Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 70
Chapter 70: Entruster of This Place
Distance does not grow so quickly
You only act like there is distance between us
Point Allocation (Gaze)
Tokishige responded to Yoshiyasu while aware she was physically above the other girl.
“You got Righteousness pretty badly damaged yourself.”
“Judge. The flight device was entirely destroyed. After that hot and cold combo, I’ll probably have to entirely replace the power, circulation, and defense systems.”
“How are you paying for that?”
“Judge. By bowing my head to the Asama Shrine and getting a summer job.”
Yoshiyasu’s words told Tokishige something.
…She really has changed.
She had not been the kind of person who would come out and say she had to bow her head to someone.
For that matter, she had not had the personality for something like a summer job either.
“Yoshiyasu.” Tokishige spoke her mind. “This hasn’t been easy for you, has it?”
“What is that sympathetic look for?”
“Nothing.” She waved her hand back and forth. “Don’t worry about it.”
Besides, she had something else to say.
“Why not use Satomi money?”
“No, I will pay for it myself. Because the Satomi Liberation itself was my own decision.”
“Are you stupid?” The words left her on reflex and she leaned forward a bit. “Do you really think that’s enough to settle this? Are you just going to abandon your continuing responsibility to Satomi?”
“Then will you pay for it?”
“Why would I have to!?”
There’s something weird about her, thought Tokishige.
Not that long ago, Yoshiyasu had spent all her time following Yoshiyori around, but now…
…I have no idea what she’s trying to say.
She realized this bizarre behavior did not really have anything to do with whether or not Yoshiyasu followed Yoshiyori around, but that was not the point.
“Yoshiyasu, did you get yourself brainwashed somewhere?”
“No, I didn’t.”
The Musashi 6th Special Duty Officer raised her prosthetic right arm.
“What idiot would say yes to that?”
“Hm, that was a stupid question, wasn’t it?”
But Yoshiyasu tilted her head with a frown.
“There’s something weird about you.”
“That’s my line.” Tokishige sighed and let her shoulders slump. “Besides, why are you still saying ‘judge’?”
“Oh, that. Since you were 3rd Special Duty Officer, I’m giving you the positions of Satomi Vice President and Vice Chancellor starting 5 seconds from now.”
“What the hell is with you!?”
When she stood up, she felt a pang in her shoulder and grimaced.
“Is the pressure of the position really such a shock? Well, you need to get used to it.”
“Th-that was pain from my injury!”
“So,” said Yoshiyasu, “you’re saying it isn’t too much pressure? Then I’ll send a request to the Testament Union via Musashi. Okay, done.”
“Oh,” said Asama while working with Kimi who was holding up a sign frame to photograph the breakfast scene. “Masazumi? Yoshy-chan sent a divine mail asking to have, um, the Satomi 3rd Special Duty Officer promoted to their Vice President and Vice Chancellor.”
“Hm, but I’m buttering some bread right now, so it’ll have to wait.”
“Vice President, are you saying butter is more important than Satomi?” asked Adele.
Masazumi placed a slice of buttered bread and a slice of unbuttered bread in front of her.
“Now.” Masazumi placed a hand on the table. “Which would you prefer, Balfette? Choose one.”
“W-well, in this case, I think the unbuttered one would be better.”
“Oh, are you sure about that, Balfette?”
Masazumi grabbed and lifted up the buttered bread. He approached from behind and swapped it out with a toasted slice. It was of course buttered too.
She held it up in front of Adele.
“Now, which would you prefer, Balfette?”
“Th-the buttered one! Wh-what else could I choose!? Damn, I feel so defeated here, but unbuttered bread is just bread!”
It felt like Adele had been working on her schtick lately.
Meanwhile, Asama noticed that Naruze was only drinking some iced tea.
“Aren’t you going to eat something, Naruze?”
“Eating would make me sleepier. Sticking to a light snack and tea is the best way to get my stomach in order.”
“Yes,” said Hassan who was toasting some curried bread. “Tea is wonderful because it tenses the stomach. If you drink some strong tea and eat some bread on a damp day, the tea soaking the bread will tense your stomach and improve your body’s circulation.”
