Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 68

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Chapter 68: Good Listener Below the Roof[edit]

Horizon7C 0429.jpg

Um

But, well

How about

We actually discuss this?

Point Allocation (Curious)


Naruze leaned against the bathhouse dressing room’s wall and raised her pen toward Asama.

“Listen,” she said to gather the other girl’s attention. “This might make good material and it might set the stage for something. You claim Tomoe Gozen may have been opposed to the history recreation. That sounds like an interesting historical suspense story, so I can use it like I do the divine radio while working on my manuscript.”

“That’s a good idea,” said Asama as she got up and opened a sign frame.

Asama: “Do you want to hear about Tomoe Gozen too, Toori-kun?”

Me: “She did seem to have some kind of history, but are you sure it isn’t a sad story that’ll make me cry?”

Mar-Ga: “She’s still active as a ghost, so she must have had a positive outlook by the end. Whatever happened to her, she still wants to stay in this world.”

Naruze smiled bitterly when she saw Asama look up.

“That’s my thanks for giving me such great material.”

“Naruze, you’re in such a good mood you feel like someone else entirely.”

“Judge. That’s what happens when I get such good material to work with.”

“Fine, fine,” said Asama while raising her sign frame.

Asama: “Um, okay. Let’s talk about a mystery or slight oddity concerning Tomoe Gozen.”

Me: “You saying her boobs are fake?”

Asama: “No, those look very real. As someone who has gone through the same struggles, there’s something about her movements and the way she balances herself that I recognize. …But that’s not the point.”

Mar-Ga: “That would be a surprise though, you have to admit.”

“I suppose,” replied Asama as the arms mimicked propping up a head in interest next to her.

Asama: “This has to do with her husband, Minamoto Yoshinaka, who was known as Lord Kiso.”


“Now,” said Asama as she scrolled through her sign frame.

All of this had been sent to Masazumi as well.

She would provide information on the people with some connection to Musashi, especially when they had a connection to Shinto or were a historical figure – and especially especially when they were from a period in history that Neshinbara would invent weird fantasies about.

Tomoe Gozen fell into that category.

We don’t have much time, so I need to get right to the point.

Asama: “Tomoe Gozen was actually Minamoto Yoshinaka’s mistress. His actual wife was someone else.”

“That sounds awfully familiar.”

Asama wanted to shout “I knew you would say that!”, but she could not stop the flush rising from her neck. She blushed far too easily these days. Did she just have to get used to it? But…

Me: “So what kind of relationship did this Yoshinaka have with Tomoe Gozen?”

Asama: “Well, he actually had two wives.”

Mar-Ga: “Wow, so he was a player. So who were the two?”

Asama: “Um, well, this is kind of a pain to explain, but he was born in Shinano and he took a wife when he moved to Kyou.”

However, the Testament described what happened later.

Asama: “When he was ultimately driven out by Yoritomo and Yoshitsune’s forces and living on the run, he told Tomoe Gozen that he was worried about the wife he left back in Shinano.”

Mar-Ga: “So he took a local wife in Kyou in the same way people adopt the fashions and trends of a new home, huh?”

Me: “Who was that first wife?”

Asama: “There are no records of her. The Testament only gives that one passage from The Tale of the Heike, so it isn’t clear who she was.”

“But,” said Asama.

She had a thought about the current Tomoe Gozen. To put it to words…

Asama: “The current Tomoe Gozen refers to herself as Minamoto Yoshinaka’s wife.”


“Really, it was all a big pain in the rear,” said Tomoe Gozen while seated on the bench and eating a teacake that had been sitting there for a while now. “Kiso Yoshinaka is not technically speaking my husband.”

“Testament, I was aware of that.”

“You looked into it?” she asked without even looking over.

Christina covered her mouth with a sleeve and smiled.

“I gather and deal in information from every age and every part of the world.”

“Then there’s no point in hiding it. Think of this as verification from a contemporary.”

Listen.

“The Testament says he had two wives.

“The first is the woman he left in Shinano.

“The second is a woman named Ishi, the daughter of the chief imperial advisor who he wed in order to gain political power in Kyou.”

“Testament, and after his death, Ishi went on to-…”

“I will get to that later,” said Tomoe Gozen. “Now, you seem to think you know about Ishi, but I bet you didn’t know this.”

