Horizon:Volume 7A Chapter 16
Chapter 16: Watcher of the Next Generation
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…”
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.”
“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.”
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-…”
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?”
“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.”
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.”
“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?”
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…
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.
“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…
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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