Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 39

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Chapter 39: Wild Girl in Her True Form[edit]

Horizon7B 381.jpg

Um

I smell gooood

I don’t smell weirrrrd

Point Allocation (Is That a Hint of Alcohol?)


The Reine des Garous watched the enemy’s movements.

The werewolf named Kasuya Something-or-Other had rushed toward her.


Mitotsudaira munched on the combat food she had brought with her while she watched her mother dodge Kasuya’s attack while lowering her father to the bridge, dodge Kasuya’s attack while kissing her father, dodge Kasuya’s attack while rubbing her cheek against him, dodge Kasuya’s attack while pushing on his shoulders to move him away, dodge Kasuya’s attack while waving her right hand to tell him to wait for a moment, dodge Kasuya’s attack while fixing her somewhat disheveled hair, dodge Kasuya’s attack while fixing her clothes, dodge Kasuya’s attack while using a finger to reapply her lipstick, dodge Kasuya’s attack while placing a hand on her cheek and making a turn, and grab Kasuya’s attack while giving Kasuya a super powerful middle finger forehead flick.


Flat Vassal: “I’m waiting for someone to come collect me, but what was that that sounded like a cannon going off?”

Uqui: “It sounded more like an impact to me.”

Unturning: “You would need to send out a god of war to produce a sound like that.”


Mitotsudaira heard a great roar and saw Kasuya dangling by the right arm from her mother’s left hand. The black wolf was also knocked upwards by the impact.

And when the black wolf fell back down, her mother let go.

Kasuya nearly fell to her knees.

“Kh…”

She staggered a few times but managed to stay on her feet.

Werewolves really are tough, aren’t we?

The smoke of frictional heat rose from the forehead where the blow had landed. A werewolf would be able to recover from that almost immediately, but even so…

“Y-you…”

She wobbled on her feet and swung a fist toward Mitotsudaira’s mother.

For Kasuya and the rest of the Hashiba forces, Mitotsudaira’s mother and father were enemies. In that sense, Kasuya’s response to this new fighting force on the bridge was an appropriate one.

But Mitotsudaira’s mother’s reaction was strange.

She crouched down and dodged Kasuya’s attack while…

“Snifffff.”

She lifted her nose and began sniffing at Kasuya.

First, the arm swinging the three claws, then up the arm to the shoulder, on to the neck, and a quick twirl around an attacking elbow to reach the hair.

“Sniff.”

She pulled the hair close and inhaled.

Kasuya stepped lightly forward to fill the gap between them and made a savate counterattack, but Mitotsudaira’s mother crouched out of the way, fixed the wing of her shoe while sniffing at Kasuya’s leg, worked her way up the leg, and…

“Kyaaaah!”

“Mother! Where are you smelling her!?”

“What’s the big deal, Nate? Marking is an important way of spicing things up.”

Continuing this conversation would only make her want to die when she had not come here to die, so she ignored that.

But her mother let out a breath, and…

“Hm. Nate, can you look after your father for a moment?”


Asama suddenly realized Mitotsudaira’s mother was standing on the transport ship they had waiting at the entrance to the great ruins.

Huh? When did she get here?

“Um, Mito’s mom? Should I make you some tea?”

“No, no. That won’t be necessary.”

The very next moment, she was gone. “Ohh,” said Asama when she noticed the woman standing next to her daughter’s king. In other words, next to him.

“Snifffff.”

Her shapely nose moved as she began smelling him.

Shoulder, cheek, forehead, hair, chest, armpit, and…

“W-wait, Mito’s mom! How far are you planning on taking this!?”

“Oh, whoops. Sorry, but there is something I want to figure out.”

“Y’know, Nate Maman, you smell pretty good.”

Eh? thought Asama as she saw him start to smell her too. Kimi did the same.

“Oh, you’re right. Is this an orange scent?”

Meanwhile, Mitotsudaira’s mother also sniffed at Kimi. And…

“Wait.”

Asama suddenly found the woman had come to her.

She was smelling her. She brought her nose to Asama’s neck, hair, cheek, armpit, and even below her chest.

Wow.

Kimi was right about the woman having a citrus scent, but there was also a smoky fragrance that may have come from burning a fragrant wood. That added a more mature smell on top of the sweetness.

“Hm.” The woman nodded. And, “I apologize for the interruption. I was curious about something is all. Now, I need to head back.”


