Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 69
Chapter 69: Opener of a Closed Place
Morning is morning
It’s always like this
At this time
Point Allocation (I am up)
Mitotsudaira stepped out from Suzu’s Bath.
The compressed sleep spell had awoken her on schedule.
…Which was a little earlier than the others.
Asama, who had already been up, had given her a morning purification in the bathhouse bath. The bathwater had been a little hard for her nonhuman standards, but …
“Today’s ground battle will be in a field instead of in the Edo ruins, so bug repellent is going to be fairly necessary.”
She had shared the morning bath with the two arms, meaning they had taken their bath earlier than Horizon herself.
They had a battle coming up, but they still had breakfast and a strategy meeting to go, so she had put her pajamas back on. Once outside, she saw her king laying a cloth over one of the benches out front.
“Good morning, my king.”
“Oh, hey. Morning. Would you like some ham for breakfast?”
“Judge! You ordered it from the Blue Thunder, didn’t you? That sounds fantastic.”
“Sure thing,” he replied while walking to the stove of the food stand he had set up in front of the bathhouse. She realized he was only wearing an apron.
“My king, why are you dressed like that?”
“Don’t be dumb. I don’t want to get hot oil on me! It’s the smart thing to do!”
She had a feeling it was bad that made sense to her.
But something else was weighing on her mind.
…Is everything okay in Satomi?
There had been a big battle there. She had seen the result when she woke up, but it had ended sooner than she had expected.
Even their forces had been worn down a lot early on and Hashiba’s group had arrived in the early morning.
…Houjou and the locals really gave it their all.
What did her king think about it all?
The arms, which had accompanied her outside, must have been curious about that as well because they beckoned him over.
“What is it?” he asked just in time for them to leap up and grab his cheeks.
“Ow ow ow ow! My cheeks don’t stretch like that! Please forgive me!”
“Why do you ask for forgiveness when you didn’t do anything wrong?” she asked.
“It’s my schtick,” he said while the arms climbed onto his shoulders and started mussing up his hair. Mitotsudaira smiled bitterly at it all.
…Looks like I don’t have to worry about him.
He did seem to be thinking about something, but he did not seem depressed.
A thought occurred to her, so she looked over at Asama who was compiling a list of spells.
That Shinto shrine maiden was closely connected to life and death and to history. She was the most common member of their class that people came to for advice. And given the order with which they woke up…
…That must be it.
I shouldn’t be surprised, thought Mitotsudaira. She knew she did not have it in her to discuss life-and-death issues or what happened with Satomi Yoshiyori. She might even try to dodge the issue by unnecessarily talking about what tactics he should have used back then.
On the other hand, if the “intensity” with which she tried to discuss such things got through to him, maybe it would be meaningful after all, but Asama had handled it this time.
“Eh? What is it?” Asama turned around after the arms handed her a list of Horizon’s spells. “Is there a divine protection you need in a hurry?”
“No, it isn’t that.” She watched her king carry over the food stand’s pedestal from the bathhouse’s storeroom. “Horizon would have stretched his cheeks, slapped him, and given him a lecture based on some extreme point of view, don’t you think?”
“Wh-what are you talking about?”
Asama’s flustered behavior told Mitotsudaira she had been right.
…There are so many tricky problems to deal with.
Her king could not be allowed to feel sad.
But this time, she had a question about that.
“Did you want to prevent my king from feeling sad?”
Asama froze in place but eventually looked around and sighed. After confirming that no one else was listening in, she turned toward Mitotsudaira once more.
Her face displayed relief more than just a simple smile.
“It felt like a weight had already been lifted from his shoulders before I said anything.”
In that case, her king must have made some decision on his own.
She wondered what would have happened if the Kantou Liberation had failed, but…
“We have finally caught up to the multitude of doubts and anger we felt that night, haven’t we?”
“Oh, that was a very Mito thing to say.”
“Was it?” she wondered while Asama erected a soundproof barrier around the plaza in front of the bathhouse.
“We are about to order some breakfast, so how about we all eat together?”
Mitotsudaira looked around while wondering where they could all eat breakfast together.
That “all” would go beyond those in the bathhouse. It would also include Noriki and the others who had returned to their homes. In that case…
“Have you rented out this plaza?”
“Yes. Horizon is still asleep and I thought having us all together would make adjusting our divine protections easier. …Oh.” Asama seemed to realize what Mitotsudaira had meant and she replied while picking up Horizon’s arms from the ground. “I have gotten permission to use this place. I’ve activated a simple barrier so I can purify everyone and handle their spells while we hold a meeting. So, how we usually do things.”
