Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 67
Chapter 67: Storyteller Below the Roof
We don’t have much time
Point Allocation (We do not)
“Hashiba-sama and the others didn’t arrive in time for the Keichou Campaign?” asked a voice at the top of a cramped room.
It was Sakon.
She sat up inside a small room on the transport ship.
She had been sleeping.
The Battle of Nördlingen was being fought in the early morning, but since she had needed to board the transport ship, Sakon had not gotten any sleep until now. Waking up from 6x compressed sleep was not pleasant, but…
…My head feels a lot clearer now.
However, she was not in a general-use nap room. Those had triple bunk beds lined up along the walls, so there was no space for someone 3m tall to lie down. She had tried it once, but the shaking of the ship had sent her legs across the gap and into the next bed over. The hem of her pajamas had worked its way up and embarrassed her so bad she had wanted to die.
That had convinced her to go with the administrative officer’s original suggestion and borrow a room for herself.
It was not an actual bedroom since this was a transport ship, but as a storeroom for valuables, it had proper air conditioning and it was vacant since no valuables would be loaded on the ship when it was heading to a battlefield.
There was no bed for her to use, so she had spread out the special-order blanket she had brought with her and slept on that. Everyone told her she should get something nicer, but she had always slept on the floor or on a mat before inheriting her name. Sleeping on straw had been fairly comfortable, but she had developed a rash on her back. This special-order blanket had been the very first thing she bought with the money provided upon her name inheritance. She loved that it was long enough to cover her feet. Maybe I should go for a truly forbidden item like a pillow next. A down pillow. Ooh.
Anyway, she had the blanket to thank for waking up so quickly from the compressed sleep.
When she woke up, a lernen figur opened to tell her how long until they arrived in Nördlingen and that they were about to catch up Transport Ship #1 which had left first and used a different route.
“Is it visible yet?”
She pressed her cheek against the window, but she could only see a dimly-lit world. The light below outlined the roads of a few towns and villages. She thought it looked pretty.
…But we’re here to fight a battle.
That’s unavoidable, she thought.
“I don’t really get it, but it sounds like the Keichou Campaign did not end well for us.”
She had grown up in the sticks, so she felt out of her element thinking about global affairs.
Besides, she had been born in Austria, so Far Eastern affairs were even more of a mystery to her. She had studied those things, but that only gave her basic knowledge and the details were still beyond her. But more than that…
“I’m worried about being in an actual battle.”
She was a coward and a crybaby, so she was pretty sure she would cause lots of trouble and disappoint everyone, but at this point, going to Mitsunari and apologizing would not change anything.
She would have to do this no matter what happened.
She stood up, but raising her hips brought her head right to the ceiling. She sat back down on the blanket and changed from her pajamas to her inner suit.
“Mitsunari-sama really is weird.”
That had been her wholehearted impression when she had been recruited.
But she still remembered what Mitsunari had said back then.
“I am a data entity, so I have no emotions.”
Sakon recalled what happened back then. For security purposes, everyone but her had left the faculty room and an anti-data stealth field had been set up by a Catholic spell.
The field had been powerful enough to affect Mitsunari’s body, so there had been static in her voice.
“I can make statistical reactions to events, but I have no emotions. Thus, I cannot imagine what you are feeling now or what you will feel on the battlefield.”
“You could say what I want is your ability, not you as a person.”
Sakon had felt something similar to disappointment then.
She had thought about what that meant and answered while trying not to be rude.
“Am I a tool?”
If so, that was the end of it. She could not stand to think of herself being used like a machine. No matter how important this person was and no matter what their reasons were, she did not want to have her humanity brushed aside.
So that would be the end of it.
But Mitsunari had placed a hand on her chin and replied.
“No. You are not a tool. I am the tool.”
“I have no emotions, so I will likely say things and provide instructions that fail to comprehend your emotions. But that does not mean that you are not allowed to be a human in your everyday life or on the battlefield.”
“Isn’t that being awfully cruel?”
“You’re telling me to keep my emotions while I hurt people on the battlefield?”
“While I understand the logic of your question, I do not understand its essence. However…”
“I do understand that I might give orders you disagree with or that place a burden on you since I do not understand emotions. And from a statistical standpoint, that would qualify as a bad thing.”
“But I still need your ability.”
Sakon had found herself speechless at the time.