Mitotsudaira saw her mother return almost immediately.

She must not have gone far.

Where had she gone?

After rubbing her cheek against Mitotsudaira’s father to readjust herself, she approached Mitotsudaira.

“Snifffff.”

“W-wait, mother, why are you smelling me too?”

“Hee hee. I just wanted to check on something.”

Mitotsudaira’s sense of smell detected a familiar scent from the past. And after leaving behind that aroma, her mother was standing in front of Kasuya once more. She placed a hand on her there.

“I have two things to say.”

“Wh-what are they?”

“Testament. First, do not forget that I am more important than you. I am the queen and, while I do have a daughter with a small chest over there, I am the most important one here.”

“Did you really need to include me in this!?”

But after establishing her superiority, her mother reached out toward Kasuya again.

She grabbed a lock of the black hair and held it up in the moonlight.

“A werewolf’s hair color can be inherited from a parent, but do you know what more often determines it?”

Eh?

Mitotsudaira had assumed her hair color came from her father rather than her mother.

But was there more to it?

Her mother answered that unspoken question with her eyes still on Kasuya.

“Werewolves were originally born from humanity’s fear of nature and the dark. And we remain greatly influenced by those things… In other words, you could say we are spirits of the entire world. We have no role given us like the gods do. You could describe us as overwhelmingly superior beings that act as miracles of nature.”

Which meant…

“Our form is based on the state of the world first and takes after our parents second.”

“Mother, what do you mean?”

“Testament. For – ex – am – ple.” Her mother shook the golden hair at her shoulders. “My generation was born into the twilight years of the werewolf species, when nature was greatly restricted by humanity. That world and the thoughts within it produced this hair color. So…”

She looked to Kasuya and viewed the black hair she still held in her hand.

“Just how hopeless a place did your parents live in?”


Mitotsudaira listened to her mother’s words.

When Kasuya gasped and looked up, the woman peered straight into her eyes as a queen.

“Among werewolves, the black wolves are those who live in lands of persecution or other extreme circumstances. The color is so different from the norm that there was a time when even others in the species would have shunned you as an ill omen. …There were some with your hair color as the forests shrank during my and my mother’s generations, but in a way, that was because we did not use our queenly power against the humans.”

So…

“If that is what led to your hair color, then it is me you should resent. My daughter over there has already taken a lifetime’s worth of psychological damage with the whole boobs thing.”

For some reason, Kasuya gave Mitotsudaira a look of sympathy, so she made a sideways flick of her hand in the air. It was a “don’t look at me” gesture.

“But,” her mother said to Kasuya. “There is one silver lining.”

“Silver lining?”

“Testament,” confirmed her mother. “You must have come from a nearly hopeless environment, but your parents must have seen great hope in you.”

She held up Kasuya’s hair again.

“This sheen seen under the moonlight is a sign of elegance in a wolf. That is given to you by your parents, not created by your environment.”

Really?

Mitotsudaira surreptitiously moved her left hand to place her own hair in the moonlight.

There was indeed a sheen there.

That had always been there, but now that she paid attention to it, she liked the way it looked. Although part of it was how carefully she had looked after her hair to keep it looking nice. And…

Ah.

Her father was smiling at her from a short distance away.

He must have seen her checking her hair after hearing what her mother said. She felt a weird mixture of embarrassment and uncertainty, but it was not a bad thing.

She spoke quietly so only he could hear her.

“Thank you.”

Her mother’s ears twitched right afterwards, so how many secret abilities did that woman have?

But she was most interested in Kasuya.

The black wolf hung her head and grabbed her dangling hair in both hands.

She used both hands to hold that hair up in the moonlight in a way that felt somehow childish to Mitotsudaira.

Kasuya must have found the light in her hair because she nodded to Mitotsudaira’s mother after a bit.

And the woman asked Kasuya a question.

“Who are you?”

“Wh-what?”

“Testament. Could you provide an answer for the queen of your species? I just want to know your parents’ names and where you were born. To be clear, I am familiar with all the families, so I might be able to tell you something.”

“Well…”

Mitotsudaira clearly heard Kasuya hold her breath.

There was tension in her words. And just then, her mother moved without warning.

The woman pushed on Kasuya’s shoulders.

“Well, I will grant you this isn’t the place for that. And you are in a bit of danger here.”

