Horizon:Volume 7A Prologue
Prologue: Omen Giver on the Gangway
Where should I go next?
Whether I choose
Or don’t choose
There will be something there
Point Allocation (Expectation)
A strong salty scent entered the night breeze.
It was a sea breeze.
It began in the Sagami ocean to the south and rose up onto the land to the north.
It was a heavy wind. Instead of just blowing, it was a movement of the atmosphere that gradually grew thicker throughout the night.
That heavy wind swept across the temporary city on the surface while also hitting the giant structure floating in the sky above.
That structure was a giant aerial ship. The waves of the air produced a dull sound as they struck the white and black sides printed with the name Musashi.
That heavy sound permeated the sky. It could be heard from atop the Musashi.
However, the Musashi’s surface was divided between two different activities.
One was the repairs and reinforcement construction occurring across the Musashi. Those areas were filled with light and noise.
The other was the preparations for the coming battlefield. Those areas were cut off by sound-blocking stealth barriers to provide some rest on the way there.
The people who had fought in the Siege of Odawara got some rest or worked on the construction first. Later, those who had fought in the Siege of Kanie Castle got some rest.
They all hurried down the passageways and corridors.
“The Kantou Liberation begins in 4 hours! Those of us operating the ships begin our shift an hour ahead of time, so that only gives us 3 hours to rest! Keep that in mind!”
“I know those of you on the shift before that are tired, but it’s not too much longer now! If you’ve eaten, then get back to your posts!”
“Has anyone forgotten to set their divine radio or TV to record!? I’m taking requests if you need something!”
“I just want to record the local OP for Dragoon-mon!”
“I’ll put in a request to Houjou saying it’s research material, so get back to work!”
They met up and discussed various issues at the intersections and elevators. Some of the volunteer civilians and warriors without any work to do used their sign frames to request a shift for assisting with the transportation and food distribution, but most of them went to get some rest.
And there was another group making their way somewhere they could rest.
“Huh? Noriki, are you not bringing that girl here? Ujinao was it?”
It was Toori and the others.
Toori’s question was answered by Noriki who followed behind the others while they disembarked from a transport ship on Okutama’s bow port. He scratched his head.
“I will be bringing her here, but Houjou’s collapse is not complete quite yet. Plus, we have the Kantou Liberation to deal with. She’ll join me here once those things are complete.”
“Is that how you’re doing things?” said the others while Naito and Naruze flew from the transport ship on their brooms.
Naruze skillfully flew upside-down before spinning around to face them.
“Well, it is true we’re talking about the fall of an entire nation. There are probably some things its final leader have to take care of. If she neglected those things, you would have to wonder why you two waited this long in the first place.”
“Judge. And you never know what Hashiba will try to do if she ends her inherited name before Houjou’s collapse.”
“That’s a good point,” said Naito. She placed a hand on Naruze’s spinning broom and added another rotation to it so the other girl was facing south while upside-down.
“If she doesn’t end her inherited name properly, Hashiba might use the Testament Union to declare someone else as a new Ujinao to properly see Houjou through to the end.”
“Exactly.” Noriki scratched his cheek. “Also, she says she wants to learn how to cook before coming here.”
“Ohhh,” everyone replied before noticing a sign frame opened next to his face.
It was Ujinao.
The others let those two exchange some words that could be seen as unimportant, as a greeting, or as a thoughtful report of their situations. Meanwhile, Futayo asked Masazumi a question.
“Masazumi, what is Lady Ujinao going to do once her inherited name is complete?”
“Judge. Musashi has not received a student transfer request. She must understand what it means to be the retired representative of a former nation rather than a simple military commander.”
“If she tried to join Musashi as a student, it would give Hashiba an excuse to attack. They would say Musashi had prevented Houjou’s destruction and effectively absorbed Houjou’s authority for ourselves. Also, the Houjou forces that joined us would have unnecessary expectations of Ujinao. She was the Chancellor and Student Council President who led a nation. And unlike that idiot over there, she did so with military strength and intelligence. If she could choose to use those talents for another nation even after retiring her inherited name, it would cause problems on a national scale.”