“I see,” said the girls while taking a note of that. “Oh, Masazumi, what should we do about Yoshy-chan’s request?”
“Hmm, what is the situation like with Satomi’s officers?”
“Judge.” He raised his hand. “In the versus mode of Tale of the Eight Dog Idols, there’s Flatty and two or three others, but the rest are filled with question marks.”
“I wasn’t asking about some video game!!” Hmm, thought Masazumi. “I should probably have someone look into that.”
“Milady, the Vice President has sent you an urgent command via the Asama Shrine.”
“What!? We’re kind of busy at the moment, so what could possibly be so important!?”
“Judge.” Kanou read the sign frame’s message aloud. “How many of the Satomi officers are still alive?”
“Isn’t it a little late to be asking that?”
“Milady, why are you actually starting to investigate that for her?”
“You don’t get it?” Ookubo narrowed her eyes to a glare. “If I don’t do this, she’ll demand I do something even worse.”
“Masazumi, Ookubo-san just sent her response. Here, I’ll give everyone else a copy too.”
“Oh? That was fast. If you need something from the Testament Union site, there’s no one better than Ookubo.”
Masazumi quickly read what the sign frame had to say about the Satomi officers.
…They do indeed have a lot of holes to fill.
This only told her who had been registered while Hashiba ruled them, but based on that…
“Huh? Seijun, isn’t this a full list?”
“No, look more carefully, Naito-dono,” said Crossunite. “This list of officers might look full, but most of the names are listed as ‘Satomi Recovery Magistrate’.”
“I see,” said Mary while viewing Crossunite’s sign frame but still unable to look him in the eye. “Instead of creating individual representatives, they created a joint organization to take charge. Back in England, the officer positions are similarly wrapped up into an organization in the academies on the borders between the four kingdoms or the smaller security academies.”
“Did you attend one of those academies, Mary-dono?”
“I was supposed to, but I instead lived on that other level to have some degree of freedom. Plus, all the nations were on edge about the Logismoi Oplo at the time, so the queen’s sister could have been seen as a powerful weapon even when I couldn’t use Excalibur. I had a few different options then, but I chose not to join any specific academy.”
If she had gone to an academy, she likely would have been imprisoned there.
Crossunite gave her hand a squeeze while she smiled with a hint of bitterness. Masazumi looked to the others, but…
Gold Mar: “The shoulder, the shoulder. Go for the shoulder, Tenzou.”
10ZO: “She’s already sending out flowers like crazy, so I think this is enough!”
Lack of sleep doesn’t slow Naruze down any, does it? thought Asama while Crossunite looked to Mary and spoke quietly.
“If you had gone to an academy like that, would you have been made Student Council President? You might have even been made Chancellor as well.”
“But if that happened, I never would have met you, Master Tenzou.”
“The Musashi was visible from every part of England,” he said. “And while in the sky above, I just know I would have found you wherever you were.”
Me: “Given his religion, I bet he really could have found her from the Musashi.”
Silver Wolf: “Yes, that line was weirdly convincing. Especially since Mary would not have had to hide her identity with a cloak and hood if she had belonged to an academy.”
Unturning: “I hate that I can’t deny any of that due to his weird religion.”
10ZO: “Hey! Stop that! Don’t twist my charming line to make me sound like a pervert!”
Mary suddenly realized his arm was around her shoulders.
Her body briefly tensed more out of reflex than an attempt to resist, but he did not seem to mind.
It was not at all rough, but he pushed their shoulders together as if to say he understood.
“Sorry.” She explained the reason behind her resistance while really wishing she did not have to. “I feel like I might die if I am any happier than this.”
“If this is about the flowers, that just shows I am doing my job.” He still kept a position where she could not look him in the eye. “And inspiring me to act like this means you are doing your job.”
“P-please do not say that. You are only pushing me closer to death.”
Everyone around them began fanning themselves with paper plates and handkerchiefs or scooping up and playing with the airborne flowers, but what was that supposed to mean?