Immediately afterwards, a long beam of light raced horizontally from the southeast and passed through the spot where the woman had been standing between Mitotsudaira and Kasuya.

It was a ship’s cannon class of ether cannon.


Adele saw it while using Raging Beast to move the broken cannon blocking the way across the bridge.

The horizontal attack from the opposite bank most likely had the world’s greatest volume and it scored a direct hit.

It was an ether cannon.

It had been fired by the light warship on the Bousou Peninsula’s eastern coast. It was the same one that had sent out the two gods of war to attack the small transport ship carrying the Satomi forces.

Ether scattered, light raced, and residual light scorched the air.

Eh!?

Something had disappeared from Adele’s vision.

Mitotsudaira’s mother was gone.

Flat Vassal: “W-wait, this is bad! Main unit! Did you see that!?”

Asama: “Kyaaaaahh! Mito’s mom got roasted after smelling people!”

Wise Sister: “Silly, Asama. That’s all wrong! Mito’s mom got roasted after sniffing my foolish brother’s and your armpits!”

Asama: “Y-yours too, Kimi! She got roasted after sniffing you too!”

Things over there had been crazier than she thought. In fact, she had no idea what they were talking about.

But one problem in particular was most pressing.

The 5th Special Duty Officer!

She could see that silver-haired girl standing within the fragments of scattering ether light.

And she was facing the black wolf.

But Adele heard a sudden voice.

It was the 5th Special Duty Officer.

Hair swayed on the back turned toward Adele as the silver wolf raised her voice.

“Everyone, withdraw!!”

She swung her arm and howled.

“Quickly now! Hurry back here!”


You idiot!

Tadaoki opened a divine transmission lernen figur.

He was still sniping and he was using his voice to fire, but there was something else he had to say.

“Who just fired on them!? I’m in charge of this area!”

The Hashiba forces had light warships landed on the bay coast. The one closest to the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay was supposed to be under his control.

Of course, this was a chaotic battle. He was positioned further back than the enemy’s front line, but his elevated position gave him a view of his defeated allies. That was why Kani and Kasuya were buying time while a withdrawal was rushed through. After that, he was supposed to fire horizontally to stop the enemy front line, but…

“Damn!”

When he checked his targeting spell management, he found that light warship was no longer under his control.

In fact, all the light warships had been incorporated into the south Bousou Peninsula aerial fleet. The transfer had been made by…

Konishi!?

She was in charge of defending the Bousou Peninsula.

She was a merchant. As the peninsula’s defender, she would have wanted to keep the Reine des Garous from reaching it. She had also sent those two gods of war to attack the Satomi forces earlier. He now wished he had told her not to intervene in his jurisdiction when that happened.

But he had to say it even it was too late.

Tadaoki continued sniping to stop the enemy’s front line from reaching his withdrawing allies, and…

“Firing on the bridge is my jurisdiction! No one else interfere!!”

Koni-ko: “Oh? What are you talking about? Did we fire on the bridge?”

Okaaa: “Yes! Did you not know where you were aiming!?”

Oops, he thought as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Because…

Koni-ko: “My bad. I really didn’t know. …I’m a bit busy defending the peninsula, after all.”

She established an excuse for herself, but she was not done speaking yet.

Koni-ko: “Sorry. I need to send Kuki-kun as many warships as I can. Also, that was a warning shot against the approaching Satomi transport ship. …As an upperclassman, I was told to help you out, so is there anything else you need?”

Okaaa: “No, there isn’t. I was trying to guide them with my shots, so I don’t want any interference from anyone, even an upperclassman!”

Koni-ko: “Fine, fine. You sure are energetic.”

He heard laughter.

He could tell she was sidestepping responsibility, but he could tell something else as well.

Our superiors at Bousou are taking a pretty serious view of the situation.

The group here was fighting for control of the front line and planning an efficient withdrawal, but for the Bousou group, the question was whether or not they would have to fight that enemy.

This front line battle would greatly influence whether or not they could last long enough for Hashiba to arrive.

If they could interfere and reduce the enemy numbers, they would want to do so and they would not particularly care about the efficiency and plans of the group already fighting here.

That attack had made that clear enough. So…

“Damn.”

Tadaoki knew Konishi had made a good decision there.

She had sent a warning shot telling his group to shape up and she had also used it to remove an enemy as powerful as the Reine des Garous.

