Horizon:Volume 7B Chapter 48
Chapter 48: Happy Conscious One
What am I doing sleeping
At a time like this!?
Point Allocation (Grooming)
“Good girl, good girl. You did really well.”
Mitotsudaira heard her king’s voice while lying down.
She was on the deck of the small transport ship heading back toward the Musashi. She was curled up on her side with her head resting on her king’s lap.
After returning to the deck, he had sat on the edge of the deck and slapped his thigh. When she approached and sat next to him, wondering what this was about, he had rubbed her head and brought them to their current situation.
He was combing her hair while rubbing her head and neck.
The comb was a hair-combing charm provided by Asama. One side of the comb had a comb shape, a combing god would reside within it when it was activated, and it would provide cleaning and treatment using a washing spell based on pure water. Since Asama had provided it, there was no conflict with her grooming divine protections.
There was some interference and acclimation with the innate divine protections of her species, plus she was busy restraining herself while resting her head on her king’s lap.
Besides, this was a reward from her king. This a sign of my hard work.
He had caught her after she broke through the transport ship earlier and now he was combing her hair while she rested her head in his lap. Part of her wondered excitedly what it would be next time, but doing this in the public eye was also quite dangerous. After all, it really did tickle, his lap felt so warm, and the way she left everything up to him meant everything came as a surprise.
…S-stay calm, stay calm!
Asama: “Um, Mito?”
Calm down, me. Take a deep breath and…go!
Silver Wolf: “Oh? What do you need during such an emergency, Tomo?”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Every time my foolish brother touches you even a little, your butt wiggles around, which has placed your skirt is in something of an incredible position. Does this mean your mind and body are separate creatures?”
Silver Wolf: “It does not! Not at all!”
“Oh, does it itch here?”
Asama: “Mito… You’re a little too straightforward…”
Silver Wolf: “Th-that one caught me off guard!”
Gold Mar: “The Chancellor commented on it before doing it, didn’t he?”
Mar-Ga: “I didn’t know Mitotsudaira could make faces like that.”
…Wh-what kind of face is that!?
She of course had no intention of asking. But her king suddenly spoke to her.
“Nate, you’re stretching out a little too much. You’re getting in people’s way.”
She knew what he was going to do. He pulled in her bent legs, and…
He could not manage to pull them in. But not because they were lacking in weight.
Nor was he too weak. The human body was poorly balanced, so when you tried to manipulate someone else’s body, it was not going to go well.
That was why she placed her hips on the arm he was using and nonchalantly pressed her toes against the floor.
She slid herself up onto his lap.
She brought her face to his left side and her hips on his right thigh.
He was now effectively holding her in his arms, so when he shifted his right thigh out from under her…
Her curled-up body sank down into his crossed legs.
She was lying on her side while facing toward him.
She could not move while sinking down into his crossed legs.
It reminded her of lying in a shallow and narrow bathtub, but that may have been because of the heat. The heat came from her own body. It scared her how rapidly it was rising.
The main issue at hand was what to do with her arms. If she extended them outwards, they would catch on his legs and she would be unable to bend them, so they would be sticking out completely straight. That would look really lame. But if she pulled them in toward her body, it would put space between her and her king and make it harder for him to comb her hair.
The only other option was…
Her king placed the side of his face on her bent left arm. Then he pulled her head in a bit and lifted her hair up from below with his left arm.
“Your hair smells really nice.”
“Yeah, it smells a lot like yakiniku onions.”
“You’re just smelling what I ate during the battle!”
There was nothing she could do.
But her lower right arm was free because he was holding her head and hair in his arm.
So she corrected her position. She moved that lower right arm from atop his thigh and wrapped it around his hips while she stuck her left arm between his right shoulder and arm and bent it to support her own resting head.
That allowed her to see her king’s face from below.
It also allowed him to see her face, but…
…This is a luxury.
This was a lot like how a noble lady would have a maid groom her, so it was probably disrespectful to have her king do it. But she was having him do it nevertheless.
Due to her large quantity of hair, no one else could see her looking at her king.
He would sometimes look at her, but she had no idea what look she gave him in return. However…
“Oh, you can make that kind of face, Nate?”
“Wh-what kind of face is that!?”
“Well, let’s just say it isn’t something I want to let anyone else see.”
What kind of face is that? she wondered, but perhaps this too qualified as a shared secret.