“Anyway,” said Masazumi while reaching an understanding of the Satomi situation. “They lacked a Chancellor, but that’s already been resolved since Yoshiyasu took on the title before the battle. Which leaves…”
She opened a few sign frames, displayed the officer nominations and request forms, and checked over them or filled them out. And then…
“We are managing Satomi through Yoshiyasu, so you handle the request process, Asama.”
“Oh, right,” said Asama as she accepted them and checked them over. “Um, these are official documents to be sent to another nation, right? Then who will handle the official process?”
“Milady, the Vice President has sent another job.”
“What!? I just did a job for her!”
“See? This is what happens when you go easy on her.”
“Masazumi, they came back unbelievably fast and now we are receiving a rapid series of empty divine mails.”
“Hm? Did Ookubo hit the wrong button or something? Sorry, Asama, but is there a divine punishment for this?”
“Hm.” Asama placed a hand on her chin. “Harassing the Asama Shrine via divine mail would normally get your identity traced from the message and then a love letter of yours would be chosen at random and displayed on the divine network for all to see. Oh, but you can reach a settlement instead.”
“That would be a little much right now. I’d feel bad for her, so stop it, will you?”
“I will inform our god it was a mistake and make an offering of sake and a romance manga. Now, um, as for the documents…”
“Judge,” said Masazumi. “I submitted them to the Testament Union and they were already accepted, so send word to Yoshiyasu.”
“Oh? Tokishige, it was already accepted.”
“Eh!? That was fast! If we sent that from Satomi, the Testament Union would have sat on it for around two weeks before finally getting around to it!”
“Hmm.” Yoshiyasu crossed her arms in satisfied way. “Musashi is a trade nation, so they know how to handle these administrative and diplomatic processes. I should probably send our thanks through the official route.”
“Milady, The Satomi Student Council President wants you to contact the Vice President and pass on her thanks regarding the Satomi officer requests.”
“What!? I did that! What is going on here!? How did she get the credit!?”
“Milady, about 5 second ago, I realized you should probably just get used to it.”
Vice President: “Hey, Ookubo, great work. The Satomi Student Council President sent me her thanks. In that divine mail you sent. Thanks.”
“Milady.” Kanou glared at Ookubo who had fallen silent. “I have determined your life is over if you let yourself feel happy about her praise.”
Tokishige saw Yoshiyasu nod.
“Well, there you have it, Tokishige,” said Yoshiyasu with arms crossed in a dignified way.
“Wait, hold on, Yoshiyasu! Listen to what I’m trying to say!”
Things were progressing at an extreme rate.
…Um, I’m the Vice Chancellor and Vice President now!?
Putting Vice Chancellor first showed she was the warrior type, but that was neither here nor there.
“How are things changing so fast!? What is going on!?”
“First you tell me to listen to you and now you pepper me with questions?”
“Just tell me what is happening!”
“Judge,” said Yoshiyasu again before pointing into the western sky.
The empty sky was turning a dark blue instead of pitch black as dawn approached.
The Musashi had been there earlier.
“I am indebted to Musashi.”
“And you think you can repay them by going with them!?”
“Oh? If you know I must go with them, you understand this better than I thought.”
“Ah.” Tokishige was dumbfounded. She had simply had a feeling this was headed that way. “You save Satomi and now you’re leaving us? Are you stupid!?”
When Yoshiyasu apologized so directly, Tokishige lowered her raised hips back on top of Integrity.
…She is stupid.
Tokishige knew things were over for her now that the other girl had apologized.
Because no matter what she said or did, the other girl would simply apologize.
“I don’t want to hear it. Because I know you’re just shoving your selfish desires onto me!” She moved the arm past her limp shoulder to point toward the Satomi base. “You have no idea how hard we worked to preserve Satomi!”
“And don’t say judge! When did you get so selfish?”
“That is why I am leaving everything in your hands,” said Yoshiyasu. “Even from this distance, I’m impressed it’s so intact. Even the Tachibana Couple were surprised by the structural reinforcements and how the inside looks just like a normal city.”
“But…that was only possible by agreeing to work with Hashiba.”