Loup-Garous were spirits. And their existences were strongly defined, so certain conditions were needed to defeat them. With Loup-Garous, that meant silver weapons, but unfortunately, he had no such bullets with him. Plus…

Would a bullet be enough to kill her?

The other option was an ether attack. Since all things were made from ether, hitting them with something powerful enough would destroy and overwrite the target. Konishi had been trying to help him out when she fired that light warship’s main cannon on the Reine des Garous.

Dammit.

He had not expected the Reine des Garous to come here since she was with Mouri, but he had trouble with this feeling that everything was going according to plan. And…

“Hm?”

He removed his eyes from the sniper targeting spell.

He had sensed something odd about the enemy’s overall movement.

The Musashi forces were moving back toward the opposite bank with just two of their own people left behind.

All that remained were the retreating Hashiba forces, Kasuya, and…

“Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer and the Reine des Garous’s husband?”


Kasuya sensed an odd presence while facing Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer.

The Reine des Garous had disappeared.

She had been obliterated by the cannon blast.

But Kasuya could not move.

The Reine des Garous had pushed her away just beforehand. So she would not be caught in the blast.

Of course, she doubted it would have actually hit her even without that push.

But she would not have escaped unscathed.

And Kasuya saw something falling through the sky.

It was a small silver box.

“The Silver Cross.”

That was the Reine des Garous’s personal weapon. That divine weapon could open up to form a cross-shaped striking weapon and supply a pressurized strike from mid-range.

It slowly fell from Kasuya’s eye level.

And it landed.

With a solid thud, the Silver Cross box bounced a few times before coming to a stop on the hardened wood of the bridgetop floor.

The silver box’s edges and corners shined in the moonlight.

But its owner was no more, so that object in front of Kasuya held new meaning now.

This is…

It was proof that the Reine des Garous had been erased from existence by the cannon blast.

And Kasuya heard a voice.

“Miss Loup-Garou…”

It was the Reine des Garous’s husband. Was he considered the Prince of Condé or Shimizu Kageharu here?

He looked around and raised his voice as if searching.

“Miss Loup-Garou!!”

Kasuya could tell he and Musashi’s 5th Special Duty Officer had gone noticeably pale even in the dark. Instead of the blood draining from their faces, it was more like they never had blood in their faces to begin with.

The husband’s shouts continued.

“Miss Loup-Garou, where are you!?”

She was gone. She had disappeared. No, she had been erased. But…

“Miss Loup-Garou!”

Kasuya heard him say more.

“Don’t get mad!!”


Kasuya first looked toward the voice.

The Reine des Garous’s husband was there. He was looking her way.

Why her way?

Confused, she resumed viewing the space between herself and him.

Then she noticed something.

The Silver Cross.

The small silver box was gone. And…

“Ah…”

Some of the scattering ether light fragments brushed against her cheek.

She detected a citrus scent. So…

“It can’t be!”

There was light to her right. She looked over to find a werewolf there. However…

“A queen-class great spirit?”

This ether being was the Reine des Garous’s true form. A spirit measuring more than 2m tall had manifested and she rapidly took physical form along with a misty storm of ether light.


This is no joke! thought Asama.

As proof, Hanami had autonomously emerged from one of her hard point parts and begun some emergency power control work.

The Mouse indicated a sign frame displaying live footage of the Great Bridge Ruins of Edo Bay overlaid with the colorful frames of a ley line change graph.

The ley line current had grown strongest in the area around Mitotsudaira and her father, but it was shrinking more rapidly than she had ever seen in the area around that.

Something there was absorbing the surrounding ley lines and concentrating the ether.

Needless to say, it was doing more than just absorbing the ether.

This is a great spirit manifestation!

A high-level species with an existence very similar to the ley lines was appearing in a single point and reestablishing a physical form. The ether of the ley lines within a 20km radius of the appearance point was being concentrated there.

The absorption was faster than Asama had expected.

And something happened when the ley lines were rapidly absorbed and concentrated.

The rapid tidal current of ether would collide with everything in the area.

That massive current would not do much to things that physically existed, but it had a powerful effect on anything that utilized ether.

That meant divine transmissions, power systems, and spells. So…

“This is going to shake the transport ship a bit, so brace yourselves!”

Asama prepared for the problem. When the massive ley line current hit the ship, the virtual ocean would be filled with fuel from an outside source. Shinto had of course experienced phenomena like this many times in the past. Recent examples included the destruction of Mikawa and the detonation of the dragon line reactor at Edo.

