Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 83
Chapter 83: Late Night Technohexen in the Gambling Den
It is harsh
It is all about willpower
It is praiseworthy
It is everything
Point Allocation (Individual Opinions May Differ)
…Is she saying she’ll destroy this theatre spell!?
Niwa could tell the corners of her lips were rising.
M.H.R.R. was the home of Technohexen, but it was also where they had been most hunted. From a P.A. Oda perspective, Technohexen techniques were native European techniques mixed with techniques imported from the Middle East.
Based on P.A. Oda’s history and the fact that they were now allied with M.H.R.R., this was like a rebellious child striking back.
And this opponent was fascinating.
After all, the Weiss Hexen was staring at Niwa and aware of her presence there. Even though Nördlingen’s “sleep” should have been pressing in on her and attacking her with its temptation toward slumber.
So why was she not asleep?
She was unsteady, her eyes were half-lidded, and she was scratching at her side, but…
“Why aren’t you asleep inside this ‘sleep’ field?”
“Huh? You really are dumb, aren’t you?” The girl’s shoulders shook in laughter. “Pulling an all-nighter is child’s play for a doujin author. So what good is this ‘sleep’? Why should I go to sleep? I’ll die if I do. The printers aren’t going to wait. Gutenberg’s printing presses can print porn doujins nonstop, but we can’t let the machines outdo us, can we? Did you hit your head, or something?”
The Weiss Hexen shrugged.
“You just don’t get it, do you?”
Naruze loudly clicked her tongue and spread her arms while looking to her surroundings and the sky above.
“What kind of idiot goes to sleep just because someone tells them to? Have you ever even met a student? We all read manga, play games, and listen to the divine radio until the next morning all the time. Also…”
Naruze spun her pen-shaped device in her left hand.
She twirled it from her thumb to little finger and then twirled it back using a twist of her wrist. Once it was back to her thumb, she strongly flicked it up and audibly caught it in her right hand.
“And that’s the ordinary students. They might pull one all-nighter like that. But doujin authors and professional authors are different. We’re the experts when it comes to all-nighters. We live in a world where all-nighters are directly related to gaining more income and customers.”
“You’re really exaggerating the importance of a simple all-nighter.”
“Huh? You’re the one underestimating them. Screw it up and you could do damage to your blood pressure or digestive system and that can even kill you. You’ll be sweating a lot, so you need to make sure to stay hydrated and you can’t forget to eat either.”
“But all-nighters are great. Every time I see the sunrise on the horizon, I know I used that day to its fullest and I won my battle against that day. It makes me feel so emotional that the outside world looks so very bright.”
“Pretty sure that’s a symptom of sleep deprivation.”
“Don’t act like you’ve ever done it. …Heh heh. I’m the winner here. Listen, I’ll give you a tip. Everyone who regularly pulls all-nighters knows it, but…”
“All-nighters are a sport.”
“Once you decide to pull all-nighters, an expert will make sure their health and diet are in order by preparing all the supplies they might need, such as food, water, vitamin supplements, divine protections, and spells,” said Naruze. “The amateurs who eat a full meal and take a stab at it will fall asleep quickly. If you starve yourself just right and perfectly manage your condition, you can go for over a week with no sleep.”
She swung her arm to pass her pen over all the enemies she could see.
“You’ll feel sleepy and lose all energy countless times throughout, but your experience has taught you ways to get past that and cheer yourself up. Like some light exercise, impulse shopping on the divine network, sticking your head in your room’s ice room, or going all out and having sex. Your room will look like you just fought a battle there, but you won’t clean it up because victory awaits you after this all-nighter.”
“Why would you do that?”
“A good question. Why pull all-nighters?” She smiled a little. “Because you can’t finish your task without doing it. Only amateurs pull an all-nighter because they screwed up their schedule. The true all-nighters used by experts are used to improve upon your normal quality with vast amounts of time and concentration. Those all-nighters of steel are used to spend every last moment you have on your work so you can prove that you have been watching your favorite character more than anyone else. Work completed that way is something you can be proud to show off as a part of your life’s work. And once you arrive at the event hall, you see what those other shitheads have made and realize they did it too! So you ask for three copies – one to preserve, one to use, and one to share! The usual.”
She shook her head and laughed.
Ahh, my head feels kind of heavy. These are some weird people. Just looking at them makes me sleepy, so they must be crazy. Not that it matters.
“You, adolescent boy!”
“Hey! Why do you keep calling me that!?”
Does he ever shut up?
She spun Weiss Fräulein in her left hand. She caught it on her fingers and spun it around the front and back of her body a few times before stopping it in front of her.
Then she drew some lines on its surface with her pen.
Those were strings.