“Probably so. But from what I’ve heard, you never curried their favor by including anything from their culture. You never compromised and you managed to arrange the roads and waterways as a city of fishing and trade.”
“Because if we had changed the very foundation of our lifestyle, they would have gone hungry too.”
“You take everything so seriously.”
Tokishige just about retorted with “look who’s talking” but held her tongue.
Yoshiyasu no longer took everything as seriously as she once had.
“You’ve gone insane.”
“Judge. I must have been exposed to a nasty influence.”
“I am going to act as Satomi’s representative by helping Musashi take over the world.”
“Can you use Yatsufusa?”
“No. I contacted Musashi’s engine division, but it showed no response even during the Satomi Liberation,” she said. “That means it must be using what I do from now on to decide. After all, Yatsufusa is the power of Satomi’s leader, so the real test begins now that Satomi has been reclaimed.”
“That sure is convenient for you, huh?”
“Then will you take it for yourself?”
Tokishige thought on that. She had a number of thoughts concerning Yatsufusa. After all, that god of war was far more powerful than her Integrity. But that did not mean she wanted to try to use it, nor did it mean it would move for her.
“I wouldn’t dare.”
But this crazy girl in front of her wanted to get it moving eventually.
Tokishige mentally slumped her shoulders.
…She hasn’t really changed at all.
She thought she had accomplished something, but she was still influenced by that “I’m not good enough yet” complex.
But one thing had changed.
“You’re willing to admit that you need more power.”
“Hiding your weakness doesn’t make you stronger. So instead…”
“If you admit to your weakness, a great many people will lend you power.”
“So you take advantage of their kindness?”
“I’m trying to take this seriously,” she said. And, “Tokishige.
“Satomi will eventually lose its status as part of the history recreation.”
Yoshiyasu spoke about what had happened and what she had discussed in the past.
“At that point or sometime before, I plan to move to Mogami and learn from Yoshiaki how to run a nation among many other things.”
“I will eventually create a place for the Satomi people to live in peace. It might be here, it might be in Mogami, or it might be in Mito, but I do promise you I will create it. So…”
“I get it already. So how about you get going?”
“I understand.” She briefly hesitated before continuing. “You’re Righteousness! If someone pays you a favor or helps you out, you never will forget it. So, well, if staying here would mean forgetting your debts, that would just bring shame to the Eight Dogs of Satomi. Honestly, what have you been doing out there?”
“Well,” said Yoshiyasu while aware she could not look Tokishige in the eye. “Lately…I’ve visited a hot spring in Odawara where I did karaoke and ping pong.”
“Are you picking a fight with me!? And wait, was that what you were doing during the Siege of Odawara!?”
Then a change came over Tokishige’s voice.
“Oh?” she said in confusion. “Yoshiyasu, you can do karaoke?”
“Judge. The one song my sister taught me. I had a decent, well, you could call it a battle against M.H.R.R.’s Kani with that. You hadn’t heard?”
“I was following the results, but I didn’t know what form the duels took.”
“I see. There were curry and ping-pong battles, there was a fight to the death in the changing room, and there was a clash of 500-yen coins with udon production on the line, so it probably was history’s worst battle. We tried to work things out with as little fighting as possible, but I think we forgot to agree not to take things way too seriously.”
“I see.” Tokishige rested her head in her hand. “I thought they were hiding some kind of classified information, but maybe the restrictions were to keep us all interested. Still, I can’t believe you did karaoke.”
Tokishige sounded a disturbed, but Yoshiyasu had to admit it surprised her too. She had not expected the khorosho chorus to feel so good and some of the lyrics – like “vodka up the ass” – had been fairly tricky.
“Want to join me next time?”
“The repairs aren’t that far along.”
“That’s why it has to be ‘next time’,” said Yoshiyasu. “Also, I know you’ll be waiting. Just as I have to act because I am Righteousness, you are Integrity. If you say you will be waiting for me, I know you will be.”
“Were you waiting for me instead of attempting a half-baked rebellion because you wanted to protect and restore Satomi?”
“Now you’re just getting a big head.”