Asama performed batch adjustments to the power and divine protections for the ship and the personnel. But shutting down the external supply would make it a pain to restart everything, so she instead set a power cap and applied a “temperance” filter on any supply past that threshold. To be extra sure, she used a substitution to have the management done by a supervisor god with good eyesight.

Okay!

Just as she thought that, the air around them roared loudly and the transport ship shook. It felt like the first wave had arrived.

The wave was larger than she expected. She also saw a few lights rising in the darkness of the opposite bank.

Those had to be weapons and engines bursting into flames when they instantaneously overloaded.

“This is pretty bad…”

But the amount of damage done was not the main point at hand. At the very least, their side would not have too much trouble thanks to her management. She checked the divine network to make sure.

10ZO: “Ah, the ‘Kowakamai for the Unlucky’ I was listening to for battle mood music just reset!”

Worshiper: “More importantly, the divine figurine I want to bring with me when I die just started talking!”

Mar-Ga: “Ohiroshiki, why is there a voice saying ‘Throw me away! Please, throw me away!’ coming from your pocket?”

What is going on out there? Oh, come to think of it, this is a lot like the mysterious phenomenon system. This is a ley line disturbance after all.

In Kantou, mysterious phenomena were reported a lot around the great ruins, so that may have played a role.

But something else required her attention right now.

“An individual being is causing all this!”

Mitotsudaira’s mother was manifesting right now.


Mitotsudaira saw her mother.

She was a werewolf. She was still humanoid, but this was her true form.

She was two heads taller than normal and she had far more hair. And…

She has animal ears and a tail.

That person wearing fur-decorated clothing made from ether was Mitotsudaira’s mother.

She had made a complete beast transformation as a werewolf. And instead of basing it on a human body, she now existed as a spirit with an ether foundation.

This was a werewolf’s true form and she was no longer bound by the restrictions of a human body.

Mitotsudaira’s mother had shown her this beast transformation form a few times long ago. Her mother had stopped once it became clear she could not do it herself, but…

But she does it to spice things up with father, doesn’t she!?

But as their child, that was none of her business.

Still, this spirit-based version was a lot more impressive than the one she had seen. While her mother’s form was constructed and made physical, the surrounding ether currents were drawn in and a vortex formed low to the ground.

“It’s like a pack of wolves,” she muttered before seeing some slight movement.

It was Kasuya. The girl took a few steps back while looking around at the ether light swirling around her.

“What…is this?”

“It is simple,” said Mitotsudaira. Her mother still looked somewhat sleepy, but there was a smile on her lips. “Werewolves are humanity’s fears given shape. Did you really think our queen could be killed by a mere ether cannon? A single cannon blast is no match for the sum total of humanity’s fears, right?”

“Then what is this manifestation?”

“Judge. This is the immortality of a pure-blooded werewolf.”

Just like with her Silver Chains, her mother could recover from her wounds using the moonlight.

When thinking of werewolves as living fears, her mother’s body was far smaller than the total level of injury her entire existence could handle. Especially when that body was based on a human one.

That remained true.

Her mother had not lost her “body”. For her entire existence, this had been like having the very tip of her finger cut off. So she only had to use a different finger now. That was all.

All she is doing now is retuning herself after the ether cannon hit caused a bit of a disturbance.

Since she had to reset herself, she had appeared in her true form. Once she had finished absorbing the ether and tuning herself, she would reacclimate herself and return to her normal body.

The process was the same as activating and deactivating her beast transformation below the full moon. The ether change was just on a much larger scale this time. However…

“Now, then,” her mother said all of a sudden. “That woke me up a little.”

She looked to Mitotsudaira, smiled, nodded, and then looked to her husband.

“Honey.”

“Yeah, you look amazing!”

“But this is my true form as a werewolf.”

“And you look cool! Super cool!!”

“Then let’s have lots of fun like this tonight, shall we?”

“Yeah!”

Mitotsudaira’s awful classmates sent a rush of sign frames that appeared next to her face, but she broke them all at once. Kasuya gave her a “what was that?” look. If you don’t like it, then how about you try joining us?

At any rate, Mitotsudaira’s mother placed a hand on her cheek and bent toward her husband.

