Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 74
Chapter 74: Reducer of Attacks
My predictions and decisions are top notch
But I have much to learn
When it comes to creativity
Point Allocation (Generally Excellent)
That’s exactly it, thought Niwa.
It was the environmental changes to the sound that had seemed off to her.
“The sounds I hear coming from the Musashi are echoing off of the ground, the nearby trees, and the slope. But…”
She fired on the wall again.
In a mere two seconds, the gunshot echo reached them. However…
“We should be hearing a similar echo from the Musashi’s sounds, but we are not.”
Now, then, she thought while taking a second look at the image of Nördlingen and the surrounding area that Mitsunari was holding up.
Once she knew what to look for, the real-time image was enough to find the answer.
“Listen. The lights of early-morning workers are coming on at Nördlingen’s wall and they are cautiously viewing things outside. But most of the lights are still off and those cautious viewers aren’t doing much of anything even after seeing the Musashi approaching. Which means…”
“The Musashi has their buffering spells on. They’re actually using those, so their approach is not a threat to anyone but us.”
“Wh-what do you mean!? Just listen to all that noise.”
The flustered general commander was kind of adorable.
But Niwa had figured one thing out.
“The Musashi has artificially manufactured a non-buffered sound and is sending that to us. For example…”
She opened a telescope spell.
The Musashi already had several layers of defense barriers opened as it approached, but…
…There we go.
She could see some unlit spell sign frames in between those.
She could not tell what they did, but they were clearly aimed toward the Catholic forces.
“I bet those are acoustic spells. That’s what’s sending us all this noise.”
The purpose of that was clear enough when looking at Mitsunari’s image.
“Without their buffering spells, the Musashi greatly influences the atmosphere around it. That prevents us from moving much and forces our fleet to withdraw and take anti-turbulence actions. But if they negatively affected Nördlingen by removing their buffering spells, that would count as their mistake and they would have a hard time dropping off their fighters thanks to the wild air currents. So…”
“If they pretend to not use their buffering spells, they get the best of both worlds. We withdraw in a panic, but they aren’t affected by the air currents and can drop off their fighters with ease.”
Niwa raised her eyebrows and looked up at the Musashi.
“The Battle of Fujigawa. During the Genpei War, the Taira clan panicked and fled when a group of waterfowl took flight in the middle of the night. Musashi is doing the same thing here.”
“Shaja.” Niwa nodded. “We can’t stay here. We have to resume moving immediately!”
On the Musashino’s bridge, Suzu noticed the enemy’s response. It came from Niwa’s unit to the east of Nördlingen. She was not sure why, but that unit had a lot of people carrying musical instruments.
She had noticed when one of them suddenly fired a gun on Nördlingen’s wall.
Her ears had clearly heard the gunshot’s echo not lining up with the Musashi’s dummy non-buffered noise. The enemy must have been checking on that.
But that came as a surprise to Suzu.
“They can… tell.”
That had to be Niwa Nagahide. She was #2 of P.A. Oda’s Five Great Peaks and she had fought them at Novgorod. She had used a song spell based on her own singing to control eastern Novgorod with lightning.
And now she had detected the oddity in a sound being played across a wide area outside.
When she had brought her unit to a stop, Suzu had sensed danger and turned up the volume of the dummy approach noise.
But Niwa had noticed the echo issue regardless.
Wow, thought Suzu. Niwa had not been using a listening spell, device, or any other kind of assistance. And she had noticed it while running.
…Could I have…done that?
Just as she was wondering that…
For some reason, she yawned.
“Suzu-sama? Was your sleeping spell insufficient?”
“Eh? No, it’s not that. It’s just morning is all.”
I bet the others feel this way too, she thought while asking “Musashino” to prepare something to wake them up.
And she spoke to the others.
Bell: “The jig is…up!”
Asama was in charge of the divine transmission, so she saw Suzu’s words from atop a transport ship preparing to descend. And…
“Listen up, everyone. She didn’t say who, but Suzu-san has clearly caught someone who was up to no good. Please raise your hand if it was you.”
Everyone exchanged a glance and Noriki spoke up with a smile.
“Come on, everyone. You should really come clean. It wasn’t me, to be clear.”
“N-Noriki-dono! You should not be so comfortable about accusing others while defending yourself!”
The arms were by Toori’s feet, looking up at him and cracking their knuckles.
But Kimi smiled a little.