Mitsunari understood that she was ignoring Sakon’s humanity. And she seemed to understand that doing so was a bad thing.
But she still wanted Sakon. However…
She really could not. Mitsunari did not truly understand her.
She did understand that ignoring Sakon’s humanity was a bad thing, but only from a logical perspective. She did not understand why it bothered Sakon so much.
She only made that decision because she could place it in the category of “bad things”.
But, she had thought back then.
My long arms and legs.
The other abilities I don’t want.
When reaching out toward someone, she had to call out to them first.
She always had to be looking out for other people and restraining herself, but this person wanted her.
This was not like the cats stuck in a tree that she could save just by reaching out her hands.
Nor was it like how she could act as an umbrella for the others on rainy days.
It was also not like how she would reach a guiding arm around the children so the line would not fall apart.
She would not be helping someone to create a place for herself.
Someone was creating a place for her because they wanted her help.
And that was the problem.
It was clearly a natural way of tempting her. Freedom from the restraint she placed on herself was being used as bait. However…
“It is true you will likely be hurt on the battlefield and have trouble dealing with your emotions, but if you do make use of your ability, I will give meaning to everything about you.”
“Even if I cry and say I can’t stand it anymore?”
“Testament. If you feel that way, please blame me. Because that is the price for the ability I desire.”
In other words…
“Because I lack emotions, I will have you be my emotional side. I view everything in terms of ability, so I will have you take the place of my empty emotional side. How about that?”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m pretty sure I’ll get scared, tremble, not be able to move, cry, say I can’t stand it anymore, and run away.”
“I do not mind.” Mitsunari’s voice was calm. “Because even if you do that, you are the only one with the ability I desire.”
She’s so dumb, Sakon had thought. What is she even talking about?
If she did that as a name inheritor, it could mean the history recreation would fail.
Was Mitsunari overestimating her and assuming she would not actually do that?
“What if I refuse to take the inherited name?”
“Then I will take Shima Sakon as a double inherited name.”
“What about the ability you need? I thought you didn’t have that on your own.”
“Testament.” Mitsunari nodded. “If the only other option is to use someone else, I will erase any thought of that ability from myself.”
“Even though that other person might be useful on the battlefield, while I would be entirely useless?”
“That is fine. You are the only one I can see as Shima Sakon and entrust with my emotions. No matter how useful they might be in other matters, that only applies to other matters.”
She really had not known what to say to that.
No one had ever wanted her that badly. But on the other hand, she knew accepting this offer would eventually hurt her. However…
In order to get a better look at the person saying all these things to her, she had reached a hand out toward the lernen figur in front of her.
And as soon as she had moved her right hand, she had realized that she had not called out to Mitsunari and moved her hand around in a less direct path so as not to frighten her.
But what happened next was different from normal.
Inside the lernen figur, Mitsunari let her touch her without even flinching.
…Oh, I see.
She had no emotions, so she had little fear and never flinched.
She had then stood up, bringing her head near the ceiling.
But she had also picked Mitsunari’s lernen figur up with both hands.
She had had plenty of chances to reach out and touch people before.
But what if she could do this with something other than a doll or stuffed animal?
“Mitsunari-sama? If I do return from the battlefield and I was moved to emotion…”
She lifted up Mitsunari’s lernen figur, shook it up and down, and held it to her chest.
“Can I do this to you?”
“If you wish.”
“Then that settles it.”
She made up her mind, there in the silent faculty room with the setting sun shining in the window.
“I will entrust my ability to you.”
She had cried a lot after that.
She thought back to all the training she had gone through.
…Some people just aren’t cut out for these things.
She really did not like the idea of going to the battlefield and forcing things on other people. During training, she had often wondered why she was doing this and ended up crying. But…
“This is the real deal and I want to do whatever I can.”
Still, she was worried about her own equipment.
The Shibata forces and Niwa forces had sent over two mobile shells they had joint developed.
There was apparently an autonomous one on the #1 ship that had taken the lead.
The one meant for her had only had the OS installed this very morning, so she was going in without any practice at all. She had gone through mobile shell compatibility training, but…
“I hope this works out.”
Once she had finished dressing, she stood up. She would soon be putting on that mobile shell and the people in charge of that stuff would make some final adjustments. Then she would probably be sent out to the battlefield, so she had to pull herself together.
But as she ducked and stepped out into the corridor, she opened a lernen figur. It told her the mobile shell in the hangar had been initialized and she could head down there now.
