Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 82
Chapter 82: Declarer Boy Out at Night
Don’t call me stupid
I already know I am
Saying it accomplishes nothing
Point Allocation (I Simply Walk Forward)
Silver Wolf: “Tomo! Can’t you do something about this weird nighttime field!?”
Asama: “Yes, I did launch a divine transmission relay arrow inside earlier, so I can pick up on most of what is happening inside. But the pressure of the performance is so high the transmission has trouble getting through and I think I need to send a few more arrows inside.”
Asama responded to Mitotsudaira’s divine transmission while looking at the nighttime in front of her.
The “sleep” performance was spreading beyond the walls of Nördlingen. The edge of the field was even reaching the deck of their transport ship.
The ley lines, the space itself, and the entire city were engulfed in “sleep”.
Asama: “This is very powerful.”
She sent a warning to the warriors on the front of the deck telling them not to approach the edge of the field.
“Hey! Stay away from here!” she heard them yelling. “Touch this field and you’ll be incorporated into it and you’ll fall asleep! See, just touch it like this…and…you’ll…fall…asleep…”
“Hey! You okay!? Were you trying to show us the danger by touching the…field…like…this…?”
“Ahhhhhh! Not another one!? Watch out, everyone! Get as far away as you can! This is dangerous! Touch this field like this, and you will…fall…asleep…”
The damage seemed to be spreading in a bizarre chain reaction. Or maybe they just can’t say no to a good bit.
Unturning: “This looks like exactly the kind of thing the Secretary would love.”
Asama: “It really does. Um, Neshinbara-kun?”
She looked around and found Neshinbara collapsed on the deck while sticking into the field up to his hips.
…That was fast.
She also saw Noriki asleep with his right arm sticking into the field. She could easily imagine what had happened there.
She recalled that Urquiaga had flown off to go pick up Narumi earlier, so…
…He probably literally “fell” asleep.
But regardless, she had to do what she could to deal with this.
Lady AM: “How do we get rid of this field?”
She considered Tomoe Gozen’s question. Viewing it as a field, destroying it would always be an option, but…
…This is a theatre spell.
That would have a unique method for ending it, but what would that be?
Should I search for a method using an Ootsubaki spell? she wondered while opening a sign frame.
But then some words reached her via divine transmission.
Four Eyes: “It will go away on its own given enough time.”
It was from Shakespeare.
Asama saw Shakespeare speaking on her sign frame.
Four Eyes: “Honestly, listening to Toussaint’s commentary just about put me to sleep too. I will do everything I can to get rid of it, but this is probably an auditory spell produced by multiple people. Maybe Niwa? How many people does she command?”
Asama: “Um, around 3000.”
Four Eyes: “Ha. I’ve got way more readers than that. But taking on 3000 people at once would still be a pain. Let’s hope it ends soon.”
Lady AM: “Ends?”
“Testament,” replied Shakespeare.
Four Eyes: “Theatre spells and play spells will end when the performance ends, so once Niwa’s program is complete, the field will disappear on its own.”
“But,” she added.
Four Eyes: “That isn’t good enough for you, is it? You need to reach the Nagaoka estate ASAP and the estate will have blown up by the time the program ends. That is probably Niwa’s intention here. This seals your assault unit inside Nördlingen without damaging the city in any way.”
“I see,” said Asama. It really helped to have a major name in this field to help them out. Their own person in that field was asleep while half embedded in the theatre spell, but they only had this connection to Shakespeare because of him.
The words “bait” and “prey” briefly came to mind, but Asama decided not to worry about that.
Asama: “Is everyone in there okay?”
Four Eyes: “You don’t need to worry about that. And can you tell that Musashi doujin author that a theatre spell would not work for that kind of ‘while they’re asleep’ story, so she needs to stop drawing those three different doujins about me? …Anyway, this is a perfectly constructed permeation-style theatre spell, so it will force its contents onto everything inside it. That shows just how ‘complete’ it is. The audience is not allowed to even breathe loudly and the actors are not allowed to do anything but perform. Everything within that space is part of the performance. Fighting or otherwise harming the audience or actors would destroy the performance and I know Niwa is not foolish enough to do that.”
Silver Wolf: “Then what can we do?”
“Testament,” said Shakespeare.
Four Eyes: “Anyone outside the city that can hurry to the Nagaoka estate should do so. Just in case. If you are too far away for that, then prepare a method of interfering with things inside the city and do everything you can think of. What can you do to interrupt their ‘sleep’ from outside? Choose the most exciting option you have. And if those inside do wake up…”
Four Eyes: “I am not here to see this play and it does not interest me, so end it ASAP. That is all you need to do.”
