Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 14
Chapter 14: Careless One on the Practice Ground
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…
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.”
“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.”
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-…”
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?”
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.”
“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?”
“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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nagabuto continued crying without looking up from the floor.
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…
Nagabuto did not respond, so Toori sighed, and…
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.
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.
“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!?”
Masazumi added a “but” as she crouched down on one knee to put herself at his eye level.
“What about you?”
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.”
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!”
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.
“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…”
“Well,” said the idiot. “Do you love your wife?”
Asama heard the boy raise his voice while she circled behind Toori to provide support.
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’.”
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