“Just some wishful thinking, that’s all,” said Yoshiyasu. “You will be in charge of Satomi for a while.”
“Then I will accept that position.” Tokishige shrugged with her palms pointed skyward. “Besides, that’s the role of my inherited name.”
Masaki Tokishige thought about her name.
…That was Satomi Yoshiyasu’s younger brother.
He took the Masaki name when he was sent to be adopted by the Masaki clan and become their heir.
But when Yoshiyasu had his territory confiscated, Tokishige acted as a manager for the Satomi clan’s top officials. And after Yoshiyasu’s death, he worked as the heir’s aide.
The Satomi clan later lost Awa when they were caught in the fall of Ookubo Nagayasu, but Tokishige moved from place to place before receiving a warm welcome in Tottori and reaching the end of his life there.
“It was the previous two Chancellors who pushed to get me this name, so I wonder if they knew things would turn out like this.”
“I doubt Yoshiyori or my sister knew that much. If anything, it was probably based on you being in the same year as me. But more than that…” Yoshiyasu pointed at the large machete Tokishige wore at her hip. “They were probably thinking of that one story about Tokishige’s prowess as a warrior.”
Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer raised her prosthetic arm again.
“What story is that?”
“Testament. Satomi is actually the home of a famous swordsman,” said Tokishige. “Ever heard of Ono Tadaaki?”
“I have,” said the 6th Special Duty Officer. “He was apprentice to Itou Ittousai and he became a shogunate sword instructor, right?”
Tokishige had not expected her to know that. This came as a pleasant surprise, although she was confused by how Yoshiyasu was spreading her mouth horizontally.
“Testament. The Testament says Ono Tadaaki was from Satomi. He originally served Yoshiyasu there, but after becoming Ittousai’s apprentice, he became an officer for Matsudaira after a recommendation from Ittousai.”
“And how does that relate to you?”
“Testament. The Testament says I fought to a draw with Ono Tadaaki. While I was in middle school, Ono Tadaaki’s name inheritor visited during a pilgrimage to different nations and we ended up sparring.”
Thinking back, she had been a mess of nerves at the time, but that older opponent had confidently gone easy on her. It had not been to the point of letting it be a draw, but he had chosen not to block any of her attacks while restricting himself to easily blockable attacks.
She remembered only just barely managing to block all of the attacks, so it had not felt like being handed a draw. But she had sensed his skill and how badly she needed to train herself.
“I really wish we could spar again, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.”’
“If that’s what you want, I recommend coming to Musashi.”
“Wait,” said Yoshiyasu to stop the 6th Special Duty Officer, but she continued regardless.
“Well,” she said with a nod. “Ono Tadaaki had a fellow apprentice, didn’t he?”
“Yes. Zenki, right?”
“Judge,” confirmed the 6th Special Duty Officer. “Zenki is our Chancellor’s mom and his dad is Ono Tadaaki.”
Asama accepted the breakfast container that Toori’s mother had carried over from the Blue Thunder.
“Oh, that’s a lot. But, um, Toori-kun’s mom? Shouldn’t you be focused on Satomi?”
“You see, Tomo-chan, I don’t really have any connection to Satomi. And even if I did spy on my husband, I’d probably only see him doing something dumb with those apprentices of his.” She handed another container to Adele. “But I’m proud that you, Horizon, and the Mito girl have joined our home. So how about it, Tomo-chan? Buy the Judge Pillow and Testament Pillow our shopping district is selling and we’ll throw in a Yes Pillow free of charge.”
“Why are all of them giving the go ahead?”
“Don’t worry about it.” Zenki laughed. “Still, it does feel like fate that Toori helped liberate Satomi when my husband is from there. I’m glad that worked out for the best.”
“Ono Tadaaki is…that Chancellor’s father?”
“Don’t look so shocked. It’s the truth.”
“Satomi Student Council President, I think that’s why it comes as such a shock,” added Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer.
But Yoshiyasu had something to say to Tokishige who was hanging her head in silence.