She also had a feeling the others had already seen it a moment before, but that was an issue for later.
…There is so much more to come.
With that thought, her body relaxed as if it had grown accustomed to its own heat.
“Did you fall asleep?”
“I am still awake,” she tried but failed to say.
She was aware she was in fact gently falling asleep.
Asama blushed in her heart as she watched Mitotsudaira drift off to sleep.
…Mito can be bold when she wants to.
Maybe I’m not one to talk after kissing him, but is lying in his lap and having so much mutual contact really all that great?
But, she thought.
With Mitotsudaira, pressing her cheek against him or holding each other probably was the greater form of “joy”.
Was that because animals associated using their mouth with eating prey? Her mother did seem nearly inseparable from her father, but…
…She goes for a kiss when they have been apart, but they are always touching each other.
Wanting someone and wanting to share your happiness with them were probably different things to them.
They probably saw them as separate emotions or separate levels of desire.
Asama realized something.
…When Mito goes all out for Toori-kun, it’s when she’s feeling withdrawal symptoms or when her emotions are in overdrive, isn’t it?
She felt bad analyzing her friend’s emotions like this, but she had to prepare herself mentally.
She might have to help out Horizon or the others with this kind of thing depending on the situation.
…Oh, this is yet another job for me, isn’t it?
She never seemed to be free from work.
But she could now see that was due to her own personality.
Yes, that’s it, she told herself while crossing her arms, but that was when Kimi poked at her shoulder from the side. Curious what that was about, she looked over to find the girl pointing at Mitotsudaira.
“So what do you do, Asama?”
“What do I do when?”
“Judge. When you can’t restrain yourself any longer.”
“Wh-what could you possibly mean? Restrain myself from what?”
“You know, like with Mito’s mom when she can’t restrain herself any longer and is nearly in tears over it.”
Wow, thought Asama.
Thinking back, that was what had happened in Yomi. The situation and emotions had been different, but that was what had happened when she had stopped hesitating when it came to him.
She had been conflicted right up until she did it, but when she had seen him unable to breathe, all of that had gone away.
Asama was left speechless, so Kimi placed a hand over her mouth and smiled.
“My, my. Look at that blush. Heh heh. Why not try hiding your face behind your hair like Mitotsudaira?”
“No, I, um…so what do you do at times like that, Kimi?”
“Eh? My foolish brother is always within firing range, so I just have to head back home.”
Why does she get to have an absolute safe zone!?
That irritated her a bit, but that only caused the idiot sister to wiggle around and provoke her further.
“Heh heh. Does that sound unfair? It does, doesn’t it? But you too were granted the right to be near him, so you don’t get to be jealous! Oh, but I guess you can’t help but be jealous when you see my excellent, sexy, and dynamite body and mind, can you!?”
“I will admit you probably do have the equivalent of a million tons of dynamite in your mind and that I am extremely jealous of you at times, but your mind follows a special set of rules.”
“Oh, dear,” said Kimi while placing a hand on her cheek.
But then she looked at the two on the floor.
Mitotsudaira was sleeping curled up on his lap like a large wolf.
A short distance away, Naito was watching her as well.
“Mito-tsan’s amazing, isn’t she? I’ve heard of animals hiding their head but leaving their butt exposed, but she’s hiding her face behind her hair while her butt wiggles all over the place from the Chancellor’s combing.”
“Yeah, Nate isn’t the type to say when things make her happy, so I’m really glad I can pick it up from those reactions.”
“Chancellor, she’s gonna eat you one day.”
Naito laughed, but he responded while showing off his teeth in a smile.
“I’m just so happy,” he said while pulling Mitotsudaira’s curled-up body closer to him. “So happy she wants to be with me and can’t bear to leave me be.”
“You and Mito-tsan have a pretty close relationship.” Naito then asked something like it just slipped out. “But what do you think would’ve happened without the Battle of Mikawa? Just between us.”
“Good question,” said Toori while looking up into the night sky with the silver wolf on his lap.
He had discussed this with Horizon back in England. That was a secret he shared with Horizon, but…
…Well, I guess it’s fine now.
He looked to Kimi and she smiled back with her eyebrows lowered.
She seemed to be saying it was fine, so he felt more at ease with saying this.
“Well, after graduating, I could’ve left the Musashi to reset things and study things.”
“Oh, sounds like a grand adventure, Chancellor.”