Niwa looked down the main street. She was atop the city wall’s north gate. That put her 20m up.
From here, she could tell the city of Nördlingen was a crater that sank in at the center.
By directing sound there, it would echo off the center, hit the city walls, and bounce back again.
That gave the sound a concert-y feel, but that level of control required some spells.
3000 people were spread out to either side of her. 2000 of them were the orchestra, 500 were the chorus and dancers, and the last 500 provided assistance using spells and such.
She had brought so much personnel together to cast a spell on Nördlingen.
Different religions and regions had different names for their local spirits, but this spell began by drawing them out so they could be spoken with.
The conversation was much like giving the spirits a personality, but when that was done poorly, the spirits would feel like they were being shackled and they would rage. It was the same as nature in that sense. Modify a river too much and it would flood or dry up.
Instead, you gave them a “mold” that was a natural fit and then you made an offering of the spell in the form of song or dance.
The trick was to make a completed product. A fully-formed theatre spell would create a dedicated space where not even the actors could intervene or change it.
They had done that here. The combined power of the 3000 had conquered an entire city. However…
…This could be a problem.
They had just brought everything under their control, but one abnormality remained.
They had already completed one verse of the song and Niwa sent instructions to delay the beginning of the second verse to extend her MC time. And with mic in hand atop the north gate, she looked down at the main street.
She once more called out to the boy standing on that street.
“Do you understand what you are doing right now?”
Tadaoki looked away from Niwa.
…Looking at people is bad, right?
Speaking with her would be dangerous too since she was the master of this weird space.
So he moved forward.
He took one step forward on the stone-paved main road of Nördlingen, where it was late night despite being morning.
He heard a voice. It came from deep within the night. It was accompanied by quiet but unceasing music.
“I am not your superior, but I outrank Hashiba-kun in P.A. Oda. I would really prefer if you did not ignore me like this.”
He did not care. Because…
“I’ve already defected.”
He hoped that did not count as a response. He was only saying it to convince himself of that.
“Then are you an enemy?” asked Niwa.
He did not respond, so…
“Your parents are still in M.H.R.R., aren’t they? Don’t you think this might be a problem for them?”
So we’re going with that, are we? he thought.
His parents were there.
They had built a home in the M.H.R.R. shopping district where Kani, Nabeshima, and their group lived and they ran a shop from there.
“Your parents don’t know you decided to defect, do they?”
Of course they didn’t.
“I get that you have your reasons for doing this. I too have met Lady Nagaoka a few times and she is a very pretty woman.”
He learned for the first time it did not feel bad to hear compliments about his (future) wife.
And the complimenting voice continued.
“Obstructing her history recreation and saving her life will be no easy task. And I do think your parents would support you in this.”
…You’ll admit that?
His parents were the honest type like that. If they thought something was the right thing to do, they would do it. But…
“Your parents will be ruined,” quietly said Niwa. “Your decision is to the detriment of M.H.R.R. Representative Hashiba-kun. If you succeed here, M.H.R.R. and P.A. Oda will lose a lot. A lot of profits and personnel are reliant on the history recreation. Ruin that and the people who should have profited directly from it or gained personnel from it will not be happy with you. But if you have defected, where do you think all that cold hostility will end up?”
…With my parents?
That did not seem all that unusual. But…
“I am sure Hashiba-kun will suppress all of that hostility. She doesn’t like that sort of thing.”
What is she talking about? wondered Tadaoki. That has to be lie.
Of course a traitor would be punished. And if the actual traitor was nowhere to be found, the blame would fall on whoever they had left behind. That was the normal way of things. But…
“Listen. Hashiba-kun will have you forgotten. In order to view you as an enemy, she will probably order to have all records and traces of your presence here erased. So that she can remember it all.”
“Your parents will be removed from their previous daily lives without every understanding what happened to you. They will go from being the parents of a name inheritor to a couple with nothing at all.”
“Hashiba-kun will not correct your parent’s lives. After all, the only difference is your absence. And because she is the one making sure no one troubles them. No one will be able to do anything to them. But how true will that really be? None of the relationships or business reputation they built up as the parents of a name inheritor will change at their core, but they will receive fewer customers. After all, they are the parents of a traitor. It’s just that Hashiba-kun won’t let anyone say that out loud. No one will want anything to do with your parents. Of course, the people of that shopping district might help them out as good neighbors, but they will still lose customers and become a burden on the shopping district that no one wants much to do with.”
“Your parents will support you in this decision, but how long can they bear being seen as a burden on their neighbors? You know them better than anyone, so you tell me.”
“This might be bad.”