This being…

“We knew each other.”


Asama: “At the time, the rules about the history recreation and the Testament Union were fairly vague things. The Harmonic Unification War had yet to happen, so the name inheritors for the Divine States were generally managed by Shinto. So after our meeting with Yasuhira-san, I explained my reasons to IZUMO and was able to view a lot of information about this.”

She had learned something from that.

Asama: “Yoshinaka, Tomoe Gozen, and Ishi were all originally from Shinano…I think. I can’t quite track down all the information, but they made their way to Kyoto in almost the exact same way, so I think it’s pretty much confirmed.”

Mar-Ga: “Then did all three of them inherit their names together?”

Asama: “That’s where things get kind of tricky.”

Asama viewed the records as she spoke.

Asama: “Yoshinaka inherited his name first. And while he was building up his career in Shinano, Ishi’s request was approved. …Tomoe Gozen’s inherited name actually came incredibly late.”

Me: “Cause she was lazy?”

Asama: “Go have her kick your butt later, Toori-kun. …Anyway, Tomoe Gozen’s earliest historical appearance is in The Tale of the Heike, but it’s during Yoshinaka’s life on the run. That’s actually at the end of his career.”

Mar-Ga: “So what was that Protestant representative doing before she became Tomoe Gozen?”

Asama: “Well, the contemporary records tell us that Ishi had a maid with her as a bodyguard.”

And…

Asama: “That maid went on to become Tomoe Gozen.”


“That sounds like a complicated friendship. Or name-inheritor-ship…yes.”

“I have to agree with you, but we thought we were making things simpler at the time. I saw Ishi like a little sister. If anything, I was in charge of planning, fighting, and dragging her along. She was more of an advisor, a helper, or… you know how you’ll get this girl who follows you around everywhere? That’s what I mean.”

“Oh, so something like Maria with me.”

The maid rushed in from down the hall and prostrated herself.

“My lady! I am not worthy of such praise when I am preparing to leave you!”

“Well, Ishi wasn’t quite so dynamic. But, anyway, she was like a little sister or ‘one of the gang’ along with Yoshinaka back in Shinano.”

However…

“After Yoshinaka inherited his name, Ishi did the same. Then the two of them were summoned to Kyou. Everyone knew she had feelings for him and, even if he had inherited a name, he was the type to get ahead of himself, so the head of our village said someone needed to go along as a manager.”

“And that was you?”

“Testament,” confirmed Tomoe Gozen. “Although it was really my parents and the village leaders getting rid of a lazy girl who had no interest in an inherited name. And I figured I might as well since it would make me at least a little useful.”

So while acting as Ishi’s bodyguard in name only, she met up with Yoshinaka and the others in Kyou.

Ishi was received well by the people of Kyou, the chief imperial advisor liked her, and she managed a fairly comfortable life there.

“Their marriage was arranged in Kyou and, by the time it was over, even I had learned the Kyou way of doing things. Anyway, Ishi had wed, so I thought about returning to Shinano.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“That’s simple enough.” She shrugged. “I took Ishi out into Kyou and asked for help choosing a souvenir to bring back to Shinano, but she asked me to continue working as her bodyguard if I had no real reason to return to Shinano.”

“She made a direct request?”

“Testament. It was the first time she had ever done that, so I agreed.”

Starting then, they had lived in peace.

Her life there had been like what she imagined a mother-in-law living with her son and daughter-in-law would be like.

Yoshinaka had not been the type to let himself grow corrupt even if he wanted to, so the days and months had passed relatively uneventfully.

But the Testament’s time limit was approaching.

What could we even do?

“Everyone in Kyou tried to use an interpretation to accept Yoshinaka and his forces into Kyou. The plan was for him to inherit the name of an important figure in Kyou and prevent the conflict with Yoritomo and Yoshitsune from ever happening. It was thought that would benefit both sides.”

“It would keep Kyou peaceful and it would allow both Yoritomo and Yoshitsune to concentrate their strength on their later battles. Yes.”

“At the time, I never really thought it through that far.”

“Then this can be a lesson for you as well. But what happened to that plan?”

You could figure that out from the end result.

“Without warning, everything fell apart.”