“Yeah,” he replied. “I thought I’d head down to the surface and do what I needed to do.”
Oops, I said too much. Well, it’s fine. Given what’s happened.
“Anyway, there was a time when I was thinking I could reset things for myself like that.”
…How should I put this?
He was unsure how to put this to words.
What was it?
Something had become clear during the Battle of Mikawa.
When he had said he could do it himself and descended those stairs, everyone had followed him. Thinking back, it seemed wrong to assume the same thing would have happened with his plans from before all that, but…
“If someone had stuck with me after that, it would’ve been a lifelong thing, right?”
“They’d be telling me our current relationship was important and didn’t need to be reset.”
Asama heard Kimi laugh.
“Quite a complicated adolescence you were having there, foolish brother!”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Judge. After all, you invited a lot of the boys to go along with you, didn’t you?”
“Sis, how do you know about that?”
Asama was pretty sure the only answer was “because she’s Kimi”, but the idiot sister slapped her chest and spoke up.
“Big boobs fortunetelling! You can divine the truth of the cosmos in the sounds they make and how they feel when you grope them!”
“Hell yeah, sis! It’s been a while since even I thought you sounded insane! Hell yeah!”
“Heh heh heh. If you want to praise me, you need to be louder than that. …But anyway.”
Kimi put on a serious expression, slapped both her breasts, and continued.
“Use both boobs and the accuracy doubles! Keep that in mind, foolish brother!”
“Got it, sis! So you know someone’s serious when they pull out the full pair, right!?”
“Um, you two? I thought we were having a serious discussion here.”
Kimi dug her fingers into Asama’s breasts and shouted “yeah.”
“You know what, foolish brother? Asama knew about it too!”
“Eh!? For real, Asama!?”
“Ugh,” groaned Asama because she was unsure what to say.
She could tell Kimi had set her up here, but…
“No, um, that was back during the middle or end of our second year, right? You were dropping some hints about some plans of yours, remember? Like you asked Mito what she would do if you went down to the surface. And you asked me something similar.”
“Wh-why do you have to remember that kinda cringy stuff!?”
“Wow, you are super cringy, Chancellor.”
“I’m sorry!” he apologized to Naito, but then Tenzou spoke up.
He was being treated by Mary on the edge of the deck.
“Toori-dono, that makes you sound like a shy girl in love.”
“Yes, I know what you mean,” added Neshinbara. “The kind of girl that wants to know how her crush feels about her, so she drops hints that she will be transferring schools soon and watches to see how they react. I don’t like writing characters like that, but what were you thinking back then, Aoi-kun?”
“Y-you’re here for revenge too, aren’t you!?”
Meanwhile, Mary raised her right hand.
She was blushing and hanging her head.
“Um…I kind of did something like that to see how Master Tenzou would respond…”
“It’s fine when you do it, Mary-dono! I only just now learned you did it and it felt like having the cutest of fairies descend into my heart!”
“Tenzou, you are just the worst for not realizing what she was doing at the time.”
“I can see why her sister ordered to have you skewered with a gravity sword.”
That turn was not complete until everyone had had their say.
Some of them started fighting, but once things calmed down, Kimi asked him a question.
“But that was in the second year, right? What were you planning to do until graduation?”
“I don’t know. I can say whatever I want now, but at the time, my attitude really was ‘I can wait until I graduate to make up my mind’. Plus, Horizon had arrived at mom’s café.”
He turned to Asama.
“But I did hope I could pull it all off. I wanted to confess to P-01s and, if it went well, go from there. And if it didn’t go well, I’d go from there. If I was heading down to the surface, I wanted to ask everyone to join me, but that would mean I had been rejected by P-01s, so asking Nate or Asama to join me felt kind of like I was looking for a replacement, so…”
“That is not true.”
Asama finally spoke.
This was it.
This was when she lost her hesitation regarding him.
It was when she wanted to tell him something about herself.
She was aware of that now as she spoke.
“We are different people and you approach us as separate individuals, so we are not replacements. I have understood that for a long time.”
He responded with a bitter smile.
“I really wish you’d told me that back then.”
Kimi smiled bitterly too.
She was not speaking to him. She was simply calling her brother foolish. So…
“I mean, well, things are different now, but back then, I was thinking a lot about responsibility and stuff.”
“Um…Toori-kun? Please think about responsibility now too.”
“Oh, well, I’m open to pretty much anything now. Yeah.”