“So to prevent that,” said Mitotsudaira. “She will decisively part ways with the nation of Houjou and cut all ties. That will bring an end to her responsibility as its final leader and to everything she inherited from that position. And it will also work to protect Musashi.”
“That is the path she has chosen. Also…check that out.”
Masazumi pointed back toward Noriki.
At some point, he had fallen a few steps behind the others, but he was speaking into his sign frame, entirely oblivious that the others had slowed down to wait for him.
He was smiling a little.
“I see,” said Naruze. “If Ujinao comes to Musashi and joins Noriki’s family, scenes like this will be a common occurrence. And he’ll have a wife at home. This will make for some excellent material. Noriki, thank you for this gift.”
“Some of your views are unhelpful, but it is true she has chosen to retire from the conflicts within her clan and family and from the conflicts between nations. From now on, she will not be an officer or a name inheritor. She will simply be a person with a new family. Whether or not that will change her personality is still unknown, though.” Masazumi’s shoulders drooped. “But you could say she is far surpassing the rest of us in her private life.”
“Oh? Masazumi, do you want a family!?” asked Futayo. “Then you can join mine! We can build a big family together!”
“Why wait?” asked Futayo while Naruze started spinning wildly overhead. “Family is a wonderful thing, Masazumi. And you can build a bigger one by taking in cats like my father would! They can be a pain, but they are so very cute. …What is the matter, Masazumi?”
“Well, um…you’re even more pure than I thought you were.”
Futayo tilted her head and everyone else’s shoulders drooped. Then Noriki spoke up as he caught up from behind.
“Hey, why are you all stopped here talking? Aren’t we going to Mukai’s bathhouse?”
He said it with a sigh, so they all turned back as one.
“I don’t want to hear that from you!!”
“Huh? What’s with all of you?”
“Noriki-sama, it feels to me like you have been defanged,” said Horizon.
“Um, Horizon?” said Mitotsudaira. “I think you have sharpened your fangs a little too much.”
But there was activity around them now that they were in the port. To aft, Ookubo was exchanging information with the port authority officials and she raised a hand in greeting.
Everyone was about to rest and prepare for the next battle.
But while they gathered strength in their shoulders once more, Naito suddenly looked southward up above them.
“Oh?” She tilted her head and opened a Magie Figur.
“What is it, Gold Mar?”
“Well, I’m not sure telling you would help much, Chancellor.”
“Quit acting like I’m uselessssssssssss!”
“Judge. If you must know, it’s about the other nations’ ships.”
“Okay, yes, I’m useless. Sorry! I’m really sorry!”
“I expected that,” said Naito as she spun Naruze again and viewed some movement in the sky below her.
Then she spoke into the Magie Figur she had opened.
“Um, have you noticed, Bell-rin? We’re trying to pretty up the Musashi, but the other nations’ ships are already here for some preliminary negotiations.”
Gold Mar: “Well, Bell-rin? Can you tell?”
Bell: “Oh…yes. I think they’ve sent out…some ships along with…an escort.”
Suzu answered Naito’s question.
She was currently in the changing room for the Okutama bathhouse named Suzu’s Bath. She was cleaning it, but the Musashi’s sensor data was being relayed to her from Musashino’s bridge. Thanks to that, she could sense several ships ascending to land on the Musashi.
…What’s going…to happen?
She wanted to give everyone a chance to rest, so she had left the bridge to prepare the bath for them to freshen up after the battle.
She was just about finished and she was getting help from the kobolds and white algae creatures.
She handed a 5-yen coin to the kobolds and placed a white algae creature in each of the lockers.
“U-um, carry this stack of buckets…over there.”
“Leave it to us.”