“Why not just ask Suzu who it was?”
“Now that you mention it.”
“That’s right,” said Adele with spear in hand before opening a sign frame.
Flat Vassal: “Suzu-saaan? Who is it that was troubling you?”
“Eh?” said Suzu while freezing up on the bridge.
The bridge automatons all froze as well.
“I have determined someone out there has some nerve. Over,” said the helmsman.
“I have determined someone failed to consider the consequences. Over,” said the #2 observer while opening a sign frame.
“I am ready to begin posting on the divine network. Over.”
“I am ready to spread information and relay it to the other countries. Over.”
Eh? Eh? thought Suzu while “Musashino placed her hands on Suzu’s shoulders from behind.
“Now, Suzu-sama, this is a good opportunity for you. Feel free to let out all of your pent-up stress. Over.”
Ehhh? she thought while deciding to rephrase her warning.
Bell: “U-um, they have, u-um, noticed? Noticed what…we are doing? Do you know…what I mean?”
Naruze viewed her Magie Figur with blood dripping from her nose.
“Suzu earns such high points in cuteness that whoever was troubling her deserves hell and then some.”
“Ga-chan, I think your lack of sleep is messing with your blood pressure, so how about you get some rest?”
“Anyway,” said Mitotsudaira quietly. “Listen up, everyone. We need to see if any real harm has been done to Suzu. Otherwise we cannot hold a trial. So…”
The wolf opened a sign frame.
Silver Wolf: “Suzu, have you been experiencing any stress or changes to your health?”
“Has she not?” everyone wondered with an exchanged glance. And….
Bell: “I am a little…s-sleepy.”
Naruze performatively gasped.
“That’s evidence of a mental burden. I’ve read as much online and in manga, so it must be true.”
“I might have believed you if not for that last part!”
Then Mary spoke up while awkwardly operating an unfamiliar Shinto-style sign frame.
“What is this? The thread entitled ‘Support – Suzu-sama is Cute and Deserves a Nap – Support’ and the one entitled ‘Hunt Them Down – Seeking Execution Ideas – Criminal’ are gaining posts at the exact same speed.”
“That is probably the usual culprits,” replied Tenzou.
Bell: “Um, everyone?”
Just as everyone tilted their heads, Suzu spoke to them.
Bell: “This is your stop.”
Their altitude dropped all at once.
Instead of being sent down, their transport ship simply fell north of Nördlingen.
Tadaoki reflexively dropped his hips on the transport ship.
Their falling speed was fast and it had felt like he was floating upwards. But…
Some of the rigging on the deck around him was floating upwards, yet his feet remained firmly on the deck and he did not feel like his organs were lifting up or the blood was rushing to his head.
…Has the fall not really started yet?
Just as he wondered that, Musashi’s Vice President walked over with their Vice Chancellor.
“Oh, Nagaoka. You haven’t been blown away yet? Good, just make sure you don’t lift both feet from the floor at once.”
“Is this a divine protection?”
“It’s gravitational control…I think.”
The Vice President apparently was not sure either, but the system was so well made that you did not have to understand how it worked.
Meanwhile, the Asama Shrine Representative walked over.
“Um, Nagaoka boy? This could hurt your ears, so I will be applying a hearing defense divine protection. I will apply it to everyone else as well.”
“I generally allow all sounds to reach me, so I do not need it,” said the Vice Chancellor.
I see, he thought while thinking there was something wrong with the idiot who was floating in the air after removing his divine protection and the Loup-Garou who was anchoring him by wrapping a chain around his hips.
…Is this how they do things on the Musashi?
His defection process was complete, but he did not look forward to the idea of seeing these people around all the time.
He had recently learned that he preferred the peace and quiet. Although he did need some friends or else he would feel bored.
“Here, foolish brother! I’ll throw you the right arm! There! And the left one! Now have them spin! Spin all around you! Like a floating scene in romantic kabuki!”
He was not entirely sure that deserved the scattered applause a few of them gave it. Also…
“So what is it, Vice President? Why are you looking at me?”
“Can you say ‘judge’ for me, Nagaoka?”
“Judge, remember that, okay? Use ‘testament’ on the battlefield, and you might get hit with a political riposte.”
He felt something heavy weighing on the top of his stomach.
…Th-this could be bad.
He used that as a habitual response, so he was afraid he would carelessly use it at some point.