“I will destroy their theatre spell.”
A duet with Margot would have been preferable, but Margot was asleep at her feet. She’s so beautiful when she’s asleep. I can barely stand it.
“Adolescent boy, you go on ahead. I will summon the morning before you reach the north gate.”
“You can do that!?”
“Don’t you remember what our Chancellor said to you? He said to leave it to us. And his words are absolute commands to the rest of us. Because he’s the kind of idiot who will head to the battlefield alone, so leaving it in his hands would be too risky. So you leave this to us. Right now, that means me. But even if it wasn’t me, any one of us would get you through to the end as long as you leave it in our hands.”
“Get going. The morning is coming, so you need to hurry. I am one of Musashi’s Technohexen and Technohexen are a blight on the world who love heading out at night for some fun. So the dawn will have arrived before my song is complete.
“Do you understand what I mean, you 3000 over there? Every religion and nation in the world hates us Technohexen, so we’re like the world’s delinquents. Of course everything we do is gonna violate all the world’s laws and standards. And…”
She finished drawing the strings.
She drew 6 in all.
She held her stringed broom in both hands as if resting it on her navel.
“And that means nothing we ever do is just a game.”
Niwa saw the boy slowly but surely begin to walk.
In the starlit city, the boy walked an empty street while a Technohexen watched over from on high.
Niwa then saw the enemy open a Magie Figur. It was an acoustic spell, but it grew the more the Technohexen’s swaying movement continued.
Niwa could understand why the others gasped. The Magie Figur bearing the logo of Eisen had grown to a height of more than 12m.
There were eight in all – two each in all four directions.
That seemed excessive. The size would help the sound reach a wider area, but these were designed as small acoustic spells.
“That will distort the sound, you know?”
Niwa’s warning did not reach her. The Technohexen strummed the strings and listened to the sound from a headphone-style acoustic spell.
The 6 strings made it a guitar. With 5 or fewer, it would have been a bass, but that was not what she went for.
After all, a guitar had a higher and more adaptable sound that made it easier to sing along with. It was a good choice to lead a song by playing a melody to match the lyrics.
With a bass, the sound would be deeper and be slower to change. However, a bass could use that deeper sound to provide a rhythm and produce a sound that supported the overall sound.
…But since she chose a guitar, she must want a battle of songs, not general music.
She had abandoned the bass.
Was that the purpose of the large acoustic spells? She could use spell-controlled drums to create a deep, supporting rhythm that played loud. The bass could also be handled with a spell if you did not want to do anything too complex with it.
The monotone sound of the spell-controlled instruments could be disguised with the great volume while she used the guitar and her voice together.
By combining her voice with the melody and playing the loud and deep rhythm behind it, she could make the song sound whole.
…Looks like she gave this some thought.
That meant the acoustic spells were for the drum and the rest of the bass part.
The loud rhythm played behind her would also help her keep the tempo of her song. In that sense, the bass coming from the acoustic spells would double as her defense.
This is going to be a pain, thought Niwa, but…
“Now, then.” The Technohexen had finished tuning her instrument. And, “I’m ready. I’ll be adlibbing the song. How about you?”
“I will be using the city-size theatre spell named Twin Sal Trees.”
“Oh?” The Technohexen looked surprised. “Did you name it that because of the centipede and wolf going nuts out there?”
“Call it a warrior’s tastes. But in my case…I tended to fall asleep while going over this stuff in class, so I went with ‘sleep’.”
“I’m sure the Taira clan is rejoicing at Dan-no-Ura.”
“I suppose so,” said Niwa. And, “I will crush you.”
“I’ll make sure to laugh at you during the next MC part.”
Niwa nodded and swung both arms. The 3000 behind her on either side began to move.
The MC part was over, so the sound would return and the stage’s performance would continue.
The solid sound of wind, string, and percussion instruments produced a single note each and then all joined together.
Niwa knew her Twin Sal Trees was composed primarily of string instruments with a touch of wind instruments.
It was meant to provide the image of two trees, so it started with the soprano and baritone strings denoting the lengthy trunk and branches with the bass notes painting the roots and grass spreading across the ground.
The wind instruments provided the leaves, the starlight spilling through, the chirping of insects, and the never-ending expanse of the starry sky.
The following breath brought wind. The low bass formed the distant rumbling of the air and the old baritone cellos painted the wind blowing up the hills. Then there was her voice…
It struck with a sliver of force and then stopped. It was nighttime, so few noises were persistent. And almost like she had just remembered it again…
This time, she extended it some and the strings played a pestering note, so she provided the same note as if in response.
She extended it again, so the strings grew louder but still pestered.
She responded by simply agreeing.
