Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 62
Chapter 62: Priests on the Mountain
An iron wind
And steel lightning
A couple’s love
Point Allocation (Having Fun)
Konishi Yukinaga was the representative of the Hashiba ground forces.
News of her defeat in a god of war battle quickly spread to all the different forces.
It even reached those not involved in the Kantou Liberation.
A figure nodded in Houjou which was completing the work needed to receive acknowledgment of their nation’s demise.
This person was west of the battlefield on Houjou land, close to where it all began.
In a landport on the outskirts of Odawara, Houjou Genan viewed the PR Committee’s report on the Kantou Liberation. The Mouri fleet that had filled the sky to east a few hours ago had grown considerably shorter.
The fires of the battle had been visible with the naked eye until the Miura Peninsula had been taken, but that was no longer possible. All he could see were the faintly colored sky and some lights resembling fishing fires.
But the text gave him accurate information.
He narrowed his eyes, cleared his throat, and then laughed.
Super Uncle: “Hey, Ujiteru. Have you seen the report?”
Uji-Terr: “Huhhhhhhh!? I’m busy frying up this eggplant, old maaaaaaaaaaaaan!”
Super Uncle: “I am glad to hear you are making good use of your time. …Satomi Yoshiyasu won her battle.”
Uji-Terr: “I doooooooooon’t caaaaaaaaaaaaaare! What’s it matter if some super, duper weakling wiiiiiiiiiiiins!? Was it another ground baaaaaaaaaaaaattle!?”
It was incredible how that man managed to focus on what mattered here.
Genan cleared his throat again before continuing.
Super Uncle: “It was the same as when she defeated me. She used the sword technique she learned from Satomi Yoshiyori.”
In other words…
Super Uncle: “Satomi’s sword is an equal of both Houjou and Hashiba.”
Uji-Terr: “Huhhhhhhhhhhhh!? You getting into some senti-little-mentalism herrrrrrrrrrre!? You starting having flashbacks about your liiiiife!? Well, old geezer!?”
Super Uncle: “Try to show some respect for your elders.”
Uji-Terr: “Sure thing, Venerable Old Geezer!”
Super Uncle: “You can be rude or polite but not both, you moron.”
Uji-Terr: Moron!? You wound meeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Anyone who takes one look at you will see you’re an old geeeeeeeeeeeeeeezer! But whether or not someone thinks I’m a moron depends on what I’m doing when they see meeeeeeeeee! IIIII’m honeeeeeeeest!”
Super Uncle: “So tell me this: what are you doing right now?”
Uji-Terr: “Using my 2.5m maid body’s four arms to fry up some tempuraaaaa! I made sure to do my makeup and made sure to where a cap and mask, but now you can’t even see the makeuuuuup! Here’s a photoooooooo! Lookit that griiiiiiin! Make sure you worship that pretty archaic smile that’s definitely behind that mask therrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!”
And after a two second pause….
Uji-Terr: “It’s Uji-Terrific!”
Super Uncle: “I was right. You are a moron.”
Uji-Terr: “Hey, don’t judge a book by it’s coverrrrrrr! You scuuuuuuuuuum!”
Super Uncle: “Just listen, you scum.”
Uji-Terr: “What is iiiiiiiiiiiit!?”
“Well, you see,” said Genan.
Super Uncle: “A nuisance has arrived.”
He looked up and back into the western sky. The darkness of the night was still in that direction as a giant shadow began to appear there.
It sounded more like a tremor of the air than a roar.
“That would be the Azuchi. It should arrive just barely in time for the Kantou Liberation,” said Genan while viewing his surroundings.
Several large forms stood on the landport that had all its lights off for the night.
He viewed them before saying more.
“Now, the ground forces need to work hardest, but the struggle in the sky matters too. Every second counts here.”
“It should be our turn soon, milady.”
Kanou heard powerful explosions shaking the air and the forest.
“The fourth ironclad ship is about to fall, isn’t it?” said Ookubo.
“Judge. Milady, what direction do you think the battle as a whole is headed?”
“Well, Kuki should start moving his fleet soon. Because at the current pace, the Azuchi will only just barely arrive in time from the west, if it arrives in time at all.”
