smile while looking at Wakisaka’s equipment.

The schale besen called Schwarz Fürstin had an extra ether tank attached. It was borrowed from one of the mobile shells loaded on the transport ships, but it allowed her to reach the Sakuma relay ship while flying full speed without refueling.

The device was also loaded with supplies for the Kantou Liberation group.

“This is the wine Yoshiaki-sama asked for earlier. The bill goes to Katagiri-kun.”

“You’re surprisingly merciless, Kiyo-pin.”

At any rate, it was her job to fly out ahead and return to Kantou. However…

“I want to get back ASAP since Kime-chan is waiting, but I really don’t like the sound of doing the Keichou Campaign.”

“No, I would think not.” Kiyomasa’s bitter smile grew. “The Testament says you lose badly in that, doesn’t it?”


“Tes, tes.”

Fukushima saw Wakisaka cross her arms and nod with a satisfied smile.

Not even talk of her upcoming defeat can faze her.

That may have just been her laid back personality.

“I don’t entirely get it myself, but apparently the original Angie pursued the enemy too far, got hit by a counterattack, made a raft, and desperately paddled back. That’s one hell of a survival lifestyle, isn’t it?”

“The original was not called Angie,” pointed out Fukushima.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said while waving a hand dismissively. And, “That apparently made Monkey Girl really mad, but that doesn’t sound so bad.”

She bent her eyes and showed off her teeth in a smile.

“She’s cute and she can’t get too mad if she doesn’t expect anything from me to begin with.”

“Thou are a braver girl than me.”

“That said, if we can use an interpretation, I’d really like to win it. I’m not the type to just accept defeat because you tell me to. I’m like Tres España there,” she said. “If I always choose the more positive and fun option, we can find interpretations to use and I’m sure it will save some people.”

So…

“Is that a different outlook from the rest of you?”

Fukushima considered that question.

When she exchanged a glance with Kiyomasa, the other girl nodded.

Fukushima was confident she was thinking the same. And…

“Kiyo-dono and I – and all of us, I would think – are the same,” she said. “If we do not keep a positive outlook and do not think our actions will lead to a better future, we could not possibly keep going.”

“Fukushiman, you’re making this way too serious.”

Was she?

Yes, I am.

Wakisaka saw it that way, so even if she saw it differently herself…

“I will keep that in mind.”

If she ever started taking things so seriously she got lost in her own thoughts, she could recall what Wakisaka had just said.

And then…

“My, my, Fukushima-sama. I wish you had been this honest with yourself when you were sparring with me.”

“I have changed my mind on that just a bit.”

Saying that reminded Fukushima of her battle with Danzou.

Her fears and worries had been transformed into illusions. One illusion could be seen as her own indulgence and it had taken a certain form:

It was Kiyo-dono.

Which meant…

“—————”

Fukushima thought, Does a part of me want Kiyo-dono to treat me like that?


Kiyomasa realized Fukushima had frozen in place next to her.

Oh?

While standing entirely still, Fukushima stopped before saying something.

“—————”

She silently held her breath.

What is this about?

She had been so badly injured.

And in the city lights positioned somewhat below them, her face looked either feverish or flushed.

“Fukushima-sama?”

“Wh-what is it?”

“Are you coming down with a fever due to your injuries?”

“Yeah, Fukushiman got beat up pretty bad. And once you can finally relax, the fever can suddenly hit you.”

“That’s right,” said Kiyomasa as she tried to get a good look at Fukushima’s face. However…

“Nn.”

Fukushima averted her eyes and turned her head to the left.

“Hm?” said Kiyomasa with a tilt of her head. “Let me see your face, Fukushima-sama.”

She bent over and pursued the girl’s face, but…

“…”

Fukushima turned to the right this time.

Oh, dear.

Kiyomasa was unsure what this meant, so she moved her bent-over upper body to the right. And…

“——————”

Fukushima turned back to the left.

This felt very childish to Kiyomasa. It was like she was trying to avoid being scolded, but it was so very unlike Fukushima.

Kiyomasa was certain the girl was feverish now.

Fukushima was #1 of the Ten Spears and she was their leader. It would cause a number of problems if she could not participate in the Keichou Campaign due to a fever.

Kiyomasa figured that was why she was avoiding further questioning here.

“I understand, Fukushima-sama.”

Being too responsible can be a problem too.

There was no point in trying to get Fukushima to relax when she felt cornered like this. Although Kiyomasa did wish Fukushima would relax around her and just be honest with herself.

“Please look after your health as best as you can.”

“T-testament!”

Fukushima probably tried to look at her, but her head was lowered and her eyes directed at the floor.

She was not ignoring Kiyomasa, but she was not looking at her either.

“Fukushima-sama?”

When Kiyomasa called out to her and pursued her, Fukushima ran away.

After repeating the process a few times, Wakisaka spoke up.

“Fukushiman, did you do something you feel guilty about?”

“N-no, I have done nothing like that.”

But she still would not look at Kiyomasa.

Kiyomasa could not stop the “hmm” rising from her throat. After all, she kind of wanted Fukushima to look at her.

She could not call it “just a moment ago” anymore, but Fukushima had swept her off of her feet to rescue her as she fought Henri. She had ended up losing that battle, but she did not regret that result because it led to Fukushima’s recovery and it had provided the excitement of being picked up and carried by the girl.

If Fukushima was injured, she only needed to tell Kiyomasa.

Then I could help her again.

To try to get her to ask, Kiyomasa placed her hands on Fukushima’s cheeks.

She did so to prevent the girl from avoiding her again.

“Fukushima-sama?”

She smiled bitterly at Fukushima who did not know how to react to this gesture.

“That was a rough battle, wasn’t it?”


Fukushima realized the heat she felt inside came from a multitude of thoughts.

It came from being touched.

It came from being spoken to.

And most of all, it came from the fact that she had worried Kiyomasa.

She was embarrassed.

She had failed to contain her inexplicable confusion within herself. She had completely lost the composure of a warrior and she had revealed how shaken she was inside.

But there had been a temptation inside her earlier.

Her own fears and worries had tempted her during the battle with Katou Danzou. They had told her she could stop fighting and urged her to relax and rest.

They had used Kiyomasa’s form.

That meant Kiyomasa was someone she felt she could relax and rest around.

And what had she done then?

I accepted my fears and worries.

She had accepted that desire to relax and rest.

She had embraced those worries and fears to contain them inside her.

So if she viewed that illusion in terms of the real world…

Does it mean I want to hug Kiyomasa-dono?

That was not really a question.

She had only seen that illusion because she wanted to or because the idea appealed to her.

But that presented a problem.

“Fukushima-sama?”

The girl smiling her way did not know what had happened in the illusion.

Fukushima had hugged Kiyomasa, but she did not know if the real girl would accept that.

“Uuh.”

She could not believe this.

She felt like she had defiled Kiyomasa to achieve self-awareness in that illusion.

The Kiyomasa in front of her here was free to choose who she wanted to be hugged by, but Fukushima had ignored that and had her way with her while safe in her own imagination.

Only now did she realize how troublesome Danzou’s illusions were.

No, this is not Danzou-dono’s responsibility. It was my indecent action.

But now that she was aware of this, she could not bring herself to look at Kiyomasa.

Everything she saw in front of her was too similar to what she had seen in the illusion.

Kiyomasa was smiling at her while ignorant of what Fukushima had done to her in the illusion.

She fully trusted Fukushima.

And yet Fukushima had defiled her.

What was Fukushima supposed to do?

If she came out and explained what had happened in the illusion, she felt like Kiyomasa would think less of her for it. After all, it seemed unlikely Kiyomasa would want to do something like that and it was too sudden regardless.

And yet Fukushima could not stop her own selfish thoughts.

What would it feel like to hug Kiyo-dono for real?

Would she feel the same sense of peace and self-realization she had in the illusion?

The girl was at the perfect distance and position for it right this instant.

Fukushima just about started to do it, but…

“——————”

She instead averted her eyes from Kiyomasa. If their eyes met and she saw her body, she was fairly certain she would do it. And she knew doing that would make a mess of their current relationship.

I really can’t believe this, she thought.

She was happy to have Kiyomasa’s hands on her cheeks, but she also had a different feeling.

She wanted Kiyomasa to stop teasing her like this.

She knew Kiyomasa was only worried and trying to be considerate, but it was only making things worse.

Although if Kiyomasa saw the same thing she did, then she would be willing to accept this touch and every other action that would follow.

But at the moment, it felt more like Kiyomasa was tempting Fukushima to detonate.

“Fukushima-sama.”

She heard a voice, but it did not say she had a fever or was acting weird.

“You must be tired, but keep up the good work, okay?”


Fukushima dragged her thoughts up from the pit of confusion.

Oh, no, she thought while feeling a mental splash of cold water.

There was no point in analyzing and confirming her own thoughts here. Because her thoughts could not reach the real Kiyomasa in front of her now.

And Kiyomasa was being considerate.

That was why she had said “keep up the good work”.

She would not say their work was complete.

Yes.

Unlike the illusionary Kiyomasa, the real one would not let her stop. She knew their situation did not allow for it.

Their fight was still in progress. They had to get to Kantou in time for the Keichou Campaign.

And Fukushima realized just how cold Kiyomasa’s hands were on her cheeks.

It was a serene chill, but it was very soft.

When those hands were warm, just how much softer and more pleasant would they be?

No, wait. Kiyomasa-dono might just have cold hands.

She had never asked, but why would she have? But in that case, she could never enjoy the touch of Kiyomasa’s warm hands. Wouldn’t that be a real tragedy? But…

“——————”

It is true I have realized how I feel, thought Fukushima. I now know how I feel about the person who has been by my side for so long.

She had no experience with this and was hopelessly confused about what those feelings meant, but Kiyomasa had given her an out.

“Yes, I am very tired.”

She still could not look her in the eye, but she did manage to nod.

She wanted to grab Kiyomasa’s hands to put her at ease, but she had no idea how she would respond if Kiyomasa pulled her hands back in surprise.

So she lowered her head to nod, but did not raise it again.

She took a half step forward so Kiyomasa would bend her arms and remove them from her cheeks.

“I am in thy debt for so many different things.”

She was not sure if that was the right thing to say here.

She had thought she had left the fight with Danzou a stronger person, but there was so much she did not know.

And she knew she would realize exactly what she should have said in a few minutes once it was too late.

But this was the best she could manage now.

“I will get some rest ahead of everyone else.”

With that, she did her best to smile and stepped away from Kiyomasa.

She felt certain Kiyomasa was smiling too. She felt a little guilty for imagining that as she made a jump.

She leaped outside the city wall.

She made her way outside Paris to where the battle had been fought and where the Hashiba transport ships were landing.

The few dozen ships would carry everyone to the Azuchi and Fukushima launched herself out to where they waited.


“Um,” said Kiyomasa while watching Fukushima running outside the city wall.

She could see Fukushima avoiding the ditches as she ran into the distance thanks to the glowing blue feather in her hair.

She had no proof, but she felt certain that blue light would protect Fukushima. So…

“She will be fine.”

“Eh? She didn’t seem anything close to ‘fine’ if you ask me.”

“She must be tired. I don’t think she knows how to gather her thoughts after everything that happened.”

“It looked to me like she suddenly realized some mistake she made and was searching for the best way to respond.”

“It did,” agreed Kiyomasa.

Kiyomasa did that sometimes too.

“It was like when you realize ‘oh, I shouldn’t have done that’.”

“When I do things like that, Kime-chan always pretends like it didn’t happen.”

Was Wakisaka telling Kiyomasa to do that here? But…

“I’m pretty open about everything, but it looked like Fukushiman isn’t used to this kind of thing.”

“She will calm down if you give her time.”

“Really?” Wakisaka gave her a thin smile. “Even though you knocked her down so hard?”

“W-we were both careless.”

And…

“I only sparred with her because I knew she could handle it.”

“Then I guess she can handle it.”

“Together, we can handle anything.”

“Even though we just lost?”

“Our opponent was just that good. …That does not mean we could not handle it.”

Kiyomasa viewed the lights of Paris and then turned toward the transport ships lined up in the darkness outside and the lights of the Azuchi floating in the inky distance.

“Or are you saying none of us could handle this?”

“Kiyo-pin, your optimism is way too bright.”

Just as Wakisaka said that, a lernen figur appeared next to her face. It was a countdown until departure.

“Oops, I need to leave soon if I’m going to make it in time.”

“Then you take care of that, Wakisaka-sama. We will do what we can, but this will come down to Musashi’s decision in the end.”

Once she said that, she heard voices from Paris.

Surprise?

A combination of cheering and shock followed something in the sky.

It was a wind. Kiyomasa looked up into the night and saw something flying east at high-speed.

“Swarm Dragon Bernard!”


Wakisaka spoke while viewing the bluish-black dragon already flapping his wings to the east.

“That’s Hexagone Française’s sun nudist for you. He’s already harassing Monkey Girl.”

“I’m not sure you should call it harassing. This seems like the natural thing for Hexagone Française to do now that they’ve announced their entrance into the Thirty Years’ War.”

“Nari Nari will be going there from our group, right?”

Nari Nari Nari: “Testament. If possible, I would like to recover my structural data as quickly as possible.”

6: “Katagiri, link together the processing power of every ship waiting on the Azuchi so they can support Mitsunari. Data stuff is your job and ‘Azuchi’ will have an easier time of it with some human management, so take care of that.”

□□凸: “Testament! I will arrange that immediately! That said, I don’t really know how to manage the physical machinery, so can you take care of that part, ‘Azuchi’-san? I will give you authorization.”

The intellectual types were growing busy just as everyone else was starting to get some rest.

And after seeing all that, Wakisaka took action.

“I think I’ll chase after the Swarm Dragon along the way.”

“That might be a good idea if you can scout out how he moves while he flies.”

Kiyomasa watched Wakisaka straddle Schwarz Fürstin while raising it vertically.

The world is still in motion.

Summer break was coming up, but they still had work to do.

“I wonder what the Protestants…and those in Kantou are doing right now. Of course, while we lost here, we are still leading the world.”

“When we joined with M.H.R.R., we took control of most of the House of Habsburg, the Catholics, and the Testament Union. And we already controlled P.A. Oda.”

“In that case,” said Kiyomasa. “Will it be Musashi or Hexagone Française that fulfills the work necessary to direct history the way Hexagone Française wants?”

“Either way, you and the others are going to pass by Musashi on your way to Kantou.”

“Testament,” agreed Kiyomasa while she heard the transport ships powering up east of Paris.

The virtual oceans appeared and their lights grew bright.

It was time to go.

Kiyomasa would be joining them to reach the next battlefield.

“I’m going on ahead!”

The Technohexen tore through the air as she took flight.

She was chasing after the dragon, but she first made a quick vertical ascent and vanished into the night sky.

She accelerated too quickly for Kiyomasa’s eyes to keep up, so only the noise lingered before vanishing into the east.

The morning sun would eventually rise from that direction.

Kiyomasa spoke to herself while staring in the direction Wakisaka had gone.

“Is the world going to change or fall stagnant?”


“Now, then. I’m excited to see what Musashi will do.”

The southerly night wind carried a voice.

It blew across a Mouri diplomatic ship moving slowly through the sky. Another voice responded to the first.

“Princess, are you confident Musashi will do something about this?”

“We can figure out afterwards whether or not this is vainglory, Mouri-01. It’s about time I threw out that stuff anyway.”

Terumoto stood with her feet spread to shoulder width as she viewed the Musashi’s massive form up ahead.

“It’s almost summer break, but the world is still moving at breakneck speed. There’s even more energy than when the exams are handed back. This is more like the middle of the exam period itself.”

“Then we need to avoid getting a failing grade, Princess.”

“Testament,” said Terumoto while spreading her arms.

Diplomatic ships from other nations lined up on either side of her as if in response.

Mogami, Date, Uesugi, Houjou (whose national emblem remained unlit since they were approaching their ruin), and more.

This was their largest diplomatic formation yet.

“Hey, Mouri-01. Is it vainglorious to feel like I made all this happen?”

“That is not vainglory. It is hubris. …Princess, if you are going to throw out vainglory, you should make an effort to learn these distinctions.”

“Testament,” she said with a smile and a forceful clap of her hands.

It made a nice sound, so she placed her hands on her hips and stared straight at the giant ship in front of them.

“At any rate, this is the beginning of the end. The Kantou Liberation and settling the outside world. I hope you’re on board with the future Mouri and Hexagone Française want, Musashi.”


Chapter 5: Searcher in a Public Place[edit]

Horizon7-A175.jpg

I’m curious

Why you’re pacing so restlessly

But that does not mean I have lost

It means I am helping you

Point Allocation (Magic)


Musashi made a turn.

The giant ship had been facing west, but it slowly turned to the south on its way to face east.

And on Tama, the 2nd starboard ship, a metallic wind sounded on the deck of the diplomatic port.

It was a whistling sound.

The broad, wing-shaped deck roared like a whistle as the night air pressed in and the Musashi turned.

The noise reverberated through the night.

And several metallic clangs and mechanical rumblings continued behind that whistling.

Several diplomatic aerial ships were preparing to land.

But even as those ships descended toward the giant structure that was the Musashi, more ships made their way east.

Those belonged to the clans joining the Keichou Campaign as part of the Hashiba forces now that the Siege of Odawara was over.

They were represented by those who had fought in the Siege of Odawara as Hashiba. Katou Yoshiaki led that unit aboard an ironclad ship.

The ship itself had arrived from Edo by cutting across Edo Bay.

But on the way back, it traveled east while viewing the Musashi to its side.

“I don’t want to rush because it would look like we were fleeing in fear, but I don’t like taking it slow because it draws too much attention.”

On the bow deck, summer-uniformed Yoshiaki viewed the Musashi through a magnification spell. She focused individually on the few forms she occasionally saw in the image. And while sending the video data to Edo…

“Kani, you will be fighting on the front line in Fukushima’s place during the Keichou Campaign as well, so you should get some rest now.”

“Oh, testament! I just thought I could contact a friend from back home if I was out here!”

In the night breeze, Kani opened a divine transmission lernen figur while Yoshiaki watched her.


Yoshiaki’s eyes followed Kani as she paced along the deck.

Kani was checking on the signal strength of the divine transmission lernen figur, but since the signal was pretty bad here in enemy territory, she kept altering her orientation and position while checking the lernen figur.

She had enough training and on-site experience to stay out of the way of the students on the deck preparing for the upcoming battle. That was appreciated, but none of them had expected Kani to be here. Whenever they passed by, they would greet her and encourage her, so…

“Oh, thank you! I will do my best in the next battle too!”

It was adorable how she bowed down to them despite being the name inheritor.

No, I get the feeling she’ll be like that her entire life.

It made her a bit overwhelming as an underclassman, but the mutual courtesy would be appreciated in the long run. In Yoshiaki’s opinion, it was crucial to know where you stood with someone.

But while Kani paced around the deck, she would occasionally come across one of the cannons.

Oh, my.

It was impressive how she hopped up the 7m to the top of the cannon in a single step. There was no audible footstep when she did so, which showed why she had been sent in Fukushima’s place and how she had managed to duel Mogami Yoshiaki.

She was a promising underclassman.

What were we like last year or even before that? wondered Yoshiaki.

“Phew.”

She breathed from her nose as she watched Kani holding her lernen figur to the west.

“Kani.”

“Y-yes!? Testament! What is it, Big Katou!?”

“Big Katou? Did Takenaka come up with that weird nickname?”

“Testament. She said you’re Big Katou and the Katou with Fukushima is Massive Katou!”

That doesn’t really work without a Regular Katou, does it? thought Yoshiaki.

Well, this just means I have to swat Takenaka in the ass with my broom next time I see her.

For some reason, she saw the nearby students crossing themselves and praying toward her, but she soon recalled that the M.H.R.R. Catholics were ruled by the House of Habsburg and thus worshiped giant breasts.

Do they worship me when Kiyomasa isn’t around?

There was something wrong with praying to a Technohexen, so her shoulders kept drooping further and further. But…

“Kani, why not head down and use the ship’s divine transmission instead of wandering around like this? Besides, this is essentially enemy territory right now, so the Asama Shrine, Mouri, and Houjou are going to be using up most of the Shinto infrastructure. That should change when we reach Edo, though.”

“No, this is a personal call! So I don’t think I should use the ship’s divine transmission!”

That did make sense to Yoshiaki. And then Kani clapped her hands once.

“I know! I just had a great idea! And it should work since this is enemy territory! I’ll call a different friend first!”


Righteousness: “Hey, um, Musashi Vice President? I have a quick question.”

Vice President: “Huh? What is it, Satomi Student Council President?”

Righteousness: “Kani just sent me a divine mail asking if we could relay a divine transmission to M.H.R.R.”

Vice President: “Don’t intercept enemy transmissions!!”

Righteousness: “No, she apparently wants to talk with a local friend and she says she doesn’t care if we listen in.”

Vice President: “That is really something… Anyway, that would be Asama’s call. Asama, can you see whether or not we can do that?”

Asama: “Eh? Wait just a second, okay? I’m just about finished preparing our food.”

Me: “Wait, does this mean Flatty made a friend!? Is this the end of her doggy duo with Adele!? Feeling lonely, Adele!? Then how about I run with you in the nude? Hm?”

Flat Vassal: “What!? Th-that’s just creepy! I don’t need a nudist running with me!”

Me: “Waiiiiit! Don’t call other people’s nudity creepy!”

Hori-ko: “If you think about it, the dogs running with her are nudists, so this means she sees you as less than a dog, Toori-sama.”

Unturning: “Kiyonari? Have they started today’s super lunatic time?”

Uqui: “Worry not, Narumi. They are nowhere near that yet.”

10ZO: “Why did you think that would be reassuring?”

Righteousness: “Also, I’m not a dog. The Eight Dogs thing was to strengthen Satomi.”

Flat Vassal: “That’s right! And I’m not a dog either! I’m the one that raises…well, that looks after them!!”

Gold Mar: “Ga-chan? Should we tell Adele how she’s usually presented in doujinshi?”

Mar-Ga: “No, Margot. The temptation to tell everyone how they’re presented would be too great.”

Asama: “Umm, ignoring this idiocy…Yoshy-chan? Right now, the Asama Shrine is applying some security to divine transmissions from outside, so divine mail can get in, but an actual call would be difficult. That Ootani Yoshitsugu person was a virus, remember? So I would appreciate it if you asked your friend if this can wait until tomorrow morning when the Kantou Liberation is complete. …Will that work?”

Righteousness: “Why do I feel like everyone sees me as a dog or a child?”

Me: “C’mon, you shouldn’t doubt yourself! You’re Flatty and you’ll always be Flatty!”

Righteousness: “Fine, I’ll just blame it all on you!”


“Ah! I thought it was a great idea, but it didn’t work!”

Yoshiaki nodded at Kani’s words.

“We all use the ship’s divine transmission for private calls, so don’t worry about it. I generally use Technohexen communication spells, but I’ll relay it through the ship’s divine transmission to add to the range.”

“Um, sorry! I don’t really get what you mean, Big Katou!”

Kimee: “Katagiri, add Kani to our divine transmission permissions group.”

□□凸: “Eh!? Why!?”

6: “You should know by now that questioning what we do is meaningless.”

Kimee: “If you’re worried, you can route Kani through a secondary line. But give her the same official use privilege we have.”

□□凸: “Oh, that’s fair enough. Wait 3 minutes!”

Yoshiaki spoke to Kani who holding her lernen figur up toward the sky.

“You’ll have a connection if you wait 3 minutes.”

“Eh!? Did you use some magic!?”

After 2 seconds of thought, Yoshiaki nodded.

“I did. My familiar is checking on the divine transmission environment of India’s Buddha.”

“Wow! So magic is a global thing!”

“My ancestors weren’t burned at the stake for nothing. We are the most powerful group in the afterlife. …So wait just a bit and you can speak with your friend.”

It’s nice being a proper upperclassman from time to time. I should probably treat Katagiri to a coffee dumpling in the ship cafeteria at some point.

But then Yoshiaki looked to the western sky.

Around a dozen ships, including transport ships, were joining the Edo Hashiba group, but that was not what she was interested in. She looked much further to the west.

She could not see it clearly at night, but…

“Kani, will your friend be coming from the west?”

“Testament! She’s returning to Lake Biwa from Kyushu, so she apparently ended up in the perfect spot to come here! It’s been so long since I saw her!”

Kani smiled.

“Oh, one of the people coming is called Nabe-san…Nabeshima, I mean. Anyway, she’s a huge fan of Massive Katou! And Ikeda-kun from our group apparently just got to Kantou, but he and Asa-chan – Asano, I mean – are dating!”

The girl was leaking personal info like crazy.

I just hope our information doesn’t get out.

But it sounded like Kani only had such loose lips when it came to her friends. Not that that made much difference since she saw Angie as a friend.

“Kani.”

“Yes?”

“Let me make one thing very clear: I cast a magic spell on you that fires an ether bullet up your ass if you carelessly reveal anything about us.”

“Magic!? When did you cast it on me!?”

“It wouldn’t be magic if you knew.”

“Wow! I understand! I’ll keep everything about you top secret! Oh, um, by which I mean, Takenaka and the others already told me to!”

Takenaka was good about handling the details even if she kept ero-ero-ing.

Then again, began Yoshiaki in her mind.

I can see why Takenaka sent Kani here.

She was very useful as a fighter. After all, she had kept up with an opponent like Mogami Yoshiaki even if she had ultimately lost.

She was likely the type who would only continue to grow in skill as she participated on the battlefield. She was also better in a real battle than training, but Fukushima seemed that way too.

However, Kani had something besides that.

“You’re friends with the Seven Generals, aren’t you?”

“Eh? Oh, yes, testament! I don’t know Nabe-chan all that well and I really only just got to know Okki-kun, but I’ve known Ikeda-kun and Asa-chan since elementary school!”

The Seven Generals were the representatives of Hashiba’s later administration. Yoshiaki was one herself, but Kani knew Ikeda Terumasa and Asano Yoshinaga who were underclassmen members of the group.

Ikeda could not participate in the Keichou Campaign right now, but he was supposedly repairing the Shirasagi Castle in the mountains of western Kantou.

That ether light reading in the north earlier was probably him.

And Nabeshima – probably Nabeshima Naoshige – and Asana Yukinaga were coming here from the west.

Yoshiaki had only expected Kuki and a bunch of their standard fighters to be in Edo for the Keichou Campaign, but it looked like a lot of newcomers had been sent in as well. In that case…

It’s our responsibility to lead them.

Should she think of it as more work to do or a greater fighting force at their disposal?

“Well, the battle is starting either way.”

She looked to the northern sky.

The Musashi was moving further away as it turned.

But a group of diplomatic ships formed a ring as they descended toward Tama.

The national emblems showed Mouri, Date, Houjou, Uesugi, and Mogami were all there.

Yoshiaki’s magnification spell showed Musashi display their emblem on a large sign frame above the port to take the lead.

Hashiba saw this as the Keichou Campaign. They saw it as the Kantou Liberation. That group was about to discuss what they would do about it.

War was unavoidable now.

“This is going to be a pain, but that’s history for you.”

The magnification spell showed the representatives of the different nations and academies walking out and gathering in front of the ships and emblem.

They were all those who had ended the Siege of Odawara. And…

“It’s already started: war and the meaning attached to it.”


The first to descend to the metal surface was a fox: Mogami Yoshiaki.

She wore a yellowish-brown Far Eastern Uniform made with kasuri fabric. With Shakenobe in tow, she left her diplomatic ship before anyone else and set foot on Tama’s deserted diplomatic port.

But she had not just been in a rush to leave.

“We need to show Musashi who offered their services first.”

“Judge. This meeting will demonstrate where each nation stands in relation to each other.”

A figure appeared and spoke to Yoshiaki from the left.

A short person in a track suit stepped out from between two ships and entered the light. It was…

“Yoshiyasu, I see you too have decided to move out front and make your presence known.”

“The Kantou Liberation is about to begin, so I kind of have to take a prominent position. This might be the biggest time to shine in my entire life.”

“You can hint that you haven’t revealed everything you can do? You really have changed.”

The fox laughed bitterly.

Yoshiyasu glared at her and started to say something, but Yoshiaki chose precisely that moment to pull her fan from her sleeve and swung it up.

Then something moved in the sky behind her. The Yamagata Castle held a position north of the Musashi and it began to raise its main cannons, which were covered by white cloth.

She narrowed her eyes and spoke while the metallic rumbling echoed through the sky.

“As the first one here, I need to ‘set an example’ for the others.”

“Just how far do you plan to support Musashi?”

“Yoshiyasu.” Yoshiaki gave a “ko ko” of laughter from her throat but hid her mouth behind her fan. “No place but Musashi will let me do all I can for myself and for Mogami. Masamune has a handle on Date by herself and it would be best for both Sviet Rus and Mogami if we remain mutual enemies. And Mogami’s Ushuu will never develop any further if we hole up there. So the only way to kill my remaining time is to dote on some foreign children.”

“You’re idea of doting on someone is supporting a war? The Fox of Ushuu certainly is eccentric.”

“What kind of fox would I be if I was not blessing and cursing people?”

Yoshiaki said that with a smile, but then she faced forward.

Someone was walking out from the Date ship that had landed directly across from hers.

“Date Narumi. So they sent you as a negotiator.”


Narumi could tell this was going to be a pain.

After all, she had supposedly left Date, yet here she was acting as a Date negotiator.

Who can I blame for this?

Katakura-kun: “Yes! That would be me, the guy most well-known for being annoying! Well, Narumi-kun!? Bet you didn’t expect the negotiating team we sent wouldn’t have any officers just because I was so busy with other duties! You didn’t, did you!?”

Unturning: “And you are?”

Katakura-kun: “W-wait, Narumi-kun! What kind of three-word phrase was that!? How could you forget as big a creep as me!? If you’re lonely, just say so and I’ll send you some words to cheer you up! Yes, I am very lonely! Really, Katakura-kun!? Well, you won’t be lonely if you make a friend! Don’t worry, everyone can do it if they try! I tried, but I caaaaaaaaaaaaan’t! How about that, Narumi-kun!? I’ve still got you beat even if you don’t have any friends!”

Unturning: “And you are dumb.”

Katakura-kun: “W-wait! Don’t just add a word to your previous question! I bet you’re just jealous that ‘Katakura’ is turning into a common adjective here in Sendai Castle!”

This was getting annoying, so Narumi blocked everything Katakura-related from her divine transmission. Instead…

Unturning: “Rusu-san, you’re there even if you didn’t come here, right? Could you explain the situation for me?”

Caretaker: “Oh, if it isn’t Narumi-sama. It has been too long.”

Rusu Masakage was Sendai Castle’s control OS and a program with a personality.

In a way, he was an automaton with Sendai Castle as his body.

Unturning: “How pressing is our situation?”

Caretaker: “I am not sure how much I should tell you seeing as you have left.”

He was as strict as ever.

But that’s fine, she thought. No matter how much Date investigated her, she already knew everything they would discover.

It was no skin off her nose if her homeland learned what she knew. She had not lived a life she was ashamed of and nothing about her life would change if someone else decided her life was shameful or unhappy.

Besides…

Narumi realized something as she thought.

Unturning: “Kiyonari, what would you do if I told you I want to be happy right now?”

Uqui: “I would order some curry and put an egg in it before we get some shuteye.”

Unturning: “I will have some too.”

What a wonderful life, she thought with a bitter smile, which she felt showed she was happy enough already. This was something she had not had before. But if she judged all of the changes based on happiness…

Unturning: “This can only happen once.

Uqui: “Unfortunately, the authorities on the subject say curry has an infinite number of variations.”

Unturning: “Some Far Eastern food would be nice every once in a while.”

Uqui: “Then you make it.”

“Fair enough,” she said before returning to her conversation with Rusu.

Unturning: “How are things there? How is Masamune?”

Caretaker: “Masamune-sama is out handling some diplomatic matters and cannot easily join this meeting. Katakura-sama appears to be busy laying the groundwork for that.”

Katakura excelled at high-speed thought and parallel decision-making, so what had him too busy to deal with anything else?

Unturning: “Could I ask what they are doing?”

Caretaker: “Did Katakura-sama not give you an annoying, creepy, and very Katakura-y explanation?”

Unturning: “I blocked him before he could.”

Caretaker: “Narumi-sama, I have always felt you had far too little patience.”

Unturning: “Call it having quick judgment. Anyway, how do you deal with Katakura?”

Caretaker: “Testament. When he says or does bizarre things, I ignore him.”

Unturning: “In other words?”

Caretaker: “I block him.”

They both fell silent for five seconds.

Caretaker: “My apologies. Now that I think about it, my method is identical to yours. The problem in your case is that you do not return the divine transmission settings to normal afterwards.”

Unturning: “Call it being decisive.”

Rusu was a program, but he still paused as if to sigh.

However, he then sent her some data. A string of text appeared on a sign frame.

Caretaker: “There is a good reason why Masamune-sama could not be there. Namely…”

“Judge,” said Narumi.

Rusu had sent her a passage from the Testament.

It was the same thing she had mentioned at the bathhouse earlier.

Unturning: “The Testament says Masamune was late to arrive at the Siege of Odawara.”


“Date is in a bit of a tricky situation here,” said Shigenaga while descending the stairs from her diplomatic ship to Tama’s deck.

The wind on her cheek and in her hair was warm. It was much hotter and smelled stronger of the sea than the summer wind in Sviet Rus.

I need to take a bath later, she thought while a sign frame from home appeared by her face.

Tomo-no-Bu: “According to the Testament, Date was unsure whether or not to oppose Hashiba and so they were late to arrive. Masamune later goes to Odawara in burial garb to apologize.”

Shigenaga was familiar with that much.

Shigeko: “And in a later incident, Masamune visits Hashiba in Kyoto while wearing burial garb and carrying a cross, which seems both over-the-top and well prepared. Masamune was forgiven both times, but that also shows that he was one of the few to be summoned by Hashiba.”

What would happen if Hashiba did that now?

Tomo-no-Bu: “If the center of Date were summoned by Hashiba, then Musashi and even our Oushuu, Jouetsu, and Kantou forces would have a harder time acting against Hashiba.”

She knew what Saitou was trying to say.

After all, an important event would be happening in P.A. Oda soon.

Shigeko: “It would interfere with the Honnouji Incident.”


This is a lot of trouble, thought Narumi.

If they were to force Oda Nobunaga, current leader of P.A. Oda, to give up their inherited name and retire, they needed to use the history recreation of Nobunaga’s assassination during the Honnouji Incident.

But Honnouji is in the city of Kyou.

And Hashiba still had the “Masamune’s second apology” card to play when it came to Kyou-related history recreations.

The first apology happened here in Odawara, but the second was in Kyoto.

Even if Musashi forcibly began the Honnouji Incident in the process of applying pressure to P.A. Oda, it would still be very bad if Hashiba summoned Masamune for her second apology to complete that history recreation in advance.

Hashiba would almost certainly build up all of Kyou as a stage for Masamune’s history recreation and leave no opening for any other recreations. Also…

Caretaker: “Masamune-sama would effectively be a hostage in Kyou.”

That is certainly true.

Just like bloodline connections, hostages were a system used to ensure safety between nations or clans in this era.

Some took a wife or concubine to create a bloodline connection and others would take an heir, another child, or a parent.

Leaving someone important with someone else was a sign of loyalty and good faith and you could judge their loyalty and good faith by seeing how that person was treated. However…

Unturning: “In that case, Masamune really would be a hostage since Date does not want that.”

Caretaker: “Testament. If she were taken hostage, the nations in Oushuu, Jouetsu, and Kantou and the other nations involved in the Siege of Odawara would be unable to enter Kyou even if they wished to start the Honnouji Incident.”

What would happen if they did take hostile action against Kyou while Masamune was trapped there?

Narumi could make some decent guesses, but she decided to ask Rusu who handled Date’s data processing.

But she did not ask about the actions of Musashi and their allies. Instead…

Unturning: “The Testament says nothing about Masamune being harmed in Kyou, does it?”

Caretaker: “There is no telling what would happen if she were caught in a battle.”

Unturning: “Are you suggesting all of Kyou would be a part of the battle?”

Caretaker: “Kyou is currently managed by Akechi Mitsuhide, one of P.A. Oda’s Five Great Peaks. If his forces take a major blow in a battle, P.A. Oda will have one more excuse to not actually recreate the Honnouji Incident.”

“I see,” said Narumi.

Unturning: “So if Masamune is taken hostage, Musashi and the others might be able to politically force the Honnouji Incident, but they would be unable to physically enter Kyou.”

Caretaker: “If Musashi did that, then during every negotiation afterwards, they would be forced to guarantee they would not abandon the other nation.”

That was what it meant to attack an opponent who had a hostage.

Even if Masamune was prepared for the consequences, other nations could use her presence as a bargaining chip.

In which case…

Unturning: “It was convenient for Hashiba that the Siege of Odawara ended. That established the first apology which they need in order to take Masamune hostage in Kyou for the second one.”

Caretaker: “Testament. The worst case for Date is if they request the first apology here and then demand the second.”

That was why Date could not act right now.

They could do nothing during or after the Siege of Odawara.

But even if they were motionless, a lot was going on within Date. That was why they used Narumi as their representative and set aside any decisions as a nation until later.

If there were any problems, they could say those decisions were made without authorization by someone who had already left Date.

Funny I’m only realizing this now.

Unturning: “In other words, Date is using me as a sacrificial pawn.”

Caretaker: “Were you not prepared for that?”

You could have just told me, she thought, but telling her would have made their plan more obvious and she might have questioned them further.

After considering everything carefully, Date had made their decision.

They would use their former Vice Chancellor as a sacrificial pawn, but because she could possibly return as their Vice Chancellor, the other nations had to treat her with care and could not ignore what she said.

If it felt this roundabout to her, it had to be a lot of trouble for the other nations.

She knew exactly who must have thought this up.

Unturning: “This was Katakura’s idea, wasn’t it?”

Caretaker: “Oh? Does it seem that way to you?”

“Testament,” she confirmed.

Unturning: “He annoyingly never leaves Sendai Castle, but he also creepily uses our positions out here to help preserve Date.”

Caretaker: “Narumi-sama, your unusual adverb usage is dulling my decision-making processes.”

Unturning: “Is it?”

That was all she said before sighing.

Whatever the case, her homeland seemed to be safe. Masamune was always prepared for whatever it was she had to do and that could be dangerous at times, but…

She isn’t acting recklessly anymore.

What did she need to do now and what effects would those decisions have on the future? She had become a leader who understood those connections and effects and who could make decisions for herself.

That meant the Seiryu incident had not been for nothing.

Katakura’s bizarre behavior was worrisome, but that idiot had not lost sight of his purpose in his own idiotic way. He too must have finally managed to face his own job after the Seiryu incident.

Unturning: “Then I will provide the plan for Date’s future that I want to see.”

Narumi thought of her position as she spoke.

Unturning: “We cannot let Masamune’s late arrival apology happen until the Honnouji Incident is complete. That has to be the plan.”

Caretaker: “Are you sure? You took part in the Siege of Odawara to ensure we did not fall behind in the struggle over rights. If that is pointed to as a recreation of the late arrival, I believe Masamune-sama will be required to immediately perform her first apology.”

Unturning: “I’ll figure something out.”

She thought she was good at persuading people. Although what other people thought was a different matter.

But she was curious about one thing here.

Unturning: “Rusu-san, I don’t care if you have to go through Sviet Rus, but can you figure out what nation sent the transport ship Mouri has brought along? I think it should be an M.H.R.R.-affiliated nation.”


A ship from an M.H.R.R.-affiliated nation with Far Eastern connections? This sounds like a pain.

With Futayo by her side as a bodyguard, Masazumi watched Terumoto descend from the Mouri diplomatic ship.

She and Futayo had hurried from Mukai’s bathhouse to arrive ahead of the others. Futayo had placed Masazumi over her shoulder to deliver her in a hurry since they were running late, but…

“Now my hair is a mess.”

“Ha ha ha. As is mine, Masazumi.”

Futayo laughed and she too was wearing a track suit. She wore Tonbo Spare at her hip in its shortest form, but she was not wearing her usual hair decoration.

All the other ships were following the Yamagata Castle’s example by aiming their cannons into the sky, so Futayo may have been using her position as Vice Chancellor to show this was a non-combat zone. She also had a white ribbon wrapped around Tonbo Spare instead of a white cloth, but Masazumi guessed that was Mukai’s doing.

Tonbo: “Fancy.”

The pseudo-divine weapon seemed in a good mood. In fact, it was rare for the weapon to speak.

But Masazumi was a little worried about what was to come.

We have to keep the post-Odawara meeting and pre-Kantou meeting short.

They had reached a consensus on preliminary information in the bathhouse, but that was only Musashi information and Musashi opinions. The other nations were different, so she had several concerns about this meeting.

The mystery ship from M.H.R.R. was one of them, but…

Vice President: “Date has their late arrival issue, don’t they?”

Gold Mar: “Why not have Uqui join the meeting to deal with Narumin? Couldn’t they reach a decent compromise?”

Smoking Girl: “You mean we can avoid war with Date even if Masazumi really wants it?”

Vice President: “Naomasa, you can be really mean sometimes!”

Uqui: “If you used me, wouldn’t they question Masazumi’s capabilities as a negotiator? And Narumi might be hesitant to negotiate if it was against me.”

Hori-ko: “And what would that hesitation mean?”

Uqui: “It would make her even more ruthless.”

Gold Mar: “Yeah, that sounds like her. Yeah…”

Mar-Ga: “Hey, Asama, you control the infrastructure around Odawara through the Mouri Whatever Shrine or something, right? Can’t you use that as a shield to get them to talk?”

Asama: “No, Shinto generally does not intervene in wars. It all goes back to the policy of the emperor in Kyou.”

Azuma: “That’s why it can be difficult for me to say anything, right?”

Asama: “Yes. And Shinto generally does not divide people between good and evil, so we treat everyone equally.”

“Hm,” said Masazumi while watching the others start arguing.

The usual turn of events then.

To sum up what everyone had said, Date was on their side but would have a hard time helping them.

And their late arrival problem was the biggest issue.

Worshiper: “Flat Honda-kun, will Musashi side with Date for their late arrival problem?”

Vice President: “Judge. We do already have an alliance, so that’s the general plan.”

The Date Vice Chancellor was using a sign frame to speak with someone back in Date, so she was apparently putting together some kind of plan of her own.

Of course, she was the Vice Chancellor. She had the authority to negotiate, but it was not her forte.

And like Urquiaga said, she can be ruthless.

She was quick to make decisions. Masazumi still had not forgotten that girl’s first visit to Musashi.

She simply stated what she wanted and immediately started to leave, so Urquiaga had to stop her with his bizarre plan…no, eccentric ramblings? Well, he stopped her.

If she’s going to make decisions with that same ruthlessness, I need to make sure I guide her where I want her.

She wanted to eliminate the noise clouding her thoughts.

She had a lot to think about, but while she appreciated the diversion the others could provide, they made thinking difficult. But she had no time left, and…

Me: “Hey, Seijun! I dressed myself!”

Are you a child!? she thought while wanting to tackle him, but she knew what the idiot meant.

Vice President: “You’re coming here?”

Me: “I’ve been a front-line presence ever since Sviet Rus. Right, Nate?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge, I am prepared to act as your bodyguard.”

Hori-ko: “Then I will accompany you.”

They sound so carefree, thought Masazumi, but that was unavoidable.

This was part of the idiot and Horizon’s “battle formation”. And if that formation was on the move…

Vice President: “Hurry on over. We won’t have any time to sleep if we don’t get the meeting started soon.”

Fine then, she thought while raising her right hand.

Well, this won’t be the first time I’ve held a meeting without knowing if I was fully prepared.

The national representatives were standing pretty far away, but they seemed to have noticed. The Houjou representative was descending from their diplomatic ship.

Houjou Genan, huh?

Just as Noriki had said, Ujinao must have been deciding what happened within Houjou after their loss. Everyone must have understood that because they nodded toward Genan when he reached the deck.

Everyone who would play a role in both the Siege of Odawara and the Kantou Liberation was gathered here.

A moment later, they all turned toward Masazumi and opened sign frames.

She spoke as if in response.

“Are you all about ready?”

She sensed the idiot’s group running in from behind her, but she did not turn to check.

Futayo glanced behind them, and…

“Masazumi, you may begin.”

“Judge. Then let’s get this meeting started. Our main topic will be-…”

“Not so fast!”

Someone interrupted.

It was Mouri Terumoto who stood to the left. She opened a signe cadre and used it to enlarge her face and amplify her voice.

“Participating nations, listen up! After the post-battle and pre-battle meetings, give us just 10 minutes for a different topic! Got that!?”


Yoshiyasu frowned at Mouri Terumoto’s interruption.

“Hey, if you’re going to demand our time, then tell us what it’s about.”

“Satomi, hm?”

Yoshiyasu mentally clicked her tongue when Terumoto turned toward her and addressed her.

So she just calls me “Satomi”.

Not Satomi Representative or Satomi Yoshiyasu.

Terumoto was viewing her as the entire nation of Satomi.

She was saying a careless response here would be seen as coming from Satomi as a whole.

Is she testing my ability to negotiate?

I see, thought Yoshiyasu before responding.

“Mouri Representative.”

She made sure to address Terumoto as just a representative of Mouri.

“The Musashi Vice President seems to have something to say, so let’s hear her out first.”


<The Asama Shrine has once more included Satomi in the divine transmission group.>

Vice President: “Don’t pass it off to me!!”

Righteousness: “Huh? You mean you don’t have anything to say?”

Uqui: “Masazumi! Do not force yourself to make a joke!”

Hori-ko: “2nd Special Duty Officer Urquiaga-sama, you fear for your sanity, don’t you?”

Mar-Ga: “What kind of joke could she even make right now?”

Me: “Ooh! I know! I happen to have some summer festival fireworks with me!”

Wise Sister: “Really, foolish brother!? Can I light them!? Bombs away!”

Flat Vassal: “Someone call the guards!!”


Terumoto had never before seen a containment carriage arrive, complete its work, and leave in the middle of a diplomatic meeting.

“Heh heh heh. I get to go on a guard station date with my foolish brother! Mitotsudaira! I bet you’re jealous stuck outside these bars! And Asama, make sure you pick us up soon! Like, right away! … So how was that, Masazumi?”

“Stop giving me more work to do!”

The Asama Shrine Representative was hanging her head and quickly completing some kind of work, so she may have been working to get those two released.

But, thought Terumoto.

Why do they risk their lives for jokes?

And they did not just joke about things; they would really do them. Did that mean she had been going easy on the Roi-Soleil by just hitting him in the crotch with a wooden sword? I need to do better. I can’t let them outdo me. But…

“Are you even trying to take this seriously?”

The Musashi Vice president raised her right hand and glared at Terumoto.

“I am, but sometimes it just isn’t possible.”

“Find a way to control them.”

Just as she said that, an umbrella of light burst from Tama’s surface city. Based on the boom heard two seconds later, it was apparently a firework. The fire alarm that sounded afterwards made it sound all too real.

The Musashi Vice President looked disgusted when she checked the sign frame that opened next to her face.

But when she saw the Musashi Captain staring silently at her from a sign frame on her other side, she quickly spoke to the first screen.

“What!? I don’t care if you lit one because they asked if they were real! Just get back here already!”

“Oh, sorry, Masazumi. I’m working on that right now. …Mito! Can you go there to pick them up!?”

Musashi’s wolf shattered a sign frame from the Reine des Garous that appeared by her face and she took off running.

Then the Musashi Vice President glared at Terumoto again.

“Now do you see how impossible a task governing Musashi is?”

“Glad I don’t have to do it.”

Terumoto decided not to get too involved and gave up trying to find an opening to interrupt.

After taking a breath, the Musashi Vice President slowly spoke.

“First, let’s settle all the remaining Siege of Odawara issues.”

Was she not going to ask about Terumoto’s demand? But since she said “first”, she must have been considering it.

However, the girl then spoke directly to Terumoto.

“Most of that was already completed during the Siege itself. So first up is settling things between Mouri and us. Meaning…”

“The fact that we have three losses against Musashi, right?”

“The Satomi Student Council President used one of those losses to settle things with Uesugi, so that leaves two losses.”

It was obvious where this was headed.

Terumoto knew exactly what Musashi’s objective was. So…

“Mouri-01 bring them out.”


Terumoto held her head high and watched Mouri-01’s gravitational control work.

“Testament,” replied the maid because they had already planned all of this out.

Two objects were dropped from the top deck of their diplomatic ship.

Despite the considerable speed of their fall, they landed silently.

They were placed on the deck.

“————————”

Accompanied only by wind, two long wooden containers now stood before them.

She had shown these off once before.

“These are the Logismoi Oplo named Phos Hyperephania and Phos Kenodoxia. We’ll pay off those losses with them.”

The Musashi group quickly stopped their princess as she removed her arms, but what was that about?


Chapter 6: Representatives on the Decision Stage[edit]

Horizon 7A 208-209.png

Here I am

Right and left

I will give you them both

…What is with those arms?

Point Allocation (Small Animals)


Tenzou observed their surroundings at a few steps away from Masazumi.

He was focused on Sviet Rus’s response to the Logismoi Oplo being presented. Honjou Shigenaga looked around much like he did, but…

“…”

She adjusted her sunglasses to hide her eyes, but the sense he got from her was…

She is on the lookout for anyone trying anything.

Satomi Yoshiyasu was unfazed, perhaps because she had seen them already. Or because she knew she had helped earn these.

Similarly, Mogami Yoshiaki hid her mouth behind her fan, but there was obvious anticipation in her eyes. She was interested in seeing what would happen next.

In that case, thought Tenzou as he looked to someone else.

Houjou Genan had his eyes closed and a bitter smile on his lips. As if…

Scarred: “The Houjou Representative looks like he’s laughing at himself.”

10ZO: “You think so too, Mary-dono?”

Scarred: “Y-you do too, Master Tenzou!?”

Behind him, he heard cries of “ohhh” and “kyahhh” from the girls, but he knew turning around to look would be too dangerous.

Regardless.

He set optical reflection on a sign frame and added a glossy affect to reflect the scene behind him.

The narrow frame showed Mary shaking her head with her hands on her cheeks and the girls surrounding her and cheering her on.

Tenzou had a thought when he saw the surprised blush and smile on Mary’s face.

If such a short exchange can inspire that much emotion, we need to speak more often.

Of course, Mary still would not look right at him.

He would likely have to wait until she had calmed down some. Besides, they already lived in the same room. This inability to look him in the eye would not last long. Probably. Hopefully. If it does, my life will probably become hell, but I guess it’s still better than being ignored. But…

10ZO: “Masazumi-dono.”

Vice President: “Yes. Based on Houjou Genan’s reaction, Houjou and Mouri must have already agreed to this.”

Tonbokiri: “Does that mean our two victories at the Siege of Odawara were meaningless?”

Marube-ya: “Eh!? So our noble noodle-maker sacrifice was for nothing!?”

Worshiper: “Sacrifice? Didn’t you just lose and make things more difficult for us?”

Marube-ya: “Oh, to hell with you! You’re not supposed to tell the truth!! And just so you know, I’m in the process of seeing if there’s any way of getting rid of this with money! See? I’m staying positive!”

10ZO: “How much money do you have on hand?”

Marube-ya: “Well! Since the Public Morals Committee Head froze our account, 130 yen!”

Novice: “Why not sell your shop? That’s got to be worth something, right?”

Marube-ya: “Whaaaat!? No one can transfer the money to us with our account frozen. And do you have any idea how much time all the processing would take? The noodle-maker would happen first.”

Novice: “M-maybe don’t be so hostile when you need help!?”

Our merchant and his aide are too quick to throw out their dignity.

At any rate, Masazumi viewed the Logismoi Oplo containers and spoke.

Vice President: “Mouri is not that naïve. …They are a great western power, so they would have made us make up for our losses to keep the promise we made before the battle. If we had not had enough wins, they would have demanded more rights from us and demonstrated that Mouri is superior to Musashi.”

Novice: “Correct. If they’re looking ahead to the Peace of Westphalia, they would want to establish a hierarchy of nations while focus is on Kantou.”

When Masazumi agreed with that, Tenzou realized what the Punishment of Houjou had been all about.

That really was a kind of “war”.

Now he understood why Mogami had been the first to descend from their diplomatic ship.

Musashi had only achieved that victory and this situation because of Mogami and Satomi.

The fox and the dog had done well.

Come to think of it, we also have a wolf, Uqui-dono is a dragon, and there’s the Suzaku, so we have an awful lot of animals. But I guess covering the entire zodiac would be hoping for too much.

But Tenzou had another thought about Genan’s self-deprecating smile.

The expression was gone now, but the old man had likely meant it as a “Did you see that?”

Genan must have predicted this situation. According to the Testament, Houjou Genan had served the Houjou clan across three generations, so that expression must have come from the experience that had provided.

In that case, thought Tenzou.

10ZO: “Masazumi-dono, I see no problem with accepting the Logismoi Oplo. Horizon-dono, I recommend retrieving them quickly.”


Yoshiyasu saw Musashi’s princess step out from the Musashi group to approach the Mouri group.

She crouched down and kept looking to either side while jogging toward Mouri.

Why is she sneaking?

As Yoshiyasu had feared, the Musashi princess placed her hands on the Logismoi Oplo containers in front of the Mouri group and…

“————”

While averting her gaze, she quickly opened the containers and immediately shoved the contents into the storage space behind her.

Mouri Terumoto responded to the action.

“Hey.”

“Hm? Do you need something?”

“Hold on there. What did you just do?”

“Nothing at all.”

“No, wait. Could you show me what you have behind you?”

“No, no, no. You do not have the authority.”

“Just let me see what you’ve got there.”

“Are you a shoplifter and a security guard!?”

When everyone shouted that, Musashi’s princess looked around and then waved her hands side to side.

“No, you misunderstand. The secret ultimate weapons known as the Logismoi Oplo may almost never come in handy, but they are very effective as political bargaining chips. After all, they are well-known for being ineffective as weapons.”

“Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! You don’t have to add a Muneshige Ranking for each weapon on your site!”

Glad I’m not them.

But Musashi’s princess glanced back at her storage space as she continued.

“So I was thinking it would be dangerous to let anyone see the Logismoi Oplo being handed over.”

“Ohhh. Horizon, I appreciate the thought, but could you maybe act more like a national representative?”

“Judge. Understood, Masazumi-sama.”

Musashi’s princess raised her right hand toward Mouri Terumoto.

“I have taken your vainglory and pride.”

“Testament. That sounds pretty crazy when you say it out loud.”

“Now, if you will fill out this receipt.”

“Hold on.”

Terumoto glared at Musashi’s princess as she pulled a parchment receipt from her storage space.

“Fill in the ‘recipient’ box with ‘Horizon Ariadust’ and the ‘item name’ box with ‘Logismoi Oplo x2’. Oh, and I will provide an invoice for the same items, so please keep it on file.”

Yoshiyasu watched Terumoto’s glaring intensify as she filled out the form as asked.

Asama: “Terumoto-san is surprisingly responsible about these things.”

Me: “Huh? We got the Logismoi Oplo back!? Hell yeah!”

Silver Wolf: “So, um, we did get them back, but what is the situation now?”

Uqui: “Can’t you see? Mouri Terumoto is filling out a receipt for Horizon.”

Silver Wolf: “Please! Can’t someone explain this in an understandable fashion!?”

Wise Sister: “Calm down, Mitotsudaira! As far as I can see, this is nothing more than Mouri Terumoto filling out a receipt for Horizon!”

Silver Wolf: “Tomoooo!”

Asama: “Um, calm down, Mito. …Now, Kimi, you need to be more accurate or you’ll confuse Mito. So, um, just look, Mito. Horizon just handed an invoice to Terumoto-san.”

Silver Wolf: “This doesn’t make any sense!”

Why would you expect sense around here? wondered Yoshiyasu.

But this means two Logismoi Oplo have been returned to Musashi.

They now had a total of six. Which left…

Vice President: “Akedia, gluttony, and lust.”

Yoshiyasu saw the Musashi Vice President give a quick nod to Mouri Terumoto.

“The Apocalypse situation has shifted much further in Musashi’s favor,” she said. “But that isn’t all. Right, Mouri Terumoto?”


Terumoto did not hide what she thought.

She spread her mouth horizontally and felt her lips bending into a smile, but she did not stop it.

She looked straight ahead to the Musashi Vice President.

This girl!

Ever since the Siege of Odawara, this girl had never let up. She refused to go along with what Terumoto wanted.

She always read between the lines, figured out what was really going on, and ensured her side’s safety throughout.

She might look like an ally, but she was behaving a lot like an enemy.

Where had she learned to be so cautious?

There must have been a time when that girl had hid herself, observed the other person’s behavior, and acted accordingly.

In my case, it was my life in the reservation.

What had made this girl like this?


“Nobu-tan! Nobu-tan! It looks like Masazumi-kun is negotiating with the national representatives on Tama, so should we really be having a karaoke tournament here!?”

“Koni-tan, you fool! We already gathered all the information necessary for that meeting and submitted it to the committees! The rest depends on Masazumi. …But not to worry. I made sure to give her the sensibilities and everything else she needs to be a politician!”

“Nobu-tan! That actually sounds really cool!”

“Judge! I must always maintain my dignity and presence as her father. Unfortunately, that meant I could never actually communicate with her. The other day, I invited her to go see the kid’s kabuki show ‘Yoshitsune’s Kickass Fund-Raising Fighters’, but she declined and said I did not have to force myself. …Ishikawa, I gave that ticket to you! Get over here for a second!”

“Nobu-tan! Nobu-tan! You should really consider the timing of these things!”


Terumoto recalled that the Musashi Vice President’s father was on Musashi’s Provisional Council. He must have trained her to be like this.

She had lived in Mikawa before moving to Musashi and becoming Vice President, so she probably had a strongly Far Eastern point of view. However…

Did she learn how powerful nations do things at England and Magdeburg?

Also, added Terumoto.

There was a somewhat troublesome thing about the Musashi Vice President.

She’s really acclimated herself to Musashi’s weirdness.


Flat Vassal: “V-Vice President! I think the Mouri Representative is giving you an extremely suspicious look.”

Vice President: “Wait, what? Did I do something?”

Gold Mar: “Hm, I think you’re good, Seijun.”

Vice President: “Really, Naito?”

Gold Mar: “Yeah. Everyone’s done something or other without realizing it, so this is normal.”

Vice President: “That’s not good at all!”

Mar-Ga: “Don’t be silly. It happens all the time. Y’know, like suddenly finding you’ve finished a storyboard or drawn more pages than planned.”

Hori-ko: “Anyway, the receipt I was given checks out, so the retrieval was a success. I suppose I will activate them and incorporate them into my system real quick on the way back. I want to get to sleep as soon as I can.”

Me: “Is it just me or is their value plummeting?”

Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! They were very valuable back when it was just Lype Katathlipse! So just think of it as the relative value as they grow in number!”


It can’t be fun being one of the original owners, thought Masazumi without taking her eyes off of Mouri Terumoto.

“From Mouri’s perspective, I imagine returning the Logismoi Oplo was part of the post-battle negotiation.”

But there was something more.

Houjou Genan knew that, hence the self-deprecation.

If returning the Logismoi Oplo was all there was, he would have had no reason to smile like that. He would only have smiled bitterly in order to say “it’s over”.

But since he had shown self-deprecation…

They have some other silly thing to do.

Even after returning the Logismoi Oplo, there was still something worth laughing at themselves over.

What was that?

I’m betting it has to do with that.

A mystery diplomatic ship was landing beyond the Mouri one.

Mouri had two other ships which were landing over there, but that was likely to prevent Musashi from seeing the mystery ship. Or…

Tonbokiri: “They are making sure that ship cannot escape.”

Mar-Ga: “All the windows you might be able to see inside are covered with curtains.”

Wise Sister: “We need to buy some thick curtains too.”

Asama: “Oh, you’re right.”

Almost Everyone: “…”

Asama: “Eh!? No, um, I didn’t mean anything weird. I just meant privacy for, um…no, I mean to prevent fires!”

Me: “I mean, I don’t want to be peeped on either. I sometimes work on new material at home.”

Asama: “Right!? Right!?”

Me: “Yeah. Also, I sometimes get really fired up when playing porn games at night.”

Hori-ko: “It would seem I need to give your room a thorough destroying from time to time.”

Mar-Ga: “Anyway, let’s just assume they’re busy playing porn games in that ship.”

That was an awful conclusion to reach.

But if they were preventing anyone from seeing inside, they must really not want anyone to know what nation they were from.

And they’re waiting until after the meeting.

That meant Terumoto’s plan and Genan’s self-deprecation were both about something after the meeting. In that case, Mouri would not be the center of the discussion.

Masazumi turned to face the person she needed to speak with now. That meant looking away from Terumoto.

“Come on out. I know you can hear this.”

She spoke to…

“Negotiator Ootani Yoshitsugu. Let’s hear what you have to say about the end of the Siege of Odawara.”


Asama opened a targeting spell around her.

The foundation was built on Branch and Leaf Connection, the targeting spiritual protection spell created to defend the Ariake. A hemispherical ether turret was displayed overhead like a compass and it spun around.

“Heh heh heh. Asama! Who are you planning to shoot!? Looks like you’re aimed at…zooooooom in! Oh, dear! That’s Mito’s boobs! Are you trying to blast an air hole in them so they get even smaller!? Are you sure you should do that!?”

“Mito, you deal with Kimi.”

“Tomo! I’ll admit that reaction is new, but it doesn’t solve anything!”

That was true, but what else could she do? Also, she was not using this to shoot someone this time.

“Ah, there he is!”

Branch and Leaf Connection’s crosshairs aligned at a position just above eye level in the southeastern sky.

The target was approximately 3km away.

The anti-virus protection the Asama Shrine had built seemed to be working because Ootani was all the way out there.

The half a celestial sphere opened around Asama was targeting something in the distance.

An M.H.R.R. Catholic-style sign frame.

Once she had it targeted, she opened a telescope sight. She then displayed an enlarged version of the image above the entire meeting space like it was a ceiling painting.

There was some static in the image, but it definitely showed Ootani.

But something was off about him in that Catholic sign frame.

“Why is he so beat up?”

“I dunno.” Masazumi tilted and scratched her head before asking a question of the image overhead. “Hey, Ootani, aren’t you kind of beat up? Did you even participate in the Siege of Odawara?”

“Not to worry! I merely happened across an unexpected foe a few hours ago.”

“Okay, I won’t worry about it.”

“W-wait! Don’t you want to hear my tale of derring-do!? Telling and listening to war stories is an honor for warriors, is it not!? Actually, you’re just ignoring me, aren’t you!? Aren’t you!?”

“No, I’m listening, I’m listening. So what’d you say?”

Masazumi could be pretty cruel. But then she pointed up at the overhead sign frame and looked back at Asama.

“Asama, can you not put it overhead? My neck is getting tired.”

“Okay, I’ll put it below us.”

“Heh heh. Asama? Won’t that give him a low angle view?”

“Hmm.” Asama spent around two seconds thinking about how the sign frame worked. “Then I’ll double it so the image is below and the camera is above.”

Setting it up was simple enough. This created a greater processing load, but she could fix that by trimming the FPS by 2 or 3. So she did so.

“How about this?”

She placed the image of Ootani below them so the various national representatives were surrounding it.

“Ah, what is going on!?” said Ootani. “I am up here, but I can see myself down there!”

“Don’t worry about it, Ootani. Your viewpoint’s the same, so you can look down on us all you want.”

“I see… Wait, but now I can only see the tops of your heads because you’re all looking down!”

“Ootani, let’s not be selfish.”

“I-I don’t like the pity in your voice! Or the way you’re looking down as you say it!”

He was an incredibly well made virus, but Asama felt like this kind of defeated the purpose.

At any rate, Masazumi raised her right hand. She stuck her right arm out to the side and she pointed to the sky with the white glove on her raised right forearm.

“Ootani. How did Houjou do at the Siege of Odawara? We can start with that.” She inhaled. “And, Ootani, listen carefully. Whatever your answer, we will find a way to pursue you. So give us your assessment of the Punishment of Houjou with that in mind.”

She said it.

And she looked up so suddenly she seemed to shatter the atmosphere. She was looking at Ootani. And at Hashiba who she knew had to be watching too.

She was making sure her words reached Hashiba and she clenched her raised right hand.

“Listen.”


“Well? Can you hear me, Hashiba? Is this reaching you, P.A. Oda? There’s still a lot we don’t know and you might be snickering at our ignorance, but we will still use the world’s current rules to pursue you. So use your interpretations, Hashiba. If you don’t want us on your tail, then use your interpretations and use the ‘proper’ distortions of forced Testament compliance to endure our attacks. …We welcome it. After all, we have an idiot on our side and everyone who supports us has changed or is changing. At the very least, we are not alone. We won’t let any of us be alone, so we will continue forward in search of something. That is what we and our nation will do. If we’re missing anything, we will accept something to fill that gap. The borderline of universal acceptance is plenty large, so all we need to do is continue forward.

“What stands in our way? You.

“So make your decision, Hashiba and P.A. Oda. We will simply grant the history you have forced on us all. If you will force the rules of the Testament onto the world and its nations and if you will bet people’s lives on the result, we will give you the history you want.

“Listen up, world. If there are sacrifices on the path ahead and you are being forced to make those sacrifices, then call us. We have proven and will continue to prove that no interpretation or coercion can stand in our way.”


Masazumi did not take a breath after she finished.

She held her breath for a few seconds before slowly inhaling.

Meanwhile, only silence surrounded her. However…

This is a gamble.

That divine transmission must have reached P.A. Oda. And the representatives here would have sent it to their nations. That was especially important when it came to Hexagone Française. And…

Musashi: “Tomoe Gozen-sama of the M.H.R.R. Protestants has sent word that she received that divine transmission. Over.”

That was enough.

This was the turning point leading to the end of the Thirty Years’ War.

But unlike the Age of the Gods described in the Testament, the M.H.R.R. Catholics, who included Hashiba, had not lost their national strength. So the other nations feared their interpretive “defeat” and revenge.

The European nations in particular would be reliant on Hexagone Française.

And the result of the flooding of Paris would have only strengthened that reliance.

So it would be dangerous to just let the Kantou Liberation happen. Mouri and Hexagone Française would increase their international reputation and Musashi could be limited to Kantou, or at best nowhere west of the Tokai region, in order to provide assistance.

So we need to announce our hostile stance against Hashiba before the Kantou Liberation.

The flooding of Paris had been good PR for Hexagone Française, but it helped Musashi too.

It had proven that Hashiba and M.H.R.R. were not unbeatable.

So it would seem more plausible that Musashi could do it too. And…

“How about it?”

The world’s nations now had two options. When considering their opposition to M.H.R.R. and Hashiba, they could either rely on Hexagone Française or join with Musashi.

Silver Wolf: “You completely caught them off guard, Masazumi. You lured the nations in, had them open their divine transmission lines, gathered every other nation’s attention, and then proclaimed your intent to oppose Hashiba and fight yet another war.”

Vice President: “Yes, well, this seemed like the best time.”

“True,” agreed Naruze on a divine transmission.

Mar-Ga: “The top trending terms on the European network are ‘Musashi’, ‘warmonger’, and ‘invasion of Europe’. The threads are exploding.”

10ZO: “If everyone is focused on that, why is ‘That Ninja General 7312’ still getting so much attention on the Musashi network? Are the Musashi residents numb to it by now?”

Hori-ko: “Envy of others is more popular than war. …Oh, is that a victory for me since I control envy? I must do my best to avoid getting a big head about it.”

Vice President: “Dammit! It doesn’t bother me! I won’t let it bother me!”

No, that was not the issue.

For one thing, they could not wait until after the Kantou Liberation to challenge Hashiba.

She more or less knew what was going to happen now.

And this had to be the best time to make a move against Hashiba. So…

Vice President: “Listen, everyone. We might be losing to Crossunite in Musashi, but we’re doing pretty well in the rest of the world. Not that that’s a good thing exactly.”

Uqui: “Masazumi, shouldn’t you calm down some? Yes, just like us.”

Vice President: “No, all of you are just crazy.”

“But wait,” said Masazumi.

Vice President: “Hashiba probably hopes to get summer break started. They want to intervene in the Kantou Liberation and begin summer break with as little damage to their own forces as possible.”

Laborer: “How can you be so sure? Help me understand.”

Yeah, I guess a lot of our people wouldn’t understand what I’m talking about… thought Masazumi while mentally looking down at the floor. But her response was simple.

Vice President: “P.A. Oda will start working on the Honnouji Incident during or immediately after summer break, so Hashiba will not hesitate to use their Great Return here. And they will try to keep their losses to a minimum in Kantou.”

Do you understand?

Vice President: “During summer break, any history recreations not contained to your own nation are generally banned. Anything that involves another nation is usually delayed until after summer break. So to put it another way…”

Masazumi explained.

Vice President: “If the Honnouji Incident is recreated during or immediately after summer break, P.A. Oda can safely end it, hand things over to the next generation, and fight against Europe and the other nations with a new system at the start of the second term.”


So that’s it, thought Yoshiyasu as she came to understand what everyone was doing here.

We can assume P.A. Oda will begin a new system during summer break.

That would be a threat to the nearby nations and Kantou as a whole.

Of course, this had been fairly predictable, so those nations would have been completing crucial history recreations in advance to avoid the threat.

But it felt more real now that all the pieces had been gathered.

The plan was to pursue Hashiba and P.A. Oda in order to wear down their national strength. However…

Righteousness: “At this rate, just as we begin our pursuit in earnest, P.A. Oda will use the break to establish their new system and sweep across Europe and other areas.”

Vice President: “Yes. However the Kantou Liberation ends, it will not do any direct damage to P.A. Oda. So if Hashiba is worried about anything, it would be the loss of officers and skilled fighters from Oda.”

“Judge,” agreed Yoshiyasu as she came to understand something else.

This was why Hashiba had sent a novice like Kani to the Siege of Odawara.

She had also heard Ikeda Terumasa had started rebuilding the Shirasagi Castle in the mountains of west Kantou.

They’re raising their next generation to be immediately useful after the break.

In that case, began Yoshiyasu in her heart.

Righteousness: “This would be the time to say this.”

They could not wait until after the Kantou Liberation to challenge Hashiba.

Afterwards, Hashiba could just claim they were beginning summer break and build themselves back up from there.

If P.A. Oda said there were no more history recreations to be fulfilled at the moment, they could declare their territory inviolable and guarantee a new invasion under a new system after the break.

So it had to be now.

Righteousness: “Understood.”

Yoshiyasu recalled what Musashi’s Vice President had said in the bathhouse earlier.

Musashi might not be able to take part in the Kantou Liberation.