“Impressive, as always.”
“Please, it’s nothing.” Asama produced a collection of spell list sign frames on top of her empty hand and left them with Hanami. “Mito, I want to settle on what spells to distribute to everyone, so will you help me with that in a bit?”
“Judge. But breakfast comes first. …And that’s quite something, Tomo.”
She was looking at the two arms held between Asama’s breasts. It had to do with how tightly Asama was holding them, but Mitotsudaira recognized something in the way the arms were acting.
“I’ve noticed that they tend to calm down when Kimi does this with them,” said Asama.
“Come to think of it, she did restrain them like that during the camp at Sanada, didn’t she?”
“She did,” confirmed Asama while their king walked over with some paper plates.
The arms looked back and started squirming, so Asama lowered them down, but…
The chest of her clothing separated and exposed everything down to below her navel.
“Don’t worry,” said their king. “I’ll just be here staring.”
“My king, saying that with a straight face is a little weird.”
“It’s fine.” Asama smiled with lowered eyebrows and placed a hand on her opened clothing. “I’m wearing the supporter I showed you earlier, so it’s fine. It’s perfectly fine. Really.”
“Oh, how unusual.”
As soon as the words left Mitotsudaira’s mouth, her own collar was grabbed from below.
Eh? she wondered before realizing it was the arms. The next thing she knew, her clothing had been opened from shoulders to navel.
She quickly closed it again and her king looked back when he was supposed to be setting down a plate.
“Don’t worry. I’ll just be here staring.”
“Is that what you call equal treatment? Is that what this is?”
Down below, the arms gave him a double thumbs up and then gave another one to Kimi as she stepped out of the bathhouse. Kimi could not have known what it was about, and yet…
“Yes! Fantastic! More! Do it more!”
That was always a bad sign, but Mitotsudaira had her own excuse to make while holding her clothes together.
“I-I am wearing something underneath, so it is fine for me too.”
“Right!” said her king with a cheerful smile. And while finally setting down the plate, “We are outside, after all.”
Mitotsudaira saw Asama’s expression change when he said that.
Her eyebrows rose in surprise and she could not look him in the eye while responding in a scratchy voice.
Asama felt her body temperature quickly rise and then fall.
She knew he had a photo of her while she slept, but she suddenly remembered that he might have more.
This was bad. She realized her blood pressure and pulse had been fluctuating wildly the last few days. That had to be bad for her health.
Down at her feet, the arms held their hands up to imaginary ears in a “You were saying?” gesture, but she knew they had to be doing this on purpose. And more importantly…
Next to her, Mitotsudaira gave her an oddly refreshed smile.
Mitotsudaira had her own thoughts on the matter, but right now, she lightly elbowed the shrine maiden who could not look her king in the eye.
“Eh? Ehh?” said Asama, so Mitotsudaira smiled and spoke.
“So you agree you want to be careful because we’re outside? Then what would you have done if we were inside?”
Asama’s expression froze for a few seconds.
She hung her head while a cold sweat covered her face, but this told Mitotsudaira something.
…I was wrong.
She had been so sure that was what had been on Asama’s mind, but this reaction said otherwise.
…If that wasn’t on her mind, then she must have been thinking about some other stupid-…no, I mustn’t call it stupid. Some other problem.
Well, whatever, she decided to keep going from the problem she had suggested just now.
“Heh heh. Fine then, Tomo. If you insist on treating inside and outside differently, I will do the same.”
“Y-you’re using me as an excuse for something, aren’t you!? Aren’t you!?”
Asama quickly recovered and pointed at Horizon’s arms looking up at her from the floor.
“L-look, these arms are completely naked, if you can believe it! They’re already taking things much further than me!”
“Hey,” said their king. “You’ve gotta be able to relax more while at home, right?”
“Um, well, yes, I suppose so,” said Mitotsudaira while thinking to herself.
…But you can “relax more” while still wearing underwear, can’t you?
She felt like she was starting to bargain with herself here, but she decided there was nothing to worry about since Horizon tended to destroy all the rules in the Main Blue Thunder anyway. She would do best to do what she wanted.
I see, she decided, but something still bothered her.
It had to do with her earlier “inaccurate guess”.
She took Asama a short distance away because Naruze, Naito, and some others had stepped outside. And then…
“Tomo, why did you get weirdly flustered earlier? You know, about the ‘being outside’ stuff.”
“Eh!? W-well, you have to, um, wear something underneath this while outside, right?”