A shot from the enemy base landed beyond the slope they were leaning back against. Clumps of dirt and pieces of underbrush and trees were blown into the air like a spray, so Ookubo focused outwards just enough to pull her stole over her head.
She was currently viewing the sign frame by her hands.
“Murakami-san should still be effective against the aerial fleet. Whatever they might do, he will figure something out. The Murakami Navy is stubborn like that,” she said. “We may be short on time, so we need to stubbornly stick to it too.”
“Milady, what is your plan?”
“After shooting down that many enemy ships, the escaped crews will gather on the coast and then search for somewhere to evacuate to. In other words, they will want to reach the base.” Ookubo pulled up a map of the Satomi base. “It has been fortified with defense barriers and it has limited entrances. They will probably want to move to the south end opposite of us, but the artillery fire from the sky is thickest to the south. Same for the east. So…”
“Will they use the north gate?”
“Judge. That is a port city and Satomi had a landport there, so the north gate is either the back entrance or a smaller entrance for ground trade and forestry goods. But that is why it is the ideal entrance for this sort of thing.”
The map showed the north gate’s structure as viewed from above.
“Satomi is a small nation, but they have long fought against other nations. The north gate has a wall nearby to prevent anyone from directly firing on it.”
“I see the gate’s interior has a triple structure to prevent anyone from getting too far in even if a mix of enemies and allies rushes in. Of course, that means they would end up sending arrows pouring down on enemy and ally alike.”
“Still, we need to take this base if we hope to end this battle.” Ookubo pushed the word “progress” forward on the sign frame. “Their defenses must be fortified like crazy, but that creates an opening. We figure out when the enemy will be arriving there and we move in. We sent a unit out ahead earlier, didn’t we? Have them prepare.”
The warriors fortifying the Satomi base’s defenses decided on their roles once they learned of Tokishige and Konishi’s defeats.
They had two jobs.
The first was to support the withdrawal of those trying to escape through the base’s eastern entrance.
The second was to hold the defensive line until Hashiba arrived.
“If you are willing to stay and fight, please do so! If you would prefer to withdraw, head to the eastern entrance!”
The withdrawal support continued while they welcomed in those who were entering through the north gate to seek refuge.
The north gate was undergoing some long-distance artillery fire, but they had yet to see the enemy in the forest at the other side of the grassy field.
“Now’s your chance! If you can get here, then hurry it up!”
Most of those arriving from the western forest were the crews of the fallen ships. They had been inside the ships during the battle, so their weariness was more psychological than physical. Most of them had the same request.
“Give us time for a quick nap. Thirty minutes of compressed sleep and we’ll be good as new!”
“Hold on. Nowhere around here is safe or quiet!”
“Then tell us where we won’t be in the way!”
They went to get a brief rest while those already in the base gave them blankets, water, and…
“Here, take this.”
“Who’s cooking takoyaki?”
“The food was delivered by Konishi-sama. Get some sleep, eat some food, and come on back. Once you’ve eaten the same food as us, you’re one of us!”
“That’s a pretty heavy breakfast. And why isn’t there any octopus inside when this base is right on the coast!?”
“Quit eating them and get to sleep!”
Meanwhile, some enemies came into view near the north gate.
But they had all known that their second job, holding the defensive line, would not be easy.
“Hey! Should we get that gate closed soon!?”
“Close the inner two! Keep the front gate open because a group that crashed earlier is headed this way!”
Their allies could only join them by passing below the umbrella of artillery fire being launched from the base.
Those on the south did not spare any shells when firing on the enemy arriving from the north. This night and this moment were what mattered. They needed to go at it like they were planning to use up their entire stockpile of ammunition.
That barrage kept the enemy from approaching, so their allies to the west could slip below it to reach them.
However, there was one big “but” on all their minds.
What happened if the enemy managed to get inside that barrage?
“What does happen then?”
“There’s no point in considering it,” someone said while loading a shell into a cannon. “If the enemy was inside our barrage, then why haven’t they attacked us yet?”