“M-might be, Narumi?”
Mitotsudaira spoke to Narumi while they ran north and looked up at the night sky beyond the city wall.
“What might be bad?”
“Niwa. If she tries to persuade Nagaoka Tadaoki, he might give in.”
“What makes you think that?”
“She is a high-ranking member of P.A. Oda and one of their primary fighters, but she works to smooth things over between the different units. That is why she is often sent to the national borders to negotiate.”
Come to think of it, Niwa had been the one to take Date’s Kojirou and Mogami’s Komahime hostage, which required an excellent grasp of people’s psyches. It also must have taken a lot of human resources work to retrieve the remains of Yoritomo and Yoshinaka that were used for the mobile shells in that previous battle.
If she could handle negotiations like that…
“What does she use to negotiate?”
Someone else responded to that.
Vice President: “That is bad news.”
Silver Wolf: “Because you can’t just declare war on her?”
Vice President: “No, no that.”
“What kind of negotiations have you people been having?” muttered Tomoe Gozen behind them, but they ignored that.
Vice President: “Sincerity can be a dangerous weapon under certain circumstances. Because there’s no escaping it.”
Mitotsudaira thought about that.
…In that case…
Silver Wolf: “Masazumi, if you were sincere, no nation could ever escape your wars, could they?”
Vice President: “I am always sincere.”
“As I suspected,” said Narumi without posting it in the divine chat.
“But,” said Masazumi.
Vice President: “Sincerity is generally shown by placing yourself in the other person’s shoes. Mitotsudaira, you have a company and factory, so you should understand. There, it’s looking at things from the customer’s perspective. By showing sincerity with an understanding of their difficulties and how they escape those things, you can forge a better relationship.”
Vice President: “What if a negotiator was sincere, not in relation to their negotiating partner, but in relation to that partner’s nation? When discussing the definition of a nation before, I believe we touched on what it means to be a citizen.”
Silver Wolf: “You mean that a citizen must consider the good of the nation?”
“Judge,” confirmed Masazumi.
Vice President: “This is an individual against a nation. And since that individual is a citizen, their survival is threatened without the support of the nation. What happens to the individual if that is used to sincerely force them to do something?”
“Kojirou and Komahime were convinced in the same way,” said Narumi while narrowing her eyes. “I think Niwa is a good person, but her final decision is always made to support the nations of P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R. That is what someone in her high-ranking position should do and, when she works to smooth things over between the different units, she uses the benefit of the nation as a standard for making her decisions.”
Narumi repeated the word “but”.
“There are those who will die as a result.”
Narumi sighed. And…
Sensing an odd sort of impatience and realizing this was not at all like her, she glanced over at Mitotsudaira.
She could tell she was blushing.
…This really isn’t like me.
But that thought gave her something more to say.
“Well, Niwa did look after those two afterwards and she was considerate of their final moments.”
“She uses sincerity toward the nation as a standard for her decisions, but she understand the consequences of that and does her part to make up for what she has done?”
She thought it was pathetic how relieved she felt to have been understood there.
…I can’t believe this.
She probably wanted to fit in within Class Plum more than she currently did.
She had tried to “settle in” here, but…
“You’ve changed a lot too, Narumi.”
“Yes. In the past, I wouldn’t have even noticed I was trying to settle in.”
“Now I understand why you keep the 2nd Special Duty Officer around.”
“Please don’t say that.”
But Mitotsudaira was right. With him around, she did not need to quickly explain what she had meant.
She had grown too used to his presence, so she had grown flustered with him sleeping within that spell field.
“I can tell this is ruining me, but there is nothing I can do to stop it,” she said. “But anyway, I wonder if Nagaoka Tadaoki is okay.”
Niwa did not pause while speaking to Tadaoki.
The boy had come to a stop on the main street.
…How will this turn out?
This topic was honestly not a pleasant one.
It would be so much easier with one of the people from their usual group. Whether it was Hashiba, Maeda, Sassa, Akechi, or whoever else, she knew they were a part of the “force” known as P.A. Oda or M.H.R.R. and they had plenty of strength.
They would have a backup plan or countermeasure for whatever might happen and they could reach a consensus since they all cared about not destroying that “force”.
…Although Sassa-kun can be pretty hardheaded.
But he always comes through in the end.
However, this was trickier with someone who was not part of their group.
She would look after the people involved afterwards, but she could not reveal that up front. If she did, it would mean protesting her own nation’s policies.
The adult thing to do was let things play out and respond to any flaws that presented themselves.
So she would generally go on the attack. But even though she understood that…
…This really isn’t playing fair.