“A-and can you all…go in there? And clean?”
“Clean? Squeaky clean?”
She heard herself laughing a bit as she used this free time to change into her bathhouse swimsuit.
She was not particularly busy, but she found it easiest to complete this familiar work all in one go.
Meanwhile, another question arrived for her.
Vice President: “Um, Mukai? It doesn’t have to be exact, but can you tell how many of the ships below are from each nation?”
Since Masazumi’s request was fairly restrained, she may have known Suzu was working to prepare the bath. So Suzu tried to come up with a more general way to describe the number of ships.
Bell: “You mean like…‘lots’, ‘a bunch’, or…‘a few’?”
Vice President: “Yes, I know you’re busy, so that’s fine.”
“Hmm,” thought Suzu while collecting the white algae creatures in a basket when they finished cleaning their lockers.
Bell: “I can get the…number of ships right away. And if you ask for…a type of ship, I can tell you that…too.”
“Oh, Nobu-tan! Why are you slamming your elbows against the table and crying so soon after intercepting the divine transmission signal!? Our night of karaoke has barely even begun!”
“B-because, Koni-tan! Mu-sama…Mu-sama was actually going to give the number of ships in a super-duper cute way! She was going to say ‘lots’ or ‘a bunch’!”
“D-don’t worry, I’m sure Masazumi-kun will tell her to stick with that! Just listen!”
Vice President: “Really, Mukai? Then if you wouldn’t find it too mind-numbing, give us the actual numbers.”
“I hate you, Koni-taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!”
“Don’t take your anger out on me, Nobu-tan!!”
Vice President: “Heh, numbing numbers. Did you catch that, Mukai?”
Bell: “M-Masazumi? I think you should…get some sleep.”
“I love you, Koni-taaaaaaan!!!”
“I’m not sure what triggered that, but I’m glad you’ve recovered, Nobu-tan!!”
Suzu counted the ships based on the sensor data sent to her from the Musashino bridge.
…Counting the number…is my specialty…right?
This was easy for her. When focusing on a collection of ships, she did not sense each individual one. She understood them as numbers and words.
Instead of tracking them by eye or counting them by hand, she understood them with the full set of senses.
So she counted them like that and sent the information to Masazumi.
Bell: “Houjou has three small ships…and one big one. Mogami has two small ones…and one big one. Oh, but one of the small Mogami ones has different…rigging?”
Righteousness: “That one counts as a Satomi ship. Yoshiaki prepared it for us. It would affect the legitimacy of our Kantou Liberation if there was no Satomi presence there.”
That sounded complicated, but she kind of understood. She had come to understand that sort of thing lately.
…On-site experience…teaches you so much.
But Suzu noticed something odd while counting the diplomatic ships.
“There’s a lot of…Mouri ships?”
Two figures in the sky above the Musashi confirmed what Suzu said.
The gold and black winged figures were Naito and Naruze.
Naruze used the Magie Figur in hand to compare the previous Mouri fleet to the current diplomatic ships. She squinted a bit as she scrutinized the images, but she eventually frowned.
“What is it, Ga-chan?”
“Judge.” Naruze drew a red circle around a few of the ships ascending on the real-time image. “Some non-Mouri ships are mixed in with the Mouri ones.”
“What clan does Suzu say they belong to?”
“Unknown since they’ve covered up the academy emblem. But they aren’t a Mouri model of ship. If anything, they look more M.H.R.R.”
“Hm.” Naito tilted her head. “Would M.H.R.R. be involved in the post-Odawara or pre-Kantou Liberation negotiations?”
“The Siege of Odawara was a battle between the Far Eastern forces, but the Kantou Liberation is between Far Eastern and continental forces.”
Naito spoke in the sky above Okutama’s front port.
They had only just returned to the Musashi now that the Siege of Kanie Castle and the “Lead With That, Noririn” festival were complete.