And he also reminded himself that this was the entrance to the battlefield. Also…
“Nagaoka, I have an order for you already.”
“What is it?”
He would do whatever the strategy demanded of him, so he nodded and waited for the Vice President’s response.
“Be our luggage.”
“Luggage?” parroted Tadaoki with a tilt of his head just before something attached to the back of his neck and hips.
The Musashi Vice Chancellor had circled behind him at some point and she was attaching a harness to the back of his hard point parts.
All of a sudden, she lifted him up onto her back.
“Whoa, wh-what are you doing!?”
“Do not struggle.”
The Vice President bent her back and then straightened up again. And…
Her back pushed on his with a strength that felt like flexible stone.
He had been expecting an ordinary human body, so this caught him by surprise and he could not resist, like her strength was pouring into him.
He slightly curled his back and threw his arms and legs a bit forward. He remembered taking this pose when being lifted by a harness during the training for being rescued from an elevated location.
It was kind of a lame pose, but…
…How is she so strong?
He could feel the heat of a human body reaching his back, but it had a powerful core. She was supporting his weight too, yet that did not slow her down at all as she moved perfectly normally.
His weight must not have been any hindrance to her.
However, his body did have a shape and that could still get in the way.
“Hm, this position should do it.”
His position had shifted somewhat. He had slipped too far down. That would not hinder her while walking, but while running, the movement of her hips would bounce his back upwards.
That was why she adjusted his position so he was seated above her hips.
He assumed he was sitting on her hip hard point parts, but he was not.
He was on her butt. And with the harness, he was more straddling it than anything.
And it was unbelievably tight. He realized that her hip hard point parts also controlled her skirt and divine protections. And she could not have them in a location where they would get in the way of her sitting down. Also…
She swung her body a bit and suddenly stuck her hand in between their backs.
“This is only in the way with your butt pinning it down.”
She removed her tail skirt.
She had him sitting on her butt, so without that skirt woven with armor fibers, he could detect the two distinct round shapes composing it.
…This is too much!
He felt intense embarrassment.
Mar-Ga: “Margot, I can’t seem to stop this nosebleed of the heart. It just keeps pouring out. Yes.”
Gold Mar: “Ohh. That’s called bloodletting, Ga-chan. But is this actually the first time someone has thought of Nida-yan as a woman?”
Flat Vassal: “Wasn’t there that weird guy from Sanada?”
Asama: “I think he was more focused on the history recreation than anything, so we can’t quite say how he viewed Futayo. Also, Narumi-san already dealt with him at Odawara and I have set things up so he will be divinely punished if he tries to board the Musashi again.”
Unturning: “He seemed like he would be decently strong if he started taking things seriously.”
Uqui: “Yes, you had to match your heel drop to his movements, didn’t you? That would not have been necessary if he did not have some decent speed himself.”
Flat Vassal: “Is that how it works?”
Laborer: “Judge. The more skilled the opponent, the more you have to match your counterattacks to them. Because you don’t want to punch right through someone if they aren’t strong enough.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. At any rate, this should be a bit of a trial for Nagabuto.”
Musashino: “Everyone, the Musashi will soon resume moving to assist in your descent. Prepare yourselves. Over.”
Tomoe Gozen saw the Musashi circle through the sky.
They began drifting while braking. And…
“The sky is going to move.”
She realized Yoshinaka was looking up into the sky instead of just staring at her like before.
It was early morning and some clouds were appearing in that dark sky that was gaining a hint of yellow. Even with the buffering spells, the atmosphere would still move outside of their range. And this rotation of the Musashi’s took a certain form.
“They have angled their bows downward. They’re entering a circular drift centered on the long bows of their 1st port and starboard ships!”
Suzu held the full model of the Musashi.
She was not going as far as tilting the Musashi up on end this time, but she had tilted the stern quite a bit upwards.
The virtual ocean was opened on the sterns of all the ships to give them buoyancy. All eight ships were connected by towing belts and the Musashi rotated around the downward-pointing port and starboard bows.
The drift was angled diagonally instead of horizontally, so it spun the Musashi like a top.
The great scale meant they were not going to get many rotations in. She guessed 7. The gap between the two bows was 400m, so even with the rotations, it would take about 3km of movement to negate their acceleration from Kantou.
The movement was fairly slow, but the influence on the sky was like a largescale tornado.