She paused a few times while extending the note. The wind instruments intentionally added in some noise to provide the color of the wind.
And the wind passed through.
A moment later, the music changed.
The wind swept in close and washed across everything. Then that movement of the air suddenly stopped and something else appeared in its place.
It was the chirping of the nocturnal insects. The twin trees grew up into the sky from the music played by the left and right sections. The wind instruments became the light shining on the trees’ tall branches and that illusory light was projected below them.
Glockenspiels falteringly noted the passage of time during the night and xylophones indicated the location of the tree branches and the blossoming flowers.
The strings could be heard from a distance. They provided short notes.
Then came the people. They arrived below the twin trees and took a breather in the night air. They looked to the two lights overhead and they once more prepared the instruments they had been playing.
Her voice rang out quietly and not for anyone to hear.
“At last, the field of forget-me-nots has been forgotten.”
The wind blew through.
“What does the ringing of the bell mean?”
A bell rang.
“The world simply counts out the time. I see no meaning there.”
The strings created the footsteps of a large group traveling forward. But…
“It changes. It all changes.”
It all vanished into the wind once more.
“The world simply marks the changes. The meaning is tacked on after the fact.”
Niwa sang to provide meaning to the sound. That would establish the sound of these 3000 in the world and in this city.
She breathed, spread her arms toward the night sky, and twirled.
“I must apologize to everyone.”
They were entering the hook now, so the music swelled.
It all came down to this. The volume of their 3000 would be slammed into the enemy.
But that was when the enemy finally took action.
Had she still been tuning her instrument all this time? The Weiss Hexen tossed aside he acoustic spell she had been wearing over her ear. Now the sound would be passed from her schale besen and to the large acoustic spells behind her.
The music was coming, but she did something first.
She had placed a Magie Figur next to the schale besen. That spell circle was used to draw. She used her lips to remove the glove from her right hand, tossed it aside, and then touched the Magie Figur with her white fingers.
She used it to copy/paste within a set area while somewhat expanding the width.
Her fingers moved to confirm the action and then something appeared on the schale besen.
The 6 strings drawn on the schale besen doubled in number.
There were 12 now.
She cradled the schale besen in her arms now that it had as many strings as a harp.
Her arms were bent at the elbows and her arms were tensed just right for the four-finger style used for 12 strings.
The note she played was like an explosive boom. It was a bass note. A very deep one.
This was not a guitar. This was an instrument solely meant to beautifully play deep notes.
…A 12-string bass!?
Niwa saw what the Technohexen had chosen to do.
That was a 12-string bass.
A bass generally had 5 or 4 strings. At most, 6 to 8.
That was because bass notes were difficult for people’s ears to pick up on.
Sounds were waves. Bass sounds had a longer wavelength and were slow to modulate.
So the deeper a sound got, the more it sounded like no more than a slow and muffled rumble. But when the volume was increased enough to hear it properly, the bass notes would overpower everything else, making them unusable.
So increasing the range of bass notes only gave you more notes that were difficult to use.
That was why baritone and soprano notes were preferred.
They had shorter wavelengths and that made their tones more distinct.
Since higher notes had more densely-packed waves, they were good for making out words and notes.
That was why songs and main melodies were generally composed of those higher notes.
They contained more information, so they could convey a greater message.
Bass notes had a disadvantage in all those ways, but they did have some advantages.
…Because sounds are waves.
Waves were a type of motion, so they would weaken with distance.
Higher notes had more motion, so they would weaken and vanish before traveling far.
Lower notes could reach further because their long wavelength kept them from weakening much.
…I get it.
That girl had no one to play with her right now.
And that meant she had no one else whose music she would overpower with these bass notes.
And if she played a song made up of bass notes, it could travel as far as she wanted as long as she could produce the necessary volume. So…
…When are you going to make your attack, Musashi Technohexen!?
Naruze tapped her foot to track the tempo while listening to the enemy’s song.
“If things change, you cannot even remember them.”
Naruze honestly thought Niwa had a nice voice. It was not too high and not too low, but it had a unique sound. It was well-balanced and dangerously memorable.
“For better or for worse, all things change.”
Even the prosperous must decline. Is that it? wondered Naruze. That does sum up her story in the Testament.
“For better or for worse, all things are forgotten.”
Niwa was the #2 retainer of the Oda clan.
When the historical Hashiba had created that name for himself, he had taken the “wa” of Niwa and the “shiba” of Shibata and combined them. That was how important Niwa was.
But despite his bravery, the historical Niwa’s role was in domestic affairs, so he worked to make adjustments and transport things between units.
“And all things disappear.”
Yes. When Hashiba finally gained power and the Oda clan lost Nobunaga, the balance of power flipped on its head.