“And hundreds of our people have arrived from those fallen ships. If the enemy was inside our barrage, there would have been some fighting on the way here.”
Meanwhile, some artillery fire reached the base.
It came from the enemy god of war unit. Defense barriers opened and loudly shattered.
The shells were fired nearly horizontally and were moving even faster than before, but…
“They can’t break through our wall!”
The defenders were correct. The shells changed form from the impact and crashed into the wall. However, one of them was blocked by the defense barrier field placed around the city walls.
And it fell.
The other artillery fire on the ground and in the sky was too loud to hear the shell rolling. The base had located the god of war unit and was returning fire. Those on the wall already had silencing spell lernen figurs over their ears. They exchanged a glance and displayed their words on their lernen figurs.
“How do you like my silencing spells! I used custom lernen figurs so they’d look like cat ears!”
“Yeah, that’s pretty bold!”
“Right!? I haven’t put this much effort into it since the school arts festival when I was a kid!”
They acted on reflex, crushed it, and returned fire. The enemy fire accomplished nothing. For one thing…
“The enemy can no longer concentrate their fire like when they penetrated that light warship earlier. They lost one of their god of war units and that vermilion god of war can’t come here. Even if they do try to concentrate their fire, the power should be too weak to break through.”
“And we don’t have to worry about an attack from above since Konishi-sama and that Satomi girl took out the enemy’s flight-capable gods of war.”
“We only have to worry about the enemy trying to charge us. Most likely…”
One of the people on divine transmission relay duty displayed words on a lernen figur to be understood despite the cacophony of shellfire.
“The group trying to reach us for shelter is being pursued by some enemy warriors. Have fun with that!”
“Don’t act like it’s not your problem too!!”
Those being pursued ran through the forest as quick as their legs would carry them.
The forest was dark and their footing was, unsurprisingly, poor.
They would sometimes come across a small path used by the locals, but those presented their own problems.
They needed to travel along the shortest route to their destination, not the safe detours provided by those small paths.
They had to reach the base.
But they could not arrive along with the Musashi force pursuing them.
Support fire flew by overhead. That was coming from the base, but those in the base did not know where they were in the forest. The shells landed far behind them, passing above the approaching Musashi force as well.
M.H.R.R. had trained more than Musashi when it came to moving through forests.
And the M.H.R.R. group was withdrawing from a crashed ship, so they had more stamina remaining than the Musashi group that had been fighting a ground battle.
Yet they could not pull away from them.
The reason why was obvious when they saw who was leading their pursuers.
Some of them could move through the dark forest with speeds rivalling the M.H.R.R. group’s.
“Damn!” shouted one of those to the rear after looking back. “They have Mouri warriors guiding them!”
The pursuing enemy vanguard raised a cry as if in response.
The enemy was lined up and taking large leaps across the dips and hills of the forest ground. They all held clubs and bats and they announced who they were.
“The Hexagone Française Gallican Mountain Regiment has arrived!”
“Hyahahhhh! Good morning! This is a wakeup call from the Gallicans!”
That group with crosses hanging from the rosaries around their necks were upperclassman foot travelers. They wore French boy’s uniforms modified to look like priest’s habits, but they wore spiked shoulder pads and feather decorations on top of that.
The masked leader raised his voice while being carried by a group of three others.
“It is the year 16XX and the mountains are enveloped in Apocalyptic devastation, leading to rapid depopulation!”
“Hell yeah!” the others shouted along with him.
“But that means two wins is enough to reach the nationals, so it’s weirdly helpful at times!”
“Let us proceed, my fellow priests!”
They all ran onward. They exchanged a glance while striking their weapons together.
Catholics revered the morning. No matter what misfortune, terror, or difficulty they faced, the dawn would always arrive.
“So our duty is to announce the morning’s arrival to the source of our troubles!”
“Indeed! Our duty is to provide a reforming strike as a wakeup call!”
“Our duty is to always say good morning!”
They all breathed in and raised their voices as one.
With that, they activated their spells.
It was based on a Buddhist preaching spell but with a Catholic spell applied on top.
“Yes, Buddhism also seeks to purify evil in the dawn’s light using the purifying power of Vairocana!”