This was a tornado with 8km of solid mass.
Their thrusters were still active to pull this off.
Their gravitational acceleration pushed the Musashi down toward the ground its bows were pointed at.
But their previous inertia pulled them to the west and tried to make them jump up.
That left just one thing to do. She spun the Musashi and pinned the westward inertia with their downward acceleration.
…That will reduce our speed!
Their gravitational acceleration was powerful, so the upwards pull on their stern was needed as a counterbalance to ensure they did not crash down to the ground.
The rotation, the acceleration, the upwards pull, and their original inertia.
Suzu kept it all in balance while rotating the Musashi.
The Musashi’s model was almost as tall as she was and she made adjustments to it from the outside while rotating it.
“It almost looks like the two of you are dancing, Suzu-sama. Over.”
“Um, uh, then is this…inappropriate?”
“Not at all. We never predicted our ships would have a chance to dance with you as our acting captain. I will pass the records of this around to all the others. Over.”
Are you sure that’s okay? she wondered.
But the Musashi did indeed dance. And she made an announcement while suppressing a yawn.
The rotating Musashi created a multilayered rotating cloud south of Nördlingen.
Even the chilly early morning air was whipped up by the giant ship’s pressure, creating a largescale cloud dome.
In the center, the transport ships descended along the center axis of the Musashi’s rotation.
The three ships matched the Musashi’s horizontal movement but not its rotation.
Despite all the movement around them, their central area was entirely windless.
It was the same as the eye of a hurricane.
The Musashi fighters on the transport ships viewed the surface of the rotating Musashi and the multilayered cloud that rotated shortly thereafter.
And beyond all that motion, they could see their destination of Nördlingen.
Toori opened his mouth while still floating in the air, using a Silver Chain as an anchor. He spoke to Mitotsudaira and Asama, the former of whom was holding the chain.
“They’re really going at it around us, aren’t they?”
“Nate, you go help out Tomoe Gozen over there. Nagabuto will have Futayo and the others with him. I’ll follow after, so we can meet up later.”
“Judge! Once I settle things over there, I will regroup with you, my king.”
“In that case.” Narumi raised her hand. “I will head there too. Fighting those heavily-equipped mobile shells should be similar to fighting demons.”
“Unfortunately, I am unable to assist when our opponents are Catholic,” added Urquiaga.
“Then I would love it if you picked me up on the way back. It is possible my prosthetic legs will get blown off.”
“Okay,” said the two Technohexen while placing a snack from their supplies in each other’s mouth. “We will clear a path through any enemy deployed around the Nagaoka estate. Urquiaga, could you carry Noriki and the others in once that’s done?”
“What about Tenzou and Mary?”
“Oh, we are part of the north-south group. In other words, I will be enjoying an early-morning Nördlingen date with Mary-dono.”
Everyone glared at the ninja for making Mary so nervous.
Then Tadaoki spoke up from Futayo’s back.
“You really intend on doing this, don’t you?”
“Yeah, we really hope we can get you in to meet your wife. And politically…Seijun, you found something good there, right?”
“Hexagone Française will owe us one, we can get a solid blow in on Hashiba before summer break, and rescuing Lady Nagaoka will provide us a connection to not just Sweden but Akechi Mitsuhide as well.
“How could we not go to war with so much to gain? Yes, we are only going to war as a political tool here. We have real political reasons for it and we were asked to do it, so it’s not our fault really. If we did not do this, Lady Nagaoka would lose her life, so we have no choice but to do this.”
“Your excuses are longer than the actual reasons!!” everyone replied just before the enemy reacted.
It came in the form of artillery fire.
“The enemy has realized the lack of buffering spells was faked and is taking action. Over.”
The warning from “Musashino” was immediately followed by fiery blossoms in the air around the spinning Musashi.
Explosive booms surrounded them and explosive flames were swallowed up by the multilayered rotation. The ether light was scattering because the shells were being blocked by defense barriers.
However, the enemy ships had begun their approach.
“Hey, ‘Musashino’, what’re we gonna do?” asked the idiot.
“Judge. For now, we will do this the ordinary way. Over.”
“Ordinary?” asked Adele with a tilt of her head.
Meanwhile, the approaching enemy ships all fired on the Musashi at once.
Matthias watched everything play out.
He was to the east, at a position a bit lower than the previous hilltop. The upwards slope in front of him meant the winds produced around the Musashi passed by overhead.