Asama: “The remaining Shinto records tell us that Matsudono Motofusa – who played the role of Ishi’s father – and the other top officials went to report to the emperor. At the time, the Divine States’ history recreation was mostly managed by Shinto, so they were reporting to the emperor that the foundation of the history recreation for Kyou and the later Kamakura period would be dealt with via interpretations.”

Mar-Ga: “Why to the emperor? I thought ever since the Age of Dawn, the emperor never influenced the outside world and just flirted with the environmental gods all day long.”

Asama: “Correct, which is why it was the first time for most of those important people to ever have an audience with the emperor. Generally, they would simply go to the automatons at the entrance of the ley line management system known as the imperial palace.”

Me: “Then why do it that time?”

Asama: “The thing is, during Minamoto Yoshinaka’s rebellion, he imprisoned the cloistered emperor and, well, caused a lot of trouble for the imperial family and devastated the city of Kyou. The cloistered emperor and the rest of the imperial family were name inheritors and not actual relatives of the emperor, but with all that trouble so close to home, the officials thought they should go greet the emperor. I believe they really did think that, but I also believe it was an excuse.”

Naruze frowned at that.

Oh, nothing gets past her.

I should have known, thought Asama while Naruze’s face was illuminated in the darkness by her own Magie Figur.

Mar-Ga: “What do you mean they really did think that, but it was also an excuse?”

Asama: “Well, this is something that has to stay between us. Or rather, it’s a historical issue that is found in the records but would be discredited as misinformation if you tried to spread it around.”

Mar-Ga: “Whether or not I draw something is for me to decide.”

Then this should be safe, decided Asama.

“After Yoshinaka’s death, the Genpei War begins in earnest and the Taira clan causes an incident that affects the position of the emperor.”

Mar-Ga: “The drowning of the young emperor at Dan-no-Ura. …Right?”

Asama: “More or less, yes. But the real emperor is the one dealing with the environmental gods, so that ‘young emperor’ was a name inheritor. You need to go a step further to actually affect the position of the emperor.”

In other words…

Asama: “The young emperor who drowned at Dan-no-Ura sank along with the Imperial Regalia. So, um, the only one that remained unrecovered afterwards was the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, or Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds.”

Me: “Heavenly? Doesn’t Ame mean rain, though?”

Asama: “Heaven can be read that way too. They have the same etymology, after all. …Remember the Divinely Ordained Prayer Academies? Their purpose was to research and develop methods of praying to heaven for rain, so you can see that association there too. We discussed all this before, but do you, um, not remember?”

Me: “It usually takes me about three times before something sticks in my head.”

Well, I probably only remember because I’ve been researching it.

Mar-Ga: “Okay, let’s get on with it before the nerd wakes up. …Isn’t it bad that the heavenly sword wasn’t recovered?”

Asama: “Yes. The Testament says Yoshitsune-san and her group searched the ocean and found the magatama and mirror, but they did not find the heavenly sword. So the records say the chief imperial advisor and others wanted to ask the emperor what they should do about that recreation and other things. Of course, this was all done unofficially and none of the people directly involved are still alive, so none of this can be made public.”

“But,” said Asama.

Asama: “After that audience, the chief advisor and the other top officials took a hardline stance on following the Testament. They created a dummy version of the heavenly sword and forced Yoshinaka to die, almost like they had forgotten all about their previous plans.”


“I still don’t know why, but things changed.” Tomoe Gozen thought back to when it happened. “At the time, I was eating snacks at Yoshinaka’s estate. I had never really thought much about the emperor and, when the chief advisor and the others said they were going to an audience, I was just glad I didn’t have to mess with all that.”

“Well, they do say the emperor does not influence the outside world, so why would you have thought much about them?”

“True enough,” she agreed. “For that very reason, none of those officials had ever gone to meet the emperor who lives deep in the structure known as the imperial palace and remains is in constant contact with the environmental gods. That time, they used the emergency that could cause serious issues for Kyou and the Divine States and the loss of the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi as a reason to visit the imperial palace, where an automaton guided them to the emperor.”

But what happened in there?

She only knew that it had resulted in a hardline stance on the history recreation.

“My only praise is for Yoshitsune’s decisiveness when she chose to strike down Yoshinaka.”

“For Lady Yoshitsune?”