“I see,” was all she could say.
Meanwhile, he continued while lightly patting the wolf’s back.
“What would’ve happened to me without the Battle of Mikawa? I might’ve gotten so hung up on doing things right that I never did anything at all and just ended up trying please everyone.”
That comment came from Masazumi who had remained silent until now. She stood next to Futayo who was still retrieving the food supplies.
“We experienced a lot during our second year and that placed us in the positions we ended up holding, but the same thing would have happened during our third year. So, Aoi, when I think back to our second year, you were an unbelievable idiot and hopelessly annoying, but…”
“What kind of person am I in your memories!?”
“Even this is the cleaned up version I can bear to remember, so do not remind me how bad it really was,” she said. “Listen. If the Battle of Mikawa had never happened and you had tried to do things right, by the time you graduated, you might have ended up in an even better position than you have now.”
“Based on how much we are experiencing and how many people we are meeting now, you are sure to end up in an even better position in the future than you would have been at graduation without the Battle of Mikawa.”
“Seijun-kun…sometimes you just really know the right thing to say.”
“Stop being so creepy!”
“I can’t help it,” he said without a hint of shyness, but then he took a breath. “But anyway, I was thinking about doing things right. It’s just that the opportunity I was looking for then isn’t ever going to happen. Still, I was planning to do things right. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and there would be some painful goodbyes, but I really believed I could do things right.”
“Now, things are like this.”
“That is all thanks to Horizon,” said Asama.
This situation had happened because of Horizon. But…
“Silly Asama, it was thanks to all of you as well,” said Kimi. “If he had called out and no one answered, it would all have been meaningless.”
“You’ve got a point,” he said with a smile. And to Naito, “You can’t have her.”
“I don’t want her. I’ve already got someone.”
Naito showed off her own teeth with a smile back. Naruze looked unbothered next to her, but Asama knew she had to be reacting in some way on the inside.
But, thought Asama. I care about him too.
…But instead of “you can’t have him”, it was “I don’t want to lose you”, wasn’t it?
The touching or the kissing were like the distance of their relationship and they all had their own distance in how they dealt with each other. In that case, what about with Kimi and Horizon?
…They must have their own unique “distance” as well.
Oh, she realized. I can think about this a lot more calmly than before.
Her thoughts had only been about herself before, but now she could think about him and her friends.
Would she eventually calm down even more and not even feel anything about it?
On the other hand…
“Toori-kun, you should tell Mito all this the next time you’re alone together. She won’t say anything out loud, but I know she would love to hear it.”
“Sure. And I’ve got a lot to tell you too, so keep that in mind.”
“R-right. Bring it on.”
Kimi smiled bitterly next to her, but Asama decided this was about right for now. And…
She realized an enormous white and black ship had come into view.
The Musashi was already moving.
The gravitational acceleration thrusters were in standby mode.
Musashi: “Well done making it back, everyone. You are 7 minutes late. …‘Musashino’. Over.”
Musashino: “Eh!? Oh, y-yes! I have calculated a way to make up for the delay, so please dock as quickly as possible! Over.”
“Judge,” they all replied while their king started to lift up the sleeping knight.
There was only one thing Asama could do here:
“Don’t push yourself too hard.”
She attached a physical strengthening spell charm to his back. “You got it,” he replied while picking up the wolf. He was too tense, so Kimi lightly tapped him in a few places to make some corrections.
He could probably manage the remaining 10 minutes now. So…
“Once they get refocused, the Satomi Liberation battle will begin.”
The Reine des Garous watched the ground unit’s warriors meet up and then spread out across northern Bousou.
As per the negotiation, they left eastern Bousou open for enemy withdrawal, but they did construct a line along the western half.
She watched it all while seated on a stump and most of them would bow or clap their hands together as they passed by.
“You do not gain anything from praying to me, you know?”
“I am from the Kinoyama Shrine that worships wolves!”
“And I’m from a nonhuman family!”
“Me!? I worship big breasts!”
“You sure are honest!” the others said as even more worshipers arrived. Meanwhile, Kani, who the Reine des Garous had met during the Siege of Odawara, spoke up from the enemy group.
“Reine des Garous! Can I get a photo with you to show my parents!?”
“My, my. If you had done this back at Odawara, you could have gotten Yoshiaki-san in the photo as well.”
“But now is the only time to get a photo of you looking like that!”