Their fleet was approaching the Musashi from the east.
He generally left fleet movements in other people’s hands. He would not know how to command a fleet if he tried and, as long as his own ship was kept in a safe position, he figured they could handle it.
Being a puppet was nice and easy.
The Musashi was rotating like a maelstrom and his job was to sit here watching their fleet fire on it.
He was curious about the transport ships descending past the rotating Musashi.
Everyone was trying to fire on them, but…
“How is it going?” he asked via lernen figur.
“Shit! That huge-ass thing’s defense barriers are too damn tough and we can’t get through! …Oh! Oh, no! Emperor! I let my thoughts slip out there! I’m so embarrassed!”
He did not see what was wrong with speaking your mind, but he had forgotten to ask if that was a guy or a girl.
But based on that reaction, he could see why all of the ships were firing.
The Musashi had a massive number of defense barriers open around it.
At Magdeburg, they had been fighting with a large gap in altitude between them.
The Catholics had been below and the Musashi had been above.
Thanks to that, most of their shells had lost speed and the Musashi had not needed to use too many defense barriers to protect themselves.
But now the Musashi was dead ahead, so it had barriers up in many layers and it was rotating. Also…
The Musashi began splitting apart.
It must have already eliminated most of its inertia. The eight individual ships descended to form what would look like a cross when viewed from above and eliminated the gaps that left the transport ships exposed.
That was a lot like increasing the number of oars working at the air.
Wind formed past the Musashi’s buffering spells and the number of cloud layers grew.
A moment later, Mitsunari looked up in realization nearby.
“What is it, Mitsunari-kun!? Is there anything you want me to do!?”
“Not particularly! But, um, uh,” shouted Mitsunari. “All ships, withdraw from the Musashi!”
Just as her voice was sent out via divine transmission, the sky exploded.
“Musashino” had triggered a certain natural phenomenon.
The vertical drift to slow the Musashi had lost its momentum and come to an end.
The buffering spells had worked very well.
The clouds flowing outside were arriving within range of the buffering spells and the wind was within range of their effects. An automaton always wanted to make a buffering spell as thin as possible. That curtain was used to avoid being a nuisance to others, so it was best made thin and strong. Pulling that off showed how excellent they were.
…But this one had to be a big one.
They had needed to restrain the noise, wind, and inertia produced by the Musashi’s rapid acceleration.
That had necessitated a thicker buffering spell curtain.
Clouds had formed within that thickness, wind had whipped up, and lightning had flashed in some of it.
But “Musashino” reached a certain conclusion.
“The control sequence is complete. We have successfully controlled the nuisance we would otherwise have caused the surrounding area. Our buffering spells were pushed to their limits, but I estimate we have successfully avoided causing any damage to or noise in Nördlingen or the surrounding natural surface environment. Thus…”
“The range of the buffering spells will now be expanded to reduce their effects. They will be naturally eliminated through dispersal. Over.”
The Musashi took control of the whirlwind it had created and then calmed it all at once.
The field of rotating pressure was expanded outwards.
“Musashino” opened a sign frame while Suzu gulped next to her.
The announcement she made was directed outwards rather than kept within the ship.
“Good morning. I have a message for everyone within a 10km radius of the Musashi. We have rapidly approached and come to a stop at Nördlingen in order to fulfill a mission assigned to us. We are currently eliminating the buffering spell that restricts the effects of our acceleration and inertia on the atmosphere, but in order to achieve our mission ASAP, this will be done by expanding the spells so their effects will be safely scattered.”
She took a breath.
“This will affect a radius of 10km within an altitude range between 180m and 4km, not counting the 2km space in the center. This will produce powerful winds, so entering that range will be dangerous.”
“Musashino” sounded an alarm in the sky while the Musashi’s ships rotated.
The alarm was joined by flashing red warning lights. This was not a hostile act. It was a public act of buffering meant to prevent the Musashi from wreaking havoc on the surrounding airspace.
“Also,” continued “Musashino”. “We do not yet consider ourselves on scene for our mission, nor have we announced as such. The aerial warships in this area have fired on us with apparent hostile intent, but we have concluded that was out of carelessness regarding our arrival without warning. And now…”
She raised her right hand and lowered it.
“You have been warned. Over.”
Mitsunari had multiple instances of herself spread out around Nördlingen and she sent herself to as many of the ships closest to the Musashi as she could.