The hardened wood corridor was dimly lit and she had to duck down to get through.
“But how do you read the name of the mobile shell’s OS?”
The name was written there on her lernen figur. Since that would be her primary equipment, she would probably get to know that name very well.
She saw three Far Eastern characters there.
“Onibumaru? Onitakemaru?” she muttered as she walked down the dimly-lit corridor and tried to figure out the correct reading.
Christina carried some tea and teacakes down a dimly-lit corridor.
They were for her and for Tomoe Gozen.
Her maid Maria had said she would carry them, but she had to leave the estate soon. The Testament said she was not here for the final moment.
Christina would die alone. She had to.
…Although I get the feeling Tomoe Gozen is trying to stop me.
She sighed and looked around.
She saw a wall of explosives there.
Christina was satisfied.
She currently had explosives set up across all of the estate’s walls, its ceiling, and below its floor.
No fire was allowed anywhere near the estate. It was not to explode until the scheduled time.
The world was in motion.
She felt like she was being ignored and left behind.
What would happen to the world if she fulfilled her history recreation?
“What will become of the world? Yes.”
The world was in the middle of the Warring States period and the Thirty Years’ War.
In her opinion, great men and women really seemed to like war.
Their battles set the age in motion and their departure did the same.
But the latter was a problem. It could happen by accident and was unpredictable.
Her predecessor, Gustav II, was a good example.
He was a great man who had used new tactics and weapons to transform Sweden into a powerful nation.
But as per the Testament, he died unexpectedly in battle.
If not for that death, she would be in a very different position now. Sweden would have gained a wider reputation as a powerful nation and she would have held more meaning for Europe by acting as a branch office for that nation.
But that was not how it had turned out.
So she had to wonder just how “set in stone” the Testament and the history recreation really were.
She knew she was traveling along those rails and she had used that to her advantage, but her predecessor’s death had cut her off from the current age.
She had not been “set in stone”. She had only thought she was.
“Our nation is the same,” she said aloud.
The powerful nation of Sweden played a large role in the Thirty Years’ War and it had benefited a lot from that position.
But that had all changed with her predecessor’s death.
The benefits they had gained were stolen by other nations and all that remained was her history recreation as an advocate of peace. Her subordinates had continued fighting the war, but her position at the top had made it hard to take things.
Her predecessor had been able to take things.
She could not.
That meant her presence had weakened Sweden.
But, she thought.
…If I die as part of the history recreation, Sweden no longer has to worry about me. Then can they start taking again?
She did not know.
But she knew her presence was a problem.
Sweden had to seek peace as long as she lived.
And she knew that Sweden’s national borders and international standing would be determined during the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years’ War.
That was their one and only chance.
They had just one shot at it.
She wished her predecessor could have represented them there while she stayed here, sending him information, using her connections, and supporting all their efforts to ensure Sweden won.
“Yes,” she said. “I wish I could have seized the world in my hands.”
Seized the world.
She did not involve herself in international politics, she did not fight wars, and she did not manage money.
All she had was information.
She had no intention of setting the world in motion with her actions and she would not claim to do so.
She had simply wanted a worry-free world where everything lay before her and she understood it all.
She wanted to seize the world by understanding it.
Just like the House of Habsburg had seized the current world through marriage.
For her, it was information.
She wanted to know everything, pinpoint what someone wanted to know, pass that onto them, and gather everything needed to keep the world running smoothly.
She wanted to know every last piece of the world.
And a while after coming here, she had felt like she might just be able to do it.
It had hit her when Sweden’s state of affairs had reached her even though she was so far away and had a Far Eastern position.
If she used her double inherited name to act as a Swedish branch office during the Thirty Years’ War, she wondered if she could bind together not just Europe but the entire world.
She had thought she could seize everything by using the nation of Sweden and her predecessor as a guide.
It just might have worked if that predecessor was still alive, but…
“Now it would be more difficult.”
Now that she had taken her predecessor’s position as Chancellor, it would be impossible to convert her actions of peace into actions of taking.
Her dream had died once she had lost that backing.
And she wondered if the history recreation could save people at all.
“I really don’t know.”
Her dream had died and Sweden was headed in a direction different from the future she had initially hoped for.
Would her history recreation save Sweden by providing them with one final chance?