“And our leader is the nudist sun!”
“Thus, we have successfully combined Buddhism and Catholicism!”
“That is our form of Gallicanism!”
“For inquiries, please call at 1-800-SUN-BUDH. That’s 1-800-SUN-BUDH. Our logo is the rising Roi-Soleil. Got that, M.H.R.R.!?”
“Dammit! Why are these rural groups always the craziest!?”
The M.H.R.R. warriors looked back at their pursuers and spoke up while they ran.
“Hey! Can I ask one thing!?”
“Ask away! We pride ourselves in being more openminded that any other group, so we shall respond in a calm and composed fashion! …Now, what is your question!?”
“Well,” said the M.H.R.R. warrior. “Aren’t you heretics!?”
All of the pursuers answered as one.
“Take that one out first!!”
“Really!? No hesitation at all!? And what happened to being openminded!?”
“Ha ha ha.” The pursuers sped up and brandished their weapons. “Hyahahhhh!”
They raced through the forest in pursuit of their prey.
“Good morning! The dawn fast approaches!”
In the Satomi base, they returned fire on the enemy god of war unit and confirmed their allies were approaching. The rumbling in the forest to the west was growing closer.
“Hey, here they come! And that’s the Gallican Mountain Regiment behind them!”
“Damn, those freaks train up their legs by running around the coastal desert region and visiting all the unmanned carriage stations in the forest and mountain regions! Don’t underestimate them!”
The gunshots were to be expected, but for some reason, they could also hear the sounds of armor being struck and of vocally-mimicked mechanical horse exhaust sounds.
While the shells landed on either side, they were firing god of war pseudo-anti-ship rounds nearly horizontally, but the voiced sound effects from the forest only continued to grow.
“Neigh! Neighhhhhh! Brrrr! Claaaaaaaaaaaaang!”
“Snort, snort, snorrrrrrrt! Neighhhhhh!”
“Palalalalalala! Palalila, palalila, papuuuuu! Neigh, neigh, neigh, neigh!”
They all exchanged a glance while the shards of defense barriers surrounded them.
“Dammit! That’s cringey as hell!”
“And they don’t have to worry about anyone seeing them doing it since they’re hiding in the forest!”
“Does their city not have a shop that sells mid-sized or bigger mechanical horses!? Is this what they think they sound like!?”
While they all groaned curses at their enemy, someone rushed across the border between forest and plain.
Someone had arrived.
Everyone gasped when they saw those people wearing forest travel ponchos. When these new arrivals noticed the people at the base, they waved and shouted while still running.
“Hey! Prepare to close the gate!”
“Anyone behind you!?”
The group in the forest ran out all at once.
“Did you lose them!?”
Those who had escaped ran toward the base.
The front of the group closed in on the base, with about a hundred following behind them.
Just then, another group burst out of the forest.
This new group was several hundred strong. They were the ones pursuing the leading group.
The defenders on the wall of Satomi’s base saw the pursuing group run out from the forest.
“There they are!”
They all aimed their rifles or cannons to protect their approaching allies, but that second group suddenly gave a shout.
The shout was directed at the defenders on the wall. They had a message for them.
“That’s the enemy!!”
“So they noticed,” Ookubo muttered while leaning against the rocky slope to avoid the artillery fire. “Well, at least they managed to get within 120m of the base first.”
She pushed forward the “progress” text on her sign frame.
“The assault unit did well.”
“Judge. They deserve praise for moving out ahead like Yagyuu-sama and arriving so close to the base while avoiding the enemy.”
Kanou displayed their movement on a sign frame while making a show of relief.
They had sent in a commando unit separate from their god of war unit and main unit. That unit had been sent ahead for this purpose when the enemy ship fell and Konishi set up the barrier of fire.
Their mission had been simple:
“They had to approach the base instead of attacking the enemy trying to reach the base.”
Instead, they had prepared a new pursuit unit to attack those enemies from behind, trapping them between the assault unit and pursuit unit.
By timing it right, the assault unit could arrive at the enemy base first without the enemy noticing. If the assault unit then hid their identity…
“The base would mistake them for their own allies.”
