Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Flower of Immense Happiness
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…
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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?”
“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.
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.
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.”
“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…”
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.”
“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.”
“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…
“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.
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!?”
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.
“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?”
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.”
“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?”
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.”
“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…”
“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…”
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.
She shook her head. And…
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…”
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…
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.
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.”
“ ‘Fine, then just go die.’ ”
Masazumi heard Tadaoki speaking.
But when he reached Lady Nagaoka’s response…
“She gave a resigned smile.”
“And she said, ‘Then this is goodbye.’ ”
“Yeah,” said Tadaoki. “I was wrong. I screwed up.”
“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…”
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.”
“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.
That was her simple answer to him.
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