She knew what that must have meant.

Righteousness: “If Hashiba wants to arrive in time for the Kantou Liberation, rushing to Kantou is not their only option. They can force us into a history recreation and wear down our forces before the Kantou Liberation. With fewer forces, the Liberation would take longer and they could make it in time.”

And she knew what the Musashi Vice President must be thinking.

Righteousness: “Musashi plans to use that in order to start a history recreation when they try to start summer break. Also…”

She also knew how they would do that.

Righteousness: “Musashi intends to intervene in the Honnouji Incident, don’t you?”


Uqui: “So that’s it. Now I see what Masazumi wants to do.”

Masazumi nodded at Urquiaga’s comment.

Vice President: “It feels like this took forever to explain, but there you have it.”

“I see,” said Urquiaga. And…

Uqui: “Hey, everyone! Masazumi says she wants us to go without a summer break.”

Almost Everyone: “Ehhhhhhhhhh!?”

Vice President: “Hey, wait!”

After shouting in text form, the idiot physically ran over. He was pale, soaked with a cold sweat, and holding his shoulders.

“A-are you serious, Seijun!? This is summer break we’re talking about! That’s the season of the beach, swimsuits, and wardrobe malfunctions! Oh, but don’t expect any of that last one from me, okay? …Anyway, why would you tear down all of my fun plans for summer break!?”

“Well, doesn’t that describe the way things are in your house nowadays?”

Asama and Mitotsudaira tensed at that and the idiot sister placed a hand on their shoulders.

But the idiot raised his hands toward the heavens.

“Swimsuits look completely different inside and outside the house! Horizon’s swimsuit is an old lady one mom bought her so it has impenetrable old lady defenses, but I just know Asama and Nate’s will look completely different when they’re wet and with the sun shining on them.”

“W-wait, Toori-kun. I’m not that defenseless, am I?”

All the other girls refused to look Asama in the eye. “Huh!?” stammered the shrine maiden before she grabbed the wolf’s shoulders and shook her. “Mito! You have something to say too, don’t you!?”

“No, um, I’ve kind of decided to expedite my schedule when it comes to having my king compliment my swimsuit…”

“Resist! Show a bit more resistance, Mito!”

“Fat chance of that,” muttered the others. Then the idiot said more while entirely oblivious to Horizon cracking her neck behind him.

“Listen, Seijun! I’m talking about the beach! Swimsuits! Regular clothing that’s skimpier than normal! I’m talking about summer festivals, playing in the river together, and study sessions where your hands end up touching! I believe we should focus on those things when we make our plans here. After all, the psychological liberation is so much greater when it’s summer break! But wait there’s more! Act now and-…”

Horizon sent her right knuckle into the idiot’s temple.

He slowly collapsed to the side and Horizon raised her right hand.

“I apologize, Masazumi-sama. If I let him continue, I was afraid he would steal my infomercial gag.”

So would she have let him continue if not for that? But Masazumi had a thought as she watched Horizon pick the idiot up by the collar and Asama and Mitotsudaira quickly run over.

Summer break is important, isn’t it?

“Well, I guess that’s fine.”

Mar-Ga: “Wait just a second. I think we need to know what you were planning for the break.”

Vice President: “Nothing really. I generally spend summer break at the school library looking through the books.”

“Wow…” said everyone in shock.

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Now I see why you would use your authority as Vice President to establish a Summer Break Extermination Committee.”

Gold Mar: “No one ever invited you to go play with them?”

Vice President: “No, I always have work and errands to run, so it was never worth it.”

“Hmm,” groaned Masazumi.

Vice President: “But I’m fine with that, so I don’t really care.”

Mar-Ga: “Wait. Even if we do respect your individuality, are you planning to apply that to everyone in Musashi? You can’t do that.”

That was fair enough.

Vice President: “Then what? Do we force everyone to have fun during summer break? …Ookubo.”

Nagaya-Stable: “Ugh, what a pain. Let’s just say not having fun gets the death penalty.”

CAN: “Milady! You can’t be so careless just because today has been a rough day!”

It sounded like a novel new regulation was in the works, but this opposite extreme would be a problem too.

“Anyway,” said Masazumi while holding out her hands to stop the others.

Vice President: “Let’s respect everyone’s summer break. But the world is still in motion, so it will depend on that.”

“Hmm,” groaned the others with their arms crossed. That felt like a dangerous sight, but…

“Here it comes.”

Masazumi saw Ootani moving on the targeting sign frame opened on the deck.

He had a small sign frame opened by his hands and he turned to face them. His oversized head stared at them with the hollow eyes below his ether helmet.

“We have made a decision. First of all, I will make a ruling on the Siege of Odawara.”

Everyone tensed as Ootani’s voice rang out.

“I have decided that the Siege of Odawara is not yet over. After all, Date participated, but their Chancellor Masamune has not completed her late arrival.”

He held his small sword in front of him like a staff.

“The Keichou Campaign must wait until Date Masamune has arrived and the Siege of Odawara is complete.”


Chapter 7: Off Duty Ones at the Workplace[edit]

Horizon7-A237.jpg

Work-life balance is important

So

Point Allocation (Play)


“Delay the Keichou Campaign until Masamune arrives and the Siege of Odawara can officially end?”

He really knows how to get to the point, thought Narumi.

The Musashi group had been physically fighting each other and she could tell the sign frame tackles were accumulating, but…

What do we do about this?

“Ootani Yoshitsugu. This sounds like a pain, so I have a suggestion.”

“What might that be?”

“Judge,” replied Narumi.

She made what felt like a perfectly natural suggestion.

“Could we get around that by beating you up?”


Gold Mar: “Is Narumin kinda mad?”

Uqui: “That was wonderfully direct and to the point, Narumi.”

Vice President: “Hold on. I didn’t see this coming.”


Narumi called out to the cartoonish figure on the screen.

“What will you do?”

“What do you mean?”

“This sounds like a pain, so it would be a lot easier if we handled the negotiations with a duel.”

Caretaker: “Narumi-sama, I think you should try harder to keep your thoughts hidden.”

Unturning: “I am prepared to take responsibility for my thoughts.”

“Now,” said Narumi while looking up into the sky instead of at the sign frame. “What will you do?”

“We do not accept that the history recreation can be bypassed by using the outcome of a duel in place of negotiations.”

“So you’re going to run away?” she asked with a slight tilt of her head. “What a loser.”


Hori-ko: “Splendid job, Narumi-sama. It would seem this was the time to be aggressive.”

Azuma: “Wow, that’s incredible! You actually found a way to pick a fight with him!”

Vice President: “…”

Silver Wolf: “Masazumi! Positive! Stay positive! We need to keep a positive outlook, okay!?”


“Wait! Don’t assume you can provoke me into a fight!”

Narumi did not direct her attention toward the voice coming from below. She kept her eyes overhead. She knew his visual recording spell was there, so she knew how to look him right in the eye.

So she kept her eyes on him as she spoke.

“So you say,” she said. “But all this bluster is just a way of hiding your weakness.”

“I will interpret that as an affront to my honor.”

“But it’s true you aren’t very strong.”

“My position and our policy prevent me from fighting now.” Ootani held his head high on the screen. “But I will make you eat those words one day.”

Just as he said that, an animal paw entered the screen from the right and swatted him away.

It was a feline right hook.


“Hey, stop that. Ootani is trying to work, so don’t play with him. Oh, c’mon.”

“P-please wait! Yoshiaki-sama, what is that cat doing here!? Ow ow ow ow ow!”

Yoshiaki nodded and spoke to Ootani as he was pummeled by the cat.

“He grew attached to me in Shimoda. He didn’t seem to be anyone’s pet and they say cats act as a ship’s guardian deity.”

Ootani was deteriorating as she spoke, but when she reached toward the cat…

“…!”

The cat picked Ootani up in his mouth and ran away from her. She lowered the ends of her eyebrows at that.

“Ootani, looks like he likes you.”

“He does not like me! He thinks I am his prey just like a cicada or a mouse!”

“Oh, excuse me, Big Katou! Mind if I help out!?”

Kani approached from the side and picked up one of Yoshiaki’s feathers that had fallen to the deck.

“Here, kitty! Over here!”

Kani got down on all fours and waved the feather in front of the cat. And instead of waving the end, she used a flicking motion. It did not take long for the cat to let go of Ootani.

“Oh, he’s coming to you. Kani, you know how to deal with cats, don’t you?”

“My family home is next to the market, so you’d be in a lot of trouble if you didn’t know how to handle cats!”

Kani scooped up the cat in her arms and Yoshiaki rubbed her head. The girl narrowed her eyes but also stood tall.

“If you’re ever having trouble with cats, just leave it to me! It’s my specialty!”

Yoshiaki looked down to see Ootani prostrating himself at Kani’s feet. But now was not the time for that. She sighed and gave a push on Kani’s back as the girl entered bashful mode.

“Ootani, get back to work.”


“Anyway, let us get back on topic, Date Vice Chancellor!”

“Judge.” Narumi nodded. “Were you playing with a cat?”

“The cat is irrelevant to this discussion!”

Everyone responded to that with an “eh?”

“He shows off how much fun he’s having and then says it’s irrelevant?” said Terumoto.

And from the Musashi group…

“What’s wrong with him?” asked Naruze. “It looked to me like he was asking for it.”

“If so, should we not release the images of him playing with the cat?” asked Tenzou.

“Probably not,” agreed Adele. “If you ask me, a dog lover would be more honest about how they feel.”

“Heh heh heh. What about with wolves?” asked Kimi. “Hey, Mitotsudaira! Don’t you wish you had been as aggressive as your mom?”

“C-can you not use the past tense there!?” protested Mitotsudaira. “It’s an insult!”

“I-I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m just going to assume it is an affront to my honor!” cut in Ootani.

“You’re wrong there,” said Narumi. “This is how it always is with Musashi. Do you know what that means?”

“No.”

“You don’t?” she asked. “It means the whole world will be like this if Musashi takes over.”


Asama: “Sorry. That was a little too much of a shock even for me.”

Scarred: “Um, what does this mean?”

Gold Mar: “If the Chancellor conquers the world, then the entire world will be watching over you and Tenzou and cheering the two of you on.”

Scarred: “My!”

'10ZO: “I-I have a feeling it won’t quite turn out that way!”

Vice President: “…”

Mar-Ga: “Look at her. You can tell she never thought this through before.”

Vice President: “How can you people take this in stride?”


Ootani trembled.

This is dangerous!

They lived in the Warring States period, but once history shifted in Matsudaira’s favor, the Edo period and its warrior culture would begin.

The Testament did talk about Hashiba’s defeat followed by Matsudaira’s rise. The real question was how much they could resist it before it happened.

But once the coming age arrived…

“Are you saying you will create a world in which people are constantly sent flying, framed by wicked plots, and scorned!?” Ootani pointed at the lernen figur and shouted. “We are fighting for our vision for the world, so you need to have your own clear vision for the world when you face us! Got that!?”

“Wait,” said the Date Vice Chancellor. “So you say we should face each other with our own clear visions for the world?”

“Exactly!”

“Then.” She took a breath. “I can only assume you oppose Hashiba’s involvement in Date’s role in the Siege of Odawara. After all, Date and Hashiba have not shared a clear vision there.”


“Wait!”

Narumi looked back when she heard Ootani’s words.

“Are you ready to do this?” she asked.

“Are you trying to quibble your way into safety for Date!?”

“No. Which is why I asked if you are ready to do this,” she said. “If you take issue with what Date is doing, Date is prepared to battle Hashiba at any time. It is those very preparations that give Masamune a need to apologize for the late arrival and go visit Kyou. So what do you hope to accomplish by provoking me?”

Narumi looked around.

She turned her body southeast and looked far into the distance.

“Date is not looking for a way to protect itself. Even if we reproduce the late arrival, send Masamune to Kyou to apologize, and have her used as a hostage to stop us, the Seiryu has already decided who it will protect and those who serve Masamune are willing to die for her. They would tear down Kyou from within if it would make up for Kojirou’s mistaken thoughts. However…”

However…

“Kojirou and Komahime left with happiness in their hearts. So we will spare you this time, Ootani Yoshitsugu.”

“Then what do you suggest?”

“If you insist on a recreation of the late arrival, we will give it to you. But you might not like the method we use.”

Narumi narrowed her eyes while viewing Hashiba’s Odawara fleet traveling east and the fleet in Edo beyond that.

“We will make sure arrive late when ‘joining the Hashiba forces in Kantou’. And we will do so with a rapid attack from the north. They should arrive in four hours’ time. And that Date attack will be the late arrival. We will be able to start the Keichou Campaign immediately afterwards. Lovely, isn’t it?”

She took a breath and spoke to someone else when she opened her mouth again.

“Rusu-san, do you know the formation of Hashiba’s Kantou fleet?”

“Testament. I can see most everything, including predictions of what they will do next.”

“What would be the most effective way to attack them?”

“I will send out the Aoba Castle. …Or the entire fleet if Hashiba insists.”

“You can’t say it like that,” warned Narumi. “Say you are sending out Masamune in burial garb.”


Yoshiyasu gasped at what Narumi said.

This girl.

She had changed a lot.

As Masamune’s aide, she had never strayed from her duty of guarding and protecting Masamune.

But this Date Narumi was different. She now trusted in Masamune’s strength and used her words to prepare a battlefield for Masamune.

Masamune changed and Narumi changed along with her.

Masamune no longer feared her own power and Narumi had been freed.

Narumi now viewed Masamune as the clan leader and someone with great strength. She was someone who could make decisions and take responsibility for anything that was left with her.

If some dragon food was tossed to her, she would choose the choicest morsels and devour them. And now that Narumi had left Date, her job was to search for the food that only she could reach but would benefit Date.

That had to be how Narumi felt she could repay her clan for letting her leave and have her freedom.

Honestly, thought Yoshiyasu.

In the past, she had met Masamune and the others from Date during festivals focused on the European groups and other events. They had not exactly been friends, but she had spoken with her.

And based on that, she could tell Masamune was moving ever higher.

One must never grow complacent. Yes, that was best. You had to stay focused.

Gold Mar: “Hey, Narumin is clearly pissed, but how do we calm her down?”

Novice: “I think it would be neat to just let the world collapse!”

Uqui: “At this point, Narumi can still be calmed down with words. No weapons will be necessary if we act now.”

Flat Vassal: “So how did the 2nd Special Duty Officer persuade her to stop at Date?”

Bell: “They hit each other, he grabbed her boobs, um, he gave her some panties, they hit each other with hammers, everything blew up…and it all got better?”

10ZO: “If that’s the best explanation Suzu-dono can give, it must have been an absolute disaster.”

Did none of them know how to stay focused? But…

“Wait, Date Vice Chancellor.”

Someone spoke up, It was the Musashi Vice President.

She raised her right hand and then spoke to Ootani.

“You two are parallel. In other words, at an impasse. So I would like to provide help as an outside mediator.”


Masazumi took a step forward.

The Date Vice Chancellor turned to look at her. And the look on her face was…

The same as always.

Naito had said she was pissed, but Masazumi felt it was more accurate to say she reacted differently depending on the problem she was addressing.

At the Vice Chancellor level, it was possible to choose battle as an option even while entirely calm. Futayo did that a lot, so Masazumi was familiar with it.

“Date Vice Chancellor,” called out Masazumi. “I appreciate the swift decision since we can’t afford to have our actions restricted between battles like this, but I have no intention of wasting Date’s forces and future. Besides…”

Besides…

“Look how calm you are. You shouldn’t go to war at the drop of a hat.”

When she said that, all the national representatives and the Date Vice Chancellor looked behind her.

“Eh?”

Masazumi turned around to see Horizon pointing her palms down and then raising them.

“Three, two, one.”

Then everyone pointed at her.

“You’re one to talk!!!”


Vice President: “What!? When have I ever gone to war at the drop of a hat!?”

Mar-Ga: “Someone! Anyone! Call a brain doctor!”

Tachibana Wife: “Do you have any of those on the Musashi? If not, it would explain a lot.”

Tonbokiri: “Judge. Some people here do a lot of very strange things.”

Tachibana Husband: “Ha ha ha. Gin? Why not spar with me instead of punching the wall like that?”


They’re all so rude, thought Masazumi while raising her eyebrows and crossing her arms.

“Just to be clear to the other nations, Musashi acts as independent Far Eastern territory and its actions are meant to further the causes of peace and stability. And after some conflicts with other academies, we have won-…”

She counted up the number of victories in her head. And…

“Hm, this isn’t the time to discuss that. Forget I said anything.”

“Don’t try to deny it!” they all shouted.

She held up both hands to stop them and faced forward.

“Hold on. …Listen, Date and Hashiba. If you recreate the late arrival now, I believe neither of you would like the result.”

“I don’t mind,” replied Narumi.

“If you simply ‘won’t mind’, then you have no reason to insist on it happening, right?”

After some thought, Narumi looked up into the sky.

“I suppose so.” She lowered her head again and nodded toward Masazumi. “You handle it. So I don’t have to mess with it.”

“Judge. I appreciate it. Now, Hashiba…Ootani.”

“Testament, what is your suggestion?”

“Judge,” said Masazumi again before stating her thoughts. “We will have Masamune’s late arrival done, but we will let Date choose the method and have it be a standalone history recreation. And we will not set a deadline.”


“The Musashi Vice President is here to strike a balance,” muttered Katou Yoshiaki in the sky with the Musashi visible to the west.

The cat sat on the cannon pedestal next to her and Kani had put herself at eye level with the cat. She used a feather to play with the cat while turning to look at Yoshiaki.

“Strike a balance!? What does that mean!?”

“By making Masamune’s late arrival a standalone Date history recreation, she has separated Date from the Siege of Odawara discussion. Since all the other groups have completed the Siege, nothing else will stand in the Keichou Campaign’s way.”

However…

“By making it a standalone Date history recreation, Date can no longer ‘join the Hashiba forces’ with an attack like the Date Vice Chancellor suggested earlier. They can only arrive late in the normal way. Then Masamune will be summoned to Kyou, triggering the second apology. Do you know what that means for Date?”

Kani wrinkled her brow at that.

“Hmm,” she groaned while staring meaninglessly toward Date territory, but then she looked back at Yoshiaki again. “Date can’t participate in the Keichou Campaign today!”

“More accurately, they can’t participate in any battles until their late arrival is complete. That probably means until Kyoto is safe. I wonder if this means the Musashi Vice President doesn’t want Date to do anything until the Honnouji Incident is over.”

“But isn’t that in…in…inexpedient for Date!?”

“Well done finding the word. But is that how it seems to you?”

“Testament! If they fight in the Keichou Campaign they can show Kantou, Oushuu, and the neighboring areas just how much butt they kick!”

“You mean it gives them influence.”

“Yes, that!”

“In that case,” began Yoshiaki. She also approached the cat and raised her main wing for him to see. She closed the feathers to keep any air out so it would not lift her from the deck. The cat responded to the wing’s movement by raising and turning his head. When she made a feint to the right and pulled it back, the cat got up but then crouched back down.

He may have thought she was hiding something big and fluffy behind her back.

While playing with him like that, she patted him and continued speaking.

“The Musashi Vice President has given Date an important role to play.”

“What is it!?”

“The intermediary between Kantou and Oushuu. …Think about it. Date doesn’t have to start summer break while recreating the late arrival.”

Which meant…

“While Date is recreating the late arrival, Kantou, Oushuu, and the related nations can more easily reopen their own history recreations via Date. And for anything that can only be resolved with a history recreation – such as anything left over from the Siege of Odawara or the Keichou Campaign – can be dealt with by involving Date.”

“Isn’t that cheating!? They’re abusing the history recreation!”

“Yes, if you did that under normal circumstances, the Testament Union would say you were gathering power through abuse of the history recreation and the other nations might use that ruling as an excuse to attack you.”

However…

“We were the ones that demanded they recreate the late arrival. We effectively are the Testament Union now and we asked Date to do this, so we would have a hard time finding fault with their actions.”

Of course, Musashi had said Date’s late arrival would be an independent history recreation. So it would be a problem if they tried to include other nations partway through.

But responsibility would fall on Date and the other nation.

Besides, P.A. Oda would be busy with the Honnouji Incident and preparing for and executing other matters.

Even if Date involved other nations in small, independent-level history recreations, they would not have the spare forces needed to stop them and accuse them each time.

“Date might be shut out of the Keichou Campaign, but they can still act as the glue between Europe and the Kantou nations. Musashi probably sees that intermediary role as a way of making up for canceling out Date’s victory with a mere prostration.”

With a “now then”, Yoshiaki turned to look at something else.

Ootani stood on the deck with his head hanging and his shoulders drooping.

“Ootani.”

“Sorry. I never imagined it would turn out like this.”

“It’s fine. And we were the ones who chose you as a negotiator. You might be an id-…no, I can’t call you an idiot…but we were the ones who chose you. Now, the end result here is that Date gains their freedom and independence, but they can no longer fight against us. You did well for an id-…no, I can’t say you did well for an idiot.”

“You’re still saying it! You’re still saying it over and over again!”

“Well, not like it matters. …This prevents Date from fully participating in the Keichou Campaign.”

With that, Yoshiaki looked down, reached for the cat, and picked him up.

“This could have gone better, but we reduced the enemy’s power. You did well. So…”

She placed the cat in front of Ootani.

“You can play with him.”


For a while, Masazumi heard a wild mixture of screams and meows from outside the blank screen’s frame.

What are they doing?

Hori-ko: “Is this a sinister enemy plot to leave us with no time to rest?”

10ZO: “Wouldn’t that leave them with no time to rest either?”

A few seconds later, the color gold appeared on the screen.

There were 6 gold wings and hair of the same color.

The girl wore an M.H.R.R. summer uniform and she nodded once before looking to Masazumi.

“I am Katou Yoshiaki of M.H.R.R. Hashiba. Ootani is taking a break, so I will negotiate in his place.”


Katou Yoshiaki.

Masazumi heard everyone stir when that name was given.

Were they raising their guard against an enemy?

They’re all ready to fight.

Looking past the Kantou Liberation, they would also face this opponent in their longer war against Hashiba.

Masazumi understood why everyone was so cautious here, so she looked back at them.

“Everyone.”

And they all formed a quick scrum.

“So it was losing to her that left Heidi-dono with udon coming from her butt.”

“I believe so, yes.”

“Y’know, the divine punishments are under my authority, but it’s still pretty scary.”

Mar-Ga: “Where are Heidi and Shirojiro anyway?”

“Running around trying to find some way to raise the money they need before dawn.”

“Sounds about right,” muttered Masazumi. “Wait, why is that where your impression of her comes from!?”

“Well, it’s kinda hard for us to join this conversation,” said the idiot. “It’s about losing during that Ho-Joe battle, right?”

“More or less. But if this is going to follow the history recreation, we know how it will go.”

“True enough,” said Yoshiaki without trying to hide the sigh in her voice.

When Masazumi looked back toward her, she saw a short-haired girl behind Yoshiaki. The girl was holding Ootani up in both hands, laughing, and running away. There must have been something on the floor they were playing with. Yoshiaki continued speaking with that going on in the background.

“Houjou will break apart and we have already received Ujinao’s request to retire her inherited name. Same for their other representatives and officers. Which means…”

Yoshiaki opened a Magie Figur and read some information from it.

“Houjou Genan? The Testament Union’s demand for Houjou is to actively complete every last part of the Siege of Odawara.”

“Hm, that seems light as far as these decisions go.”

“If a nation as large as Houjou is collapsing, we would like it to occur as calmly and swiftly as possible.”

Someone responded to Yoshiaki’s words: Yoshiaki. Mogami Yoshiaki, that is.

She flipped her fan around and caught it again while it was pointing straight up.

“What are you after with that light decision?”

“Could any decision be lighter than overlooking Mogami in this situation?”

“How about overlooking Musashi?”

The fox gave a bitter “ko ko” of laughter.

Then she opened the fan, held it up to her mouth, and closed it once more.

“Telling Houjou to actively complete every last part of the Siege of Odawara makes it sound like you’re trying to curry their favor.”

“It does,” added Narumi. “With those conditions, Houjou can draw out their collapse to continue with their history recreation until Masamune has completed her late arrival to the Siege of Odawara.”

Masazumi knew what Narumi was trying to say and what Mogami Yoshiaki had hinted at.

Is Hashiba giving Houjou time to secure their rights in the very end?

Novice: “Hashiba’s suggestion is very interesting. I mean, Houjou can’t send any of their forces to the Keichou Campaign while their collapse continues. The Testament says their forces joined Matsudaira after their collapse, but since the Siege of Odawara is not entirely complete, they can’t do that yet.”

Righteousness: “Does that mean both Date and Houjou can’t participate in the Kantou Liberation?”

Me: “What happens then?”

Still Got It: “Nate! Hurry! C’mon! Raise your hand! Now!”

Silver Wolf: “What is this, bring your parent to class day!?”

But the wolf cleared her throat.

Silver Wolf: “If Date and Houjou do not participate, it will create two problems besides the simple difference in fighting force.”

Namely…

Silver Wolf: “First, there will be a supply problem. In Kantou, Houjou is to Edo’s west and Date is to Edo’s north. Even if the Kantou Liberation will be a short battle, a supply line is crucial. But with the nations to the west and north not present, we can only rely on Mogami and Uesugi, but Mogami is a little too far away and Uesugi is much too far.”

Me: “Then what’s the second problem?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. Houjou is to Edo’s west, so without them, there will be no one to stop Hashiba when they arrive from the west.”

Uqui: “True. But if Houjou did attack Hashiba, it would mean Hashiba had also participated in the Kantou Liberation. Do we really want that?”

Musashi: “Using the Azuchi’s estimated speed based on the previous pursuit, if Houjou does not delay them, the Azuchi can arrive behind the liberation forces around Edo in about 20 minutes after first arriving in Houjou territory. I have determined that would be very dangerous. Over.”

That it would, agreed Mitotsudaira’s mother.

Still Got It: “It’s a tough call. If Houjou could participate, they would have two choices: do not intercept Hashiba and use their forces to end the liberation in 20 minutes, or use their forces to intercept Hashiba. But without Houjou, only the former is possible, just without the Houjou forces to help.”

Hori-ko: “Fwee, fwee! Mitotsudaira-sama’s mother! Parents are not allowed to answer questions!”

“Oh, dear,” said the Reine des Garou, but an outside opinion was helpful at times like this.

This means Mouri views this situation the same way we do.

But there was something they needed to check on.

“Houjou.”

Masazumi asked a question of Houjou Representative Genan.

“Will your nation and academy accept Hashiba’s terms?”


Yoshiyasu saw Genan nod.

“Yes, that is probably the best choice for us.”

He indicated the sky behind him.

In the southwest, several lights floated shallowly in the sky above Odawara where they had been fighting half a day before.

“Those are the transport ships carrying Houjou’s people. Most of them were already prepared for this when the Siege of Odawara happened. Prepared to go to some other land or simply prepared to leave.”

“Then, Genan. What are they doing now?”

“They are using the evacuation for the Siege of Odawara as an excuse to leave Odawara.”

Genan opened a sign frame. It displayed a map of the area around Odawara, but it provided more information on elevation and harmonic territories than cities and roads.

“Even if Azuchi is in a hurry to reach Edo, it must resupply on the way lest they arrive in Kantou with no ammunition. I imagine they will do so at Lake Biwa Azuchi and then take a route through north Odawara. But if Houjou intercepted them at Odawara when they did so…” Genan reached for the sign frame and traced his finger across it from left to right. “We would fire on them from the front and both sides while they attempted to take a straight line to the east. The Azuchi would of course place the rest of its fleet around it as a shield, so it would become a fierce battle between that escort fleet and Odawara.”

What would happen then?

“As the Siege of Odawara is not yet officially over, we can evacuate the people, but they cannot move too far away from Houjou Land. If the aerial battle in Odawara grew too large, it would harm our people and damage the city of Odawara.”

“And in the long term, Matsudaira would be losing what they would otherwise get from Houjou land?”

“Precisely, Satomi. …In the long term, it would be best for Houjou to not take action here. It would be better to allow the Azuchi through and remain as reinforcements in case the need arises.”

“Judge,” someone said. It was the Musashi Vice President. “I agree with your suggestion from a long term viewpoint. Houjou is supposed to be Matsudaira’s enemy when it collapses, so do not worry about us and prioritize the safety of your people.”

“Are you sure?”

Genan narrowed his eyes toward the girl.

But she simply nodded and crossed her arms.

“I am. After all…”

Yoshiyasu listened to the answer as intently as Genan did.

“We are looking to the future. Planning to acquire something in the future is our specialty. Houjou has been looking to the past and trying to live in the past, but now you are handing us some power in the future. That means you are one of us.”

So…

“We will grab that outstretched hand in the future, Houjou.”


How childish.

Genan could not keep the bitter smile from his lips.

Children always believed the future belonged to them.

It probably helped that the Testament promised the future to Matsudaira. Of course, he felt certain that future would end at some far off point, but…

“Will you give us the present, Musashi?” asked Genan. “Then we will accept Hashiba’s proposal…and now that the present is ours, we will send our entire past to the bearers of the future.”

And…

“This ends the Siege of Odawara. This ends Houjou. Is that acceptable, Hashiba?”


Katou Yoshiaki viewed her Magie Figur.

Anti-M.H.R.R. divine transmission defenses had been set up from Odawara and across the entire Kantou region. She could only get information through that thanks to the efforts in the P.A. Oda controlled region of eastern Koshinetsu, Sakuma’s cruising supply fleet acting as a relay point, and…

“Ikeda Terumasa’s unit has also made for an excellent relay point.”

“Ah! Ikeda-kun! He’s actually doing his job!?”

Yoshiaki appreciated it. It meant a lot that she had this information and these instructions, especially the mission instruction document created by Hashiba and Takenaka.

Everyone knew Kantou was within Hashiba’s reach.

Transport ships loaded with equipment for relaying and amplifying divine transmissions were being sent to the eastern edge of P.A. Oda territory. They would provide divine transmission backup during the Keichou Campaign, but they would also deter the nearby nations from trying anything.

Hashiba and the others would be rushing in past them soon. No…

Angie’s probably already flying through there.

Yoshiaki was not cut off from her companions. She kept that in mind as she read what the instruction document from Hashiba told her to say.

“Mouri.”

There was something she had to say.

“First, the Testament says Mouri Terumoto stayed behind during the Keichou Campaign due to health problems. Therefore, you are banned from participating in the fighting during the Keichou Campaign.”

“Yeah, testament, testament. We’ve got someone to command our troops, so I can just sit back and watch.”

“Very good,” replied Yoshiaki. And, “The Mouri forces handled the transporting of supplies during the Keichou Campaign, so that is what we will have you do. …In other words, we would like for all of Mouri’s supplies to be handed over to the Edo Hashiba forces.”


Masazumi frowned at what Yoshiaki said.

So she’s reducing our supplies to lay on the pressure.

Novice: “Not bad. Keeping Date and Houjou out of the fight doubled as a way of cutting off our supplies. To then steal Mouri’s supplies means they’re trying to starve us out. It’s a very Hashiba method.”

Four Eyes: “Why would you explain it if you haven’t come up with a solution? Are you just trying to worry everyone?”

Worshiper: “Um, uh, can I say something?”

Ohiroshiki addressed the sudden concerns and questions.

Worshiper: “The Kantou Liberation will be a short-term battle, right? Even if Mouri hands over all their supplies, Musashi’s reserves can cover things for a day or two. If you ask me, they would need at least a week before they could hope to starve us out.”

“Judge,” agreed Masazumi.

Vice President: “I think Ohiroshiki is right.”

Worshiper: “Eh? My assistance is finally being acknowledged!? You’re finally noticing the brilliance of my thoughts which are as shockingly lovely as a little girl!?”

Vice President: “Okay, does anyone disagree?”

Worshiper: “W-wait! Wh-why would you do this!? How could you invite abuse upon my opinion while it trembles like a poor little girl!?”

Gold Mar: “Oh, I’ll abuse it all right. Juuuuudge.”

Vice President: “Judge. Then take it away, Naito.”

“Sure thing,” began Naito.

Gold Mar: “This is based on my experience in the delivery business, okay? It takes at least 3 days for Musashi’s reserves to reach 10 days’ worth…so how long do you think it would take to send a days’ worth to Mouri?”


Naito explained her concern as a deliverer.

Gold Mar: “It takes 3 days, or 72 hours, to transport 10 days’ worth, so that’s 7.2 hours for a day’s worth, right?”

Flat Vassal: “Yeah, and before you can even start on the actual work, you would have to gather transport equipment and personnel and then provide them with instructions. That means adding about 2 hours of preparation on top of that.”

Mar-Ga: “We have to be at a land port to make full use of Musashi’s transport district. Because the hull structure is weakened when the side is fully opened like that.”

Musashi: “Thank you for your concern. When trading with another nation’s ship, it takes time to set up the hub for their transport ships, so that is another unrealistic aspect of that idea. Over.”

I had a feeling.

There simply was not enough time. However…

Me: “Gold Mar.”

Gold Mar: “Eh? What is it, Chancellor?”

“Well,” replied the Chancellor.

Me: “Can’t we just have everyone from Mouri board the Musashi? With descent spells.”


Masazumi saw some lights.

They were on Musashino’s bridge. Lights were coming on all across that bridge-shaped structure.

Asama: “Oh, you thought this through.”

Musashino: “The tentative plan is complete. It would be possible to accept Mouri’s estimated 20,000 fighters onboard. Since we would have to consider the ship and fleet balance, rapid gravitational cruising would not be possible, but that should not be a problem for the localized Kantou Liberation. Over.”

Me: “You can do it? Awesome.”

Musashino: “We can do it. It is no different from taking on a heavy object. And if they descend from above, it should be possible to get 20,000 onboard in 30 minutes to an hour. But to be honest, the balance calculations considering hull strength and movement of personnel would take 5 hours based on-…”

Musashi: “…”

Musashino: “Would take 3 hours.”

Musashi: “…”

Musashino: “W-would take 2 hours.”

Musashi: “I have determined that is fine. Over.”

Naito calmly posted “quite the balance of power they’ve got there” in the divine chat, but was this really okay?

At any rate…

Musashi: “Please assume we can always welcome anyone on board without issue. Over.”

“That’s good to hear,” said Neshinbara. “Of course, this doesn’t mean Hexagone Française will agree to it and we still need their warships’ cannons. But if we send their ships out to attack while their normal fighters reinforce the Musashi’s fighting force, I think we can put together a decent strategy.”

“I see…” said Masazumi while turning to look at the idiot.

It was crazy, but it would still work. But when she looked to the idiot who had provided the idea…

Huh?

For once, the nudist was wearing clothes and the crossdresser was dressed like a boy.

“What’s wrong, Aoi? You’re dressed normally and it’s weirding me out.”

“Wh-what the hell is wrong with you!? I went to so much effort to charm people with my act itself instead of my fashion, and yet you still have to cast as-asp-aspers-…well, you know what I mean!”

While standing next to the idiot, Horizon pulled a teacup out of nowhere, held it in one hand, placed her other hand on her hip, gulped down the tea, and then looked down on him from above.

“What part of your reaction just now was supposed to be funny? Explain it to me.”

“She’s a messenger from hell,” muttered the others and Masazumi could only agree.

But she was curious about the way the idiot had been acting before this reaction.

“Hey, Aoi.”

“What is it, Seijun-kun?”

“You don’t have to act all serious just because no one thought your reaction was funny.”

“Dammiiiiit! Why is life so unfair!? Anyway, what is it?”

“Well, uh, Aoi? You’ve been thinking about something for a while now, haven’t you?”

Asama and Mitotsudaira agreed with that and his sister spoke up.

“Has something been on your mind, foolish brother?”

“Yeah, just a little something,” said Aoi. “Are they going easy on us?”


Masazumi refocused her mind when the idiot pointed that out.

She had been relieved that Hashiba’s demands were all things they could deal with, but she cast aside that relief.

Are we in trouble?

The idiot’s response had contained a nuance of “we can probably get by either way”. They still had strength to spare, but in addition to that…

“Is Hashiba plotting something else with this supply problem?”

If so, thought Masazumi as she hurried onward.

Vice President: “I don’t care who, but can anyone guess why Hashiba’s suggestion just now could be dangerous?”

There was some trick there.

There had to be. That was why it felt like Hashiba was going easy on them.

And if the trick was not an immediate danger, the danger would have to come later. What felt like “going easy” now would become anything but at some point. That was what the idiot feared. So…

Vice President: “Can anyone figure out what Hashiba is thinking?”

Someone responded.

Mar-Ga: “I have something to add to Margot’s opinion concerning the delivery business side of things.”

It was Naruze. She was up on the bridge and she sent them a video.

It showed the Mouri fleet landing at Odawara during the night.

Mar-Ga: “Hashiba’s request comes with another troublesome factor. They’re trying to wear Mouri and us down in Kantou after the battle.”


Naito agreed with Naruze.

It was summer and the Musashi had atmospheric defenses, but when up on the bridge at night, they could get chilled by the night breeze circulating around the Musashi. She and Naruze sat there with an improvised tent over their heads.

Gold Mar: “After losing the Keichou Campaign, I bet Hashiba will go thoroughly burn down Edo and Satomi once more. That will prevent them from having enough food at either location.”

Mar-Ga: “But with Date and Houjou off limits, they won’t be able to get through the recovery period with back-and-forth transportation from the neighboring nations. And Mouri will be handing their reserves over to Hashiba, so those supplies are off the table too. …Musashi will likely be forced to send food to the people of Edo and Satomi after the battle, but that won’t last even a full month. So what happens then?”

Silver Wolf: I can send food from my territory. I have built up decent reserves. If I have it sent directly to Edo and Satomi, the distance shouldn’t be much of an issue. And we can more efficiently distribute the food to individual areas by using the Ariake as a relay point.”

Novice: “But if that happens, Kantou will no longer be a threat to Hashiba.”

Neshinbara cut in.

Novice: “If the reserves in Mitotsudaira-kun’s territory are released, Musashi will no longer own anything in Kantou. And Kantou won’t be able to withstand an attack. Then we won’t have any kind of insurance or backup no matter what we choose to do next.”

Flat Vassal: “Then, um, there are smaller nations in and around Kantou, right? How about we rely on them?”

Vice President: “Mouri came here to show Kantou what they can do and I think they planned to get Houjou’s support in doing so. But what happens if they can’t provide any of their supplies and have to rely on the smaller nations instead?”

Naito groaned in thought.

Gold Mar: “Mouri will be indebted to the Kantou clans, when they wanted it the other way around.”

This is a real pain.

Of course, Hashiba had assembled this pain of a situation. And they had included Date and Houjou as pieces of the puzzle.

Eh?

Just as she realized that something about this felt off, the Chancellor spoke up.

Me: “Gold Mar. I have a question. I said it was like they were going easy on us, right?”

Gold Mar: “Eh? Yeah, you said that, Chancellor.”

“But,” he continued before he and Naito said the exact same thing: “It’s a pain.”

Why was that? Why did it feel like Hashiba was going easy on them while also feeling like a pain? Naito realized the answer.

“Ah.”

“What is it, Margot? Please don’t tell me you caught his idiot germs.”

“Oh, no, well, um.”

Margot shook her head before continuing.

Gold Mar: “Seijun! You should set this issue aside and ask Hashiba if they have any other conditions! And I mean as soon as possible!”


Flat Vassal: “Eh? Set aside an issue and move on to the next condition? Won’t they forcibly give us some awful condition if we do that?”

Scarred: “No, this is to prevent some kind of cumulative effect from the conditions. Right, Lady Naito?”

“Judge!” confirmed Naito.

Gold Mar: “I think Hashiba’s entire negotiation here is a trap! It looks like they’re taking it one negotiation at a time, but I think they’re taking the condition agreed to in the previous negotiation, eliminating it in the next negotiation, and ultimately trapping us somewhere!”


So that’s it! realized Masazumi when Naito’s words gave her thoughts the push they needed.

The idiot had been right. Ever since Katou Yoshiaki had taken over, it felt like Hashiba was going easy on them with their demands.

But that was not because Hashiba’s attacks were actually weak.

They make it look like that to put us at ease while using some kind of trick against us!

First, they had used the late arrival to seal away Date.

Then they had used the late arrival again to seal away Houjou.

And after sealing away both of them, they had placed restrictions on Mouri.

With each one, they were restraining a single nation so the interests involved could be clearly seen.

But altogether, it created a powerful restraint.

Even if the issue with each nation could be solved, it had a cumulative effect on every connected nation.

These conditions ultimately did nothing but harm, so as they built up…

We’re in trouble.

Masazumi had been slow to catch on because the negotiation was separated out between nation.

They had already done Date, Houjou, and Mouri, so next would be…

Righteousness: “Us?”

Vice President: “No, Satomi owns the peninsula, so you’re a necessary part of the Keichou Campaign. And Mogami has already shown their hostility toward Hashiba, so there would be no point in negotiating with them. …So we’re next.”

That’s right, thought Masazumi.

Vice President: “Hashiba’s goal here is to remove Musashi from the Kantou Liberation. If they can do that, Satomi loses their backup.”


The idea of removing Musashi from Kantou caught Mitotsudaira’s attention.

Silver Wolf: “Wait, Masazumi! You said ‘removing’ Musashi from the Kantou Liberation, right? Why that and not restraining or restricting us?”

She received an immediate answer to her question.

Vice President: “Because Hashiba went along with our provocation.”

“In other words,” said Masazumi while tapping her sign frame. Then she addressed Yoshiaki in the sky. “Hashiba, if you have any Keichou Campaign conditions for Musashi outside of the ones between you and Mouri, I would like to hear them.”

You have something, don’t you?

“You have some impossible history recreation, don’t you? Let’s hear it, Hashiba.”

“Testament.”

This reply came not from Ootani or Yoshiaki.

A staticky image appeared on the floor. It displayed…

“Hello. Th-this is Hashiba.”


Chapter 8: Preparers of the New Battlefield[edit]

Horizon7-A279.jpg

Lan la lan la

La la loo la

Laa laa la la la la?

Point Allocation (Please stop!)


Takenaka was on the Azuchi’s deck as it began to rise.

The ship was currently facing north, but as it rose, it slowly turned right to face east.

There were a lot of people on the spacious deck. The supplies for the coming battle had been placed on the deck and it all had to be tied down.

The inside of the ship was much the same. People were preparing for combat in different ways and some corridors looked more like storerooms now.

Thus, a lot of people used the deck as a corridor. Those from P.A. Oda used spell cloths to whip up the wind and run back and forth along the side of the ship.

Takenaka looked down at them from the edge of the deck, and…

“Ero ero ero ero.”

And from directly below her…

“Waaaah!? The front starboard hull is too dangerous! Stay clear, everyone!”

“Oh, sorry, sorry. I forget to check below me beforehand.”

Those in the way dashed upwind to the bow of the ship and clung to the metal hull there.

“Well, next time make sure you check before ero-ing!”

“To be honest, if I see you beforehand, I end up aiming for you.”

“It’s like a trap from an old video game!” someone shouted. Yeah, pretty much. At any rate, turning the ship while I’m on the bow is a bit much. I really wish they wouldn’t do that.

“Anyway, I see Hashiba-kun has made her first appearance in a long while.”

As a strategist, she really wanted to be by her master’s side at a time like this.

She turned around to see everyone seated around a short figure on the center of the bow deck.

That figure was Hashiba.

Hashiba had several lernen figurs opened by her hands and she was rapidly typing to deal with them all. She was sending strategy instructions to everyone on and in the ship and also paying out the rewards for the battle at Paris.

She did not hand deliver the rewards, but she processed each of them individually and the rewards did reach them all.

The attached signature was an automated one, but when people received it, they held the lernen figur up in the air, forwarded it to their parents, and quietly listened to what Hashiba had to say.

“Umm, I have a message for everyone from Musashi.”

A certain history recreation was beginning separate from the Kantou Liberation they were headed toward.

“In the southern M.H.R.R. city of Nördlingen, th-the M.H.R.R. Catholics will soon hold the history recreation of the B-Battle of Nördlingen!”


Asama did not know what Hashiba meant, so she asked about it.

“Umm, what is the Battle of Nördlingen? And why is she bringing it up out of nowhere?”

Hashiba had suddenly brought up a history recreation.

It was Naruze who responded to Asama’s confusion.

Mar-Ga: “The Battle of Nördlingen is similar to the Sack of Magdeburg in that it acted as a turning point in the Thirty Years’ War.”

Asama thought back to that battle in M.H.R.R.

The Sack of Magdeburg left the Protestants with no choice but to go to war with the Catholics, right?

Catholic forces had sacked the Protestant city of Magdeburg and that had gathered the previously neutral Protestant principalities and regions into an anti-Catholic force.

So what turning point would come after that?

Asama: “Is it a major victory for the Protestants?”

Gold Mar: “Quite the opposite actually.”

“Eh?” asked Asama.

Naito must have heard her because she clarified.

Gold Mar: “Nördlingen was a rare Protestant city in the southern M.H.R.R. region of Bavaria and it was besieged in what is known as the Battle of Nördlingen. The Imperial Catholics ended up winning like crazy against the Protestants. The Imperials had a pretty bad name for themselves because they’d been doing a bit too much sacking since Magdeburg. Things weren’t looking too good for the Catholics, but this battle ended up encouraging them.”

“That is correct,” said Mitotsudaira.

Silver Wolf: “And after the Battle of Nördlingen encouraged the Imperials, a certain major nation decided to officially join the war.”

That major nation was…

Silver Wolf: “Hexagone Française. The Battle of Nördlingen led them to join the fight and it was also the biggest and final defeat for the Protestants.”


“I knew you’d be sending a disaster our way.”

Terumoto spoke to Hashiba who was displayed on the floor.

Her eyebrows were raised, but she kept the smile on her lips.

“Let’s see if I’ve got this right: If we want to protect the Protestants, we need to head to Nördlingen instead of the Kantou Liberation.”

But there was a problem there.

The Testament did not have Hexagone Française officially fighting in the Battle of Nördlingen. They were allied with the anti-Imperial faction, but they were not present as a major force.

But what would happen if they could not send anyone to fight?

“What do you think, Mouri-01?”

“Testament, a section of M.H.R.R.’s forces will likely attack Nördlingen. Then the Battle of Nördlingen will in fact end in an M.H.R.R. victory.”

Nördlingen was a major city with a close connection to the Far Eastern reservation, so they wanted to avoid a devastating attack there.

“What about the M.H.R.R. Protestants?”

“The Catholics are already on the move, so the Protestants are responding. A Protestant force centered on Tomoe Gozen is expected to arrive in Nördlingen before the battle begins. Of course, the M.H.R.R. Imperial faction has a much greater force.”

“Who will that be?”

“Testament,” replied Mouri-01. “We expect the Shibata forces, who came down from Hokuriku as defenders, and the Niwa forces, who came down from the center.”


Still Got It: “Anyway, that is who the enemy should be sending.”

Mitotsudaira frowned at the information from her mother.

Silver Wolf: “What do they hope to accomplish by sending #1 and #2 of the Five Great Peaks?”

Still Got It: “It’s a good way of showing you how much trouble Nördlingen is in, isn’t it? You could say Hashiba is summoning Musashi to Nördlingen.”

Her mother was very clear about that.

But what did that mean?

Still Got It: “Since Hexagone Française cannot fight in the Battle of Nördlingen, Hashiba is telling them to hire Musashi as a mercenary force instead of having you fight in the Kantou Liberation.”

Silver Wolf: “And that’s how they’re telling Musashi to go to Nördlingen!?”

Still Got It: “Testament, that is how they will remove Musashi from the Kantou Liberation. That is ultimately what Hashiba wanted from interfering in our negotiations here. …Do you understand now, Nate?”

“Judge,” said Mitotsudaira to show she now understood everything.

Hashiba is trying to use these consecutive negotiations to crush the Kantou Liberation in advance.

This was how Hashiba had set up their negotiation:

“First, they removed Date and Houjou from the battle and then they left Mouri without supplies. But those restrictions could be overcome with help from the Musashi, so now they are sending Musashi to Nördlingen to remove us from the Kantou Liberation. It all falls apart. That is Hashiba’s plan.”

Masazumi had used the word “remove” because she had predicted this. However…

Vice President: “This is more than just removing us. …They’ve made it a lot more complicated.”

Still Got It: “But your prediction was good for being so quick. Although before we left Hexagone Française, we had a few witnesses, did a fair amount of research, and thought up a few different patterns.”

“But,” she said.

Still Got It: “The problem with Nördlingen is its location in southern M.H.R.R. The only Protestant forces that can arrive in a hurry are Tomoe Gozen’s front line unit who were deployed to Magdeburg.”

Silver Wolf: “Um, mother? You can have fun getting us all worked up if you like, but aren’t you forgetting something?”

Still Got It: “Oh? Am I?”

Why is she like this? wondered Mitotsudaira while tapping her divine transmission sign frame.

Silver Wolf: “One of the commanders of the Protestant forces that lose at Nördlingen is named Bernard. That name was inherited via Hexagone Française recently, so he will be headed to Nördlingen, won’t he?”


A silhouette raced through the night.

The figure breaking through the clouds with thruster light trailing behind his tail was a bluish-black dragon.

And far behind him, a black Technohexen soared through the night sky as if in pursuit.

That was Wakisaka.

She pressed her six-winged form against a schale besen seemingly made of black rectangles. She used that to reduce air resistance as much as possible.

“Wow, he really does have the higher top speed in cruising mode.”

Kimee: “Angie, can you hear me?”

“Yeah, there’s a lot of static, though. I can’t actually open a communication Magie Figur, but can you hear me?”

Kimee: “I can. So how are things going?”

“Testament.” Wakisaka looked forward. “I could send you the range data, but I’m currently headed east to southern M.H.R.R. I think I’ll pass 7km south of Nördlingen in 20 minutes. Oh, but that’s my trajectory. I think that Burnyard, or whatever his name is, is headed straight to Nördlingen.”

Kimee: “I can use that data on my map. Can you see to the east?”

She could not.

The south was a forest region, so it was dark at night.

She could vaguely see the borderline between the night sky and dark land up ahead, but…

I sometimes see the lights of mountain villages.

“Oh?”

She could see two things.

They were on the distant horizon.

There were two points of light to north, which was to her left. The two lights were only a short distance apart, but…

That’s an illusion due to the distance. They’re actually really far apart and the left one is a lot closer to me.

And as she continued east, the two lights grew farther apart and the right one seemed to grow more distant.

She was pretty sure she knew what those lights were.

“The Protestant forces are going to reach Nördlingen first! The Catholic representative is arriving from the northeast…but is that who I think it is? Shibata and Niwa’s warriors?”

Kimee: “Testament. The Shibata Unit and Niwa Unit are headed to Nördlingen. The Niwa Unit is really in the lead here. Mitsunari is headed out to visit them and explain what’s going on.”

“Testament,” she replied just as the Swarm Dragon moved away from her.

He was headed to Nördlingen.

Wakisaka was headed to Kantou.

She slowed her eastern travel as she used a Magie Figur to amplify the brightness as much as possible as she took photos of the Nördlingen region.

She was headed straight east, but she glanced north for just a moment.

“We’re counting on you, Nari Nari!”


“And so we are counting on you, but do not feel too much pressure, Niwa-sama. I, Ishida Mitsunari, am here to greet you and explain the situation, but I have determined Hashiba-sama will send you a divine transmission once she is done negotiating with Kantou.”

“She must be busy,” said Niwa with a bit of a sigh.

She was in a ship’s cafeteria. This was her flagship, the Sawayama Castle, and the cafeteria was plain but clean with pale blue walls and a wooden floor.

“Mitsunari-kun, I know you’re a data entity, so are you fine with this floor?”

“Testament. My primary data is still being repaired, but with a transmitted data entity, that actually means I contain less data.”

“Still, I don’t want you to push yourself. Oh, but this ship will eventually be yours, so do you want to take a look around?”

“Eh? …Oh, um, no thank you. I do not have Hashiba-sama’s permission.”

“You’re such a Hashiba girl, aren’t you?”

Just as Niwa said that, a voice called from the counter.

“Niwa-sama! Your white vomit is ready!”

“We have a guest, so call it a doria.”

“Um, I can get that for you.”

Niwa stopped Mitsunari with a hand and stood up.

The cafeteria had already filled with people. There were no seats reserved for the higher ranks, so it felt a lot like they were surrounded. However…

“Excuse me, everyone. Coming through.”

With those few words, the crowd parted. A direct path to the counter was cleared and a student focused on carrying their food started to cut through there before quickly backing away.

“Don’t worry about it. Filling your stomachs before a battle is important. …You come here too, Mitsunari-kun. A data entity can eat Mouse or Djinn food, right?”

“No, thank you. I do not have Hashiba-sama’s permission.”

“I still outrank Hashiba-kun.”

“Even so.”

“You need to loosen up a little.” Niwa smiled as she walked to the counter. “Okay, come with me so we can keep talking. You will be our commander for Nördlingen I assume?”

“Testament. But feel free to treat that as a technicality. I was only just completed and commanding a fluid situation is beyond my current abilities, so please assist me as an aide, Niwa-sama.”

“Eh?”

“What do you mean ‘eh’?”

“Well, um.”

Niwa placed a hand on her forehead.

Oh, this might mess with my plans.

“I would really prefer to head out there and do whatever I want…”

Mitsunari briefly froze when she heard that. And after a moment, she belatedly jogged to catch back up.

“P-please don’t say that. I need your assistance as an aide.”

“Why are you so afraid?”

Niwa’s forces were honestly pretty much ready to go.

Her warriors were primarily non-officers, but they had gone through extensive training.

After all, the Testament had most of the name inheritors under her command ending up with Hashiba.

So if she gathered a bunch of officers in her forces, she would lose a lot of her name inheritors as time passed and her warriors might even be forcibly disbanded.

An enemy nation could take advantage of that whether Hashiba wanted it or not. And they had to be especially compliant with the Testament when they were working as an M.H.R.R. force since M.H.R.R. had become the Testament Union representatives.

That was risky.

So Niwa had made the decision to send most of her name inheritors to Hashiba to fill out their committees.

She did have a few officers still with her, but…

I generally move out ahead and have them follow behind me to sweep the battlefield clean.

That method was simple enough for even a rookie commander to use them effectively as long as they could grasp the situation.

There were no prominent heroes here.

They fought using only Niwa’s large-scale destruction spell and everyone else sweeping across the battlefield.

That may have been why Hashiba had prepared the outskirts of Nördlingen as the battlefield. An outdoor location with a good view assisted in that sweep of the battlefield. The map of the terrain showed a single hill, so Niwa knew it would all come down to a fight over that advantageous terrain. However…

“Why are you so worried?”

Mitsunari answered her question while lowering her gaze.

“I failed to produce the desired results in our attack on Paris.”

“You don’t want to command without experiencing a victory?”

“No, it isn’t that…”

A name suddenly occurred to Niwa, so she spoke it to Mitsunari.

“Oh, this is about Bernard.”


Bernard. Mitsunari gave a quick nod in response to that Celestial Dragon’s name.

“Makes sense,” agreed Niwa when she saw that reaction. “The report I saw said he destroyed you and he’ll be coming here. In fact, he’s already on his way.”

“According to the tracking data from Wakisaka-sama, he should have just arrived 4km southwest of Nördlingen.” Mitsunari raised both hands a little. “I thought I could fight at least a little bit, but I failed due to my lack of experience and data. I do not have a physical body and I was not designed for offensive purposes like Ootani-ku-…like Ootani, so not even my attack program was enough against that Swarm Dragon.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll get some lessons about that in time.”

“Lessons?”

“There is a lot you can learn and come to understand through combat.”

Niwa had stopped walking at some point, but she resumed approaching the counter now. She intertwined her fingers and stretched her hands toward the ceiling.

“Personally, I like the freedom to do what I want.”

“A-again, please don’t do that. I beg you.”

“Freedom is so nice. I can go wherever I want and just blow everything up.”

“Please, please.”

“In that case.” Niwa arrived at the counter, rested her elbow on it, and pointed into the kitchen. “What would you like to eat?”

“Nothing as I do not have Hashiba-sama’s permission.”

“I didn’t realize programs could be so stubborn.”

“I do not want to introduce any stray thoughts into my mind. Please understand.”

“You inherited this refusal to bend from Hashiba-kun, didn’t you?”

“You mean I’m like her!?”

Is she happy about that?

Niwa had imagined program data entities were more unemotional than this, but maybe they were more human than automatons.

Like Mitsunari herself had said, she had no body. So unlike an automaton, she had no gravitational control and little physical attack power.

She could quickly travel long distances as long as Hashiba had a divine transmission route set up, but she did not have much going for her as an individual fighter.

Niwa honestly did not know why Hashiba had created her. She could make a pretty good guess, but…

Well, that’s not for me to say.

She stopped thinking there and accepted a tray of food.

“Suit yourself. Still, we are under your command and plenty of reinforcements are coming, so don’t worry too much.”

“Testament. That just feels like even more pressure…”

What a weird program, thought Niwa on the way back to the table.

“Again, don’t worry. The main Protestant force is probably headed to Nördlingen right now, but Shibata-kun and the others have enough forces to match. And beyond that…”

Niwa smiled at Mitsunari.

“Big battles can be fun even if you lose. …If you make a show of it and enjoy yourself even when you lose, then the god of combat will smile your way. I feel like Musashi understands that pretty well.”


What kind of battle is this going to be?

Masazumi rearranged Hashiba’s negotiating conditions in her mind.

They had restricted Date, Houjou, and Mouri and now they were demanding Musashi participate in Nördlingen to remove them.

With all that in place, only Mogami, Satomi, and Uesugi could participate in the Kantou Liberation.

But, thought Masazumi. Uesugi’s hands are tied.

Uesugi had to consider their alliance with Hashiba. That was why their participation in the Siege of Odawara had not included any anti-Hashiba actions.

Hashiba was placing restrictions on all the other prospective participants and Uesugi would want to avoid similar restraints.

Which leaves Mogami, Satomi, and Mouri minus their supplies for the Kantou Liberation.

That was not possible.

The difference in fighting forces was simply too great. And Mouri would gain nothing even if they won. If the other nations had to provide them with supplies, they could not build their reputation among the Kantou clans.

“How about it?” asked Hashiba. “Mouri Terumoto-san, will you send your supplies to the Hashiba forces?”


Azuma: “Um, how do you make a decision at times like this?”

Uqui: “A good question. At times like this, you should consider the issue from a political perspective and make a clear decision about what is right and what is wrong for you and the other nations. So Mouri needs to carefully examine Hashiba’s words and behavior to determine whether she is an elder sister or a younger sister who has an elder sister.”

Flat Vassal: “Someone! Someone please! This is normal for our 2nd Special Duty Officer, so someone call a brain doctor!”

Obscene: “Ha ha ha! So in this case, what would be right and what would be wrong for Mouri!?”

Novice: “Judge, just leave it to me. This could get long, so I hope you’re ready.”

Hori-ko: “Mitotsudaira-sama!”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. For Mouri, the Siege of Odawara was part of an ambitious endeavor of theirs that included that battle in Paris. In other words, they have started down the path of European conquerors that will eventually take them into the outside world. Isn’t that right? And with that in mind, the support of the eastern nations while in the outside world is an absolute necessity. So…”

Hori-ko: “Okay, Neshinbara-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama has set the stage for you. If you can make a pointed comment now, you will gain 1 Horizon Point.”

Novice: “Eh!? Um, for their future plans, Mouri needs to get the eastern nations on their side, so…”

Silver Wolf: “So Mouri would normally refuse Hashiba’s demand here. They should either find some excuse to not send the supplies or only send a small amount and weasel out of sending the rest.”

Novice: “Y-yes! Exactly! That’s what they’ll do!”

Mar-Ga: “Margot? Let’s edit the Musashi network so anyone looking up the word ‘pathetic’ will get the definition ‘acting like Neshinbara’.”

Four Eyes: “Why do you love being famous for things like this?”

Novice: “I don’t love it! These things just happen when you live on Musashi!”


Can’t really argue with that, thought Masazumi.

At any rate, Mitotsudaira was right and the best option for Mouri was to either refuse Hashiba’s demand or find a way around it. However…

Vice President: “What happens then? And what do we do if it happens?”

Silver Wolf: “They will have cut off negotiations with Hashiba and that will be taken as a hostile act. The Hashiba forces in Edo might take action, so I think it would be best to make a preemptive strike before that.”

Flat Vassal: “We’re never getting a break if that happens, are we?”

Bell: “Eh? I laid out…everyone’s futons.”

Me: “Hmm, we’d still use those after the battle, so we’d be set as long as you had a bath ready for us, Bell-san.”

Bell: “Okay. I-I’ll do that…if that happens.”

It was looking more likely that the Kantou Liberation would happen right away.

The lack of any rest was painful, but it did have an advantage.

Mouri’s supplies wouldn’t be necessary and the sooner we start the battle, the longer we have to complete the Kantou Liberation.

But there was still one question remaining.

What will Mouri actually do?

Terumoto had not reacted in any noticeable way to Hashiba’s tricks.

She had simply gone along with everything.

Did she have an idea, or didn’t she?

However, Mouri could not remain silent on this matter. She would have to react this time. After all, if Hashiba was not stopped here, Mouri could lose their future.

So to prompt a statement, Masazumi spoke to Terumoto.

“What will you do, Mouri Terumoto?”

“Testament, there’s only one response to a ridiculous demand like that.”

Terumoto wrinkled her brow and spoke toward the floor.

“We’ll do what you say. We’ll give you all our supplies and whatever else you want,” said Terumoto. “But you know what? I swear to you we’ll complete the Kantou Liberation, so don’t you cry when it happens, Hashiba.”


Chapter 9: Noisy Girl in a Quiet Room[edit]

Horizon7-A301.jpg

Like this!? Like this, right!?

This is it, right!?

Well!?

Point Allocation (These siblings…)


“She’s going to complete the Kantou Liberation, is she?” Yoshiaki placed her fan over her mouth. “That is a bold move.”

Yoshiaki had no problem with these statements that appeared reckless. In fact, she quite liked them.

As long as you have some life in you, that’s enough.

She directed her gaze toward Uesugi’s Shigenaga as if asking for agreement and got a glare and a horizontally-spread mouth in response.

“I do not envy Uesugi their restrictive position here.”

“We are looking ahead past Sekigahara!”

The way the woman raised her eyebrows and shouted did not scare Yoshiaki.

“Yoshiaki-sama!” spoke up Shakenobe. “This Shigenaga person is jealous of your freedom, mon!”

“Shakenobe, having you around makes life so wonderfully stress-free.”

But Mouri’s choice was an interesting one.

Righteousness: “Is she trying to get us all killed?”

Nine-Tail Fox: “Not necessarily. I had my doubts, but it seems Mouri Terumoto really has abandoned vainglory.”

Yoshiaki pressed the raised fan against her lips so the laughter on her lips would not escape.

She sensed the dried lacquer flavor on her tongue before she continued.

“She appears to know what gamble she is making.”


“Honestly. Historically speaking, we really should be serving you, but we’re going to make something clear here using our behavior and our skill.”

Terumoto crossed her arms and sighed.

She had predicted this situation. It was one of the worst scenarios she had predicted.

But she had still predicted it and she had decided what to do if it happened.

There was a single source for her bad mood.

“Your demand was to hand over Mouri’s supplies, but you thought you could stop me by doing that, didn’t you?”

Hashiba did not respond on the screen, so Terumoto sent her words down at the silent girl.

“Don’t insult me.”

After all…

“Everyone describes our future as conquerors, rulers, and other grand words. So why would you be dumb enough to think something as simple as handing over our supplies would stain that title?”

In other words…

“You took the wrong tack with me. If you had tried to lift us up as kings, I might have briefly considered it and it might have just pissed me off…well, probably that second one. Yeah, almost certainly. Anyway, I hope you’re ready for this.”

“Princess? While I adore how well you know yourself, now may not be the time…”

“Sorry, sorry,” said Terumoto while dismissively waving a hand without even looking back.

If I looked back, I’d find her waiting for me in lecture mode.

I can never thank Mouri-01 enough. But that aside…

“This is what it means to bear the title of a conqueror. No matter who stands in our way and no matter what methods they use against us, we calmly accept it and crush them.”

Terumoto inhaled. None of this was vainglory. The others were all in Paris right now. Those defenders of Paris were waiting there with the true nudist as their leader.

They had won. And they were waiting for her to achieve a similar conqueror’s victory here in the east.

And since she was the conqueror’s queen…

“I won’t run away.”

Also…

“I will make sure you treat me differently in the future, Hashiba.”


“Hey, listen up. This is how I’m directing my guts. I don’t know how it’ll actually happen, but we’re starting the Kantou Liberation. Resupplying isn’t an option and the materials we do have will all be sent to Hashiba for the history recreation. You all need to survive the Kantou Liberation using what you’ve got on hand and in your ships.

“I don’t care if it’s impossible; we’re doing it anyway.

“We won’t have any supplies afterwards and we’ll have to get help from the locals, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Hashiba’s trying to make the Kantou Liberation impossible, but we’re gonna do it anyway. So it’s only natural for the locals to help us out afterwards.

“And you local nations and clans? I hope you’re watching. Completing the Kantou Liberation with no supplies is going to leave us damaged, but Kantou is important enough for us that we’re gonna do it anyway. We need your help in the future, so watch this. I swear to you we’ll do it. We’ll liberate Kantou, so the world’s gonna look completely different when you wake up tomorrow.”


Masazumi saw Terumoto punctuate her speech by smashing her sign frame with a horizontal punch.

Wow, she must be stressed.

She was probably the type who hated being told to do things.

That was why Hashiba had tried a trickier method of making Mouri decide for themselves that they should reject the Kantou Liberation.

Instead of forcing Mouri, the situation would make them think that was best. That was Hashiba’s plan.

In that sense, it worked to Hashiba’s advantage that Musashi had been the first to ask about the Battle of Nördlingen. That had served to apply more pressure to Mouri.

But Terumoto did not just hate being told to do things.

Flat Vassal: “I know this type. It isn’t that she hates being told what to do; she hates doing what other people want her to do.”

Mar-Ga: “Yes, those can be a pain since they won’t do it even if it makes the most sense to.”

10ZO: “Wh-who are you referring to with that!?”

Gold Mar: “Really, that applies to pretty much everyone in our class.”

Masazumi could not agree more. The biggest one of all was the idiot.

And he says he wants to create a kingdom where everyone’s dreams can come true.

For that to happen, the king would have to want the same thing you did. And if you did not like that, you would have to be make sure you were thinking something different from the king. But in that case…

You’re just embarrassed that the king was thinking the same thing as you.

It also felt like a way of telling yourself you had to do better.

Which is it? she wondered while speaking to Terumoto and the others.

“So did you predict all of this, Mouri Terumoto?”

“Testament. Although this was the most annoying of the possibilities.”

“Then I have one question. But this question is for Hashiba as well.”

Masazumi opened a sign frame.

It displayed a map of M.H.R.R. with a red dot in the south.

“This is Nördlingen. I’m assuming a Protestant and a Catholic force are headed there now.”

“Testament,” confirmed Hashiba. “The battle is expected to begin in 6 or 7 hours.”

That would place the opening of hostilities at 5-6 in the morning. It was not the best time for it.

But in order to remember it, Masazumi snapped her fingers at everyone behind her.

She was telling them to check on it.


Horizon turned toward the others after seeing Masazumi snap her gloved fingers.

They all exchanged a glance and finally Kimi responded.

“—————”

She loudly snapped her fingers. Asama followed suit, then Toori, and finally everyone else.

“—————”

They all snapped their fingers.

“Was that good enough, Seijun?” asked the idiot.

“Just to be clear, that was not at all what I wanted! Dammit, I was a fool to trust in your intelligence! I don’t care if you do that on your own, but don’t drag me into it!”

She rejected them.

Vice President: “Well, it gave me time to think, so it wasn’t all bad.”

The idiot started to cheer, so Horizon squeezed his neck to cut off the airflow.


“Now, then,” said Masazumi for the umpteenth time that day as she looked to Terumoto and Hashiba on the floor. “There is a bit of a problem with having Musashi participate in the Battle of Nördlingen.”

“And what is that, Musashi Vice President?”

“Judge. First, that is a conflict between the M.H.R.R. Catholics and related forces, so there is little reason for Musashi to be involved.”

For Magdeburg, Magdeburg Mayor Guericke had directly visited the Musashi and Hexagone Française’s Mazarin had urged them to join the fight in exchange for a temporary truce and friendship with Musashi.

But Nördlingen was different. Also…

Good, the data has arrived.

Neshinbara had summed up an awful lot of analysis and sent it to her. She accepted it and read through mostly just the subjects and predicates to confirm something.

“Listen.”

She spoke to Hashiba and Mouri as the most powerful representatives here while she scanned through the information from Neshinbara.

“Nördlingen is a Protestant city. And it must make a humiliating capita-…capitulation due to the devastating defeat of the Protestants at the hands of the Catholic forced…forces!”

Me: “Why did you just stutter?”

Vice President: “Because a certain someone couldn’t just write ‘surrender’ like a normal person!”

Novice: “Hold on, Crossdressing Honda-kun, why did you skip right past the 18 lines I wrote about the ghosts of medieval knights plotting behind the scenes of the Nördlingen vs. Catholic conflict!?”

Vice President: “Don’t include fiction! And try not to make typos like at the end there!”

At any rate, Masazumi looked back to Terumoto and Hashiba.

“Mouri Terumoto and Hashiba. That is my point.”

“You made a point!?” asked Terumoto.

“U-umm? Ehh?” said Hashiba.

Hashiba understood what the idiot meant before and even she’s stumped? So this is the power of Neshinbara. Not that it’s a useful one. Or is it? No, I guess not.

“Fine, then. If you don’t understand, I’ll have to explain it to you.”

Hori-ko: “Under the Horizon Rules, that is one win for Masazumi-sama.”

That did not please Masazumi, but it was still somehow reassuring.

But I feel like I see what Hashiba is after now.

Everyone’s idiocy could be useful as a distraction.

Vice President: “If possible, could you only start your nonsense when I give you permission?”

Me: “Oh, I know what this is! It’s the dark side of a controlled society!”

Silver Wolf: “If anything, I’d say we’re becoming the shame of a controlled society…”

Yeah, didn’t think so, thought Masazumi before saying more.

“When Nördlingen surrenders, the Catholic forces guarantee them peace in exchange for a large sum of money. In other words, they canceled out their defeat using money. That must be done in the history recreation too, so that means there will be no sack of the city. So I would like to know why we must go there.”

“Hey, now, Musashi Vice President” said Terumoto. “You’re the one that was telling everyone to call you if we’re having trouble with the history recreation. Giving up on that already?”

She really does plan to do the Kantou Liberation alone, doesn’t she?