She shifted to the warships using the divine network. She used her authority as supreme commander to take complete control of the ships.
Her senses as a program saw what was happening.
The buffering spell field could be seen as the burden the Musashi was carrying and it was now pushing out toward them as a wall of violent pressure.
That field was formed from managed ether.
When the field was expanded, calculations were necessary regarding the internal components and the divine protections, but if that was handled, it could be expanded in an instant.
Whether or not Mitsunari could respond to this came down to her competing with the processing power of the Musashi automatons.
She had 200 of herself, but how many did they have?
She did not know.
So she chose a certain method. She placed 100 of herself on the ships closest to the Musashi and had them observe things within the buffering spell field.
The timing only allowed her an instant of perfect observation.
What kind of effects would hit her there?
The 100 made their observations and the statistical data was extracted. And while she received that data being updated in real-time, the other 100 of herself ran to the ships behind that.
She moved from bridge to bridge, instantly taking control of the ship and making the necessary course adjustments while she passed through that bridge.
100 instances of herself ran through each of the ships’ bridges.
On the way, a great roar arrived.
…That was fast!
She did not have time to look back as a third of the closest ships was swallowed up.
And as she continued to run, another third was swallowed up.
The 100 of her closest to the Musashi could not endure the massive amount of observation data and were destroyed. She felt that destruction more as a chill than as pain and she continued on toward the last row of ships.
Violent winds swallowed up the ships.
Niwa saw the sky split open overhead.
Her unit had already arrived on the northeastern edge of Nördlingen.
They had to look almost straight up to see the aerial destruction from there.
There was no sound or wind. The ships were taken within the expanded field of the buffering spells. The violent shaking was contained within that spell field, so it was like a silent show for Niwa’s unit.
But the sky was torn apart while the lightning was shredded.
Multilayered dark clouds rotated and spread out.
The Catholic ships were taken within that and pummeled by the winds.
The rapidly-rotating whirlwind of clouds spread out in all directions up above. The spreading of the clouds and lightning caused everything to scatter.
Could you achieve something similar by crushing a glass full of water from above?
The Musashi looked like a temple tower in the center and it slowly rotated with its bows pointed downwards.
The 8 white and black ships slowly twirled and accepted the winds they had created.
Wind appeared as the buffering spell curtain spread outwards and disappeared.
Multilayered clouds spread throughout the sky south of Nördlingen and those struck the other ships with explosive pressure. And…
“Here comes the wind!”
The cooking smoke rising from Nördlingen was swept their way.
The taller roofs groaned and the straw forming them scattered into the sky.
The wind crossed the city wall and arrived at Niwa’s unit.
It was a solid wall of air.
The great mass of the Musashi had pushed this great quantity of air and it was finally able to spread out now that the buffering was gone.
This taught Niwa why landport facilities were so necessary.
…From that elevation, simply landing creates so much wind pressure.
Lightning continued to flash in the sky, but the Musashi stood at the center of it all.
Those 8 ships had corrected their positions. Instead of standing on end, they were only slightly slanted and the port, center, and starboard ships were all arranged as normal.
The first port and starboard ships had their bows extending over the south end of Nördlingen.
The other ships were lined up behind them.
Almost none of the M.H.R.R. ships remained near it anymore, but they had not been sunk by the impacts.
“Great job,” said Niwa while swinging her right hand forward to order her troops onward.
She could see some ships gathered around the east side of Nördlingen.
Those were the M.H.R.R. ships that had moved around 10km from their previous position up in the sky.
The ones close to the Musashi had avoided the violent pressure and been swept all the way there.
A few of them had collided or capsized and were slowly descending, but most remained.
“They faced the wind as much as possible and rode it. You did well reading the orientation of the pressure, Mitsunari-kun. However…”
Niwa turned to view an explosion of light from the forest on the hill southwest of Nördlingen.
“Celestial Dragon Bernard is using this opening to make his move, isn’t he!?”
M.H.R.R.’s first assault unit had cornered the dragon in the forest.
He might be a Celestial Dragon, but he had been hit by Mitsunari’s multiple simultaneous attacks and by Wakisaka’s cannon blast during the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle. He was worn down and his body had yet to fully recover.
This was their chance.
The first unit did not push themselves too hard. They fired on him to drive him into the forest on the west.