“You’re changing the subject, aren’t you?”
When Mitotsudaira said that with a smile, Asama looked the other way.
But not to avoid answering. She suddenly raised a hand to gather Naruze’s attention.
“Naruze, show us Mito’s version of what you showed me.”
What is this about? wondered Mitotsudaira. Naruze was clearly woozy from lack of sleep, but she managed to toss over a Magie Figur.
“What is this?”
She caught it and found it was a photograph. And…
It was her own face as she slept. For some reason, the arms were there striking a body pillow pose, but the bigger issue was how it showed her clinging to her blanket with her hips sticking up.
“Wait, wh-what is this!?”
“Oh, we reached an agreement for her to delete mine. Yes. Also, there is a chance that some photos of more than just your face made their way to Toori-kun. Yes.” Asama smiled with raised eyebrows and placed her hands on Mitotsudaira’s shoulders. “It’s the same for both us! For both of us, Mito!”
“How was I supposed to know about this!?”
Asama’s expression went blank and she weakly looked the other way.
“Count yourself lucky you were fully covered in yours…”
Mitotsudaira had no idea what might not have been covered, but it sounded like Asama had it even worse than her.
Kimi saw Asama trying to calm Mitotsudaira down.
She stood near the bathhouse entrance where her brother was reheating and cooking some things on the portable stove.
“Hm? What is it, sis? Want me to add some of this honey here?”
“I’ll have some on my toast. But anyway…” She looked to the two girls who had each picked up one of the arms and worked to restrain them as some kind of new sport. “People change, don’t they?”
She moved behind her brother and balanced plates on her shoulders and arms to help carry them out. She stood on her toes while half-laden with plates.
“Here you go.”
It was faster to balance a few on her palms and let her brother set them down.
And she had more to say.
“You’ve done it, haven’t you?”
“Finished with the plates, you mean?”
“Heh heh. You know exactly what I mean, don’t you?”
“Judge.” He lowered his head, but only as a nod. He immediately looked back up and held his head high. “I’m your brother, aren’t I?”
“Heh heh. Oh, you foolish brother.”
“But,” he said. “I’m glad to hear you say that.”
“Asama said something to you last night, didn’t she?”
“Did she call it a happy ending?”
“Something like that.”
What a shrine maiden-y thing to say, thought Kimi. Asama would understand what it meant to be happy and to rid yourself of troubles since she spoke of such things often in her work.
…But with my foolish brother, it wouldn’t be part of her work.
So it was probably something like “Isn’t that great”.
While imagining a few possible ways she might have said that, Kimi felt an extremely ticklish sensation at the top of her stomach.
“Kimi, why are you smiling at Tomo in such a ‘my, my, my’ kind of way?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“Heh heh. It won’t be long before I do the same for you! Make sure to have lots of fun with my foolish brother, since that is the source of my good mood!”
“W-wait, Kimi! What are you saying I’ve done to deserve this!?” asked Asama.
The arms held out their hands to calm the girl and Kimi commented on the action.
“They really are a part of Horizon, aren’t they?”
“They seem to get up to some ‘mischief’ all on their own, but there is a connection,” explained Asama.
“So when do you think Horizon will wake up?” asked Kimi.
She and her brother viewed Asama who checked on her sign frame.
“Her request was for another two hours, so I expect she will wake up near the end of the Battle of Nördlingen.”
“I see,” said Kimi just as Masazumi stepped out of Suzu’s Bath.
“Nhh.” Masazumi stretched. “Okay, let’s get started on the strategy meeting. Is Aoi cooking breakfast?”
“You bet!” said Kimi’s brother while everyone began preparing to eat.
The next battle would be starting soon.
“It’s Nagabuto this time, foolish brother.”
“Judge. And there’s Tomoe Gozen too.”
He had apparently done some studying this time. While she rewarded him by massaging his head with her chin, the wolf walked over.
She spoke up while helping the others move the benches into place and handing out the baskets brought over from the Blue Thunder.
“Oh, um, my king?”
“Yeah? What is it, Nate?”
“Oh? Should I be here for this?” asked Kimi.
The wolf’s eyebrows rose and she smiled as if she had only just noticed.
“That is fine with me. This is not a secret.”
After a single nod, she placed a hand on her chest and spoke to her king.
“Congratulations on liberating Kantou, my king.”
“Judge,” he said with a toothy smile, but the shrine maiden burst out laughing on the other side of the wolf.
“Wh-what was that for, Tomo!?”
“Well, um, that was just such a Mito thing to do.”