She really lets people get her worked up, doesn’t she? thought Masazumi before continuing.

“If a loss or other problem is being forced onto you using a history recreation interpretation, then we will go. But is Nördlingen not at all prepared for the history recreation?”

“No, th-they are already prepared,” said Hashiba. “They have saved up enough of their budget to pay for their loss.”

“Then is the difference in prepared fighting forces going to lead to a slaughter?”

“Well…it will change depending on how…the battle goes. But, um, the Catholic and Protestant forces should have a ratio of, uh, about 3-to-2!”

That was a decent ratio.

The Protestants will lose, but I bet they plan to retreat when the timing is right.

“Mouri Terumoto. The way things are, sending Musashi there would only mean using us to have the Protestants win. We want to remain true to the proper history recreation and that means we would only be focused on defending and rescuing the Protestants.”

“That’s good enough. The rescuing part is especially meaningful.”

Meaningful?

Masazumi could not figure out what Terumoto was talking about.

What was this about? No…

Terumoto must know about something going on behind the scenes in the Battle of Nördlingen.

Then Musashi would have someone who could figure out what that was.

Yes, there was someone she could rely on here. Someone who could detect the “meaning” here.

She had her concerns about that person, but she decided to trust him now.

Vice President: “Neshinbara.”

Hori-ko: “Mitotsudaira-sama!”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. What is it!?”

Novice: “Waiiiiit! Why did that sequence flow as smoothly as a river!?”

I don’t even care anymore, thought Masazumi as she asked her question.

Vice President: “Is there a Far Eastern force or important individual near Nördlingen? And does that force or individual have a history recreation that the Battle of Nördlingen could correspond to? If so…”

Novice: “There is.”

Neshinbara spoke up.


Masazumi saw Neshinbara demonstrate his pride as Secretary. The others cheered.

Uqui: “It’s rare, but sometimes Neshinbara does a pretty good job!”

Gold Mar: “Bara-yan, this isn’t some story you made up, is it? It’s real, right!?”

Hori-ko: “Are you sure you can do this, Neshinbara-sama!?”

Novice: “Why do you all sound so concerned!? Listen. For my Warring States stories, I already did a thorough investigation of exactly what happens and where, so I can find the answer far faster than Mitotsudaira-kun who has to draw from her knowledge of general history and geography.”

Four Eyes: “You really hold a grudge, don’t you?”

Novice: “No, I always come prepared. Now, to answer your question…”

Silver Wolf: “Oh, I just found it too.”

Everyone fell silent. After a while, Mitotsudaira cleared her throat.

Silver Wolf: “B-but you were first, Secretary, so you go ahead.”

Me: “Hey, Neshinbara, couldn’t you have gotten your explanation out ahead of Nate if not for all the unnecessary lead-up?”

“It is not unnecessary!” insisted Neshinbara, but then he got to his explanation.

Novice: “Most of the Far Eastern name inheritors in Nördlingen, or rather in southern M.H.R.R., have started moving elsewhere in response to Hashiba’s attack on Mouri. Osaka should really be their base, but they are instead using M.H.R.R. because Hashiba’s rule has yet to begin and because Osaka is under P.A. Oda’s control.”

Vice President: “So southern M.H.R.R. is acting as a temporary Osaka. And?”

Novice: “Judge. Among those, there is one clan with a large estate.”

Namely…

Novice: “Has anyone here heard of the Nagaoka clan?”


Neshinbara looked across them all.

Nagaoka was the person’s surname in this era. They would later change their surname, but according to a note in the Testament, the changed name would be the more commonly used one later on. So…

“Does no one know?”

Hearing that, Kimi looked to Mitotsudaira.

“The nerd is making a scene, but you must know, Mitotsudaira. You did say you found it, didn’t you?”

“Shh. Provoking him will only make this take longer.”

“Now, Neshinbara-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama is holding her tongue for your sake, so hurry up and give us the correct answer.”

“I-I don’t want this kind of sympathy!”

But Neshinbara immediately raised his right hand, swung his body to the right, and spoke.

“I refer to Nagaoka Tadaoki. Although he would later become known as Hosokawa Tadaoki.”


Gin knew who that was.

She had not actually met him, but…

“Master Muneshige, you have a connection to Nagaoka, albeit a small one, don’t you?”

“Judge,” replied Muneshige while raising his right hand. “Nagaoka Tadaoki is one of the Seven Generals, a representative unit formed after Hashiba’s Seven Spears. He is fierce in combat, but also a great poet who studied under Rikyu. Also…”

Muneshige looked east.

“He participates in the Keichou Campaign just like the name I hope to inherit.”

“Judge,” agreed Gin while looking up at him.

That was an excellent explanation, Master Muneshige.

He had completed the role desired of him here. And by including the Keichou Campaign at the end, he had reminded everyone of his intention to regain his inherited name.

This was not something he had looked into for fun.

“I imagine Nagaoka is with the warriors deployed to Edo.”

“Indeed,” said the Secretary. “And-…”

“Judge,” confirmed Muneshige. “The problem is his wife, isn’t it?”

“Indeed. Because she-…”

“Judge. She is Nagaoka Tama, but a note also provides the name Garasha.”

“Indeed. But she-…”

“Judge. The Testament presents a major problem concerning her.”

“Indeed. That being-…”

“Judge,” responded Muneshige. “Her estate is surrounded by enemies while her husband is away, so she blows herself up along with the estate.”


Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige is very good at explaining these things.”

Mar-Ga: “You can see how much trouble he’s causing the nerd.”

Tachibana Husband: “No, this is not my doing. You should thank the Secretary for being such a good listener.”

Four Eyes: “Sounds like you can stop writing. Just listen from now on.”

Novice: “No, wait, all of you!”

Gold Mar: “Hey, Bara-yan, I think the problem is there’s so much you want to say you lose the initiative to talk, so maybe watch out for that in the future.”


Masazumi checked the notes on the Testament and history that Neshinbara sent her while silently hanging his head.

There was just as much excess text as usual, but you could decode the actual meaning by skipping the parts that began with things like “alas” or “behold”.

“Tsukinowa, can you selectively delete all the text like this or like this? …Oh, that’s too much. Way too much. You don’t have to bring it down to 17 syllables.”

“How are you summing up an entire history recreation in just 17 syllables, Seijun?”

“ ‘Tama is attacked / She will bloom before her time / in her own estate’ ”

Everyone rolled those 17 syllables around in their mouth before exchanging a look.

“Hey, hey! Where’s the seasonal word!? Is it boobs!?”

“Toori-kun, please calm down. Do I need to say it again? …Now, ‘bloom’ would be a seasonal word, but with ‘before her time’ it would refer to flowers blossoming out of season, which makes it reference to winter. It’s unfortunate that this is summer.”

“Heh heh. But referring to women as flowers is one tradition I hope never dies.”

With that established, everyone turned toward Neshinbara and Adele spoke up for them all.

“Secretary, is even the anteater better than you at this?”

“Wh-what kind of conclusion is that!? Besides, ranking explanations against each other is a pointless endeavor as all of this is purely conceptual!”

“Yes, all things are what they are and there are no truly meaningful hierarchies,” said Naruze. “But that doesn’t change the fact that we just saw a clear difference between you and the anteater.”

“Maa?”

Masazumi was really unsure if she should be praising Tsukinowa right now, but she patted him since he had done his job.

Anyway, she had a decent idea what was happening now.

Vice President: “So how exactly is the Nagaoka estate attacked?”

Silver Wolf: “During the smaller battles leading up Sekigahara, Ishida Mitsunari attacks the homes of various daimyos and commanders in Osaka, taking their wives and relatives hostage. The Nagaoka clan chose to resist that.”

Me: “Oh, yeah. Ishida Mitsunari used the situation to create his own wife harem!”

The idiot shouted the answer at the top of his lungs.

“I played that porn game like half a year ago!”

“Hey, Mitsunari-kun. I know you’re a program, but have you heard of this? A game called ‘While Preparing For Battle, I Made My Own Wife Harem 2’ has been really popular with our boys recently.”

“Th-this is news to me! And why is it 2!? There was a first one!?”

“Well, I heard the first one was a Musashi indie game and the commercial version of the second one was smuggled here.”

“You heard? And you didn’t do anything about it!? This is an outrage! Besides, I am not this smooth-looking old man who looks like he was drawn with three levels of shading! I am a proper program! Who smuggled this here!?”


“Achoo! Hey, Kuki-kun, I have to get my account book in order, so I’m headed back inside for a bit. Tell me if Ikeda-kun or the other kids from the west say anything that sounds lucrative, okay?”

“Konishi-kun, based on my observations, you seem to occasionally receive strange smuggled goods from your father on Musashi, but be careful. Musashi’s public morals are abysmal.”

“Yeah, but the lead artist is popular here too, so I can’t overlook the opportunity.”


Mar-Ga: “Oh, I’m pretty sure I did the character designs and art for the porn game the Chancellor’s talking about. I had someone else do the coloring, though.”

Vice President: “Naruze, I feel like you’re causing an international incident here…”

Mar-Ga: “More importantly, tell Hashiba to hand over all their data on Mitsunari. Now that I know she’s a girl, I can use that for #3.”

“Oh, and another thing,” said Naruze.

Mar-Ga: “I gathered some data on Nagaoka’s wife’s death for that, so I know more about it than Neshinbara.”

Masazumi was not exactly thrilled by the information source, but she could see more or less what was going on.

“Hashiba plans to start preparing for Sekigahara no matter how the Keichou Campaign goes, don’t they?”

That required following the Testament by having Ishida Mitsunari take control of “Osaka” and make hostages out of the families and relatives of the commanders there.

I see.

Masazumi understood. Both P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R. were looking past the Honnouji Incident. And they were even looking to the age beyond Hashiba.

Once she thought about it, it seemed obvious. The Testament told them what would happen later on, so everyone and every group would do what it took to minimize their losses.

Even powerful forces like P.A. Oda, Nobunaga, or Hashiba would eventually be lost.

But…

How skilled a leader was Hashiba to be personally directing things after her own death?


Masazumi thought, Hashiba’s era hasn’t even begun yet.

The Honnouji Incident still hasn’t happened.

But Hashiba was advancing the history recreation for things after her death.

Masazumi had to wonder why.

“——————”

This isn’t a simple matter, thought Masazumi.

Musashi was forcing Hashiba’s loss onto her.

They had decided to never again experience that kind of loss, but now they were forcing it onto Hashiba by speeding up the history recreation.

In a way, you could view that as giving Hashiba a taste of her own medicine.

Weren’t they just teaching Hashiba the meaning of death in order to get back at her?

Or…

I can’t believe this, said Masazumi in her heart.

It had suddenly hit her that they might be doing the exact same thing Hashiba was.

She had failed to notice because they were so busy recovering from defeat, but once she eliminated that excuse, Musashi was essentially arrogantly shortening Hashiba’s life.

They were forcing death onto her, so hadn’t Hashiba surpassed them by accepting that death and directing things after her death?

Masazumi thought they had pulled through and started making progress after their defeat, but…

Is Hashiba taking a pessimistic view based on her own death in the distant future?

If so, could they do anything other than try to catch up to her?

And in that case, they would only exist to force death onto her.

Could they really do that? And…

“Kh.”

She understood something else now too.

Why did P.A. Oda and the Hashiba forces follow Hashiba?

The girl on the screen was looking back at her with her slender shoulders swaying uncertainly.

She’s strong.

Just as the idiot leading Musashi was indomitable, this girl had accepted even her own death.

No matter the result, she would accept it and allow it.

That had to be the nature of Hashiba’s leadership.

It was a pessimistic sort of approval.

Musashi had to confront someone like that. The idiot could get by with his idiocy, but Masazumi was a normal human. Yes, that’s what I am. Normal. I have to remind myself of that a lot lately, but compared to most of our class, I’m perfectly normal. Definitely.

But how could a normal human like her confront someone with such a ridiculous level of acceptance?

Now, then.

Masazumi started considering what to do, but then…

Me: “Hey, Seijun.”

She heard the idiot’s voice.

Me: “Don’t think too much about Sekigahara and stuff right now. You’ll end up like Neshinbara.”


Mary saw Masazumi take a certain action.

She lowered her shoulders a bit in relaxation. Then she raised one shoulder at a time and cracked her neck.

“Yeah, that’s a good point,” she said. “If I want to avoid being like Neshinbara, I need to face the reality in front me and deal with things one at a time.”

“That’s true,” said Mary. “You can think about things far into the future, but a lot is going to change before you get there.”

In her case, an unexpected meeting and some misunderstandings had changed everything.

“That is just how things are even with the Testament and the history recreation rules. I think taking things one step at a time is both necessary and important.”

As soon as she said that, Mary felt a squeeze at her left hand.

It was Tenzou.

He remained silent. He did not say he understood or was thinking the same thing. Instead of those kind words, he gave her that strength from his hand. And she knew what that meant.

He remembers.

It was not about what he understood or thought. The memories had permeated him and would never leave.

It was a lot like a scar.

They remembered and trusted in the things that had happened to them, so when she spoke of them, he had reached for her hand.

That past was an unforgettable scar. It was a scar she had willingly chosen to bear.

And it would be with her forevermore.

“Master Tenzou.”

When she called his name, he turned to face her. She did the same, but…

“Um, uh.”

The realization that he was looking at her made her lower her gaze.

But, she thought. He reached out and held my hand.

This isn’t anything indecent.

At the very least, he had done it because he wanted to. So she held his hand back and took a breath.

She would not forget about that scar. She remembered it.

But she was happy now and she understood that the same as he did. So she squeezed his hand back. And…

“—————”

He loosened his grip and softly shifted his hand so their fingers intertwined.

Ah.

Squeezing was not the only way to “remember” and show he would never let go. Once all their fingers were intertwined, she squeezed his hand again. This was different from when she hugged him.

Ahh.

Mary realized that, ever since he had embraced her on top of that tower in England, she may have hugged him and they may have hugged each other, but he had not hugged her.

“Ah…”

H-have I been way too aggressive since England?

It embarrassed her to remember her behavior until the day before. And when she remembered what happened today…

Ah.

Holding hands and walking through a festival had been a rare experience, so she should have just done this instead of clinging to him so much.

“—————”

I can’t believe this, thought Mary. When the future had seemed so dark, she had forgotten to take things one step at a time, but now that she could remember the good things about the past, she could not see past the next step forward.

C-can I really keep living like this?

She felt like her happiness gauge would burst and she would die in two days’ time.

Could she really indulge in this intertwined-fingers handholding that was meant as a reminder? Or should she just focus on the lesson it carried? She was not sure, so she voiced her frustration.

“You’re mean, Master Tenzou…”


Mar-Ga: “Okay! I’m in charge! I’m in charge here! Nobody interrupt them! Let this play out! This is looking really promising! For my storyboard!”

Flat Vassal: “Hey, I was preoccupied with the fire ships, wooden stakes, and the Musashi’s loop, so I don’t really know the situation there. But Mary-san is a royal and she’s a good person, so I can just assume this is the 1st Special Duty Officer’s fault, right?”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Tenzou? Are you sure you can survive your wife’s happy accidents and the trouble they cause?”

10ZO: “I was restricting this to handholding so it would be inconspicuous! Why are all of you so observant!?”

Asama: “Um, Tenzou-kun? There are flowers everywhere. There was no way you could hide this.”


Masazumi noticed ether flowers scattering behind her.

That told her they had not made the wrong decision back in England.

That’s right.

Hashiba’s policy as a leader and connection to Musashi was not limited to this one moment or their past interactions. They were sure to come into conflict later as well. However…

We don’t have to take the same pessimistic view she does.

If Hashiba was trying to draw them into her own pessimism, they had to try to draw her into their optimism.

Of course, Hashiba’s pessimism from the future had an advantage since the Testament gave them a look ahead.

After all, everyone died eventually. In Sanada, the white dragon named Sasuke had taught them that death was connected to all things. So Hashiba had an advantage by looking ahead and showing off that inevitable death. But…

“I see.”

Hashiba had an advantage.

Musashi had a disadvantage.

One side looked ahead to the loss and destruction and the other side created something new as they stepped into the unknown.

It was obvious who was at a disadvantage there.

She had discussed exactly this before.

Both at Magdeburg and Mikatagahara.

She had discussed this situation and topic with someone.

Lord Matsunaga.

He had called Nobunaga and P.A. Oda the bearers of destruction and he had called Musashi the bearers of creation.

It was not that she only now understood what he meant. Instead, she felt like this connected back to what he said.

They had lost so much during the Sack and their subsequent defeat.

But destruction and creation were not just literal, physical acts.

They also applied to a leader’s policy, to how you perceived things, and how you communicated yourself. So…

“Okay.”

Masazumi slapped her cheeks to refocus herself.

When she faced forward, she saw Terumoto and she saw Hashiba’s image on the floor. And she opened her mouth to address those two bearers of powerful nations.

“If you are ready, I have mostly made up my mind here,” she said. “Hashiba…are you trying to harass us again?”


Everyone on the Azuchi Castle saw Hashiba’s mouth spread horizontally in response to the Musashi Vice President’s words.

One of them stood up: Katagiri.

“Harass you!? What are you talking about!?”

“Hm? Um, Katagiri was it?”

“Testament! I am Katagiri Katsumoto! As our liaison officer, I must call out your comment as insulting!”

Katagiri pointed at the Musashi Vice President’s image on the lernen figur and yelled at her.

“How dare you refer to our national policy as harassment!?”

“Liaison Officer, I am not speaking with you at the moment.”

“Kh,” groaned Katagiri and a stir ran through the crowd around him. They all exchanged a glance, and…

“She doesn’t want to speak with our Katagiri-san!?”

“What is wrong with that girl!? How could she not want to speak with our Katagiri-kun!?”

“Do those Far Easterners see no value in our Katagiri-sama in their mental currency!?”

“Umm…” said Katagiri as he tried and failed to find something to say. Then Koroku grabbed his hips.

“Sit down.”

“Eh? Um, well.”

“Oh, Katagiri. I guess I should mention this,” said the Musashi Vice President. “You said before you wanted to speak with our idiot again, right? Well, about that…”

“Eh?” Katagiri fought Koroku’s downward pull and shouted a question. “You mean the Asama Shrine’s busty blonde lewd shrine maiden!?”


Wise Sister: “That description has gotten awfully long.”

Me: “Wait, does this mean I’m internationally famous?”

Vice President: “You’re our Student Council President and Chancellor, so you were already known internationally!! And things are getting weird when your crossdressing form is known separately!”

Asama: “That crossdressing form has had a weird pillow made out of it and people think there’s a connection to our shrine, but I have Kimi and Toori to blame for that, don’t I? Don’t I!?”


“You have something to tell me about the Asama Shrine’s busty blonde lewd shrine maiden!?”

“Um, yes.” The Musashi Vice President nodded before continuing. “She…no, let’s go with ‘it’. To put it metaphorically, it has left the Musashi.”

“Eh?”

That sudden revelation left Katagiri speechless.

She left the Musashi?

“W-wait just a second!”

“Yeah, its head was split apart and, well, you’re never seeing it again. I can’t get into the details, but let’s just say it isn’t with Musashi anymore.”

He had no idea what she meant, but she seemed to think the discussion was over.

“Sit down.”

Koroku pulled him down again, but instead of sitting…

“Ah.”

He fell onto his butt in the middle of the group.


Me: “Hey, hey, hey. Seijun, why are you saying I left the Musashi? Is this some kind of secret plan!?”

Vice President: “I mean the crossdressing set you used. The blonde one. You can’t use it after it was sliced through by Celestial Dragon Saizou, right? But ever since you spoke with Katagiri dressed like that, he’s sent a bunch of requests to renegotiate with the crossdressed version of you.”

Silver Wolf: “Accepting that and letting him do a lengthy negotiation would be far too dangerous.”

Vice President: “Judge. The real problem is having our Chancellor and President negotiate while disguised as a no-name shrine maiden. It entirely defeats the purpose of having officers.”

Me: “Man, this all sounds like a pain.”

Vice President: “And whose fault is that!?”


“Hashiba, I know what you want.”

Masazumi looked up into the sky and Asama spoke up behind her.

“Um, the camera is over there.”

A small green torii-style emblem appeared about 10m up in the air. That marked the location of the divine transmission spell sending the video and audio to Hashiba.

Masazumi stared at the emblem as she continued speaking.

“According to our data, when Ishida Mitsunari attacks Osaka, Nagaoka Tadaoki’s wife blows herself up along with her home. And…”

Masazumi held up the sign frame below her right hand.

This is the real problem.

“Lady Nagaoka is a zealous Catholic musician. So unlike most of the Far Eastern forces there, she does not live in the Protestant city of Nördlingen and instead lives on the outskirts.”

That much was understandable, but the next part was the problem.

“Since the Testament Union was Catholic, they sympathized with the circumstances of Lady Nagaoka’s death. So, Hashiba, before you began working with M.H.R.R., Lady Nagaoka was given a second inherited name so her death could be handled as an interpretation and she could move on to that other life.”

And where would that other inherited name take her?

“Sweden. She is Christina, their current queen.”


Chapter 10: Conspicuous One on the Spot[edit]

Horizon7-A335.jpg

Nhh…

..So sleepy…

Point Allocation (Super Speed Mom)


Masazumi sensed several layers of trouble here.

The Testament Union’s character has changed a few times in the past few years.

They were only familiar with the Testament Union after Hashiba began working with M.H.R.R. That had begun about two years before.

At the time, the Testament Union had responded to Hashiba and M.H.R.R.’s invasions by using the name inheritance against Hashiba and M.H.R.R. That was why important Far Eastern figures like Terumoto had been approved and her marriage to the Roi-Soleil had been authorized.

But what had they been like before that?

Without Hashiba’s involvement in Europe, Europe would have been focused on the Thirty Years’ War.

History recreations and interpretations would have been forced on people in the conflict between Catholics and Protestants, but it all would have been between European nations. It would mostly have been done through negotiation like they had done at Odawara.

They must have had a schedule for the Thirty Years’ War worked out.

Several nations were key to the Thirty Years’ War, but Sweden was especially important because they had been a major anti-imperial force from beginning to end.

But Gustav II, the king who ruled Sweden, died in battle when he was hit by some stray bullets in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War.

Vice President: “After the death of Swedish King Gustav II, the Swedish throne went to his daughter, Christina. But while Sweden was part of the anti-imperial faction, Christina was a strict Catholic.”

Novice: “Judge. But Christina used her skill in politics rather than war to calm her nation down and sought a warm reconciliation at the Peace of Westphalia. That was how she displayed her Catholic spirit.”

The Testament Union really pulled a fast one with her back then.

The Papa-Schola could be quite shrewd. Or was it a result of the tension across all of Europe and with P.A. Oda?

Novice: “Osaka belonged to P.A. Oda back then as well. The Testament Union took Lady Nagaoka, a zealous Catholic woman in that city who would be treated much like a saint after her death, and designated her as a key individual in the Thirty Years’ War. That was definitely a calculated move by the Catholic Testament Union against Mlasi P.A. Oda. …If P.A. Oda tried anything, they could claim it was interference in the Thirty Years’ War.”

Flat Vassal: “What would they have done if anything had happened to Lady Nagaoka?”

Uqui: “Probably a jolly old crusade.”

Flat Vassal: “Th-that is not jolly!”

They might have done something other than that, thought Masazumi.

Especially given what happened at Magdeburg.

Suleiman had been one of the VIPs at the secret meeting there.

If P.A. Oda had done anything the Testament Union took issue with, they would probably have used it as justification to prop up Suleiman who had been driven out of Mlasi land.

Novice: “The Testament Union did not need to summon Christina to Sweden until after Gustav II’s death. They could leave her on Osaka and even use her to gather information from P.A. Oda. In a way, she was like a tiny Mikawa.

“And if Europe as a whole was worried about her, they could work together to advance the Thirty Years’ War. To have her do anything while out of reach, Gustav II needed to die. That would alter the power balance between Catholics and Protestants in a big way.”

Vice President: “But then Hashiba began working with M.H.R.R.”

“Judge,” confirmed Neshinbara.

Novice: “That threw a wrench in the Testament Union and Europe’s plans. M.H.R.R. ignored what Europe as a whole wanted and advanced the Thirty Years’ War to the point that Gustav II died in battle. But Christina remained in the Hashiba-ruled Nagaoka clan and she effectively became a hostage for P.A. Oda. Her advantage for Europe vanished. She currently handles the politics by communicating long distance with her aides in Sweden, but Europe already treats her as someone who was ‘lost’. And there you have it.”

Four Eyes: “You just added ‘and there you have it’ to the end of the data you found on the network, didn’t you?”

Novice: “That’s what the data is there for, so this is good enough!”

Yeah, I guess it is good enough. But…

This really reminds me of the situation at Mikawa.

Why had the Papa-Schola sought the Logismoi Oplo so desperately?

Of course, the Testament Union would have had more than just Lady Nagaoka to use against P.A. Oda.

But when Hashiba and M.H.R.R. had joined forces, it had negated all of that. The Thirty Years’ War could have been navigated using politics and negotiation, but it had become a battlefield of domination by force thanks to M.H.R.R. attempting to avoid defeat by achieving a true victory with Hashiba’s help.

The Testament Union representatives of K.P.A. Italia had lost their power and dignity.

So they were desperate for the Logismoi Oplo.

At the time, Masazumi had viewed it as the actions of a larger “nation”, but now that she could see it from within, she saw the various actions of a nation “against an individual” fit together like a puzzle.

She had been so very ignorant just three or four months ago. And…

“We’ve come full circle now.”

They had suffered a defeat, achieved a recovery, and taken back what they had lost.

“We’ve finally reached the series of events that created the Mikawa situation, haven’t we?”

She knew what that meant.

“Since we understand that situation now, we might be about three months late, but we finally have the power to make decisions and interfere on equal footing with powerful nations.”


“Ho ho?” said Terumoto as she tapped the signe cadre opened in front of her hand.

She’s going all in, isn’t she?

She had been checking on all sorts of information this whole time, but now she claimed to be “equal”.

But Hexagone Française was little different.

When Hashiba had joined with M.H.R.R., begun the Thirty Years’ War, and attacked Mouri, someone had already predicted it and took action against it.

That someone was Anne.

She had sent in Hexagone Française without holding anything back and without asking for anything in return.

At the time, Terumoto had been thankful, but she had not fully understood how incredible that action had been.

Anne must have thought they could not afford any mistakes in the fight against M.H.R.R. when it came to the invasion of Mouri, a countermeasure against Sekigahara, and the Thirty Years’ War. She must have thought Hexagone Française could not afford to be weaker than the other nations when the Peace of Westphalia arrived.

But her fears had been justified.

“Yes.”

Terumoto sensed Mouri-01 looking up behind her, but she inhaled regardless.

Anne probably hoped she was wrong about those fears.

But thanks to her, they had achieved victory in Paris and they were here now.

That shows that not even Hashiba’s best efforts are unbeatable.

They had had Anne who had worked on a level equal to Hashiba.

In the past, they had had a leader equal to Hashiba.

But the Musashi Vice President had said something else.

“You’ve caught up three months late, have you?”

Terumoto tilted her head and asked the girl a question.

“So what will you do?”

The Musashi Vice President’s answer was a simple one.

“We’re going.”


“You’re going?”

Masazumi heard Terumoto’s question.

But that question came from a smile with raised eyebrows.

“Lady Nagaoka, aka Christina, has been abandoned by Europe, you know?”

“Isn’t that why you’ve left her with us, Mouri Terumoto? Also,” continued Masazumi. “Hashiba’s goal here is clear. They want to keep us out of the Kantou Liberation by bringing about Lady Nagaoka’s death in Europe. You could call that the Gratia Incident. …Her death is a history recreation, but I bet only Sweden will cry foul. Because at the moment, no nation can escape unharmed if they provoke M.H.R.R. and Hashiba.”

But…

“That is an abuse of history recreation interpretations being used to tear us away from Kantou. This is essentially directed at us, so we can’t let it stand.”

“What about the Kantou Liberation?”

“A good question,” said Masazumi while turning toward Yoshiyasu.

Yoshiyasu shrugged in response.

“Just leave some supplies and personnel here. Mouri there apparently intends to do this on their own, so we’ll figure something out.”

“Flatty…feeling lonely? Well, are you? Hmm?”

“Damn you! Must you make a fool of me on the international stage!?”

It was nice to see she was doing well.

Vice President: “The Battle of Nördlingen will be a short-term confrontation in a localized area. We should only be able to send in a limited force. So if anyone wants to participate in the Kantou Liberation, we can make some adjustments to our fighting force and the Student Council can approve you accompanying Yoshiyasu.”

Masazumi looked up at the torii-style emblem floating in the sky.

She spoke to Hashiba through that.

“I will not call this a game, Hashiba. Because someone’s life hangs in the balance. But…”

She raised her right hand and raised a finger.

“Will you be able to participate in the Kantou Liberation and will we be able to rescue Lady Nagaoka at the Battle of Nördlingen? We will complete this using our methods, Hashiba.”


Yoshiyasu saw a sign frame appear next to her face.

It displayed a list of those from Musashi who would stay behind for the Kantou Liberation.

That’s an awful lot.

Even if Musashi did participate in the Battle of Nördlingen, the fighting would already have begun by the time they arrived. They would not have the time or opportunity to send in a large number of warriors. Instead, they likely planned to send their primary fighters to the critical points and send in enough warriors to help support the overall battle. So…

Most of the normal warriors are staying here.

“I see,” said Yoshiyasu. “This is awfully generous of you.”

In the worst case, she would have had to do it alone.

The numbers listed here were several times what she had expected.

“With Mouri helping too, we should have a force greater than what Satomi had to begin with.”

So…

“Go, Musashi. I too am a part of Musashi now, so I’m not going to force death onto this Lady Nagaoka by having you prioritize me. And if not for the Kantou Liberation, I would of course join you in rescuing her. I assume the reverse would also be true, but…”

Yoshiyasu smiled bitterly because she knew what she had to say to them.

“I don’t recall having death forced upon me. At the very least, you haven’t forced it onto me. …So go and do for Lady Nagaoka what you would do for me.”

“Judge,” said the Musashi Vice President. Then the idiot looked her way and bit a handkerchief.

“Flatty! You’ve really grown up, haven’t you!?”

“Save the feminine voice for when you’re crossdressing!”

Yoshiyasu’s shoulders slumped when she saw the idiot quickly start changing clothes.

“Yoshiaki.”

“Yes?”

“I’m probably going to get a lot of help from you.”

“I always planned to give it.”

The fox gave a “ko ko” of laughter.

“Yoshiyasu?”

“What is it?”

“Yoshiyori – both your sister and the later one – would have loved to hear you say that.”

“What…?”

“Oh?” Yoshiaki’s eyes widened a bit. “You hadn’t noticed? You just chose something other than death.”


Indeed she had not noticed.

Yoshiyasu was unsure how to respond to this unexpected fact.

Was it a good thing or a bad thing that she had grown to be someone different from her sister and Yoshiyori? But that line had come from her without any doubt whatsoever, so…

“This is who I am. That’s all it is, Yoshiaki.”

The fox laughed happily at that.

And she narrowed her eyes toward the torii-style emblem in the sky.

“Listen, Hashiba.”

“Yes?”

“It is time you learned that people’s lives have dropped in value as bargaining chips. Because there is now someone who will try to save those whose lives you try to take.”

So…

“This will not go the way it did with Mogami and Date.”

“Under…stood,” replied Hashiba before turning toward someone else. “Musashi Vice President, I understand that you intend to go to Nördlingen.”

“Judge. So are we done here?”

“We are,” agreed Yoshiyasu.

Each group had decided what to do next and they knew who was participating in the Kantou Liberation.

All that remained were the individual strategy meetings for each destination. And for that…

“Then is this the end of the post-Odawara meeting?”

“Testament. I can agree to that,” said Hashiba. “However, pleas w-wait just a moment concerning the Keichou Campaign.”

Huh?

The Keichou Campaign was a conflict between Hashiba and Satomi.

“Your side has to make your own preparations there. Or are you interfering with our preparations?”

“Th-there is a reason for…us to i-interfere!”

Hashiba turned toward someone: Mouri Terumoto.

She breathed in and made a statement to her.

“I must ask that we negotiate for the delivery of a certain individual.”


Novice: “Oh, this might be bad.”

Silver Wolf: “Yes, extremely bad.”

Asama: “Eh? The delivery of a certain individual? I’m not quite sure what that means. Mito? Is there a problem with that?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. During the Keichou Campaign, most of the commanders living in the west of the Far East cross the ocean for a foreign campaign. And one such individual is among Mouri’s forces now.”

Still Got It: Nate! Do it! Give the answer! Raise your hand and give the answer!”

Silver Wolf: “How are you so carefree when this is about you!?”

Asama: “Eh? Don’t tell me…”

Silver Wolf: “I wish I didn’t have to! …My mother, Masuda Motonaga, joined Hashiba’s foreign expedition as one of Mouri’s troops!”


Mitotsudaira saw something gigantic standing on the edge of the Hexagone Française diplomatic ship’s deck.

What are those huge things?

“Boobs! They’re boobs, Mitotsudaira!”

No, that couldn’t possibly be. I mean…

“Mitotsudaira! Don’t run from reality! Look, they’re your mom’s boobs! From this low an angle, you can’t even see her face! Do you get it now!?”

That was simple enough that it pissed her off, but whatever the case, that giant presence stood above them. She placed her hands on the railing, but her chest got caught on the metal bar.

“Oh? …This is really in the way. Nate? Life must be so easy for you.”

“N-now is not the time for personal attacks!”

“Hold on, maman. Nate’s had a pretty rough life.”

“My king!?”

“Yeah,” said the crossdressing king. He raised his eyebrows toward her mother who had finally managed to look down at them past her chest. “Listen, maman. When you don’t have any, you end up searching for bust-increasing spells during class, you buy a magazine selling promises of a nice figure by hiding it between other magazines but then throw it to the ground when you discover it’s a weight loss issue, you start massaging your sides in the middle of class, and you go through phases of drinking tons of milk or eating tons of cheese. It’s not easy.”

“Nate…”

“M-my king, what are you talking about!? And mother, I don’t want that look of sympathy!”

“But, Nate,” said her king. “You have gotten a little bigger recently.”

She heard a metallic clang behind her.

Everyone turned back to see Adele had dropped her long spear to the floor.

“Oh, s-sorry. That was something of a shock is all.”

“Foolish brother, is that true?”

“Why would you ask him instead of me!?”

“Mitotsudaira, if you were aware of it, you wouldn’t make such a fuss about it. And just like Asama, you don’t wear a bra, so as much as it bothers you, you don’t pay that close attention, do you?”

That did seem true now that Kimi mentioned it.

Her king tilted his head and groaned in thought while staring at her chest.

“From what I can see, the…how should I put it? The shadow…or the jiggling? Or maybe the shifting? Well, whatever it is, there’s more of it than at the start of spring.”

“Mitotsudaira-sama, at times like this, I recommend punching him on the side of the jaw.”

I couldn’t possibly go that far, she thought just before her mother spoke to Terumoto.

“Now, Student Council President. What will you do? I am unusually strong even on a global scale and this might make me your enemy.”

“Yeah, that would be a problem.”

Terumoto was smiling with her eyebrows somewhat raised.

She’s confident?

That was how Mitotsudaira interpreted it as Terumoto spoke to Hashiba.

“Anyone you want besides our Reine des Garous?”

“No, we cannot take more than is necessary.”

“Whoa, hold on. You really don’t need anyone else? Not even our Mouri automatons?”

“Mouri-01 is Hoida Motokiyo and Mouri-02 and 03 are the Ryousen, but they all die before the Keichou Campaign. Also…you have Seki Masatada.”

Ah.

That makes sense, realized Mitotsudaira.

Seki Masatada was probably Mouri’s strongest when it came to anti-automaton and anti-god of war fighters. And since she was a ninja, she would not leave Terumoto.

Terumoto had brought her to Kantou partially because she was a ninja, but mostly to use her against automatons and gods of war.

First in the fight against Houjou. And now…

The Kantou Liberation.

What if Hashiba demanded they be given automatons as a fighting force? That was a question that both Mouri and Houjou had to answer.

If it came to that, Seki would protect Terumoto and Mouri. Even if the Mouri Series had to turn on their princess, they would not be worried if they knew Seki was there to defeat them.

“Sounds like you understand that Seki alone can provide the protection of a great army, Hashiba,” said Terumoto.

“Testament,” replied Hashiba. “That is why we do not need any more fighters from you.”

“But…that’s not how this is gonna work, is it?”

“That is the purpose of this negotiation, isn’t it?”

Negotiation?

Mitotsudaira realized the others were exchanging confused looks just like she was.

Mar-Ga: “Sounds like they’ve started some kind of discussion.”

10ZO: “Does this mean Hashiba’s recruitment of the Reine des Garous is dependent on a negotiation and not something Hashiba can force on them?”

Wise Sister: “Hm, that isn’t like the rigid Hashiba we know. Why is she so hesitant to recruit Mito’s mom? Do you know, foolish brother?”

Me: “Eh? It’s gotta be that, right?”

Mitotsudaira’s king pointed at the opposite end of the deck from her mother.

Someone stood in front of the stairs leading down.

It was a short person wearing pajamas and carrying a large pillow.

“Father!?”


Mitotsudaira’s father wobbled a bit as she watched him.

He looked like he had just woken up. It was true he had had trouble waking up when she had still lived with her parents, but…

Looks like he hasn’t changed at all.

Some mornings, she had taken her father’s hand and led him to the dining room or living room while he was still childishly sleepy. That was generally what happened when her mother was in charge of breakfast.

But now he yawned while oblivious to the situation around him.

“Miss Loup-Garou…”

He seemed to chew on his sleepiness as he spoke.

“I tried to wait until you got back to rest before the battle, but I fell asleep without you.”

His quiet voice silenced everyone. Eventually, Mary smiled and spoke.

“Lady Mitotsudaira’s father is adorable.”

“N-no, um, uh.”

Mar-Ga: “Mitotsudaira, no matter what you say…this is criminal.”

Silver Wolf: “H-how!? He can’t help his body type!”

But she heard a certain noise from her father. The summer night breeze must have chilled him because he sneezed.

Her mother immediately vanished.

The next thing she knew, her mother had run over to her father’s side.

“Are you okay, honey!? If you’re feeling cold, then I need to warm you up. Yes, and what better way to warm you than some light rubbing and massaging exercise and working up a sweat with something warm in your mouth?”

“Mother, I think you’re mixing two different things there!”

“Exactly right, Nate! There will be plenty of messy mixing going on! A mixtravaganza! …Now, your father and I are going to be busy for a bit, so you wrap this up on your own, okay!?”

She was not listening. But Mitotsudaira’s father noticed her.

He sleepily mouthed “Nate” and waved to her. Then her mother nodded and…

“——————”

A moment later, the two had vanished inside the ship.

“That was fast,” muttered Mitotsudaira without thinking, but with both her mother and father here, she understood what Terumoto and Hashiba had meant about negotiations.

“In other words…my parents come as a set, don’t they?”

“Eh!? Nate! What did you just say!?” Her king kept a straight face. “Your maman and papan come during se-…”

Horizon hit him with a satisfyingly solid sound of impact.

How does she make it sound like that?

While wondering that with a nervous sweat, Mitotsudaira saw Horizon raise a hand to tell her not to worry about it. Mitotsudaira raised her hand in response and then got back to what she was saying.

“Listen. Just as my mother is Masuda Motonaga, my father has inherited the name of a Far Eastern commander: Shimizu Kageharu. He was Masuda Motonaga’s subordinate and later his partner.”

And…

“Shimizu Kageharu also participated in the Keichou Campaign. So if you are sending Masuda Motonaga to the Keichou Campaign, you must do the same for him. However, my father has essentially zero combat ability and he is physically weak…even though my mother could hardly be stronger.”


“How about it? Will you take them both as a set, Hashiba?”

Terumoto asked Hashiba the crucial question.

“To be clear, the Reine des Garous can leave her husband’s side if need be and I bet she could also fight just fine while carrying him around. So she would be a decent fighter even if you have to take him too.”

“Then we will target wherever she is,” interrupted the Musashi Vice President.

She crossed her arms.

“It was unofficial, but Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer has defeated the Reine des Garous in combat. Also, one of our ordinary students defeated her with curry during the Siege of Odawara. And Mogami Yoshiaki defeated her in a game where you put rubber on the end of a rod and play with balls. …If you send her to the battlefield with the handicap of protecting her husband, we will send in our 5th Special Duty Officer to intercept her while entertaining her with curry and challenging her to a game of ‘rubber on the rod’. Got a problem with that? I do. But I won’t be accepting any other complaints. Got that?”

Terumoto was unsure what a lot of that meant, but that was just how things were sometimes.

She then noticed Hashiba raising her hand.

“Um, could I get a translation for that?”

“Just accept it as is,” said Terumoto. “It’s faster that way.”

But there was one thing she could say here.

“The Reine des Garous gives you an advantage, but she still leaves enough of an opening for a group like Musashi to overcome it. And that’s before you add in the husband handicap. So do you still want her?”

“None of this changes that they must participate in the Keichou Campaign for the history recreation.”

She really is hard-headed, isn’t she?

Terumoto could also be stubborn and had things she refused to back down on, but she was not this bad. Probably.

But, she thought.

“Then let’s do this, Hashiba.”

“Do what?”

“We are also Hexagone Française. So let’s say we can’t offer you the Reine des Garous or her husband because we’re having them do a history recreation for the Hexagone Française side. You get what I mean, don’t you?”

Terumoto looked to Hashiba.

“They’re also the Viscount of Turenne and the Prince of Condé.”


Righteousness: “What does that mean?”

Silver Wolf: “W-well, this is an unorthodox application of the history recreation, so I would rather not explain…”

Flat Vassal: “Judge. The Viscount of Turenne and Prince of Condé are both titles for those who serve the Roi-Soleil, but when the Roi-Soleil was young, the Prince of Condé did not agree with the administration, insisted on his own rights, and occasionally fought with Turenne.”

Azuma: “So if they’re fighting to recreate that, they can’t go on the Keichou Campaign? But what kind of fight would it be?”

Asama: “…Oh, I get it.”

Almost Everyone: “…”

Asama: “Wh-what is that silence for!? No, wait, um, I was just saying they would be having a nice friendly fight together. Right!?”

Tonbokiri: “But since they are a married couple, any fight they have will be filled with sex, won’t it? They must be a truly intimate sex couple. And they could include Mitotsudaira-sama to be a sex family. They were so willing to begin their battle that you could only describe it as fighting sex!”

Gold Mar: “We’ve come full circle and reached the right answer, haven’t we?”

Vice President: “That isn’t the issue here! It really isn’t!”

Mar-Ga: “Y’know, I bet they’ve already started their ‘battle’. I bet it went something like this: bath→bed.”

Silver Wolf: “C-could you not assume my parents are that clueless of normal behavior?”


“Okay, honey! Since you’re chilled, we need to start with a bath! Far Eastern culture is dominant here, so that means doing this bathhouse style. Lay down there, okay? Oh, don’t worry. You don’t have to hide any part of your body. …Now, I will wash you off with bathwater, clean you with the soap, and warm you up. Oh, dear. What is the matter? I am only rubbing and massaging you to warm you, so try to restrain your voice more than that. Nate is still up, after all. Yes, saying that got me excited too, so let’s move on to the next step.”


“U-umm, I am sure my parents are doing something perfectly normal for their fight. Y-you know, like playing shogi or cards.”

“Heh heh. Even if they are playing a game like that, wouldn’t it be so the winner gets to devour the loser?”

The wolf groaned and fell silent, so Masazumi sighed and asked a question.

“What will you do, Hashiba?”

“Testament. If Hexagone Française has begun a history recreation, then we have no choice. However…listen carefully, Mouri Representative.”

“Huh? What is it now?”

“If you do use the Reine des Garous on your side, make sure her husband is with her.”

“Testament. We used that in our negotiation, so it’s only fair. I don’t want to end up owing you some weird favor, so we’ll accept those terms.”

Terumoto raised a hand toward the sky.

“Okay, that ends that. Both sides remain unchanged. Hashiba, it’s time you left. Besides, you have to resupply, don’t you? You’re gonna greet the main force headed for Nördlingen when you do that, right?”

“Testament. I intend to greet Niwa-sama as our main force and Shibata-sama as our backup force.”

So she’s greeting the two whose names were combined to make the Hashiba name, thought Masazumi.[1]

And she was reminded of something else too.

We haven’t dealt with Niwa since Novgorod.

She had appeared as a commander of her troops, but she herself had not actually fought while there.

That would not be the case this time.

And who from Shibata’s forces would make an appearance?

There were a lot of unknowns here.

Vice President: “We’ve lost a lot of the forces we hoped to use for the Kantou Liberation, so that battle is guaranteed to take some time. Hashiba has likely decided that extension to the battle will give her more than enough time to greet Niwa and Shibata while resupplying.”

Righteousness: “That’s if all goes well for her. …Messing with Hashiba’s plans will be an important job for those of us fighting in the Kantou Liberation.”

The Satomi Student Council President would probably be in charge of a lot there. She would also become the one linking the Kantou Liberation group with the Nördlingen group.

Vice President: “Satomi Student Council President, this is going to be a lot of pressure on you.”

Righteousness: “Yes, about that. If possible, there is one thing I would like to ask of Musashi.”

Masazumi gave her a look that asked “what is it?”, but then…

Nagaya-Stable: “Vice President, I will remain here, so could you let me deal with that?”

It was Ookubo.


Ookubo took a breath on a terrace sticking out from Tama’s diplomatic deck.

It acted as a yakiniku place in the evenings, but it became a rest area that served drinks as the night wore on.

In one corner of that terrace, Ookubo was already calculating the various costs and supplies needed for the Kantou Liberation.

Next to her, Kanou was assisting her with the calculations and an empty glass floated in the air near her.

The glass eventually made its way to the counter and was swapped out with a full one. Ookubo commented on that glass’s movement.

“Yagyuu-kun, I know you must have wanted a break, so sorry about the odd jobs.”

“Think nothing of it, Ookubo-sama. I am your bodyguard after all.”

“Then you’re staying here instead of going to Nördlingen.”

“As you wish.”

So it’s the same group as always, thought Ookubo as she closed a sign frame she was done with. And…

Nagaya-Stable: “Vice President, I’m actually rearranging the account book and some other things for doing both the Kantou Liberation and Nördlingen, but I have plenty of time. I don’t need to follow you all the way there. …Nördlingen will be a smaller scale battle for us and I can leave that to the Budget Committee’s Account Officer. Plus, I would really like to control the administrative side of the Kantou Liberation. Also…”

Ookubo looked to the port visible from the terrace.

The Satomi Student Council President is going to be borrowing ships from Mogami, so we can do that too.

She understood how generous Mogami was being, but she felt there was something Musashi could do too.

Nagaya-Stable: “Vice President, if we only give the Satomi Student Council President some warriors to use, she’ll have no one on the administrative side. You can’t fight a battle like that and you can’t negotiate. The other nations will find her lacking as a nation.”

Vice President: “So are you saying you’ll do Satomi’s administrative work?”

“That’s right,” said Ookubo while very aware what she was saying.

Nagaya-Stable: “Satomi Student Council President. If you are willing, I would like to borrow the title of Vice President. You can add ‘substitute’ if you want. And in exchange…”

Ookubo smiled bitterly at her habit of involving herself in trouble.

Nagaya-Stable: “I will make sure you win in every single negotiation and administrative problem you run into during the Kantou Liberation.”


“I appreciate it,” said Yoshiyasu.

How long had it been since she felt Satomi was her and her alone?

It was true she was the only survivor of Satomi. But…

I’m not alone.

She had more or less only gotten to know Ookubo today, but they had spoken together a fair bit and they had each seen what the other could do. Yoshiyasu especially liked how Ookubo was a decent fighter for a liberal arts type.

Based on what she had heard about the battle with Seki…

She fights using her tactics and decisiveness.

Instead of pure strength or technique, she fought by manipulating the overall situation in her favor. Yoshiyasu really appreciated having someone like that to handle the administrative side and support the battlefield from behind the scenes.

“Honestly.”

The word “appreciate” came to mind so naturally for her now.

She never would have imagined this change in herself back when Satomi was destroyed.

At the time, she had felt like showing thanks or appreciation was a sign of inferiority and she had especially avoided doing so with those on her side.

She really had changed.

But she felt certain she would change even more in the future. In personality, but also in ability, in relationships, and in her position in the world. Yes, and it would be nice if my chest could change too. No, don’t just think it would be nice. Have hope. It should change. No, don’t just say should. Be confident. It will change. …It’s hopeless. There’s no guarantee. Why do I have to be so strict with myself? I feel like that part of my personality is never going to change…

“Hey, Satomi Student Council President, stop losing yourself in thought. …Are you okay?”

“Eh? Oh, um…I think most everything is in order now.”

“Testament,” said Hashiba. “Then I think we have accomplished what needed to be done here.”

Yoshiyasu nodded in agreement.

Then she raised her right hand and breathed in.

She glanced at the nighttime sundial display on her sign frame and opened her mouth.

“The Kantou Liberation will begin at 2 AM local time, which is 3 hours and 27 minutes from now.”

So…

“Everyone, you are dismissed to spend that time as you deem fit!!”


Chapter 11: Incorrect Girl in a Guessing Game[edit]

Horizon7-A365.jpg

Because you thought

The decisive blow would come from within

It was all the more devastating coming from without

Point Allocation (Almost Everyone)


“And with that, it’s time for what I wanted to discuss.”

Terumoto turned toward the Musashi group as they started to leave.

“Hey, where do you think you’re going, Musashi Vice President!?”

“Eh? Oh…oh! Right, I didn’t forget. You had something else, didn’t you?”

This girl… thought Terumoto with a glare, but it was true Hashiba had brought a distracting amount of trouble.

Hashiba had disappeared from the sign frame, but Musashi’s Asama Shrine Representative was being cautious.

“I did a minimum-strength search through Musashi’s fixed divine protections and I haven’t found any Hashiba spells around any of the ships. …What about you, Suzu-san?”

“No. ‘Musashino’-san says there…isn’t anything.”

“Then we should be good,” said the Musashi group with a smile, so Terumoto felt a little jealous.

Mouri-01 sighed behind her.

“Princess, you should have brought some of your friends from your delinquent days, shouldn’t you have?”

“Yeah, they’re all a mess, what with getting married and having a kid, hitting a customer over the head with a bottle at their bar, or whatever else.” She looked toward the Musashi group again. “But that’s what’s so great about them. Still, that mixture of public and private life only works with our own people, so I couldn’t have brought them anyway.”

“Hee hee. Sounds like you still have some vainglory.”

Maybe so, she thought, but then the Musashi Vice President raised a hand.

“Judge. Asama and Mukai say it’s fine, so it should be fine. …Bye.”

“Don’t leave!”

Terumoto raised her eyebrows and shouted.

“Stick around. I want to do some strategizing and some negotiating too. …So get things ready.”


What a pain, thought Narumi with a sigh.

“I was here on Date’s behalf, but Date’s plan is in place now, so I will be here as part of Musashi now.”

“Testament. Either way’s fine with me. Suit yourself.”

After Terumoto said that, the Asama Shrine Representative raised her right hand.

“Then I will add Narumi-san and Yoshiaki-san to our divine transmission group. …What about Uesugi and Houjou?”

“Hashiba would probably get upset if I got to close to Musashi. Plus, everything is being transmitted back to Sviet Rus, so leave it as is.”

“Same for Houjou. And everything is progressing in accordance to the plan we made with Mouri.”

“Okay,” said the Asama Shrine Representative just before a sign frame appeared next to Narumi.

Uqui: “Narumi, how does it feel to be back?”

Unturning: “What, did you miss me?”

Uqui: “I’m not the one whose right leg is creaking when it moves.”

Unturning: “Then you can take a look at it later.”

That exchange improved her mood a little. Comments from the others were already filling the sign frame. It was the standard nonsense from them and she realized how hard it could be to join in after they already got started. Meanwhile, she turned toward Terumoto.

“So what do you want from Musashi?”

“Testament. Musashi, since we will be sending most of our supplies to Hashiba, give us as much of your supplies as you can.”

“Judge,” replied the Musashi Vice President. She opened a sign frame to check something as she spoke. “We were already planning to do so, but we have to go to Nördlingen. We will prepare supplies for the ships and personnel fighting in the Kantou Liberation, so you can take those when our forces join yours.”

That was the opposite of their previous idea.

Instead of sending Mouri personnel to the Musashi and providing the supplies there, the ships and personnel fighting in the Kantou Liberation would carry the supplies to Mouri.

And Musashi’s residents were more skilled in resupplying in midair than Mouri was.

However, there was a limit to how many supplies Musashi could prepare. How to make up for that was likely one topic for the upcoming discussion.

And in a few hours, I’m sure they will come up with a number of ideas on the battlefield.

That would be a test of Satomi Yoshiyasu and Mouri Terumoto’s tactical skill.

“Now, then.”

What should I do? wondered Narumi with a mental tilt of the head. She wanted to join the intense fighting at Nördlingen to help improve Date’s reputation. With that in mind, she sighed.

And at the same time, Mouri Terumoto raised a hand toward the Musashi group and opened her mouth.

“Musashi, give us a few of your main fighters. Mouri-01 and the others are primarily my bodyguards, so they can’t do anything if I can’t fight on the front line. We’ve already received some gods of war from Houjou, but I want an even greater fighting force. For example,” she said. “The Tachibana couple.”


“I can’t agree to hand over any of our main fighters quite that easily.”

Masazumi had to apply the brakes on Terumoto’s suggestion. But…

“If you’re suggesting something like that, I assume you already have something to give us in exchange. What would that be?”

“We have two things.”

With that, Terumoto pulled something from her skirt.

It was a memo.

It was folded up four times.

“This will act as an invitation for Lady Nagaoka in Nördlingen. In the interest of sharing information, I’ll give this to you. You did already help us with this, after all.”

We helped them?

Had they helped Hexagone Française acquire that memo somehow?

Masazumi looked back at the others to ask them, and…

“It’s Carlos I’s memo. The decoded version!”

Mitotsudaira gave the answer.


“Oh.” Mitotsudaira’s response reminded Mary of what had happened in Hexagone Française. “I remember that. Yes, Lady Mitotsudaira acquired that memo.”

“That’s right! With you, my king, and Margot!”

“Yes,” agreed Mary as she prepared to explain what had happened.

But then Tenzou spoke next to her.

“Um, I was there too?”

Right. Yes. When we were at Rudolf II’s tower, he and I discussed how to accelerate your movements. And before that…

“Y-yes, Mater Tenzou, you, um, well…”

He held me when we rode the unicorn.

“——————”


Asama: “W-wait, Tenzou-kun! Mary went all red and isn’t responding! Oh, and what a waste of ether flowers.”

Mar-Ga: “What did you do back then? To Mary, I mean.”

Gold Mar: “Ga-chan, I’ll tell you later. Then again, I think I already told you everything.”

10ZO: “I-I’m being attacked and then you end the conversation before I can say anything!”


“I remember!”

Mitotsudaira thought back to then while seeing flowers blossoming in the corner of her vision.

“That was back when my king was abducted by my mother.”

“Right, right. While Mito’s mom was on ultra easy mode, she picked me up and ran off with me.”

“Yes, exactly!” said Mitotsudaira in sync with her king. “And on the way to my mother’s house, we ran across Mouri-01 and the other automatons there.”

“Yeah, and at around that time, your maman put a collar on me, fed me meat, and lured me into bed naked, but I started bleeding, fell forward while naked, and did a pretty bad dick scrape on the floor.”

“Chancellor, a thread called ‘Painful – I Wish I Hadn’t Heard That – Scrape’ just started and is getting posts like crazy,” said Naito.

“Any guy would understand,” said Tenzou.

“Hold on, what was my mother doing to my king!?”

Whatever it was, she was probably up to no good. Same for him, for that matter.

Afterwards, they had gone to the tower where Rudolf II was imprisoned.

“My prize for defeating Rudolf II was the memo left by Carlos I.”

“Yes, and for us, well, Richelieu was taken by the Princess Disappearances during Anne’s generation. And since Carlos I was said to have been researching the Princess Disappearances, you left the memo with us so we could try to read it, but it was written in a bit of a code.”

“What kind of code was it?”

Mitotsudaira thought maybe she should not have said that, but Terumoto smiled with her mouth spread horizontally.

She gave an exaggerated shrug and held up the decoded memo.

“It simply used numbers to replace the words,” said Terumoto. “But we only figured it out because someone explained it to us.”

Huh?

That meant someone had told them how to read Carlos I’s code.

“Who was it?”


Masazumi began to speak while listening to Mitotsudaira’s question.

“Mouri Terumoto.”

She considered a few different links while calling out to Terumoto.

Who had told Mouri how to read Carlos I’s code?

She linked together a number of events in Europe, including the northern and eastern European nations. Those things may have been half imaginary like the things Neshinbara would talk about, but…

There are signs there.

“Who told you how to decode it?”

She saw a certain movement when she asked that.

Mouri Terumoto’s eyebrows rose as she turned toward Masazumi.

“You already know that, don’t you?”

So I was right!

With that thought, she gave the answer.

“It was Lady Nagaoka, wasn’t it!?”


Masazumi continued speaking.

“Lady Nagaoka was already close to the Testament Union and she had a connection to Europe. If she was active before Hashiba’s invasion, she must be fairly old. …So it would make perfect sense if she knew Carlos I and the others of his generation!”

“Hmm. Sorry, but no. It wasn’t her.”


Mar-Ga: “Wow, that must hurt. Masazumi tried to be the nerd and fell flat on her face.”

Gold Mar: “How would you have done it, Bara-yan?”

Novice: “For me, it would’ve been more like…this! Yes, you have to point all dramatically like this! It’s essential!!”

Laborer: “It doesn’t matter to you if the answer is right or not?”

Me: “Anyway, too bad, Seijun-kun.”

Vice President: “D-dammit! Then how about you try answering for me!?”

Me: “Ohhhhhh? Are you surrrrrrre you want that? If you let me answer, we’re definitely getting into topknot territory, you knowwwwww?”

Hori-ko: “Masazumi-sama, can I punch him in the gut now?”

Asama: “U-um, uh, Toori-kun, Masazumi is trying to do what’s best for Musashi here, so could you not talk that way about her? Even if she did try to be the nerd and fell flat on her face.”

Silver Wolf: “That’s right, my king. Masazumi is Musashi’s representative here. Even if she did try to be the nerd and fell flat on her face.”

Wise Sister: “They’re right, foolish brother. Masazumi is taking this seriously, so don’t laugh at her. Even if she did try to be the nerd and fell flat on her face.”

Vice President: “Dammit! I’ll get it right next time! I swear I will!”

Uqui: “Isn’t that the logic of a gambler who just lost?”


“Anyway,” said Masazumi while regaining her composure. “What is this about? It shouldn’t be an issue if we don’t know, but if it would cause some sort of trouble for you, then it wouldn’t hurt to just tell us. It would help both our nations. So how about it?”

“That was a long way to go to avoid just asking us to tell you.”

“…is what our Ookubo was saying.”

Nagaya-Stable: “Hey!”

She hasn’t joined Satomi yet, so I need to give her some work to do. However…

“Whatever the case, it seems you definitely had someone tell you how to read it. …So who was it?”

“Well,” replied Terumoto. “It’s someone you should have met…but weren’t able to.”


Me: “Okay, time for Round 2! Let’s play 20 Questions!”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Foolish brother? Do they have a dick!?”

Me: “Yes, yes, yes, yes!!”

Vice President: “Don’t make up answers! And that’s a terrible question to start with!”

Gold Mar: “Yeah, I think that one would get you taken off the air, Seijun.”


Round 2.

I feel like it’s all over if I get this one wrong, thought Masazumi.

But who should we have met but weren’t able to?

An invisible person? she thought, but she immediately ended that line of thought. This was not that sort of game.

In that case…

She decided to think about it from their side for a bit.

What was it Terumoto had said?

“Someone we should have met.”

But…

“We weren’t able to.”

What did that mean when looking just at the words? First, she focused on…

“In the end, we ‘weren’t able to’.”

If she completed that thought with the topic of the first phrase…

“We weren’t able to meet them.”

So if she rephrased it from their perspective…

“We had plans to meet them and we showed up to meet them…but we weren’t able to meet them.”

Then she only had to think about the people they had made plans to meet.

There was Anne at Magdeburg, but they had met her and spoken with her.

The next candidate would be…

“At Novgorod.”

But not Mayoress Marfa.

“It was Chancellor William, Prince of Orange, wasn’t it?”

The idiot looked up with a gasp.

And he grabbed her shoulders.

“See, they did have a dick!”

She raised her knee for a solid blow and he rolled quite a bit.


I see.

Mitotsudaira thought while using the silver chains to collect her king who rolled quite a bit thanks to his boke divine protection.

The Prince of Orange ruled Holland and Lady Nagaoka, aka Christina, rules Sweden, but both those nations join the Thirty Years’ War on the anti-imperial side.

She did not know what connections they might have had prior to that, but there was a link. And Holland had Protestant leadership, so it would probably have a connection to Protestant Nördlingen.

“This means the Prince of Orange and Lady Nagaoka were aware of our battle in Magdeburg and my fight with Rudolf II, doesn’t it?”

“Exactly. And you can’t ignore Lady Nagaoka when it comes to this.”

Terumoto said “because” as she held up the memo.

Then she let go of it.

That’s gravitational control.

The memo passed right by Masazumi and arrived in front of Mitotsudaira.

“This was your prize, so it’s yours to do with as you like.”

“In that case…my king?”

“Hm?”

He walked up next to her. The others also gathered around and their eyes focused on the memo she held.

She felt an odd tension as she unfolded the memo. The text written on that piece of parchment was…

“Far Eastern.”

That was not exactly a surprise since it had been decoded into Far Eastern, but the text read as follows:

<Taikyou-sama ni kotoba asohi no shitsumon

Uiriamu ni tanomu ka>

“What is this?”

“It looks kind of like ancient Far Eastern. This should mean ‘A wordplay question for Taikyou-sama. Can you take care of this, William?’, but I’m not sure what ‘Taikyou’ means here.” Asama tilted her head. “Well, it could mean ‘prenatal care’…”

Everyone fell silent and Mitotsudaira eventually elbowed Asama’s arm. And a few seconds after that…

“Eh!? W-wait, how does that one count! It’s a perfectly normal word!”

“It seems to me Asama-sama has been making an awful lot of baby-making word attacks in the past few days,” said Horizon.

“N-no, I haven’t! Not even a little!”

Saying the shrine maiden never knew when to give up would probably only get an even worse comment out of her, so Mitotsudaira only glared at her. But…

“ ‘Can you take care of this, William?’ ”

“That must mean the Prince of Orange.”

Mitotsudaira realized something when Masazumi said that.

“Since it’s asking him to ‘take care of this’, Carlos I must have been asking the Prince of Orange the question contained in the memo!”

She almost said “in that case” but asked a question instead.

“Where is that question!?”

“You should already know, Mito Lord.”

Terumoto’s statement came with a raised-eyebrow smile.

She pointed her thumb west without actually turning that way.

“It’s with Lady Nagaoka.”


Why? wondered Masazumi.

Why would Lady Nagaoka have the Holland Chancellor’s information about Carlos I?

If he had brought that to Novgorod, he could have given it to them.

No.

Masazumi rejected that idea. And she gave her reason why.

“He would have been foolish to use up all his bargaining chips at Novgorod. He knew P.A. Oda was going to attack there. And if he sensed the possibility of being taken by the Princess Disappearances, he would have left his most important information elsewhere. And not in Holland because he had no idea what would happen to it after he was gone. He would leave it with someone outside of Holland who he could trust. That trustworthy person was Lady Nagaoka, wasn’t it?”

“Then you more or less get who she is, don’t you?”

“Judge,” confirmed Masazumi.

The Prince of Orange had been a man about the same age as her parents, so…

“Lady Nagaoka is related to the Prince of Orange, isn’t she? Is she his daughter?”

“Close: his niece. That doesn’t apply to their inherited names, though. And…”

“Judge,” said Masazumi as she held up her sign frame.

It was a Testament Union information page with an inherited name profile for Lady Nagaoka.

Vice President: “Good work, Ookubo. I’ve found my footing now.”

Nagaya-Stable: “I had a head start after the work I did yesterday. I’m glad I got this far before heading to Satomi.”

“Yes,” agreed Masazumi as she tapped a point on the sign frame with her clenched fist.

It showed Lady Nagaoka’s parents.

“Nagaoka Tama was her married name. Before that…”

Masazumi looked across everyone as she spoke.

“She was Akechi Tama. …Lady Nagaoka is Akechi Mitsuhide’s daughter.”


That explains it.

Masazumi’s answer allowed Asama to make some connections between a few pieces of information.

Why had Lady Nagaoka been given the name of Queen Christina, a key individual in the Thirty Years’ War? And why had the Testament Union put so much focus on her?

“Because she is Akechi Mitsuhide’s daughter.”

Both Lady Nagaoka and Queen Christina were zealous Catholic musicians. By combining the two inherited names, she became a pipeline between the Thirty Years’ War and P.A. Oda.

You could call her a tiny neutral territory in Europe.

But what that meant changed when she was also Akechi Mitsuhide’s daughter and the Prince of Orange’s biological niece.

During the Honnouji Incident, Akechi Mitsuhide would assassinate Nobunaga, head of the Oda clan.

Doing anything to Lady Nagaoka could lead to the Honnouji Incident, so P.A. Oda would have been unable to do anything about her.

I bet I know who came up with that.

“This overly complicated setup has got to be the Papa-Schola.”

“Yeah, that old man loved doing things in as indirect a way as possible, didn’t he?” said Toori.

“I just about died because of it,” added Horizon.

I guess it isn’t surprising he isn’t too popular around here.

But Hashiba had destroyed the linchpin of that plan. They had absorbed Lady Nagaoka by joining with and effectively taking control of M.H.R.R. That allowed M.H.R.R. to claim her authority was their own and it had prevented Europe from working together. However…

“It must have taken real courage for Sweden to act as a powerful nation during the Thirty Years’ War,” said Urquiaga. “He may have died in battle, but King Gustav II put up a real fight.”

Naruze responded to him.

Mar-Ga: “They must have been ready for what was coming. Even now, Sweden is running their nation by communicating with Queen Christina in Nördlingen, but…”

Gold Mar: “If Musashi saves her, even the Swedish people who weren’t ready will be forced to take the Thirty Years’ War seriously, won’t they?”

There was one person who had to consider what that would mean:

“Masazumi.”

“Judge. It feels like we just found so much more we need to do.”

“It really does,” agreed Asama before Naruze’s voice reached them.

Mar-Ga: “This connects back to the Princess too. You all saw what the message left behind after the Princess Disappearance, didn’t you? ‘What’s keeping Mitsuhide-kun?’ ”

Asama had set this divine transmission for a private chat, so they did not need to worry about the information leaking out.

Asama: “The Prince of Orange and Akechi Mitsuhide must have known each other. Perhaps quite well.”

Vice President: “We might find out more about that if we ask current Swedish Chancellor Christina.”

“But,” added Masazumi as she looked up.

“Mouri Terumoto. What you’re doing here is restoring Lady Nagaoka’s political influence after Hashiba’s European invasion left her powerless, isn’t it?”

However…

“I doubt Lady Nagaoka wants that. What do you have to say about that?”


“You’re pretty sharp about the weirdest things.”

How scary, Terumoto jokingly added in her heart as she inhaled.

“That’s true. Lady Nagaoka does not really want to be rescued. …You understand what that means, don’t you?”

She could not say it herself.

And that was why the Musashi Vice President quietly said what she said.

“The Testament Union?”

Terumoto did not nod. If she did, it would hold a certain meaning.

I would be saying the Testament Union had cornered Lady Nagaoka.

That would also mean oppression by the Testament Union.

Of course, the European nations had been searching for ways to oppose Hashiba since their invasion. Even the Papa-Schola had desperately sought the Logismoi Oplo to tilt the power balance in their favor. And…

“We need to apologize to Lady Nagaoka too.”

Because…

“If we had acted sooner, we could’ve pushed back the Hashiba forces and protected Anne, Lady Nagaoka, and everyone else caught up in Europe’s power games.”

“You must be overestimating yourself there.”

“I really wish I could say I wasn’t. …But make sure you think about this.”

Terumoto continued while prepared for her shoulders to droop.

“What Anne did at Magdeburg was the European continuation of what Lady Nagaoka started.”

The Musashi group fell silent, so Terumoto continued.

“She might not want it, but I want to save her. Maybe I’m meddling here, but this is the last chance for that hard-working woman who took on the remaining half of the work Anne couldn’t complete. …But we can’t enter M.H.R.R. quite yet.”

“So you want us to do it.”

“Testament,” she confirmed, so the Musashi Vice President asked a question.

“How will you save her spirit? How will you change the mind of someone who desires death?”


Wise Sister: “Okay, a question. Is Lady Nagaoka really that hard-headed? And if her head is hard, is it this hard? Oops, I was aiming for Adele, but I groped Mitotsudaira instead!”

Flat Vassal: “Th-that’s doubly insulting!”

Gold Mar: “I mean, she’s a legit Catholic and she’s spent years obeying the Testament Union’s instructions. It’s true she’s no use to the Testament Union or Catholics thanks to Hashiba’s invasion…but isn’t she in trouble as far as the history recreation is concerned?”

Mar-Ga: “Margot, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

Vice President: “…Oh.”

Gold Mar: “Do you get it now, Seijun? …You see, the current Testament Union isn’t the Papa-Schola’s Testament Union that she served. It belongs to Hashiba, an enemy. And she’ll see her own history recreation as nothing but trouble for Musashi and Hexagone Française!”

Hori-ko: “In other words, if Lady Nagaoka is the diligent, wise, and dedicated type and also an obedient, modest, and yet proud woman, she might seek suicide so her presence will not harm anyone else?”

Me: “You’re just praising yourself for doing essentially the same thing at Mikawa, aren’t you?”

Hori-ko: “Asama-sama? Punch this boy in the jaw…yes, right about here.”

Asama: “I-I think that’s more your job, Horizon.”


Masazumi wondered what to do while she ignored the idiot getting punched.

“Maa?”

Oh, yes, yes. You’re very cute, Tsukinowa. But…

Really, what are we going to do?

“Hey, so Lady Nagaoka is probably really trying to die, right?”

“Hmm, I don’t really know myself, but I’m willing to bet this will be a pain in the ass.”

“You know, Mouri Terumoto, doesn’t that mean you’re shoving this ‘pain in the ass’ onto us?”

“Huh? Didn’t you hear us talking about how we historically can’t fight in the Battle of Nördlingen?”