If it would…
She recalled her visit to Nijou Castle in the city of Kyou. She knew a lot about the boy who had faced her at that dinner party.
She had looked into it.
He had told her not to die and said a lot more, but she had said goodbye to him.
…It’s a tricky thing.
If her history recreation would make her wish come true, then…
“How could that boy make my wish come true?”
She took a breath and entered the room in front of the garden.
“Tomoe Gozen, I have brought tea and teacakes.”
A white mass shook in the dim light. Cloth rustled and a voice cried out.
The white mass shrieked and arched their back.
“Not so many sweet desserts. I’ll get fat!”
With her hands thrust out in front of her, Asama sprang up to a sitting position.
She could tell she had just woken up.
She was pretty sure she had been having some kind of incredible dream, but she had no memory of it. Waking up so suddenly must have driven it from her mind.
I am pretty sweaty, so there must have been a lot of movement involved. Could it have been a legit dirty dream? What a shame I don’t remem- no, it isn’t a shame. I shouldn’t cling to what’s already gone. Farewell, dirty drea- no, I don’t know for sure it was a dirty dream. Let’s see what keywords I can still remember.
“Toori-kun, forcing me to do something, licking, swallowing.”
But on the other hand…
“Fatty, creamy, buttery, tea, large servings, the Main Blue Thunder, plates upon plates.”
Yeah, Western desserts will get you fat, she realized. But I have to eat what I’m served. And that would work up a sweat.
“Hmm,” she groaned while looking up at the dark ceiling. I did get a good night’s sleep regardless, she decided.
She quickly checked on two things.
First, she made sure Hanami was not awake.
She had needed sleep for the role she had been given, but she had been curious what would happen in Satomi. If anything was lost, it could cost him his life.
So she had set it up so Hanami would wake her up if anything major happened. But…
“Looks like that didn’t happen.”
Hanami had not woken her. The spell she had put together had woken her up instead.
Once she had calmed down a little, she checked on the situation in Satomi.
The battle was ongoing, but it was safely headed toward an ending. The other side would have to announce the end of hostilities, but it appeared that was more of a formality than anything at this point.
Her system would be relaying all of that to Masazumi and to him, so she left the divine transmission settings in place.
Once she saw the income and expense report and the general report from Kanou, the actual losses came into focus.
Asama: “Um, Toori-kun? Are you up?”
Me: “Yeah, I am, I am. I’m eating some dessert.”
Why do I sound so shrill?
Me: “Yeah. Bell-san’s place has a built-in ice room, right? There’s some castella cream sandwiches in there. Y’know, those red bean paste and castella sandwiches we’ve had imported since going to Sviet Rus.”
Curious, she walked over on her knees and opened the ice room in the corner of the changing room.
Asama: “Huh? There’s nothing in ours.”
She had a vague memory of something like that being in there before.
Me: “There’s not? Then I’ll make you some later.”
Asama: “Eh!? But, um, I’ll get fat.”
Me: “You don’t have to eat a giant plateful of them or anything.”
Asama: “Now that you mention it.”
She had no idea why she had assumed she would. She noticed the arms were awake and peeking inside the ice room, but there was no portable fuel for prosthetics in there.
So she opened a sign frame and used an ether transfer from the divine network to produce some ether fuel meant for Mice.
Some took the form of food, but others took the form of accessories. She summoned two ribbon ones and tied them around the arms’ wrists. They bowed and returned to Horizon.
…Should I really be doing stuff like this?
She wondered that while returning to her futon, pulling the blanket up to her shoulders, and collapsing down.
She was not going back to sleep. Everyone else was still asleep, but she had a lot to check on using her sign frame. A lot of information, such as foreign relations information, had to be kept secret until she had permission from Masazumi. And at the moment…
…I need to know what’s happening in Satomi.
Since he was up, he would know a lot about that.
She wanted to catch up as soon as possible. That was what she wanted to do now and it was the role the others had given her. And then…
Me: “What are you doing? I’ve been gathering materials this whole time.”
Me: “Judge. For all of you. Sis has gotten way ahead of you and matching her probably won’t be easy, but I feel like maybe you don’t have to.”
She was not quite sure if being included in this was a good thing or not.
But it was he who brought up the topic she had been interested in.
Me: “Sounds like Flatty and Ookubo have been working hard back in Satomi.”
Asama: “Really? What are things like there?”
She asked the question on her mind.