Her current duty was to transport the equipment and possessions of the people disembarking from the transport ships. She and Naruze had to carry those things to their homes or classrooms.
They would not normally be left with a petty job like that, but…
“We need to give them as much time to rest as possible,” said Naruze.
That was true.
They only had 4 hours before the next battle. However…
“If you think of battles as projects, then the Kantou Liberation is a ridiculously large project. Enough so that we need to hold a meeting and get some rest during the four hours ahead of time.”
Busy did not even begin to cover it. Besides…
…Getting some rest in a hurry is kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it?
Asama had ordered some compressed sleep charms from the Asama Shrine.
Also, Suzu was preparing the bathhouse. And below…
Hori-ko: “Now, everyone. I recently learned how to make udon sashimi, so would anyone like some as nourishment before getting some sleep?”
Marube-ya: “Anything but udooooooooooooon!”
Mar-Ga: “Huh? I thought you escaped the udon curse with that prostration negotiation.”
Vice President: “They haven’t actually paid back what they embezzled, so it isn’t over yet. …Asama, when will the divine punishment kick in?”
Asama: “It generally happens at dawn of the day after judgment is passed at the Shinto trial.”
Tonbokiri: “Judge. So the udon will come out tomorrow morning just as the Kantou Liberation is beginning.”
Righteousness: “Will you people stop at nothing when it comes to disgracing Satomi’s liberation!?”
Things were tough all around. But Naito tilted her head while Naruze sent the shape of the mystery ships to “Musashino” for analysis.
“Why would M.H.R.R. ships be involved in the Kantou Liberation?”
“Even if they are M.H.R.R., they’re probably Protestant.”
Naito nodded at that.
The Catholic and Protestant factions within M.H.R.R. were currently locked in constant conflict due to the Thirty Years’ War.
And the Catholic side controlled K.P.A. Italia due to the collusion between Holy Roman Emperor Matthias and Hashiba.
Musashi, on the other hand, had participated in the Sack of Magdeburg and sided with the Protestants.
In that case, thought Naito as she asked just to be sure.
Gold Mar: “Seijun, if M.H.R.R. came here…actually, can they even do that? Have you heard anything from the Protestants?”
Masazumi read Naito’s question while the night sea breeze washed over her.
…M.H.R.R. ships, hm?
She crossed her arms and thought atop a ship floating up from Okutama’s bow port.
This was a different transport ship which was used for travelling within Musashi.
The others were aboard the lightly moving ship with her. It would take them to an underground entrance near the bathhouse Mukai was preparing for them.
“Why would some M.H.R.R. ships arrive with Mouri?” she asked herself on that ship.
Those two nations were enemies, so what did this mean?
She turned around to get a quick answer.
“Neshinbara, can you give a serious answer to this? No, I suppose not. Sorry. I shouldn’t have asked for the impossible. So who else could I ask? Well, might as well just ask Mouri directly. …Hm? What is it, Neshinbara?”
“C-Crossdressing Honda-kun! You moved on without even hearing what I had to say, didn’t you!?”
“Maybe so, but let’s be honest: can you give a serious answer?”
“Wh-why do you look so skeptical!?”
Neshinbara swung his right hand and turned to the side. He placed a hand on his glasses and pushed them up.
“Of course I can give a serious answer. For I am always serious.”
She had to wonder how he defined “serious”.
But there was something she needed to ask about.
“Based on Mukai’s scans and Naito and Naruze’s observations, we know there are some M.H.R.R. ships within the Mouri negotiation fleet below. …Why do you think that is? Did the Protestants set it up?”
“That is quite simple.” Neshinbara sighed. “It is the Thirty Years’ War.”
Next to him, the idiot struck a pose and sighed.
“It is the Thhhirty Years’ Worrrr.”
“I-I didn’t say it like that! And if you do that, it will probably catch on, so please stop, Aoi-kun! I beg you!”
Four Eyes: “It is the Thhhirty Years’ Worrr.”