“I see you aren’t denying that it’s a pain.”

“Crossdressing Honda-kun, it seems to me that Lady Nagaoka’s darkness is only continuing to grow.”

Is darkness all you ever see? Oh, wait. You talk about the Warriors of Light too, don’t you?

“Hey, Musashi, don’t look so troubled. There is a solution to this problem.”

“You mean other than forcibly rescuing her?”

“Bring him with you.”

Terumoto snapped her fingers.

A figure appeared in response to that noise.

He’s short.

Someone who was still just a young boy stepped out from the right side of the ship behind Terumoto.

When he noticed her watching him, he straightened his back and walked forward while facing straight ahead.

The way he walked suggested he had trained in some kind of martial art.

Based on his height, is he a first year?

No, he may have been even younger than that. Also…

“Mouri Terumoto. About that boy…”

Masazumi asked about the thing other than his height that had puzzled her at first glance.

“Why is he wearing an M.H.R.R. uniform?”


Chapter 12: Joiner of the Stage[edit]

Horizon7-A391.jpg

I want to say

I can do it even though I’m small

But why does it matter in the first place?

Point Allocation (Younger)


Futayo viewed the boy from a distance of 20 meters.

He was an M.H.R.R. student, but the short boy walked straight to Terumoto’s side with his arms held stiffly at his sides.

Who is that?

There was no answer to Masazumi’s previous question, so…

“Are you going to use some other method to provide the answer?”

“Exactly. Oh, and he’s a middle school name inheritor, so use that as a hint. Now watch carefully.”

Once Terumoto said that, a light appeared in the sky.

It was a reflected light. When Mouri-01 raised her right hand behind Terumoto, several blades flew up above the boy’s head.

A group of swords.

Futayo could tell there were 36 of them, they varied in size, and they had flown up to a height of about 30 meters. And that they were directly above the boy.

Mouri-01 smiled and spoke to everyone while light was reflected from so high in the air.

“I will now let them fall.”

Fall they did. Almost all of them took a deadly downward course toward the boy’s head and shoulders.

Futayo read the paths of all the blades and concluded that staying put was his best bet if he had no way to resist them.

Where he was, he would only be stabbed 28 times, but if he moved, he would be stabbed an average of 32 times.

Moving increases your upper surface area compared to standing straight up.

But the boy chose to move. This was not hesitation or an attempt to escape. He lowered his hips to fight back. And his chosen method was…

“A sumo stomp?” Futayo wondered aloud.

“No, Honda Futayo.” Gin gave her a sidelong glance. “Look carefully!”

Gin-dono, you are always so intense when it comes to me.

At any rate, something left the boy’s hands.

They moved in curves, but Gin was absolutely right.

That is not a sumo stomp!

The two weapons he had drawn from his hip had serpentine movement, but they also had grips.

And when he swung the grips, he dragged around some links of metal with a metallic sound.

“Chains?”

“No again, Honda Futayo. Look more carefully.”

“…You are being mean, Gin-dono.”

Gin wrinkled her brow, turned the other way, and stomped hard with her right foot. That’s the Gin-dono I know. A truly resonant stomp.

When Gin turned back around, she frowned and glared with a smile that did not reach her eyes.

“They are guns!”

Once Gin mentioned it, Futayo could tell she was right.

The guns were little more than a barrel. A frame linked several gun barrels together like a chain and they were extended into the air like a Nankin Tamasudare.

Perhaps you could call them gun chain swords.

“Impressive analysis, Gin-dono! When did you figure it out!?”

“From the very beginning!”

There is no need to shout, Gin-dono.

But the boy opened his mouth.

Oh?

He crossed his arms, sent the curves out into the air, and spoke.

“Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry.”


The boy had two gun chain swords. Each one was made of 18 barrels chained together and they produced a metallic clatter as they moved.

The boy only had to swing them. He sent waves of motion through the series of guns to play them like instruments.

“—————”

His voice was the trigger.

With his vocal burst, the barrels fired.

But not all at once. Bullets flew out into the air starting from the guns at his hands and working out.

“Oh.”

They responded to the firing of his voice.

“Oh, oh!”

The dual series of guns sent out a spray of sparks as if in time to a drumbeat.

He swung the grips a second and third time, sending further waves of motion though the gun blades and releasing a spray of silver into the sky.

They brought destruction.

He was not just firing wildly. Each shot was accurate and it all smashed the blades and shards falling from overhead. He was not satisfied with a single hit to each blade, so he sent bullets toward the broken shards as well.

This was a thorough destruction.

As a result, none of the scattering metal fell directly onto him.

“———————”

Once his voice fell silent, everyone there saw a silver ring around Terumoto and the boy.

That was all that remained of the swords he had destroyed with gunfire.


Gin could tell how skilled the boy was.

He is an expert sharpshooter.

The shocking thing about those gun chain swords was not their thorough destructive power. It was the accuracy displayed to achieve it.

After all, the shattered blades had not simply been sharpened pieces of metal.

Far Eastern swords were made by using a core piece of metal called the shingane, surrounding it on all sides with different metal, and forge-welding it together into a single blade. While it might look like a single blade, it was a collection of different metals, so instead of just being hard, the metals complemented each other to make a more persistent overall blade.

Breaking those blades with a bullet required the sharpshooting skill to accurately fire at the points of overlapping metal.

This boy had done that.

And not just once. He had done it enough to fully destroy those 36 blades.

Gin’s own experience as a sharpshooter told her how impressive that was.

But…

“Is something the matter, Gin?”

“No, I just have a question is all.”

But that was not something to ask now, so she chose to speak with Muneshige about something else she had noticed.

“Master Muneshige.”

“Judge, that’s right. Something about that caught my attention too.”

He took a step forward, and…

“Excuse me! I am Musashi Ariadust Academy Vice Chancellor’s Aide Tachibana Muneshige!”

After loudly introducing himself, he bowed toward the boy and opened his mouth to speak.

“By any chance, are you Nagaoka-…”

But he was cut off by a sudden scream from Mouri Terumoto.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”


“?”

Gin and Muneshige exchanged a glance.

What was that about?

However, Gin knew what Muneshige had planned to say, so…

“Lady Terumoto, I am the Vice Chancellor’s Aide’s Aide. I apologize for interrupting, but is that Nagaoka-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”

When Terumoto cried out again, Gin and Terumoto exchanged another glance.

“What does this mean, Master Muneshige?”

“Judge, I am baffled.”

“You are baffled?”

Master Muneshige is so wonderfully straightforward. But…

“Lady Terumoto, is that Nagao-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“Naga-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“Nao.”

“Nao? What’s Nao supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, I was merely seeing how you would respond. Although it seems to have been unnecessary.”

Still, she more or less understood what Terumoto’s bizarre shouting was about.

“We are not to speak that boy’s name, are we?”


Asama: “Incredible, Gin-san. You actually figured it out on your own.”

Gold Mar: “Most of us would just have fun with it for a while. A long while.”

Mar-Ga: “It wouldn’t end until the enemy self-destructed or someone else made a victim of themselves.”

Tonbokiri: “Hm, since that did not happen, Gin-dono must not have fully adapted to Musashi yet.”

Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! This girl…this girl is ruining my moment!”


“But,” said Masazumi while turning toward Muneshige. “Tachibana Husband, why do you think he is Nagaoka-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“Eh? Oh, sorry, Mouri Terumoto. …So, Tachibana Husband, why do you think he is that individual? It didn’t look like you realized it as soon as you saw him.”

“Judge.” Muneshige nodded. “”I realized he must be that individual because of the current situation. Back when I was still a name inheritor, Nagaoka-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“My apologies, Mouri Representative. …Now, back when I was still a name inheritor, the Testament Union gave me some advice on ‘how to be Tachibana Muneshige’.”

“Right. Some rules they were insisting you follow.”

Masazumi knew about that because she too had tried to inherit a name.

Nagaya-Stable: “Vice President, you were told to keep an eye out for me, weren’t you?”

Vice President: “Well, you are related to that name’s downfall. History recreations with an emphasis on relationships can’t be fulfilled on your own, so it helps to have some connections in place ahead of time.”

In that case, what had it been for the Tachibana Husband?

“Tachibana Husband, what connection is there between you and Nagaoka-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“Sorry, Mouri Terumoto. This isn’t easy.”

Masazumi asked the Tachibana Husband a question.

“What connection is there between you and him?”

“Testament. According to the Testament, we were quite close.”

“Oh, so that’s it!” exclaimed Futayo. “So Muneshige-dono and that boy are meant to have se-…”

“Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“Are you okay, Vice President?”

“Um, well, I hope so. Anyway, you were saying?”

“Judge.” The Tachibana Husband nodded. “But I never received word that his name had been inherited while I had my name. However, he was a part of the Keichou Campaign. My research had shown that most of the Seven Generals only received their names this year, so I was curious about his.”

“Using the process of elimination from there would be a bit of a gamble. But the talk of Lady Nagaoka clinched it, didn’t it?”

“Judge. When a middle school name inheritor arrived while we were discussing that, I concluded this had to be the explanation. And he must have been given the name in a hurry.”

“Hey, hold on a second, Seijun and Muneo.”

“Yeah? What is it, idiot?”

“Hmm.” The idiot tilted his head. “You keep saying ‘he’ and ‘that boy’, but can’t we come up with some other name. Y’know, since Teruko’s gone crazy.”

“I have not!!”

You are acting pretty crazy. Well, maybe you were just crazy to begin with.

But it would not be that easy to come up with another name like the idiot requested.

“What kind of name were you thinking of?”

“Well, what’s his actual name?”

Vice President: “Tadaoki.”

Me: “Hmm, you could read the kanji as Chuukou, but we already have Chuuko.”

Unturning: “Who’s that?”

Uqui: “That was his nickname for Torii Mototada, the previous Student Council President.”

Hori-ko: “Then why not use a misreading of Nagaoka instead?”

Tachibana Wife: “I hate to interrupt, but since Lady Nagaoka is a part of all this, using the family name alone would probably lead to confusion down the road.”

Horizon nodded at the Tachibana Wife’s comment.

“We can start by taking the Naga from Nagaoka as a general classification, but the problem is what comes next. I would like some kind of abbreviation or imagery that would clearly distinguish him from Lady Nagaoka.”

She opened a sign frame.

“Asama-sama, please connect me to our teacher. Everyone should be satisfied if I receive a hint from her.”


Asama transferred Oriotri and Horizon’s conversation to everyone else’s sign frames.

She’s our teacher, so this should be fine.

After all, she would execute the crazy people during class. That sounded a little wild when put it to words, but the reality was even wilder, so she did not mind. However…

“There, you’re connected. Go ahead, Horizon.”

“Oh? Did something happen?” asked Oriotri. “Aren’t you in a meeting? Is Masazumi working hard?”

“Judge, Masazumi-sama has been itching to get started ever since hearing there is a religious war involved.”

“Sounds tough.”

“That said, I believe we are still in a lull, so you need not investigate further, Sensei.”

Masazumi shouted in protest, but Asama felt this much was to be expected.

But then Horizon looked everyone in the eye and nodded to say she was getting down to business.

“Sensei, we have an important matter to discuss with you, so do you have a moment?”

“Huh? Teachers can’t get involved in our students’ actions. …And I am kind of busy right now.”

“Busy with what?”

“I’m having a late dinner. I mean, we’re in Kantou, home of toshomen, right? So I’m having thick noodles today.”

“I see,” said Horizon as she closed the connection.


Terumoto saw Honda Masazumi raise her right hand.

“Musashi has decided to call that boy Nagabuto[2].”

“Why the hell would you do that!?”

“Our teacher gave us the idea, so just give up.”

“Your teacher, huh?” sighed Terumoto.

Horizon7-A405.jpg

Name inheritors in the Far East had little external influence, so the presence of their teacher’s union meant a lot. Not even the students of other nations could defy the teachers.

That was likely what she meant here.

“Then I’ll play along. …Hey, your name’s Nagabuto from now on.”

Nagaoka gave her an accusing look, but she did not care. Then Musashi’s idiot called out to the boy.

“Hey! Don’t let it get to you, Nagabuto! It’s better than being called short and skinny, right!? So rejoice!”

Musashi’s princess sent a fist the idiot’s way without even looking to the side. “Ahn!” he moaned while collapsing to the deck with their princess glaring at him.

“Do not be silly. Now Nagabuto-sama must go by Nagabuto until the day he dies and that will be a life of hardship. After all, if he removes his pants and does not live up to his name, he will be deemed in violation of contract.”

“M-man, the Nagabuto Manifesto sounds rough!”

Nagaoka gave Terumoto an even more accusing look.

“Hey, I don’t want that name.”

“Don’t say that. …Because arguing with them is useless.”

But she did have something prepared, so she patted Nagabuto’s shoulder.

“Hey, Musashi! I have something else to say.”

It was…

“He actually has another inherited name too!”


Vice President: “A double inherited name!? Ookubo!”

Nagaya-Stable: “He might have inherited it this month, but the Testament Union hasn’t updated their site yet.”

Vice President: “Did you try a…direct search, I think it was called?”

Nagaya-Stable: “Who taught you that term…? Listen. There isn’t a double inherited name system or anything like that. It’s just a term used to describe a situation. Even if someone inherits two names, it’s unusual for the double nature of the inheritance to receive a special mention.”

Novice: “Ookubo-kun? In that case, search for any P.A. Oda or M.H.R.R. name inheritors from the past month or so who participate in the Keichou Campaign and have a connection to Lady Nagaoka.”

Nagaya-Stable: “I already did that!”

CAN: “Milady.”

Nagaya-Stable: “Eh? Oh, sorry, Secretary Upperclassman. I snapped at you like you were the Vice President.”

Four Eyes: “Your underclassman got there ahead of you and you even had her apologize when she complained about it? How slow and incompetent are you?”

Mar-Ga: “By the way, this Ookubo is a short and flat girl with glasses.”

Four Eyes: “Ha ha. Oh, is that what this was? Did you want someone to replace me, Toussaint?”

Almost Everyone: “Eeeek!”


Now, then, thought Masazumi as she viewed the narrowed-down information sent by Ookubo.

The sign frame displayed a list of name inheritors. Ookubo must have thrown this together in a hurry because it only had the names and a percentage providing what she thought were the odds of them being a double name inheritor.

There were a few candidates, but one had a percentage far above the rest. That name was…

“Inadome Sukenao?”

As soon as Masazumi said that, a few of her classmates reacted: Crossunite, Neshinbara, the Tachibana Couple, Futayo, the Technohexen…

It would be faster to list the ones who didn’t react: the idiot, Horizon, Asama, the idiot sister…

That was also a long list, so she realized this too was a mistake. But all those who reacted spoke up as one.

“Inadome Sukenao!?”

“Yes, I know what the name is, but why do you sound so shocked?”

Mar-Ga: “You don’t know who that is!? He’s an incredible person!”

“Eh?” said Masazumi as she turned to look at Nagabuto. The idiot behind her must have done the same because…

“The incredible Nagabuto.”

“Stop! Don’t call me that!”

“Ahhhn, noooo! This Nagabuto is increeeeedible! Just increeeeeeeeeedible!”

“Masazumi-sama, this is not an act meant to entertain. He has simply been harassing people lately.”

“Heh heh. Listen up, foolish people! Now is your chance to tell me what this means in order to make me an even wiser sister than I already am! Now! Bring it on! Splaaaash! Ahh, it’s an ocean of love!”

“I’m not sure what they’re going on about, but…Masazumi-dono? Inadome Sukenao is indeed an incredible person. After all…”

Masazumi tilted her head as Crossunite explained for her.

“He almost always makes the lists of the top three pathetic people in the Warring States period.”

“…Huh?”

“Hey! Nagabuto! So all you are is long and thick!? Hey, everyone! I think we should give him another kanji to help increase his stamina!”

“Suzu-san! Suzu-san! Do not think about what he means! Clear your mind!”

“Tomo? Is this some kind of Shinto training?”

But while the Musashi idiots had their fun, Nagabuto was clenching both his fists.

“Stop it! Don’t just make up names for people! That’s not very mature!”

“Eh? …Hey, Nagabuto! Have you had your coming of age ceremony?”

“Not till next year! I’m still a middle school 2nd year!”

A stir ran through everyone upon hearing that.

“I can draw this, right!?” asked Naruze. “He’s chuuni, a name inheritor, and a pathetic Nagabuto, so he’s gotta be a bottom! Right!?”

“Hey, Naito!” shouted Masazumi. “Restrain your girlfriend!”

“I would, but it’s faster to let her draw some to get it out of her system,” said Naito. “Kind of like you with wars, Seijun.”

“What is that supposed to mean!?”

But there was something she had to ask.

“How is that Inadome person pathetic?”

“Judge.” Like before, it was Crossunite who answered. “He generally had unbelievable results in training, but during actual battles, he would either achieve nothing or run away. And the worst example of that was…hmm.”

Crossunite scratched his head in hesitation, but finally continued.

“When Lady Nagaoka blew herself up, he was working as a guard for the Nagaoka clan. But when their estate was surrounded, he ran away to save his own hide.”


Gin turned toward the Vice President when she heard the 1st Special Duty Officer’s explanation.

“I believe I know more or less what is going on, Vice President. The unmarked transport ship accompanying the Hexagone Française diplomatic ship before this meeting must have belonged to him.”

“Then is this what Mouri Terumoto is saying: despite the particulars of his history recreation, he has a connection to Lady Nagaoka and was at the site of her death, so we should take him to Nördlingen?”

“Judge,” confirmed Gin while opening a sign frame.

She had done a fair amount of research into name inheritors with a connection to Muneshige.

“In the period leading up to Sekigahara, Naga-…buto marched north to deter Uesugi. He did not return in time to prevent Lady Nagaoka’s suicide and Inadome Sukenao fled instead of protecting her. Nevertheless, he does have a connection to her and he was nearby. Taking him with us would provide a reason for Musashi’s trip to Nördlingen.”

But right as she said that…

“Wait just a moment.”

Someone spoke up and stepped forward.

“I am Sviet Rus Representative Honjou Shigenaga.”


This meeting had felt meaningful for Shigenaga. After all…

“About Nagaoka-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Terumoto shouted and then smacked the boy on the head.

“You shout!”

“Wh-why does it even matter if my name gets out!?”

“They’ll claim it’s my fault you came here, idiot!”

“Heyyy!” Musashi’s Chancellor raised his hand. “Teruko, didn’t you bring him here?”

“What? Yeah, I brought him here.”

“Then it is your fault!!”

Despite everyone shouting at her, Terumoto spoke to the boy.

“Listen, you can sing, can’t you? Then try shouting. Got it?”

She glared at the boy and inhaled.

“Hey, Nagaoka Tadao-…hey! You’re supposed to shout!”

“Huh!? Don’t spring it on me like that! Give me another chance!”

“Fine, then. …Here I go, okay? Nagaoka Ta-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Terumoto karate chopped the boy’s head.

“You don’t have to match my voice’s pitch. That was kind of creepy. And do it a little sooner than that.”

“She sure is demanding…” everyone muttered. Shigenaga agreed, but…

There isn’t any vainglory there.

Another nation’s leader was growing as a person, but should she be glad or wary? Shigenaga thought about that as she looked to the boy.

“Sorry about that. Sviet Rus has a question concerning the boy.”

“Nagabuto! His name’s Nagabuto!!”

Quiet down, Musashi Chancellor.

This was an important matter for Sviet Rus.

“Just as the Musashi Vice Chancellor’s Aide’s Aide said, he deters Uesugi in the lead up to Sekigahara. So would it be possible for us to settle that with a duel here?”


“Huh? What’re you looking at me for, Seijun? Am I just that cute?”

“No, we need your approval for this. …That boy goes to Uesugi as part of the Punishment of Aizu and it was Matsudaira that ordered that. In other words, us.”

“Really?” asked the idiot, so Masazumi nodded.

“So even if Uesugi wants this, we need your approval.”

“What’s the deal, Nagabuto? Can’t do anything on your own? ‘What Nagabuto Can Do On His Own’. Hey, Black Mar, how’s that for a title?”

“Oh, sorry. I’ve already designed logos for ‘Naga-Butt-o’ and ‘Tada-f*ck-i’.”

“Two doujins!? He’s gonna be a big seller, huh!?”

“Stop! Wh-what is with you people!?”

“We’re going to be your sponsors eventually,” said Masazumi. “So just give up now.”

“Huh!?” he shouted back at her, but she stopped thinking about it since it was hopeless.

“So how about it, Aoi?”

“If Shigeko’s fine with it and we’re fine with it, then why not?”

“Hm, to be honest, we could use this as a bargaining chip with Uesugi.”

“That’s true,” said the Date Vice Chancellor via divine transmission. “If we let them settle Nagabuto’s deterrence of Uesugi here, Uesugi will owe us one. But we might later find we want a history recreation we can interpret as a battle between Uesugi and Matsudaira, so it might be better to not do Nagabuto’s invasion of Uesugi just yet.”

“So it’s like that, huh?” Aoi crossed his arms and tilted his head, but he soon looked back up. “Seijun. A while back, you told me about the people who die when we don’t fight a war, right?”

Oh.

Masazumi frowned at this sudden change of subject. She probably should have been happy, but she mostly felt surprised.

“You…can actually remember things?”

“G-go to hell!”

“Masazumi, just to be clear, Toori-kun has an excellent memory for the weirdest things.”

“Hold on, hold on. It’s not about ‘the weirdest things’, Asama. I take all the important things to heart.”

The idiot pouted his lips toward Asama, so…

“But, well, um…”

She stammered for a bit and blushed.

As she hung her head and her fingers wandered aimlessly through the air, the Aoi Sister rested her elbow on the girl’s shoulder.

“Heh heh. Every little thing is important, isn’t it?”

“D-don’t tease me right now, Kimi!”

Well, even without thinking about it too much, that boy was who he was because he remembered his remorse.

But Masazumi knew what he was trying to say, so she spoke.

“Let’s have that duel.”

“We’re doing it, Seijun ?”

“Judge. If we avoid conflict here, it will eventually lead to the harm caused by not fighting. And once that happens, it might require more than just a duel like this. If it costs money or our rights to resolve, that will of course be taken from the people’s tax money. So…”

So…

“With a duel, the worst case is needing to pay for medical fees.”

“Yes, Masazumi,” said Urquiaga. “With a war right in front of you, I can imagine it would pain you to delay it or resolve it with money.”

“W-wait!” interrupted Heidi via sign frame. “We’re talking about money here! So send that money the Treasurer’s way!”

“Sorry, Augesvarer, but we can buy money with war.”

“You have that backwards, Masazumi! Let’s face reality here! C’mon, we have to plug our butts up with money to keep the udon from coming out!”

“Um, Masazumi?” said Asama. “This conversation is taking an incredibly ugly turn.”

And whose fault is that? She had given it some thought, but now she had her answer.

“Hey, Nagaoka-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

He’ll shout on his own now? That was pretty well done. Still, that was careless of me.

“Sorry. Nagabuto.”

“You’re clearly not sorry if you’re calling me that!”

“It’s easier this way, so deal with it. …Musashi is ordering you to fight a duel.”

“Huh!?”

He was a middle school name inheritor and one who had only recently received his name. This might be his very first battle.

But, thought Masazumi.

“Listen. There’s a good chance P.A. Oda will view your presence here a breach of trust since they’re trying to do the Keichou Campaign. And we aren’t sure we can trust you yet.”

That was true. But she had to clearly state this because the boy was likely unfamiliar with diplomacy.

“I know it’s a pain, but listen. You must have been at least vaguely aware of the breach of trust against your master’s clan and that we would distrust you. Isn’t that why you hid and had Mouri transport you?”

After a while, the boy gave a small nod. And he looked her in the eye.

“I will entrust this with you. I mostly understand, but whether our interests align is not for me to decide.”

“Judge. So for now, work your butt off for our interests. That means a duel against Uesugi. You can use that to demonstrate your resolve and earn our trust.”

Mar-Ga: “Using his butt to work for us? Yes, I like the sound of that. I’ll allow it.”

Gold Mar: “Ga-chan, I can tell you’re enjoying this, but how good a fighter is he really?”

“That’s a good question,” muttered Masazumi as she thought to herself.

He’s probably a pretty good one given that gun demonstration earlier.

His opponent was Honjou Shigenaga. She used shields, so she primarily attacked with physical blows. A gunner should have an advantage there.

Isn’t that right? she thought while looking to Shigenaga who was already checking her equipment.

“Okay, I think I’ll go with the small cannon style I used at Odawara.”

“That’s not quite what I expected, but whatever.”

Masazumi pretended not to hear the comments of “are you sure about this?” He was a name inheritor, so he would figure something out.

Then she gave the boy his instructions.

“As Vice President of the Far East and Musashi, I command you to carry out an advance history recreation. Your mission is the pre-Sekigahara attack on Uesugi. Neither side is required to win or lose, so just think of it as an extension of your training.”

“Training, huh? Then that’s how I’ll do it.”

With that, Nagaoka looked toward Shigenaga.

He crossed his arms in front of his hips, grabbed the grips on either side, and raised his voice.

“Bring it on!”

That signaled the beginning of the battle.


Chapter 13: Attacker of the Racing Palanquins[edit]

Horizon7-A419.jpg

When did I

Become such

An active person?

Point Allocation (Goooooal!)


As soon as the duel began, Shigenaga judged the distance between herself and her opponent.

They faced each other from 16m apart.

They stood on the Musashi as it turned to the east and the hardened wood deck was almost perfectly flat.

She thought there could be no better location for a duel. And…

He has guts starting without a greeting!

In Sviet Rus, a privet always preceded a clash. Starting without that opening greeting was a way of showing true hostility.

Of course, Sviet Rus was Orthodox. She had a forgiving heart, so she made a mental note to not forget her own greeting after the battle.

“Here I come!”

She responded to his shout and started to take her first step forward.

But then…

“Hold on, idiot.”

Terumoto karate chopped the back of his head from her position directly behind him.

“Don’t tell her to ‘bring it on’ when you’re right next to me. That’s dangerous.”


Genan breathed a sigh of admiration as he watched Terumoto’s lecture.

She had her hands on her hips and scolded the boy by clearly explaining what he should have done.

It was true the boy had been careless earlier. It was probably a sign of nerves and fear than a desire to rush into battle. He had lost sight of everything other than his opponent.

He would have lost if the battle had continued like that.

After all, Shigenaga was abnormal.

A first step was meant to do more than just carry you forward. It lifted your body to put you into the pose to begin a sprint with your second step.

But with her first step…

She closed in on him quite a bit.

They were 16m apart and her first step had covered 2/3 of that.

So instead of a sprint focused on initial speed…

“Her movements are specialized for quickly approaching an opponent. I doubt her speed would have risen much with the second step.”

After all, her hips were positioned low.

Running required raising the hips. Since she had not done so, her first step was not meant to prepare for a sprint.

In that case…

Her step was likely meant to bring her close to her opponent and immediately launch a stable attack.

She had jumped for distance this time, but she could also do it low and quick over a short distance.

“By staying low, her movements carry a weight and speed that isn’t easy to stop. …I can see why Ujiteru lost to her.”

Shigenaga was a close-range fighter. Her primary weapons were handheld knives and swords, but she also had the Honjou Shield spell. By firing that at close range, she could hit people with a wall, but she needed to stabilize herself before firing a large shield at someone.

Circling around was not enough.

Firing that shield required the extra time and strength to balance herself. There was a reason she could normally do so without issue.

“She normally fights on snowy battlefields where her feet are buried in the snow.”

Genan could imagine how the battle with Ujiteru had gone.

Ujiteru would have used a series of rapid slashes and some tricky course changes for his blades, but Shigenaga would have used her entire body to circle around and approach him time after time.

Ujiteru would have responded with an attack instead of falling back.

Each time, Shigenaga was sure to have used the strength demonstrated by this “step” to escape, control her body, and then attempt to circle around and attack him once more.

She was short and she was not using any significant acceleration spells.

That was a power and skill that only she possessed due to her mixed demon and human lineage.

But this time, she had jumped. Given that…

She must believe she has the advantage here.

But her usual movement technique might have cost her this opportunity.

So she had switched to the best method for winning here. But in that case…

“Terumoto is the most impressive one here.”


I thought she was just a delinquent who could negotiate, but there’s more to her than that.

Narumi thought Terumoto’s timing had been surprisingly good.

Duels were often decided in the very first moments. Especially when there was a difference in skill or in a head-on clash.

Shigenaga had tried to settle it immediately.

She had gone in for a direct attack.

Had Terumoto smacked Nagabuto because she really was concerned about being caught in the crossfire, or had she been trying to alter the timing of the opening clash?

“It’s hard to tell.”

But intentional or not, she had altered it. She was lecturing the boy now, but…

“Listen, you need to pay more attention to your surroundings. Got that?”

“Y-yes, I get that.”

“No, you don’t! If you did, you wouldn’t have nearly dragged me into the middle of your duel! Look both ways before you start! Both ways!”

And based on what Narumi could see of that lecture…

Mar-Ga: “Am I being overly generous if I say she’s trying to help him relax?”

Uqui: “Honjou Shigenaga looks a little confused as well.”

He apparently saw it the same way as her.

Shigenaga was an expert fighter. That was why she had tried to end it in a single attack. The longer the duel dragged on, the more their surroundings would be dragged into it.

But she had lost her chance to do that.

“Okay.”

Terumoto ended her lecture. She lightly slapped the top of Nagabuto’s head a few times while standing between the two combatants.

She stepped back out of the way while crossing her arms over her head.

This can’t be fun for Shigenaga.

Her initial timing had been stolen from her.

This had been set up as best as it could for Nagabuto.

He could now move at the same rhythm as an expert like Shigenaga.

And then Terumoto raised her voice.

“Begin.”


Mitotsudaira heard a voice and two distinct blasts of sound.

Nagabuto had drawn the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry gun chain swords from his hips and he had fired one of them.

A quick draw!

When viewed as a gun, Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry was a surprisingly troublesome weapon.

When a normal handgun was holstered at the hip, the grip was facing up and the muzzle was aimed down.

But with Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry, the diagonal arrangement of the Nankin Tamasudare style barrels meant they were already aiming at the enemy once he simply raised the grip from his hip.

Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry used their user’s voice as a firing system, so each barrel could be fired in turn as it was pulled from the holster.

That was what he had done here.

“Ah.”

Nagabuto’s voice was drowned out by a second blast.

He sent an attack from hip height on the left and right, which made for an attack that was not easy to dodge.

Shigenaga responded by moving forward.

How would she dodge the pair of bullets as she advanced?

“Well done.”

She lowered her hips, and tilted her upper body further forward, taking it below her hips.

The forward lean of her upper body eliminated her normal silhouette. It was a lot like…

Uqui: “Reminds me of how Unturning Centipede moves.”

Unturning: “When I do it, I press my upper body down in order to run. That means I am also raising my heels. Shigenaga is leaning forward to avoid taking a bullet to her upper body, so she keeps her feet flat on the deck so she doesn’t fall forward.”

It was interesting how they took it in opposite directions, yet it looked so similar.

But for Mitotsudaira, both Shigenaga and Narumi’s movements were food for thought.

Lowering my stance is difficult with my acceleration.

That restricted most of her evasive action to the horizontal directions. She could include the up-down axis by jumping into the air, but then the enemy could aim for her when she landed.

If possible, she wanted a definite technique for dodging downwards. Because…

You can crouch down while moving forward.

Swinging herself quickly to the left or right was an easy way to dodge, but that moved her away from the enemy.

At present, she only had one way to dodge while moving forward: the Flat Chest Evasion.

If possible, she also wanted to learn this forward-leaning evasion.

She was watching an example right this moment.

“Here I go.”

A bullet passed by a bit above Shigenaga’s lowered head.

Nagabuto took a certain action in response.

“Kh.”

He stepped back.

He opened some space between them so he could fire on her again. He also further drew Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry and used his voice to fire them.

But Mitotsudaira had this to say about his decision:

Bad idea!


Tachibana Wife: “The back step and gunfire were not a good idea. Because, well…”

Gold Mar: “Falling back doesn’t really accomplish anything, does it? He should have, um…”

Flat Vassal: “E-everyone really sounds like they want to help him out, don’t they!?”

Me: “So what was wrong with what Nagabuto did? Hey, Neshinbara.”

Novice: “Well, you see, Aoi-kun, falling back only builds things up in a negative direction. For example, if you were fighting a user of dark summoning magic and they had summoned a portal to the abyss behind you, you would have jumped right into the void. The enemy can see behind you, after all. In other words…”

Hori-ko: “Mitotsudaira-sama!”

Silver Wolf: “Judge! My king? Since his opponent is advancing on him, falling back keeps him in the same situation he is already in. He already tried firing directly at her and she dodged it, right? So even if he fires again after stepping back, he is only repeating what he has already proven to be worthless.”

Hori-ko: “Then, Mitotsudaira-sama, what would be the correct course of action?”

Silver Wolf: “At the very least, moving to the right would have been better. Because Shigenaga is carrying a portable cannon on her right hip.”


Shigenaga aimed her first attack.

The portable cannon on her right hip was meant for use after approaching at high speed.

If she charged straight in at her enemy, they would expect her to use a close-range attack. Especially if she had lowered her hips.

But that was a feint.

Her first attack would be a cannon blast. The Honjou Shield could be seen as her clincher, but there was a time lag between when it was activated and when it was launched.

The cannon blast was weaker, but it could be fired instantly. It did have recoil, but since the stance to fire it resembled the one to launch a Honjou Shield, she could use it as a pseudo Honjou Shield and she was used to that stance.

So that was what she did.

She had charged in while staying low and flat-footed because she needed the stability to fire the cannon.

She had leaned forward in order to hide the portable cannon she was preparing to her right. However…

Mouri Terumoto did a really good job here!

Shigenaga had been opening the portable cannon when Terumoto had stopped her initial step earlier.

Had her opponent noticed that or not?

She did not know.

But he had stepped straight back.

She knew he was an inexperienced fighter. He was in middle school, after all. When someone had yet to develop combat habits, their split-second decisions often became extensions of their movements in everyday life.

That was what had happened here.

Upon seeing his enemy headed straight toward him, he had stepped back.

That was a mistake. It changed nothing while she continued forward.

Besides, the gun chain swords at his hips were drawn and fired diagonally upwards. If he aimed from hip height while drawing them, he would have difficulty immediately firing on an opponent ducked below hip height.

A simple step was a bad choice against an opponent approaching along the ground.

He should have bent his body toward her a bit. That would have angled his hips and directed the muzzles toward her.

But he had instead bent back as a part of his step away from her.

If she had been right up on him, a sway back would have worked.

However, bending back from an opponent situated lower than him would only aim the guns higher. And for her, it also stretched her target in the vertical direction. So…

“Step 1.”

She covered approximately 3 meters.

From that position, she fired a cannon blast so it would pass by his right side.


Me: “What’re you supposed to do when this happens?”

Mar-Ga: “Use a defense spell?”

Asama: “That’s what I would do.”

Gold Mar: “With Schwarz Techno, you can use an acceleration spell to fire a counterattack.”

Tonbokiri: “Instead of cutting or slicing, I suppose I would stab at the opponent.”

Wise Sister: “The Giant Breasts Defense! Or the Flat Chest Evasion if you’re Mitotsudaira!”

Uqui: “That cannon’s small enough I would probably just take the hit.”

Flat Vassal: “Yeah, I’d say that’s only a 0.7 on the ‘owww’ meter.”

10ZO: “Wh-why is no one suggesting just dodging out of the way!?”

Scarred: “S-sorry, but I think I would block it with Excalibur…”

10ZO: “No, that’s different because it’s you and you have Excalibur protecting you. And if you ever need to dodge something, just leave it to me.”

Hori-ko: “You mean you would be her shield?”

10ZO: “I mean I would move her out of the way! This is about dodging!”


Yoshiyasu saw Nagabuto dodge the attack.

Oh?

But he did not simply take evasive action.

He tried to move out of the way of the cannon blast by leaning back, but…

“—————”

He fell right onto his butt.


Huh? thought Narumi as she took a second look.

Anyone at the officer level would have picked up a habit of reading the shifts in the battlefield. When watching someone else’s battle, they would subconsciously construct a prediction of how things would go and then compare their prediction with the reality.

But this was not at all what she had predicted.

So she blinked once to throw out her prediction of the future. She had been picturing a certain outcome for about 30 seconds now, but she made an adjustment to rationally view what was happening before her eyes. And…

“He tripped?”

That was exactly it.

The boy had bent back too far and lost his balance. His legs had not kept up with his upper body.

His reaction speed was not bad, but he had not been trained in how to move. No…

He has not trained for or fought against an opponent on Shigenaga’s level.

In normal training, no one would use a small cannon feint. You might be taught that an enemy could make a surprise attack with their first move, but you would not be actively trained for it.

But that was what Shigenaga had done.

She assumed he was at her level and did not hold back.

If it hit, it hit. If it did not, it would act as a show of force. The attack was meant as a warning.

The boy had managed to react, but his initial reaction was of surprise.

He was surprised by what Shigenaga did and it caused him to fumble his response.

“Yes,” said Narumi while aware her brow was wrinkling. “I seem to recall a certain moronic half-dragon groping someone’s chest when he should have been attacking her.”

Uqui: “Narumi, that was an accident.”

“If you had done it on purpose, I would have beaten you half to death.”

Uqui: “No, you would not have. …If it had seemed intentional, you would have asked why I had done it and I would have answered truthfully.”

“Probably so,” she said while relaxing her shoulders and resuming her prediction of the battle before her eyes.

The boy had fallen. That had been a surprise for the onlookers, so…

“It must have surprised Shigenaga as well.”


Shigenaga was confused.

This isn’t good!

This was a real battle. National decisions relied on this duel.

But this boy had rushed into the battle in a way a normal name inheritor never would.

Why was that?

She knew he had little combat experience. Nothing else would make sense when he was only in middle school.

She had taken his skill level into account, and yet…

“—————”

His surprise and fall had made her rush some things too.

She was quickly reconstructing her thoughts after her predictions had been entirely shattered.

Kh.

Leaning forward as she advanced had been careless.

She would not arrive in time.

She had planned to use her Honjou Shield while he was crouched down with hips low. She had even pulled her right hand back in preparation when she fired the cannon.

But the height would be wrong now that he had tripped and fallen.

She thought she should use her forward motion to make a kick, but…

“…”

The boy had not let go of the grips. His fall had caused his half-drawn gun chain swords to bend and a few of the barrels were aimed her way from the deck there.

His shots were accurate and she would be the perfect target if she approached while he sat looking up.

“Ah.”

She heard his voice and the gunshot it triggered.

In that instant, she took a forceful action.

She used the recoil of the cannon blast from her right side in order to turn around with a leftward spin.

That slid her exactly one body width to the side. However…

“His shots are accurate!

The high-speed bullets raced by on her right just like she had expected.

It was too obvious.

And that was not exactly a good thing.

He was her enemy right now, but she felt his talents were currently wasted. His reaction speed was decent, but his lack of experience was a major flaw.

After his demonstration with the swords, she had expected him to be a bit more experienced than this.

But he was not.

He must be an “elite newcomer” built up in training!

P.A. Oda was not shorthanded. In fact, they had so many people to work with that they could select talented individuals from a generation and train them like this. The plan would have been for him to fight in the Keichou Campaign to learn on the battlefield, but Terumoto had brought him here instead.

Now, she thought while acting on reflex.

She had shifted herself left using a spin.

What came next would be a pain.

Her enemy had tripped, but he could still fire. She wanted to avoid getting too close.

She could always send out a Honjou Shield with her right hand, but the portable cannon was active on her right side.

The cannon would get in the way if she swung her right arm down to hit her fallen enemy.

So what was she to do?

Circle around toward his head!

He had fallen backwards, so he would have difficulty looking back in the overhead direction.

So while she put away the portable canon, she only had to circle toward his head and launch a Honjou Shield as she passed by.

The portable cannon was rotating a bit for the cocking phase to load a new shell.

Her right arm was free by the time she was passing him by.

If she ran and spun again, she could diagonally launch a Honjou Shield at him from her left side.

She could defeat him.

“Honjou Shield!”


Narumi realized she needed to update her battlefield predictions again.

Once again, something odd was happening in the Shigenaga vs. Nagaoka battle occurring directly to her side.

Huh?

It was something Narumi would never do.

Someone turned tail and fled.


Narumi saw the boy attempt to run away.

First, Shigenaga launched an attack on the fallen boy as she passed by above his head.

Just as she passed by and turned back toward him, she sent a Honjou Shield down at him.

She had already demonstrated her ability to lower herself to the ground, but making a backwards horizontal attack low to the ground was not easy. So she instead made a diagonal attack as a safety measure.

But the boy moved before it could hit.

He casually got up.

He did not spring up or roll. He simply sat up like he had just woken up in the morning.

“…!”

The Honjou Shield crashed into the deck where his face had been.

The destruction this caused pushed him forward in something of a roll.

“Wah!”

He was now turned completely away from Shigenaga. For an unturning fighter like Narumi, it was an impressively blatant attempt to flee.

Incredible.

He could die at any moment.

After all, showing your back was a tactic for running away without fighting. In other words, he would die if he did not escape. The boy likely did not understand the risk of forcing himself into that dilemma. Unless…

“Does he have a way of dealing with this?”

Just as she asked that, two actions occurred on the duel battlefield.

First, Shigenaga successfully stopped herself with the soles of her shoes screeching on the deck. She had turned back around toward the fleeing boy.

Second, the fleeing boy swung his arms.

“——————”

He held both the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry which were made up of 18 guns each. He barely had control over his arms and they wobbled on his shoulders.

He was panicking. That was clear from his forced movements, but…

How will this turn out?

The 36 barrels fired behind him.


The boy raised his voice as he ran away.

“Ah, ah, ahhh!”

The gun barrels responded by hopping up with loud roars.

Waves of recoil ran through the gun chain swords as 36 bursts of sparks were fired behind him.

He did not check behind him as he fired. Needless to say, these shots lacked his previous accuracy.

But that blind fire used its great numbers to create a barrage.

Meanwhile, Shigenaga had only just turned around.

She had no speed, but she lowered her hips and aimed at the running boy’s back and hips.

“Honjou Shield!”

She launched two horizontal attacks, one high and one low, to act as a barrier against the barrage.

The ether light shields caught the bullets as they sliced through the air and attacked the boy.


Yoshiaki saw two supposedly incompatible actions fit together.

At first, the boy had tripped due to inexperience and Shigenaga had hesitated to launch her attack.

But now, Shigenaga was pursuing the fleeing boy.

“Their strategies developed naturally.”

At the very beginning, Terumoto had stopped the flow of battle.

After that, the boy had naively sought a clash and failed.

Shigenaga had been forced to rethink her strategy twice.

But that had changed. The boy’s flight had created the dual strategies of the chased and the chaser.

The boy had run away because he was inexperienced, but…

This only made things worse for him.

He was capable of running away.

But there was no surprise there. That meant Shigenaga could fight the way she wanted while pursuing him.

That may be why Shigenaga is fired up again.

Launching two shields so they covered her own view was overkill against such an inexperienced opponent.

“Yoshiaki-sama! That Shigenaga woman is pissed off, mon!”

“It’s nice having you around, Shakenobe. I don’t have to think about myself too much.”

Nevertheless…

“Nevertheless, Shigenaga will win this.”

Righteousness: “Will she? I think he can manage a win if he struggles enough.”

“And,” said Yoshiyasu.

Righteousness: “Stacking two Honjou Shields on top of each other only blocks her view, right? She got a little too fired up in her rush to rid herself of doubt.”

“Just watch.”

As soon as Yoshiaki said that, the actions on the battlefield fit together again.

In the path of the Honjou Shields, the running boy suddenly threw himself forward.

He did so without looking behind him.


I knew it, thought Yoshiyasu.

Most likely, that Nagabuto boy had not noticed the Honjou Shields behind him.

But he had guessed that there might be an attack behind him, so he jumped forward.

That was fear.

Fear was felt by someone aware of their lack of power when they faced someone with power.

But there were two kinds of fear.

The first fear came from one’s own sense of powerlessness.

And the second…

Comes from the great power you sense in your opponent.

When you felt the former, you would simply run away. But when you felt the latter…

“You resist.”

If your opponent was powerful, you would run away while looking for a way to win.

You would never push yourself too hard. You would not display any foolhardiness that mistook recklessness for courage. You understood that your enemy was powerful and you would be destroyed if you stood up to them normally, so…

“Move!”

Yoshiyasu saw Nagabuto moving. He slid headfirst, but he swung his arms forward to catch himself as he landed.

The Honjou Shields passed by above him.

He had dodged them.

For an instant, his body tensed up and his jump lost some of its speed.

But the gun chain swords in his hands flew in an arc as he swung them forward.

“Is that your clincher!?”

Yoshiyasu saw the gun chain swords transform.

The two sets of 16 barrels had been linked together like a Nankin Tamasudare, but they were now connected end to end.


Tadaoki was panicking.

What is happening!?

None of this made sense.

No, it did make sense for him to attack Uesugi during the Punishment of Aizu before Sekigahara.

But why was that suddenly happening here?

“Dammit.”

He remembered a number of things.

He hated to admit it, but he was here to ask for help in achieving a certain goal.

It was imperative he achieved that goal. He could not die until he did so. Today and tomorrow were critically important for him, so he could not afford a serious injury here. However…

What am I supposed to do!?

He only knew one thing: he had Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry in his grasp.

He had guessed that scary young woman behind him would attack him and he had been right. He had started sliding headfirst and he thought his next move should be getting up and fleeing to the right.

But he felt the weight of Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry in his hands.

The way he had swung his arms forward was also how he controlled Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry.

Will it work!?

He felt like it would.

If he set up the barrels while getting up…

“It’ll work!”


Tadaoki made up his mind.

He would fight back. And with the biggest move he had.

That was his decision.

While sliding headfirst along the floor, he twisted his body around.

He worked his legs to rotate his body while still sliding in the same direction.

He was now on his stomach with his legs somewhat spread, which was…

A sniping pose!

He faced forward to view the enemy. That just left linking together Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry.

He swung his arms forward in order to bring together the two long gun barrels formed from the shorter ones.

However…

“——————”

It was no use. There was something between his arms.

No, to be more accurate…

It moved in between my arms!?

Something butted in from straight ahead and he saw what it was.

As he quickly turned around and took a sniping pose, a thick white panel rushed toward him.

It’s a wall.

It was a shield made of ether light.

It scored a direct hit.


Chapter 14: Careless One on the Practice Ground[edit]

Horizon7-A447.jpg

A part

Of myself

That I did not expect

Point Allocation (Self-Conscious)


Gold Mar: “Ooh, right to the face, right to the face. And he’s rolling, he’s rolling. Is he out? Is he out? Yeah, he’s out.”

Silver Wolf: “Margot, that’s not enough to qualify as commentary.”

Mar-Ga: “I got it on video, so what do we do with it?”

Tonbokiri: “Could you give me a copy? I can reference it for combat training.”

Vice President: “Actually, what do we do now? Hey, Aoi, why are you pulling out a brush and ink!?”


Gin saw a volunteer start to strip the unconscious boy.

“Okay, let’s do the history recreation for the punishment after his defeat. Since he just earned one of his future losses to us.”

Marube-ya: “Eh!? You’re writing on him!? That’s all!? At least make some gnocchi come out!”

Me: “He’s still in middle school, so anything too harsh might scar him for life.”

“Heh heh. Besides, doodling on the loser is a standard rule in the Far East.”

“Kimi, that’s only true in hanetsuki.”

“Hey, Chancellor? Doing it in ink is fine and all, but that kind washes off in water, right?”

That last comment came from the 3rd Special Duty Officer who had descended from her observation post, so there was clearly something wrong here.

Meanwhile, with the victor, Shigenaga…

“Okay.”

The woman lowered her right leg but then raised it back up a few times.

“Wasn’t that impressive, Gin?” said Muneshige. “When Miss Honjou there launched the additional Honjou Shield, she needed to launch it horizontally from very low to the ground. She realized that would be difficult with her hand, so she immediately kicked it instead.”

“Judge. From the looks of it, that was an unusual case for her as well.”

The way the woman was tilting her head and throwing test kicks into the air suggested this had been an adlibbed technique for her.

Pulling that off in battle requires both experience and the instincts developed from that experience.

There were some natural warriors who could get by without practicing. Muneshige was more on that end of things. He had an instinctual knack for combat seen in his sense of balance and other aspects of his fighting.

But even he had required quite a bit of experience before he had what it took to be a reliable fighter.

And the boy Shigenaga had fought lacked that.

Any experience, instincts, and strengths he had were not suited for the battlefield.

That was why he had lost just now. At the moment, the word “los/er” was written on his butt, divided between the cheeks, but that seemed risky since he would not be able to see it was there. However…

“He misread Miss Honjou’s skill level. Or rather, he could not read it at all.”


Yoshiyasu thought back to the battle’s final moments.

“At the very end, Nagabuto tried to do something with those gun chain swords, but he should have run away again.”

Nine-Tail Fox: “You could tell, Yoshiyasu?”

“Yes,” she confirmed.

Shigenaga had kicked the decisive shield because she had seen what Nagabuto was doing.

Because she knew he was trying to do something, she had stayed away and kicked the shield instead.

There had of course been some distance between them. And he had carelessly turned his back on her.

But that distance had worked in Shigenaga’s favor.

It had given her time to act even though he was trying something.

Even if her kicked shield had missed, she would have been able to make another move.

Of course, the stacked shields she had sent out earlier had blocked her view. Yoshiyasu had seen that as the perfect chance for Nagabuto to strike back, but…

“Yoshiaki, you were right.”

Nine-Tail Fox: “Do you know why?”

“Yes. Even if Nagabuto tried to make a counterattack, he couldn’t read the flow of battle. That was why it took him so long to make the decision and to act on it. …He tried to do something with the gun barrels, but he should have done it while pretending he was making a slide.”

Nine-Tail Fox: “Yes, after sliding head-first and flipping over to a sniping pose, moving to either side becomes almost impossible…”

“But I bet he didn’t know any other way to fight.”

And…

“He must have very little combat experience. He did figure out he should counterattack while Shigenaga’s view was blocked, but he didn’t know he needed to do it immediately. …After all, once her view was blocked, her very next move would be to make another attack to keep him in check.”

Nine-Tail Fox: “Sounds like you have learned how to view the battlefield.”

“Not really,” sighed Yoshiyasu. “I couldn’t do it in real-time. I can only say all this in hindsight.”

She then reached her conclusion.

“But now we know Nagabuto’s skill level. He is going to be a difficult name inheritor to utilize.”


“That is correct,” said someone in response to Yoshiyasu.

It was Gin. She turned from the collapsed boy to Muneshige.

“Master Muneshige, it would seem the feeling I had was correct.”

“You mean that the gun technique he demonstrated before the battle was not suited for actual combat?”

“Judge.” Gin nodded. “Gun training can be accomplished without an opponent. Unlike sword and spear training, it is possible to become a ‘master sharpshooter’ without practice against actual people. That is one thing to watch out for when learning to shoot. …That must be what happened to that boy. In battle, I doubt he would be useful as anything other than a sniper.”

“Huh?”

The Chancellor turned their way while holding a brush at the ready.

“Muneo and Mune Wife? Wouldn’t he have trained in that other stuff to inherit the Nagabuto name instead of whatever that pathetic name was? I mean, he must’ve trained with swords and spears for the Nagabuto name, right?”

“Chancellor, the boy’s official inherited name is not Nagabuto. It is Nagaoka Tada-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

I am very sorry, Mouri Representative.

That said, it does seem he did not receive the name in the ordinary fashion.

Gin opened a sign frame.

It said “Complete Name Inheritor Manual for Master Muneshige, His Friends, and His Future Friends”.

“The Testament says that boy should have sent Master Muneshige a significant number of complaint messages which Master Muneshige would either ignore with a smile or politely reply to like an adult.”

“Should have?” asked Futayo. “What does that mean, Gin-dono?”

It means he lost to you!

Gin felt a flash of anger, but she held her tongue because saying it would have felt like driving home the point that he had lost.

At any rate, this was about that boy’s inherited name.

“There was one requirement for his inherited name.”

Gin turned toward the Chancellor and spoke while aware her eyebrows were somewhat raised.

“The Testament says he was not just a military commander, but also the greatest student of Sen no Rikyuu and an Immortal of Poetry. The name of his technique and the way he used his voice to fire were likely used to inherit that name by proving he was a combination of an expert sharpshooter and a poet.”

Gin pointed at the weapons he held.

“In fact, his weapons are guns that come equipped with ‘swords’. If he had used them as swords, he likely would have become a master swordsman through his independent training.”

“That sounds tough.” The Chancellor’s shoulders drooped, but then he spoke up again. “Anyway, can we tell whether or not he had the inherited name forced onto him?”


Horizon drew faces on the soles of the boy’s feet while she listened to Gin ask the idiot a question.

“What do you mean by ‘forced onto him’?”

“I mean, he’s probably stronger than me, but unfortunately, he’s still no match for you or anyone from Hashiba, right? People like him have got to show a lotta guts to get anything done.”

The idiot segued into a different fact.

“His wife blows herself up, right?”

“Toori-sama.”

Asama and Mitotsudaira gestured for Horizon to speak, so she nodded without turning their way and spoke up.

“Toooday’s finisherrrrr! A soooooccer kick to the – keh – to the faaaaaaaaaaace by Honjou Shigenagaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

“Horizon!” said Mitotsudaira. “You got a little tongue-tied, but you powered on through it, didn’t you!?”

“Oh? You must not question the referee’s decision, Mitotsudaira-sama.”

“Um, Mito, Horizon?” said Asama. “That’s not really the point here. It really isn’t.”

“Judge.” Horizon nodded. And, “Todayyyy’s finisherrrrr!!”

“I-I wasn’t saying you should try saying at again, Horizon!”

“And wasn’t that a little different from the first time!?”

“Calm down.” Horizon held out her hands to stop the two girls. And, “Anyway, this boy was acting as a part of Matsudaira for this future history recreation, so the person in charge must announce the outcome. …By the way, Toori-sama.”

“Huh? What is it? You wanna doodle on him some more?”

“No, the soles of his feet are enough for me. Now, Toori-sama.” She took a breath. “Why do we run across so many people who seem so eager to die?”

“Y-you’re one to talk!”

“At the time, I was pure, innocent, naïve, and ignorant of – keh.”

“Ariadust-kun, maybe you would not get so tongue-tied if you stuck to things you are used to saying.”

“I was about to give myself a tongue ulcer. I have learned my lesson. Anyway, I did not know what I was doing, so my surroundings convinced me that was the best course of action.”

However…

“If someone weak has been forced into the role of saving such a person, or given the desire to save such a person, then even if it was the Testament Union, they have made an enemy of me, the one who shall receive the world itself from Toori-sama once he conquers it. Simply put, anyone who does that is my enemy. …That was all I wanted to say.”

“I like how complete a thought that was, Horizon!”

She returned his thumbs up and resumed inspecting her handiwork on the boy’s left foot.

“All that aside, we have had quite the problem dumped in our laps, haven’t we?”

“H-Horizon! Try not to ruin the impact of your words quite that quickly!”

“But saving me was quite a problem for all of you, wasn’t it?”

“Hey, c’mon,” said the idiot while regrinding the ink with the inkstone. “Fun things are even more fun when they take a lot of work to prepare. If you keep that in mind, then even the preparations are fun.”

“I see. I had wondered why Masazumi-sama spent so much time on those annoying negotiations, but she was simply looking forward to the war afterwards while thinking ‘More! More! More war!’ to herself.”

Terumoto glared at Masazumi.

“Are you what stands between us and a peaceful world?”

“D-don’t jump to conclusions without getting my side of the story first!”

“That is asking for a lot,” said Horizon with an expressionless nod. But, “We should ask that boy about this when he comes to.”

“Oh,” said Naito who had a Magie Figur open. “I’ve been monitoring his condition and it looks like he’s about to come to.”

“Okay, everyone! Get his clothes back on and stand back!”

Horizon had not added the nose to his left foot, but there was no helping that.

“What a lovely couple. Have a happy life together, Righty and Lefty.”

“Quit inventing a story for them and get his socks back on, Horizon!”

“Ah! Wait, wait, wait!” shouted the idiot. “I’m coloring his dick black!”

“Heh heh. Foolish brother, I happen to have some lipstick from Mitotsudaira’s workshop! I have a small plate full of it, so do you want to use it?”

“Gulp…”

“That will probably give it the color of a sensitive-eared monster after it falls to the dark side.”

“Please don’t create weird stories about my products before their official debut!” protested Mitotsudaira.

But Horizon had a thought as she put the socks back on the boy.

“Asama-sama, is there a curse that causes ink to come from the urethra?”

“A curse…” muttered Asama while the boys who had imagined it gently fell to their knees.

But Asama recovered her smile and replied.

“L-let’s not talk about that, Horizon.”

“So there is one.”

“W-well, um, uh…oh! Ink gets kind of crunchy when it dries, right!? It would be dangerous to have that in your urethra!”

“A-Asama!” shouted the idiot. “Why are you bringing up the most painful aspect right off the bat!?”

“Hey, he’s awaking up!” pointed out Naito.

“U-um, won’t he notice?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“I designated what areas they could draw on, so it’ll be fine,” said Naruze. “He won’t notice as long as he’s wearing his summer uniform.”

Our class is incredibly skilled,’' thought Horizon as she sipped at her tea.


Tadaoki woke up to find people gathered around him.

It took him a few seconds to remember he was on the Musashi’s deck and it took him a few seconds more to realize this was Musashi’s Student Council and Chancellor’s Officers standing around him.

He used that to guess what had happened to him.

So I lost.

“Hey, you okay!? Heyyyy! If you’re up, then we need to give you a good morning kiss! Hey, Adele, bring us one of your dogs. You’d rather not? That’s pretty rude to Nagabuto, if you ask me. Anyway, you okay, Nagabuto!?”

Musashi’s princess threw a rising horizontal uppercut and the idiot was lifted from the deck.

Then she looked to him.

“Are you okay, Nagabuto-sama?”

“S-stop calling me that!”

Tadaoki tried to get up, but…

“…Ow.”

He had no strength.

He tried to lift his upper body, but his head and neck refused to come with it.

He ended up arching his back and falling over onto his side.

Dammit.

He still could not remember what had happened to him or why, but he finally understood it.

He had lost.

He knew he was in a position that required relying on others and asking for help.

But a middle schooler like him did not have anything to offer in exchange.

The most he had was his value as a name inheritor, but this loss had damaged that.

“Dammit…”

He hung his head and looked at the weapons in his hands.

The Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry.

He had thought he could figure something out in a battle as long as he had them, but…

Grownups are too damn strong…

He had been helpless.

“Ugh…”

His vision blurred and something trailed down his cheeks and fell to the deck.

The drops bounced off the hardened wood surface and did not soak in.

He cried while watching the tears pile up and spread.


Worshiper: “If only he was a little girl no older than 10…”

Flat Vassal: “Guaaaaards!! Guaaaaards!!”

Unturning: “Having him cry here is a bit of a problem, isn’t it?”

Me: “Yeah. What am I supposed to do for him when I just finished coloring his dick black and adding some lipstick?”

Hori-ko: “Well, when he goes to the bathroom, his anger at you might overpower his current mood.”

Me: “Hmm, if he says he needs to take a leak, make sure you all stop him, okay?”

Bell: “B-but why is Nagabu-…”

Asama: “Stoooop! Stop, Suzu-san! That’s too filthy for you to say!”

Bell: “Eh? U-um, then, uh, why is…that boy crying?”

Me: “Maybe he noticed all the ink?”

Hori-ko: “Again, I think he would respond with anger, not tears.”

Silver Wolf: “Anyway, I really do think we should ask him why he is here. We have asked Mouri why they brought him here, but we have yet to hear what he thinks.”


“Fine, then,” said Toori.

He was Musashi’s Chancellor and Student Council President after all.

This boy would join their side in the future, so as the leader, he had to ask why the boy was crying.

“Hey, Nagabuto.”

“…”

Nagabuto continued crying without looking up from the floor.

“Hey.”

Even as Toori called out to him, he only sobbed and wiped away the tears with his right arm.

What do I do now?

Toori looked back at the others and saw Horizon cracking her knuckles, so he knew he had to take this seriously. Yes, I get it. I get it, okay?

So he breathed in, and…

“Hey, Nagabuto.”

“…”

Nagabuto did not respond, so Toori sighed, and…

“Topknot~”

“Waaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!”

Nagabuto clawed at the deck to crawl forward, but Toori crossed his arms and homed in on the boy’s head with a bowlegged pose.

“Don’t think you can escape the topknot that easy.”

Horizon’s arms suddenly grabbed his ankles to stop him.

With Nagabuto no longer below him, he fell forward in the bowlegged pose, but his crossed arms prevented him from stopping the fall.

“Oh.”


Mar-Ga: “Someone just made a thread called ‘Scrape – An Unbearable Blow – Deckfuck’ and it’s getting posts like crazy.”

Me: “Oh, that was me. I started it.”

Laborer: “Quit messing around and stand back up.”

10ZO: “Y-you are surprisingly strict, Noriki-dono!”


Fine then, thought Masazumi as she stepped forward. She kicked aside the bottomless nudist who was doubled over and squirming on the deck.

“Hey, Nagabuto.”

“Seijun-kun, what about my Nagabuto over here?”

“Shut up and quit screwing up our negotiations! …Anyway, we would like to know your motive.”

When she said that, the boy madly brushed at his hair with his hands and turned around.

He wiped the tears from his eyes, sat up straight, and looked up at her.

“Wh-what do you mean by my motive?”

“Judge. We know your diplomatic reason for being here. The Mouri Representative has already told us that. Hashiba has split us up, but bringing you with us gives us a justification for joining the Battle of Nördlingen.”

For that, his inherited name of Inadome Sukenao mattered more than Nagaoka Tadaoki.

The Testament said Inadome fled from the scene, but…

“If we are sending you there, we can join the Battle of Nördlingen as part of the history recreation instead of as simple mercenaries. …Now, I’m sure Hashiba intends to show the world whether or not we can rescue Lady Nagaoka, but we will of course rescue her.”

“You can do that!?”

“We can.”

Masazumi added a “but” as she crouched down on one knee to put herself at his eye level.

“What about you?”

“Well…”

This won’t work, she thought when she saw the boy avert his gaze.

He was a middle school student.

He thought he had no say when it came to matters of nations and the world.

That would be why he came here with Mouri Terumoto.

He must have decided to leave the negotiating to Mouri. He would have felt too ignorant to do it himself.

And here Masazumi was asking him to make a decision for himself.

This won’t work.

So she decided to change how she phrased it.

“Listen, boy.”

She sat down and realized how difficult it was to use a more casual style than she was used to.

“I would just like to know one thing.”

She looked at Tadaoki and he only averted his gaze further.

In fact, he even angled his entire body away from her.

“Hey.”

She called out to him, but he did not turn back around. He did briefly glance her way, but…

“—————”

He immediately looked away again. Meanwhile, Masazumi had no idea why he was avoiding her so much.

Hm?

Was he looking at something in that direction? She was curious, so…

“Is there something over there?”

She asked that and turned to look in the hopes that she could start a conversation from there, but…

“N-no, there isn’t!”

“Then why won’t you look at me?”

“Because, uh…”

Me: “Hey, Seijun, you idiot.”

Vice President: “Who are you calling an idiot, Mr. Idiot Supreme?”

Me: “D-damn you! Anyway, um, the thing is…I think you’re a little confused, so I’m just gonna come out and say it.”

Vice President: “Come out and say what?”

Me: “You just took a bath, right?”

Vice President: “Yes, I did. We all did.”

Me: “Okay, and you washed your hair and body, didn’t you?”

Vice President: “Well, yes. That’s what you do in the bath.”

“Ah,” said most of the girls behind her. And after a moment…

Asama: “Um, Masazumi? I’m not quite sure how to say this…”

Vice President: “What is it? I’m trying to make this a casual chat.”

Gold Mar: “Yeah, but for a middle school boy, an upperclassman girl fresh from the bath and smelling of shampoo is going to cause a lot of pressure. And that casual way of sitting has a pretty girly look to it.”

Mar-Ga: “To be blunt, your hips and hair are sexy.”

Wait…

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. So Masazumi is unleashing her charm on the underclassmen!”


“Nobu-tan! Nobu-tan! He’s a gunner! I really doubt you can beat him with that hunting rifle! Try something else!”

“But Koni-tan! He’s also one of the Immortals of Poetry, so I don’t stand a chance in a karaoke battle either! …To hell with it, I’m sending a porn game to his parent’s home with his name listed as the recipient!”

“Nobu-tan! I love how seriously you’re taking this feud with a middle schooler, even if that doesn’t solve the problem in the slightest!”


I can’t believe it, thought Masazumi while feeling a shock to her psyche.

Wait. Is that really how it works? When they’re in middle school, does anyone do it for them as long as she’s a girl? And don’t you have Lady Nagaoka? Or is that why you’re working so hard to look away? Oh, is this his way of staying faithful?

What a pain in the rear!!

The Lady Nagaoka issue was trouble enough, so she did not want to also deal with a middle school boy’s adolescent self-consciousness. However…

Mar-Ga: “Masazumi, looks like this was a real shock for you.”

Vice President: “Well…I’ve never really gotten this kind of attention.”

Me: “Right? When you’re interested in someone, you’re supposed to stare.”

Vice President: “No, that’s a problem too!”

But…

Vice President: “Do the rest of you do this too?”

Uqui: “I was in full staring mode right away with Narumi.”

Unturning: “So you weren’t just being cautious…”

10ZO: “I, well, it was hard to keep her off my mind…”

Scarred: “A-and I, um, y-yes…”

The fact that they still could not come out and say it was a problem in its own way. But…

Uqui: “Really, it isn’t that big a deal when around friends.”

10ZO: “Yes, I think the main reason Nagabuto-dono is reacting so strongly is because you are a foreign upperclassman and that makes you look more like an adult to him.”

They’re trying to help me through this, she realized and she was thankful for that. To sum up…

Vice President: “I should have been blunter with him, huh?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” said the idiot as he walked up.

He was completely nude now.

He circled in front of the boy and crouched down.

“Hey, Nagabuto.”

“Are you insane!?”

“Sigh… This is called formal wear, you moron. Do they not teach you that out in the sticks?”

“Liar! The others are all wearing clothes!”

“Don’t be dumb. They’re wearing those clothes on top of their formal wear. I just chose the simplest and most stylish option! I’m the Chancellor and Student Council President, so I have to be a model of frugality for them.”

Hori-ko: “I’m hitting you for this later.”

That was a relief. But the idiot sat in front of the boy and slapped his knee.

“Okay, Nagabuto, listen up. We’ll help you out. But…”

“But?”

“Well,” said the idiot. “Do you love your wife?”


Asama heard the boy raise his voice while she circled behind Toori to provide support.

“Huh!?”

There was a tone of accusation in his voice and he provided the meaning shortly thereafter.

“What are you talking about? This isn’t like that!”

Mar-Ga: “What a pain.”

Gold Mar: “Eh, that’s what it’s like at his age.”

It really is, thought Asama as something occurred to her.

My behavior is different, but I probably look a lot like that myself…

The others would definitely see it as denying the obvious.

And I already see Mito that way, don’t I?

“T-Tomo! Why are you giving me that emotionless look!?”

“No reason,” she said while starting to record the conversation from behind him.

First, he took a breath and spoke to the boy.

“Okay then. Have you met your wife?”

“Huh!? Why should I tell you that!?”

“Why not? Just tell me, okay? So where was it?”

Gold Mar: “I hate how naturally this comes to the Chancellor…”

Novice: “Eh? What do you mean?”

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. By asking ‘where was it’, he’s continuing the conversation on the assumption the boy has met her. That kind of rhetorical trick is standard for bringing in an audience. It’s also used to keep an act from going on too long.”

Hori-ko: “The nerve of that idiot…”

Asama: “Horizon!? Let’s call it a skill! A skill! For now at least!”

But while the others clamored on behind him, the boy spoke in front of him.

“Kyoto. We met at Kyoto.”


Kyoto!? thought Masazumi with a gulp.

Tadaoki had started to talk and she dared not say a word lest she stop him.

This was a conversation between boys. And it seemed pretty obvious that…

They really are just chatting. This isn’t about politics.

This was a young name inheritor who had yet to develop political instincts. Approaching this from a political angle would only put him on guard and make him second guess his decisions.

And perhaps because he was in the middle of puberty, he did not know how to handle himself around girls.

If you removed the part about girls, Masazumi felt she had been much the same in the past. She had always been on her guard around her father and the other politicians, but she had been able to speak with her classmates.

Oh, I’m so dumb.

Even though their positions were different, she had tried to speak with him without considering how she would have felt. Of course that had failed.

She had completely forgotten that after negotiating so much against aggressive politicians and allies.

This was not a negotiation.

This was about hearing what Tadaoki had to say.

And what did she want to hear right now?

Vice President: “Why was Lady Nagaoka in Akechi’s Kyoto?”

The idiot did not respond to her question. In fact, he probably was not even looking at his sign frame.

Instead, he spoke to the boy.

“Oh? Were you in Kyoto for your class trip?”

“No! We haven’t had our class trip yet. And our study camp was on a desert island in the Mediterranean.”

“That’s more like a resort than a study camp. Sounds pretty cool.”

“Don’t be dumb. It was for training. The ogre instructors had clubs and the close-range fighters were beaten really badly. I’m a gunner, so I had survival training and sniper training.”

Tachibana Wife: “So it was mostly sniper-related. That explains why he has so little experience fighting actual people.”

Mar-Ga: “So was that duel like hitting a sniper with a close-range weapon from mid-range?”

Smoking Girl: “Who’s to blame for this?”

Everyone but the idiot and the boy turned toward Terumoto.

“Hey, don’t look at me!”

Masazumi waved a hand to say “don’t let it get to you”. Then she focused on the two boys’ conversation while the previous conversation made her unsure whether or not she should straighten out her legs.

“So when are you doing your class trip?”

“It isn’t scheduled yet. I mean…it depends on what happens with the Genesis Project. Don’t you know about that?”

“No, what is it?”

“Testament.” Tadaoki put on a dignified tone. “They say it’s to ‘end the Apocalypse but not to let it end’.”


Chapter 15: Flower of Immense Happiness[edit]

Horizon7-A475.jpg

What am I

Supposed to do?

I don’t know

So this is forever

Point Allocation (Search)


Tenzou felt something like a chill more than surprise.

They had already heard what Tadaoki had said. And…

10ZO: “Mary-dono, that was when we were washing dishes, wasn’t it?”

Scarred: “Y-yes, it was, wasn’t it?”