“Testament. Rumor has it, she took a single breath after hearing of the situation and immediately said the following: ‘That is my job. I am a strong enough person to carry that weight.’ ”

Thinking back now, she was glad Yoshitsune was that kind of person.

Because once it was all over, she had managed to follow her around for a while and forget her troubles.

But back before they knew what the future held, they had chosen to fight.

“When we left Kyou, Ishi called out to me and said this: ‘I’m sorry for keeping you here for so long, Tomoe Gozen.’ ”

“Tomoe Gozen?”

“Testament. That was the first time she had called me that, but I just accepted it without thinking too hard about it.”

If I had thought about it, I could have figured it out. I was so stupid.

“At the time, I laughed and told her she had nothing to apologize for and that it had been fun. And if I was going to be Tomoe Gozen, then I had to be Yoshinaka’s bodyguard, so I said this to Ishi.”

She had wanted to look like a cool big sister in front of the woman she saw as a skilled little sister. So…

“ ‘I will return Yoshinaka safely to you.’ ”

“My.”

“I will never forget the look on her face when I said that.”

“Was she happy?”

“Not a chance.”

Tomoe Gozen smiled bitterly. Ishi had wept with a look that could have been interpreted as joy or resignation and she had beaten on Tomoe Gozen through her armor. Over and over.

“She told me I was stupid. …But I already knew I was stupid, so I again accepted it without thinking too hard about it. And that was a mistake.”

She had calmed Ishi and gone out to battle without really knowing what any of it meant.

She remembered it being a long battle.

“We won big at the beginning, but since he knew he had no future, Yoshinaka suggested we all leave him. Some obeyed, others stayed with him, and others deserted. And after a big battle, our numbers were reduced to single digits and our life on the run began. While I was wondering how I would return to Kyou and how Ishi was doing, he suddenly spoke to me.”

He said…

“ ‘How should I put this? I’m worried about the woman I left back in Shinano.’ ”

“That’s from The Tale of the Heike, right?”

It was.

“I assumed it was a part of the history recreation, so I chose to stay with him as Tomoe Gozen. I remember it happening on a mountain ridge. I could see the lights of some city or other in the distance and I said ‘your wife in Shinano?’ with a sigh.”

He had responded with a ‘yes’.

“I pointed out that he had Ishi in Kyou, so I asked what woman in Shinano he could possibly care about more than her.”

She had meant it as a bit of a cruel joke since they were all from Shinano and she knew no such woman existed. But…

“The name he gave was the name I had gone by back in Shinano.”


“––––––”

Should Christina’s silence have made her feel proud or made her laugh at herself.

She still did not really get it.

“He called me the woman in Shinano instead of Tomoe Gozen. I don’t get what men are thinking sometimes. But I did finally understand why Ishi had apologized when I left. And why she had asked me to continue working as her bodyguard in Kyou.”

You fool. Stop looking down on yourself by assuming people are being considerate or cruel.

She had not thought much of anything about that foolishness. But…

“Well, I got really angry with him. I grabbed him by the collar and let him have it: ‘You’re the worst. You didn’t even fool Ishi, you know that?’ ”

“And what did he say back? Yes.”

You’re enjoying this aren’t you? she thought about Christina’s reaction.

“ ‘Of course I didn’t. The two of us were working together to fool you.’ And he was exactly right, so I couldn’t find a rebuttal.”

With that, she had realized that two different deceptions had been underway ever since Shinano.

Ishi had wanted to be with him.

He had wanted to be with Tomoe Gozen.

Ishi had been prepared to use the history recreation to step aside, but Tomoe Gozen had been too stupid to let it happen.

“And a fool will meet a fool’s end.”

Their group while on the run had been almost entirely male. She had ended up doing the housework-like tasks, which had brought them closer together. The two of them could discuss old times in front of the campfire. When he had been explaining how long he had been interested in her, the others had started teasing them and she had honestly wanted to kill all of them.

“But even our life on the run came to an end.”

“Run,” he had said when Yoshitsune and the others were approaching. “Escape and get word of all this to Shinano.”

That much followed the Testament, so she had chosen to leave as per the Testament.

“But when I turned my back on him and began running, he said one last thing to me.”