She did not know how things had reached their current point and she did not know how he felt about it.
She used his statement as a chance to ask about it. She did wonder if she was worrying too much, but…
…Hmm. Horizon is fast asleep right now and even Kimi is asleep.
“Have they made me the designated worrier?”
No, that can’t be it. Even Horizon would make sure he didn’t feel sad if she were awake. Yes, as soon as he showed any sign of sadness, she would punch him right in the gu-…no, she would let him off with a punch to the jaw. Probably.
She saw the two arms start some shadow boxing, so at least the punching part had to be accurate.
At any rate, he responded to the question she had asked without hesitation.
Me: “I guess I’d say even Flatty must be happy with this result.”
Asama: “Yes, she can take things too seriously sometimes.”
“Right?” he replied.
Me: “And Yoshiyori must be happy with it too.”
Thank goodness, thought Asama when she heard that.
The lack of a reaction from the spell contract was proof enough that he did not feel sad.
Hence the thank goodness.
Asama: “So they’ve settled things for now?”
After a moment, he quickly added more.
Me: “But don’t tell Horizon, okay? She’d think I was feeling sad and punch me right in the gu-…no, in the jaw.”
Unfortunately, she was fairly certain it was the arms he had to worry about, not Horizon herself.
But that must have removed the lid because he kept speaking.
Me: “It’s great, isn’t it? I mean, since we took Flatty in and teased her a bunch, we’ve gotta do this right, don’t we?”
Asama: “Yes. She had a good upbringing, so she gets angry when things aren’t done right.”
Me: “Yeah, but I guess this proved that our way of doing things is the right one.”
Asama: “That sounds like something Masazumi might say, which isn’t exactly reassuring.”
Something occurred to her while she was talking.
…Wait. Is he comforting himself by talking with me?
This was a shared secret. It was a conversation he could only have because of his relationship with her.
She made sure this chat would be automatically saved and then twisted around. She grabbed the sign frame, curled up, and dove head first under the covers. Then she pulled the text close to her eyes.
She could not believe it.
Wait, wait, wait. This is hardly the first time this has happened, she frantically told herself. We always talk like this. But…
“I’m not used to being aware of it,” she added while mentally hanging her head.
She still could not believe it, but she was enough used to it to wish she had been aware of it in the past.
Meanwhile, he was the same as always.
Me: “Well, Flatty really did work hard.”
Asama: “Y-yes, she did everything she had to do.”
They were no longer talking about Satomi Yoshiyori.
The topic had changed from the past to the present. And now to the future.
Asama: “How are you going to reward her?”
Me: “What would you do?”
Good question, she thought.
Asama: “Maybe give her a bonus divine protection service without adding to the loan covering her god of war expenses.”
Me: “That seems too coldly realistic to me.”
Asama: “But my family runs a shrine and she is a fighter.”
Asama: “We do need to send her some kind of message, don’t we?”
She checked the report and saw that Naomasa was fine too. For once, the Suzaku had not been entirely destroyed.
She was happy to see that no one close to her had been lost.
That seemed selfish to her, but it meant less of a burden on him.
So she sent that information to him and to Masazumi who was still asleep.
Asama: “Isn’t that great, Toori-kun?”
Me: “For Flatty, you mean?”
No, she thought.
Horizon would probably thank him when she heard about the result of the Kantou Liberation.
Mito would probably congratulate him.
And this was what Asama had to say to him. Probably.
They had in fact lost Houjou Genan and many of those who had attacked as nameless fighters, including Ujiteru, were missing. He must have seen that if he was watching the real-time information.
But those people had accomplished something.
…You understand that, don’t you?
They had learned something from Satomi’s Yoshiyori, from Date’s Kojirou and Komahime, from Sanada’s Celestial Dragons and ninjas, from Takigawa, and from so many others they had met or communicated with.
Horizon seemed to have learned how to take a broader view of life and death and how to live one’s life. And for him…
Asama: “It’s about relationships, isn’t it?”
They were different for everyone. And some were much bigger than between two individuals.
Asama: “I think everyone has their own relationships and those are what give them goals and thoughts to fulfill. So when people go to accomplish their goals, they don’t want to see only bad things there, Toori-kun.”
Asama: “Even if there are bad things there, Shinto can convert those into good fortune.”
Me: “Yeah, I guess that is what happened this time.”
Asama: “It is.”