That was exactly what had happened.
The base would have received word that their approaching allies were being pursued from behind and an especially rowdy Mouri group had been chosen for that pursuit so it could plainly be heard from the base.
“If a lot of noise is what you need, then look no further!” the Mouri group had insisted and they had proven that to be even truer than she had imagined.
But that is fine, she thought with a sigh.
The assault unit had managed to get very close. And the pursuers…
They too rushed toward the base.
The Satomi base made the right decision.
“Close the north gate!”
Their allies were trapped between two enemy units, but they could not allow the enemy’s assault unit to get in.
So they sent a divine transmission to their allies rushing this way. It provided a new route that passed right by the west of the base and circled all the way around to the eastern noncombat zone.
They did not have time to provide any more help than that. Because…
“Protect the north gate!”
The enemy assault unit rushed in. The Gallicans followed behind them, but they were no longer pursuing the M.H.R.R. group. Instead, they opened defense barriers to protect the assault unit.
“Heyyyy! Open up! Open up! It’s morning!”
“Why in the world would we open up!?”
The defenders fired on the approaching enemy.
The personal defense barriers shattered and bullets audibly ricocheted off of armor.
Yet the enemy was undefeated and continued rushing in.
They ran across that 120m distance.
The north gate was about 10m wide, and…
They arrived. But just then…
The north gate closed. It was a double gate with one that closed from the sides and a reinforced one that dropped from above.
The two gates were made of hardened wood, but they had already been given a defense barrier field using a divine protection. They closed and became another part of the city wall.
“Did you really think we’d let you in!?”
The defenders shouted down at the enemy while also aiming their guns and cannons that way.
All of a sudden, a powerful blow slammed into the north gate.
The two remaining god of war snipers had fired shells that hit the north gate simultaneously.
“How about that!?” asked the Musashi assault unit regarding the double shell hit.
A great roar erupted from directly in front of them.
All of them, and even the enemy on the wall, hurried to adjust their sensory divine protections.
Then the Musashi assault unit viewed the enemy defense barriers opened in front of them.
They were Catholic and there had probably been five of them opened over that 10m area.
Two of them still remained.
“That wasn’t enough to destroy them all!?”
Their gods of war had pulled off the double shell hit flawlessly, but it had failed to reach the north gate.
A few of the defenders on the wall sighed.
Those sighs could be seen as signs of relief or simply a release from extreme tension. However, the sighers immediately took action.
They all looked down at the enemy in front of the north gate. That enemy stood below the light of shattered defense barriers, but there were still two surviving ones in front of them.
“Fall back!!” they shouted.
It’s too late for that, thought the defenders as they took aim. Besides, where are you going to fall back to?
The enemy force parted in front of the north gate, leaving two ponchoed figures remaining in the center.
These two were not strictly part of the assault unit.
The shorter of the two stood in front of the other and calmly lowered their hips.
They seemed entirely at ease despite being right at the current flashpoint of the battlefield.
Their poncho floated up and fluttered away.
The removed cloth revealed someone in a Far Eastern girl’s uniform. She had two giant prosthetic arms.
Gin nodded and made an announcement.
“Judge. Allow me to finish this off for you all.”
Something was ejected from space by her right side.
It was the long cannon named Cuatro Cruz.
She held it low at her hip while the other figure behind her threw aside his poncho too.
He was already holding Kamenuki vertically with its butt end jabbed into the ground.
It was positioned so the middle of the shaft would hold back Cuatro Cruz’s recoil.
The end of the red cannon was placed directly against one of the two remaining defense barriers.
“Two to go,” said Gin. “Plus the defense barriers built into the city wall itself. I do not know how much this will destroy and I can only speculate.”
The defenders on the wall called for a renewed counterattack and aimed their guns and cannons that way, but Gin’s eyes sharply narrowed before they could act.
“But with this point-blank-range blast, I will use this as a siege weapon for the first time.”
She then addressed “Master Muneshige”.
“I will fire twice on the defense barriers, four times on the north gate, and then thrice to break through the inner gates. Please take control of the inside afterwards.”