He said…

“ ‘Sorry about all the trouble.’ ”

“And what did you say in response?”

“I hate to say it, but I honestly don’t remember.”

That showed just how overwhelmed with emotion she had been.

Part of her was certain she had said something, but part of her was certain she had not.

And would she have even had the words to reply back then?

“When I looked back, I saw him charging in with a few of his men to break through the enemy line. I survived and later learned he had been killed in battle. There was nothing I could have done. I hid my identity, went to Kyou, and tried to meet Ishi. I saw the perfect chance to meet her during a congratulatory festival, but…”

She took a breath.

“It was someone else going by the name of Ishi.”

“You mean…?”

“Shortly after we left, she arranged for a number of things and then died. They said it was an illness.”

The Testament said that Ishi was also known as the Winter Princess. True to that name, an attendant woman said she had died peacefully in her sleep.

“It was apparently a chronic illness. She had had it since we were in Shinano, but she had kept it a secret from me. There I was feeling like a mother-in-law, but I hadn’t noticed anything and she was deceiving me all along.”

That had led to more realizations.

Why had Yoshinaka done what Ishi wanted?

Why had Ishi handed everything over to her?

And why had she not realized anything that was going on?

Did she only have her own foolishness to blame for feeling happy while being so oblivious?

Or had those two given her that happiness by hiding everything from her?

“Why is there so much you only understand after you lose someone?”

Dammit.

“I was so stupid to misunderstand what Ishi meant when she said goodbye. In a way, revealing my stupidity must have led Ishi to realize her considerate efforts were wasted on me. It’s obvious now that her tears were out of sympathy for my stupidity.”

She really had been like a perfect little sister. But…

“Did I say something to Yoshinaka when I left him?”

Had she managed to say something to the man Ishi had left with her?

It was a bit late to be asking that now, 500 years later.

“All this time, I’ve tried to believe that I told him ‘it wasn’t any trouble’.”

That was not much, but it would have responded to his feelings in kind. And…

That really is how I felt.

Those were not words of sympathy. She knew she would have said them on reflex.

That was all she could have let out, so she was sure that was all she would have said.

I really am stupid.

“But…Tomoe Gozen? There is proof that your words reached him, isn’t there? I mean, Lord Yoshinaka did not become a ghost. Yes.”

“True.” She stood up. “Since he did not become a ghost, he must not have had any regrets in this world. I can assume I did speak and assume my words did reach him. That sounds like a decent compromise. …I mean, I don’t want to even consider the worst case where I didn’t say anything and he gave up on this world out of despair.”

She removed her hat. When she looked up and felt the chill of the air, she realized just how embarrassing a story she had told. However…

“It’s taken 500 years for me to tell this story like it’s something from the past. …All because of that one little statement.”

But her own belief was all she had to tell her if she managed to do the right thing, at least a little bit.

That was why the regret had stuck with her through death and she had become a ghost, but even that had to be far less significant than all the efforts and attempted consideration those two had gone through for her back then.

“Do not err here. Of course, even if you do, you might be able to work something out given 500 years.”

She placed her hat on Christina’s head.

And she took a breath.

“Storytime is over, so it’s time to face reality. …I will be going to war, but you sit here and think a bit, Christina. Choosing death because the Testament says so is one path you can take. But…”

But…

“Have I gotten my point through to you? Think on that, Christina.”


Asama finished telling the majority of the story.

Although a lot of the later part remains unknown, so we can only speculate.

Me: “She’s had a rough life too, huh?”

The arms nodded and Asama concurred.

A few people were stirring around them. The others were waking up. As for Asama herself…

“Oh, I need to go purify myself ahead of everyone.”

She had gotten permission from Suzu. Her morning bath would be a little rushed, but she had to go get it done.

But when she got up, Naruze spoke quietly to her.

“I love all this great material I’ve been getting from Satomi and Nördlingen.”

And…

“We ended up leaving Satomi to the others, but I want to help out however I can at Nördlingen.”

“That’s great and all, but you stayed up all night. Are you sure you’re up for it?”

“Judge. I’m used to it. But more importantly, look.”

The others were starting to get up. Suzu remained in Kimi’s arms, so she flailed her arms and legs through the air.

“It doesn’t look like Kimi’s waking up. I bet she changed her settings.”