She wanted to avoid being deceitful if she could, but when she checked the divine network…
“Look, Niwa-sama’s started her verbal assault!”
“She’ll gently assault you with her words even if you’re a young boy!”
“And after defeating you like that, she’ll make sure to help you out, just like some kind of demon! It’s great!”
Wait, um, I really would like to change this part of my personality, you know?
But she could not deny that she did enjoy playing this part.
“Now,” she said while questioning the boy. “You believe in what you are doing, your parents will support you, and Hashiba-kun will respect that decision, but that is precisely what will bring misfortune to your parents. And not just to your parents. I imagine this will affect all of your relatives. Now,” she said again. “Could you stop there? You only need to listen to our performance for a few more minutes. Do that and the misfortune you have created will be no more.”
“Give in to those fleeting emotions you are feeling. But do consider one thing – which will bring misfortune to more people: continuing onward, or stopping there? And which will cause more people to resent you? There is no need to understand why, but do not let go of the predictions that your intuition provides you with here.”
“When you think of the future awaiting you if you continue on and any part of that concerns you, that will undoubtedly be something you deeply regret. Your intuition is telling you that will definitely happen. So,” said Niwa. “Continuing on will bring fleeting joy followed by eternal regret. And since it will affect people other than you, there is nothing you yourself can do to fix it. You will have ruined the lives of the very parents who gave birth to you and raised you, but you will be unable to take responsibility for that. Is that really what you want?”
Unturning: “How will this turn out?”
Masazumi considered Narumi’s question atop the transport ship.
She could make a pretty good guess what kind of negotiation Niwa would make here. After all, they had hostages. Her father and the rest of the Provisional Council were negotiating to have Nagaoka’s parents handed over to Musashi, but…
…They will never receive an answer until things here are done with.
The defection process was complete, but he could always defect back. After all, Nagaoka was facing Niwa and her 3000 troops all on his own.
Could he really push past Niwa’s words?
Masazumi looked around in a searching way.
…Horizon isn’t here.
But Asama was working on her sign frame like normal. She had to be attempting a few different ideas of how to deal with that spell field.
“Masazumi, the Ootsubaki hearing protection will- hm? Why are you staring at me?”
“Oh, well, it’s about Nagaoka.”
“Hm? Are you concerned about something there?”
Yeah, thought Masazumi.
“I’m saying there isn’t really anything we can do for him. We can only trust in him.”
“Now,” said Niwa. “It doesn’t have to be for long, but can you stop for a bit and think?”
Her question was immediately followed by a dignified voice ringing out unexpectedly.
“My name is Nagaoka Tadaoki!!”
Tadaoki shouted the words needed to establish himself in this theatre.
“I am a name inheritor!” he defined himself so he would not be captured by the field. “I was born in an M.H.R.R. hunting village near a forest. I now live with my mother and father in a shopping district where a few other name inheritors have gathered. My father hasn’t been able to talk with me well recently and I’m probably to blame. My mother can’t decide whether to continue using my childhood nickname or not. I don’t really care how she addresses me, but I get that she feels like she would be losing something if she changed it!”
“I am still a 2nd year in middle school. To be honest, I don’t really get how the world and nations and stuff work! I want to understand it all, but I don’t have the time or experience! But I am from a hunting village. I was the best shot in the village. That’s why a kid like me managed to get an inherited name.”
“I considered turning it down since it sounded like a lot of unnecessary work, but then I saw the woman who would be my wife. She was really pretty. That was the first time I blushed like that just looking at a picture, dammit. Yeah, you heard me. My first impression was all about looks. Is that so wrong? I mean, that was all I had to go on, so it’s honestly impressive she managed to draw me in that much. But how could I help it when she was so pretty? I wondered where she was from and it turned out to be Sweden. When I spoke to my father about it, he said I was being highly inappropriate…for making him so jealous, so my mother hit him with a lariat. And when I looked into it further, I did feel like I was being inappropriate. Sweden was the first foreign nation I ever visited. That’s the bewitching power of women, I guess. And maybe it was an excuse, but I wanted to know more about who she was on the inside – about her mentality, I guess? I was telling myself she had better not turn out to be nothing but a pretty face. We weren’t married and had never even met, but I was all ready to say we were getting divorced.”
“When I looked into it, she was this really capable woman who took everything seriously. She was so capable I was no match for her in anything. But I realized I would never have anything in common with her if I wasn’t a name inheritor, so I decided I had to become a capable guy.
“But once I did inherit the name, I find her saying she’s going to die. I thought maybe it was because of me inheriting my name, but no. That was a relief. Except no, it wasn’t. I mean, she was saying the Testament or history recreation or whatever were saying she had to blow herself up in what would be our house. What kind of over-the-top kind of suicide is that? Not even the daimyos with big castles do that. …Actually, on second thought, a surprising number of them do. I guess it’s a pretty common way to go.