“Judge. Go ahead, Gin.”
“Judge.” She nodded. “Tear into it, Cuatro Cruz.”
After 9 violent blasts, light erupted into the sky on the south end of the Bousou Peninsula.
It came from the Satomi base held by Hashiba there. The defense barriers surrounding it had shattered.
At the same time, the horizontal fire from the north struck the city wall that was now no more than wood.
The logs audibly split and broke while so much ether light shattered around them.
Alarms blared and voices shouted all across the Satomi base.
“Stop them!” shouted one side of the conflict.
“Go!” shouted the other side.
The momentum of the charge deflected the gunshots, slipped past the shells, and said more.
“Go and end this!”
“The ground base is falling!?”
Kuki gnashed his teeth at what he was hearing about the base down on Bousou.
A report had just come in saying an initial frenzied battle had begun within the surface base.
As for his fleet battle up in the air…
“We are on the defensive.”
He knew there was no chance of going on the offensive anymore.
Losing some of the ironclad ships had hurt a lot.
Counting the one that blew up on the ground earlier, they had lost three. That left 6 total.
There was a single reason why they had lost three of those sturdy ships in quick succession.
The enemy’s wheel formation had arrived much too close from the east. The ironclad ships were being hit by shellfire from not just the front of the wheel formation but the rest of it as well.
…That proximity makes this difficult.
He had rotated a few ships and lines diagonally to try to get a good angle of fire, but the back end of the wheel formation could still target them. And the long elliptical path of the wheel formation’s rear end provided a lot more concentrated fire than the front.
This was bad.
He had ultimately been forced to move the other warships and light warships to fire on the wheel formation from the side. However…
…Will they arrive in time!?
If only we could fall back to the west, he thought.
A wheel formation could not move quickly once it had been formed. Horizontal movement was especially difficult.
If he could fall back to the west while zigzagging to tear apart the enemy formation, he could put some distance between them.
But, he thought.
“That would mean approaching Mogami.”
The Yamagata Castle was hovering in the western sky.
It had to be within effective firing range, but it had yet to attack
Had it never intended to attack? He had no way of testing that now, so…
…We must fight a defensive battle.
They had to defend against the wheel formation without moving west. That meant…
“Attention all ships,” he said. “We will now split our fleet to the north and south!”
“That’s what he’s going with, huh?”
Terumoto realized what Kuki was doing with his ships.
Kuki’s fleet split down the middle in the eastern sky.
It split between north and south.
The ironclad ships at the center of his fleet had been reduced to six, so they split into two groups of three and withdrew to the north and south where they created a new formation.
That would create two separate lines of ships using the ironclad ships as a barrier.
“He’s buying time,” said Terumoto.
She was answered by Mouri-01 who nodded on a signe cadre.
“Now that Konishi Yukinaga has lost and their base’s walls have been breached, it is possible that the Hashiba forces will fully withdraw from the Satomi base. Lady Ookubo’s negotiations have already established that the Bousou Peninsula ground forces and the aerial fleets cannot engage each other, but at this point, Kuki’s fleet has likely decided they should position themselves to rescue the ground forces later instead of defending them now.”
“What does that mean?”
“They intend to flee. I expect Kuki’s fleet will continue to fall back along the peninsula’s coast until Hashiba arrives. But if they simply fled, it would be treated as a ‘withdrawal’. So they should continue to fire as they do so.”
She was right. The split enemy fleet slowly fell back while firing.
…What a pain.
Had they abandoned their pride as a powerful nation?
They knew they would ultimately emerge victorious if they could keep this up until Hashiba arrived.
And, indeed, that hope was already visible in the western sky.
The Azuchi was there.
The six giant ships there would be the same threat the people of Satomi and Edo saw a few months earlier.
The symbol of Hashiba’s earlier invasion was now arriving from the west.
It was a lot closer than expected, so Terumoto crossed her arms.
“What is it, Princess?”
“Are you doing what must be done?”
“I am working on our next move as we speak. It is important not to rush things,” said Mouri-01 with a hint of a smile in her voice. “Please watch this, Princess. Your fleet will now respond to Kuki’s fleet.”
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