Not even the Swarm Dragon could escape unharmed when pummeled by concentrated fire from a distance.
Meanwhile, Bernard used a certain strategy.
He spread himself apart and returned fire from within the forest.
But it was clear who had the upper hand.
This was M.H.R.R territory. Even the Hashiba forces were familiar with most of the M.H.R.R. terrain. They more or less had the home field advantage.
Meanwhile, Bernard was a wyvern-type dragon. Even if he had split up into smaller dragons, the trees still obstructed the movements of his wings.
And with that knowledge of who had the upper hand, they had both chosen the same tactics.
They gathered a few of their fighters to concentrate fire on a single one of the enemy.
The M.H.R.R. formed groups of three. Two would charge in while the third provided firing support.
One of the chargers was a defender and the other an attacker, but they would rotate jobs to produce the best results.
Meanwhile, Bernard formed groups of two. Both of those two would fire dragon cannons back at the attacker within the enemy chargers.
Bernard was at a disadvantage
Dragons – particularly Celestial Dragons – tended not to choose defense as a tactic. They viewed combat as honor, so they would destroy the enemy with a powerful attack in lieu of defending.
He knew he was at a disadvantage, but attempting clever tactics would lose the trust of the dragons who served him. And he was not about to rely on something like that anyway.
The simultaneous blasts from pairs of dragons in his swarm shot out to roast the enemy attackers.
But M.H.R.R. immediately raised their defenses.
These were well-trained troops.
They increased the density of their charge within each individual group.
The defender who had been acting as a decoy now moved out in front of the attacker and fully covered for them.
The defender might fall to the dragon cannon, but the attacker would charge out from behind and move past it.
That guaranteed M.H.R.R. results.
They would take damage, but only to the defenders. They would lose one of their own, but they were guaranteed to defeat one of the enemy.
M.H.R.R’s first unit had the greater numbers.
Bernard’s numbers depended on the size of the dragons he split into, but he currently had a maximum of 500.
Meanwhile, M.H.R.R. had 1000. If they were prepared to take damage, they could defeat the Celestial Dragon with ease.
This was a dangerous situation for the dragon, but Bernard felt only one emotion.
He smiled at the human resistance.
Fascinating, thought Bernard.
Mere humans could never be powerful enough to delight a Celestial Dragon, so this was not joy he was feeling.
He was acknowledging their efforts, and…
“Why are you pretending to be powerful?”
Accepting damage was the logic of the powerful.
Humans were creatures who feared each other and could not even head outside at night, so it was extremely insolent of them to readily sacrifice their allies like this.
But, thought Bernard. If these humans would mimic the powerful, perhaps I should show them what the truly powerful can do.
That was where he felt joy.
He rejoiced at his own ability to come up with that idea.
If the enemy had cornered him this far, he had to accept some damage to himself.
The enemy had given him a reason not to half-ass this.
As soon as he made up his mind, he took action.
He had paired up his composite dragons, but now he had one of each pair charge in at the enemies charging their way.
It did not matter if the enemy had their defenders out front. The one dragon would crash into them and be lost and the other dragon would fire a dragon cannon at the exposed attacker.
He did not need to worry about the one providing firing support from a distance. He would start by focusing on those approaching him with a weapon in hand.
This was a battle of attrition.
“A splendid tactic.”
In a battle of attrition, muscular strength, speed, intelligence, and spells were all meaningless.
Both sides would strike at each other and wear each other down until the larger and stronger life form emerged victorious.
Those were truly praiseworthy combat rules for a dragon.
Those poor things.
Those poor humans.
They could never defeat a dragon under those rules.
But if the humans were so certain they were powerful and wished to attempt it, so be it.
Those poor things.
Previously, both he and the enemy had been losing one per exchange.
But now, the enemy would be losing two to his one.
The battle would continue to be fought at that rate here.
With 1000 of them and 500 of him, this was bound to be quite the battle of attrition.
However, he thought. I can reform my groups faster than you can.
Those poor things.
He was forming pairs while the humans were forming trios. It would not be easy for the one remaining human to gather with two others.
Those poor things.
Meanwhile, all of the dragons here were “him”. He knew where he was and he only had to find one other.
With that faster turnaround, the 500 person difference was meaningless.
Of course, the forest was not the best location for him, but…
“Now, then,” he said while firing his dragon cannons. “Let us wear each other down and see who is revealed to be more powerful, humans!”
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