Novice: “You had better stop that!”
Four Eyes: “I had better?”
Novice: “Please stop! Please!”
Four Eyes: “I’m not listening to someone who can’t get his opinion across like a man.”
Neshinbara gasped and turned back toward the idiot.
“Aoi-kun! How am I supposed to admonish someone like a man!?”
“Oh, that’s easy.”
The idiot grabbed Neshinbara’s sign frame, pulled it toward him, and…
“Calm down, Neshinbara! Why do you have to be so negative about everything!?”
“How am I supposed to look at this positively!?”
“Huh!? Try it out for yourself and you’ll see! It feels great! Besides, it’s not like the other person can see what you’re doing.”
Four Eyes: “I can hear everything you’re saying, so should I tattle to the Fairy Queen?”
“Hey! Aoi! Stop before you cause an international incident!”
Gold Mar: “Didn’t the Chancellor already cause an international incident with this one back at IZUMO?”
…Oh yeah. That did happen, didn’t it? I had erased it from my memory.
Vice President: “But what’s important is learning our lesson and always facing forward toward the future. Right?”
Wise Sister: “Foolish brother? Did you hear what this flat politician said? But it’s not like you could even do the topknot if you were facing backwards, right?”
Me: “Eh? Yeah, that one would be tricky to pull off. Asama, are there any Shinto warp spells I could use? A portable one would be great.”
Asama: “I’m not giving you one when I know that’s what you’ll do with it!”
“There you have it.” The idiot raised a hand toward Masazumi. “I just proved that the top knot is a technique used when facing forward to the future.”
“Yes, how wonderful.”
The idiot’s expression froze at her deadpan response.
After a bit, he mimed moving some luggage from right to left and looked to Neshinbara.
“Listen, Neshinbara. That was a joke. Here’s the real thing.”
“The real thing?”
“I said stooooop!”
Neshinbara struck a pose.
“Stop – right – this – instant! Aoi-kun!”
“Okay, now for a nice deep one.”
“You don’t have to do that facial expression!”
Neshinbara tried to snatch back the sign frame, but the idiot grabbed it back while uttering an “oof”. Then the nudist twisted his hips around.
“C-c’mon, man, don’t move it around without warning me! Your sign frame has a ton of pointy parts, so what if I injured my topknot!?”
“Wh-who cares about your topknot!? I’m worried about what you’re doing to the sign frame I spent all night designing!”
Are they even speaking Far Eastern anymore? wondered Masazumi, but she kept it to herself for fear of getting dragged into this mess.
…This is fine. Neshinbara is the kind of person who writes weird novels.
In that case, it’s okay for his language to be a little broken. Probably anyway. Although that might just be who he is. But I can have peace as long as I can love on Tsukinowa. Who cares about the rest.
The idiot pulled the sign frame back and sighed.
“You want to know what I’m doing to your sign frame? Fine, then watch closely: top-…”
Just as he said “knot”, a casual kick from Horizon hit his crotch from below.
The idiot bounced upwards with an “ahee!” and then fell to his knees.
“U-um, Horizon? What if my topknot stops functioning?”
“Cut out that weird falsetto. …Anyway, Neshinbara-sama.”
Horizon turned toward Neshinbara. And…
“What was it you wanted to say about the Thhhirty Years’ Worrr?”
“Et tu? Et tu, Horizon-kun!?”
“Neshinbara, just answer the question. Our sleep time is slipping away at an alarming rate.”
Masazumi could not figure out why everyone gave her accusatory looks when she said that.
Regardless, Neshinbara’s shoulders drooped and he opened a new sign frame.
He looked down rather than at the others and he tapped the screen.
“Listen. Hexagone Française repelled Hashiba’s attack on Paris and has declared their intent to conquer. And what does that mean? Why, it means Hexagone Française has begun the 30 Years’ War.”
“Isn’t it perfectly normal for them to be starting the Thirty Years’ War?”