That’s right, thought Tenzou while recalling what had happened back then.

10ZO: “Masazumi-dono, that is what Lord Matsunaga said, wasn’t it?”

Vice President: “Yes, it was. This must mean that understanding is fairly well known within P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R.”

Sticky King: “Isn’t it strange to say that even a middle school name inheritor is familiar with it? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say any name inheritor is familiar with it even if they are in middle school?”

Vice President: “Did you figure anything out in your discussion back then?”

10ZO: “Back then, hm?”

Tenzou thought back to when he had been washing dishes with Mary.

10ZO: “Yes, Mary-dono stood behind me and took my hands like this.”

Scarred: “M-Master Tenzou! Please don’t say that in front of everyone!”

Next to him, Mary covered her face with her hands and shook her head. And…

“It’s embarrassing…”

She crouched down on the deck.


A certain phrase came to Tenzou’s mind as everyone turned to look their way.

I’ve got my back to the wall now!

Calm down, Tenzou Crossunite. Panic now and you will be devoured. This is undeniably a colosseum of cannibalism and the enemy might as well be wild animals starved for over a month.

He started by taking a deep breath. Then he looked down and to the side without using any more strength than was necessary to maintain a natural stance.

Mary was crouched there with white water lilies spilling from her.

She looked cute with the white flowers decorating her and with her fingers crawling along her face to confirm the heat there. And the way her knees push up her track suit chest is simply fantastic.

Mary-dono is gradually gaining more variety in her reactions.

When compared to before, she was losing that odd tension that seemed cautious about something. The bursts of embarrassment were intense, but the main issue there was the difference that had developed between who she had been and who she was now.

At any rate, he kept an eye on his surroundings while slowly crouching down next to her.

She spoke to him with her hands on her cheeks.

“S-sorry, Master Tenzou. But it’s mean to tell such an embarrassing story…”

“No, do not apologize. …If I could make flowers like this, they would have been everywhere back then.”

“…Eh?”

“You said you wanted to blossom by my side, so this is a good thing.”

He picked up one of the ether flowers and placed it in her hair.

“So I am only returning the favor for the emotions you made me feel back then, Mary-dono.”

“R-returning the favor, Tenzou…-dono?”

Naomasa sucked in a breath forcefully enough for her kiseru to glow red.

She finally exhaled a large puff of smoke from her nose and a giant crop mark frame Magie Figur opened above the bridge with “keep going” written on it.

Curse this surveillance society!

Still, there was something he had to say to Mary.

“Yes, returning the favor.”

“Then…I will do the same.”

She removed her hands from her face and moved closer. Like a bird resting its wings, she did not quite look straight at him, but…

Now is the time to place an arm around her shoulders!

This was a rare thing even in the previous circumstances.

But, he thought. We might be surrounded by awful people and the Technohexen duo is definitely preparing something on the divine network, but if I don’t embrace my future wife here, um, well, what would happen? I’m not really sure, but I’m doing it anyway.

Vice President: “Hey, come on out of your own little world there.”

Mary quickly straightened up.

This reminded him of their circumstances too, so he raised his right hand toward Masazumi who was glaring his way.

10ZO: “That is what Lord Matsunaga said, wasn’t it?”

Vice President: “You already said that.”

Ah, she’s being weirdly strict.

But he opened his mouth while aware of the lonely emptiness to his right.

He spoke to Nagabuto. After glancing up at Toori, Tenzou asked a question.

“We heard that same phrase from Lord Matsunaga, but who did you hear it from?”


“You knew Lord Matsunaga!?”

Masazumi saw Tadaoki raise his head. Based on his expression…

Was Lord Matsunaga popular with the kids?

That made an odd amount of sense. And the idiot answered the boy with a nod.

“Yup. We made toshomen for him and drank with him. At IZUMO.”

“Oh, back then. That was before I officially inherited my name, but I was in the IZUMO region then.”

“On the fleet surrounding IZUMO?”

“No, not there.” Tadaoki waved a hand side to side. “I was moved to a base in viewing distance of IZUMO as part of the rear guard. We also had to provide supplies for the fight against K.P.A. Italia.”

“You didn’t fight against Innocen?”

“Suzuki was there, so there wouldn’t have been anything for me to do.”

But he said nothing more about what he had done back then.

That was part of a mission, so I guess he can’t just tell us where he was.

No, thought Masazumi. The people in the fleet surrounding IZUMO would have been those capable of fighting aboard ships.

A sniper would be useful there, but since he had not been part of it…

Did they not bring their name inheritors or prospective name inheritors along on that one?

It made sense when she thought about it. Just as Tadaoki had hinted, M.H.R.R.’s main force had been on the way to attack K.P.A. Italia and IZUMO was on the border of Hexagone Française. Hashiba had been working on the history recreation of their invasion of Mouri, but using their activity around IZUMO to invade Mouri would have violated the Testament. They would have avoided using name inheritors to show that was not their intent.

10ZO: “Looking back, Lord Matsunaga was really pushing it by visiting IZUMO, wasn’t he?”

Vice President: “His death came before the invasion of Mouri, so he couldn’t intervene there. That likely gave him the freedom to visit IZUMO without getting in trouble.”

But, thought Masazumi.

Vice President: “A fleet that large was being run without any name inheritors?”

Azuma: “What does that mean?”

Mar-Ga: “Without a group of eccentrics at the top, the fleet was able to run much more smoothly than normal.”

Musashi: “If you left us in charge, the Musashi could function as normal. Over.”

Gold Mar: “What would non-normal functioning look like?”

Masazumi could not imagine any answer to that being pleasant, so she stopped thinking about it.

But she had heard something similar to this speculation before.

Vice President: “Who in P.A. Oda is it that commands the lower-ranked members and normal warriors?”

10ZO: “Probably Niwa Nagahide-dono. That was the role she played at Novgorod. And…”

Crossunite paused before continuing.

10ZO: “Like Hashiba-dono said earlier, Niwa Nagahide-dono is on her way to Nördlingen.”


“Huh? Tanba’s excluding us again!?”

“Ha ha ha. Na-chan, you’re too much of a free spirit to join Niwa’s well-regulated unit. My transport unit is leaving, so help me carry the cargo, okay?”

“Maeda, aren’t you going to get after me for saying Tanba instead of Niwa?”


This is going to be a difficult opponent, felt Masazumi.

They had opposed Niwa at Novgorod and the Date Vice Chancellor had prepared to fight her, but just beforehand, she had used a spell to combine with her Mouse and effectively taken control of southern through eastern Novgorod.

In a localized battle, she could take control of an entire region while her well-regulated warriors could protect the perimeter.

If it came to a battle around the Nagaoka estate on the outskirts of Nördlingen, Niwa would have an advantage.

It’s just one problem after another.

Novice: “Even in the Testament, Niwa was a high-ranking member of the Oda clan who primarily handled behind-the-scenes and administrative work. You could say he solved internal problems and supported the other commanders. That ultimately distanced him from the path to promotion, but our Niwa seems to be using that to give herself more flexibility.”

His analysis was actually useful for once.

But this helped bring P.A. Oda’s internal state into view.

Nagaoka said he met Lady Nagaoka in Kyoto.

“After the incident at IZUMO, Niwa traveled to Oushuu to manage the Hidetsugu incident. Hashiba’s forces conquered K.P.A. Italia and then moved west to prepare for the later attack on Paris. Were novices like you sent to fill the gap this left in M.H.R.R.?”

“How’d you know!?”

Tadaoki glanced back at her and the idiot responded.

“She’s real smart when it comes to these things. And she’s pretty important, so keep that in mind.”

It was not the greatest introduction, but she decided to let it be when Nagaoka gave her a quick bow.

Sometimes it’s best not to get into the specifics.

With that in mind, she said more.

“Also, if we exclude Hashiba, then the P.A. Oda leader positioned furthest west is Akechi Mitsuhide in Kyou. If they were sending novices to M.H.R.R. to help them learn, they would need some kind of commander. …So I imagine Akechi acted as your superior.”

And…

“The novices would have been gathered for a sort of industry meeting and briefing to explain the situation in M.H.R.R. The most natural location would be Akechi’s headquarters of Kyoto. And Lady Nagaoka would have been there too since she acted as a pipeline with Europe while in M.H.R.R. …If Akechi Mitsuhide is the type to faithfully follow the Testament, he would have made sure everything was done properly.”

“Hey.”

The boy spoke up, but it was directed at the idiot instead of Masazumi.

“This girl’s scaring me.”

“Yeah, but you know what, Nagabuto? There’s a reason she’s so damn good at blathering on about stuff no one understands. Do you know what that is?”

“No.”

“To tell bad puns and declare war.”

Masazumi suddenly found Horizon’s arms on either side of her. The right one pointed its thumb at itself and the left one threw a few shadow punches into empty air.

That probably meant “if he’s causing trouble, just give the word”. She gave the right hand a quick pat and then the hands and Tsukinowa looked each other in the eye.

She lowered Tsukinowa to the floor and the hands picked up the small anteater and crawled around.

“Maa.”

Ohh, is that fun, Tsukinowa?

Gold Mar: “If you ask me, this is one hell of a visual.”

Mar-Ga: “It’s certainly something you could only see in Musashi…”

At any rate, the idiot opened a sign frame with a comment of “so that’s it, huh?”

He displayed a map of Kyoto and the Far East’s Kinki region and he showed that to Nagaoka.

“So where did you go?”

“To Nijou Castle, moron. Where else would we go?”

“Oh, that’s a pretty nice place. So you met your wife there? Was that the first time?”

“Of course. I couldn’t meet her before that.”

Something about the boy’s words felt odd to Masazumi.

Huh?

And as she tried to figure out why it sounded odd…

Asama: “If he couldn’t meet her, that means he tried to meet her, doesn’t it? Just based on his phrasing, anyway.”

That was it. And that meant something else.

Scarred: “Sir Tadaoki wanted to meet the person who would become Lady Nagaoka. …Probably before his official name inheritance.”


Wise Sister: “Now! It’s time for the lovey-dovey fantasy zone! What does it mean that Nagabuto wanted to meet his future wife, Tamako, so long ago!?”

Unturning: “Realistically speaking, wouldn’t it be awkward in more ways than one if you never once met the wife who blows herself up?”

Wise Sister: “I object! No more realism! Or as they would say in Tres España, no mas realismo!”

Silver Wolf: “You didn’t know the word for ‘realism’, did you?”

Gold Mar: “Yeah, but I’m not so sure about this. Here, take a look at this information.”

Flat Vassal: “Eh? Does something conflict with that fantasy?”

Mar-Ga: “This is the information on Lady Nagaoka that Masazumi sent around. …Check the age.”

Uqui: “…28?”


“She’s an old hag! And from my perspective, she’s a triple old hag!”

“Keep your voice down so that boy doesn’t hear you!”

After chiding Ohiroshiki, Mitotsudaira joined the scrum that her classmates had naturally formed. They all leaned over and made eye contact.

“The boy is a second year in middle school, so she really is twice his age.”

“Hm, the age gap genre. The boy has promise… That has a lot of overlap with the elder sister genre, so we need to assist him in his time of need.”

“Why do you sound so duty bound there, Uqui-dono?”

The boys’ conversation was inscrutable, but Mitotsudaira made her own comment:

“I wonder how Lady Nagaoka feels about being paired up with a middle school boy.”

“It’s pretty juicy doujin material,” added Naruze.

Mitotsudaira could not argue with that, but then…

Still Got It: “Now, now. Differences in age are meaningless in matters of love.”

She realized there was an example right there.

Given her mother’s long history as a forest-dwelling Loup-Garou, there had to be a pretty large age gap between her parents.

Nevertheless, they had developed such a close relationship together that it was hard to imagine them ever having been apart.

“When you look at my parents, it does seem age differences don’t really matter.”

“That’s true,” agreed the others, but then…

Azuma: “In other words, age and appearance aren’t what matters, right?”


“You decide ‘this is the one’ and that settles it. Right, Miriam?”

Azuma smiled a little while he and Miriam sat on the bed with their backs against the wall and legs stretched out. He had a sign frame open in widescreen mode so Miriam and the girl sitting between them could also see the conversation scrolling across it.

Next to him, Miriam rested her elbow on the pillow she had stood on end as an armrest.

“Hey, Azuma. What do you think people have to go through before they can call it ‘settled’?”

“What do mean before they can call it settled?”

“You know.” She averted her gaze. “There can be an age difference, but there are also other differences.”

“Sure. Like being different genders.”

Miriam and the pillow collapsed onto the bed.

“Mama, was that a powerful blow?”

“Where did you learn that turn of a phrase? But don’t worry about it. I just felt some light despair thanks to papa’s thoughtless comment is all.”

Miriam continued while still collapsed on the bed.

“Anyway, you don’t need to avoid mentioning my legs.”

“I wasn’t avoiding it; I just didn’t think of it. I mean, you’re a much more capable person than me. Also…”

“Also?”

When Azuma saw that Miriam was not looking his way, he placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder.

When that girl gave him a quizzical look, he pointed at Miriam’s wheelchair. The girl nodded.

“Mama lets me ride on the back of her wheelchair.”

“Yes, I know.”

“She goes really fast.”

“Yes, I know.”

“When she takes me up on the deck, she’ll shift into super overdrive and do a spin turn.”

“That one’s news to me.”

“W-wait just a second!”

Miriam pushed herself up with her arms. Her face was bright red.

“I-it’s faster to do it myself than have you push me, right?”

“I will admit it’s fast.”

“And it makes her happy.”

“How long have you been doing this?”

After a pause, Miriam answered Azuma’s question with a glare.

“Is it really that wrong? If so, I’ll stop.”

“You do it on the deck so there’s plenty of space and it’s safe, right? That’s part of what I mean when I say you’re more capable than me.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I mean, I certainly can’t shift into super overdrive for a spin turn.”

“Qu-quit teasing me.”

She threateningly raised a hand but then lowered it.

“I can’t believe this.”

“Can’t believe what?”

“Things like this do happen. …You think something is a weakness, so you hide it from them and just end up pushing them away.”

So…

“It isn’t easy reaching the point where you can call it ‘settled’. You make excuses and happiness slips from your fingers. Excuses like ‘won’t I just be a burden on them’ or ‘I’m not as capable as they think I am’.”

“And you’re saying Lady Nagaoka is doing that?”

“I don’t know.” Miriam glared even harder at him. “Now, it’s your turn.”

“F-for what? Eh? Wait.”

“Okay.” She lightly slapped his head. “What should I have you reveal? …But don’t worry. This will only remove a burden from your shoulders.”


Hmm… silently groaned Asama.

They say age difference doesn’t matter, but…

“It is true Mito’s parents are enjoying a happy life with lots of ‘sniff-sniff pant-pant’ time, but they had to spend some time apart so they wouldn’t be too much of a burden on each other, didn’t they?”

“P-please don’t include strange made-up terms when talking about my parents!”

Still Got It: “That’s right! It would be more accurate to call it ‘licky-sucky edging’ time!”

The reality was even more incredible. But because they loved each other so much…

Still Got It: “It is true we spent some time apart.”

I thought so.

This is about a lid, thought Asama.

You knew happiness stood right in front of you, but you ended up thinking you did not deserve it. You decided it was wrong for you to accept it.

If you were mistaken, then you would lose everything if you reached for that happiness.

So you placed a lid on it.

Of course, these things happened even with feelings not on the level of love. For example…

“Horizon.”

“Judge. I believe I understand what you wish to say, Asama-sama,” said Horizon within the scrum. “I once had a deadly destiny forced upon me…or rather, prepared for me. At the time, I was such an honest, pure, and immacul- kah.”

“H-Horizon! You won’t stumble over your words if you don’t try to use words you aren’t used to!”

“Pardon me.” She nodded toward the others. “Anyway, I went through a bit of an ‘I should die’ phase, but when Toori-sama showed up to save me, I pushed him away as if to say ‘hey, stop that’. You see, at the time, I was thinking…”

Horizon fell silent.

She was thinking.

After a while, she looked up into the sky and spoke while soaked with an awkward sweat.

“S-sorry. I cannot seem to recall any reasons that would make for a nice story.”

“W-well, you don’t need to force yourself, Horizon…”

At any rate, one thing was clear.

“You pushed him away because you thought it was the best choice, didn’t you?”

In other words…

“When weighing the pros and cons, your death came out on top. As did keeping us uninvolved. It was that decision that led Toori-kun to approach from the opposite parallel position.”

“So setting aside whether the idiot is a necessary part of this, are you saying Lady Nagaoka is the same?” asked Naomasa.

“Most likely. I am guessing that is why she never met with him before that one time.”

Gold Mar: “But doesn’t that mean she sees him as a child?”

Still Got It: “I don’t see why that would be a problem.”

“Please, please don’t let her say anything creepy…”

“Mito, why not say that directly to your mom instead of praying?”

“If I tell her that, she’s bound to say something 10 times worse just to spite me!”

“In a way, you two have a powerful bond of trust, huh?”

But Mitotsudaira’s mother did have something to say.

Still Got It: “When you have given up on the world, you are going to be interested in anyone who worries for you, truly adores you, and tries to reach you even if you reject them.”

Silver Wolf: “Mother, can you stop acting like the entire world follows your rules?”

Asama beckoned to Mitotsudaira.

But instead of calling her over, she seemed to be trying to tell her something.

Mitotsudaira looked back to ask what it was, and…

“Middle school,” said Asama.

It took two full seconds before the meaning registered with Mitotsudaira.

“——————”

She suddenly hung her head within the scrum and had to support herself using Adele and Naomasa’s shoulders to her left and right.


That’s right!

Mitotsudaira was astonished. Her mother’s rules definitely applied somewhere else.

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Yes, I seem to recall a certain knight who acted like she had given up on the world during middle school.”

Silver Wolf: “Th-that was me! Yes, it was me! Got a problem with that!?”

Flat Vassal: “Huh?”

Silver Wolf: “What is it?”

Flat Vassal: “Well, didn’t you and the Chancellor start visiting each other occasionally after he was beaten to a bloody pulp? …I mean, it’s not like you would never have seen each other again afterwards, but still.”

Still Got It: “My, my, Nate. What’s this about you and your king!?”

Oh, no.

Asama was looking away and saying “yeah…” and Kimi was skillfully dancing with just her legs, but that was how it was with those two.

So as not to place too much pressure on her, those “occasional” visits had been more about normal socialization than a meeting between a knight and her king, but…

“That is between my king and me. It is not relevant to the current discussion.”

“Heh heh. Don’t be so sure. While he never managed it, we are talking about a child who wanted to meet with someone and an adult who avoided it.”

“What does that have to do with my king and me?”

Mar-Ga: “Maybe nothing, but drawing a connection is more fun.”

These people… she sighed, but she probably would have joined in if it was about someone else. Besides, she was living in her king’s house now, so there was no point in denying her past.

In that case…

“What did that boy do when he met his future wife at Kyou?”


“So what’d you do when you met your wife?” asked Toori.

But the boy was hesitant to answer.

“Well…”

“Did you grab her chest and get a knee to the gut?”

“No! Why would I do that!?”

“This guy’s hopeless… I mean, that’s the normal thing to do, right!?”

When he turned back to the others, the ninja shook his head and the half-dragon nodded.

“That’s a 50/50 split, idiot!” protested the boy.

“No, you’re the idiot. Include me and it’s 66.66666%! And the Far East is a democracy, so groping wins by majority rule! You lose. And so do you, Tenzou.”

“Wh-why does that piss me off so much!?” shouted Tenzou.

“M-Master Tenzou, you did that to check me when you confessed, so y-you still win.”

Mary clenched her fists as she argued his case, so the others gave him cold looks.

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. I was hoping he would say ‘Mary-dono! Let me grope them again to ensure my victory!’ ”

10ZO: “If I said that, her family would come kill me!”

Me: “Yeah, the Fairy Queen can be a pain. You hump one little Excalibur and she gets mad for no reason.”

Vice President: “Getting her to let that go was not easy, so don’t remind her it happened.”

“Anyway,” said Toori as he turned back toward Nagabuto. “It’s unanimous now, so it’s your fault for not groping her.”

“You’re not making any sense!”

“Then what did you do when you met her? Don’t tell me she asked for a kiss but you blew your chance by getting all Tenzou-y and saying you’re a good person with good self-control or something.”

Flat Vassal: “But if you think about it, wouldn’t her family have killed him if he had kissed her then?”

Bell: “Caught…red-handed?”

Red-lipped in this case, Bell-san! he thought, but Nagabuto had a different reaction.

He looked down and shut his mouth. He fell silent. But Toori had a hunch why.

“You said something dumb, didn’t you?”

“It wasn’t dumb.”

“Then you said something sensible.”

“…That’s right.”

“But she didn’t understand, is that it?”

Nagabuto fell silent again. He had done this a few times already, but Toori…

Me: “This guy has no clue his dick is colored black right now, does he?”

Mar-Ga: “He’s probably noticed an odd stiffness now that the ink is drying.”

Gold Mar: “Ga-chan, can you calm down a little? Let’s not think too realistically about this, okay? Okay?”

Righteousness: “If I were you, I’d be watching my back to make sure he doesn’t come kill you once he finds out.”

That was an issue for later.

“So what did your wife say?”

“Well…” Nagabuto hesitated for the span of a short breath. “She said I didn’t have to do it.”

“Was she smiling when she said that?”

“…Yeah.”

Toori smiled bitterly at the boy’s confirmation.

“And then you said something dumb, didn’t you?”

“Y-you don’t know what happened!”

“I do, though.” Toori’s bitter smile grew. “If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here with us. …You said something and you feel you need to make up for it. But if you apologize, you would have to accept what she said and back off, so you can’t apologize either.”

So…

“You came to us, hoping you could get a new start.”

“Stop making assumptions about me!”

“I have to when you won’t say anything yourself, idiot. I have to fill in the gaps with assumptions. …Besides, I’ll be your boss in the future.”

Toori placed a hand on his chin.

“Let’s see how I do,” he said. “You fell in love with your wife, right? I’m going to assume she’s pretty good looking. You wanted to meet her but were refused, so you decided you could change that by earning an inherited name. You went and got one of those, but you were still refused and you started questioning why. That was when you realized inheriting the name of her husband meant the beginning of your history recreation together and that shortens her time left alive. So…”

So…

“You wanted to meet her and tell her not to die.”

“Yes, okay!?” shouted Nagabuto.


Tadaoki thought back to that night.

He had visited Nijou Castle. The interior hall had a plain but darkly-colored design and the harsh contrasts produced by the lighting gave it a “mature” atmosphere.

He had planned to start with some small talk when he met her there, but…

“I told her not to die and that I’d save her if anything happened!”

“But she said you didn’t have to?”

“Yes! So I said a bunch of other things…”

He honestly did not remember it that clearly.

He had thought up and prepared different ways to save her and reach her, but…

“Did she tell you that wasn’t necessary?”


Mitotsudaira typed into her sign frame.

She knew her king would see her words.

Silver Wolf: “When someone has given up on themselves, methods of saving them will seem meaningless. Because they have found meaning in the idea that they cannot be saved.”

In other words…

Silver Wolf: “For Lady Nagaoka, Europe no longer needs her help, so she thinks her role has ended. She inherited the name of Christina of Sweden, but she has to live away from Sweden and she must feel that is inconveniencing her own nation. This boy met her shortly after K.P.A. Italia fell to Hashiba. The history recreation of Lady Nagaoka’s death would lead to Sekigahara, so she could use that to corner Hashiba. Also…”

Me: “Also?”

When her king asked that, Mitotsudaira thought of her parents.

Her mother and father had lived very different lives in very different circumstances.

Her mother was a man-eating Loup-Garou. Her father was a feudal lord and a student.

When they had first discovered an attraction between them, they had been reminded of those differences and put some distance between them.

With this boy and lady, that was probably what the lady was doing.

Silver Wolf: “With the age difference and her death in the Testament, Lady Nagaoka probably thought he could find someone better than her.”

Only after saying it did she realize how heavy a statement that was.

At the very least, she would probably cry if she said it to her king. The pain of disguising your true feelings and distancing yourself from happiness was an unbearable thing.

She realized there were tears in the corners of her eyes already.

I’m putting too much of myself in how I imagine her.

Lady Nagaoka did not know this boy that well. So for her, it would have been more about giving the boy some advice as an adult instead of disguising her true feelings.

But Mitotsudaira did realize something by thinking of the woman like herself.

I don’t want to be separated from my king.

She had felt the same at IZUMO. Her mother had taken him hostage and forcibly removed him from her. She had felt close to tears back then as well.

“…Uuh.”

She shook her head. And…

Me: “Nate.”

Silver Wolf: “Wh-what is it?”

Her king asked a question.

Me: “When I said I would make you my knight, did you think you would be a burden or a flaw for me?”

She was hesitant to answer, but she shook off the fear inside her.

She was not the same person she had been back then. She wanted the past to be the past. So…

Silver Wolf: “I did, of course. But…”

But…

Silver Wolf: “You had come to me, so worrying over that was meaningless. And…”

She continued by talking about the separation from her king that had nearly brought her to tears when she thought about it before.

Silver Wolf: “Now, I would prefer to find the strength to protect you and continue on instead of finding reasons to push you away and wallow in despair.”

Asama muttered “R-right…” while hanging her head, but now was not the time to worry about that. Mitotsudaira saw Horizon’s right arm give her a thumbs up from the deck.

“That is my relationship with you, my king.”

Silver Wolf: “However…Lady Nagaoka and this boy have not reached that level.”

The boy took things seriously.

That was probably why Lady Nagaoka had rejected him out of concern for his future. Separation from him did not feel like a big deal to her, so she had rejected the serious boy as a lesson.

Silver Wolf: “Do you know what happens when you do that to a serious boy who has already convinced himself he is doing the right thing?”

Novice: “He is a second year in middle school. Everyone in that year has a rebellious spirit.”

Four Eyes: “Oh? So were you held back 4 times or something?”

The Secretary started madly typing something into his sign frame, but wasn’t that exactly what Shakespeare wanted?

Regardless, Mitotsudaira had come to understand something here.

Silver Wolf: “My king.”

“Judge,” he said out loud instead of via divine transmission.

Her king spoke in front of the boy.

“You were mad and got in a fight with your wife, didn’t you?”


“Yes,” confirmed Tadaoki.

He decided there was no use hiding it now and he explained.

“I thought up a bunch of plans. Inheriting Inadome’s name was a part of that. Because it lets me be there. So I told her I wanted to save her no matter what. But she wouldn’t listen. …I’m only in middle school. I get that. That’s why I gave it so much thought and got everything ready beforehand. So why did she still choose death? I don’t care how much trouble it causes me. I don’t want her to die.”

“Did you tell her that?”

He did not need to say it again, so he just nodded. Then the nudist in front of him said more.

“And did she tell you to find someone better than her or something like that?”

He heard some excited shrieks and comments of “Way to go, Mitotsudaira!” behind him, but these people were crazy and he did not want to get involved. But…

“She did.”

He thought back to that time.

He had said everything he could and even shown her some documents he had made. Saving her would violate the Testament.

“But there are interpretations, right?”

But she had rejected that too. And when he realized nothing he said could change her mind, he had asked her something.

“Why?”

And she had answered him.

“ ‘Because that is my destiny.’ ”

“And how did you respond?”

He remembered. She had already made up her mind on her own, so…

“I said it without thinking.”

He said…

“ ‘Fine, then just go die.’ ”


Masazumi heard Tadaoki speaking.

But when he reached Lady Nagaoka’s response…

“She gave a resigned smile.”

Masazumi listened.

“And she said, ‘Then this is goodbye.’ ”


“Yeah,” said Tadaoki. “I was wrong. I screwed up.”

So…

“I might fail if I go to save her. She might never forgive me. She probably hates me, so why would she listen to me now? I mean, I said something awful and I screwed up. But…”

“Hey.”

He heard a voice from right in front of him.

“You haven’t screwed up yet.”


Toori placed a hand on the boy’s head.

“You haven’t screwed up yet, so don’t worry.”

“O-of course I have!”

“Don’t be silly. You came to us, didn’t you? You couldn’t make a better decision than that.”

And…

“You’re way better at this than me, so don’t worry. I mean, you know you’ll regret it if you don’t do something. So don’t worry.”

“How can you be so-…”

“Because,” said Toori. “It’s obvious to everyone you haven’t screwed up yet, Nagabuto.”


Asama’s shoulders lowered in relief when she heard Toori’s words.

Thank goodness. That’s Toori for you, I guess.

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. If he had said ‘because I used to be like you’, I would have had to slap him. If he was viewing it like that, he would only be pretending to save the boy while actually using the boy to vicariously save his past self.”

Hori-ko: “Judge. If he was still carrying that around, it would mean he learned nothing from our glimpse of the past that nearly destroyed me.”

That was right.

He had purified his past, so he would not see this boy as his past self.

He had overcome that already, so he would instead focus on saving a boy who was about to be overcome by remorse.

“Listen,” he said. “We won’t let that stuff get the better of us. Even if something like it happens again, we know we can overcome it because we’ve done it before. …But you? You’re still a remorse virgin. So if you think you’re gonna lose, just leave it to us.”

“Leave it to you? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“We’ll believe in you for you?”

Asama: “D-don’t say it as a question!”

Me: “Yeah, but I’m still not sure about any of this.”

“Well, whatever,” he said. “When you can’t believe in yourself, believe in us instead. None of them laugh at my jokes and they ignore my performances on a daily basis, but they’ll do what needs doing.”

“Wait, but…” The boy looked at him. “I said such an awful thing to her.”

“And I said you haven’t screwed up yet, remember?” He said it directly. “Your wife isn’t dead yet and you’ve learned your lesson. If she’s still alive and you want to show her you’ve learned your lesson, then you still haven’t screwed up, no matter what you said in the past. You can still make up for it. There’s no reason to be all ‘woe is me’. Are you stupid? This is just the beginning. Now’s the time to think about how to apologize and how to flirt with your wife once you reach her. So focus on that, okay?”

Toori turned toward the others.

Asama knew what he was going to say.

“So let’s go.”

Some of the others responded with the usual “judge”, but not Asama.

“Yes.”

That was her simple answer to him.


Chapter 16: Watcher of the Next Generation[edit]

Horizon7-A511.jpg

Times change

So I want to believe

It was good fortune

That I could calmly watch it happen

Point Allocation (Ruined Nation)


Before she could take a break, Masazumi turned toward Terumoto.

Terumoto must not have known what to do with herself because she was drinking tea at a table she had set up at some point. She raised a hand toward Masazumi and nodded.

“Got everything sorted out?”

“Judge. We will indeed go rescue Lady Nagaoka. It corresponds with our national interests, and…”

She looked to the nudist idiot and he raised a hand in response.

“Well, you could say it’s like a hobby,” he said.

“Sounds about right,” she said. “We will head over and humiliate Hashiba this time. Now, about the boy…”

“Please!”

The boy suddenly turned her way and bowed.

Instead of a prostration, it was a seated bow. He carried his body well and he had set his weapons down next to him.

Worshiper: “The Testament does say he is the greatest student of Rikyuu.”

Azuma: “Yes, he is well-mannered even by the standards I’m used to.”

That meant he had been taught the value and meaning of a polite request.

That isn’t nothing.

He was one of the Seven Generals and an important name inheritor who would pass from Hashiba to Matsudaira.

“Judge. Understood. We will keep you safe. …Mouri Terumoto, am I correct in assuming he does not have Hashiba’s permission for any of this?”

“What, do you want to tell them he’s here and start bargaining over him? I’ll pretend I didn’t know a thing, just so you know.”

She has guts, that’s for sure.

It looked like she was not even thinking about the consequences, but then she would set you up in the weirdest ways.

But his presence here was enough to qualify as a national problem.

“I guess you can stay in Musashi’s diplomatic lodging. If anything happens, we can claim you arrived seeking asylum. And once we approach Nördlingen, we’ll reveal your presence.”

“Why?”

“To be honest, to shake up the battlefield. They’ll be trying to do the history recreation of Lady Nagoaka’s death and here we come with Nagaoka Tadaoki.”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Terumoto and the boy both shouted. Oops, I didn’t realize we were still doing that.

“Aaaanyway, taking this boy there will be a huge nuisance for them.”

“Yeah, he’ll be a nuisance all right.”

The boy hung his head and muttered “a nuisance…”, but that was the truth of the matter.

“From a strategic standpoint, rescuing Lady Nagaoka comes first for us. And if the Protestants are having trouble in the Battle of Nördlingen, we will either rescue them or defend them as they withdraw. Now, the other side will be forced to come up with a new strategy as soon as this boy shows up, so…”

She raised and lightly clenched her right hand.

“We should be able to use that opening to rescue Lady Nagaoka and help the Protestants.”

“But what happens then?” Terumoto spoke to Masazumi instead of the boy. “If he works with you and acts outside the Testament descriptions, he could have his inherited names revoked. In the worst case, the name Nagaoka Tadao-…”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

The boy did a good job there. In fact…

“You got careless, Mouri Terumoto.”

“Yeah, this is more of a pain than I thought,” said Terumoto. “Okay, that’s enough of that gag.”


Flat Vassal: “U-um, I really don’t want to say this since she’s the boss of my parents’ home country, but is the Mouri Chancellor opposed to having fun!?”

Mar-Ga: “I was thinking the same thing, but since you brought it up, you go tell her, Adele.”

Unturning: “It takes a special kind of vassal to have no fear of causing an international incident.”

Novice: “Yes, I was thinking that too, but I second the nomination of Adele-kun as our representative.”

Four Eyes: “Is copying other people really that much fun?”

Novice: “Wh-why are you so quick to take the conversation in a different direction!?”

Vice President: “Hmm, well, I would actually appreciate the end of that gag.”


I hope this makes it easier to talk to him, thought Masazumi as she made an attempt.

“So, um, Nagaoka Tadaoki.”

As soon as she said it, Terumoto smacked Nagaoka on the head.

“Hey, get shouting.”


Flat Vassal: “I’m not saying it! I’m not saying anything! So don’t try to make me!”

Me: “Huh? Huh? Adele? Were you the first one to bring it up again?”

Hori-ko: “Stop that, Toori-sama. Adele-sama is more sensitive than she looks, so after having her mobile shell used as a hammer, her poor psyche has jumped straight past sensitive and reached fragile and…where was I going with this again?”

Flat Vassal: “How are we supposed to know what you were thinking!?”

Gold Mar: “Shouldn’t you be protesting that middle part instead?”

“Umm.” Masazumi reworded what she wanted to say. “Once at Nördlingen, we will rescue Lady Nagaoka and then view the state of the battlefield to decide how best to intervene for the Protestants.”

But one thing was bothering her.

“Mouri Terumoto. …I’m surprised you brought such an important boy all this way.”

“He came to us from Sweden. They too want to rescue Lady Nagaoka.”

“Could that be a trap?”

“If they’re setting us up, then I’ll pay them back on the battlefield later. As an ally, of course. I’ll swipe all the credit from them.”

It was a lot like her not to call it a betrayal and not to shoot them in the back.

Of course, she had the ability and national power to make good on her threat.

“So we can assume Sweden is being honest with us, or honest enough at least?”

“You really need to be less suspicious of people.”

“I believe international negotiations are Musashi and the Far East’s greatest defense.”

Almost Everyone: “…Eh?”

Vice President: “What’s that supposed to mean!?”

Tonbokiri: “Masazumi, there is no need to hide this from us. You are a wonderful Vice President who always provides a place for people like me to work. And thanks to your strong leadership on the Student Council, the Chancellor’s Officers have not gained undue strength as is common in warfighting nations.”

Hori-ko: “That is correct, Masazumi-sama. Your negotiations are a magical thing that always pursue peace yet somehow always end up leading us to war. You must not write off that skill as nothing more than defense. …No, wait, I should not downplay the importance of defense. You must not absurdly misrepresent that skill as defense. Yes, much better.”

It felt wrong to hear that from two of Musashi’s top individuals, but she knew what this was.

Vice President: “During you teenage years, it isn’t uncommon for you and others to view yourself differently.”

10ZO: “You have no intention of fixing this, do you?”

Vice President: “Personalities don’t change that easily. …So I guess we’re stuck with all of you the way you are.”

She was pretty sure everyone behind her was glaring at her, but she did not let it get to her. They always did that.

Anyway, she had something to say to Mouri Terumoto.

“Musashi is supporting the Far East right now, but we’re an aerial city ship. We’re the size of the urban center of another nation’s capital, but no more than that. We can’t do anything without the cooperation and support of the Far East and other nations. That is why I am always cautious when negotiating. …With that in mind, let me ask you something: this goes beyond Sweden, doesn’t it?”

“For example?”

“Holland. Losing the leader of a powerful nation like Sweden would be painful for the Protestant forces in northern M.H.R.R., especially Holland since they are seeking independence. They would have to start over in diplomacy and everything else.”

That’s an even trickier situation than Musashi is in, thought Masazumi.

She opened a map of Europe to assist her explanation.

“These are M.H.R.R.’s principalities and the surrounding nations. They might be powerful, but they are not large. Since Europe is crammed together like this, losing stability and coordination with neighboring nations means constantly having warriors sent to attack you.”

Me: “Eh? What do you mean? So it’s bad to be close together?”

“Hey,” said Masazumi.

Vice President: “Listen. Musashi is floating in the sky, so we’re not easy to occupy even if we do go to war with someone. If someone wants to occupy us, they have to send their warriors in via aerial ships and they can’t gather troops and supplies in nearby bases.”

Silver Wolf: “But the close proximity of Europe means warriors and supplies can be constantly transported in via land. When attacking the Musashi or an island nation, you can use transport ships to send people in by the thousands, but due to the difficulty of landing on the ship or setting up bases for supplies and personnel, land routes give an attacker a huge advantage. …When you can just walk to the battlefield, you can even gather volunteer warriors from the local area.”

Novice: “In that case, all roads crossing the border are a threat. A flying nation like Musashi or an island nation surrounded by sea only has to shoot down the enemy ships that show up, but on the ground, they can set up bases to amass personnel like Mitotsudaira-kun mentioned. And you can be almost certain the enemy will do that.”

“In other words,” said Masazumi.

Vice President: “The European nations are surrounded by several other nations and not many are large or powerful enough to fight multiple nations at once.”

She tapped the map of Europe again.

“Sweden wants to establish its position as a powerful nation and Holland wants independence. The fate of the Swedish Chancellor is important for both those goals. And the same is true for the M.H.R.R. Protestants.”

“Then what do we do?”

“Judge,” said Masazumi. “We go get ourselves some influence at Westphalia.”


“You are a bad girl, Honda Masazumi.”

Terumoto felt an emotion like laughter rising from her gut.

The Musashi Vice President responded while glancing over from her seated position.

“I’m not cut out to be a good girl.”

“I don’t doubt it. The actual battle hasn’t even started yet, but you’ve already established the political value of rescuing Lady Nagaoka and intervening in Nördlingen. …This is all going to be an extra headache for the Protestants and M.H.R.R. Imperials about to start yet another battle.”

“But it’s better to say it now than after the fact, right? Just as we said at Mikawa, we will discuss our overall plans at the Peace of Westphalia. But,” she said again. “We are not going to sit around waiting for a decision. We are not criminals. We will head out and discover whether or not our actions mean anything for the world. …So let me make one thing clear: what we are about to do will mean something for Europe.”

“Then let me make one thing clear as well.” Terumoto held up her teacup. “You are talking about the future. I don’t know what will happen, but…”

She looked the Musashi Vice President straight in the eye.

“I look forward to Sekigahara.”


Masazumi started to say “judge” but stopped herself.

Matsudaira and Mouri would be enemies at Sekigahara. However…

That doesn’t mean anything here.

Addressing their hostility at Sekigahara would change the meaning of the Kantou Liberation.

Mouri would be the main force fighting for the Kantou Liberation. If they established the hostility between Musashi and Mouri now, it would transform the Kantou Liberation into something done by Musashi’s enemy instead of by friendly Hexagone Française.

With that framing, the Kantou nations would have a hard time accepting Musashi when they returned to Kantou.

She clearly had that in mind when she chose what to say.

After adjusting her view of Terumoto’s words, Masazumi responded.

“Completing the Kantou Liberation comes first.”

“Leave it to us.”

“No.”

She could not just “leave it” to them.

It would not be Hexagone Française and Mouri liberating Kantou.

“The Satomi and Musashi forces will stand out front. The Testament Union won’t accept it otherwise and the Kantou nations wouldn’t listen. Also, Mouri has to arrange those supplies. So…”

“You want us to stand back and watch?”

“Hey, Hashiba told you not to take command here, remember? But for us…”

Masazumi shrugged and spoke to Mouri Terumoto who was crossing her arms and frowning.

“We want you to help out Satomi. Because they’re a little short on power.”


“Oh?” breathed Genan.

That was a clever side step.

Powerful nations could be prideful.

For example, they felt the need to be protectors of the smaller nations they were allied with.

No matter how powerful the nation, they would have a hard time fighting back if all the surrounding nations ganged up on them at once. So by earning those surrounding nations’ trust, they could get those other nations to hold each other in check and avoid being ganged up on.

And the best way to build up trust with those smaller nations is to protect them.

If they were being protected, they would have no reason to betray you.

But if you did not protect an allied small nation or you demanded a share of that small nation’s profits, the other nations would assume the same would happen to them and grow wary.

Satomi was currently a ruined nation.

Satomi would regain their land with the Kantou Liberation, but what if Mouri took the leading role there instead of Satomi themselves?

The Musashi Vice President had hinted at that.

She had hinted that slighting Satomi instead of helping them would be a stain on Mouri and Hexagone Française’s reputation.

And through that…

“It’s too bad,” said Genan. “If Houjou were not on the path to ruin, I could have used the Musashi Vice President’s words. I could have claimed Houjou needs to monitor Mouri and ensure they do not wrest control of the situation away from Satomi and Musashi.”

Ha ha.

“Yes, it really is too bad.”

He laughed and thought, These words are a favor to you, Musashi.

By saying this following the Musashi Vice President’s statement, the Kantou nations could claim the political card that Houjou could no longer play.

“——————”

The Musashi Vice President turned toward him and gave a silent bow.

Please, it was nothing.

Matsudaira would inherit Houjou, but he and the rest from Houjou could act now to protect Houjou’s future after their fall. That was why he had said that; it was not meant to support the current Musashi.

However, his words kept Mouri from leading the Kantou Liberation.

They could try, but the Kantou nations would not allow it.

Of course, their assistance was still valuable and the Kantou nations would appreciate it.

But they could no longer take it all for themselves.

That may have been why Mouri Terumoto laughed.

“Getting a nice story to tell isn’t half bad either.”


Narumi released an impressed sigh.

She’s an incredible woman.

Terumoto had used her words to define the role given to her.

A nice story. A powerful nation in the west had come all the way to Kantou and they were going to help a ruined nation like Satomi without taking the spotlight for themselves. And they would not ask to rule over them.

That was nothing but a nice story. She had actually stated that out loud while agreeing to it, which meant…

The Kantou nations have to accept Mouri now.

If Mouri was clamoring to be given certain rights, the Kantou nations could refuse.

But since Mouri was asking for nothing of the sort, the Kantou nations had to accept them.

It was a simple seesaw game, but stating it out loud meant a lot because it demonstrated that Mouri understood what was going on.

There was an unspoken implication that Mouri could use the power of a large nation if the rules were not followed.

Narumi realized this was a discussion between an incredible woman and a bad girl.

“If this was Houjou land, I wonder which side Parvati would be one.”

Narumi smiled bitterly, but she also knew the discussion was over.

She raised her right hand as a Date Representative.

“We have planned out a number of things now, so how about we move on to what we really need to do?”


“Judge.”

Masazumi agreed with Narumi’s suggestion.

There’s a lot we need to do.

Before getting any rest, they needed to think up a plan for Nördlingen and a political stance to take.

And whatever they decided on…

“Nagabuto.”

She stood up and called out to the boy.

The middle school name inheritor looked back and quickly stood up. Masazumi spoke to him.

“Quickly affix your ship to the deck because we don’t want Hashiba noticing it. We have ways of disguising it, so you and your people can-…”

She realized something once she said that.

“Does everyone onboard agree with your decision?”

“They are all from my ‘clan’. The inspectors and such think I’m still on the warship getting some sleep before the battle.”

“Way to go, Nagabuto!” said the idiot. “You’re cleverer than I thought!”

“C’mon, quit flattering me!”

Since the boy responded with a smile, the two of them may have gotten along better than Masazumi thought.

Is this how guys interact when they don’t have weird organizational ties getting in the way?

While she wondered about that, she saw Mouri Terumoto and Houjou Genan turn toward their own ships.

Honjou Shigenaga of Uesugi raised a hand toward her.

“We will take my victory over that boy into consideration when your attack on Uesugi comes along. That is acceptable, I assume?”

“Judge. This was a lot of trouble, but I think we have a good grasp of the situation now.”

When she heard that, Shigenaga’s eyebrows initially rose, but that transformed into a smile.

“I won’t take that trouble into account when assessing what you owe us.”

“We will view that as a favor.”

“Now, then,” said Yoshiaki as she raised a hand toward the Satomi Student Council President and the Date Vice Chancellor. “If there is anything for us to do, we will do it. If not, we will get some rest. So what will you be doing?”

“Judge. I will be rejoining the Musashi group. What about the Tachibana Couple?”

“Judge. Master Muneshige and I have already put our names down on the list of participants from earlier. We believe this is a good opportunity for him to demonstrate his skill and re-inherit the Tachibana name.”

“Yeah, I think I’ll go with Satomi as well,” said Naomasa while raising her prosthetic arm up for everyone to see. “Satomi’s gods of war were apparently based on the Suzaku’s design, so I want to take a look at them.”

I see, thought Masazumi with a nod. Everyone is ready to get to work, she added.

They would each be giving their all in the two largescale battles coming up in a few hours.

But first…

“Okay.” Masazumi took a breath. “If you’re going to get some rest, then get to it!”


Suzu heard everyone respond with “judge”.

But just then…

Eh?

An odd sound reached her ears. No, it did not technically reach her ears. This was sensory information sent to her from Musashino.

The Musashi had sensed this sound. It had been picked up from the distant sky and passed on to her ears.

“What is…this?”

“Hm, you say something, Bell-san? Is something weird headed this way?”

Just as Toori called out to her…

“Emergency! This is a warning from Musashino’s bridge! An unidentified flying object is approaching from the west! It has responded to our warning message with a noncombatant signal and sent us a request for emergency landing! We have accepted the request, but make sure to-…” “Musashino” paused. “Oh, it has entered our airspace. Over.”

Her words were proven by a great mass of noise from the west.

Everyone turned that way and Suzu used the data from Musashino to determine the flying object’s shape.

“Umm, Bell-san, can you tell what this is?”

“Y-yes, wait just a…moment.”

Her hands brushed against empty air.

Ah.

She could not create the models here.

This was not the Musashino’s bridge and the bridge system was not activated outside like it had been during the Siege of Kanie Castle.

Oops. I did that out of habit, but I probably looked like someone nervously flailing their hands around. Like Ohiroshiki-kun does. Oh, Toori-kun does it a lot too. Come to think of it, Ga-chan and Asama-san do too. Mitotsudaira-san would probably come next in the ranking. And coming after her should be fine. Or is it?

“It is landing. Over.”

“O-oh, no. S-sorry.”

While she apologized, she heard a metallic creaking and felt the hardened wood deck bounce below her feet. An object was sliding toward them while making a large braking turn and her senses told her it was 80m long.

“A…dragon?”

No, it was shaped like a dragon, but the sounds of motors and thrusters were just like an aerial ship or mechanical phoenix. Which meant one thing.

“It’s a mechanical dragon!” exclaimed Naomasa.


Chapter 17: Trailblazer of Empty Land[edit]

Horizon7-A531.jpg

An enemy need not

Greet you with battle

They can stop by on a whim

Like a passing rain shower

Point Allocation (Refuel)


Naomasa saw the enemy.

It slid between the other nations’ ships and stopped in the center where everyone was gathered.

It was a red mechanical dragon.

It was shaped like a dragon, but it was actually a machine.

Just like a mechanical phoenix, it was a large weapon piloted by the person riding it.

“And just one of them can fight on the level of a military division or a warship.”

They were rare.

They had worse fuel efficiency than gods of war and they were a pain to maintain, so Tres España was the only major nation that used them and they only used them in the New World. Some smaller nations used them as a symbol for their nation’s weaponry, but they rarely appeared on the front line except as a show of force.

Yet here one was right in front of them.

347: “Wow! Hey, Masa, get me some video! O-oh, and audio too! The acoustics outside aren’t great for picking up the sound of its engine, but I can still play the recording while I fall asleep!”

She’s got some kind of sickness, that’s for sure, thought Naomasa even as she worked to record the requested data.

The red dragon set its four legs on the deck and shook from the movement. It had a pointed head, main wings on its forelegs and secondary wings on its hind legs.

Musashi: “Our readings show it was travelling at 82% of our gravitational acceleration. Over.”

Gold Mar: “Geh.”

Me: “Eh? Doesn’t that mean it can’t keep up? Nothing to worry about then.”

Mar-Ga: “The Musashi extends its cruising distance by using inertial cruising after accelerating. It also helps that we can stay afloat for long periods of time, but if we stay at full speed, we’ll run out of fuel in no time. On the other hand, that mechanical dragon can’t stay afloat on its own, so it keeps accelerating its entire time in the air.”

Uqui: “In that case, the Musashi can at best match its speed. It might even be able to catch up to us.”

Me: “You mean we suck!?”

Hori-ko: “Do not say that, Toori-sama. ‘Musashi’-sama will functionally get super mad.”


Sakai asked “Musashi” a question while he viewed the menu for Bonten, a Date mail-order site that had expanded into Kantou.

“ ‘Musashi’-san? Is that mechanical dragon really faster than you?”

She gave him a sidelong glance before responding.

“I will not stoop to the level of silly contents of speed. This ship follows a policy of safety first. Besides, I have the greater top speed and power output. Over.”

“Is that so?” said Sakai while viewing the section for local hero shows on black disk. “But I’d really prefer it if the Musashi won.”

“Is this a childish game, Sakai-sama? Over.”

“Musashi” sighed, but only for show as she was a doll. And then she opened a sign frame.

“ ‘Musashino’, continue calculations until you arrive at a satisfactory result. Over.”


Naomasa saw Horizon nod toward a sign frame and then turn her way.

“Naomasa-sama, make sure the record says that the Musashi does not suck and the mechanical dragon could not catch up.”

“Are you sure?”

She was confused, but that was apparently the result. However…

That thing has a very Tres Españan design.

Mar-Ga: “I was expecting an M.H.R.R. one, but that’s Tres España red, isn’t it?”

“It is,” agreed Naomasa.

Just then, the mechanical dragon stood up from its crouched position.

“Oh? Is it making its move?”

It was not. The creaking of metal gradually grew louder as the giant form came to a stop.

The metal dragon continued to shake up and down a little and there were still lights on across its body, but it showed no sign of further movement.

It must really be out of fuel.

Then a voice came from an external speaker.

“Waiiit, Nabe-sannnn? What do we do?”

“We don’t do anything. We have the right to do this.”

“Ummm,” said the voice from further back.

Horizon7-A537.jpg

“We’re on our way to Edo for the history recreation, but we’re short on fuel and would like to refuel. We’re in a hurry, so only give us enough to reach Edo.”

With that, the head of the mechanical dragon slid forward to reveal a cramped cockpit inside. Naomasa could not see what was inside since she was looking up from below, but she saw two people stand up into view.

The one in the front seat was a tall girl who wore an M.H.R.R. work uniform and had her hair tied back.

“I am Nabeshima Naoshige from the Ryuuzouji Warriors of Hashiba’s M.H.R.R. Kyushu Region Warrior Division!”

The one in the back seat was a long-haired girl who had apparently been asleep.

“I am Asano Yoshinagaaa of Hashiba’s M.H.R.R. Home Warrior Divisionnn.”

The girls definitely looked younger than Class Plum and Neshinbara responded to the names they had given.

“Asano of the Seven Generals…and Nabeshima Naoshige, the fierce warrior under Katou Kiyomasa’s command.”

He knew why they were here.

“Those two are going to fight in the Keichou Campaign.”


Gin saw Muneshige take a deep breath.

Master Muneshige.

She did not know if it was tension, hope, or something else that had inspired emotion in him, but…

“Master Muneshige, it appears something big is in the works, doesn’t it?”

Because…

“According to the Testament, Nabeshima Naoshige attacks our Tachibana territory after Sekigahara. There is fierce fighting, but you never meet Nabeshima in battle and the Tachibana territory surrenders.”

She had not expected that opponent to be a mechanical dragon pilot.

There were records showing that both Muneshige and Nabeshima had fought in the coming Kantou Liberation or Keichou Campaign. However, Muneshige had yet to reclaim his inherited name.

It was unknown if those two would meet as enemies during the Kantou Liberation, but…

“We should both be able to see how the other fights.”

“Judge,” agreed Gin. Something was clear to her now.

The times are changing.

She could also tell that they were the ones causing that change. At Novgorod, Sanada, and Houjou, they had interacted with the current age and gotten ahead of it.

But it felt more real when she saw things related to Muneshige and herself in it.

A future enemy stood before them now.

Of course, this was all meaningless without his inherited name, but…

“It is not that our goal will not wait around for us, Gin. Perhaps our goal will come to us and then pass us by. …We must be prepared so it does not escape us.”

“Judge. Let us keep an eye on the enemy during the Kantou Liberation to prepare for that.”

After Gin agreed, Nabeshima hopped down from the cockpit.

She’s nimble.

As a mechanical dragon pilot, there was no real reason to worry about her own agility.

But just like the Satomi Student Council President, fighters had to be well-trained even if they piloted a god of war or similar machine.

This girl would be the same.

Nabeshima landed on the deck after a drop of nearly 10m. She nimbly lowered her hips, but immediately stood back up and rolled her shoulders. She must have been stiff after such a long flight. And she opened a Catholic lernen figur.

“Here’s my request for fuel. Who’s in charge of that here?”

Her behavior was more casual than it was direct. And…

“My lady!!”

A hatch on the mechanical dragon’s flank opened and some elderly men tumbled out from the interior.

They all wore work uniforms made from a mixture of Tres España and M.H.R.R. designs.

Them.

Gin knew who they were. Muneshige would as well.

There were five in all and they ran toward Nabeshima.

“The Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji?”


Masazumi asked Gin what she meant.

“The Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji?”

She knew what Ryuuzouji was. It was a small nation in Kyushu.

Come to think of it, the Testament says Nabeshima Naoshige was left in charge there and he more or less hijacked the place.

Nabeshima must have been given an important position among Hashiba’s warriors after strengthening her ties to Hashiba.

“Why are they called the Four Heavenly Kings when there are five of them?”

“Eh?” Gin frowned and it took a while for her to finally respond. “Tradition.”

“Oh,” was all Masazumi could say to that. But when the five old men noticed the conversation, they stopped running toward Nabeshima and struck a pose together.

“Indeed! We are the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji!”

“We are five in number, yet we are the Four Heavenly Kings!”

“There’re five of us, but we’re the Four Heavenly Kings for some reason!”

“You’re in the wayyyyyyyyyyyy!”

“The hell I aaaaaaaaaaam!”

The five of them spun in perfect unison to throw counter punches that sent them all flying.

“Yes, yes, yes.” Nabeshima walked over. “C’mon, you old geezers, we’re trying to arrange for some fuel, so don’t get in the way. If you have time to hit each other, then get things ready on our end. C’mon, hop to it!”

“My lady! But this is enemy territory!”

“Leave this to us while you handle the refueling, my lady!”

Nabeshima kicked one of the old men in the butt.

“Don’t shove all the work onto me! If you’ve forgotten your jobs, I’ll beat the knowledge back into you!”

The old men gave a shout and rushed to the rear of the mechanical dragon.

They look like a pain to deal with, thought Masazumi as she raised her right hand and called out to Nabeshima.

“Musashi can prepare fuel for you right away, so just tell us what you need. But…”

She turned her gaze in the direction the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji had run and Nabeshima followed that gaze.

“Testament. I arrived at the Ryuuzouji clan during middle school, which was when they were reorganizing everything. …But – how should I put it? – those old geezers wouldn’t do any work, so I kept having to bring the work to them and kick their asses until they did it. And they eventually ended up like this.”

“Work?”

“This. The mechanical dragon. It’s Tres España’s-…”

Nabeshima then noticed two people standing behind Masazumi.

Masazumi did not even need to look to know it was the Tachibana Couple. Nabeshima bowed and a shout came from the rear of the mechanical dragon.

“Oh!? Is that Tres España’s 1st and 3rd Special Duty Officers!?”

“I do not believe we have met. I am Tachibana Gin and this is Tachibana Muneshige, although his inherited name has been revoked.”

“Ohh.” One of the Four Heavenly Kings pulled his work goggles over his eyes. “That’s our enemy!!”


Gin responded to the man with a nod.

Next to her, Muneshige lightly lowered his head and spoke a single word.

“Eventually.”

Judge!

That is sufficient, thought Gin in admiration. Neither we nor them need any more of a response than that.

But she had another thought as well.

It had to do with the mechanical dragon piloted by Nabeshima.

Tachibana Wife: “It is true Tres España built mechanical dragons in order to settle the New World. With the Armada Battle approaching, Tres España did the development and design work in the New World while the production and assembly were done by Ryuuzouji since that clan already had mechanical dragons.”

That would have been when Nabeshima moved to Ryuuzouji.

She had likely been sent there to bring mechanical dragon technology back to Hashiba. She must have done an excellent job given Ryuuzouji’s own technical prowess and the technology being sent in from Tres España. But…

Tachibana Wife: “Tres España’s New World Warriors only had land mechanical dragons that were mid-sized at best. Large, flying ones like this are a different thing entirely.”

To quickly supply ether fuel, pressurized barrels were carried in on a wagon instead of using a pipe. Those were hooked up to the mechanical dragon using a wooden frame as a universal compatibility hub.

The engine system and other parts definitely use Tres Españan technology.

The biggest difference was the primary usage of ether fuel. Tres España did not have the best ether engine technology, so their gods of war and mechanical dragons used spring power conversion systems instead of fuel.

Smoking Girl: “With spring systems, managing the spring container is easy and they’re quickly swapped out, so those systems are well suited for aerial gods of war. But they have an upper limit on power, so flying a mechanical dragon would require too many to be feasible. …The ether fuel usage is probably taken from M.H.R.R. tech.”

In that case, thought Gin.

This more or less confirmed something.

“Tres España has chosen to cooperate with Hashiba instead of opposing them.”


Gin looked at Nabeshima.

That younger name inheritor belonged to a generation they increasingly had to think about. The girl shrugged and opened her mouth to speak.

“Well, Tres España does belong to the western Habsburg bloodline, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would work with M.H.R.R. …And they used the history recreation of the Kyushu Campaign to keep Hashiba from invading their home country.”

“Testament. …That invasion would have been by the eastern Habsburgs, which would have made cooperation between Catholics impossible. …I take it this is the price of that decision?”

“Testament. But Tres España itself is still treating those of us in Hashiba pretty coldly. They do what needs to be done for the history recreation, but they provide no support beyond that. …They use their losses in the New World business as an excuse.”

“That sounds like the Chancellor’s idea.”

Gin nearly nodded in response to Muneshige’s smiling comment, but she stopped herself.

“Master Muneshige? You probably should not refer to him as just ‘the Chancellor’.”

“Oh, my apologies, Gin. We are residents of Musashi now, aren’t we?”

Muneshige took a breath and reworded his comment.

“That sounds like Tres España Chancellor Segundo’s idea.”

“…Spelling it all out is a little long, isn’t it?”

“Can you display appropriate respect for our elder while keeping it short, Gin?”

“Sir Segundo.”

“Such quick thinking, Gin!”

“I am a Tachibana woman after all.”

Now, then, thought Gin as she turned back toward Nabeshima and the mechanical dragon. She wondered if there was anything she could learn from the dragon using her Tres Españan viewpoint.

But just as she began her observations, she heard a voice.

It came from Asano Yoshinaga who was still in the cockpit overhead.

“Huhhh!? Hey, hey, hhhey? What’s Nagaoka doing here?”


Masazumi gasped at Asano’s question.

Oh, no!

Nagaoka’s presence here was supposed to be top secret.

If the Hashiba forces found out, Musashi could be criticized for ignoring the history recreation.

We’re in trouble, thought Masazumi. I need to do something.

But the voice overhead continued with a tilted head and puzzled tone.

“That is Nagaoka, isn’t it? Hey, Nagaokaaa! What are you doing herrre?”

Out of the corner of her eye, Masazumi saw Nagaoka hesitating to respond. He was a middle school student, so making a political decision and adlibbing through this was beyond his abilities. In fact, Masazumi would prefer he did not even try. But…

Gold Mar: “Should we open fire?”

Vice President: “Let’s not be hasty! And not even all of your combined firepower could destroy that mechanical dragon!”

Novice: “Fine, then. It sounds like I must drag them into the dark depths of history.”

Hori-ko: “Mitotsudaira-samaaaa!”

Silver Wolf: “My kiiiiing!!!!”

As they passed the focus from person to person, the idiot suddenly responded.

He jumped away from Tadaoki and rolled across the deck.

“Gwaaahhhhhhhhhhh!”

He shouted as loud as he could.

“Nagabuto’s boarded our shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip!”


Me: “Oh, whoops. I called him Nagabuto.”

Unturning: “What kind of act was that supposed to be?”

Uqui: “You couldn’t tell, Narumi? Toori is going to piss himself and sob while he crawls away in terror.”

Hori-ko: “Sounds like he stands to lose a lot for how difficult it will be for that to work.”

Silver Wolf: “Stop! No! He is not doing that here!”

Still Got It: “That’s right! Save that kind of fun for when you’re alone together!”

Silver Wolf: “Mother, I do not need your messed-up opinions right now!”

Vice President: “Umm, so the idea is to make it look like Nagaoka Tadaoki forcibly boarded us and we were fighting him when the mechanical dragon showed up!?”

Nagaya-Stable: “Hey, doesn’t that prevent us from inviting him to stay with us?”

Vice President: “That’s no longer an option no matter what we do. We’ll have to play this by ear!”

Almost Everyone: “Judge!”


Masazumi looked to the others.

The plan is to run away from the boy like he’s a dangerous enemy!

She used eye contact to communicate with them all.

Then Horizon placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Masazumi-sama, please explain the plan such that we can understand.”


Masazumi felt everyone’s eyes on her.

Waiiiiit!

But it was not just the idiot. Even Asano, Nabeshima, the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji, and Mouri Terumoto’s group were giving her cold looks that asked what they should do. In fact, Nagaoka was doing it too.

This required resolute action.

She had watched kabuki and plays as part of her education and she had learned to project her voice for giving speeches. If she gave a shout, that was sure to show everyone why they needed to run away from Nagaoka.

So that was what she did.

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

Oops!

She forgot to move, so she just stood there.

That may have been why her voice had been so straightforward and direct. Almost like it was meant as reverence for trees. Oh, I like that description. You can call me the Tree Revererer. Oh, that’s one ‘er’ too many.

Then the idiot raised his voice while standing still next to her.

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

Damn him!

Horizon did the same.

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

The others exchanged a glance, and then…

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

Nabeshima and Asano joined in.

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

Even Nagaoka did it.

“W-waaahhhhhh!”

You don’t have to do it!

Mar-Ga: “W-waaahhhhhh!”

Gold Mar: “W-waaahhhhhh!”

Vice President: “Don’t do it when you aren’t even here!”

Mar-Ga: “Sob, sob. M-Margot, all I wanted to do was show some camaraderie with the others, but Masazumi says I’m not welcome…”

Gold Mar: “There, there. It’s okay, Ga-chan. You can make yourself feel better by drawing a doujinshi where Seijun shows some ‘camaraderie’ with the others.”

The secondary damage had already begun. Meanwhile, Horizon placed a hand on Masazumi’s shoulder again.

“Now, continue.”


This time, Masazumi actually moved. She jumped away from Nagaoka in an exaggerated way, and…

“Neshinbara!”

“Now this is true fear!”

Neshinbara was into it right away.

He swung his arms and held them up in two or three different meaningless poses as he spoke.

“Nagaoka Tadaoki has singlehandedly boarded our ship during this crucial meeting! The history recreation of losing his wife must have driven him mad and given him a murderous dual personality! And that other personality is named…”

“It’s Nagabuto, Neshinbara.”

“Indeed! The name derived from the cursed bloodline of his maternal ancestors is Nagabuto. It might sound Far Eastern, but it actually refers to the Indian divine serpents known as Naga! Thus, it is all too obvious that it was this Houjou land that has awoken the ancient blood within his veins!”

“Neshinbara-sama, if Nagabuto-sama is a manifestation of a divine serpent, does that make us evil?”

“No! I can say nothing for certain without doing more research, but to have divine serpent blood in his veins, his ancestors must have slain one of those serpents and drank of its blood. They are a cursed family.”

Asano raised a hand.

“Nagaoka’s pareeents are thread-making craftsmennn.”

“Exactly! What are threads if not artificial serpents!? They began making the thread to ward off the serpent’s curse, but the true reasons behind have since been forgotten! He is the descendent of a dark tribe!”

Four Eyes: “Are your excuses always this forced?”

Vice President: “Hold on, Shakespeare! Your very reasonable comments can wait! …Now, Neshinbara, what is the situation!?”

Neshinbara responded by sliding to the side and swinging his right arm around.

All of his sign frames followed the movement of his arm.

He didn’t mean for that to happen, did he?

But Neshinbara did not let it get to him. He held his hand over the bottom of his face and spoke.

“This is fear itself…”

Immediately, the idiot turned toward Nagaoka, stood perfectly still, and opened his mouth wide.

“He’s so scaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Why’d such a dangerous guy have to come herrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!”

The idiot tripped and fell, but…

Oh?

He looked like he was crawling away, but he somehow ended up moving toward Nagaoka.

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. That is a stage technique passed down from the Age of the Gods: the Crawling Moonwalk! The technique was developed by an entertainer god named Michael! You don’t get to see this every day!”


Toori approached Nagabuto and whispered to the boy.

“We’ll make sure to at least do something about your wife, so you head back for now.”

“A-are you sure?”

“Just leave it to us. Cause we know you’ll do what you can too.”

So…

“Play along here, okay?”


Masazumi saw Nagaoka raise his voice as he drew his gun chain swords.

“Heyyyyyyyy! You gotta death wish or somethinnnnnnnnnnng!?”

“Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! He’s so scaryyyyyyyyyyyyy! Help meeeeeeee!”

“Dammit, yooooou! Nudists should be executeeeeed!”

Okay, that part I can get behind.

“Waaaaaaahhh! I’m gonna be killed in the nuuuuuude! Nagabuto’s super scaryyyyyyyyyy! I bet his dick’s pitch blaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! …Right, Tenzou?”

“Eh? Oh, waaaaaaaaahhhh! Yes, his dick probably is pitch blaaaaack!”

Don’t encourage him. And can we start talking like normal people now?

Asama: “S-sorry. I think laughing at that makes me unfit to be a shrine maiden, so s-sorry.”

Hori-ko: “Asama-sama, I feel like your standards for humor have dropped considerably since moving in with us.”

Silver Wolf: “I-I didn’t laugh! …Kimi, why are you hopping up and down repeating that!?”

Whatever the case, there was only one thing to shout now.

“Retreat!”

Everyone screamed and ran to the inner side of the port. The warriors waiting behind them moved forward instead. And…

“Dammit. …Oh, you were okay, 1st Special Duty Officer!?”

“Dammit. …1st Special Duty Officer, hurry up and retreat with the others!”

“Dammit. …It was all an act!?”

“I-I feel like you all are speaking your mind a little too much lately!” protested the ninja.

But the arrival of the warriors changed things for Nabeshima’s group. The girl shouted at Nagaoka who was still swinging around his gun chain swords.

“Hey! Don’t get in the way of our refueling! …Hurry it up, you old geezers!”

“We’re almost done!”

Nagaoka came to a stop between them and the Musashi group.

He must have realized now was his time to “retreat” too. For just a moment, he looked up with his eyebrows raised, but…

“——————”

Their eyes met.

He looked straight at Masazumi with strength in his eyes.

10ZO: “What do we do now?”

Vice President: “He can’t seek asylum with us right now. They’re going to make him fight in the Keichou Campaign, but we’re still going to want to bring him with us.”

10ZO: “Then…we can discuss what to do later!”

With that, Crossunite gestured for the warriors to advance.

The warriors moved forward like a solid wall, so Nagaoka…

“Retreat!”

He turned his back.

But this was not the same as when he fled from Shigenaga earlier. He was keeping an eye on the warriors while still running to where he needed to be.

At the same time, there was a great roar as the mechanical dragon shook from its startup procedure.

“Nagaoka! We’ve barely got enough fuel, so we can’t wait much longer. Get your ship airborne immediately!”


Tadaoki arrived at his transport ship which had already started to ascend.

The emergency entrance on the side of the stern was open and an elderly student was reaching out a hand.

“It is a shame, Tadaoki-sama.”

“No, it’s not.”

He climbed onboard and felt the wind.

They were leaving.

The air in the ship was spilling out as the ship rapidly ascended. That wind pressure threatened to blow him out of the ship, but he stayed there, viewing the scene outside that closing entrance.

He saw the large ships of Musashi’s diplomatic port. His ship was still low enough for that to look like a city instead of part of a ship.

He continued speaking while watching the Musashi students visible there.

“All I’ve done is make the request. But…”

His shoulders slumped and his voice escaped his lips.

“I just hope she ignored my request for her to die.”


Chapter 18: Busy Crowd on the Snow[edit]

Horizon7-A557.jpg

There is a fine line of happiness

Between being a pain

And being good company

Point Allocation (Since Forever)


Snow would absorb voices.

On a vast snowfield, no one’s voice traveled far.

But the acoustics changed when a series of artificial structures sat on that snowy expanse.

It all had a unique sound when those structures were transport containers and aerial ships.

The voices and other noises were not reflected up from below, so they always arrived horizontally.

“Hey.”

“Over here!”

“The food goes in that ship over there!”

Below the clear night sky, the starlight was overpowered by the lights shining on the snow from the ships and elsewhere. The containers and ships cast dark shadows.

Sounds and people were moving throughout the land port there.

“Hey.”

Cargo was being carried to the transport ships labeled “#4: Maeda”.

A single voice could be heard past the footsteps, people, and carts.

“Are you for real, Fuwa? A middle school name inheritor – not even a first year! – picked a fight with Musashi? And he boarded them on his own? Damn.”

“Sassa? To be clear, that’s nothing but trouble for Hashiba. I mean, he created an incident before a battle and didn’t even accomplish anything.”