“But this is my first time seeing this form as well. …Although it is possible it was briefly visible on that night when you brought that silver stake.”

“Then I’m a lucky guy!” said Mitotsudaira’s father with a smile. “I thought you were beautiful when I first saw you, Miss Loup-Garou, but now I get to see you looking even more beautiful.”

Ah.

Her mother had been a “werewolf” when her parents had first met.

Her mother narrowed her eyes.

Mitotsudaira suddenly found her mother kneeling in front of her father with her massive hair and clothing fluttering behind her.

“Honey? Can I take the smell of your lips with me?”

“How?”

Her mother placed her own lips around her father’s. After moving her lips along his a few times, the woman removed her mouth. And she pressed her forehead against his.

“When I get back, you can show me the results of your daily training.”

“Yeah! This time I’ll pick you up!”

“Testament. You’ll be fine. I am as light as a bouquet of flowers tonight.”

And…

“Nate?”

“Wh-what?”

“You too are a bouquet of flowers to me.”

That reminded Mitotsudaira of the past.

She had indeed been picked up…no, carried by her mother. Long ago when she had gotten lost in the woods, her mother had brought her home while carrying her on her back such that she could see the starry sky above.

Her mother had not brought her father along then and she had not been acting on his instructions.

That point alone showed just how much her mother cared for her. So…

“You shouldn’t be raising death flags like that after you were blown away once.”

“What, no ‘shall I help you, mother’?”

“I highly doubt you will be moving slow enough for me to keep up.”

“That just means you have to work harder, Nate. But not to worry. As promised, I will stay with your father as I do this. So to stay within those bounds…yes, I know.” Her mother pointed forward. “I will clean up everything to the end of the bridge. …Nate, is there anything you want as a souvenir?”

“A peaceful life would be nice.”

“Testament. …That will be a tricky one, Nate, but understood. I will do whatever I can to remain by your side, okay?”

“That’s the opposite of what I want!!”

By the time she shouted that, her mother was already gone.

In less than the blink of an eye, the Reine des Garous made her way to the battlefield. And…

“U-um…”

Kasuya looked around like she did not understand what had happened, so Mitotsudaira nodded her way and spoke.

“You had better hope you can catch up.”


Kasuya nodded at the Musashi 5th Special Duty Officer’s words.

The Reine des Garous may have revealed her true form, but if that woman was going to interfere with her allies’ withdrawal, she had to be eliminated.

Kasuya had to pursue her.

Really, what is even going on?

So much is happening tonight, she thought.

But that was when an unexpected question reached her.

“Will you appear before me again once you have fully recovered from the injuries received fighting Takigawa?”

Kasuya’s pulse pounded at that question.

She knew about that?

No. This other girl was also a Loup-Garou, so she would have a good nose. Was it Takigawa’s blood or her own blood? She must have noticed one or the other. And the Musashi 5th Special Duty Officer brushed a hand through her hair.

“Even with a grooming divine protection, it still takes a night to fully eliminate the smell, doesn’t it?”

“Does it?”

“It does. Wait…you couldn’t tell?”

After a pause, Kasuya nodded.

And she started to say something.

She felt like she would be able to say something if she looked to that silver hair and golden eyes and opened her mouth. But…

“––––––”

She could not say anything. She shook her head once to refocus herself.

And she reworked the confused words in her head to match her current goal.

“Grow too interested in your enemy, and you will be drawn in.”

The other werewolf paused for a moment after that.

After taking a breath, she raised her eyebrows and nodded.

“Withdraw. …Not that you really have a choice here.”

“Testament. I hope we can have a proper battle sometime. I was too unprepared this time.”

Kasuya then bowed toward the Reine des Garous’s husband.

“I am glad I had this opportunity to greet the leader of the werewolves.”

“I’m not their leader.”

“Father? You effectively have a lot of control over her.”

The way he tilted his head suggested it was a very give-and-take relationship.

Kasuya bowed again. And…

“––––––”

She turned her back and ran off. She pursued the Reine des Garous to support her withdrawing allies.


What had happened was quite obvious from a distance.

A forest made of ether was spreading out from the center of Edo Bay.

On the Pension Versailles landed near the ridge of the Miura Peninsula to the south, Mouri Terumoto looked north using a targeting spell.

Since she could not officially participate in the battle, she still left all the artillery fire to Motoyoshi. That was why she was here speaking with Mouri-01 who was observing the eastern Miura Peninsula after leaving her Lourd de Marionnette.