Asama asked that of Masazumi with her arms wrapped around herself and the shirt Toori had given her.
…My shrine maiden uniform was torn up pretty bad.
It had not bothered her too much during the battle, but that had changed now that things had calmed down. Of course, everyone’s clothes had been damaged or soaked in the battle, so they all looked like a mess.
Masazumi must have been bothered by her wet uniform because she kept her arms crossed as she responded.
“Hexagone Française already told us they would be beginning the Thirty Years’ War. But what that means has changed.”
“What it means?”
When Asama asked that, Kimi nodded next to her.
“In other words, what Masazumi thought was going to be a fun war has leveled up to a big fun war! In terms of combining materials, it’s like combining ‘political resolution’ with ‘war’ to drag ‘other nations’ into it all! And if you want a higher success rate, you provoke the enemy nations through negotiation! That’s my quick walkthrough!”
“Isn’t provoking the enemy a bad thing?”
Everyone responded to Asama’s question by looking to Neshinbara.
She did the same, and…
“Oh, right. That’s exactly what he did at the pre-Odawara negotiations.”
“Hold on! Wh-what are you talking about, Asama-kun!”
“Calm down,” said Horizon before addressing a question to Neshinbara. “So how has the meaning changed?”
He froze in place. He seemed confused what her question meant, so Asama took turns exchanging glances with Kimi, Mitotsudaira, Toori, and Horizon.
…Don’t tell me.
Her thoughts were perfectly expressed by the first post she saw on her sign frame.
Mar-Ga: “Don’t tell me that idiot just wanted to say it because it sounded cool.”
Gold Mar: “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.”
Unmoving: “How did you make it this far?”
Uqui: “Narumi, if that was so easy to figure out, the enemy would not be having so much trouble.”
The incredible part was how accurate that was. But the accused swung his arm side to side a few times.
“Please wait! It is crucial that you ask a question first! Don’t you think!?”
Horizon pulled a desk and chair out of nowhere and sat down with her head resting in her hands.
“Judge. Very true, Neshinbara-sama. Now, care to explain the question that has been asked?”
He was very clearly sweating now, but he pushed up his glasses and swung his right arm.
“L-l-listen, all of you. Th-th-th-the thing is…”
“Just admit defeat!”
Asama had a thought while everyone shouted at Neshinbara. She exchanged a smiling glance with Mitotsudaira.
…We don’t go easy on our own, do we?
No, we don’t, replied Mitotsudaira with her eye contact and a nod. Then Masazumi stepped forward with drooping shoulders.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Actually, it does matter, but I will explain instead.”
“If you say so,” everyone said as Masazumi raised her right hand.
“Basically, Hexagone Française is focusing on their European history recreation instead of their Far Eastern history recreation.”
Masazumi had a thought as she viewed the fleet rising in the southwestern sky.
…The world really is looking to the future.
Musashi was doing the same. But these actions outside her expectations filled her with caution and surprise.
The world was not shaping up the way she had expected.
No matter how many predictions she made, they were no more than calculations.
What matters is to have a policy and to have the flexibility to fit your surroundings, she thought.
“This means Mouri has set something up again. …Naomasa.”
“What do you want?”
Naomasa spoke from a sign frame.
The god of war sniper unit held their rifles at the ready on the bow in case any of the diplomatic ships tried anything. Naomasa was still on the scene commanding them.
“I can see that fleet quite well from here.”
“What clan emblem is displayed on the ships marked by Mukai and the others?”
“Wait just a second.”
Naomasa opened a sign frame on the screen.
Jizuri Suzaku slowly tilted its head behind her. The footage on Naomasa’s sign frame scrolled in sync with that.
“Found it. The emblem has been covered up.” She added a disinterested “but” with her kiseru in the corner of her mouth. “It’s a pretty sloppy paint job.”
“Can you see the emblem through the new coat?”