“But a capable woman does things differently, it seems. What is she, stupid? I couldn’t keep up. But once I learned about it, I couldn’t even sleep at night. What am I, stupid? But that was how I figured out what this was. …I’d fallen for her! Hey, don’t make me say that out loud!”
I can’t believe it.
“But when I actually met her, she didn’t even respond! She wouldn’t listen to me! Yeah, there’s a pretty big age gap, but couldn’t she at least listen to my plan!? What could I do!? So I made up my mind!”
“I decided to get help from whoever would give it. I’m not a capable guy, so I would get help from some capable people and save her no matter what! And I’ve finally made it this far, so do you really think some lecture is going to stop me at this point!? What are you, stupid!?”
He breathed in.
“Mom, dad, I’m sorry, dammit! All your efforts to raise me and I’ve turned into this delinquent of a son. I’m sure you can get by without me, so figure things out once I’m gone. If it comes to it, I’m sure Musashi’s Vice President will figure something out for you.
“Yeah, you heard me! I’m gonna be a blight on all my relatives! This is the path I’ve chosen! If we ever meet again, I’ll apologize once for every year of my life! Maybe I’ll regret doing this, but I’m willing to face those regrets as long as I’ve got someone by my side! I’m an idiot, so I can’t be all clever and decide I’m better off for not having tried!” said Tadaoki. “Yeah, you hear that! This wasn’t a mistake! I can still make it in time. Those regrets and that hypothetical future can kiss my ass. I’m not gonna help someone be lost here! That woman is who I want and I can’t just find someone else to replace her! So maybe this isn’t the right thing to do, but I sure as hell can tell you it’s not the wrong thing to do either!”
He drew a gun chain sword from his hip.
“My name is Nagaoka Tadaoki! I am a name inheritor!” he said. “I fight with the Eastern Army at Sekigahara. I side with Matsudaira, so I’m a traitor to Hashiba regardless. So what’s the problem!? I’m not doing the wrong thing here. So…”
He raised his voice.
He looked up at Niwa and raise his voice.
That was dangerous, but he no longer cared. Because…
“Tell everyone I said thanks, Niwa-senpai. You’re important enough that you can get the message to them all, right!? Tell them their stupid underclassman says thanks!”
Yeah, that’s right.
“I’m severing my ties here, so watch carefully! This stupid name inheritor is choosing a stupid future and causing stupid problems for his family and he’s going to live a stupid life from now on!”
He converted his gun chain sword into sniper mode and aimed it at himself. He selected a non-penetrative bullet, but this was still at close range.
“When you’re stupid, you’re stupid till the day you die!!”
He felt an impact that seemed to send every last part of him flying.
His muscles kept his body standing, but the strength that kept them moving on a subconscious level had been shattered by the impact.
His body felt numb more than in pain. And…
The shaking and pain felt like his body was rupturing outwards. However…
He held his gun chain sword, Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry, to his chest. He used it as a cane to prop himself up. His vision was tilted rightward, but he managed to stay standing more with his ankles than his knees.
He was shaky but upright. His fingers regained their strength first.
He managed to grip the rifle and use it to support himself.
Instead of sucking in the air, he simply allowed it to pass into his lungs. But the cold air quickly heated up and a stinging breath left his lips.
He was drenched with sweat.
He had definitely broken a rib or two and he could see pain relief spell lernen figurs appearing around him.
But he had accomplished one thing.
“That woke me up!”
He had felt oddly sleepy ever since looking directly at Niwa. That was why he had raised his voice and shot himself to finally wake himself back up. And…
I’ve gotta keep going.
There’s no other option.
Not after doing that.
He forcibly stretched his legs to bring strength back to his knees. His body hurt so much he thought it would tear apart, but he ignored that. He had to walk below those 3000 now. Oh, but how do I open the north gate? I honestly don’t know. But…
“I’m going, dammit.”
That was a foregone conclusion at this point.
Which may have been why he heard a sudden voice.
“Judge. Yes, get going, adolescent boy.”
Niwa saw an enemy appear.
No, that enemy had supposedly collapsed already. Niwa had thought she had fallen onto the triangular roof of a church.
“Musashi’s Weiss Hexen!”
“Oh, when did I get so famous?”
The Weiss Hexen stared straight at Niwa and then pointed at the 3000 with a shaky finger.
“Excellent, this is a concert hall, isn’t it? Who better than a Technohexen to take over and crash the party?”
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