“Honestly.” Mitotsudaira looked back toward Kimi, but with a glare. “And you, Kimi! What is with that ‘my, my, my’ smile!?”
“It’s getting lighter out, but the Azuchi is in the way.”
Tokishige listened to Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer Naomasa from atop a mass of metal.
They were below the ridge of southern Bousou where they overlooked the Satomi base. This were on the open slope a bit further down from where their battle had concluded.
They were both seated atop their god of war.
They had not carried them here.
Integrity’s weight had caused it to slide down the slope and Jizuri Suzaku had followed after it.
Tokishige had gone almost all the way to the base and asked to have Integrity and Suzaku collected.
She had received treatment for her arm and shoulder injuries then.
“I never imagined I would have a component stolen mid-battle and then lose.”
“Has anyone ever told you you have a stubborn personality?”
“No, most of my previous battles were against Yoshiyasu.”
The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer seemed to accept that answer, but it was a mystery what meaning she had taken from it.
Still, she could only blame her own personality for refusing to return to base when Kantou had been liberated and light was returning to the base.
…What am I supposed to do?
Should she rejoice? Should she argue her case for joining the other side and fighting against them?
Both sides knew the other side had their reasons for what they did. That would be why the Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer had not said anything about it.
But it still bothered her on the inside.
“How should I put this?”
“Just say it however you can.”
Fair enough, she decided while pretending to think hard on it.
“I don’t like…”
This was something she had been thinking on for a while.
“I don’t like how it feels like Satomi has been toyed with by history.”
“Isn’t that exactly what happened?” The other girl smiled bitterly. “Hashiba comes in and blows up Satomi so Musashi can’t have their base in Kantou. And Satomi’s Chancellor dies. So you have no choice but to work for Hashiba, but then Musashi shows up and tries to return things to how they were. You probably just wish the world would leave you alone, but Musashi has Yoshiyasu and justice on their side.”
“Not ‘their’ side, ‘your’ side. Don’t act like you aren’t a part of this.”
“Eh, I prefer staying out of the politics. It’s such a pain.”
“So you were thinking of it from our point of view?”
“That would be kind of weird.”
Before she could ask why, the Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer explained.
“When something’s a pain, I always leave it to, or abandon it with, ‘them’. I don’t mess with it myself. That’s how I live my life.”
“I hate that.”
“Because it means you have people you can trust to deal with it for you.”
The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer looked over at her with eyes wide. That response had clearly come as a surprise. And…
For some reason, she hung her head and held her head in her hands.
Tokishige wondered if she had said the wrong thing.
She was feeling kind of awkward, so…
“What is it?”
“Well, sometimes these weird truths hit you in the last way you ever expected. But anyway.” The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer pointed forward. “Look, she’s coming.”
Tokishige looked over to see a familiar face climbing the slope toward them.
Yoshiyasu nodded when Tokishige called her name.
She had already arranged to have Righteousness collected.
She had contacted Houjou to ask what to do about Genan.
…He apparently told them to have him buried here.
He had made the attack while hiding his identity.
That meant he could not return.
She decided to bury him in the spot where he had last seen Houjou and then send his possessions back to his homeland.
While making those arrangements, she had heard Tokishige was waiting for Integrity to be collected.
When she had told Ookubo she wanted to hold a “secret meeting” with Tokishige…
Righteousness: “Is Yagyuu Munenori here?”
■――: “Judge. I am right behind you, Satomi Student Council President.”
She had looked back to check.
■――: “Um, could you not turn around out of simple curiosity? It’s a simple enough motion for you, but I have to run all the way around you.”
Righteousness: “Hm? You don’t have to stay behind me, do you?”
■――: “Standing in front of a VIP would obstruct their words.”
What a Shinto way of thinking, she realized. But on the other hand…
Righteousness: “What if you need to shield them?”
■――: “I would knock them down from behind. Then I would attack with my hammer.”
Righteousness: “Attack the VIP? Yeah, I guess no one can kill them if they’re already dead.”
■――: “Attack the attacker!”
Oh, yeah. Whoops.
…I hate how accustomed to Musashi’s rules I’ve gotten.
But Yagyuu asked a question about this.
■――: “Satomi Student Council President, is this that kind of person?”
Righteousness: “What kind of person?”
■――: “One you think I should stand guard in front of you for.”
That’s the real question, thought Yoshiyasu as she climbed the slope.
She knew the land around here quite well. She had walked it and she had viewed it from the air.
She recalled that this person had been with her all that time, and she called out to them.
“Tokishige, you were beaten pretty badly, weren’t you?”
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