“No, but it’s pretty uneven. You can tell it was a rush job.”
“The unevenness in the color would be because the ship flew here from the west with the sea breeze hitting it. That means the paint job was done in a hurry during the Siege of Odawara.”
“In that case,” said Masazumi while raising a hand to thank Naomasa.
She had a question for the Technohexen pair.
Vice President: “Naito, Naruze. Who do the marked transport ships belong to?”
Gold Mar: “Have you tried asking ‘Musashi’?”
Musashi: “I am afraid the notification sent to me simply said they were Mouri ships. Over.”
Mar-Ga: “Judge. Those of us working transport were told the same thing. Looks like they’re trying to pass them off as Mouri ships no matter what.”
“I see,” said Masazumi as Ohiroshiki tilted his head.
“What does that mean? I don’t really get what that tells us.”
Masazumi prepared to answer his question, but someone else beat her to it.
It was Tachibana Muneshige. He stepped forward while speaking.
“Hierarchy can be established through affiliation.”
Masazumi watched the Tachibana Husband nod.
He looked to the west before continuing.
“When we were with Tres España, we had a hierarchical relationship with K.P.A. Italia.”
He glanced over at Gin who nodded and continued for him.
“Mouri Terumoto participated in the Siege of Odawara as the Mouri clan, but based on the current events, she must have no intention of denying she is also a representative of Hexagone Française. After all, even if the marked ships are M.H.R.R. ships, their owner likely has a Far Eastern inherited name. However, the ships have erased that Far Eastern name to place themselves beneath Mouri in the hierarchy for their own safety.”
“Do you know what those ships hope to accomplish?”
“If they are here for diplomacy, there are two possibilities.”
That response came from the Date Vice Chancellor. With Urquiaga to her side, she organized some sign frame documents for Date and kept he eyes on the screen instead of looking up.
“First, they have Far Eastern business that must be kept secret.
“Or second, they have European business that must be kept secret. I cannot imagine it is anything else.”
“Narumi, if you try to make the obvious sound impressive, you will end up like Neshinbara.”
“Then I should probably explain further. But…” The Date Vice Chancellor looked up. “Date is an eastern nation while Tres España is a western nation. A local could probably explain better. Mito Lord, I would appreciate it if you explained as best as you could.”
Mitotsudaira had been named, so she looked to her king before answering.
She saw him sticking his god mosaic into Neshinbara’s sign frame, so she decided not to look at him. Instead, she stepped forward to block him from view.
“Nate! Nate!” shouted her king. “Did you just ignore me!?”
“Oh, what’s this?” asked Horizon. “Is the little boy upset his plea for attention failed?”
“Do you want a knight to address things that will dishonor her king!?” protested Mitotsudaira.
“Hold on, Nate!”
Her king grabbed her shoulders. The strength of his grip caused her pulse to quicken, but when she looked back, she saw him sticking his god mosaic into two of Neshinbara’s sign frames, so she decided not to look at him.
“Nate! Hey! Over here! Look over here!”
“Ho ho? I am currently raising my fist, Toori-sama, so how about you look over here?”
“Nooooo! I don’t want to see anything painful!”
Mitotsudaira ignored them and started speaking.
“Hexagone Française should be preparing to begin the Thirty Years’ War in earnest.”
“They have yet to truly start the Thirty Years’ War.”
“What does that meant?” asked Urquiaga.
Mitotsudaira answered with a nod.
“Hexagone Française has not participated in the Thirty Years’ War as a nation. But now that they have indicated they will soon start, they can wield their strength as a powerful nation and it seems someone has come forward in the hopes of relying on that strength.”
Some of them understood what she meant and some did not.
Someone who was likely in the latter group spoke from behind her.
“That just means one of that sun nudist’s friends wants our help with something, right? And with something only we can help with.”
That was true.
If Hexagone Française could handle whatever the problem was, that conqueror’s nation would have done so.
