Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 1
Chapter 1: Newcomer on an Accumulating Slope
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.”
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.
“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…”
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.”
“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?”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
“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!”
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.
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.
“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.”
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