“What does that matter?” asked Sassa.

Students and laborers were walking back and forth along the thin, packed-down snow while linked carriages and sleds carried cargo. Sassa spread his mouth horizontally and kept talking while carrying a 10m wooden container on his right shoulder.

“Getting a little hot-blooded is perfectly normal. I’m getting a little stir-crazy myself stuck here while Tanba is the only one seeing any action.”

Honestly.

“I wanna go nuts. Can’t I just go to Nördlingen?”

“No, you can’t. You can’t possibly join the attack on the Nagaoka estate,” said Fuwa while checking the origin and destination of the cargo on an insha kotob. “I mean, you’re something of a free spirit on the battlefield, so you’re a poor match for Niwa who likes everything to be nice and orderly.”

“Tanba only trained her warriors so much because she wants the freedom to do what she wants.”

“Then you need to train your own warriors like Tanb- like Niwa has. She didn’t train hers for your sake, you know?” Fuwa pointed to Sassa’s destination. “Besides, you’re just irritated about what happened with Takigawa.”

“No, I’ve gotten over that one.”

“Eh!?” responded someone from behind the nearby containers.

Toshiie and Matsu poked their heads out with a shipping register lernen figur.

“You mean you aren’t excessively putting yourself in other people’s shoes and getting all ‘woe is me’ about something that didn’t even happen to you!? That’s incredible, Na-chan! Did you modify your brain!? …C’mon, Ma-chan! Give us a word on this weird new version of Na-chan!”

“Creepy! Creepy!!”

“That’s two words!!”

Sassa smashed the ice below their feet with a stomp and Toshiie fled.

“Honestly,” sighed Sassa and Fuwa patted his shoulder.

She gave a satisfied nod and sighed.

“You’ve grown, Sassa.”

“That’s not what this is about. It’s just…”

“It’s just?”

“Well,” he said while looking ahead. There was a transport ship there that belonged to Toshiie. He walked toward that RORO ship primarily used for carrying cargo. “There’s the Hashiba Ten Spears, right?”

“Yes, there is. …To be clear, I quite like them. They always seem to be working as a group, but they’re polite and it’s adorable how they’re so nervous around upperclassmen like us.”

“Adorable~ …Keh, who do they think they are?”

Fuwa kneed Sassa and sighed.

“Well, they can’t stay novices forever, so I do hope that adorable side of them goes away before long.”

“Then don’t knee me over it.”

“Don’t worry about it and keep walking straight, okay? …Anyway, we’re focusing on the Ten Spears now, but an even younger generation of name inheritors is being added in. If the generation between them and us is still acting like adorable novices, it’s going to make those true novices worried.”

“Yeah, but how much do those younger generations or the future of this world really matter?”

Fuwa raised her eyebrows at that.

“Because of the Apocalypse, you mean?”

“Shaja.” Sassa’s white breath lingered in the air. “This world could easily end, so I don’t get why we’re so worried about the future generations.”

“What, do you have some new sickness now?”

“Shut up,” said Sassa. “It’s just that Takigawa was worried about that.”


Narimasa recalled the report that had arrived from Kantou.

The result and content of the Siege of Odawa and the other battles had been quite interesting, but two things had held especial meaning for him.

First, one of Hashiba’s Ten Spears had defeated one of Musashi’s main fighters, albeit under restrictive circumstances.

Second, Takigawa had been defeated and had decided to retire.

The former meant a lot because it told them Musashi could be fought without the Five Great Peaks or others from their generation.

That had brought an odd sense of relief but also a bit of irritation.

He wanted to berate the enemy and tell them get their act together.

During the Battle of Mikatagahara, Hashiba’s forces had defeated Musashi’s forces as a group. Sassa and Shibata’s group had destroyed Magdeburg, Maeda had cornered them in Kantou, and Hashiba had taken the Edo region from them.

But Narimasa still felt oddly unsatisfied with it all.

After all, the Reine des Garous had intervened at IZUMO, he had not managed to really fight anyone during their attack on the Musashi at Magdeburg, and he had only been chased around by those two Technohexen in the actual city of Magdeburg.

Even at Novgorod, he had not really had a place on the battlefield. Worse, Shibata had managed to fight Musashi’s 5th and 1st Special Duty Officers, had his arm severed, and been injured against their Vice Chancellor.

So it was still a question what would happen in a pure battle between individuals. Of course, the many overlapping factors on the battlefield did not allow for battles between individuals. An extended battle without injuries was nearly impossible.

But that could happen with a duel.

Katou Yoshiaki of the Ten Spears had demonstrated something in one such duel.

She had defeated Musashi’s Treasurer.

The Treasurer had been restricted to the money he had on hand, but the records from the Armada Battle showed him using money for both offense and defense. And since he had included a Takemikazuchi spell, his individual attack power would have been greater this time.

Yet she had won.

That was the reason behind Narimasa’s feelings.

Although it’s weird to feel like she beat me to it.

He might not have felt as bad if Hashiba herself had done it, but he could feel one side of him growing intensely irritated with himself that an underclassman under Hashiba’s command had accomplished that.

God, I’m such a gloomy bastard.

“The Testament says I’m supposed to be weirdly envious and spiteful, but that might be a pretty close match.”

“Yeah, just when I think you’ve grown as a person, you start getting all smug about figuring out something everyone else figured out ages ago.”

Fuwa smiled at him.

“You’re such a child.”

“Shut up!”

But there was one thing about which he felt justified feeling so weirdly angry: Takigawa.


Fuwa listened to Sassa’s question.

“Fuwa, did you see the records for Takigawa’s battle?”

“For the one with Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer?”

“Not that,” he said.

She knew he did not mean that one, of course. What a pain, she thought. That was why she had tried to steer the conversation elsewhere, but trying to be considerate was useless with this guy.

Fine, she thought half in resignation.

“You mean her battle with Kasuya under Hashiba’s command, don’t you? The unofficial one. Only the officers know about that one.”

“What are your thoughts?”

“Kasuya Takenori can fight pretty well. I mean, she essentially fought Takigawa to a draw. …She might be better than you, Sassa.”

“Not that,” he said again.

She knew that was not what he meant, of course. That was why she had tried to avoid the issue, but…

He really is hopeless…

Fine, fine, she thought while responding.

“Takigawa was testing her underclassman as a P.A. Oda upperclassman. And you know what?” she said to get ahead of Sassa’s inevitable response. “She had already accepted us. She knew us well enough she didn’t need to test us. …What, did you want her to give you more attention?”

“It’s not that.”

He added an “it’s” this time.

“Then it’s what?”

She added an extraneous “it’s” as well. And to get ahead of him again…

“Looking at P.A. Oda as a whole, I think it’s important to be looking to the kids working for Hashiba right now. Although with the Battle of Shizugatake coming up, Shibata’s group is probably like ‘wait just a second’ on that.”

“In that case…well, setting aside Shizugatake,” said Sassa. “Are we going to do the same thing Takigawa did?”

Ohh.

She had not expected this one.

But she knew what he was thinking.

“We can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Testament.”

She nodded and pointed toward the back of the transport ship to which Sassa was carrying the cargo.

“You can just leave that at the cargo entrance.”

“Yeah, if I go inside, I bet it’d be annoying hearing everyone telling me where to put it and to move more quietly.”

The container on his shoulder had to be heavy, but he easily curved off the path to the back of the ship. She was on the outer edge of the curve and he was on the inner edge. She felt like the container was going to fall on her, but…

He doesn’t screw up the things like that.

With that in mind, she continued their conversation.

“It shouldn’t be too long before we retire our inherited names. So even if we wanted to help train our underclassmen, we just aren’t skilled or persuasive enough.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true.”

The Keichou Campaign would be over in half a day.

They did not have many historical events left.

“What matters is that they learn from their upperclassmen just as we learned from ours. So instead of directly teaching them something as upperclassmen, maybe we should show them how we do things as upperclassmen who learned from our own upperclassmen. Basically, our upperclassmen gave us the logic and grounding to use, so we need to show our underclassmen how you use those things.”

“But can we really pull that off?”

“It would be an insult to our upperclassmen if we didn’t, right?”

She knew linking something to superiors like their upperclassmen would get Sassa to think about what she was saying. That was a strong point and a weak point for him.

She was constantly reminded of how seriously he took things. He would never reach the top of an organization, but he would always be an important part of it.

He made mistakes, but once he put his mind to something, he would see it through to the end. That was the impression one got from the Sassa in the Testament, but it described the name inheritor pretty well too.

Although that’s not always a good thing.

Even when he was looking at things the wrong way, he would go through with it if he believed in himself. And afterwards, he would regret his actions and feel depressed.

She would prefer he did not do that, but personalities were not so easily changed.

So…

“Well, Takigawa was telling us to do our best.”

“Is that what she was telling us?”

“Yes,” replied Fuwa. The insha kotob by her raised hand flashed with the seal saying the cargo had arrived at its destination. “Like a true upperclassman, she took care of the Siege of Kanie Castle without our help and she showed the way to the underclassmen who we can’t have acting too full of themselves. We were already trained by our upperclassmen, so when those underclassman aren’t sure how to follow the path shown to them, we can show them how it’s done.”

Sassa lowered the cargo into the designated zone while she spoke.

The cushioning of the snow softened the sound of the heavy container.

She saw Sassa sigh and she spoke toward his back.

“Sassa, do you know what Takigawa was trying to teach you?”

“What?” he asked without turning around.

“Something she could only show you because she can’t teach you anything anymore. Don’t forget that, okay?”


“Now, this is a reminder before we all forget: we are supposed to be getting some rest.”

Mitotsudaira worked to maintain a smile as she spoke.

They were in the large changing room for Suzu’s bathhouse. They had spent the night here before and they were doing it again.

Class Plum and their other main fighters had split between boys and girls and they were using the two changing rooms like it was a sleepover. But there was one slight difference from last time:

“What are you doing here, mother?”

“Oh, you don’t know, Nate? If I was alone with your father, we wouldn’t be getting any sleep at all.”

“I had a feeling it was that, but couldn’t you at least make up some other reason!?”

“Heh heh,” laughed Kimi. “I love a couple that gets along. I bet you’re always discovering new things about each other.”

“Testament, absolutely. I am always saying ‘did you know about this one?’ or ‘have we tried this one?’ as we continue to try out new things on a daily basis.” The mother smiled. “After all, the world changes every day. If you don’t learn about those changes, change yourself to match, and try out new things, you will grow so much older than the world around you.”

“Is that how it works?” sighed Mitotsudaira, but she could indeed remember a unique spice to each day back when she lived in Hexagone Française.

The food, games, and knowledge had been different from day to day. But…

“We know how to spice up our lives here too.”

“Judge, that’s right, 5th Special Duty Officer. Recently, the Vice President said we were going to Sanada for a study camp and visiting Houjou during a travel day, but I ended up being used as a hammer while fighting Terrestrial and Celestial Dragons and then we were fighting duels and visiting ruins in Houjou. Oh, but I wasn’t one of the ones who nearly drowned in the ruins. Still, our lives have been a lot like a retro action game. And when I got back, the dogs captured me and forced me to do a lap of the deck.”

“Nate…I think your vassal is describing something a little more wild than ‘spicing up’ your lives.”

“I thought so too, but anyway, why are you here, mother? And I mean your excuse for being here.”

“Testament. Thanks to your negotiations, I don’t have to participate in the Kantou Liberation as Masuda Motonaga, but it would be wrong to respond to that by making a full appearance on Mouri’s side. Instead, I think I will make a half-appearance by participating along with your father as a guest of Musashi.”

“With father!? Are you sure?”

“He’ll be fine.”

Gin nodded at that.

“An impressive level of confidence. And I believe you are correct.”

In other words, Mitotsudaira’s mother would protect him.

“More importantly,” said the mother while opening a signe cadre. “Shouldn’t you be thinking about what it means for me to be here instead of the reason why I am here, Nate?”

Everyone turned toward Mitotsudaira, so she sighed with a lot of exasperation in her voice.

“I know exactly what it means for you to be here, mother.”

“Heh heh. So what does it mean?”

Her mother’s questioning eyes were awaiting a good response instead of testing her.

That is very different from before.

When she had gone to rescue her king, her mother had been testing what she could do and hoping to enjoy the result.

But that had changed.

Instead of testing her, her mother expected a well-made response.

This brings a lot of pressure in its own way…

Although the pressure could not be that strong if she could analyze it so calmly.

She took a breath and answered her mother.

“Since you’re here with us, we can ask you for information from Hexagone Française without any international criticism.”


“Testament,” Gin heard the mother wolf say.

She, Muneshige, and the 6th Special Duty Officer would be fighting for Satomi and there was one thing she needed to confirm now for that role.

“By information from Hexagone Française, you mean Nördlingen and not the Kantou Liberation, don’t you?”

“Testament. We have Protestant connections, so we are sent frequent updates from there.”

Musashi also had a divine transmission line with the Protestants.

But that was due to the friendly relationship they had gained during the secret meeting at Magdeburg. They were not sent updates on the Protestants’ status as a warring nation.

The Reine des Garous was here to support the trip to Nördlingen by providing them the information needed to reach a consensus.

“Judge,” said Gin.

She would have to view information concerning the Kantou Liberation from the position of a participant, but she could take a more objective view with information concerning Nördlingen.

That was acceptable to her.

And when she looked over, she saw the Musashi Vice President lower her head.

“I appreciate it. We very much want to know what we can about the situation in Nördlingen.”

“Testament,” said the Reine des Garous. She opened a signe cadre displaying a map of M.H.R.R. A blue ribbon line ran from south to northwest and a red ribbon line ran from the northeast.

Both lines led to the same city.

“The main Protestant force and a major Catholic force are headed to Nördlingen. The Protestant warriors are led by Tomoe Gozen.”

“Which side has the superior fighting force?”

“My, my. Oh, Nate.”

The Reine des Garous held her cheek and paused. And after a full 5 seconds, she asked a smiling question.

“You really want me to tell you!?”

“D-did you have to pause like that!?”

Tachibana Wife: “It was an impressive pause.”

Hori-ko: “It is hard to say no when she pushes you like that.”

Then the Reine des Garous said more.

“Nate? I will tell you if it is a request from your king. So ask your king to ask me.”

The wolf groaned.

After a moment, she breathed in and opened a sign frame.

Silver Wolf: “My king? Are you up?”

Me: “Hm? We’re bragging about our wives right now.”

A stir ran through the girls as they judged their relative positions to each other and their behavior.

Anyone who carelessly reacted here would be made into a target.

The most dangerous option was pretending to sleep. Making it clear you were not going to interrupt was like seeing a swarm of starving serpents and simply wishing they would go away. The Date Vice Chancellor muttered something about “a bear before hibernation”, so that must have been the go-to analogy in a snowy nation.

At any rate, the danger level was rising. After all, Gin qualified as one of the “wives”.

I need to be careful, she thought.

Tachibana Husband: “Ha ha. Don’t worry, Gin. We’re only discussing your cooking.”

Why would you scatter bait at my feet, Master Muneshige!?

He can be a little too naïve at times, she thought with a dull sweat on her brow.

At the very least, I need to avoid being made into a doujinshi. I still remember that one the 3rd Special Duty Officer was cackling about before. She had made Master Muneshige’s final sound effect be “Amoreeeee!”, but he does not make a sound like that. What living being would? It does worry me that she was wondering whether she should use that or not, but on the other hand, I feel like it would be more dangerous if she made it more believable.

Whatever the case, she had to avoid being used in another doujinshi.

Mar-Ga: “Does Gin have a specialty dish?”

Why would you ask that!?

Are you targeting me!? she wondered with a shudder.

“Yes.” The Musashi Vice Chancellor nodded. “I believe Gin-dono likes tomato salad udon.”

What idiot would think a summer-exclusive food is a standard dish of mine!?

And I only ordered that to match the festive mood. It isn’t a favorite of mine or anything.

But the Asama Shrine Representative felt the need to help out.

Asama: “W-well, Gin-san is probably good at making Far Eastern food.”

Tachibana Husband: “She is, but she is also good at making Tres Españan food using tomatoes, chicken, and saffron.”

That unexpected counterattack was definitely him bragging about his wife. I am glad Master Muneshige thinks so highly of me, but this is still dangerous.

After all, everyone had fallen silent. And after a while…

Gold Mar: “Now, that’s love.”

Flat Vassal: “Judge. Love for her husband.”

Unturning: “Yes, she must be the dedicated type.”

Running away means accepting defeat. Running away means accepting defeat. Gin could only tell herself that over and over. She might be able to hear Muneshige say more about her, but…

I am not his wife because I want to hear him praise me!

She corrected her mental posture.

Then she was saved by an unexpected person.

Me: “By the way, it was Nate Papan who started this.”

Gin felt immense relief.

The world has come full circle!

Gin and everyone else turned back toward the Reine des Garous who had acted as the starting line.

“My.” The woman placed a hand on her cheek. “Why is my husband bragging to all those young children? Honestly.”

Just then, the Mito Lord hurriedly spoke up.

Silver Wolf: “My king! My mother is in a good mood and it sounds like she is willing to tell us what is going on in Nördlingen, so what should we do?”

Me: “Eh? Does your mom have a loose tongue right now?”

Silver Wolf: “Yes, but she might not answer if I ask her, so can you ask her while passing on what my father said?”

That’s a nice excuse!

Everyone gave the Mito Lord an impressed look.

Her strategy had probably been as follows: do not provide any amusing reactions, leave the damage control to someone else, and wait for a chance to strike.

That was easier said than done, but it was worth taking into consideration. And…

Me: “Maman, what’s going on in that Nerd-whatever place?”

Still Got It: “My, my. What is my husband doing over there?”

Me: “He fell asleep after drinking the hot milk he says he drinks every night.”

Mar-Ga: “I bet I know why he’s drinking that milk.”

Still Got It: “Yes, he hopes to get as close to my height as he can.”

Flat Vassal: “It’s so sugary sweet! …Oh, sorry. That kind of slipped out.”

“It’s fine,” said the Reine des Garous with a small smile.

Still Got It: “He apparently wants to be able to show off by carrying me in his arms. He tries every year on the anniversary of the day we met.”

“Excuse me a moment,” said the 6th Special Duty Officer as she headed for the exit with kiseru in hand.

Since the Date Vice Chancellor followed, this must have become a space of eternal sweetness.

“But,” said the Reine des Garous with a full-face smile. “It always feels like I suck it right back out of him shortly after he drinks it.”

Sweet was not at all the word to describe this, so the two exiting girls walked right back in.


Masazumi listened to the Reine des Garous.

“The Protestants are trying to delay the start of the Battle of Nördlingen as much possible. You can think of it as them waiting for Musashi.”

She pointed to a map of Nördlingen which had a large circle in the middle.

“Even long before the Age of the Gods, Nördlingen was built on the crater formed by a meteorite strike, so it is a circular city.”

“Is the crater the city itself?”

The Reine des Garous answered Balfette’s question with a shake of her head.

“Nördlingen is the city in the center. It is about a kilometer across and surrounded by a completed city wall, giving it an almost perfectly circular shape. It has prospered as a free trade city.”

Someone raised their hand. It was Mukai and her head was tilted.

“But that is…in the outside world…isn’t it?”

“Testament. But Europe and the Divine States are connected by the ley lines. So when the Harmonic Divine States were created, the Environmental Gods recreated the conditions of the city’s outside world location, including the condition of the land. The Environmental Gods would have established Nördlingen as existing on land where a star fell to earth.”

“Heh heh. A city built atop a star’s landing site is a wonderful thing.”

“It is,” agreed Asama while checking the Shinto-related distribution data. “It appears to be a nice area where a ley line pool has appeared on the surface. You can even find Orei Metallo right there on the surface. Without an actual mineral deposit, it isn’t enough to be a local specialty, but it is known as the perfect city for people of faith to gather. You see, when looking at the ley line-…”

“Tomo! Tomo! You’re entering business mode again!”

But there was one thing Masazumi understood from all this information.

“So Protestant Nördlingen has prospered due to its strength in trade and ley lines.”

“Testament. I imagine the Catholics really wanted to do something about the city. The Testament says this First Battle of Nördlingen is followed by a second one,” said the Reine des Garous. “Now, the Protestants will arrive first and set up camp in southwest Nördlingen. The Catholics will set up camp to the southeast, so they will be staring each other down from the east and west.”

“Mother, won’t the Protestants be trapped when Hashiba reinforcements arrive from the west?”

“Ishida Mitsunari is a data entity just like Ootani Yoshitsugu.”

Everyone gasped.

Futayo got up and opened a sign frame as she asked a question.

“Do you have anything to officially back up that claim?”

“Testament. This information comes directly from the Roi-Soleil.”

“Judge,” acknowledged Futayo. And…

Tonbokiri: “Did you catch that, ninja?”

10ZO: “Eh!? Oh, j-judge, I did!”

Investigating the enemy and coming up with countermeasures was the 1st Special Duty Officer’s job. They would likely have a few plans for use against Ishida before the battle began. Whether or not Crossunite gets any sleep is a different matter.

“But,” said Futayo while lying down on her futon. “Where is the Nagaoka estate?”

“In north Nördlingen.”

The Reine des Garous tapped the map at the very top of Nördlingen.

North.

That was the opposite side from the fighting between the Protestants and Catholics to the south.

“Do you understand why the Protestants will set up camp to the south? By luring the Catholics there, they can avoid having the Catholics drag the Nagaoka estate into their attack. At the very least, the Catholics cannot attack the Nagaoka estate until after the battle.”

“So the only ones who can head to the north are Ishida Mitsunari’s troops?” asked Futayo.

“No,” said Masazumi. “A data entity can appear in enemy territory using divine transmissions, but that places a lot of restrictions on them.”

That was how it had worked for Ootani. He had interrupted the negotiations with Mouri and Houjou, but the diplomatic ship and Asama’s defense programs had limited his freedom.

It would be the same with Ishida. So…

“Ishida will probably accompany the M.H.R.R. force as they find some excuse to move north and she will attack the Nagaoka estate from there. …Niwa’s troops are fairly standardized, so she should be able to use them herself.”

“Then, Masazumi, that should not happen until after the initial clash between the Protestants and Catholics in the south. I imagine their excuse for moving north will be ‘circling behind or flanking the enemy’.”

Futayo made it sound like a foregone conclusion. She was confident it would play out that way, so her words sounded persuasive and reliable. And at the same time…

Gold Mar: “What do we even need Bara-yan for anyway?”

Novice: “Heh. A lot of people are saying that online lately, but who was it that handled the negotiations with Houjou? I hope none of you ever forget about that.”

Vice President: “Yeah…you really ‘handled’ that one…”

Novice: “Right!? I handled it perfectly! Glad at least one person understands, Crossdressing Honda-kun!”

Unturning: “Is this a Far Eastern comprehension test?”

Mar-Ga: “I feel like history proves which is the correct answer here.”

Asama: “But the Siege of Odawara was a success, so doesn’t that mean Neshinbara-kun’s method was correct?”

Why does reality love sticking me between a rock and a hard place?

But, thought Masazumi.

“Based on those rules, won’t we start in the south when we arrive as Protestant reinforcements and head north from there? I know we’re hijacking a history recreation here, but it sounds like a pain.”

The Reine des Garous responded with a smile.

“No, don’t worry about that. Nördlingen is a Protestant city after all.”

Masazumi was not sure what she meant. Because…

“Nördlingen is going to keep its gates shut and stay out of the battle, isn’t it?”

“Testament. And Musashi has a method of allowing that, doesn’t it? A method of letting Nördlingen fight while remaining unharmed.”

The Tachibana Wife responded to what the Reine des Garous was hinting at.

“You mean defense barriers, don’t you?”

She explained.

“When Lord Shibata and Sassa Narimasa attacked the Musashi near Magdeburg, Musashino opened largescale gravity barriers during the latter half of the battle to prevent any damage to the surface area. Meaning…”

Meaning…

“Are you suggesting they cut across Nördlingen while the Musashi’s defenses protect the city?”


“ ‘Musashino’, that sounds like a pain, so I will leave the calculations to you. Over.”

“ ‘Musashi’-sama, maybe don’t say that part out lou-…no, um, uh… O-over!”


“If you cut across the city, the Protestants can attack the Catholics outside the city to slow them down and distract them. Then it should all work out even with the Musashi arriving a little late. And even if they fire on you or attack you while you cut across, you can defend against and dodge that as long as you prepare ahead of time. …Don’t worry. The city is only about a kilometer across.”

The Reine des Garous made it sound easy, but Asama and Futayo both thought about it more carefully.

They both opened a sign frame and began calculating out how long it would take to cross the city.


Asama placed her fingers on the sign frame as she made the calculations.

With the physical reinforcement divine protections provided by our shrine, people can move at about 60km/h.

But that was the value for good runners like Adele. Since it was “physical reinforcement”, the final speed would drop if the initial physical ability was lower.

But she decided to use the 60km/h value as an approximate baseline.

In that case, I divide by 3600 for km/s, which would be 16.666 in meters.

She decided to round that up to 17m/s.

She could divide that by a kilometer to get the necessary number of seconds. So a little over 58 seconds.

But she had rounded up from 16 before, so she felt it might be a little slower than that.

And if she only wanted an approximation, going with a full minute would be nice and simple.

There was probably a more efficient way to calculate this, but she had found the answer quickly enough.

That meant the time to cut across Nördlingen was…


Futayo opened a sign frame and started calculating.

When using the physical reinforcement divine protections given to the general warriors, one’s running speed was about 60km/h. I believe that data came from the Asama Shrine.

How much is 60km/h in km/s?

Futayo thought about it. With hours, minutes, and seconds, hours and seconds were two orders of magnitude apart, so…

Is km/s a hundredth of km/h?

That meant a speed of 600m/s.

That’s fast!

I feel like I got something wrong there. I probably got the order of magnitude off by one with each change in unit.

So by dividing by 100 again, she got a value of 6m/s.

Isn’t that kind of slow?

She could tell she was frowning. Come to think of it, the 60km/h value came from Adele-dono who is a normal student, but has impressive leg strength, very little air resistance, no weight in the chest, the excellent balance that provides her, and decent running technique. She clearly moves faster than 6m/s.

And think carefully, Musashi Vice Chancellor.

“…Oh.”

That’s right. Humans have two legs, don’t they?

So I have to multiply by 2.

So by doubling 6m/s, I get 12m/s.

I almost missed that. I, Honda Futayo, just about made an error in my calculations.

But that seems a little slow too…

Then again, worrying about it is not going to help. I just have to divide the 1km diameter by 12 to get how many seconds it takes.

“Umm.”

She ended up with a value of 83.3333. However…

I feel like I am forgetting something.

Oh, she thought upon remembering some of her arithmetic knowledge. Nördlingen is a circle.

The circumference is 2πr. And wasn’t I taught π is 3 right now? So when running the diameter of Nördlingen, I need to take the previous number of seconds, divide by 3, and then divide by 2. Which meant…

About 14 seconds?

No, she thought. That is too fast to run a kilometer. Based on her own experience, she was pretty sure she only ran that fast once Soaring Wings started to really get going.

“Oh.”

The diameter is twice the radius, isn’t it?” she realized. So I shouldn’t have divided by 2.

That meant 28 seconds.

But that still seemed fast. Did I forget some part of the calculation?

Oh, that’s right.

I was wrong to think having two legs makes you twice as fast.

So she had to double the time it took.

“Judge. I have the answer.”


Gin heard the Asama Shrine Representative and the Musashi Vice Chancellor speak up at almost the same time.

They both nodded nearly simultaneously.

“It would take about a minute.”

“It would be about a minute.”

Everyone raised their voice in response and Gin too had estimated it to about a minute. So…

“That is an acceptable assessment, Honda Futayo.”

“Yes,” said the Vice President. “If Futayo and Asama agree, then it must be right.”

Honda Futayo responded by getting up and crossing her arms.

“You can always count on me, Masazumi. …Although I will admit I nearly made a mistake when I got to the part about humans having two legs.”

Huh?

Wait just a second, thought Gin.

“Musashi Vice Chancellor, what kind of calculations did you use?”

“Why does it matter, Gin-dono? Do you have a problem with my correct answer?”

Gin thought for a moment, and while she was thinking, the other girl said more.

“All’s well that ends well, right?”

Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! This girl never looks past the results!”

Tachibana Husband: “Ha ha ha. Gin, I know firsthand that you do not cut corners at any point in the process, so don’t worry.”

He’s so mature, she thought with a sigh of relief. Then a divine transmission arrived from Musashino’s bridge.

“This is ‘Musashino’. We can place a long-distance defense barrier over another city if it must only last a minute. Although it will require advance preparations. Over.”

“That’s what you did during the Siege of Kanie Castle, isn’t it?”

“Judge. This will require being at closer range than during the Siege of Kanie Castle that Gin-sama mentioned. Being directly above the city would be best. Then we could activate the barrier while only changing the vertical coordinate. Over.”

“Question.” The Chancellor’s sister raised her hand. “Couldn’t we place Shinagawa or Asakusa’s long bow across Nördlingen from south to north and use that as a bridge to get the Protestants to the north?”

“I’m not sure that would work,” said the Date Vice Chancellor. “It would be hard to argue Musashi was only assisting the Protestants if you parked the Musashi directly above Nördlingen.”

“True,” agreed Gin. “I think the best stance is to stick close to the Protestant forces. Besides, the Musashi’s total length is much greater than Nördlingen’s, so the Testament Union would likely cry foul if you placed the first port or starboard ship’s bow over the city.”

“Then could we drop down to the southern wall from the long bow and sprint to the north from there?”

“If they know you’re going to drop down, you’ll be like sitting ducks.” The 6th Special Duty Officer mimed aiming a sniper rifle. “The way to give a sniper more trouble is, of course, vertical and horizontal movement. So while the Musashi is approaching Nördlingen, you can send a transport ship diagonally down with the descent team onboard. And the ship can be headed for the Catholic side of the battlefield. In other words…”

In other words…

“You do the transport ship ramming trick but with a descent team onboard. To get back at them for Magdeburg.”


That sure is violent, was Masazumi’s impression of Naomasa’s idea.

But she did have a bit of a question about that method. So…

Vice President: “Hey, idiot.”

Me: “I-I’m not an idiot, so I’m not answering.”

Am I immature for letting him get under my skin like this? Naito was whispering something to Mary, but there was no way that was good news. At any rate…

Vice President: “Listen carefully, idiot. Is crashing a transport ship into the battlefield something we’re allowed to do?”

Uqui: “Didn’t we already try that against the Shirasagi Castle?”

Unturning: “That was a diversion setting things up to fire Small Kanesada. And the result proves it. But this time, we would be using it against enemy troops instead of an enemy ship.”

Me: “Hmm…”

The idiot thought about it. And after a while…

Me: “I’m not sure I like the idea of copying Monkey Girl if we’re doing it for real.”

Vice President: “Okay, then we need another method. …If anyone has an idea, let me know.”

“Is that so?” said Naomasa, but she did not sound all that disappointed. “Then you can figure out how to get the team down once you’re there. Just remember that dropping down individually makes you perfect sniper targets. The Musashi is big, so its approach is hard to miss and it can’t stop very quickly. There’s not much that’s easier to target, so keep that in mind.”

“Judge, we will. As for the descent team, I guess that will be pretty much everyone.”

“Oh.” Balfette raised her hand. “I use a mobile shell, so I won’t be able to run through the city.”

“Can’t Mitotsudaira help you out?”

“Not even my silver chains can swing her around for a full kilometer.”

“Y-you’re thinking of using me as a hammer again, aren’t you!?”

Masazumi briefly wondered how else you would do it, but maybe she had simply seen that usage too much lately.

But she did have some concerns. For example, the makeup of the enemy personnel, and…

“I’d like to send some people to the southern battlefield to assist the Protestants. Also…”

Masazumi voiced her other concern while looking to the Tachibana Couple and Naomasa.

“I want to do something about Nagaoka Tadaoki as well.”


Tadaoki had just sat through the meeting to prepare for the Keichou Campaign.

He was in the central gym of Kuki’s aerial warship, the Toba Castle.

Chairs made of boards and bamboo pipes were lined up in there, but the meeting had already ended.

For the most part, the officers participating in the Keichou Campaign had confirmed with each other what their ships and units would be doing.

The point was to let them all meet each other and double-check their roles so they could work together better.

This was only the final check, so they had learned and practiced the actual content of the mission over the past month and they had mastered a few different generic commands.

This battle was a defense of Satomi and Edo.

Since Mouri, Musashi, and Houjou had been in control of the Siege of Odawara, it had been a while since the non-Hashiba parts of P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R. had been involved in a largescale battle.

Tadaoki was tasked with being a sniper.

Of course, that’s really all I can do.

He stood up.

In that large, rectangular wooden hall, the lights hanging from the ceiling swayed irregularly.

But not because the ship was moving. Some of the upperclassmen had started leaving the gym and returning to their ships as soon as their part of the meeting was over. The vibration of their movement was shaking the lights.

Beforehand, Tadaoki had wondered why they did not just use divine transmissions.

But he had found an answer here.

The upperclassmen who rushed out as soon as possible and the ones who waited until the meeting was entirely over would find someone they knew, raise a hand in greeting, or pat their shoulder as they passed by.

Some did none of that and completed their preparations in silence, but someone always whispered about who they were, where they were from, and what office they held.

Tadaoki knew why everyone was discussing this.

“Yeah.”

Some people would be ending their inherited names here.


Tadaoki’s inherited name would not end here, but he knew it was possible he would have to retire due to injury.

“That’s right.”

Once most everyone had left and the PR Committee was beginning to clean up, Tadaoki decided to leave the gym.

He approached the corridor that the older students had been rushing through even while the meeting was still underway.

Just then, one of those students looked across everyone gathered there and spoke.

“I’m leaving the rest with all of you!”

“Some replied with “shaja” and others with “testament”. Some raised a hand and others simply looked over.

Why did so many people respond to the words of a single person?

Tadaoki knew why.

Because they might never see him again.

They must have stood alongside him in previous battles.

But this would be goodbye.

He and many others would be leaving the path of a name inheritor and the history recreation.

In the past, Tadaoki would not have considered any of this.

But now that he was focused on the death of the person who would be his wife, he understood the reason behind their greetings and whisperings.

P.A Oda and M.H.R.R. were like a large family, but at the same time…

The officers are well aware of their position.

He had just done a lot on the Musashi.

He had expected some kind of inquiry, but then Kuki had made the following comment during the meeting:

“It seems some hot-blooded boy already tried to attack the Musashi, but try not to take his example. I appreciate his spirit, but our mission schedule is packed tight and we have no room for independent actions like that.”

The audience had laughed and that was the end of it.

That was probably because his role was so insignificant.

He was only a sniper.

He would target Edo’s eastern entrance from Edo Bay to prevent the enemy’s ground unit from approaching. A warship fixed to the surface would be used as a decoy while he fired on them using a ship gun control spell he had been given.

But if a sniper fired from a fixed location, they risked giving away their position.

So he always had to move after firing and he needed to act alone. He would normally have a spotter with him, but he had built his own rangefinder spell and proven its functionality in combat.

That meant he would be alone.

The problem was the lack of decent cover in eastern Edo Bay.

Edo was almost entirely flat. It had some forests and rivers, but the only eroded valleys were further upstream.

Instead, eastern Edo had vast ruins spread out around the bay coast.

The ruins there were even greater than at Mikawa or Osaka.

When the Harmonic Divine States and the Divine States had been split, there had not been a major power in the Edo area, so the ruins had been preserved. There were some Harmonic Territories where the Harmonic Divine States fell, but they were all grassy fields that only made the land even flatter.

Edo’s ruins were mostly from the Age of the Gods. They were linked to the distant past and treaties prevented anyone from touching them until the history recreation had arrived at the corresponding age. That said, they had to create the city of Edo, so the coast, the highway, and other nearby areas had been developed into a city.

The enemy’s ground unit would likely arrive along the highway.

He would intercept the enemy from a part of the coastal ruins that had already been excavated. However…

“I can’t believe I’m up against Musashi immediately after asking them for help.”

He was not sure what to do about this.

He had just pleaded with Musashi to save his future wife.

But the Musashi group going to Nördlingen isn’t going to be here.

He decided to view the two groups as entirely different things and do his job here.

They would probably do the same.

They were not going to hold back just because he was here. Besides, there was a good chance it would be Mouri, Satomi, or Mogami that showed up here instead of Musashi.

“Ah.”

He realized something just as he started to leave the gym.

He had only had time to sign a simple form and formal apology before joining the meeting, but shouldn’t he have given a report on the enemy forces he had seen on the Musashi?

But once out in the large hallway, he saw the tall upperclassmen rushing back and forth.

How do I do this?

He was in middle school, but almost all of the personnel here were in high school and they followed the rules of that academic organization.

If a middle schooler needed to report something to his superiors, he only had to speak with the Representative Committee or his homeroom teacher.

But his school’s Representative Committee and his homeroom teacher were not here.

“What am I supposed to do?”

As he looked uncertainly around, a familiar voice called out to him from the left.

“What are you doing, Nagaoka? If you’re just gonna wander around, then you should go take a bath and get some sleep.”

It was Nabeshima.


Chapter 19: Boy Attacked in a Hidden Place[edit]

Horizon7-A599.jpg

The hell is thiiis!?

Point Allocation (Adult)


Students equipped for ship-top combat and people carrying and managing several lernen figurs walked every which way through the ship’s corridor.

Within all that, Tadaoki faced Nabeshima and some of the girls from the maintenance team she led.

He knew Nabeshima.

In M.H.R.R., the name inheritors and name inheritor candidates from a generation were told to attend academies as close together as possible and, unless they were from a feudal lord family or something similar, their entire family was moved with them.

His family had moved to the district where Nabeshima’s group lived.

Nabeshima’s high school was right next to his middle school and graduates of his middle school usually attended that high school.

Their homes were also close by. Nabeshima’s group was well known in the shopping district around the carriage station’s free market block. Since all their parents knew each other, he had been dragged along to karaoke or potato soup parties with them, so he had learned a lot about being a name inheritor from them before he had inherited his name.

They were now facing each other below the corridor’s lights. The crowd was moving almost entirely one way to their right and the other way to their left. Someone would occasionally carry a long table out of the gym, so they made sure to be on the lookout for that as they spoke.

“Nagaoka, are you joining the raid as a sniper?”

“What about you? Are you doing anti-air above Satomi?”

“No, I’ll be on standby halfway across the bay. …But if Kiyomasa was coming here, I would’ve done everything I could to be under her command.”

“How can you support her so much when you’ve never even met her before?”

“Because I want to.” Nabeshima placed a hand on her cheek. “And I have met her. On the way back to Kyushu after the meeting in Kyoto, I helped guard the supplies Hashiba was sending west. And she thanked me when I left.”

“Wouldn’t it be the fleet commander who thanked you?”

“Shut up.” She sharply narrowed her eyes. “I’m piloting a mechanical dragon now, but I was originally a spear-fighter. She’s just so cool, you know? She’s a European beauty, she has a great figure, she can command so many troops on the front line, and she won’t back down even against gods of war. I’m in a mechanical dragon, but even I get nervous against gods of war.”

“Is that so?” said Tadaoki. “But I’d heard that Kiyomasa and Fukushima are dating now.”


“Um, Takenaka-sama? Do you know where Fukushima-sama is? I’ve been looking for her to help heal her wounds.”

“Oh, she went to take a bath while muttering something about clearing her mind.”

“Kiyomasa, if you’re headed to the bath, keep in mind that Katagiri was headed there too.”

“Oh, dear. …He’s going to have to share again. Anyway, I can cleanse her wounds in the bath, so I think I will join her.”

“You two sure get along well.”

“Testament. Just like in the Testament, we seem to be a good match.”

“Do you like her, Kiyomasa?”

“Testament. Of course I do. I like you too, Hachisuka-sama.”

“Not like that. I meant- you know what? Never mind.”


“That just makes it even better. Fukushima tends to act alone, but her combat records are impressive and seeing those two together is both beautiful and reassuring. If Kiyomasa has chosen her, then I wish them the very best.”

“I don’t get it…”

Just as Tadaoki said that, a girl behind Nabeshima called out to her.

She was one of the girls from the maintenance team. Tadaoki was unsure if she was the same age as Nabeshima. He had trouble telling how old older girls were.

But that aside…

“Nabe-san! Is that the kid!? The one you’re talking to now!?”

“He is!”

He really wished she would not turn around and create her own little world talking about him. Besides…

“I’m not a kid! I’m only two years younger.”

“That doesn’t mean squat. We could’ve strangled you the moment you were born.”

“And I could’ve fired a gun the moment I was born, dammit.”

“So you say,” said Nabeshima with a bitter smile.

The girls behind her circled around to surround him.

They’re so tall.

In his middle school class, he was far from the tallest, but he was still above average.

But these girls were in high school and their heels gave them extra height.

He felt surrounded by girls in all three dimensions.

“Nabe-san! This kid’s uniform is the one for your old middle school, right?”

“Yeah, they changed the design when a bunch of girls joined last year, so the collar is different from when I went there. The color’s still gray though, so I guess he must be an apprentice.”

“He might be an apprentice, but he’s a name inheritor, right!?”

That’s right, thought Tadaoki with a glare. Please let this end soon. And then…

“He’s so cute!”


Tadaoki was a little disturbed by their sudden outburst.

How am I cute!?

His height? His age? His uniform? Or to sum it all up…

“There are plenty of other middle school name inheritors, aren’t there?”

When a name inheritor arrived from another nation, if their language or history education was too poor, they would have to start back at middle school.

Those old guys are middle school name inheritors too, but you wouldn’t call them cute, would you? Would you!?

He could easily imagine the girls cheerfully calling them creeps, so he mentally held his head in his hands.

I’m no good with this kind of person.

He knew they were not serious and it was a natural way to maintain an enjoyable atmosphere.

It was harmless, but that just made it all the more frustrating.

The next thing he knew, they were rubbing his head and checking the shoulders and sides of his clothing.

Giving up so quickly and failing to react had been a mistake.

He could tell they were starting to treat him like a toy, so he looked to Nabeshima.

“Hey, do something about this.”

“Eh, it’ll be over soon enough.”

“Huh?”

Just as he frowned, the girl checking around his waist spoke up.

“There, we have your measurements. …Sorry, was that annoying?”

She rubbed his head, but the way she did it…

Is she measuring my height?

“Figured it out now?” Nabeshima shook her shoulders a bit. “You arrived with the sniper equipment you use at your middle school, didn’t you? When Asano saw that, she said it wasn’t generic enough.”

“Generic?”

“You might have to fight back-to-back battles, right?”

When he heard that, Tadaoki uttered an “oh” of realization. One of the girls nodded in response.

“Tes, tes. We went over the mission in the meeting, but all that is subject to change and you have to think about what you’ll do in transit and after the mission is over.”

“That’s right. It’s pretty common to not have a ship to transport you or to be missing some equipment.”

“That middle school sniper equipment is M.H.R.R. exclusive and meant for you, but if you use more generic equipment, you can always borrow someone else’s.”

When she added an “okay?”, Tadaoki felt a chill in his heart. He was wrong to have been thinking about pushing these girls away. Instead…

“Thank you very much.”

He bowed his head. The surrounding girls gasped, and then…

“Oh, this kid is just so cute!”

“He’s way better behaved than my little brother!”

Please no more…!

Oh, he realized. When Musashi’s Chancellor had asked him what he liked about the woman who would be his wife, he had not known what to say. But now he did.

She was so calm and relaxed.


Nabeshima thought to herself while watching her classmates play with Nagaoka.

He takes this all so seriously.

He had a few different ideas circling through his head and he always tried to choose the best one.

She had seen some of that behavior before, but now she was certain of it.

When he was surrounded like this, he would normally try to push everyone away.

It probably helped that these were his upperclassmen, but once he realized what they were doing, he had decided to thank them instead.

He looked to the future when considering what he should do and he also knew when to change his plans.

Among Nabeshima’s friends, Asano was the type to look to the future and Kani was a little too good at changing her plans on the fly. Ikeda struck a nice balance between the two, but it did not seem as refreshing with him since she knew him a little too well. And it was kind of pathetic how obvious he made it that he disliked having to do it.

Striking a nice balance while being polite was a good thing for an underclassman.

Nabeshima watched Nagaoka while realizing that he would fit right in as “Nagaoka Tadaoki” once he built up some skill. He looked to the future and knew when to change plans, but…

That must make him a natural sniper.

But, she thought.

If he knows how to look to the future, why did he try to board the Musashi?


It makes no sense, decided Nabeshima.

She could not think of anything he stood to gain by boarding the Musashi and causing a scene like that.

Well, he might have been trying to make a name for himself and maybe he really thought he damaged them.

He was a middle school name inheritor, so most people would assume he just did something rash. But she knew Nagaoka better than that.

He would not do something so foolish.

Even if he did get it in his head to do something dumb, he had no experience and would not have known what to do.

So why had he gone somewhere he had no experience with?

Then again, maybe that explains it.

According to the Testament, the Seven Generals ultimately sided with Matsudaira. She did not know what decision they would make in this life, but it was something they had to remember for the history recreation.

It was possible he had gone to take a look in preparation for that. And…

“Nagaoka, what were you doing at Musashi?”

She tried asking.

She honestly did not like being weirdly suspicious of a friend. Investigations were a job for the Public Morals Committee and Liaison Committee, so if they were doing their jobs, he would be clean. That meant she could ask this without worrying.

Nagaoka turned toward her with a big frown on his face.

“Huh? What was I doing? I was picking a fight with Musashi.”

“And what were you trying to accomplish with that?”

“I didn’t accomplish anything.”

She felt like that line held some kind of meaning.

She did not think he was lying. He was speaking to her, but his tone had fallen.

Instead of trying to dodge the issue, he was simply disappointed.

I don’t get it.

After all, it was partially her fault he had not accomplished anything.

So she addressed that.

“Sorry about getting in your way back there.”

He immediately replied while looking weakly up at her.

“Yeah, well, you couldn’t help that. Don’t worry about it.”

He did not seem to be lying.

She only sensed disappointment and regret in his voice. It was obvious things had not gone the way he had hoped.

But she did have a question about his response.

Hm?

According to him, he had hoped to accomplish something at Musashi but he had failed to do so.

It was possible her appearance had prevented him from accomplishing whatever it was. That was why she had apologized for getting in his way.

And he had responded with disappointment and regret.

That was all sensible enough. She had indeed gotten in his way back there.

However, that was all predicated on the assumption that he had acted rashly.

But Nagaoka was the type to look ahead before acting.

Was it really worth looking to the future and then feeling disappointed over a rash attack like that?

Of course not.

If he had truly just gotten carried away there, Nagaoka would have seen the result of his actions through the lens of several different patterns and he would have learned his lesson.

He would have thanked her for interrupting and stopping him, so would he really feel disappointed?

No.

That meant he had been trying to accomplish something there that was worth feeling disappointed over when he was interrupted.

He had looked ahead to the future and decided to accomplish something there, but she had gotten in his way.

Why had that boy gone to Musashi?

Had he been trying to join Matsudaira like she had briefly suspected earlier?

No. He had only just inherited his name. Even if he was looking to the future, he lacked the experience needed as a foundation for looking that far ahead. Trying to switch sides now would be rash indeed.

Then he must have been focused on something more immediate.

“—————”

Could it be? wondered Nabeshima.

“Is it the Lady Nagaoka incident?


Tadaoki noticed a change in the surrounding atmosphere.

But he was not the first to notice. The girls all turned toward Nabeshima.

“Nabe-san?”

When he heard their questioning tone, he realized Nabeshima had put up her guard.

Well, it’s not like I had a chance.

He was an inexperienced middle schooler. He must have made a mistake somewhere between Musashi and here. Plus, Nabeshima knew him better than most.

He could not lie to her and it was pointless to try.

And that may have been why she asked him a question.

“Nagaoka?”

“Yeah?”

“You always try to handle everything on your own, don’t you?”

Nabeshima described a trap that diligent people tended to fall into.

She would not be starting a personality quiz right now. He was not sure what she would think when she heard his answer, but if she said anything inconvenient for him, he could just say she was being overly suspicious.

So he was going to say she was right. But…

That’s not accurate.

He could not save his wife alone. He did not even know how to start.

That was why the Musashi Chancellor had told him to leave it to them.

He could not do everything on his own.

He could not lie to Nabeshima, so he answered her truthfully.

“Not really.”

“Oh, how mature,” said a girl standing to his right.

Her tone was unusually light for this scene, but…

“So you’ve changed, have you?”

Nabeshima smiled bitterly.


That’s just how it is, I guess, thought Nabeshima.

She felt like she understood now.

Nagaoka must have gone to ask Musashi or Mouri for advice about the woman who would be his wife.

There, he had learned he could not do everything on his own.

Of course, she had stopped him before he could do anything.

As a result, he was back here.

Musashi would be going to Nördlingen.

He and everyone else here would be fighting in the Keichou Campaign.

It was all following the original plan.

Then I can’t get after him over it.

Whatever might happen in the future, it was all in the future. Making a fuss or acting suspicious now would accomplish nothing.

She had seen Lady Nagaoka once during their meeting at Kyoto.

Nagaoka, didn’t you get in a fight with her there?

She did not know what had happened.

But she knew something had happened. So…

“Nagaoka, you need to get some rest. This is your first real battle, so you’re going to be nervous.”

“Testament. I know.”

“Do you? Y’know what, Nagaoka?”

“What?”

“Once you’re on the battlefield, make sure you see everything through to the end.”

He took things seriously, so she knew he would do that. And after that…

“Once you’ve done that, you can do whatever it is you want.”

With that, she snapped her fingers and turned toward the other girls.

“Okay, let’s get going.”

She chose to walk straight ahead, which meant entering the flow of traffic to her right.


She’s way too clever!

Tadaoki sighed in the center of the corridor.

Nabeshima looked like the delinquent type and she was a strong leader. Just like she had said, the upperclassman she most looked up to was Katou Kiyomasa. While the Five Great Peaks gathered focus as individual fighters, Kiyomasa was the ideal when it came to leadership on the battlefield. And true to her admiration of that upperclassman, Nabeshima had a good eye for people and excellent leadership ability.

It was probably that side of her that had allowed her to take control of the Ryuuzouji clan in what almost felt like a hijacking.

He was pretty sure she had figured out everything he was trying to do.

But even so…

It’s not worth getting scared over.

She had told him to do what he was supposed to do.

It would not be an issue as long as he did that. He needed to hold onto the measurement data the girls had given him and he had to head out onto the battlefield.

“This will be my first time fighting in a major battle…”

Kani, another of his upperclassmen, had fared pretty well in the Siege of Odawara, but…

She was pretty much born for the battlefield…

What about me? he wondered as he started moving.

For now, he sighed and walked toward the bathroom now that the line was dying down.


Kani had met up with Asano after the meeting, but on her way to the hangar, she heard Tadaoki scream.

“Whooooooooaaaaaaaaaaa!? The hell is thiiis!?”

It came from around the corner, which meant the bathrooms.

She tugged on sleepy-looking Asano’s hand.

“That was Oky-kun, wasn’t it!? Shouldn’t he be getting some rest!? I want to get some rest too!”

“You want to get some breast? Kani-sannn, do you want to feel my boobs that badlyyy?”

“I’m not sure what you mean, but if you need me to, I will! So, um, what’s with Oky-kun!?”

The stir running through the normal students was indeed coming from the bathroom.

What happened!? she wondered while holding up a lernen figur displaying her ID as Kani Saizou’s name inheritor.

“Um! Did something happen!?”

“Eh? …Ah! Kani-sama! It’s Nagaoka Tadaoki-sama! He, um…!”

“Yes!?”

“T-testament! I am not at all sure how to say this and I am going to avoid saying anything directly since you are a girl, but Tadaoki-sama is in the bathroom and, um, well, you know what is in there.”

“Eh!? What’s in there!?”

“Huh!? Oh, m-my apologies. Due to biological differences, the boys and girls bathrooms are structured differently, aren’t they!?”

“What he means is.” Another student used his hands to form a silhouette with a rounded point at one end. “The boys bathroom has a row of th-these in the back.”

“Hmmm? Jizo statuuues?”

“D-doing it on one of those sounds like a good way to get cursed!”

“Oh.” Kani realized what the boys meant. “Those ones you use standing up!”

“Y-yes! Correct! But girls should not talk about that! Anyway, boys will enter burst mode while standing in front of those objects, but just as Nagaoka-sama entered combat mode, he let out a scream.”

“Indeed! Then he ran into one of the stalls…you know what stalls are, right?”

“Testament! That’s all there are in the girls bathroom!”

“Yes, of course! How silly of me! Now that is some important intel! …Anyway, Nagaoka-sama did a half-rotation spin while screaming and ran into a stall.”

“Annnd? What happened theeen?”

Everyone strained their ears and heard a voice from the back of the bathroom.

“Dammit! It goes all the way to the base!? It must’ve been that idiot! I am so killing him! Just straight up murdering him!”

“Oky-kun! What’s the matter!?”

“Huh!? My dick is blac-…no, it’s nothing! Is that Kani!?”

It’s just like Oky-kun to recognize my voice even when he’s so flustered!

But a stir ran through the gathered crowd.

“Tadaoki-sama is already such an adult at his age!”

“Yeah, that’s a name inheritor for you!”

“Hmm, buuut does it really get dark so quickly?”

“Asa-chan, that sounds like a disease!”

“Stop making jokes about me! …Ah! Dammit! Dammit! What is this!? I thought my skin felt stiff, but it goes all the way up to my stomach!?”

“Hmm.” Kani tilted her head because she had no idea what this underclassman was talking about. “Well, this seems to be increasing everyone’s morale, so let’s just leave it be!”

“Testament! That’s right! Way to go, Nagaoka-sama!”

Kani nodded along with everyone else.

And she heard Oky’s voice from the bathroom.

“Wait, what’s this red stuff!? It isn’t coming off!!”


“Kimi? About the experimental lipstick my king used on Nagaoka Tadaoki earlier. That was designed for summer use, so it doesn’t come off easily.”

“Heh heh. Don’t be silly. It comes off in hot water, right? Although it still requires some purification cleansing.”

“Um…would a boy really know how to use a makeup purification spell?”

“Oh? Don’t be silly, Adele. My foolish brother knows how to use three different varieties.”

“Oh, then he’ll be fine.”

“N-no, Toori-kun is a special case! You can’t use him as a baseline! And what did you draw on him anyway!?”

Me: “Eh? Just the standard: lips and diagonal cheek blush lines on the tip plus the words ‘I love you’ on the rest.”

Gold Mar: “The standard for what?”

Mar-Ga: “Add a dress and you would have real pervert on your hands. …Not that I can really use this in my doujins.”

“I was going to warn you, Asama, but why are you looking away and struggling not to laugh?” asked Kimi.

“Clap!” said Hanami.

Me: “Well, someone on Nagabuto’s level will have a private room, so he can take a bath and deal with it. It’ll make for a nice change of pace before battle, don’t you think?”

Hori-ko: “Yes, letting his hostility boil over in the bath should make for an excellent change of pace.”


Soaking in the bath to calm thy feelings is nice, thought Fukushima.

Because feelings make thee soft.

She was thinking of what had happened on Paris’s city wall.

She had been too hyper-aware of Kiyomasa’s presence.

She knew why: the illusion she had been shown during the battle. In that illusion, she had faced her own fear and inexperience and she had pictured Kiyomasa as the person she always relied on. Also, she had not hesitated to hug her.

“—————”

This is bad, she thought while throwing her inner suit sleeves into the changing room basket.

I cannot get my mind off of this!

She was trying not to think about it.

But she saw some light scars on her arms as she removed her skirt. The wounds were healing. Even without a spell charm, they had closed up and the scars were close to disappearing as well. That was just how powerful Kiyomasa’s healing spell was.

In a few more days, not even the scars would remain.

I…

She suddenly remembered Kiyomasa on top of the city wall. The girl had looked confused and sad when Fukushima had panicked and fled. She was reminded how she had put that look on Kiyomasa’s face.

“…!”

She slammed her forehead against the shelf of baskets.

But Kiyomasa’s confused face would not leave her mind.

I should not have done that to her, she thought. She was no longer sure whether she should try not to think about it or try to think about it. Regardless…

I need to get in the bath to help calm myself down.

She hoped it would work. She removed her hair clip, placed the blue feather on top of it, removed her inner suit, removed her tights, and removed the supporter that assisted her body in combat.

Even if the bath does not calm me, I should be back to normal after getting some sleep.

Once she had had some sleep, she could apologize to Kiyomasa for her poor response tonight.

That would make up for everything. Because if she did not do that…

“It would be dangerous.”

She wanted to avoid any misunderstandings with such an important partner at this crucial stage.

She really did.

Besides, if I really do feel that way about Kiyo-

“Kh.”

She slammed her forehead against the shelf again.

I must stay strong.

Everyone knew how understanding Kiyomasa could be. No other member of the Ten Spears earned as high an approval rating when leading normal students. Fukushima generally left the other warriors so she could strike as an attacker, but even when Kiyomasa left the other warriors, it was to intercept attacks that would have harmed them.

She was always thinking of others as she acted. That was part of what Fukushima found so attractive about-

“——————”

She slammed her forehead against the shelf yet again.

I am terrible at this.

Her mouth twisted into a scowl as she grabbed the towel from her basket, placed it over her shoulders, and entered the bath.

Fukushima saw the tub through all the steam in the air.

A short figure was there with his back turned.

It was Katagiri.

He was creating an image in the air using Hundred Crest Land Survey. He sent music notes into the target to change its shape. And he was creating…

Giant breasts?

The transparent figure made of bathwater definitely had a large chest, which reminded Fukushima of someone.

Could it be Kiyo-dono?

That thought filled her gut with something akin to annoyance.

She was not certain that was who it was, but she could not allow Kiyomasa to be defiled here.

Even if she had already defiled her in that illusion.

This is like a reflection of what I did, she realized.

“Katagiri-dono! What are thou doing!?”

Her voice came out louder than she had expected.

Oops, she thought. That harsh tone must be a sign of what I am feeling inside right now.

Nothing was going right for her ever since that moment on the city wall.

And she was worried for Katagiri. He could be timid. In fact, he could be downright servile when it came to Hachisuka. But servile or not, she was afraid she had scared him by raising her voice like that.

“…Katagiri-dono?”

When she approached and called out more quietly, he turned around.

He had been crying.


Chapter 20: Desiring Girl in the Usual Place[edit]

Horizon7-A625.jpg

Why is it

I can never hold onto

The happy times

Even when I leap at them?

Point Allocation (Washing Each Other)


Kiyomasa hurried down the corridor.

She was on the way to the bath. The bucket she carried held a change of clothes, new soap, a towel, and perfume for use after bathing.

She would find Fukushima in the bath.

She has been acting strange since the battle ended.

Or more accurately, since they had begun preparations to withdraw. It felt like she was avoiding Kiyomasa.

Had something painful or sad happened?

Kiyomasa felt like she was meddling, but if Fukushima needed to get whatever-it-was off her chest, she wanted to be there to listen. They had known each other for a long time and they knew each other well.

And if Fukushima wanted to be left alone, she would give her space. It would be lonely, but Fukushima was sure to return as an even greater version of herself given time. That had happened on a smaller scale from time to time in the past.

But Fukushima was a girl of few words. She rarely let her inner feelings out, so Kiyomasa needed to prepare for this in her own way.

“The soap is a Greek-style I’ve never used before and the shampoo is the good stuff I ordered from India.”

They usually used Far Eastern rice bran bags to wash themselves in the bath, so this would be a new experience.

That would give them something to talk about and provide a nice change of pace.

I just need this.

However, it was mostly up to Fukushima’s mental state.

First and foremost, Kiyomasa wanted to figure out if Fukushima wanted to be left alone.

“Now, then.”

She stepped through the entrance to the bath reserved for the Ten Spears.


Fukushima listened to his complaints.

Personally, she wanted to be the one complaining about her situation, but she had little choice when Katagiri started tearfully speaking.

“And then I…I…!”

From what she could tell, there was someone he had been in love with, but now she might be dead and he could never see her again even if she was still alive.

Fukushima did not know how true any of this was.

“So, um, the thing about this lewd busty shrine maiden is…!”

“Lewd?”

“Yes, lewd! She said so herself…or did she? Regardless, that was how she made sure we understood each other, so she was lewd!”

“Is that so?”

That is quite the person thou fell in love with. But to sum up…

He has a broken heart.

But nothing like this had happened with Katagiri before, so it came as a surprise.

“I wanted to speak with her again after I got manlier and could talk with people properly!”

“But now she is gone?”

“Testament. How could this happen!?”

Logically speaking, these things just happened sometimes. It did not require explanation.

People were lost both on the battlefield and in everyday life. People became injured, grew sick, died of old age, or even took their own lives.

It was not clear if this girl was dead or had just gone elsewhere, so Fukushima felt like he could always go looking for her. But…

Whether or not thou should pursue someone who left is always a question.

She also knew why Katagiri was wallowing in heartbreak instead of immediately chasing after this girl: he wanted to fulfill the duty he felt in his position in the Ten Spears and in his relationship with the other Spears.

She felt bad about that, but she also knew where his personal feelings would be headed.

“When we lose something, we want to forget it ever existed, don’t we?”

Katagiri gave a groaning nod while more tears fell from his cheeks.

Seeing this, she wanted to do something to help him, but she knew there was nothing she could do.

That was just how these things were.

But she was still very surprised to see this side of him.

“Katagiri-dono?” she asked. “Did thou love this person?”

When she asked, he looked up at her with his tear-blurred gaze.

But then he washed his face off in the tub and wiped the corners of his eyes.

“Testament.”

There were no more tears gathering in his eyes and Fukushima saw something in his gaze.

“Thou have a much stronger and manlier gaze now.”


At first, Katagiri did not know what Fukushima meant.

He thought about it for a few seconds and repeated the words in his mind.

“No, I don’t.”

He shook his head. He already had tears in the corners of his eyes again.

“I can’t be manly.”

“That is not true.” Fukushima placed a hand on her chest. “This is thy first time feeling the emotion of love, is it not? Thou showed to me just now that thou have accepted it as thus.”

So…

“I believe that means thou have learned to believe in thyself instead of relying on others.”

“But…the person I wanted to show that to is gone.”

“Perhaps so, but perhaps not. …Katagiri-dono, thou do not know what has happened to that person.”

“I do.” Katagiri shook his lowered head again. “They said she had metaphorically ‘left the Musashi’. That has to mean she’s either dead or missing. And either way, I can never see her again.”

“I see. Still, I do not think thou should make assumptions.”

“But…”

“Hope is something to hold onto, not to cast out,” said Fukushima. “Besides, thou have become the person thou wanted to show her, correct? That is the most important thing. If thou had not, thou would be disappointing her wherever she might be.”

Katagiri could tell she was trying to persuade him.

But something about what she was saying bothered him.

“Fukushima-san…have you ever fallen in love with someone?”


Fukushima gasped.

That is a good question.

Katagiri would understand.

He had accepted that the feeling inside him was love, so she would seem weak in comparison. She still could not decide whether or not the feeling inside her was love.

So to use Katagiri’s phrasing, she was being unmanly right now.

How very strange.

She saw him like a younger brother, but he had surpassed her here.

“I am hopeless, aren’t I?” she said.

“How so?”

She was not sure what to say in response.

Oh, this is not good.

She was impressed that Katagiri had been able to complain so much while crying.

She had yet to reach the point of tears and she could not come up with any words to say.

Katagiri must have been thinking about this for quite a while. She had only been mentally flailing over this for a few hours, so he completely put her to shame.

But he had told her what he was feeling, so she felt obligated to do the same.

“I am not really sure.”

“About what?”

“About how I feel about that person.” She could not look him in the eye as she spoke. “And because I am not sure how I feel, I cannot bring myself to carelessly contact or speak with them.”


Katagiri was surprised.

So even Fukushima-san feels that way sometimes.

The way she was looking away and talking about her own self-doubt was very different from her usual dignified self. He thought she seemed more feminine, but that was just his male perspective talking.

She was simply unsure what to do, so he felt rude finding it surprising and feminine.

But even though he had asked the question, he really did find it surprising once she admitted it. Come to think of it, I’d probably be surprised to hear any of our girls say that. And it would feel dangerous if Hachisuka-san said it. Oh, I guess it would only be the status quo for Yoshiaki-san and Wakisaka-san.

But he knew what Fukushima was saying.

What was this feeling you had for the other person?

Did you love them, were you just thinking about them too much, or was it all a misunderstanding?

You were not certain of anything you were feeling, but if you did become certain, it would immediately and permanently change your relationship with them.

In my case…

“I was afraid of changing the status quo, I guess.”

“Eh?”

Fukushima turned toward him and he spoke to her look of surprise.

“I mean, I’m here with all of you. I didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing to feel that way about someone on the outside. For that matter, I didn’t even know if what I was feeling was real or not and I wasn’t sure if I should even try to figure out the answer.”

But…

“Those troubling feelings are of course troubling, but they’re also fun.”

“F-for me, it is clearly nothing but trouble.”

It had been the same for him. So…

“That’s true. …It’s fun, but also painful. Because there is no answer to find.”

He realized something even as he said it.

I feel so much more at peace now.

He could definitively say that he had loved her. Maybe it was due to the current feeling of loss and maybe he was only imagining it, but he could only describe what he had felt as love.

But he had not managed to reach that answer on his own.

It had troubled him and he had enjoyed it, but then it had been brought to a forcible end by outside circumstances.

So what would have happened if it had continued without that?

“I loved her, but it scares me to think about what might have happened if I hadn’t reached an answer like this but still couldn’t ever see her again.”

“You mean…?”

“I wouldn’t have known when I could stop troubling myself with the question.”

You felt true doubt once you became aware of that feeling of love.

“I wouldn’t have known whether or not I could really destroy the existing relationship and status quo. And…”

And…

“I wouldn’t have known whether or not I could keep lying to myself once I realized how I felt.”


“I had the ending pushed onto me before I reached that point.”

Fukushima could not agree with what Katagiri said.

She had yet to reach that point herself.

What was this feeling inside her? No, she knew the answer deep down, but she did not know if she could accept that feeling. And if she did accept it…

Would I arrive at the uncertainty Katagiri-dono was describing?

The uncertainty about destroying the existing relationship and lying to yourself.

Even if she accepted that she loved Kiyomasa, if she was not sure she could destroy their existing relationship, she would be unable to let those feelings out.

She would hide her feelings and continue being Kiyomasa’s friend as before. But…

“Would that mean thou were defiling the other person?”

“You would be if you mistook their kindness for romantic affection and indulged in that.”

So…

“I pray you do not do that, Fukushima-san.”

When he said that, Fukushima realized what his words meant. From his perspective…

“Are thou saying thou defiled that girl, Katagiri-dono?”


Fukushima glared at Katagiri.

“Eh?”

He started panicking one tempo later. He quickly waved his hands side to side and splashed the bathwater.

“N-no! Ah, what is that look for! I-I haven’t done that, I swear! I-I mean, there might have been a little of what you could call virtual lewdness, I guess, but…”

“Come to think of it, what was that image you were making with bathwater earlier?’

“A memento! Just a memento! Besides, this is when you should sum it up with ‘So thou did not manage to get that far, Katagiri-dono’!”

“We can leave it at that if thou insist.”

“Yes, I insist!” he said while nodding vigorously, but she did see an answer there.

He has changed.

Katagiri was their liaison officer and he was also tasked with gathering outside information and keeping them informed. He often used Hundred Crest Land Survey to display outside information such as battlefield diagrams or visualized training instructions.

But right now he was talking about himself and using Hundred Crest Land Survey for a personal matter.

No, that was not so surprising. Feelings of love were not isolated to yourself; they were born from thinking carefully about the other person.

This was about more than himself. He had at least two people’s worth of feelings fueling his imagination.

The person he loved had changed him a lot.

“And that was something we could never manage to do…”

“What was?”

“Testament. Making a mature person out of thee, Katagiri-dono.”

“What did you see me as before…?”

“Do not worry about it,” she said while holding out a hand to stop him.

But she had a sudden thought. She breathed in and looked up at the ceiling obscured by the steam.

I probably do love Kiyo-dono…

The feeling of love brought doubt and fear of potential changes to her future. It also scared her to consider the possibility of Kiyomasa rejecting or ignoring her feelings once she learned of them.

But this chat with Katagiri had taught her that these feelings definitely existed inside her and that they were not a wholly bad thing.

But what am I supposed to do about it?

She had only just started down this path and all she had was this newfound knowledge.

She loved Kiyomasa, but how was she supposed to let the other girl know?

No, how could she tell Kiyomasa without having her feelings rejected?

She knew how to fight, but she was hopeless when it came to this sort of thing.

“I really am hopeless.”

“If you ask me, you’re headed in about as perfect a direction as you could hope for, Fukushima-san.”

“What do thou mean by that?”

She looked down to find Katagiri washing his face in the tub again.

He was smiling. She could tell he was forcing it, but…

“I was getting excited over nothing. I was mostly selfishly assuming she would accept me. But…”

But…

“You’re thinking you won’t be accepted.”

“—————”

“I’m betting you won’t lose this. I’m not really sure how to say it, but it’s a lot like you. If you start from there and work toward your goal, I think you’ll be fine.”

“Thou hint at such a difficult path ahead and then say I will be fine?”

“Fair.” Katagiri smiled bitterly and took a breath. “I didn’t think I would be able to discuss this with you.”

“Nor I with thee. …And I now realize I had not had much opportunity to speak with thee recently.”

“Testament. That’s true. I refused to share the bath with all of you, so…”

His expression froze on his face and then grew serious.

“I-I’m manlier now, aren’t I!? Experiencing heartbreak made me manlier, right!?”

“Yes, what of it?”

“Th-then it’s weird for us to be able to chat in the bath like this!”

She looked up at the ceiling when he said that.

That is logical.

But she felt like the conversation would fall apart if she agreed, so she lowered her gaze and tried to convince him otherwise.

“Katagiri-dono, thy growth is an unseen and spiritual thing, so it has no bearing on what occurs in the bath.”

“You’re just saying my personality doesn’t mean anything in reality!”

He sighed and then stood up.

“Hmm, it doesn’t sit right with me, but the manliness inside me is saying I can’t stay in the bath with you.”

Then he looked back at her with his eyebrows lowered in a smile.

“Could you not tell the others I was crying?”

“Testament. I am aware boys do not like people to know they cry.”

“Thanks,” he said while starting to leave the tub.

However, doing so while still looking back her way was a mistake.

His raised knee hit the edge of the tub.

“Ah.”

His hips and legs stayed put while his upper body toppled forward.


“Katagiri-dono!”

Fukushima panicked because Katagiri was falling head-first into the washing area.