“See, you can look at it as fate binding Musashi and us together. I should be able to stay here for a little bit and Ookubo Nagayasu, the cause of Satomi’s loss of status, is here. You should go see her while you can. She is a skilled negotiator, so you should be able to learn a lot from her.”
“I suppose so,” weakly said Tokishige.
Yoshiyasu saw her release a deep sigh toward the ground and then speak.
“Yoshiyasu, what kind of environment were you living in?”
“I wish it was that easy to explain.”
Yoshiyasu then looked to the western sky.
At some point, Satomi’s sky had grown fairly bright. However…
“I wonder what’s happening in Nördlingen below that western sky.”
“Christina was right about one thing – there are a lot of things you don’t understand until you see them for yourself.”
The wind blew below a dark sky full of twinkling stars.
Tomoe Gozen stood atop a hill with the feetless legs of a ghost.
About 3km away, at the northern base of the hill, a city was surrounded by a circular wall.
She knew the name of that city which had a Far Eastern reservation and related cities surrounding it.
“Nördlingen. I never imagined the fight over this city would be against you.”
Her gaze was directed at a white group lined up about 500m away.
Those M.H.R.R. Catholics equipped with white mobile shells were…
“The Roman Emperor’s personal warriors. Are you leading them as Matthias? Or…”
“I am technically Ferdinand II for this, but you can still call me Matthias, Tomoe Gozen.”
Matthias carried a long white and black arbalest on his back.
“Shall we get started?”
“Let’s not be hasty.” Tomoe Gozen glanced behind for just a moment. “No battles are won by being hasty.”
Tomoe Gozen mentally clicked her tongue.
…This isn’t good.
It was actually very bad to have the enemy rushing her here.
Both sides were facing each other with several aerial ships in the sky. And the enemy was still adding more warships and transport ships to their fleet.
Their personnel were growing in number all the time. But even so…
“It would be best to wait some, Bernard.”
A man a head taller than her stepped out of the group behind her.
He had bestial eyes and he wore a uniform made from a mixture of the Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R. designs. He now pointed toward the enemy with his one arm.
“Our position prevents them from attacking in the night or otherwise catching us off guard. If they rush things in order to use the darkness to their advantage, it will ultimately come down to a head-on clash. But if they wait, things will change.”
“What do you predict will happen?”
“Testament.” Bernard gestured to north with his chin. “The Swedish queen’s estate is located north of Nördlingen. Which you would know, Luther, since you visited her there earlier.”
He nodded and did so.
“Attacking that estate is one of the enemy’s objectives, so they must create a primary force to attack us while also creating a force to send there.”
“I can tell they are prioritizing us first.”
“Indeed they are,” said Bernard.
He looked up into the night sky and she followed suit. The transport ships moving back and forth between the ground and the warships were clearly carrying down personnel.
“They will likely make their move once they have created their primary force and the northern-bound force,” he said. “If either one is incomplete, they cannot equally respond to anything that might happen and it would lead to confusion. If that happens…”
“Will you take action, Bernard?”
“As a wyvern, land battles are not my specialty. Please keep that in mind.”
He swung his empty sleeve to show it off.
…That’s what he lost in the battle at Paris.
He was a Celestial Dragon that could split into multiple smaller dragons, so the ones that were lost had to be taken from his body. Once he eventually recovered, his arm would be back.
But if the enemy had someone who could harm him in their ranks…
“You can’t use your convergence dragon cannon very often, can you?”
“Since splitting up will only get me targeted, I will generally be fighting in my combined form. I can probably only draw fire from the enemy ships.”
“You’re pretty useless, huh?”
Tomoe Gozen smiled bitterly at that.
There was a way of using him even while injured. And this confirmed what strategy they would use. Only one thing remained:
She could see its shape like a distant island in the eastern sky.
“Wait for you and you’ll show up, huh? I never thought I would indebt myself to you here, Musashi.”
Then she sent out some instructions.
“All troops, lighten your equipment on the double! Remove your mobile shell’s support armor! This battle will come down to our ability to make a charge!” she said. “Musashi is Shinto, so they are as lax with the rules as us Protestants! Wait until they have actually arrived before deciding to rely on them!”
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