They would not have gone to the trouble of bringing transport ships with the academy emblem hidden.
…Mother must know something about this.
Mitotsudaira had a feeling this was going to be a lot of trouble, but she still spoke to her king.
“My king? We can’t be too accommodating. Even if this is related to Europe, the Kantou Liberation comes first.”
“Oh, right. We’ve gotta help Flatty get revenge.”
Everyone turned toward Yoshiyasu and she spread her mouth horizontally.
“I hate that I can’t insist I can handle this on my own.”
“We are allies, so feel free to rely on us. And we’ll feel free to help you,” said Masazumi. “That’s how nations get along.”
The king turned toward her when he heard that.
“Seijun, getting along between nations like that sure is a pain, isn’t it?”
“That’s what I’m here for. Because it would be far too dangerous to let you do it. And since there are rules – albeit unwritten ones – we can trust in that more than a verbal agreement with your neighbors.”
Mar-Ga: “That’s true. Because we can go to war if they don’t keep their promise. You don’t often get a chance to do that against your neighbors.”
Almost Everyone: “Oh, yeah. That is how she does things, isn’t it?”
Vice President: “That isn’t what I was trying to say!!”
Regardless, things were already headed for the next stage.
The wind washing over the transport ship had changed. The ship was descending toward Okutama’s surface city.
The distant diplomatic ships were eventually hidden behind the Musashi itself.
Bell: “The bath is…ready!”
“Good.” Masazumi had Tsukinowa open a sign frame. “The preliminary negotiation begins in 45 minutes, so we have 30 minutes to rest and freshen up. Let’s go over what information we have while we do so.”
“Um, then I’ll manage everyone’s sign frames and whatnot.”
Asama raised her hand while holding together the shirt which smelled of their king.
And when the wind of their descent grew especially strong, a thought occurred to Mitotsudaira.
…This is the next stage.
A lot had changed at the Siege of Odawara, but those changes were not stopping.
Next up was the Kantou Liberation. And…
What was approaching them and their future?
—Does it mean they have something they must do?
State of the Nations
Toori: Sis! Sis! We finished a lot already, but now we’re moving on to the Kantou Liberation, right!? But what are the different nations like right now?
Kimi: Heh heh heh. What brother, this is probably going to change before long, but these are the problems the different nations are carrying around.
Musashi: Since we are close with Satomi, we should gain a lot if the Kantou Liberation succeeds. However, we have not moved from Kantou for a bit, so our connections with Europe are weak even though we need to go to Westphalia in the end. It is also looking more likely that summer break will begin before we can force the history recreations of Nobunaga and Hashiba.
Mouri: They need support when settling the outside world, so they want to use the Kantou Liberation to earn some favors with the Kantou nations. Hexagone Française has said they will be beginning the Thirty Years’ War in earnest, but that also means they have yet to actually start on that.
Hashiba (P.A. Oda): Since most of the eastern Far East will side with Musashi if the Kantou Liberation is carried out, they want to stop it no matter what. However, they must hurry back from Hexagone Française if they are to intervene in the Kantou Liberation. But with summer break coming up, they plan to complete a lot of internal history recreations during the break.
Houjou: By continuing their fall, they can avoid Testament Union interference and join Musashi.
Date: The 1st Apology for Masamune arriving late for the Siege of Odawara has yet to be officially completed. That and the later 2nd Apology require cautious observations of Hashiba’s actions.
Uesugi: As they are currently allied with Hashiba, they cannot carelessly work with Musashi. However, they would like to do so in order to reduce their losses in the later Punishment of Aizu against Matsudaira.
Satomi: “I sure hope we can do the Kantou Liberation.”
Mogami: “Yoshiaki-sama is a free spirit, mon!”
Kimi: Well, some are more free than others, but that about sums it up. They all have their own problems and they’re trying to see how they can take control.
Toori: What a pain. I sure am glad we have Seijun for this stuff.
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