She quickly stood up, bent over, and supported his falling body.

He was slippery with water, so she grasped his hipbones below his waist.

“…Oh!”

She grabbed his hips with both hands and lifted him up and back instead of just pulling back. His body shook and his hands fell to the washing area floor.

He quickly held out and spread his arms to support his upper body.

After confirming he had stopped, Fukushima relaxed her shoulders.

“That was a close one, Katagiri-dono.”

“T-testament. It really was.”

Just as he responded, the door to the bath opened to reveal a familiar face.

It was Kiyomasa and she had yet to remove her clothing.

“Fukushima-sama? Do you mind if I join you in the ba-…”

Her expression and movements froze when she saw them.


Horizon7-A643.jpg

Kiyomasa saw it.

With a towel over her shoulders, Fukushima was holding up Katagiri’s hips while he was on all fours and she was pulling his butt back toward her.

The two of them must have been overheating because they were dripping with what may have been sweat or bathwater and their skin was flushed.

“———————”

Kiyomasa adjusted her position when the bucket nearly fell from her hands.

Katagiri looked up at her, and…

“Y-you misunderstand, Kiyomasa-san! This isn’t what you, or pretty much anyone else who saw this scene, would think it was!”

“And what is it?”

Even Kiyomasa was shocked by how cold her tone was.

Fukushima took a breath before answering.

“Katagiri-dono has become a man.”

Kiyomasa slammed the bath door shut.


“Now,” said Fukushima. “D-did I say something wrong?”

“You didn’t need to be that honest! A-and please let go of my hips!”

The bath door opened and revealed Hachisuka this time.

She gasped, stopped, viewed the scene, and nodded.

“The impure one is Katagiri.”

“Wh-what kind of emphatic sentence is that!?”

Hachisuka shut the door and Fukushima let go of Katagiri’s hips as it clicked shut. And…

“This is thy fault, Katagiri-dono.”

“Wait, why are you glaring at me like that!? If anything, this was an accident! This feels like a personal attack on my rights!”

Fukushima started to leave the bath while Katagiri protested.

I cannot believe this.

She wanted to chase after Kiyomasa immediately, but what would she do then? Besides…

“It would look weird if I left without washing my hair or body.”

Would Kiyomasa return while she took care of that? She wondered that while stepping out of the tub and into the washing area.


“Wh-what were those two doing?”

In a dimly-lit space, a bucket fell to the floor and the soap within bounced out.

The bucket belonged to Kiyomasa, who was staring down at it.

She was in her room. She had run back, locked the door both spell-wise and physically, pressed her back against the door, and only then caught her breath.

Her long hair was caught between her back and the door. It had been damaged in the battle and she had hoped to treat it while bathing, but…

I can’t do that now.

She closed herself up before her thoughts went further than her desire to treat her hair in the bath.

“What is going on…?”

She was confused, but she felt like she had screwed up.

“And after I was worried about her and thinking about so many things…”

Oh, I’m looking down on her, she chided herself. But she could not deny the bad feeling deep in her chest.

What is this?

It was easy enough to describe.

“Fukushima-sama didn’t come to me.”

What was she even saying?

It was nothing more than Fukushima choosing someone else to work through her troubles.

But that made her sad. No…

“I don’t like it.”

She did not know why, but she did not like it.

Katagiri had been in the position she had wanted to-…

“N-no, that was a ceremony to make Katagiri-kun into a man! Yes, a ceremony!”

That was not quite the position she wanted to be in. In fact, it was completely different. Probably.

B-but on the other hand…

She started to imagine that happening to her instead.

“…!”

She grabbed the empty air in front of her and threw it aside.


Kiyomasa realized she was blushing.

Oh, no. This is not good. Katou Kiyomasa, you need to calm down.

I-I shouldn’t be having weird fantasies about someone as diligent as Fukushima-sama.

But she realized that thought did not solve anything.

“Ah…”

She covered her face with her hands and looked down at the bucket on the floor.

She started to pick it up, but…

“No…”

She instead slid down the door and onto her butt.

Her hands reached for the fallen bucket several times, but they always immediately returned to her cheeks.

She did not like this.

Fukushima had to be worrying over something important and Kiyomasa did not like that Fukushima had not come to her to talk about it. She also did not like how Fukushima had bluntly avoided her at Paris.

And she did not like how clearly irritated she was.

She recalled the other night.

During the festival, she and Fukushima had run together for training and she had kissed Fukushima at the end.

“———————”

She brought her fingers to her lips.

“It was on the cheek…but outside of my family, Fukushima-sama is the only person I ever did that for.”

Saying that made her realize just how important a person Fukushima was to her.

She realized it, but…

“Testament…”

There was nothing she could do about it, so she just curled up on the floor there.

She decided to use a spell for her damaged hair, she held her arms around her knees, and she shut her eyes.


“We are never going to accomplish anything like this. When are all of you planning to get some sleep?”

Asama stacked some compressed sleep spell charms and a few other charms on top of her futon.

It was already 11:30 and the Kantou Liberation began that morning at 2, so the ones fighting in that now had less than 3 hours to sleep.

Gin, who had already removed her prosthetic arms, responded.

“Asama Shrine Representative, getting some but not enough sleep would be more dangerous than none at all, so could you provide a 3x compression charm once we have 2 hours left? I think I will use that for an hour and a half to get a total of four and a half hours of sleep.”

“You sleep in periods of an hour and a half, don’t you? I think I’ll start doing that too.”

That comment came from Narumi who had loosened the connections and joints for her prosthetic limbs.

The connections and joints had the inner joints pulled out and they moved with a bit less power than usual. It may have been similar to a relaxed state for biological limbs. Narumi smiled when she noticed Asama’s gaze.

“I can move them, but it’s like lying in a hammock. It’s weird, but even though the prosthetics are machines, it’s easier on my body later if I give the joints some time to relax.”

“Yes, Date Vice Chancellor, it does feel that way, doesn’t it?” Gin agreed and looked to the prosthetic arms lying on either side of her. “Strangely, when I sleep with them removed, it wakes me up if Master Muneshige touches one of them due to his bad habit of moving in his sleep.”

Asama started to imagine those two sleeping side by side, but mentioning it would only make herself a target, so she stopped. Naruze was showing off a pretty realistic rough illustration and asking “like this?”, but it looked like a debate had broken out between “Yes, Gin-san’s face would be right alongside Muneo-san’s” and “her face would be by his chest”. Even though Gin was right there.

However, Gin was part of the Kantou Liberation group.

Asama held a charm out toward her.

“Those of us in the Nördlingen group don’t have to be ready until around 6 in the morning, so we still have time. But the Kantou group should want to get to sleep right away, so I’ll be passing these out, okay?”

“Oh?” Horizon took one of the compressed sleep charms. “So this is one of the rumored compressed sleep charms.”

“Eh? Are they that well known?”

“Of course they are, Asama,” said Naruze. “They’re a super useful item in the doujinshi business. You can use them yourself and you can use them in your doujinshi. We even have a saying: ‘Out of ideas? Time for a compressed sleep charm!’ ”

“If someone actually tries to do something to you when you’re using one, the criminal will have three thumbs’ worth of purifying yuzukosho shoved up their butt and then a super-loud alarm will sound.”

“Why not just do the last part?”

“Tradition, I imagine,” she said while Horizon held up the charm.

“So how do you use this sex charm?”

“It has nothing to do with sex. Anyway, um, you press this meter with your finger to set the time, press this compression-factor number, press this activation mark, and then attach it to your body. It will automatically start up.”

She looked over to see Horizon collapse to the side with it attached to her forehead.

Her eyes were wide open while she lay in a shallow manji pose. Everyone was a little disturbed by the sight.

“Well, that was…impressive.”

“Heh heh. Seeing her sleeping like that makes me want to draw a chalk outline around her.”

“I guess this means Asama-san’s explanation was accurate.”

“But if we try to wake her, it means yuzukosho up the butt, doesn’t it?”

Just as Naito asked that, Horizon’s arms detached on their own. They moved their wrists as if looking around and then yanked the charm from Horizon’s forehead.

She was awake in two seconds.

“That was a close one, Asama-sama. I very nearly went to sleep due to your eloquent explanation.”

“Well, I didn’t expect you to actually do it while I explained.” Asama grabbed two other varieties of charm. “Anyway, there is actually a trick to this. A ‘hack’ if you will.”

“What’s that, Asama!? You want me to spread this knowledge around at the next event!? Who should I make the culprit! Just this once, I’ll let you choose!”

“Okay, I choose you, Naruze.”

“Really?” groaned Naruze while turning her bitter smile away and tapping her forehead with the bottom of her pen.

Then she sighed while still looking away.

“Well, I should have expected that from you.”

“Wh-what’s that supposed to mean!?”

Anyway, she had to explain this.

“This here is a compressed sleep spell. Now, what is its biggest flaw?”

“Ooh, I know!” Naito raised her hand. “It puts a pretty big burden on your body when you wake up.”

“Exactly.”

Kimi held up a sign frame that asked “and what are the benefits?”, so Asama started to worry she was slipping into her infomercial material.

But what mattered here were the other charms.

“This is a cooling spell and this is a stable awakening spell.”

“What is a stable awakening spell?”

“You can think of it as an alarm clock spell,” said Naruze. “It manages your physical condition so you will naturally wake up at a specified time. Although if you set it to a range of times, you can use it to keep you awake.”

“I see you know all about that one, Naruze.”

“You need some way to work through the night when drawing a doujinshi. But I think I get what you’re planning, Asama. By activating the cooling spell and the stable awakening spell on top of the compressed sleep spell, you hope to eliminate the exhaustion and burden on your body.”

“Makes sense. So she’s striking a balance between the positive spells and the negative spell like Ga-chan and I do with our Weiss and Schwarz Technomagie. I knew Shinto had healing spells too, but I hadn’t thought about this possibility.”

“What does that mean?”

“Umm,” began Asama. “When you use a compressed sleep spell to sleep, there is some backlash on your body when the spell ends and you wake up. The burden is especially great because you rapidly wake up from very deep sleep. So by activating a weaker stable awakening spell on top of it, there is less of a shock when the compressed sleep spell ends and you can wake up properly. …Now, I’m including a cooling spell too, but by syncing its strength with the changes caused by the stable awakening spell, you can eliminate a lot of the exhaustion you would normally feel. In theory anyway.”

After explaining all that, Asama realized the Technohexen pair and Naomasa appeared to understand, but the only other one that came close was Mary who was counting on her fingers to think through it a step at a time.

Oops. My Shinto obsessions slipped out.

“Um, just do what I say and you’ll wake up feeling nice and rested.”

Horizon collapsed again. This time, the left hand removed the charm.

“S-sorry, Asama-sama. I got ahead of myself again.”

“Well, um, does that mean you want to get to sleep ASAP, Horizon?”

“Judge.” Horizon held out a hand. “What compression factor do I need to get a week’s worth of sleep in five hours?”


Futayo knew what Horizon meant.

“Horizon-sama! Do you wish to sleep soundly!?”

Everyone else responded with an “eh?”, but Horizon raised her right thumb.

“Judge. Quality sleep will complete the adjustments I need for the Logismoi Oplo. But a week’s worth in five hours will be difficult even for a 10th Level napper such as me.”

“Asama-sama, is that possible?”

By the time Futayo asked, Asama was already spreading out and counting a bundle of charms.

After checking through them two or three times from front to back, she bound them together with a paper skewer bearing the Asama Shrine’s emblem.

“Here, Horizon. This should be enough and I have already set them up for you.”

That was fast.

Futayo trembled more at Asama’s nonchalant expression than the thickness of the charm bundle.

As the Asama Shrine’s #2, that girl was essentially Musashi’s #2 Shinto Representative. As a Shinto spell expert, she rivalled Futayo whose position as Vice Chancellor made her Musashi’s #2 combat officer.

Asama had mostly limited herself to divine transmission relay work, but she had stepped to the forefront during the battle against Sanada.

“Horizon, we can’t have you sleeping the whole time you are at Toori-kun’s place and you don’t want to spend all your time sleeping either, right? So tell me whenever you need something like this.”

“Judge. I will gladly accept that offer.”

When Futayo saw her leader respectfully receiving the charm bundle in both hands, she realized what Horizon had meant by a battle formation.

Their roles and relationships were clearly defined and they all needed each other.

And Futayo was Musashi’s #2 in combat. Her leader recognized that fact.

Are there other areas where I can surprise them like Asama-sama is doing now?

She did not know, but she was pretty sure she had not reached that point yet. And…

“Masazumi?”

Masazumi, who was #2 in politics, raised her lowered head.

“Eh? O-oh, I’m just feeling a little sleepy. Yes, but falling asleep would only make me the butt of everyone’s jokes.”

“So when you’re feeling sleepy, you can come out and tell it like it is, huh?”

Masazumi did not react to Naruze’s comment. She instead collapsed down onto her futon.

“Hmm, this has been a rough day all the way to the bitter end. And tomorrow is going to be rough from the get-go.”

“Are you mentally worn out from all the meetings?” asked Naomasa.

“Hmm, I think going with everyone to Kanie Castle hit me hard too.”

“Should I not have made those vertical jumps while carrying you?” asked Futayo.

“I would be even more exhausted if you hadn’t carried me. Doing the whole thing on foot is enough to kill us liberal arts types.”

Everyone exchanged a glance and Naruze raised a hand.

“I’m a liberal arts type.”

So did Naito and…

Asama-sama, Kimi-dono, Mukai-dono, Mary-sama, and Horizon-sama.

“Our liberal arts types are pretty tough,” said Naruze. “Have you tried training, Masazumi?”

“I’ll think about it if I have an opening in my reading schedule.”

Masazumi rolled onto her back and stared intently up at the ceiling.

“Anyway, the hardest part is yet to come.”

“That is true,” said Futayo.

Several issues were in progress or developing.

The entire pre-summer break period was like a mesh of issues to deal with. So…

“Masazumi, what do you think is at the center of it all?”

“Judge. After the Kantou Liberation gets going, we take control of the Battle of Nördlingen and rescue Lady Nagaoka. And once Europe understands what it means to have Musashi around, we ask something of Lady Nagaoka.”

Namely…

“I want an audience with Akechi Mitsuhide in Kyoto.”


Asama was reminded of Novgorod.

U-um…

She recalled the fragmentary but crucial information they had received there.

“The Princess left behind a message saying ‘What’s keeping Mitsuhide-kun’, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Masazumi spoke while looking up at the ceiling.

“Akechi Mitsuhide was probably a student at Lord Motonobu’s academy just like the Prince of Orange was.”

And she said more.

“Do you remember what we saw below Sanada?”

“Masazumi? That wasn’t very long ago.”

“Judge. I just wanted to say that.”

Now she’s acting like Neshinbara-kun.

I hope she isn’t changing herself to match the weirder parts of this world. No, maybe she’s just tired and saying whatever comes to mind.

But Masazumi clenched her raised right hand and spoke.

“Lord Motonobu performed some unknown research in Sanada land, he left that site to his younger brother and continued his research elsewhere, and he tried to become ‘the Princess’s friend’ there. That was their academy which apparently only existed for a two year period.”

Asama continued for Masazumi with a “but”.

She thought back to what the Prince of Orange had told them below Novgorod.

“In a turn of events that would probably delight Neshinbara-kun, whatever they were doing there for two years ended in a miserable failure, didn’t it? Which leads us to…”

The memo.

During the earlier meeting, Mitotsudaira’s mother had given Masazumi a memo.

“Let’s take a look.”

Masazumi pulled it from her pocket and unfolded it on her futon.

Everyone gathered around to view the hand-written message.

<Taikyou-sama ni kotoba asohi no shitsumon

Uiriamu ni tanomu ka>

Which meant…

<A wordplay question for Taikyou-sama.

Can you take care of this, William?>

We saw this already, but…

“Who is Taikyou-sama?”

“The wordplay question is a mystery too,” said Mitotsudaira. “So, um, mother?”

“I honestly do not know what it means either.”

Then it was worth asking the boys. They were probably still up, so Asama connected to their divine chat.

Me: “You moron! Tenzou, why are you setting up a ceiling trap there!? Imagawa Alternate sleeps through the night after drinking, so you need to set up the Large Sake Bottle G at dawn!”

10ZO: “Toori-dono, why is your Gekoku Rank so high!?”

Me: “Hm? Because Sis and I have been burning up a bunch of Nagamasa Specials lately. They don’t drop a Nice Skull very often.”

Novice: “If you want the reward, you should do it in a 40% tax rate village. …Wait, why would you let them hit you with a full charge, Crossunite-kun? Fine, I will use my brush to write you a recovery letter.”

Bucket: “…”

10ZO: “Th-thanks for the help, Persona-kun-dono!”

Novice: “Okay, Crossunite-kun, you stay out front. Our party’s weapons are nudist, brush, rare nail bat, and shuriken, so we’re really unbalanced.”

It took her a second, but Asama finally realized what they were talking about.

“This must be that Gekoku Jaeger Dos game they’ve been advertising on the divine network.”

“I’ve actually been playing it too, but how far have you gotten, Kimi?” asked Mitotsudaira.

“Heh heh. My foolish brother and I are working on the Execution quest. But are they pulling an all-nighter on it?”

“Hm,” groaned Asama while getting authorization to forcibly set their sleep spell divine protections. “Well, I can make sure they get at least three compressed hours.”

Asama: “Toori-kun? We’re talking about the previous meeting, so could you join the conversation?”

Me: “Eh!? …Oh, sure! Ahhh, wait just a second. I’m gonna snag the loot from the Imagawa Alternate real quick. Tenzou! Don’t do a high-speed kaishaku when you didn’t do squat until now!”

Asama: “Are you going to have time to sleep? And play the game with Mito some time later, okay?”

Silver Wolf: “N-no, I’m still not very good at using the kusarigama.”

Me: “Hm? That’s fine. I’ll give you the full support the Nudist class can provide. Just leave it to me. …Anyway, um, what about the earlier meeting? Did he find out we colored his dick black?”

Asama: “Enough time has passed that I imagine he has. …But this is about the memo we received from Mito’s mom.”

<A wordplay question for Taikyou-sama.

Can you take care of this, William?>

Asama: “Does anyone know what this means?”

Novice: “Hmm, could this itself be the full memo? But the mention of a Taikyou-sama is curious.”

Four Eyes: “Can I see it?”

Asama looked over at Masazumi who had rolled back onto her stomach at some point. The girl opened her eyes when she noticed.

“Oh, sorry. …Um, what do you need? Oh, Shakespeare. This could give us a hint for the memo, so that’s fine. Besides, Shakespeare is supposed to be good with codes.”

“Really?”

Four Eyes: “The origin of my name put several hidden signs and codes in his plays. …That said, this message does not show any indication of that. Still, there are a few strange aspects to it.”

Such as…

Four Eyes: “When all of you saw the text, you converted it into meaningful words in your heads. As Far Easterners, you automatically parsed it as Far Eastern. But a question occurs to a foreigner like me: Are the dakuten really in the right place?”

Novice: “It looks to me like the only dakuten are on the ‘ba’ of ‘kotoba’.”

Four Eyes: “I think that is correct. A memo isn’t going to say anything too complicated. Especially when it was originally encoded like this one was. That makes it hard to say things with grammatical changes applied. With a substitution cipher, you only have to make sure the meaning is not obvious at a glance.”

So…

Four Eyes: “So are there any Far Eastern words that would apply to Taikyou-sama?”


Asama realized everyone was looking at her.

She wondered why as she viewed them with both a wrinkled brow and a smile.

“What is the meaning of this?”

“Heh heh. We think you will give us what we’re expecting, Asama.”

Then that was what she had to do. She sighed toward the floor and…

Asama: “It could refer to prenatal care, or it could refer to a large banquet.”

Four Eyes: “Would you refer to either of those with the honorific ‘sama’?”

Asama: “No, you wouldn’t. …Kimi stop turning it into a song!”

Four Eyes: “What a strange singer you have. But…if that reading is not normal, then you must be reading it wrong.”

“Eh?” said Asama as more words arrived.

Four Eyes: “By adding dakuten, it could also be Daikyou, Taigyou, or Daigyou. Do those refer to anything?”

Asama: “Daikyou means ‘very bad luck’ in Shinto fortunes. Which are, um…”

Four Eyes: “I am familiar with them, so don’t worry. The Asama Shrine is in charge of love, marriage, and childbirth, so when I visited Musashi before, I made sure to keep drawing fortunes until I got the very best one. That’s ‘very good luck’, right?”

Kimi slapped Asama’s shoulder from behind.

“There is actually a ‘mega good luck’ above that, isn’t there? Your dad added it in when my foolish brother drew ‘very good luck’ three times in a row.”

“Y-yes, but Toori-kun easily drew that three times in a row, so there’s a ‘tera good look’ this year. But I’m afraid telling her that will get Neshinbara-kun killed.”

Naruze was typing up a personal divine mail, so Asama had a feeling it was already too late.

At any rate, Shakespeare’s suggestion had given them an outside perspective that helped remove their blinders.

“If we assume it is Very Bad Luck-sama, they start to sound like quite a character, don’t they?”

“Heh heh. But who is it referring to. Someone with just the worst luck imaginable?”

Good question, thought Asama with a tilt of her head.

Someone with bad luck.

Tenzou came to mind, but he had actually been inundated with good luck since Mary’s arrival.

She also thought of Adele, but it was really misfortune that plagued that girl, not bad luck.

“Wh-why is everyone looking at me!?”

Apparently everyone else was thinking the same thing. But…

“It’s a somewhat compelling idea, but I still feel like that isn’t it.”

Four Eyes: “I’m not going to say that is correct either. But you need to be careful here. …Words can change meaning in the blink of an eye, so you need to assume that can happen with this memo. And you need to make sure you don’t miss the moment when the meaning changes.”

“We won’t,” said Asama and Shakespeare ended the connection from her end. But…

Hori-ko: “She has an edge to her that Neshinbara-sama lacks, doesn’t she?”

Novice: “Wait, what was that about Shinto fortunes!? That’s news to me!”

Mar-Ga:' “Why do you want to know when the answer would only terrify you? …Also, how long are you planning to stay up? You do know the rumor about the Imagawa Alternate dropping Endurance Balls was bogus, right?”

Me: “What!? You mean you can’t take his balls!? So the folding screen image of him as a girl isn’t real either!? …Okay, I’m going to bed. We can get Tenzou’s equipment after Nördlingen. I’ll play with Nate then too.”

Silver Wolf: “Eh!? Oh, judge! Please do.”

Hori-ko: “Then until dawn, Toori-sama.”

Me: “Sure thing. I’ll make breakfast. Night, Nee-chan. You too, Asama.”

Asama: “Oh, y-yes. Good night.”

Hearing that led Asama to realize just how much had happened today. So without thinking…

Asama: “Toori-kun.”

She called out his name. And…

Me: “Yeah.”

He answered her.

Me: “A lot happened today.”

“Yes,” she replied.

That was enough. It was enough to confirm with each other that all of that had indeed happened.

I need to figure out how to use this lid of mine.

With that thought, she faced forward. Kimi was smiling bitterly, Mitotsudaira was smiling normally, and Naruze was…

“Sounds like there’s a story we need to get out of you.”

“No, no, no, no. Not at all, not at all.”

Asama smiled, held out her hands, and pulled back her hips.

“I’m going to sleep!”

She pulled the covers up over her head to hide like a turtle.

“Oh, these are everyone’s charms. I will send the boys’ ones via divine transmission.”

“No fair, Asama. Why won’t you let us tease you?”

“Why would I?”

It was worth learning how to dodge these things. But she did recall one thing she had seen while crawling underneath the covers.

Horizon was smiling.

Like she found this amusing or enjoyable.

Asama may have been imagining it, but that was how it had looked to her.

I see.

Horizon had said before she would lead them while also getting help from them as she lived her life.

In a way, that was like being a servant, but Asama found happiness there and it seemed to be sending happiness back to Horizon as well.

Oh, thought Asama.

“Horizon?”

She called out from her futon. And…

“What is it, Asama-sama? I am about to enter super sleep mode.”

“Oh, sorry. But it’s just, um…”

She thought about what to say. She could sense the others focusing on her, but…

“Do you see our happiness as the reward for our efforts in giving you the world?”

“No. I am in no position to say that.”

Horizon replied without hesitation and she had more to say.

“Listen. Your work and efforts are only all directed toward giving me the world, so that can be the only reward. But if the result or process provide all of you with happiness, then it means all of that work and effort was worth more than just world domination. And that would delight me. In other words…”

In other words…

“If you find happiness in your relationship with me and Toori-sama, then that is extra value added on top of our world domination.”

“Then…”

But just as Asama started to reply…

“Cut it out. We don’t need a girl at the height of her happiness asking if she’s really allowed to be happy.”

Kimi suddenly pulled up on Asama’s covers.

Asama grabbed the top of the covers with her hands, but…

“Too bad.”

Kimi pulled up the bottom of the covers as if flipping them over.

Asama could not hold it down with her feet, so there was nothing to stop Kimi.

“Asama-sama, everyone can see your butt.”

“O-only because I climbed in feet first and it pushed up my yukata! I wasn’t stripping below the covers!!”

“Eh?”

Everyone looked over to Mary who had her covers draped over her like a long cloak. She looked at the group before speaking.

“You don’t…take off your clothes below the covers?”

That’s a new one, thought Asama.

Naruze was posting something on the divine network, but no one bothered asking what.


Chapter 21: Instigator in the Dark[edit]

Horizon7-A669.jpg

If thou must know

The victim was collapsed

On the floor

When I entered the room.

Point Allocation (Closed Room Case)


Fukushima faced Kiyomasa.

They were in the corridor next to the Azuchi Castle’s dining hall. She stood in front of Kiyomasa in a spot one corner beyond the entrance’s main corridor.

Kiyomasa was wearing her off-duty track suit and looking at Fukushima with her back to the wall.

“Fukushima-sama?”

She tilted her head with her blue eyes looking up at Fukushima.

“Is something wrong? You aren’t saying anything. …And I can’t know what you mean when you don’t say anything.”

“Well, um…”

“Fukushima-sama?”

Kiyomasa gave a troubled smile and moved.

She opened the top of her track suit. She revealed the M.H.R.R. girl’s inner suit she wore below. Hers was colored white and blue.

She lightly held the sides below her arms so the top would not close back up.

“…Fukushima-sama?”

“Y-yes!?”

“I would be willing to do it with you.”

“D-do what?”

“Well.” Kiyomasa nodded. “Eat curry udon together in the dining hall. If the sauce splashes on me, I can hide it below my track suit.”


Fukushima’s eyes opened wide and saw a dark blue surface.

Wh-why!?

She could tell her pulse was racing. She could also feel a lot of heated sweat between her back and the blanket below her.

She was breathing heavily and she found herself in a pose similar to a dance.

“…This is my room?”

Yes. The Azuchi Castle was cruising toward Kantou at the moment. She had wanted to sleep until they arrived, so she had shut off the lights in her room and collapsed into bed.

Her pulse refused to calm down and she only wore the top of her inner suit with the sleeves removed and a supporter in place of underwear.

That was her usual comfort-focused outfit when in her room.

The dark blue scene she saw was the light produced by the backup glow panel. The brightness had been adjusted from its usual orange color to help her sleep.

That blue color made me think of her, she thought.

Her?

Who is that? she wondered with a tilt of the head.

She was the only person here. No one else could have gotten in.

In that case, this “her” had to be…

“…”

She got up, sat cross-legged on the bed, and thought.

Who is this “her”?

The sweat on her back felt gross, but she tilted her head while undoing the connectors for the back cloth. She tossed the sweat-damp cloth toward the laundry basket by the entrance.

No, now is not the time to be focused on laundry.

“Am I trying to run away from some kind of personal problem?”

Then what was that personal problem she had to face?

She saw the dark blue wall in front of her. There was that blue color again.

As her eyes gradually adjusted to the dark, the flat surface in front of her reminded her of something. When she tried to work out what, she realized it was the dimly-lit wall of a ship corridor.

Huh? Why would I be remembering that?

Just as she asked herself that, she recalled a scene from her dream.


After her bath, Koroku holed up in her room to play a game on a lernen figur.

Since the Genbu was badly damaged, she would have a hard time fighting in the Kantou Liberation. Even if she did join the fight, Takenaka had decided it was best for her to stick to a data processing role.

“Hachisuka-san, I don’t think you and the other god of war pilots should be broken down into data too many times in a single day. It’s too big a burden on your bodies.”

So now was her time to rest, but she honestly could not get to sleep.

Since she would be on the rear guard during the coming battle, she had decided she might as well just stay up.

That said, the Azuchi was en route. The ship shook a lot during its high-speed cruising. When she tried to read, it did not reach the level of motion sickness, but she could feel herself growing shifted from the outside world. That was why she had started playing this game, but…

It’s a suspense adventure game with horror elements…

She liked scary things, but she had trouble with them. Her curiosity led her to purchase these games and manga, but she had trouble actually playing or reading them while alone.

But she was on the Azuchi right now. Most everyone was getting some rest for the coming battle, but there would be some who were still awake. This was not like in the surface bases where only the night-duty guards were awake.

Fukushima was in the room to the left and Katagiri to the right. If anything happened, she could call to the left for help, so she could relax and enjoy the suspense and horror. Just to be safe, she had left the door to her room unlocked.

She was currently playing Siren Hill, a game based on the legends of the Rhine River’s siren. A closed room murder occurred in a mansion on a hill, everyone on the hill grew suspicious of each other, you pursued the murderer on the hill while only knowing they were catastrophically tone deaf, and the murderer tried to strike back at you on the hill.

Right now, her companions in the game had gone to visit a hill hot spring and buy some hill coffee beans, so her character was alone in the hill mansion and she was pursuing some footsteps presumably belonging to the murderer.

She was fairly certain she would find the murderer waiting to ambush her if she opened the door up ahead, but the game character kept finding excuses to keep going and refused to turn around. For example:

“Yes, now is the time for positive thinking! Nothing better for your mental hill-th!”

Stop making awful hill puns. And find a better reason to head to your death.

But the character refused to listen and reached for the door.

“———————”

The screen went dark.

Once she hit the key on the lernen figur, the next line of text would appear.

It would appear all at once.

She just had to hit the key.

Kh.

Do it. Reveal the truth. Or is this leading to a game over?

Go!

As soon as Koroku placed her finger on the key, the door burst open behind her.

“Hachisuka-dono!!”


Fukushima saw Hachisuka sitting cross-legged in the center of the room with her back to the door.

“———————”

But the girl suddenly fell limply to the side.

Mh?

Koroku collapsed to the side and stopped moving.

Fukushima was worried she had said something strange in her sleep and she was worried that Hachisuka had heard her from the adjacent room, so she was here to ask. But…

“Hachisuka-dono?”

She walked closer and noticed Hachisuka had a lernen figur open.

Did she fall asleep from overwork?

She was not sure, but the lernen figur displayed the text “Press any key.”

Is she working on something? wondered Fukushima while pressing a key. Then the screen displayed an image of a person. A few lines of text scrolled by, but she was not sure what it meant.

She kept pressing the key until the screen showed a blue sky with the text “Perfect Ending – Reward Unlocked”.

Is this a game?

She still did not understand because she did not play these much herself.

<Good job. You have my praise.>

<You revealed the true murderer’s identity! You have fully cleared the game. Would you like to clear your data, save, and replay from the beginning? Y/N>

She did not understand, so she searched for the Y key and pressed it.

“Hm, that should have saved Hachisuka-dono some trouble.”

Still, Hachisuka remained collapsed on the floor.

She must have been exhausted, concluded Fukushima. I doubt she would have heard any noise I was making in my room.

She left Koroku’s room while making sure to leave no trace of her visit.


Fukushima sighed once back out in the corridor. And she realized something.

I might as well be in my underwear!

With a battle coming, people would be moving through this corridor. There was luckily no one at the moment, but she decided to be more careful in the future as she rushed back into her own room.

But I can’t believe this, she thought while locking her door and sitting back on her bed.

How could this have happened?

She knew what to blame: that dream. That could never happen in reality. She recalled the words Kiyomasa had said to her in that dream.

“———————”

She slammed her head against the wall to erase the image from her brain.


Koroku woke up on the floor. She had fallen onto her side there.

“…Huh!?”

She had no idea what had happened. The last thing she remembered was cornering the murderer in the game, hearing the door behind her open, and hearing someone call her name.

!?

She looked back, but the door was closed. She looked forward.

“The title screen…”

Hadn’t she cornered the murderer?

She could practically hear herself grow pale as she scrambled back to the wall.

With her back against the wall, she took a breath.

Calm down.

She was fine. No matter what had happened, no one could attack her from behind when her back was against the wall.

“I’m fine. If anything happens, I can call to Fukushima for-…”

Just as she said that, there was a loud bang on the wall behind her.

The impact, vibration, and noise passed through her from behind.

“———————”

She collapsed onto her side.


“Kh…”

I hit my head a little too hard that time, thought Fukushima.

But a hit to the head was not going to do anything about the memories inside it.

Why did I have that dream?

She did not remember the dream’s conclusion in the slightest. She just remembered Kiyomasa suddenly removing her top and…

“———————”

Fukushima slammed her head against the wall.

Honestly.

Why that dream?

No, she knew why. She just refused to accept it and she was taken aback by the sudden approach the dream had taken. Besides…

That was only a dream, so it has nothing to do with the real Kiyo-dono!

Did that mean she had lost out? Or was it a win that she could see something like that in a dream?

“What is wrong with me!?”

She did not really remember the conclusion, but Kiyomasa had suddenly removed her top and shown off her chest in her inner suit. What was that if not a dirty dream?

The question was why her dirty dream had featured Kiyomasa.

And when she considered that question…

“…”

She fell back in bed with her limbs sprawled out around her.

That’s right…

She did not know what had happened in the dream, but when she tried to remember…

“Nn…”

She wrapped her pillow in her summer blanket and hugged it.

That was obviously not Kiyomasa. She had picked up and hugged the real Kiyomasa when returning to the Paris battlefield and at the end of that training festival, so she knew it did not feel much like the girl.

The real one was warm and soft. Her body heat and flesh felt like they were sucking you in.

“No, I need to calm down, not fantasize about that!”

She simply wanted that sensation in her arms to help her remember the dream.

If only she could feel things in the dream, she could have avoided creating a virtual Kiyomasa like this.

“This is the dream’s fault…”

She decided she was making up for what the dream had lacked, but then she sighed.

I cannot get to sleep…

She tried to force herself to shut her eyes, but then…

“Hm?”

The Azuchi shook. And not because it was making a turn or had hit a wall of turbulence. This was the shaking caused by a rapid drop in speed.

She thought they might have arrived in Kantou, but a glance at the clock showed that could not be. Only about an hour had passed since they left Paris. Which meant…

“Are we stopping somewhere?”


“Huh? What are you doing here at this hour, Hachisuka-san?”

Koroku heard Takenaka’s voice while she sat at a seat near the dining hall counter.

She did not remember everything clearly, but she had experienced a few different paranormal phenomena in a row, so she had arranged for an emergency exorcism of her room. The Azuchi belonged in part to P.A. Oda, M.H.R.R., and the Far East, so she had to go to the trouble of getting it exorcised thrice: in the Mlasi style, the Tsirhc style, and the Shinto style.

It was a real pain because, when she had tried to have all three done at once, the Mlasi exorcist, who had repeatedly prostrated on the floor, and the Catholic exorcist, who had shouted and swung a sword around, got into an argument and nearly started a holy war against each other. The Shinto exorcist had been clapping, but she was convinced they were actually applauding because they thought the fight was funny.

She had not wanted to stay in her room with that going on, so she had come here instead. However…

“If I shouldn’t be in the dining hall, I’ll go elsewhere.”

“No, it’s fine,” said Takenaka while asking for some tea and snacks at the counter.

Koroku made a demand while watching Takenaka approaching as the kitchen prepared her order.

“Explain yourself.”

“Oh? Should I not be in the dining hall either?”

“You’ll vomit.”

Everyone else in the dining hall gave Takenaka a serious look and nodded.

“Ah.” She put up her guard. “There are some strategies I can only think up when I vomit! You didn’t know that!?”

“No and I refuse to remember it. So is the Azuchi going to Kyoto? What about Lake Biwa Azuchi?”

“Wow, you catch on quickly, Hachisuka-san. I like it. We’ll be going to Lake Biwa Azuchi to resupply, but stopping at Kyoto comes first.”

“Why?”

This wasn’t part of the plan, thought Koroku. Their plan had been to stop at Lake Biwa Azuchi, resupply there, and continue on to Kantou. If they were suddenly deciding to stop at Kyoto…

“Is it Akechi?”

When Koroku asked that, Takenaka sat in the seat next to her. While lowering her hips, she nodded with a smile.

“That’s right. Yes. It’s about Akechi-san. …Because Tamako-san’s history recreation is coming up. He says he wants to hold a meeting about that. It is a pretty tricky issue after all.”

“It’s possible she might blow herself up, so it’s definitely unpleasant. …So will Hashiba disembark while the rest of us continue on?”

“It would be a real pain if this messed with our plans.” Takenaka smiled at Koroku with her eyebrows lowered a little. “She’s surprisingly inflexible about these things. Besides, I feel like your group knows Hashiba-kun better than me.”

“I’ll admit a lot has shifted out of place, but the rest of us don’t have the ability to make a plan and adjust.”

“Yes, because that’s my job.”

Takenaka opened several lernen figurs. She stacked them together, lowered the opacity level, and read through all the text at once.

She must have grasped the contents of around a dozen lernen figurs in the time it normally took to read one.

“I only just now thought up this method, but it really hurts my eyes.”

“What happens once you get eyestrain?”

“Ero ero ero ero.”

“Don’t vomit in the dining hall!”

Everyone screamed and fled, but Takenaka smiled at the center of it all.

“Oh, don’t worry, don’t worry. I brought an expedition barf bag, so I’ll have it cleaned up faster than with cat litter.”

Takenaka lifted up a paper bag. There was already some weight in the movement of her hand.

“Do you want one?”

“I’m good.”

“Is that so?” said Takenaka before someone called out to her from the counter.

Her tea and snacks were ready.

“Okay, Hachisuka-san, go get that for me.”

“Get it yourself.”

“But I need to think up a strategy. …You said it yourself remember? Hashiba-kun disembarking while we continue on.”

“Can we do that?”

Koroku prepared herself to go to the counter depending on the answer. And…

“Kyoto and Lake Biwa Azuchi are pretty close together. We can send Hashiba-kun to Kyoto on as fast a ship as we can manage and have her return while we are resupplying at Lake Biwa Azuchi. That sounds good to me, but what do you think?”

“Eh?” said the other people in the dining hall.

“Um!” said one warrior girl. “I was hoping to buy a hand mirror if we were stopping at Kyoto!”

“My supply of pickled foods is running low, so I wanted to restock!”

“Can’t we get a 10-minute tour of Kyoto!?”

“Hm, I could send you on Hashiba-kun’s ship as bodyguards and have them send out a hub ship for diplomatic purposes.”

The girls cheered, but Koroku did not entirely understand.

“Are they hoarding unnecessary things as a response to the battlefield stress?”

“Oh, Hachisuka-san, so you understand the process behind my vomiting!?”

“No, that’s your hobby.”

“I-if that was a hobby, I would have failed my interview.”

“Never mind,” said Koroku to stop Takenaka. “So how much will this delay us?”

“Testament. We need to quickly slow down so Hashiba-kun can disembark. Then we can coast on inertia to reach Lake Biwa Azuchi. Or maybe we should accelerate again for that short distance. I need to discuss that one with ‘Azuchi’-san. But even in the worst case, I think the delay will only be about 20 minutes.”

“I’ll go get your order.”

Hachisuka stood up and approached the counter, but Takenaka called out after her.

“The green tea and strawberry marzipan are for you. And things should be getting started in Kantou soon. I was planning to listen in on that, so would you care to join me?”


The night sky was changing.

Dark clouds had covered the sky throughout the day, but they were starting to clear up.

The sea breeze would normally create clouds, blow them inland, and raise their density.

But two things were changing that wind.

One was the time.

It was past midnight, so the sky had begun to cool, which changed the density and quality of the clouds. The sea lost its daytime temperature and stole heat from the atmosphere above it.

The wind grew dry and cooled the inland wind. The clouds broke apart and then hit the second change.

The second thing changing the sky were the several rows of aerial ships and the giant eight ships of the Musashi floating in the air.

When the wind collided with those ships, it altered the localized air currents.

Those ships had been there during the day and the atmosphere had started to stabilize, but the winds were broken apart by the movement of the ships heading to the Kantou Liberation and the turning of the Musashi.

The Musashi was turning to the west.

That giant movement was viewed from the Mouri fleet above the coast in southern Kantou and the Hashiba fleet in the southeast.

They watched carefully as the Musashi’s rotation destroyed the sky.

“It’s like moving a giant city.”

“When it turns, they must have to control the center and the ends in different ways.”

“They can really move all eight ships around at once like that?”

Everyone voiced their thoughts, but on the Musashi…

“That makes a total of one full rotation. I have determined it was a wasted rotation. Over.”

“C’mon, ‘Musashi’-san, can’t you just think of it like tossing and turning in your sleep? How about it?”

“I do not sleep, so I cannot toss and turn in it. Over.”

Meanwhile, the sky grew temporarily crowded as cargo was transported from the Musashi to Mouri. Transport ships and the Mouri and Mogami fleets were gathered around the Musashi’s south side, so the Musashi moved a bit inland to give them space.

Hashiba responded by establishing a formation at the entrance of Edo Bay.

They had to protect the Uraga Channel. That was the long, narrow strip of water between the Miura Peninsula west of Edo Bay’s entrance and the Bousou Peninsula east of the entrance. Control of the sea and air in that space (which measured 10km across east to west and 40km north to south) was the key to victory.

Hashiba had the advantage there because they already held Edo Bay.

“Now, we must establish a solid foothold here.”

On that instruction from Kuki, they lined up transport ships in the Bousou side of the water and linked them together to create a foothold for anti-air attacks.

They established three similar footholds toward Edo to prevent the enemy from circling around to the north.

In the sky above the Uraga Channel, they placed nine ironclad ships they had flown in on short notice.

To the west, they kept six Kraken-class warships on the ground in the Miura Peninsula. Eight more hovered in the sky above. They also had warships in Edo, but the sea was their main focus. That was due to their expectation that…

“Even in the worst case, we can settle this in the Uraga Channel.”

Instead of waiting for Hashiba’s arrival, they intended to end this before the Azuchi Castle arrived.

Meanwhile, the Satomi forces were headed straight from Odawara to the Uraga Channel. They followed the coast with their fleet stretched out from east to west. They were prepared to break through the enemy fleet to take control of the air and sea at the Uraga Channel.

They were aiming for the west side of the channel. They would head straight in and…

“I expect they’ll form a wall stretching across Uraga from west to east to force their way across the Bousou Peninsula.”

Terumoto watched as the Kantou Liberation forces, minus the Musashi, headed east.

The Kantou Liberation was beginning.


A single girl raised her hand with the clear dark sky behind her.

It was Yoshiyasu.

However, she was displayed on a screen.

It was a sign frame. The Mouri, Mogami, and Musashi forces participating in the Kantou Liberation all viewed the same scene on their screens.

She wore a new style of equipment for a god of war pilot.

It was colored white and included long gloves and long leg guards that would adjust her data transmission level while joined with the god of war. She spoke while keeping her body perfectly steady.

“It is 0200 hours.”

She swung down her raised hand.

“Let the Kantou Liberation begin.”


Study: Kantou Liberation Layout[edit]

Horizon7-A690.jpg

Toori: Sis! Sis! Sounds like the Kantou Liberation’s started, but what’s the layout like this time!?

Kimi: Heh heh heh. Layout brother, this is what things look like now. Let’s watch and see how it changes, shall we?”


On map:

Left of 9: Great Edo Ruins

Above 8: Edo Bay

Above 4: Miura Peninsula

Right of 7: Bousou Peninsula


Map key:

1. Mouri Fleet – Pension Versailles

2. Yamagata Castle

3. Mouri Fleet’s Route: 3 rows following the coast. North row made of transport ships for defense. Middle and south rows made of warships.

4. Hashiba Fleet stationed on the Miura Peninsula. Some landed.

5. Kuki’s Ironclad Ships. 9 ships arranged in 3 rows of 3.

6. Cannon Foothold on the Uraga Channel

7. Cannon Foothold in Edo Bay. Nabeshima’s Mechanical Dragon.

8. Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay. Nagaoka is here.

9. Fleet above Edo to monitor things from the north.

10. Transport ships supplied by Mouri.


Toori: The Mouri fleet is just charging right on in there, aren’t they? Will they be okay?

Kimi: When you charge straight in, it either means you’re incompetent or you have a plan. So let’s watch and see which it is.


Chapter 22: Leader of the Recovery[edit]

Horizon7-A691.jpg

Some things can be taken back

Some things cannot be

If you can only have one thing

Which would it be?

Point Allocation (The Future)


The battle did not begin immediately.

The Hashiba forces moved their formation to intercept their enemy, but they did not move forward.

Meanwhile, the Mouri forces kept their distance by choosing to move from the coast to the ocean.

It was only a matter of time before they clashed, but the Hashiba forces extended their formation southeast to intercept and stop their enemy while the Mouri forces took a route east along the ocean to the south.

The Mouri forces wanted to circle around the ocean to reach the Bousou Peninsula, but there was only so far they could go with that route. If they took too wide a turn to avoid the Hashiba forces, they would pass the southern tip of the Bousou Peninsula and miss the landmass entirely.

Meanwhile, the Hashiba forces could not focus all their strength on pursuing the Mouri forces. If they were pulled too far southeast, their formation to protect the Uraga Channel would fall apart and the next wave of Mouri forces would attack.

That was why the Hashiba forces had the warships above the Uraga Channel move south. Those nine ironclad ships flew at different altitudes to form a wall that would block the Mouri forces.

The Miura Peninsula defense fleet was to the west. The stationary cannon emplacements were to the north. Add in the ironclad ships to the south and the overall formation had a “ ⎤ ” shape.

The Mouri Fleet was charging into the inner angle from the west.

They tried rerouting south, but the ironclad ships had the greater speed.

The ironclad ships were 800m long. They formed stacks of three ships with 2km between them and the ships behind them, so they effectively surrounded the Uraga Channel cannon emplacements from about 8km away.

Mouri responded by continuing south regardless.

But something stopped their fleet.

Behind the “ ⎤ ”-shaped interception formation, the aerial fleet defending the Bousou Peninsula started moving south.

If that defense fleet moved out from Bousou, they would push the Mouri fleet out into the ocean.

So the Mouri fleet chose to fly straight toward the ironclad fleet.

The assault ships in the lead moved to the center right of the ironclad ships arranged in 3 stacks of 3 ships.

They were attempting to fly between the rightmost group and the center group.

And the ships following them selected a route that would take them past the assault ships on the right.

If the ironclad ships narrowed together to prevent the assault ships from slipping through, these other ships would slip past them on the right.

A moment later, the Miura Peninsula defense fleet and the Mouri assault ships arrived within 10km of each other.

Fire raced through the night.

The first shots were launched by Hashiba’s Miura Peninsula defense fleet.


Asano Yoshinaga could not see the distant cannon fire.

But she could hear the blasts which sounded oddly soft as they reverberated through the night.

“So it’s beguuuun…”

She saw a great body of water before her.

It was the edge of Edo Bay on the east side of the Bousou Peninsula.

The fighting was happening at the Uraga Channel’s entrance, which was about 50km from here.

She was on the north end of the Bousou Peninsula. She was part of a defense unit in case the enemy took a land route from Edo Bay.

She saw the occasional aerial ship silhouette in the southern sky and the light of shellfire would brighten the sky like distant lightning.

But there was no definite evidence of fighting.

The enemy had not come here. Which meant…

“Weee’re useless.”

“No, you aren’t. It just means the enemy didn’t take that route.”

“Ohhh, Nabe-san. Fighting already?”

“I’m halfway up Uraga, so I haven’t been sent out yet. But I can see the fighting. …Wanna see?”

“No? If I see iiit, it’ll feel like I’m part of iiit, so I’ll paaass.”

Maybe I’m being disrespectful, thought Asano.

But it was true she had nothing to do.

She was on the bay coast of northern Bousou. There were only two routes for the enemy to reach here, assuming they did not arrive by air.

The first was along the bay. They would circle around from the northwest to the southeast. And the other…

“Nagaokaaa, how about you?”

She turned to view a long bridge.

The half-ruined bridge crossed Edo Bay from east to west. That was the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay.

Nagaoka had taken up a sniper position on top of a rest station building at the midpoint of the bridge.

“Can you see to the south?”


Tadaoki was on the roof of a ruined building.

This was the center of Edo Bay, so he might as well have been on the ocean.

This great bridge was what remained of a land route built to cross Edo Bay. In the Age of the Gods, there had apparently been an undersea tunnel continuing west from this building, but that was flooded now. However…

During the Age of Dawn, a bridge was built as a “sea route” for an eastern expedition.

The bridge had been maintained ever since for the value of the ruins, the economic value it provided, and avoiding any rights troubles and wasted effort if the undersea tunnel was reopened in the future.

During the Kamakura Shogunate, it had been expanded in the name of preserving the ruins, but since the western entrance was managed by Edo instead of Houjou, Satomi and Houjou had not been dragged into a war.

From what he could tell, this building acted as a provisional dividing line and he could see Satomi-managed fishing boats using the expanded bridge east of the building.

But at the moment…

“Heyyy, whaaat’s happening to the southhh?”

Asano often sounded a beat slow when speaking, but she was good at coming up with plans in battle. She likely understood why she had been placed as a defender on the peninsula coast land route, so…

“Are you bored?”

“Hmmm, I’m really just curious.”

“Are you?” sighed Tadaoki. It could be hard to believe, but she was two years older than him. He interacted with her a lot and he figured that was why he could speak so casually with her. “The angles don’t work out, so I can’t see the western ocean from here. All I can tell is that the south Bousou fleet appears to be headed further south. The defense fleet above Edo is staying put.”

“Hmmm. What about the Musashiii?”

Tadaoki felt his heart skip a beat when he heard that.

He thought she might be trying to subtly ask about his visit to the Musashi. But…

I am further west than her group.

He decided not to read too much into it and looked up to the west.

There, the Musashi was…

IT: “The Musashi is entering stealth mode after turning west. It probably doesn’t want to get dragged into the battle.”

Asano: “I wasn’t asking you, Ikedaaa. I was aaasking Nagaoka.”

IT: “I’m closer to the Musashi. Uunderstand?”

Asano: “Ikedaaa, quiiit tryyying tooo copyyy meee.”

That’s what he was doing? thought Tadaoki with a shudder.

It didn’t sound anything like her! I didn’t even notice he was doing it!

He even wondered if Asano was falsely accusing Ikeda here, but…

Kanitama: “Hm, those two really do get along great.”

Do they? thought Tadaoki in shock while hanging his head.

Crap.

He felt like he had recently started realizing how ignorant he was about relationships and the subtleties of human emotion. But…

Nabe3: “Nagaoka, you can call them on their crap when they say stuff like that. Don’t worry about it.”

Okaaa: “Well, um, I’ll try, I guess.”

He appreciated Nabeshima’s leadership, but he still had trouble relying on it. Not to mention…

Asano: “Nagaoka, you’ll do things when Nabe-san tells you tooo? Are you into ollllder girls?”

Okaaa: “Older? Aren’t you all the same age?”

Asano: “Ehhh? Nabe-san works hard on her imaaaage. She feels five years older than meee.”

Nabe3: “Again, Nagaoka, you can call them on their crap.”

Can’t you do it? he wondered. However…

“Hm?”

The sound of shellfire from the south had changed.

There was still nothing here, but…

“Are the ironclad ships in range of the Mouri forces?”


Kuki made all the by-the-book responses from his command ship above the Bousou Peninsula.

His forces both outnumbered and outgunned the enemy.

The enemy had been deprived of Houjou and Date and they lacked the major firepower of the Musashi. It helped a lot that most of Mouri’s transport ships had been sent to the Hashiba forces as “supplies for the Keichou Campaign”.

Thanks to that, the Mouri forces got most of their numbers from transport ships provided by Musashi.

It was true Musashi had provided an unexpectedly large number of transport ships, but even with cannons loaded onboard to use them as warships, they were not very powerful as attackers.

The exchange of cannon fire had already begun, but the louder sounds were coming from the Hashiba ships and the quieter from the Mouri ships. The difference in volume painted a clear picture of the difference in firepower.

Kuki did not think Hexagone Française was a weak nation when it came to aerial forces. They had the technology and resources to construct and operate large ships such as the Pension Versailles.

“They do plan to settle the outside world, after all.”

But Hexagone Française had little combat experience using their aerial fleet.

And a lack of experience did not just mean combat was not their forte. It meant they were lagging behind when it came to developing and deploying new technology designed with the feedback provided by combat experience.

You only had to think back to when they had surrounded IZUMO to attack the Musashi.

That must have been the most they were willing to reveal of their Hexagone Française fleet.

They had their target surrounded, so the standard fleet tactics would have been to close in on their target to use their cannons. An M.H.R.R. fleet had held the east of IZUMO where the Musashi was, but Hexagone Française had made no attempt to circle around them.

“Did they not want to reveal just how bad they are at naval battles?”

Hexagone Française had lured Hashiba into their territory later, but they had once again avoided a naval battle by primarily using gods of war in ground battles and ambushes.

The initial exchange of cannon fire was occurring in the western sky.

The front of the Mouri fleet was being fired on by the ironclad ships directly ahead of them and Kuki’s fleet over the Miura Peninsula to their right.

The Mouri fleet was returning fire, but there was a difference in firing range and accuracy.

The Mouri fleet could not resupply, so they had to conserve their ether cannons that used both a physical shell and ether. They primarily used the physical shell cannons and spell cannons and only used the ether cannons when their vanguard had moved out.

That was slow going.

The differences in combat speed, weapon ability, and availability of supplies meant everything in this battle.

At the moment, the ironclad ships were untouchable. Their thick armor and great size let them overwhelm normal warships.

And this time, there were nine of them. That meant they could be used as a wall.

We have so much more to work with than during the Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi.

Back then, he had been the attacker and thus needed to stay on the move. Eight ironclad ships had been lost as a result. He had also lost his right arm, which he had replaced with a biological prosthetic.

But things were different now.

He was the defender instead of the attacker, so he only had to focus on defense and positioning.

If the enemy managed to land on the Bousou Peninsula, he would have partially lost.

If they managed to take the Bousou Peninsula, he would have fully lost.

But even if they made it to the peninsula, he would count it as a win as long as he held them off until Hashiba arrived.

Plus, he had the superior forces.

Three Legs: “This should be easy if things play out normally. Right, Kuki-kun?”

Nine Horns: “Do not let your guard down, Suzuki-kun.”

Three Legs: “You just have to make sure this plays out normally. …So what’s your plan?”

Nine Horns: “That is simple. Always keep the enemy’s vanguard half-surrounded and never cease firing on them.”

Three Legs: “You’re sending the ironclad ships straight at the enemy, but will they last?”

Nine Horns: “There is a way to ensure they do, so don’t you worry. Also, we have greater numbers, strength, and armor. If we make this a war of attrition, we will win.”

“Is that so?” said Magoichi, who did not sound at all delighted.

That meant she had not let her guard down at all. And…

Nine Horns: “Suzuki-kun. The battlefield is about to change.”

Three Legs: “The ironclad ships are entering the enemy’s firing range.”

“No, not that,” said Kuki. Another sound joined the back-and-forth of cannon fire. It was…

Nine Horns: “The enemy vanguard is breaking.”


“Oh? That was fast.”

Terumoto twisted the corners of her mouth atop the Pension Versailles that remained at the rear of the Mouri fleet with the Yamagata Castle.

She was watching a red flower blossoming in the sky far to the east.

The assault ship at the very front of their vanguard had exploded.

“Damn, their main cannons can break through our armor better than we thought.”

“Moving too far out would be dangerous. Although I am sure the fleet commander has a plan.”

“Can we not just coast through on momentum, Mouri-01?”

That question briefly silenced Mouri-01.

She was taking some readings. And when she had the results…

“The enemy ironclad ships are equipped with different cannons than during their attack on K.P.A. Italia. Instead of turretless models, they are likely using 24cm/28 caliber cannons. They may have shortened the Azuchi’s secondary cannons.”

“Wouldn’t cutting off part of the barrel weaken them?”

“But it gives them an advantage with cooling, Princess. They already have a great number of cannons on the sides of their ships, so they can fire in volleys to prevent the individual barrels from overheating. …As for the power, at the current range of 10km, just six direct hits to the bow can incapacitate a ship. We are using defense barriers in place of armor, but the barriers cannot keep up with the concentrated fire and this is the result.”

“Hold on,” said Terumoto as she opened a signe cadre with the sounds of cannon fire in the background. “How many seconds did it take until the enemy broke through the defense barriers and sunk that ship?”

“117 seconds after the concentrated fire began.”

“And what’s our current speed?”

“50km/h. You can think of that as 14m/s.”

“Testament,” said Terumoto with a nod.

She looked to the warships lined up in front of her.

Each one is about 400m long.

There was about 300m between ships. That meant each ship took up 700m.

“Does that mean we continue making progress as long as the ship out front isn’t shot down in 50 seconds?”

“Testament. However, the fleet is slowing to deal with the enemy cannon fire. It will ultimately slow to about 30km/h. Also, the ironclad ships’ main cannons likely have an effective range of 5km. We will continue to approach, but once we are within 5km of them, we need to be prepared for each direct hit to mean a sunk ship.”

“That’s a pain, so can you calculate out what’s going to happen?”

“Testament. That likely means we cannot approach closer than 5km.”

“That was fast!”

“Testament. That is how simple a problem it was. The enemy armor appears to be identical to what they used during their attack on K.P.A. Italia, but I have determined the new cannons are a major problem.”

“Was this a surprise?”

“We expected this. And it severely limits our tactical options.”

“Can we win?”

“We expected this and it limits our tactical options, but we also expect to win.”

“Then I’ve got just one thing to say: everyone needs to pour their heart and soul into this fight.”

“Do not worry. According to the fleet commander, we can fight our way to 3km from the ironclad ships. He says that is where the real fight begins.”

“Can we use our cannons?”

“Our 18cm/36 caliber cannons have an effective range of 2km against the armor of the ironclad ships.”

“Sounds like the fleet commander needs to work extra hard to earn that last kilometer.”

Terumoto took a breath while listening to the sound of cannon fire and shattering defense barriers in the distance.

The balance of combat here is defined by the ironclad ships’ main cannons and the intensity of fire from the surface.

The enemy had the greater offensive and defensive power.

Mouri was reliant on tactics and numbers, even if their numbers had been worn down a fair bit.

But their position was still pretty bad. She crossed her arms, flipped back up her combat vest’s collar, and asked a question.

“We’re a little too far forward, aren’t we?”

“Testament. We had hoped to start losing ships to artillery on the other side of the Miura Peninsula’s tip, Princess.”

“Can we make this, Mouri-01?”

“Princess, that is not what you need to say now.”

“True.” Terumoto opened a divine transmission signe cadre while watching the next flower blossom, followed by yet another. “Move out ahead.”

She did not ask if they could do it.

“If you can’t, then I’m headed out there myself. So get on out there, all of you!”

And…

“Clear a path for me, vanguard!”


There’s something odd about Mouri’s movements, thought Nabeshima while viewing the battle’s progress.

The Mouri fleet was actually doing quite well.

From her position on the foothold built on the Edo side of the Uraga Channel, she could glimpse the battle beyond the bay.

She observed the movements of the enemy ships there.

“My lady! They say Mouri has a good navy, so they must have found a good name inheritor for that!”

“You mean their defense?”

“Yes,” said one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji while performing maintenance on her mechanical dragon. “Their tactics have changed since the Battle of Itsukushima! That’s what this means, my lady!”

“Why would I remember something from that long ago!?”

She observed the Mouri ships in three columns arranged horizontally to each other.

The column closest to us is made up of three ships.

The three closely-packed ships showed a focus on defense. When they opened defense barriers, they opened several layered together to deflect the attacks from the land. And the ships protected by that fired physical shells along curving arcs and homing shots from spell cannons to hit their enemies on the surface or in the sky.

The Mouri fleet had divided their ships into defenders and attackers. Most of the ships focused on defense were the transport ships supplied by Musashi, probably because the defense barriers designed to Musashi’s standards were more powerful than Mouri’s. However…

“Look, my lady. It might appear they are charging straight in, but that is actually a troublesome false infiltration tactic.”

“False?”

She looked up in the night sky where the Mouri fleet’s front line had the ironclad ships in their effective range.

The Mouri fleet began to fire their ether cannons directly ahead.

But it felt like there was too much cannon light.

Huh?

The Mouri forces were arranged in three columns, two above land and one circling around above the sea, so unless they curved, only the ships in the front should have been able to fire directly ahead.

But more than twice that much cannon light stabbed into the ironclad ships forming a wall. How had they done this?

“They used the ships shot down earlier to create an optical illusion.”

One of the Four Heavenly Kings of Ryuuzouji – Um, which one is that? Who cares. The one with glasses on. – stroked the air with his finger. The movement formed steps up from east to west.

“Their fleet is arranged in slight steps angled down to the front.”

“What? They’re clearly arranged horizont-…”

Nabeshima trailed off.

The Mouri assault ships had crashed into the Miura Peninsula beach and created pillar of fires. The Mouri fleet was illuminated from below by those three fires, but…

The reflection of the firelight is different.

This was more than just distance. The shadows of the ships out front were cast on the ships behind them. And deeply so.

The Mouri fleet was ever so slightly angled downward. And…

“Earlier, the outermost group was arranged so their tails were swept outward somewhat. It might be noticeable when seen from the front, but movement overhead is hard to tell from land. I bet even the people watching with ether sensors thought the third group was continuing to turn in from the outer edge.”

“That is actually a formation shifted diagonally in two directions.”

She understood what he was saying.

The Mouri fleet was definitely angled slightly downwards to the front. Since their cannons were loaded on the deck, lowering the front ships cleared the line of fire for the rear ships.

The Mouri fleet had less firepower, but…

“The farther forward they get, the greater their concentration of cannons. They have a lot of light warships, but when they move so close together in both directions, they create a ‘never-ending warship’ even if its firepower is somewhat weak.”

The amount of cannon fire grew further.

The outer column had been circling around from the outside over the ocean, but now…

“They’re rotating, huh? That’s a move for light ships.”

The bearded old man was correct about what was happening above the ocean.

Mouri’s outer column was beginning to create a lengthwise wheel formation.

They moved more slowly than smaller ships could have managed, but they rotated as if trying to attack diagonally down in front of them. Their advance was slow, but the wheel was stretched out lengthwise in a shape reminiscent of a rotating serpent.

“They have a commander who has already adopted the wheel formation that Tres España demonstrated in the recent Armada Battle!?” The ponytailed old man laughed. “Watch this, my lady. It is fascinating.”

“How so?”

“As you would expect from their gods of war, Hexagone Française is a nation with a downright stereotypical knight culture. When a knight charges, they use a shield and a spear, but that is exactly what the Mouri fleet is doing now. Look,” he said. “The column closest to us is the shield of gathered defense barriers. And the center column is firing its ether cannons while moving forward whenever it sees an opening. They are essentially raising their shield and making a charge when the enemy lets their guard down. …But the wheel formation over the ocean is the real focus here. After all, they are attacking endlessly without ever guarding. But our ironclad ships must pay attention to the shield column closest to us and the charging column in the center, so they cannot focus their cannon fire on the wheel formation to crush it. …They are just like knights on foot. They use their shields for defense and diversion so they can advance and find an opening to wear down the enemy numbers with their spears.”

“Then does Mouri have the upper hand here?”

“Not necessarily, my lady.” He brushed a hand through his hair. “There is still a lot they can do and I am sure they still have a lot up their sleeves, but the P.A. Oda ironclad ships have the greatest firepower and armor available.”


Kuki set his enemy location insha kotob to 3D display mode and viewed the overall flow of battle.

I suppose I should call this impressive.

Aerial ships were airborne. Since they used a virtual sea to float, most of their weapons were loaded on the top, but generally speaking, they were still attack stations capable of moving through the air.

The enemy’s initial movement had seemed meaningless to Kuki.

After all, they had appeared to charge in using their numbers. He had figured they were trying to break through his fleet using nothing more than that.

That would not have worked, of course.

So he had arranged the ironclad ships in a grid and fired the main cannons at the enemy from above, below, left, and right. He had also fired the anti-air weapons from the Miura Peninsula and Uraga Channel to destroy the enemy’s vanguard.

The enemy had not been moving quickly enough to reach the ironclad ships. The sinking of the front ships had proven that.

But the enemy had already made their next move behind those sinking ships.

As if pursuing the sinking ships, the columns of ships had lowered their heads, spread outwards, and arranged themselves diagonally.

The columns were diagonal in the up-to-down and left-to-right directions and the outer column had set up a wheel formation.

It was like the enemy had announced they would spread themselves out across this airspace without ever leaving it.

Hexagone Française had only been able to use their fleet to surround or charge at an enemy, so they should not have been able to use these tactics so well.

This fleet was being run by a good commander and well-trained crews.

Impressive.

But, thought Kuki.

“I will show you what can be done with greater firepower and armor.”


“This reeks.”

Terumoto could easily see it now that her view was opened up by the lowered front of the column.

The ironclad ships commanded by Kuki were taking aim.

Sparks flew as their main cannons tore into their chosen target.

“God, this just reeks of ‘look how strong I am’! Tearing down our shield, huh!?”

Kuki had chosen the column to her left. Those transport ships had their defense barriers opened toward land and the enemy fired directly on them.

That choice was meant to say they were not concerned about the cannon fire and approach of the Mouri warships. If the ships defending them were brought down…

“I bet they plan to finish us off with the cannons they have on land.”

Terumoto’s words were backed up by an explosion of ether light from the front of the left column.

The transport ships there had their primary defense barriers directed toward the land. They did have barriers directed ahead of them and the shape of aerial ships made them harder to hit when they were angled head-on.

But Kuki’s ironclad ships shot right through the first ship.

A cluster of several shells shattered the defense barriers and a main cannon blast tore through the transport ship.

It was destroyed.


The transport ship assigned as the defender on the northern coast was destroyed.

The destruction was caused by a shell that punched through it from bow to stern.

An ironclad ship’s main cannon had scored an accurate hit.

The destruction continued from there.

First, the loss of power caused all of the transport ship’s defense barriers to shatter. The primary defense barrier was the first to break, but the destruction spread like a ripple through the surviving secondary barriers as well.

Next, the transport ship ruptured from within. The shell’s shockwave raced down the hole it had left and released energy that seemed to expand the hole.

A transport ship was mostly just a cargo bay on the inside. The cargo bay had a lot of empty space and was divided into a few blocks by frames, but each of those blocks swelled out like a balloon and the ship’s strength balance meant the joints bent first.

The transport ship’s bow and lower hull were the strongest parts. As the internal blocks groaned loudly and swelled out, the weaker upper portion ruptured. As a result, the stern tilted downwards, the entire ship bent as if embracing itself, and the keel on the bottom finally broke. From there, the ship fell stern first.

But the ship’s troubles were not yet over.

A second enemy main cannon blast crashed into it.

A deafening sound rang out.

The shell had hit the forward-facing ship in the belly.

The main keel frame shattered and the impact spread from that backbone to the ribs.

The vibration stripped off the inner hull and the sturdier outer hull lost its connections to the external armor.

The transport ship broke apart all at once.

A moment later, the shaking of the main frame caused the ether fuel to flow back into the main engine. There were safeties in place to prevent power feedback when the defense barriers were destroyed and all of those were triggered.

Nothing remained to protect the ship.

The transport ship exploded into a bluish-white light in the night sky.

Then a red flame enveloped the ship’s structure as if consuming the ether light already burning in the air.

The ether fuel had ignited the armor and everything else, so it all went up in flames.

It was all falling.

The shattered armor, frames, and other miscellaneous wreckage fell to the dark ocean and beach.

Only one thing remained.

“Fire!”

On Kuki’s command, an ironclad ship’s main cannon pierced the now-vacant sky.


Kuki wanted to go on the attack all at once.

He made short work of the enemy transport ship column in charge of defense.

He concentrated the artillery fire from the ground on the enemy’s primary defense barriers. Then when they redirected the barriers directed ahead, he had the ironclad ships fire on them. And…

“Uraga Channel entrance cannon emplacement, tear into them from below.”

The anti-air weapons were located in a position that allowed them to aim at the enemy column from almost directly below.

So that was what they did.

Kuki wanted to focus the ironclad ships on the enemy’s attack ships. He was pretty sure he needed the firepower of the ironclad ships’ main cannons to stop the enemy warships.

So he used the anti-air cannons of the emplacement constructed at the Uraga Channel’s entrance.

Aerial ships had difficulty aiming down, so anti-air cannons could fire in relative safety as long as their enemy did not drop any bombs or fire along a parabolic arc.

“Warrior artillery unit, it is time to show off your skill.”

Most of the gunners were normal students without inherited names. Letting them bring down an enemy ship would be a useful way to raise their morale.

The successful students cheered over the divine transmission.

But, thought Kuki. He sent instructions to switch out the gunners just as the 5th and 6th enemy defense ships were destroyed.

This will be a long battle of several hours.

The students might be cheering now, but as the enemy’s attack continued with no end in sight, they would probably begin to feel exhaustion and fear. Especially when so many of them had never fought in a real battle before.

So he gave them frequent breaks.

By swapping out gunners more often, the ground troops would be able to fight for longer.

“Ground troops, aim only for the defense ships! The long column should be in front of you by now. Do not worry about coordinating your attacks, just fire on as many as you can to bring down their numbers!”

“Testament!”

If the enemy’s defenders could be worn down along the Miura Peninsula’s coast, the Uraga Channel troops would have an easier time later.

They had their targets and their orders. Not much had actually changed, but…

Three Legs: “When the battlefield is in motion and the troops are growing uneasy, wondering if they’re doing the right thing, you need to give them a new objective and new orders. Right, Kuki-kun?”

Nine Horns: “The battlefield is a workplace, Suzuki-kun. You start with a plan, but then you need to manage the workers’ motivation while providing concrete goals and accurate instructions. And the finishing touch is…”

Another transport ship fell.

Kuki finished his thought while watching the red flames and smoke in the distance.

“The results. That, above all else, will increase their desire to work.”

These results came from the Miura Peninsula’s anti-air fire. Firing from below was effective, so he had landed some aerial ships on the peninsula to fire from there.

But the enemy had a plan as well.

Kuki noticed something.

“The enemy is not losing their momentum?”