She made sure to quickly add more.
Asama: “But if something were to happen to you, we wouldn’t be able to give up on you.”
Me: “Did I worry you?”
Asama: “If you ever didn’t, we wouldn’t have the relationship we do now.”
Me: “Yeah, and that makes things a lot easier for me.”
She smiled bitterly at that. And then she repeated her earlier statement.
Asama: “Isn’t that great, Toori-kun?”
Asama: “I think it is.”
Toori nodded at Asama’s statement.
“It is great.”
It felt real as he put it to words. He also felt the sleepiness hitting him all of a sudden.
Me: “I wish I could thank or congratulate Yoshiyori. But I guess I can say it to Flatty and the others from Satomi instead.”
Asama: “What are you going to say first?”
Good question, he thought. But then it hit him.
Me: “You kick ass, I guess.”
Me: “Why is that such a surprise?”
Asama: “Well, I just think Yoshiyori-san would have loved to hear you say that.”
I hope he would, thought Toori.
Me: “I’m gonna make sure I kick ass too, so will you help me out?”
Asama: “You know we will. And remember what Masazumi said about the current you and the future you in comparison to the old you?”
He did kind of remember that.
…She has trouble just coming out and giving people compliments.
Me: “I want to be like that to. In a way only Mr. Impossible can.”
“I suppose so,” agreed Asama.
She felt like it had been a long time since she had heard him talking about the future.
Asama: “You should talk about this with Horizon too.”
Me: “Horizon wouldn’t listen to this schmaltzy stuff.”
He has a point, she realized while hanging her head below the blanket.
She could imagine what Horizon would say if he tried to talk about this with her:
“Then your next task can be trying to live as an honest human being.”
“Ho ho? And what about that is so great?”
Asama: “B-but that’s just her tsun side coming out! If you keep at it, she’ll figure it out in her own way…in her own horrifying way.”
Me: “Stop trying to depress meeeeee!”
She realized that his relationships tended toward the extreme in one direction or another.
She sighed as she realized she was one example of that.
Asama: “But even she has started smiling recently, so she should be able to accept what you’re saying, how she reacts notwithstanding.”
Me: “Eh? She smiles?”
Asama: “Yes, she does. Wait, have you…not…seen…it?”
Asama: “D-don’t die! Next time I see it, I’ll snap a photo for you!”
Me: “Yeah, please do.”
I shouldn’t have mentioned that, she realized while growing a lot less confident she had actually seen it herself.
But anyway, she thought while pushing herself up on her elbows.
This felt something like unlocking a small bonus stage.
Asama: “Okay, Toori-kun, I have to prepare for the morning, so I need to get going.”
They had discussed a lot and, thinking back, a lot of it seemed fairly embarrassing.
…I really shouldn’t be able to say that I think it’s great too. At least not yet.
Asama: “I wouldn’t have been able to say a lot of that if anyone else was up.”
Mar-Ga: “Really? Then I’m glad I kept quiet.”
Her blood temperature dropped by about three degrees.
Naruze saw the shrine maiden spring up on her elbows.
“That’s an exciting way to wake up.”
Naruze smiled in order to put the girl at ease. She also held up the castella cream sandwich she had gotten from the ice room as a reward for completing her storyboard earlier.
“Heh heh. Asama? I thought that was great too. Great material, I mean.”
“H-how much of it did you hear?”
“All of it, of course. I was up the whole time.”
“Get some sleep! It’s good for your health and your looks! Besides, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard!”
“Eh, this is normal for me.”
“Hold on. That only works when you’re young, you know?”
“Fair enough,” agreed Naruze. “And if I can get away with it when I’m young, that means you can’t complain about me doing it now. I just have to learn how to get to sleep early once I’m older.”
They saw Sanyou-sensei dashing away after taking one step inside the bathhouse entrance.
“Ah, Sanyou-sensei! Aren’t you doing that gag an awful lot recently!?”
“She must be busy.” Naruze smiled. “But I’m glad to see you two get along so well. Yes, and I was especially glad to see the part where you grew all flustered. Take a look at your bottom half.”
“My bottom half?”
Asama’s gaze dropped to below her hips.
“Your pajamas pulled up above that part a while back.”
“B-but, um, uh.”
“And your waist on down were sticking out from the blanket and wiggling around.”
“I-I was not wiggling. I don’t wiggle.”
“This video begs to differ.”