“I see,” she said before agreeing to the photo. The girl took a reflection photo using a signe cadre and added a Far Eastern multicolored woodcut filter which really showed off the ether blue and downplayed the yellows.
Her husband said she looked “soft” in the photo. Sounds like I can look forward to more fun tonight.
Then some young Mouri girls who had apparently joined the Musashi warriors for this fight spoke up.
“C-can I get a photo with you too!?”
“Me too please!”
“I’ve been a fan of yours since IZUMO!”
The photo they showed her with the school emblem added onto it was of her slamming her daughter against the ground like a blanket, so she could not help but smile bitterly.
A great many people arrived and then moved on to reach their posts. It did not feel like they were leaving and going way, so was that a sign that she had changed?
“The other werewolves might still be living somewhere beyond my forest.”
The ether forest was only opened around the bridge, so she felt like it only had room to show the most basic part of herself.
If she left this forest, would she find her current home? And if she went beyond that, would she find the places where she had talked with old friends?
“They definitely are.”
He squeezed her hand, so she squeezed back.
“I can’t wait a second longer.”
A fence of tall trees suddenly rose up around them and she prepared to roll down from the stump, but…
He pulled on her hand.
He lifted her up. She was the one who had led him to do this kind of thing, but…
“You actually did it.”
“Yes. …I picked you up like a bouquet of flowers like you told me to. You smell nice.”
“I was talking about the light weight of the flowers, not the smell.”
“You’re so cool and pretty, so you really are just like a flower.”
Then he spun around as if lightly swinging her around.
She could see the night sky.
That sky had once seemed so empty when she saw it up through the dark forest.
But this forest was made of ether light and its brightness seemed to accentuate the sliver of the sky she could see.
The Reine des Garous looked to him. Their lips naturally came together and she pressed her cheek against his neck.
“I am so glad we came to Kantou.”
“There will be plenty more reasons to be glad in the future.”
“Yes,” she agreed just before a signe cadre appeared between the two of them.
It was from her daughter’s friend. It was a thank you note for her assistance and it had a single photo attached.
The screen showed a sleeping wolf being lifted up and carried by her king. They were surrounded by plenty of familiar faces.
“Oh, that girl. That is not the time to fall asleep.”
Meanwhile, she was slowly lowered onto the stump.
He took a deep breath and she reached out to him. Their removed clothing was laid across the stump in place of a blanket.
“How could you possibly fall asleep?”
“I’m definitely not getting any sleep anytime soon.”
Konishi looked north from their base in southern Bousou.
The fleet battle in the sky appeared to be taking a new action. The map sent by Kuki showed the enemy’s southern wheel formation stopping its southeastern movement and instead targeting the ironclad fleet from the outside.
The defensive line of ships to the north was apparently using the Miura Peninsula as a supply stop.
They used the peninsula’s ridge as cover while their worn-down defensive ships received emergency repairs and supplies.
She was wondering where they got all those supplies from, but…
Nine Horns: “They are dismantling the more badly-damaged ships and using them for parts. That would normally be done in a landport or somewhere similar, but they appear to be using Hexagone Française’s god of war unit.”
Koni-ko: “Gods of war piloted by automatons would probably be good at construction like that.”
And straight ahead, the enemy was beginning to move in the forest of central Bousou.
The land unit that had set up a line in northern Bousou was starting to march south.
The previous negotiations were at an end, so the next phase of the battle was beginning.
The east was a noncombat zone. That agreement was being honored, but…
Konishi called out to someone.
“How about it, Tokishige?”
“You seem a lot less harsh than before.”
“Testament. After some thinking and fighting, I came to understand something.”
“What is that?”
“Testament.” Konishi smiled bitterly. “You can’t hold back, not even with the more underhanded things.”
“It’s our turn!”
Konishi held up a lernen figur with both hands.
The screen displayed a monetary counter and a pointer with the five fingers held together. A gravity ballast anchor also appeared at her feet.
Then the vast sum displayed on the monetary counter began to rapidly move.
With those words, something appeared.
On the deck behind her, a giant form landed as if crashing down from the sky.
A loud boom rang out, the deck creaked, and a single god of war could be seen crouched in a landing pose. It was the spell-guided unit created by combining a few different Eight Dogs gods of war.
And it was named…
“Filial Piety. It’s time you fought on a battlefield where you can take responsibility.”
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