Kuki sensed something odd about the enemy’s movements.

It was a worrying oddity but also a praiseworthy one.

The enemy’s movements were precise, logical, and well-trained.

But he had thought it was still not enough for tactics alone to overcome his superior forces and he had thought they did not follow through on their tactics enough.

In other words, the enemy commander had not rescued his troops from the path of defeat.

Of course, that was due to the strength of Kuki’s forces, but…

I suppose I should call this odd.

After all, the enemy’s defense ships were being destroyed, but he could not see anything being done to make up for that.

The enemy was doing well, but it was not enough.

With their defenses gone, they should have altered their formation or brought some other change to the battlefield.

If the commander was skilled enough to bring them this far, they should have been able to make up for this setback.

But the enemy did not appear to be doing that.

“And yet the enemy is not losing their momentum. Why?”

The enemy had something prepared. He simply had not noticed it yet. That was the only possible answer.

But what is it?

Kuki noticed something when he looked to his enemy location insha kotob.

“This must be it.”


Nabeshima remained on standby at the cannon emplacement supported by transport ships on the Edo Bay side of the Uraga Channel.

There, she saw their own forces alter the target of their cannons.

She could see the front line almost directly to her side. The ironclad ships had crushed the front of the approaching enemy column, but now they aimed back at the defense column made up of transport ships.

Why did they change their target and then change it back?

Hadn’t they decided not to bother with those transport ships anymore?

She sometimes had trouble understanding what her upperclassmen were thinking.

But when she narrowed her eyes to figure it out, she realized why Kuki had done this.

“There are warships in the transport ship column?”

“Ohh, well spotted, my lady! That’s our lady!”

“I honestly can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not. But…”

She could see it.

“The advancing column and the wheel formation weren’t just for offense.”

“Indeed,” said the bald old man. “With columns, if the outer edge is taken out, they can fill it in from the inside. And when the inside empties out, they can refill it from behind. Also, the exhausted and worn-down ones can return to the wheel formation when possible and circle on back out of danger. …This formation allows them to repair and recover while still attacking.”

He pointed at the bottom of the enemy columns.

The enemy was arranged in a stepped formation and the damaged warships were moving behind the “steps” of the ocean column.

“They are moving behind cover. When they are hit, it looks like they are being pushed inward and falling, but that too is an illusion. The interception gunners have to focus on the new enemies that move to the front, so they cannot pursue the ones that fall back.”

So the damaged ships could fall back and join the wheel formation.

“And there they move even further back…”

“On the other hand, if a hole is blown in the transport ships of the column closest to us, a warship fills it and begins defending. That is a fair amount of trouble because warships have much more powerful defenses. The novice anti-air gunners could handle the transport ships, but they must be unsure what to do with the movements of the warships that fill the gaps.”

That was true. The number of hits from the anti-air cannons was awfully low for how much they were shooting.

Nabeshima sighed as she viewed that quiet chaos in the distance.

She had still not been ordered to join the battle.

The battle was not going as smoothly as could be hoped, but…

“This must all be within the acceptable limits.”

Their forces were not taking much damage because the ironclad ships were absorbing the enemy attacks. And…

“Is the enemy using up their limited number of warships so early in the battle?”

“Kuki is being cautious and having the ironclad ships deal with the warships in their transport ship column, so he must assume they have some kind of plan. If we can just destroy their warships, we can manage. …And the ironclad ships can pull that off since their crews are so well trained.”

The enemy’s front line was once more destroyed and sunk. The warships ruptured and the transport ships burst into flames as they fell to the beach below.

But even with the transport ships column shrunk by about 20%, it was not stopped.

Also, the central warship column was gradually advancing.

The defense transport ships were being destroyed, but the anti-air fire was having trouble with the warships that filled the holes in the transport ship column. The column behind that used this chance to move forward.

“There they go. Each of their three columns has altered their speed,” said the bearded old man.

Sure enough, the wind groaned from the distance.

The Mouri fleet was zigzagging slowly but surely.


What a pain!

Kuki quickly analyzed the zigzagging movement. The navigators were already sending him a few different predictions. He combined them all and sent the summarized results to the gunners.

“Couldn’t they show us this earlier?”

The sooner he saw it, the easier it was to respond.

To an extent, the enemy was using delaying tactics. And those tactics contained both offense and defense.

The slowly zigzagging fleet was moving exactly as predicted. That allowed them to accurately attack and defend against Kuki’s fleet.

Kuki’s fleet was forced to respond to those attacks.

The enemy made use of that brief moment of delay.

They had the inferior fighting force, so they were trying to win with their tactics.

But this opponent did not believe in or use tactics that aimed for a one-hit victory. They stuck to the slow-and-steady tactics they knew they could pull off. And more importantly…

They are avoiding anything that makes it look like they are winning.

Going for the win would make their opponent fight back more fiercely.

They had the weaker fighting force and they could not win if their opponent took this seriously, so instead of going for a big win or some clever stratagem, they used nothing but simple methods to keep Kuki’s fleet’s hands full while they advanced.

“So they have a great number of tactics and they never show them all off at once.”

When he dealt with one tactic, the enemy would bring out the next.

With each one, they bought more time.

The tactics were simple enough for anyone to pull off, but they were being combined and constantly managed in a calm and composed way.

It was delicate and almost too straightforward.

But, thought Kuki.

Nine Horns: “What is your opinion, Suzuki-kun?”

Three Legs: “Testament, Kuki-kun. I have a number of suspicions as well.”

She continued.

Three Legs: “This is dangerous.”


Magoichi explained.

Three Legs: “I don’t think we should let them continue this delaying approach.”

Nine Horns: “Then what do you suggest?”

Three Legs: “We see how serious they really are, or we reveal what they have hidden up their sleeve.”

They had to do it.

With the enemy facing them like this, they had to see just how serious the Mouri fleet was with its slow invasion.

Because even if it was possible to respond to this, it would be mostly novice warriors receiving the orders. They had to worry about morale too, so Magoichi did not think they could continue these high-speed responses forever.

If the novice warriors started to unravel, the enemy would use that to advance even further.

And in fact, the enemy columns had advanced quite a bit. They were also stalling for time, but the front of the columns had passed the Miura Peninsula and arrived over the Uraga Channel.

The distance between fleets was already less than 5km.

That was within the ironclad ships’ effective range.

A direct hit could blast right through the enemy warships.

It would not break or bend their armor. It would pierce right on through and wreak havoc on the inside of the ship.

But, thought Magoichi. I sense something dangerous about this enemy.

“They shouldn’t be able to get closer than 5km.”

No, they should have lost far more ships before crossing the 5km line.

Yet they were crossing that line with most of their numbers remaining.

They were moving slowly and the Hashiba forces were undamaged, but the enemy had gotten this close with a minimum of losses.

Spreading out to split up Hashiba’s attacks and circling wide out over the ocean should have been an option.

In fact, that would be the normal choice if they feared having their numbers worn down.

Of course, their weaker ships would have been individually shot down if they tried that. And even if they did reach land, it would have been a sporadic thing and the ground forces would have picked them off.

But this enemy had not attempted that.

They had included the losses in their calculations and moved in close.

Now the enemy columns were directly in front of them.

Magoichi herself was on the central ironclad ship of the top layer. That meant she had to look down at the Mouri columns.

And she questioned something from that position.

Why aren’t they rushing this?

They were within 5km of each other now. That meant the ironclad ships could attack with their full firepower.

But the enemy slowly advanced without any fear of becoming a target.

“How serious are they?”

Nine Horns: “What do you think the enemy is trying to do here?”

Three Legs: “Once they’re closer, they might suddenly abandon these agonizingly slow tactics and make a quick attack.”

For example…

Three Legs: “Even our ironclad ships would have a tough time if their ships rammed us.”

Actually, if they did get close, what would be their best course of action? Wreckage from above would be plenty of trouble for a warship and boarding the ship for close-quarters combat was also an option. Making a charge in order to ram the enemy had long been a standard tactic.

“So,” said Magoichi.

Three Legs: “Like I said, we should launch one big attack and see what they do.”

Nine Horns: “To be clear, we can respond in time if the enemy tries to ram us from this distance. Are you sure you want to do this?”

Three Legs: “How many kilometers until it isn’t safe?”

Nine Horns: “We will have difficulty once they reach 3km. Of course, they will be badly worn down by then and I expect we will still be able to handle them thanks to that.”

But he could always be wrong.

Three Legs: “In other words, if the enemy reaches 3km with their current numbers, we’re in trouble?”

Nine Horns: “Yes. The enemy must see it the same. If we can reduce their numbers, their approach becomes meaningless. So if we can wear them down, they will be forced to respond by ramming us or using some other method.”

That settled it.

Three Legs: “Then I’ll reduce their numbers here.”

If the enemy’s final decision was to charge…

Three Legs: “This will lure them into a charge that they’ll have a hard time surviving.”

Nine Horns: “And even if they have some other plan, they will be forced to use it? …Understood. Do it, Suzuki-kun.”

Kuki gave his command.

Nine Horns: “Reveal the enemy’s plan, Suzuki-kun.”


Magoichi took action.

She activated Yatagarasu’s cannon. The three crows were already flying in the night sky.

The battlefield had no shortage of flowers. Some had fully blossomed and scattered their petals, some simply adorned the ships, and some had fallen to the sea or beach. The heated wind they produced created an updraft on the battlefield and that helped the crows fly.

The crows were positioned plenty high. And to aim…

“Open wide, Yata.”

While in her summer uniform on the deck, Magoichi removed the cloth wrapped around her right eye as an eyepatch.

She opened both eyes and viewed the enemy. Her target was…

The warship column!


Nabe3: “Nagaoka.”

Tadaoki looked up when he heard Nabeshima’s voice.

He sat below a bivouac shelter that doubled as an insulating sheet so he would not get chilled while sniping. That had been provided to him for the Keichou Campaign, but name inheritors may have gotten special treatment because it preserved heat and let moisture through better than any he had used before. He had just started to wonder whether he should focus on emotional attachment or specs when choosing one next time, but…

Okaaa: “What? Is the enemy coming here?”

Nabe3: “I might have to start fighting soon, but I wouldn’t bother you about that. I just thought you’d want to watch this. Suzuki, that famous gunner, is making an attack.”

“Huh?”

Tadaoki looked to the southern sky, but then he remembered something.

There’s no way I can see it from here.

He realized Nabeshima must be sending him the footage, so he opened a lernen figur.

But he was wrong. He saw the actual thing.

A pillar of black light pierced the southern night sky at the entrance of the Uraga Channel.

It was fired diagonally and it swept from east to west to tear through the warship column.

Light darker than the night raced across the sky, and…

“Wow.”

The night shook with the explosions of about six warships having their upper structure detonated.

Similarly, flames burst from the transport ships caught in the devastation and they fell without their speed dropping.

Nabe3: “I’ve never seen this before since I wasn’t part of the K.P.A. Italia battle, but Suzuki’s Yatagarasu cannon sure is flashy, isn’t it?”

Tadaoki gasped at Nabeshima’s comment.

Is this what our upperclassmen can do?

This was nothing like that nudist who made weird noises and colored people’s dicks black. Although on second thought, that boy’s power as a nuisance seemed about equivalent to the destructive power of this attack in the southern sky.

Asano: “Wowww… Instead of just attacking along the top of their outlines, she actually brought them dowwwn.”

Asano was right.

More explosions and smoke appeared in the southern sky.

Tadaoki muttered to himself while watching it.

“How long do you have to work at it before you can do stuff like that?”


He’s asking the impossible, thought Nabeshima.

The Yatagarasu cannon blast in the southern sky was a major, one-time-only attack even for Suzuki Magoichi. She could not use Yatagarasu at its fullest for a while after firing that.

Since she had used it during the current shift between the beginning and middle of the battle, their superiors must have been having a hard time figuring out what the enemy was doing.

So they had forced a change with this.

It took a name inheritor to do that on her own.

Of course, name inheritors came in all types and there were vast differences in their abilities. For example, Suzuki Magoichi excelled at sharpshooting, while Kuki excelled at commanding and controlling a fleet.

And with Nagaoka Tadaoki…

Nabe3: “When you see something flashy, do you feel an urge to reach that level yourself?”

Okaaa: “I’m a gunner too.”

Nabe3: “So what are you gonna do about it?”

“Umm,” he said while hesitating.

This wasn’t very nice of me, she thought.

He was in middle school, so he would not have decided on a high school course of study yet. His teachers would not have taught him how to plan for his future or how to acquire techniques and experience. So…

Nabe3: “What about you, Kani?”

“Testament!” replied Kani.

Kanitama: “Well! I think it’s best to fight someone on the level of Yoshiaki-sama! You realize just how far you can push yourself because you know you’re in serious trouble if you don’t!”


Most people don’t get to do that!

Tadaoki stopped himself from responding to Kani out loud.

He had seen what had happened during the Siege of Odawara, but the level of fighting had been far too inconsistent. However…

Is doing something like that the only real option?

What could he do to keep the woman he’d fallen for from treating him like a child?

Asano: “Well, in my caaase, I guess I would build up experience and substitutions the old-fashioned way and develop some new techniques whiiile trying to reach a high level position with myyy god. There’s so muuuch more you can do at the mid level, so I bet there’s much, muuuch more at the high level.”

Kanitama: “You can also get more powerful by constantly training a single spell like Fukushima with her acceleration spell, so it’s not too late to start on that, Oky-kun! I’ve learned I need to train my own movement abilities too!”

I see, thought Tadaoki.

Even in the first year of high school, which was two years older than him, they were thinking about what to do with themselves. And they had tasked themselves with not rushing things, building things up gradually, and changing course when needed.

How much would they have built up and changed once they reached the second year, third year, or beyond?

But still.

Tadaoki thought, I’m hoping to be accepted tonight.


“—————”

Tadaoki suddenly looked to the western sky.

He had been busy, there was a lot going on, and the battle was starting, so he had very nearly forgotten. Except he had not really. He was only suppressing the thoughts.

He was worried about her. What was she doing now? What was happening to her?

He wanted to know, but…

Dammit.

What could he do to get her to accept him?

He had a feeling she would not be happy to see him if he went running there right now.

He had a feeling she would look at him like a nuisance.

What was he supposed to do?

Was there nothing he could do because the problem required time and preparation to solve?

What do I do?

Just as he asked that, he heard an especially loud explosion from the southern sky.

One of the warships had crashed into the beach and exploded.

The sound reached his ears after echoing off the ground and sea from point-blank range. He watched the distant flames rising into the southern sky.

“Wow…”

He could hardly believe that was possible and it seemed to illustrate the difference between him and his upperclassmen.

But just as he started to grow depressed, Nabeshima spoke up.

Nabe3: “Oh, not good.”

Huh?

Nabe3: “This didn’t go as our upperclassmen hoped. The enemy’s pretty good.”


Kuki could tell the corners of his demon lips were pulling stiffly back.

Not bad at all.

The enemy had lost a lot just now. Suzuki’s cannon blast had sunk 6 warships and 4 transport ships. However…

“They’re continuing their slow advance!?”

Three Legs: “Does this mean the enemy is serious? It does, doesn’t it?”

They were very serious.

As proof, they were responding to the attack. Ships moved in from behind to fill in the holes opened in the long column. Also…

Nine Horns: “The downward sloping column is dropping even further down.”

They sank down to show the full line. That exposed all of the ships to attack, but it also distributed the damage across them all. And by moving down, all of their cannons could aim upwards to target the ironclad ships. The damage per unit of time would be greater for the Hashiba fleet than the Mouri one.

But the enemy’s speed remained unchanged.

They stayed slow and never rushed while playing the appropriate cards to respond to the Hashiba fleet’s attacks.

Even if that meant accepting damage.

And Kuki realized a certain fact.

He recognized this fighting style that packed an inferior fleet close together and made a slow advance to ensnare the enemy.

He had seen a very similar battle once before.

“The battle in K.P.A. Italia. The Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi!”

Kuki shouted toward the back of the enemy column.

“Is that you, Murakami Motoyoshi!?”


A figure moved in the western sky as if responding to Kuki’s voice.

It was a squat, broad-shouldered man.

A coat of Hexagone Française blue and white was draped over his shoulders like a cape.

“I may lead the Mouri Navy, but at the moment, I command the Kantou Liberation’s aerial fleet.”

He pushed his glasses up his nose and stared at the ironclad ships.

His gaze passed right through the nine ships to view Bousou beyond them.

“Our positions have reversed, Kuki Yoshitaka. This time, I am the invader and you the defender. However…”

However…

“I learned my lesson last time. I lost the Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi due to a full-fleet charge, so did you really think I would use that here?”


Chapter 23: Officer of a Redone Foundation[edit]

Horizon7-A737.jpg

We are not redoing this

We are simply

Starting again

Point Allocation (Stubborn Man)


The artillery fire and explosive flames gave the wind a metallic smell as it washed over Motoyoshi.

This really takes me back.

The wind seemed to caress the scars on his face. Those were from the lacerations he had received in the previous battle. He smiled bitterly at the hard, chiseled feeling he felt with his fingers.

“These scars are the lesson I learned last time. But…”

Looking at the makeup of this battle showed that he had proper warships this time.

But the enemy was a major problem.

The ironclad ships had been sinking his ships left and right already, but now their main cannons had been powered up even further. Mouri’s warships were above average when compared to other nations, but their enemy was a superpower with a primarily aerial fighting force. This was not an opponent they could defeat in a direct fight.

Plus, Motoyoshi honestly thought these 400m warships were too big and heavy to use well.

I’m too used to making do with smaller ships, he thought while opening a signe cadre by his hands.

It displayed the overall layout of his fleet.

That looks fantastic.

He was originally a pirate, so he had to think of this as a major promotion.

“Hey, Motoyoshi.” His current ruler, Mouri Terumoto, appeared on a signe cadre. “Win this.”

“Testament. That is the only acceptable outcome.”

“Got that right.” Terumoto nodded on the screen. “These delaying tactics take a hell of a lot of patience. Accepting each of these sacrifices as they come is something only you and your highly-trained warriors can do.”

“Thank you very much.”

“Testament. So keep on harassing the enemy.”

Eh?

“Wait, Student Council President. This is not harassment.”

“C’mon, you don’t need to hide it.” She waved her right hand back and forth with a wink of understanding. “You got your ass handed to you by Kuki last time, so make sure you get back at him with all this harassment. Man, you really are good at these nasty, never-ending tactics, aren’t you?”

“No, um, I…”

“Don’t worry about it. We’ve all got our own style! Keep it up!”

She ended the divine transmission.

While he simply stood there hanging his head, his aide called out to him.

“W-we like your tactics, Motoyoshi-sama! Um, like how you toy with the enemy.”

“No, you don’t have to cheer me up…”

Motoyoshi gave his next instructions while muttering to himself.

“I kind of had a feeling I was doing that too…”


“Um, Princess? Murakami-sama’s subordinates are sending us a whole bunch of protests via divine transmission.”

“Sounds like his subordinates like him. That’s great.”

“Princess, what did you say to him?”

“Nothing really. Just something about harassing the enemy until we win.”

“…Princess? I think you should give him a proper reward after the battle.”


Kuki gasped.

Murakami Motoyoshi!

That man had been missing ever since the Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi in K.P.A. Italia, but…

“I didn’t expect to find him commanding an aerial fleet for Hexagone Française.”

Three Legs: “Um, Kuki-kun?”

Nine Horns: “What is it, Suzuki-kun?”

Three Legs: “Why didn’t you research who your opponent would be?”

Nine Horns: “Make no mistake. I did my research. But during the Siege of Odawara, Mouri had listed their commander as Mouri Terumoto.”

Three Horns: “Oh. So it’s like when I was excited to go to the kabuki theatre because Okuni was listed as the director, but it turned out she only oversaw the production. It was especially frustrating since it was the Ne-no-Kuni play.”

Nine Horns: “Except this time it’s a more exciting result! Like thinking the attacking general is Sakuma Morimasa and finding out it’s actually Sakuma Nobumori!”


A transport aircraft carrier hovered in the night sky above the Shinshu region.

In the control room, which had a good view of the clear night sky, Sakuma Nobumori grabbed the divine transmission mic.

She glared into the distance.

“Hey, hey. Kuki. Flattery isn’t getting you any of my candy.”

“Um, Sakuma? We need attackers for this battle, so we do not need transporters and defenders right now.”

“Hey, hey, hey. Just do it right, okay? I can see the flashes of light from your battle, but it doesn’t seem like the stealthed Musashi has passed through here yet. Why do you think that is?”

She occasionally saw some small lights in the southwestern sky. The audio sensors were apparently picking up explosive noises, but there was no point in investigating further.

“Now,” muttered Sakuma while relaxing her shoulders and ending the divine transmission. “Kuki is an attacker even when he uses defensive tactics. I really think he’d be stronger if he just shut up and fought, though.”

However…

“His opponent, Murakami Motoyoshi, is a defender even when on the attack, huh? Those two are going to make for a tricky combination, don’t you think?”


Magoichi retrieved the Yatagarasu guns when they returned from the sky.

The weapons were worn out after firing their cannon for so long.

I was right to go for the big initial shot.

If she swapped out the barrels and gave them time to rest, she could return to the fight.

That was where she had screwed up during the Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi. She had been focused on responding to the enemy’s actions, so she had gradually worn down her weapons before firing the cannon on Tachibana Dousetsu.

Firing a wide-range cannon on a major opponent in a highly mobile god of war had not been a mistake. But since her goal had been to slow him down and not defeat him, she could have used the concentrated fire of the three Yatagarasu guns instead.

Of course Yatagarasu had been worn down at the time, so they would have had a hard time continuing the rapid and concentrated fire for long. So…

This time, I wore down the enemy with a big initial shot.

She did not wait for the enemy to act first.

She did not simply react to their actions.

Her side was stronger, so she just had to go in for the attack.

That was why Kuki kept attacking and preventing the enemy from approaching even as he formed a defensive wall.

But the enemy was gradually drawing the Hashiba fleet into their way of doing things.

“I was hoping to put a stop that, but it looks like Murakami Motoyoshi wants to keep doing this.”

“That it does, Suzuki-kun.”

“Honestly,” muttered Magoichi. “The way he persistently keeps up these nasty techniques really is creepy.”

“Why do women have such trouble understanding the romance of two men locked in a tactical battle of wits?”

“Who gives a crap about romance? I just want to end the enemy attack and win this ASAP. Sniping is so much simpler. It’s usually over as soon as you put a bullet through the enemy’s head.”

“Can you hit Murakami Motoyoshi’s head from here?”

“If only I could see where he was.”

Kuki had to fall silent at how casually she said that. But after a moment, he resumed speaking.

“Suzuki-kun, why do you think the enemy has not changed their tactics?”

“Probably because they think they can win with their current tactics.”

“Even though we are wearing down their numbers?”

Kuki was right and she understood that.

But understanding it did not allow her to predict what the enemy was doing. However…

Hm?

Magoichi sensed an odd contradiction between the enemy’s tactics and what she saw in front of her. And…

Koni-ko: “Hey, Kuki-kun, Magoi-chan? What are you doing? You need to crush them.”

Nine Horns: “Yes, but we still do not know what the enemy is doing, so we are considering our options.”

Koni-ko: “Hmm, then aren’t you in trouble?”

Three Legs: “How so, Yukinaga?”

Koni-ko: “It’s a simple calculation. …Magoi-chan, you blasted them a bit ago, right? And that sunk a bunch of them, right? So isn’t it weird for them to keep doing the same thing?”

“What I mean is,” said Konishi.

Koni-ko: “How are they making up for their reduced numbers?”

Nine Horns: “Tactics.”

Magoichi just about agreed, but then something occurred to her.

No.

It was not tactics. Or rather, it no longer was. Because…

Three Legs: “It’s not that. I mean, we fired Yata’s cannon to change their tactics, remember?”

Nine Horns: “But they are still using the same tactics as before.”

“That’s the point,” said Magoichi while viewing the flow of intersecting artillery fire.

The enemy ships were forming a downward-angled column. And they were filling in the holes opened in it.

But that column was not what they had to focus on. The real threat was…

Three Legs: “Hidden troops!”


Magoichi understood the reason for the enemy’s delaying tactics which seemed oddly confident.

Three Legs: “The enemy is hiding some of their troops. That is how they will make up for the ships they have lost. These delaying tactics must be a shield and a way to buy time to hide those troops!”

Nine Horns: “Wait just a moment, Suzuki-kun. Where would these hidden troops be?”

Three Legs: “I don’t know.”

That was unclear.

But that was the only consistent explanation for the situation.

The enemy had to have enough troops hidden somewhere to make up for those they had lost. So…

Where are they?

Magoichi saw something just as she looked beyond the overlapping cannon fire.

“The Musashi?”

Far to the west, clouds appeared to be flowing toward her position in the east.

No, they were not flowing toward her. Something was creating those clouds as it traveled west.

Is that…?

It was the bow of Shinagawa, the Musashi’s 1st starboard ship.

The long and pointed bow was sticking out of the stealth barrier.

It was accelerating westward.

The stealth barrier was just about being torn away in their haste. Which meant…

Three Legs: “It isn’t the Musashi they have hidden!”


Ikeda Terumasa viewed the scene almost directly overhead of him.

He had been seated on the Shirasagi Castle’s wreckage and watching the progress of the Keichou Campaign in the southwestern sky. He had been viewing the divine chat that Asano and the others were using while participating from the Edo side of things. Below that, he could hear the tearful complaints of Shogyobu Daimyojin, the Shirasagi Castle’s management program which had taken on a Mouse form.

“Come on, what even is that…that…that cheater of a ship! Wahhhhhhhhhhh!”

Shogyobu tilted her head back and screamed. They had seen something shortly before she rolled right off the wreckage.

“The Musashi, hm?”

He could hear that giant structure’s virtual ocean from here.

It had to be several kilometers to the south, but its great size made it seem like it was falling right on top of him.

A large ship would produce a lot of wind, but that pressurized sound did not reach him now. They had buffering spells active to avoid being a nuisance to the surface.

The visual information was the only thing to show him its great size.

It’s so big.

He had seen it several times before, both in recorded images and in person.

But this time, he was looking up at it as an enemy.

He was not participating in the Keichou Campaign, but what if he was?

What if they noticed his presence here as an enemy? And what if he launched an attack on it?

No, I guess that wouldn’t happen.

His spells were not offensive in nature. And they were so unique that he was quick to decide what to do and those around him learned how they worked pretty quickly.

He knew that he and the Musashi would never exchange attacks.

“But I guess I should send this data over.”

He started up a filming lernen figur and began recording the image of the Musashi passing by overhead.

He could see Shinagawa, the 1st starboard ship. The port side had yet to show itself, but it had to be headed west just like this one.

“I wonder if they can see this from P.A. Oda.”


“The Musashi is headed west after entering stealth mode to avoid the Keichou Campaign?”

Koroku was reading a weekly magazine someone had left in the dining hall when she heard Takenaka’s question.

She had her shoes off and her knees up to fit her whole body on the chair, but now she looked away from the magazine she was holding up toward the ceiling as she read it.

“Where did you hear that from?”

“Sakuma-san apparently saw it. And Ikeda-kun – Ikeda Terumasa-kun, I mean – sent the same information from Kantou, so we could work out their speed and direction of movement.”

“I see,” said Koroku before continuing. “But why do you sound confused? Weren’t we expecting them to come this way?”

“Well, based on the timing, I was expecting their acceleration to come a little later.”

“Wouldn’t they want to rush to Nördlingen?”

“Testament, they would. It is true they need to hurry up in order to end the Battle of Nördlingen and prevent Lady Nagaoka from blowing herself up.”

“So why the confusion?”

“Hmm.” Takenaka leaned back as if resting her shoulders on the back of the chair. She also stretched her arms back over her head. “Does this mean Musashi is coming here without resupplying? I really think they’re going to regret that. Maybe I should recalculate our payload.”

“If they were waiting longer, it would only extend the fear of them hiding somewhere.”

“That is true, I suppose. Whether or not they were actually doing it, there’s less stress in Kantou if the Musashi is on the way here.”

“Testament,” agreed Koroku. “I’m getting some tea.”

“Oh, sure, sure. I think I’ll take a quick break too. Also…”

“Yes, I get it.” Koroku got down from her chair. “I’ll get some for you too.”

Because…

“You’ve been putting off your predictions for Nördlingen, haven’t you?”

“Well, um, yes.”

She probably did not want to make any predictions about Lady Nagaoka’s death without a careful examination of the available data.

This could lead to someone’s death.

And they did have their issues with accepting deaths like that. So…

“I’ll go get our tea.”

“You can order something else while you’re there.”

“Of course,” replied Koroku.

The Musashi was moving in response to their trip to Kyoto.

How would this play out and where would they clash? And the Musashi’s movement would also affect the Keichou Campaign in Kantou.

It’s going to intensify again.


Kuki made an immediate decision.

He opened an insha kotob and displayed a map of the combat region.

“Move the Uraga Channel aerial fleet to the southwest!”

He had the Bousou Peninsula fleet break apart to fill the hole above Uraga and strengthened the anti-air fire at the entrance of the Uraga Channel and above the Miura Peninsula.

Just as he gave those orders, a point of silence appeared on the flat land of the Miura Peninsula.

He also saw something on one of his divine transmission insha kotobs.

“——————”

Static.

He had screens open to provide reports on the results and condition of his own forces, but now one of them showed a noise-filled void.

The screen belonged to a ship landed on the western slope of the Miura Peninsula.

That ship had been providing anti-air fire, but it had suddenly stopped doing anything.

All of the cannons had stopped moving and gone silent.

“Abandon ship! Hurry to your assigned escape route!”

There was no response. He was unsure if they could even hear that, but there was one phrase in his heart.

They got us!

A moment later, the wooded slope shook from an explosion.

The aerial warship ruptured as if it had been crushed against the mountain.


Magoichi saw it happen from above the ironclad ship.

Their own forces were being taken out for the first time.

They had lost a single warship.

The explosion had been caused by the ether fuel igniting. That had been caused by a series of artillery hits.

But, thought Magoichi. This is odd.

There had been some scattered artillery fire before, but none of it had been this successful.

That meant this was the work of those hidden troops.


The enemy was hidden somewhere and they had concentrated their fire on that one ship.

It had not come from above. It took an anti-ship cannon or pseudo anti-ship cannon to destroy a warship, but they were difficult to aim from an unsteady aerial ship.

This enemy was on the ground. And they were most likely being controlled by accurate gunners.

When Magoichi checked the divine transmission, she saw the people who had escaped the ship being hit by the blast. The signal was almost entirely obscured by static, but…

“Report!”

A voice got through.

“The enemy fire arrived horizontally! Most likely, pseudo anti-ship cannons fired on the base of our turrets!”

That’s ridiculous, thought Magoichi.

Pseudo anti-ship cannons were fairly big and long. It was not possible for a human to carry them around. She had once fought someone who had carried a main cannon, but they had been a demon. I’m a demon too, of course, but I couldn’t do that.

The most obvious guess would be a ship’s cannon, but the horizontal angle suggested otherwise. The enemy column had not descended that far. So…

Could this be…?

Magoichi had an idea that she would have preferred not to think about. And just then…

The north!

She sensed something flying below her ship and toward the ground to the right.

And she heard two things go silent.

Of the warships stationed on the Miura Peninsula, two of them stopped firing their cannons.

“——————”

And they exploded.


Magoichi looked down below.

She saw what happened while holding the overheated Yatagarsu guns in her hands and feeling their exhaust heat wash over her.

“Looks like I was right.”

The enemy that had fired on their ships was flying just off the ground.

She could not see them, but she could still tell. The emptiness created by the enemy’s successful shots was similar to killer intent.

That emptiness was created when the enemy took the shortest and most optimal route to their target.

There was only the wind created by the high-speed projectiles.

So Magoichi could sense a sniper there. She did not actually want to sense their presence and position, but the reality of the situation and her experience told her everything. She knew exactly what had happened.

“The enemy is using gods of war to fire on our ships!”

Their position was clear now.

“The enemy is located on the Miura Peninsula’s beach! They came from transport ships camouflaged by the others being shot down!”


“If they have caught on, then we have no choice. Everyone, it is time to crush them.”

Mouri-01 moved out ahead.

She saw a dark wall directly ahead of her. The only light arriving through that wall came from the wide and narrow gun port for the pseudo anti-ship cannon. But the scene visible through there was filled with red.

Explosions and firelight were illuminating the beach and hill.

Mouri-01 moved forward as if pushing that light out of the way.

Others did the same on either side of her. The dark walls in front of them were attached to arms. Those were attached to the hard points extending from their shoulders.

“Go ahead.”

Mouri-01 used the wall as an armor panel shield as she continued onward.


Kuki saw it happening.

A PR Committee member on one of the landed warships was sending footage of the beach from the Miura Peninsula.

The dark night sky and sea were currently ablaze.

The scarlet flames and blue ether light from the wreckage of the crashed transport ships was being whipped up by the wind.

Silhouettes were approaching from beyond that.

The giant humanoid silhouettes arriving from the beach were…

“Gods of war!?”

Just as he shouted that, the footage filled with static and shattered.

The warship providing the divine transmission had been destroyed.


Mouri-01 was walking outside.

Her left hand held the shield attached to the extra arm on her shoulder.

Her right hand held the cannon attached to the extra arm on her side.

Both were set up to auto-aim based on where she directed her gaze. The cannon would accurately fire on the enemy warships when she crouched down.

This is going well.

She shook the knight’s lance at her hip as she left the fiery beach and crossed the coastal road. Her metal feet now trod on the peninsula’s soil.

“I have arrived on land, Princess.”

She knew what she had to report via divine transmission.

“Mouri’s Belle de Marionnette-piloted Lourd de Marionnette company will now liberate the Miura Peninsula.”


“Okay, did you hear that!?”

Terumoto shouted out from the Pension Versailles at the rear of the column.

“We’re gonna liberate the Miura Peninsula!!”

That was the first objective they had aimed for.

They had sent in gods of war via transport ship and lowered those ships to the beach by using the sinking ships as camouflage.

Mouri had only provided the equipment for the Lourd de Marionnettes. The actual machines were Houjou’s. They had always planned on doing it this way, but a lot of Lourd de Marionnettes had gone unused after they settled the Siege of Odawara through negotiation.

It’s a good thing it was the Mouse-controlled Lourd de Marionnettes that fought Seki!

The Lourd de Marionnette piloting system was built for human use. Since the control system was closely linked to emotions, it was difficult for Belle de Marionnettes to join with them and they could not pull off very accurate movements even when they could.

That was why Belle de Marionnettes would use a conversion device to link their own senses with the Lourd de Marionnette’s. The converter was placed in the cockpit and the Lourd de Marionnette became an extension of the Belle de Marionnette’s body.

The technology used to create Isaac and the other two Musketeers had come in handy. Their senses needed some adjustment afterwards, but the Belle de Marionnettes said it felt a lot like moving around in armor.

The only question had been how to get them to the front line.

“Well done, Murakami Motoyoshi.”

It had taken the sacrifice of many transport ships and warships, but he had successfully disguised the descent of these transport ships.

Their column was definitely fragile, but he had put on a show to hide that fragility and he had used several different tactics to keep them moving forward.

The transport ships loaded with Lourd de Marionnettes had landed within a 50m margin of error of their target location and not one of them had been lost. So…

“Go, Mouri-01 and the rest! Show them what Mouri’s Belle de Marionnettes can do!”


Chapter 24: Battlefield Picnicker[edit]

Horizon7-A759.jpg

Now, let us go

The battlefield is indeed a field

A field ablaze

A wasteland of enemies to shoot

Point Allocation (Picnic)


Magoichi saw movement.

Directly beneath the enemy column visible below, several giants marched through the fire and smoke on the land.

These were feminine movements.

But they did not kick up the sand. They did not run quickly enough to start swinging their shields and cannons.

They kept their hips low, leaned their metal bodies forward, and aimed their cannons in the opposite direction of their shields.

They sure are slow.

No, she realized. They sped up after arriving on land and heading toward the field and woods beyond the beach.

She recognized the running style they used to jog across the dirt without much vertical movement of their bodies.

“Kuki-kun! Have the Miura Peninsula fleet ascend immediately!”

“Shouldn’t they intercept these gods of war!?”

“They can’t!”

Magoichi saw the gods of war jumping from the woods to the thicker forest, but the leafy roofs of the trees were not shaken as those giant forms arrived.

The only sign of their presence was the occasional flock of birds flying from between the leaves.

The gods of war continued their march without touching a single tree in the forest. And based on the cries from birds and other animals…

They’re accelerating.

Not many pilots could pull off this trick, so she could guess who this was in the forest.

“This is Hexagone Française’s forest guard unit! Those automatons protect the border with M.H.R.R.! But now they’re piloting gods of war to hunt down our landed ships!”


This is dangerous!

Magoichi knew these automatons. When she had fought P.A. Oda for Honganji, she had been tasked with protecting the fortress on the Mediterranean’s southern coast, but Mouri had fortified the northern forests to prevent invasion. So as not to defile the forest and anger the spirits, they had used forest-dwelling nonhumans and automatons.

“When the Mouri automatons of their forest guard unit fight in the forest, they are the equivalent to a group of Special Duty Officers who can adapt to the situation.”

Magoichi excelled at sniping in wide-open areas because she had been raised in the desert Harmonic Territory of the Middle East, but these automatons had a different skillset entirely. They were primarily snipers and gunners, but they were more like ninjas. So…

“Hurry! Get those ships off the ground! Focus on defense and move quickly!”

Light appeared in the forest even as she spoke.

Ether light burst from within a warship landed on the front of a hill and then it exploded.

“…!”

Static ran through the divine transmission and she heard the cries of the evacuating warriors, but she saw something beyond all that.

Between the trees reduced to silhouettes by the bright light beyond them, she saw giant silhouettes crouching low as the explosive blast passed by overhead.

She was not sure of their total numbers, but the ones she saw did not even look back at their handiwork.

“—————”

In an instant, they vanished into the dark forest once more.

They were hunting a new target now.


Mouri-01 moved through the shadows.

Not through the darkness.

The darkness existed across the entire night, but the starlight and flames were casting deep shadows at the bottom of that darkness.

There is no noise.

She was in battle and there was no unexpected noise around her.

Belle de Marionnettes experienced the world through high-speed thoughts. That remained the same when viewing the world through Lourd de Marionnette eyes. The wireless connector set on the back of her head exchanged data with the Lourd de Marionnette and the wired connections on her shoulders, thighs, and hips moved the Lourd de Marionnette’s body as if it were her own.

A metal pack with her inside was contained in the cockpit instead of a person.

I appreciate that the Princess insisted on a high speed for the emergency ejection device.

But she and the other Belle de Marionnettes had insisted on a high speed for the movement transmission.

Their quick thoughts and senses were meaningless if their movements were slow.

The end result was like wearing light weights on their limbs, but…

“This was well done!”

They were using another nation’s Lourd de Marionnettes. These were Houjou-made. Since there was a generic hub and a program between them and the controls, there was more lag than when controlling one directly.

They made up for the delay by using their high-speed thoughts and decisions or by linking their shared memories.

That way, even if they were fired on…

“Time for the next target, everyone.”

Mouri-01 repeated the same instructions she had given several times already.

She continued onward through the shadows cast by the trees.


A largescale hunt was underway on the Miura Peninsula.

Giant humanoid shapes pursued the warships and worked to sink them before they could take off.

There were 28 Lourd de Marionnettes in all. They formed groups of 7 and made their way to the remaining 5 warships.

The only sounds were the blasts of cannon fire and the rumble of metal feet on dirt.

All of the Lourd de Marionnettes knew exactly where to go. Those machines were being piloted by Belle de Marionnettes, so they ran swiftly and…

“——————”

They did not dodge the flying shells.

They did not enter the attack range in the first place.

They took evasive courses with no sense of panic to them. It was all thanks to the Belle de Marionnettes piloting them. They sensed things using each other’s shared memories, and…

“Eliminate all your blind spots and move where the cannons will not target you.”

Those were their orders.

“Then walk at a speed of our choosing.”

Those orders were silently executed. The 4 groups of Lourd de Marionnettes worked in unison to monitor the movement of the enemy cannons and they acted as diversions for each other in order to secure safe locations for them all.

The enemy attacks continued to fly, but the Lourd de Marionnettes were not pursued by them and they even predicted the courses of the seeking projectiles to slip below them.

“Clear.”

Voices spoke that word from atop their shoulders.

The figures riding on the Lourd de Marionnettes’ shoulders were of course more Belle de Marionnettes.

They acted as boosters to connect the pilot within their Lourd de Marionnette with the other pilots and they provided the sensory and targeting data that the Lourd de Marionnettes themselves could not supply.

Those two maids wore combat maid uniforms with a harness to latch them to their foothold within the wind, shaking, and shockwaves. And…

“Small threat eliminated.”

They occasionally fired their rifles to pick off the enemy’s frontline guards without bothering the Lourd de Marionnettes with it.

The Lourd de Marionnettes and Belle de Marionnettes all played their roles with precise movements.

As they climbed the slope without delay, those toward the bottom searched for data around those ahead of them in order to ensure their safety. Meanwhile, those out ahead sent information on the footholds to those following.

By sharing information between front and back and between individual groups, they understood the entirety of the battlefield.

“Honestly,” one of them said in their shared memory while walking. “We don’t have to deal with the Reine des Garous’s daughter, Musashi’s Technohexen, or the English Princess this time, do we?”


“Testament,” said another one of them in their shared memory. “If anything, Musashi is on our side this time.”

“Yes,” agreed yet another one. “We really botched the pursuit near the border last time.”

“Only because we constantly had to respond to the unexpected.”

But…

“This forest effectively belongs to us.”

“Testament. This enemy has not made the forest their own.”

“They merely chose the forest as a location for their guns.”

“Then,” replied one of them. “Let us prepare a place for Lady Terumoto to dine. The peak of this hill looks like it has an excellent view.”

The entire conversation happened at high speed, so it did not even last a full second.

But they all agreed to one thing while Mouri-01 sighed.

“Tonight’s entertainment is the Kantou Liberation. The best way to enjoy the forest is to hunt down a meal.”


Kuki hurried to respond.

First, he had all of the ships take off from the Miura Peninsula.

The focus was on defense. He instructed them to stop firing and surround the ships with defense barriers. The top of the ship would be a target for snipers, so he ordered them to layer the barriers there.

Then he gave further orders to the ships on the west side of the peninsula.

“Abandon ship as soon as possible, starting with the normal students! The odds are high your ships will be destroyed on the way up! Everyone without sufficient descent training needs to disembark immediately!”

He was answered by something rising into the sky from behind the mountain on the west side of the peninsula.

They were explosive flames.

The enemy had shot down every last one of the ships on the mountain.

The wind of their destruction swept across the mountain and washed across the forest.

“They’re good at this!”

He had ordered his people to focus on defense and he could hear and see their responses from here. Nevertheless, it was not just the weak point at the base of the turrets that the enemy attacked. They also shot through joints in the armor and at the anchor ejection ports.

They fired through the gaps between defense barriers to accurately pierce the ships’ weak points.

That sharpshooting was not something humans could pull off.

Automaton actions were all about precision. These ones had experience guarding the forest, so now that they were at god of war size, it was absurd to think a distance of a few hundred meters would act as a defense even in the forest at night.

Kuki received sensor data from the ships that were being sunk or targeted.

Most of it was obscured by static and the sound was too distorted to make out.

But Kuki did hear something as he instructed them how to respond.

He heard a song.

What is this?

Something was singing while moving through the forest.

It sounded like a bright nursery rhyme.

“Oh, you shadows of the trees and thin leaves, where will you guide me as I wander?”

The voices singing of a forest stroll moved quickly through the dark forest.

“Show me the way, sunlight. There are no wolves here.”

The automatons continued their attack as they sang.


“Oh, small stream, you have dug deep, like a great valley.”

“Let us jump across you for fun and laugh as we cross this land. Where is the border? I look back to see my homeland.”

“Clear.”

“Oh, deep forest, I can see the path below my feet. The animal trail smells of nature.”

“Search out the scent of flowers and search out the mouthwatering aromas. This land is blessed with fruit. Fruit the color of the sun.”

“There are no wolves here.”

“Oh, valley, your slope is covered with vegetation. I leave a red ribbon to mark the way.”

“Is anyone lost? Our master follows behind us. Where is the summit? The fairies will show the way.”

“Clear.”


Mouri-01 raced across the battlefield.

She passed by like the blowing wind, but her passing was marked by explosive blasts as she led the Lourd de Marionnette unit.

They worked together without any eye contact or gestures. They mechanically destroyed the warships landed on the Miura Peninsula slope and they moved ever closer to the peak.

Three warships remained and they had all begun to float.

But the Belle de Marionnettes did not let them escape. In the forest on the slope, they slipped between the trees like it was an empty wasteland and they continued to sing while…

“One.”

An explosion blossomed in the night.

At the same time, Mouri-01 received words from her fellow Belle de Marionnettes.

“Lady Mouri-01, this is 4-02. Our view of West #2 has opened up.”

“Lady Mouri-01, this is 3-02. Team 3 is opening fire on the starboard side of #2.”

A moment later, Team 3’s sniper fire pierced the shadows with the air currents of the explosions and fires taken into account. And they also ran in a sweeping path to the north. They fired while running to hide their location. That would reduce accuracy even for Belle de Marionnettes, but…

“Team 4 is joining the attack.”

After receiving the data from the previous attack, Team 4 made minute corrections before each member of the team fired a sniper shot of their own.

Mouri-01’s rear vision confirmed that the total of eight shells clinched it.

She saw the projectiles accurately shoot through the base of a turret and detonate the ammunition storage within.

Before any alarms could go off, the gunner jumped out and the turret was blasted straight up by an ether light explosion. That sunk the second of the remaining ships and Teams 3 and 4 started toward their next target.

“Lady Mouri-01.”

Just then, a member of Team 2 spoke to Mouri-01 and their report coincided with the song.

“Clear.”

The third ship exploded as it tried to rise from a higher part of the slope.

They had now destroyed all of the enemy ships on the western slope.

The explosive blast rushed toward Mouri-01. When using her high-speed senses to their fullest, it felt more like a wave crashing over her than a gust of wind. But she used that pressure as a final push to reach a certain location.

This was the watershed dividing the peninsula’s eastern and western slopes.

She had arrived at that ridge.


Kuki did not overlook that moment.

He ordered the ships to fire on the enemy gods of war just as they crossed the ridge to reach the slope on the Uraga Channel side.

The ships on the western slope had not bought all that much time, but the four warships on the eastern side had finished escaping into the sky.

Their altitude placed them nearly even with the ridge.

Gods of war were structurally incapable of firing when just their heads were in view, so when they had only just started to appear…

“Fire!”

Kuki gave the command when their silhouettes had started overlapping the trees on the ridge.

He knew their timing. He had been following their progress destroying the ships on the western slope this entire time.

He could not actually see the gods of war among the shadows of the forest, but he knew how quickly they moved.

Even in the forest at night, they moved faster than 70km/h.

They were monsters. No, there were even greater monsters in Hexagone Française’s forest who could move even faster and wield superhuman strength. Compared to the Loup-Garous who were said to be the history of human fear, these really were no more than “dolls”.

“But I can predict their actions.”

Of course, the enemy was not stupid. There was a good chance they would stay low and escape this volley. But even if they did, this would stop their attack.

The ships fired.

If possible, he wanted the supply ships to join those ships so they could continue firing indefinitely.

They could not allow the Miura Peninsula to fall to the enemy. If the enemy took the peninsula, then the Kantou Liberation would have been partially successful.

Giving the enemy any kind of success would require an interpretation.

If war was an extension of politics, then he could not allow the outcome here to have any negative political consequences.

This was the crucial moment.

Could he protect the Miura Peninsula or not? There was only one way to keep this success out of the enemy’s hands.

“Keep firing!”


The cannon fire came in two varieties.

Cannon control was full of novices, so they used spell shells with a guidance spell that would ensure they hit the designated coordinates.

Then swift physical shells were fired from behind those to construct a proper barrage.

The ether light and Djinn-guided spell shells were visible, while the physical shells were not visible at night when they were not tracer rounds.

But it all produced lots of noise. The shells shattered the ground, ruptured the trees, and tore into the night.

And the gunners saw something.

Someone had been hit at the center of the shell fire on the ridge.

“Got one!”

Just as one of the gunners celebrated, something flew up into the scorched night sky.

It was part of a god of war. Specifically, the large shield attached to their shoulders.

But that was all. What had happened to the feminine machine and its weapons?

“Ah…”

They all saw where it had gone: up.

Just before the shell had been fired, something had flown into the night sky far more quickly than they had predicted the god of wars would appear.

That form had sacrificed the shield and flown up from behind it.

It was a feminine giant. A winged one.

The shell grazed her feet as the four wing-shaped flight devices on her back took her up toward the four ships above.

“Is that…?”

Before they could finish their question, the giant landed on the second ship from the ocean.

There was a deep rumble as she shook the rear deck.

“Mouri-01 here. Commencing attack.”


Mouri-01 made her attack.

She was headed 400m toward the bow.

She struck with the knight’s lance attached to her back and held in her left arm and she fired with the pseudo anti-ship cannon held below her right arm.

She had no experience fighting atop ships, but she did have access to it. Data from the two gods of war that had attacked the Hashiba ships before had been installed on their machines.

They would not let anything go to waste. That was the spirit of a maid.

A few steps into her charge, she switched her combat mode from forest guard mode to ship’s deck mode. The output of her engine system was shifted from her legs to the center of her body.

“Bataille!”

She made her attack as if dancing.

She ran, fired, used the recoil to spin around, and struck with her lance to do even more damage.

Her running legs were so light because she used the lift of her wings and took the shaking of the ship into account. The flight devices on her back gave her more steady footing, and…

“…!”

She accelerated.

She was no longer running. It was more like spinning across the 400m ship and destroying everything in her path. She spun her entire body by rotating her hips from diagonally forward to backward. She fired backwards as if to accelerate that momentum and accurately shot through the base of a turret trying to turn her way.

The explosion followed her as a pleasant noise after another full rotation.

By then, the metal maid had already flapped her flight devices to send her toward the bow.

She was essentially gliding across the deck and accelerating using turning slides and cannon shots.

She blasted a couple more enemy turrets until they went silent.

The ship’s alarms had to be blaring by now, but it was too late.

Secondary cannons were lined up in a tiered layout around the bridge. They were quickly turning her way, starting with the one closest to her, but…

“Proche!”

She had originally been equipped for forest combat. By taking the close-quarters knife from her hip and throwing it with the Lourd de Marionnette’s strength, it would function as an armor piercing round.

She briefly set the knight’s lance on her hip hard point, grabbed the knife with her other hand, and threw it in a straight line.

It hit.

It pierced the armor.

And the enemy fell silent.

The secondary cannon closest to her stopped moving and the knife piercing it blocked the line of fire for those behind it.

Mouri-01 leaped into that opening. She flew close to the deck and picked up gliding speed.

“…!”

She drew new knives in both hands and sliced through the secondary cannons as she soared past. She set the blades’ paths with her arms in order to split open the barrel, stab into the turret, and slice through the base.

Solid sounds screamed ceaselessly. Tearing metal rang through the sky.

Mouri-01 continued forward while producing those sounds and sparks.

She maintained her speed and used short-distance and optimal-trajectory slashes to destroy around a dozen secondary cannons.

Her destination was the bow where the main cannons were located.

There were two main cannons with two barrels each. However…

“C’est splendide!”

She raised a joyful voice with the cannons aimed her way.

How splendid. This show of hostility meant she need not restrain herself from bringing down a ship of novices.

“Viens!”

Just as she gave that instruction, the muzzle directly in front of her belched fire.

However, it had not fired on her.

A Lourd de Marionnette had flown down from the sky and rammed its knight’s lance into the cannon from directly above.

But it did not end there.

A machine equipped with flight devices was descending on the other ships as well.

Mouri-01 and the other three were the commanders of the four units.

Mouri-01 moved forward along with them. They had each destroyed the warship they were on, so…

“Avancer!”

They set out to crush the fourth and final ship.


They really got us this time, thought Magoichi with a gasp.

They’ve taken the Miura Peninsula.

Only four of the enemy gods of war were equipped with flight device and those flight devices probably only allowed for short flights that really only amounted to extended jumps. Also, the gods of war were Houjou ones being forcibly operated through a generic hub and harness.

They were far from perfect.

But the enemy had a good grasp of the movements and distances on the battlefield.

Three fireballs were wobbling in the sky at the entrance to the Uraga Channel visible to the north.

The three ships the gods of war had attacked were tilting and falling as if sliding diagonally toward the water.

The four winged machines were flying toward the final ship.

The Hashiba forces included the fleet above the Uraga Channel and the turrets on the floating cannon emplacements. Kuki seemed to be moving the ground forces on the east side of Edo Bay, but it would take an hour before they arrived here.

Retaking that peninsula would require a long-term battle.

But Magoichi saw something else in Kuki’s decision.

A warship was falling in the northern sky.

Kuki’s orders appeared in front of that flaming and tilting ship.

“Fire.”

Immediately, light erupted in Magoichi’s vision.

A great number of cannon blasts erupted from the Uraga Channel and the sky above it and they all pierced that one falling ship.

“Is that targeting the gods of war!?”


Kuki saw a flower spreading across the sky.

The petals of ether light and fire spread across a diameter of 400m, but the flower fell apart before fully blooming. An explosion from within the destroyed ship blew away the spreading ether and fire.

As the atmosphere was pushed out of the way, a ring of water vapor formed, but it contracted once the air currents scattered. And once that burst in the night sky once more, a few objects were visible beyond.

One was the falling wreckage of the warship.

The ship had been nearly broken in two and it gently rotated as it fell. It scattered embers that illuminated the Uraga Channel during its descent.

And four figures looked down upon that wreckage.

Those Mouri commanders had their flight devices fully open as they descended toward the Miura Peninsula beyond the Uraga Channel.

Two had lost their side skirts and one had lost her right cannon.

But the company commander was essentially unharmed.

Koni-ko: “Did they get away?”

Nine Horns: “Not necessarily. After all…”

He did not even need to say it. A giant form had flown in from the northern sky to clash with those four airborne machines.

It slammed into the Miura Peninsula beyond the sparks, crashing noises, and scattering embers.

“If you have them, then take care of this, Mechanical Dragon Pilot Nabeshima Naoshige.”


I’ve gone and done it now, thought Nabeshima in the mechanical dragon’s cockpit.

There was a smile on her lips.

She was currently on the east side of the Miura Peninsula. She was on the slope overlooking the Ooura beach. The place was a mixture of woods and farmland and that farmland formed steps of connected dots up the slope.

The wide-open space was perfect for a mechanical dragon to fight, but…

“My lady! This terrain is good for gods of war as well!”

“I know that!”

A figure took a fighting stance in front of her.

She did not think of them as giant. They were about as tall as her mechanical dragon, but nowhere near as long.

But on the battlefield, she did not feel the comfort of being cradled by her dragon’s large form.

“Hey, you old geezers. You know how strong I am, right?”

“You are stronger than the five of us.”

“That’s right,” said another of them on the divine transmission. “Your opponent has inherited the name of Hoida Motokiyo. And she is the leader of Hexagone Française’s automatons.”

“But there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Because there is only one of her.”

“You defeated all five of us, so you could beat her at only 20% of your power.”

“Let’s hope you’re right!” she said.

Her entire body shook inside the control device that covered her arms and legs.

“I’ll do what I can! We do have backup coming, after all!”

Ships that had been protecting Edo and Bousou were approaching in the northern sky behind her.

They had to make up for what they had lost on the Miura Peninsula.

Nabeshima moved her mechanical dragon forward while checking the approaching ships on her radar lernen figur.

“Old geezers, I want all the data I can get on the enemies I have a kinetic lock on.”

She pulled on the control device like she was swinging a horse’s reins. The cockpit immediately went dark. The lernen figurs and gauges were the only light sources and a hemispherical external sensor lernen figur opened in front of her face.

Through that, she viewed the enemy god of war and the other three that had landed nearby.

“Let’s do this, Unambitious. Bite at the sky if you must, but don’t forget the enemy!”


Mouri-01 felt surprise in her heart before the mechanical dragon started to move.

My…

This was fascinating.

Dragons lived in Hexagone Française and she had spoken with them on a few occasions, but this was her first time fighting one, even if this one was piloted by a human.

This made for a powerful opponent.

“This should require every last bit of our functionality.”

She had three gods of war to support her. She shifted her entire engine system from normal land mode to sloped land mode. She set forest mode as the backup, but that was for if she had to jump into the woods on the slope.

Just as she straightened up, the dragon came for her.

The front right leg made a diagonal strike.

It was fast. It was big to begin with and the engine running it was fully devoted to this fight. Also…

“They aren’t playing around!”

The claws of the front right leg tore into the ground.

And with that leg lowered…

“…!”

The mechanical dragon suddenly charged at her.


Asano: “No one’s asking uuuus to do anything, huh?”

Tadaoki heard Asano’s comment along with a rumbling in the sky.

Most of the aerial ships in Edo had been sent south.

They were being sent to the Uraga Channel to see if they could take back the Miura Peninsula. The many warships took a route that circled around from north to west in order to pursue the enemy gods of war.

Kanitama: “What tactics are we using here!?”

Someone answered Kani’s question.

Kimee: “The current objective is recovering the Miura Peninsula. Nabeshima needs to hold them back until our warships arrive.”

Katou Yoshiaki!?

That girl would eventually be one of the Seven Generals, but his group mostly viewed her as a second year high schooler and one of Hashiba’s Ten Spears. She was an upperclassman with actual combat experience, but she joined the conversation because she knew Kani.

She was probably onboard one of the aerial warships. She sounded like she was viewing the events from afar.

Kimee: “From here on, it’s a race against time. Given when the Miura Peninsula was taken, we’re going to end up with a formation located more toward Bousou than Edo.”

She was right.

Tadaoki was in the center of Edo Bay and he could see lots of activity on the southwest end of the bay. The land unit in the ruins had turned on their lights and were headed toward the bridge he was using.

That meant the Edo unit was moving to take the strategic points along the bay coast.

Kimee: “I need to get ready too, but from the looks of it, the bay and the area north of Bousou’s entrance will probably be left to your group, Kanitama.”

Kanitama: “T-testament! We will do our best to defend it!”

Kimee: “Don’t worry. Even if it doesn’t work out, the Testament has Hashiba’s forces retreating from the continent during the Keichou Campaign. Successfully defend that area and we can say the Keichou Campaign isn’t over or hasn’t happened, but there’s nothing wrong with having to retreat.”

However…

Kimee: “Just keep in mind that you’ll regret it if you don’t give this your all.”

Telling them not to worry and then telling them they had to give it their all seemed like a contradiction.

But Tadaoki understood.

If they lost, it was all over.

Ugh.

If they suffered a defeat here, they would lose everything and there would be no second chances. That fact reminded Tadaoki of her.

Dammit.

He felt pathetic.

His emotions were so shaken he wanted to run away from the job given to him.

This was bad. A sniper had to remain calm and unshaken.

“Dammit,” he swore when he remembered something else. “How am I supposed to stay calm when someone painted my dick black?”


“Dammit,” groaned Tadaoki as he leaned forward. He pressed his forehead against the bivouac he had laid out and he sighed.

After catching his breath, he could hear the sounds around him much more clearly.

He listened.

The first thing he heard was the roar of the warships flying south.

Nabeshima’s mechanical dragon was a part of the intense fighting in and on the southern sky and land.

He wanted his upperclassmen to hurry as they ran here from southwest Edo Bay.

And he was aware of his own role as a defender of Edo Bay and as a sniper.

Of course, there was no enemy coming here.

All of their forces were concentrated to the south.

Musashi had flown off toward Nördlingen.

That’s right.

He had no choice but to leave everything in other people’s hands. Both the battle to the south and Nördlingen.

“Dammit.”

Was there nothing at all he could do?

Hadn’t he become a name inheritor so he could do something?

“Dammit!”

Tadaoki groaned and got up. He spread his mouth horizontally and shouted into the night.

“Isn’t there anything for me to do!?”

Just then, something appeared in the sky overhead.

With his head raised toward the west, he saw that great dark expanse open up.

He heard wind. That meant the atmosphere was in motion. And then he saw a giant white and black structure shining in the night.

“The Musashi!?”


Chapter 25: Night Sky Ferry[edit]

Horizon 7A 788-789.png

What starts moving

Before you can consider it

And before you can accept it

Point Allocation (Leave it to us)


“What is the Musashi doing here!?”

That was exactly what Tadaoki saw when he looked up.

The sky had opened up.

The heavens had split apart overhead and continuing to the west.

Why? he wondered. Oume, the Musashi’s 3rd port ship, looked close enough to reach out and touch, but that ship should have been leaving on the way to Nördlingen.

“So why is it here!?”

But he did not have a chance to ask any further questions.

The answer was presented to him as if to suppress any and all questions.

The sky was splitting apart.

The atmosphere rumbled over a distance of around 30km.

Then the sky tore in a straight line starting from the 3rd port ship.

What the…

“The Musashi’s ships are all lined up!?”

Each ship was nearly 2km long and they were lined up with about a kilometer between each one.


All motion on the battlefield stopped for a moment.

Magoichi did while swapping out Yatagarasu’s barrels.

Kuki did while commanding his ships and controlling the overall movement on the battlefield.

Asano and Kani did as they watched things play out. Even Konishi’s group was focused on the giant structure appearing through the rift in the Kantou sky.

The ships were arranged in something like a 30km archipelago.

Everyone was confused by the unusual arrangement of the ships, but none of them could find anything to say either.

The Musashi had not left.

In fact, its tail end extended nearly to Edo Bay.

Until now, it had revealed Shinagawa’s bow to give the appearance of moving west, but…

“Why?”

No one answered the question Katou Yoshiaki asked on her southward-bound warship.

But Mouri-01 was different.

She spoke while aiming her pseudo anti-ship cannon at Nabeshima’s stopped mechanical dragon.

“Finally.”

She smiled.

“Your forces are focused on us, so it can finally begin.”

“What can finally begin!?”

“Testament.” She fired the cannon at close range and spun around as she answered. “The Kantou Liberation.”


The Kantou Liberation!?

Tadaoki trembled at the enemy’s words arriving over Nabeshima’s divine transmission.

Did that mean the battle had yet to begin?

“It’s only now beginning?”

But, he thought. Why would they do this?

What reason did the Musashi have to spread itself out in a long line like that?

He did not understand, but an idea did occur to him.

Is it a giant cannon barrel?

No, the Musashi needed ships on the left and right to fire its main cannon. But then what did that long, barrel-like arrangement give them?

“A long stealth field.”

They had created a 30km-long field of invisibility. So what would they be doing with that long area that no one could see inside of?

Tadaoki realized it was a barrel after all.

In the sense that it was a pathway used for acceleration.

The Musashi was launching something such that no one else could see it. And it had to be…

“Transport ships!!”

As soon as he shouted that, the air exploded off either side of the lined-up Musashi.

The Musashi’s port and starboard sides were used as 30km acceleration corridors and the repulsion of its gravitational acceleration was used to launch transport ships like shells.


“Honestly! I can’t believe we’re doing this!”

Yoshiyasu shouted from the deck of one of the transport ships launched from the port side.

Her hair fluttered in the high-speed wind. She could hear Righteousness whistling in the wind where it sat behind her.

But it was obvious what they were doing.

First, the Kantou Liberation.

“All Satomi forces will now enter Satomi using the Edo Bay route! We will generally be using the land route!”

And there was one other thing they had to do. The Musashi Vice President explained on a sign frame.

“At the same time, the Musashi forces will abduct one of the enemy fighters: Nagaoka Tadaoki!”

A sign frame displayed the Musashi forces on the foremost transport ship.

They would not be participating in the Kantou Liberation, so they had a different reason to join the charge of transport ships.

“We will take Nagaoka Tadaoki to Nördlingen! Our time limit is one hour. That is the absolute latest we can leave if we are to arrive at Nördlingen in time. So we will abduct him and bring him back to the Musashi within an hour. Got that!? If you’re late, we’re leaving you behind, so if that happens…um, what should they do?”

On the screen, the idiot sister turned to the side.

“Ner-…Mitotsudaira!”

“W-wait!” protested the Musashi Secretary. “You spoke three letters of your nickname for me, so I have the right to speak!”

What is with that new rule and new form of pettiness?

But he pushed up his glasses and struck a pose with his right hand before speaking.

“Heh. If you get left behind, I suppose you will just have to go ahead and fight in the Kantou Liberation.”

“Heh heh. Did you hear that, everyone? If we failed our mission while Horizon sleeps, I was thinking we could head to Mito and soothe our hurting hearts with hot springs and yakiniku until the Musashi returned. How does that sound, Mitotsudaira? Oh, and the white rice comes with natto!”

“We’re kind of charging the enemy right now!”

“Judge!” replied the others on the lead ship.

I guess they did find an excuse for this.

The sign frame showed those who had chosen to participate in the Kantou Liberation: the Tachibana Couple, Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer, most of the Musashi warriors, and…

“Wh-why are my parents with us!?” protested the Mito Lord.

“Oh? Because Hashiba would take issue with us fighting for Mouri instead of on their side. Right, Asama-san?”

“Eh!? Y-yes. And, Mito, you aren’t going to get many chances to fight a battle alongside your parents.”

“Heh heh heh,” laughed the idiot sister. “So you’d better thank Masazumi for giving you this opportunity! I’m going back to sleep, so the rest of you bring Nagabuto back here!”

“Sure, sure,” said the others while the Reine des Garous smiled bitterly.

But the woman soon put on a serious expression.

“Nate, feel free to show off. Just forget I am here at all.”

She grabbed her daughter’s shoulders and spun her around.

The sign frame footage kindly turned to show who the girl was now facing.

“The Musashi Chancellor’s group sure does get along well,” commented Yoshiyasu.

“Don’t be shy, Flatty! …We can only hang out with you for the first half hour, but we’ll help out with the Kantou Liberation as much as we can.”

The nudist smiled.

“I mean, we’ve gotta help you make up for that dumb stuff Yoshiyori did!”


Yoshiyori, huh?

After a short pause, Yoshiyasu nodded at the nudist’s words.

“Judge. You’re right.” She clenched her right hand. “I need to complete what the previous Chancellor should have done but failed to do.”

So…

“Once this battle has been won, I will assign the office of Satomi Chancellor to myself.”

She said it.

And she saw everyone silently nodding on the sign frame. On another sign frame, she saw Yoshiaki smiling on the bridge of the Yamagata Castle which had joined the Mouri fleet in the south. The woman glanced over at her and spoke.

“Then we will have to help you in every way we can.”

“Please do, Yoshiaki.”

“Of course, of course,” she said with a smile. “I was already planning to.”

The transport ships were descending throughout the conversation.

They were headed to an extreme low altitude. The quickly-modified transport ships had transport vehicle wheels attached to the bottom.

They were headed to the eastern land, which meant…

“The great ruins. Long ago, when Edo was the capital of the Far East, this central road was built to connect east to west. We will use that elevated route to pass through the Great Edo Ruins at low altitude and quickly reach Edo Bay.”

“Why are we taking such a low altitude?” asked Musashi’s Vice Chancellor.

“Warship cannons generally have difficulty aiming below the horizontal. And the enemy’s ground forces will be unable to stop the momentum of our charging transport ships. Of course, I am sure not everything will go as planned, but-…”

Something happened while the Tachibana Wife answered the question from a different ship.

The Hashiba ships remaining over Edo fired on the transport ships.

The artillery fire was not going to hit, but it meant they had already been located.

The battle would not be over for more than 3 hours and the Musashi group had an hour to carry out their plan and leave.

Yoshiyasu wondered what she could do with all that time.

No, that isn’t it.

It was not about whether she could do anything.

She was here because she knew there were things she could do. So…

Which of the things I can do should I choose?

Yoshiyori and her sister had once made that decision. And now it was her turn.

“Let’s go.”

She was not alone.

She was not here to die.

“Help me travel this path of life, everyone.”

Several voices answered her – from the transport ships, from the Musashi, and from other ships.

“Judge!!!!”

Then the transport ships slipped below the arriving shellfire and toward the ruins below.

If they continued a little further, they would reach the Great Edo Ruins.

The transport ships traveled along the elevated road leading there.

“Let’s go!”

A high-speed race began as soon as the wheels on the bottom of the ship touched down with a strained creaking sound.

A sign frame said they were moving at 270km/h.

They were approaching the Kantou Liberation with that speed. A battle prominently featuring Satomi was about to begin.


Afterword[edit]

Now, that was Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 7-A. Things are really moving now and the characters are thinking about, making decisions about, and doing many things.

In the Warring States period, there was a generational shift or generational change in the commanders. The daimyo and commanders from before Nobunaga were really wild. They were very nearly savages, yet they were weirdly good at ruling their people. But after Hideyoshi, it was more like they were really good at fighting, but they always seemed like they were working for someone else. The image of the world really changes then, if you ask me. Beforehand, each clan and daimyo had a lot of individuality, but once a general image of unification came about, it was like everyone was formatted by it.

That said, there were still a lot of funky people doing crazy things. Like Ikeda Terumasa who was introduced this time. And come to think of it, Kiyomasa, Fukushima, and Muneshige were from that generation too. It’s like they were working under someone else’s protection, so they had a good upbringing but broke free of that cage eventually. I was thinking about that kind of thing while writing this one. Anyway, the chat.

“Got any funny stories from your school days?”

“Huh? Didn’t I already answer that?”

“Well, you told me that story about how you thought RahXephon was actually called Lagephon, went as far as abbreviating it to Lage, and only discovering what you were saying much later, but that’s a little too out there for this.”[3]

“Then how about this? During high school, I would ride my motorcycle to school. I was running late one day and decided to take a shortcut by going the wrong way into an interchange, but I got hit from behind by a dump truck.”

“How are you still alive?”

“Well, I righted my motorcycle, decided to skip school since that was too much for one day, and went straight to my part-time job where I cooked kakiage. But I realized I hadn’t eaten any lunch and started wondering if the kakiage I made was any good. I tried some and found out it was really bad, so I spat it out, coughed up some blood, and went to the hospital. Turns out I had three broken ribs.”

“Every last part of that is your own damn fault.”

Anyway, my background music this time was Ikikiru from Danganronpa. I like how tense and cool it sounds. As for the question this time…

“Who will likely regret this the most?”

Wait just a bit longer for the next part.


November 2013. An unexpectedly cold morning.

-Kawakami Minoru



Notes[edit]

  1. The “wa” of Niwa can also be pronounced “ha”, so that plus the “shiba” of Shibata forms Hashiba.
  2. Means “long and thick”.
  3. In Japanese, the German word Lage is used to refer to sexual positions.
Return to Main Page