“Hold on. Anne never mentioned this.”

“Knowing Lady Anne, she probably summed it all up by saying the Reine des Garous is ‘an incredible person’.”

“Probably so,” she muttered while watching several numbers dancing on the wide-range screen of her targeting spell. Most of those were the Catholic spell warning of strong enemy species readings.

The Gallican settings were supposed to have werewolves listed as friendly, but after the Reine des Garous revealed her true form, the reaction may have been more emotional than by species classification.

Changing the settings would be a pain, so she just let the warnings stay there as she viewed the screen. She saw…

“Is that…a European forest?”

There were trees and a ground. Even streams and rocks were formed from ether as the forest spread.

“I believe that is a portion of the Reine des Garous’s territory,” said Mouri-01. “To establish her ley line territory as an ether species, she normally draws the data in to herself, but her retuning here has caused that data to expand out from her so that she can properly adjust herself to match her ‘forest-dwelling nonhuman mold’.”

“Sum it up for me in about 10 words.”

“Do you like long text reading comprehension problems?”

That was a pretty awful response, but the ether forest was even creating a sky now. It was thinning out toward the edges of its expansion, but how would it effect the people on the scene?

“Is this dangerous? Do you know, Mogami?”

“Ohh,” replied Yoshiaki via divine transmission. “The Reine des Garous is having some fun.”

“Can you do this?”

“The royals of any ether-rich species can. As the ruler of a species, you carry the mold of your species’ land and habitat. The kingdom exists where the king is, after all. In my case, I have a mold of the forest and plains.”

“Man, humanity got a raw deal. If I could produce a weird space around me like that, it would probably only be the books and clothes scattered around my room.”

“Oh, dear,” said Mouri-01. “We need to set aside some cleaning time before the victory celebration when we get back.”

Now Terumoto felt even more trapped.

She was afraid any careless statement she made would be used against her, but then Yoshiaki’s bitter laughter reached her ears.

“What we do is no different. We are also creating a space that is to our liking. And you humans do the same thing in reality by selecting what connections to keep and which to end.”

“If you’re talking about society, you participate in that too. And even without your connections to us humans, you still have a hierarchy set up, so those connections aren’t exclusive to humans.”

“But nonhumans cannot take it very far unless they are a spirit species of the kind people tend to like. …In the Far East, you talk about asking your gods for help, right? Generally, the gods view the human world but not the individuals living there, but if you can make a request and get them to turn your way, you can gain a god’s divine protection using that connection. Using your connections for something so brazen is a human principle and virtue.”

And…

“When it comes to the relationship between predator and prey and selecting a mate species, highly predatory species like us are very set in our ways. But you humans readily accept changes to those arrangements based on circumstances and personal emotions. In some cases, you will change your value system or social structure or use such things for entertainment or political problems,” said the fox. “Now, it takes a call from the human side to remake the relationship between wolf and human into anything other than predator and prey. I have no interest in glorifying that act since the results are sometimes good and sometimes bad, but…”

“But?”

“There are souls that have been saved by the forcible creation of such connections.”

Terumoto heard Yoshiaki sigh.

“That is my prey, that is an enemy targeting my territory, this is my precious child, and protecting my territory and living out my life there is my greatest happiness as a nonhuman who lives in this land and will return to this land once I rot away. …One way to escape the sorrow of losing something is to think of it as no more than one chapter in the history of that land.”

“Are you saying nonhumans are a portion of the unchanging nature of their land, so if anything changes, they’ll no longer fit into the modern age and they’ll disappear?”

Anne had mentioned that the Reine des Garous has started using that trend to her advantage.

And this fox nodded at her question.

“Testament. They say we nonhumans give up quite quickly when faced with change. We see it as the shifting nature of the world and we leave our native land where we were born and found purpose. Yet you can then decide to carry that burden, gain many more connections, and enjoy yourself instead of wallowing in sadness. …Even though eliminating and rejecting those connections works well enough if all you wish to do is rid yourself of the sadness.”

“I see,” said Terumoto. “Are you trying to convince me to join Musashi?”

“Ko ko. Why would a fox invite someone to the comfortable spot she has discovered? I was bragging about how good I’ve got it.”

She continued.

“Look. You can see those inexperienced ones preparing to clash with the head wolf, can’t you?”