“W-w-wait just a second, Naruze!” Asama quickly pulled down the hem of her pajamas. “Did you film anything else?”
“Do you really think I of all people would miss that golden opportunity?”
“Yeah, I suppose not.” Asama accepted it with a smile, but then she grabbed the empty space to her right in both hands and set it down to her left. “But that isn’t the point.”
“Oh, I took some photos too. Like your face while you slept. See?” Naruze tossed over a Magie Figur and made sure to say one more thing. “I sent it to the Chancellor.”
Asama quickly flipped through the Magie Figur’s images to check them all.
…Oh, I’m not the only one.
In addition to her sleeping face, there were images of Mitotsudaira and of the two arms.
“Um, we’re in the same category as the arms?”
“Horizon’s defenses were too tough, so I couldn’t get one of her.”
That makes sense, she thought while flipping through, but then she came across a butt.
She was not sure she had ever seen it before, so why was she so certain it was her own? But…
She frantically set down the Magie Figur.
“What’s the matter?”
“Y-you know exactly what it is, don’t you!? Don’t you!?”
While Naruze smiled in an oddly excited way, Asama lifted back up the Magie Figur to check the image.
This was not the aforementioned video. For one thing, the timestamp said it was from when she was still asleep.
There was one thing she had to ask about.
“Yesss? I’ll answer any question you have, Asama. Because you always give me such great material.”
“Then,” she started. “Did you send this butt photo to Toori-kun?”
“Hah. Do you really think I’ll answer that?”
“Y-you went back on your word quick!”
“What does it matter?” The Technohexen smiled and pointed toward the wall to the boy’s bath. “If you’re that curious, why not ask him yourself?”
“I couldn’t! I couldn’t possibly!”
The arms lifted their wrists and gave her dual thumbs ups, but she was not sure what that meant.
She grabbed a nearby sign frame in order to change the subject. At this time of night, anything she saw could be used as a new topic, so it was all useful to her.
“Honestly,” she grumbled in exasperation and found the sign frame showed the sleeping status of the boys. “Hm, so Toori-kun is the only one up.”
“Neshinbara put up a pretty good fight, though. He kept monitoring the situation in Satomi and checking for any information from Nördlingen. Of course, Masazumi will summarize all that for us come morning anyway.”
That sounded like him. But aside from him…
“Oh, the Nagaoka boy is actually asleep.”
“Once he wakes up, you have to do his immigration and defection processing, right? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for that?”
“No, most of that is already ready. But in Nördlingen…”
“The battle formations are already taking shape.” Naruze pointed at the sign frame Asama held. “But Tomoe Gozen says she’s trying to convince Lady Nagaoka. Maybe I’m judging a book by its cover, but that seems strange to me. I mean, Tomoe Gozen is a warrior and the name inheritor of Luther, the father of Protestantism. I thought she would be a militarist who insisted the history recreation was carried out to the letter.”
“Yes,” agreed Asama concerning Tomoe Gozen. “I have some information on her since she did some Shinto related things concerning the Emperor. I looked into her history on the Shinto side when we met her before and during the meeting with Shirakawa’s Yasuhira the night before the three-nations negotiation, so I learned some things about her.”
Asama summed it up as briefly as she could.
“Most likely, Tomoe Gozen is opposed to forcing the history recreation onto people.”
“There are a lot of things you don’t understand until the time comes, aren’t there?”
Christina looked up into the early morning sky with Tomoe Gozen seated next to her.
She saw the imperial fleet and anti-imperial fleet lining up in the southern sky.
“To be honest, I thought no one would take this seriously once the battle in Kantou ended.”
“Would you have preferred that?”
“I think I was being too self-conscious.”
Tomoe Gozen lifted her shoulders at that.
“You have a troublesome personality, you know that? But anyway, there is a lot we don’t know about everything. That is just how it is, Christina.”
“Are you going to ask me to wait to die until I do understand?”
“No, I am not,” cut in Tomoe Gozen. “Besides, you can still die of illness while waiting. If you fail to understand before that happens, then it is too late by the time you do. Then the survivors will worry that they received nothing from you.”
“Are you talking to me here, or yourself?”
“Good question.” Tomoe Gozen pulled her hat down over her eyes. “How about I tell you an old and unnecessary story?”
“There once was one a woman who insisted that a successful history recreation was in fact an abject failure.”
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