Niwa had seen where things were going and supported Hashiba, which had put him at odds with Shibata.
But even after Hashiba received Niwa’s support…
“Power, fortune, relationships, and all else will disappear once they are forgotten.”
Hashiba treated Niwa like a subordinate and looked down on the Oda clan. Niwa had not liked that treatment.
Eventually, he had come down with a disease of the stomach and chosen suicide over death to disease. It was said he had cut open his stomach and pulled out the source of the illness and had it sent to Hashiba. However…
“Wake up in a hundred years, a thousand, or three thousand and it will all have been forgotten.”
The world had moved on as if to forget everything Niwa had done and Hashiba took over. And…
“Power, fortune, relationships, and all else will never come to fruition and will be forgotten.”
Hashiba too had died and his followers had been destroyed.
“Keep going for a hundred years, a thousand, or three thousand and your dream remains unfulfilled.”
Was Naruze being sentimental to detect emotion in Niwa’s singing voice?
“Okay,” said Naruze, “I’ll blow away that depressing tune.”
Niwa heard the Technohexen begin to play her bass as if providing a musical reply.
She began by playing an instrumental prelude. The 12-string bass had 4 main strings with 2 sub strings each. Its music was a lot like a piano performance, but…
“Is that distortion part of her Technohexen tastes?”
The music strained as soon as the acoustic management Magie Figur kicked in.
The piano music grew into a twisted boom that rang in the gut.
Hearing that, Niwa realized the Technohexen had chosen an instrument that could fight back against the entire city.
The massive bass notes could reverberate through the entire city without anyone to assist her. And…
“Listen,” demanded the Technohexen. “Bass notes might be hard to make out, but that changes given enough volume. And this city is 1km across. View it as one large acoustic facility and you can make out large-wavelength bass notes from all across the city. Man, am I a genius or what when I pull an all-nighter?”
She spun around to look in all directions from the roof she was standing on.
“The city of Nördlingen is a circle. Do you see why I haven’t moved from this rooftop near the center of the city? My bass music can reach all parts of the city equally from here.”
“I have the upper hand. I’m sure you had your tactical reasons for choosing that position, but you will need the pure force of 3000 people’s music to reach the entire city from the north end. Especially with that balanced song of yours made up primarily of baritone notes. That was probably so it would better correspond to the ley lines, but that makes distance a problem.”
She played an especially loud note.
Sometimes like a piano, sometimes like a harp, and sometimes as a pure blast of sound, the 12-string bass’s notes swelled out.
…Here it comes!
The Weiss Hexen’s black wings bristled from the expansion of sound. And…
The booming of a spell-controlled drum joined it.
With a four-on-the-floor rhythm, the heartbeat-like drum produced more deep bass tones.
The city cried out around the Weiss Hexen.
With her at the center, the house rooftops shook and the windows rattled. Inside the homes, the tableware and furniture made noise and the waves of sound crashed across the entire city.
The circular ripples arrived. The waves of groaning houses pushed out to the city walls where Niwa and her people were.
The Technohexen sang in the center of the auditory explosion.
“When you’re stupid, you’re stupid till the day you die!!”
She repeated the boy’s previous line.
“Long ago and not so long ago.”
Naruze sang while rapidly playing her bass.
Her song was practically a rap. If it carried too much of a melody, it would lose out to the bass.
She had to shout her words. It was late at night after all. So…
“I lived deep in the German mountains back in the day. Hunting with my trusty gun is how I made my pay.
Bang, bang, bang – shoot, shoot, and reload. The money poured in till I had a mountain-load.”
Yeah, this takes me back. I’m from the mountains in M.H.R.R. too.
Learning to shoot from your dad must be a tradition in the mountain regions, she thought while singing.
The song was based on the boy, but she was picturing her own hometown. She thought back to that vague image of the deep forest.
“I lived wild and free, like a goddamned bandit. I’m sorry, mom and dad. That wasn’t quite how I’d planned it.
“But still I found myself with a name inherited. I was given so much I don’t think I merited.”
She played an adlibbed interlude. She just had to keep playing. Play and play while the drum kept beating.
She took a breath and cradled the bass in her arms while playing it. And…
“The world and my nation can go to hell for all I care. They say nothing is permanent and to me that sounds fair.
“Life is just a crazy game. Conquering each other is its name.
“The character of a nation is like a Leviathan. Hell of a name for a politics book, Hobbes my man.
“ ‘The war of all against all’ was well said. The game of life is one we’ve all led.”
Oops, my lyrics are getting out of control. The adolescent boy never said all that.
“But there are problems in that game of life. Like what I happened to see about my wife.”
Naruze gave a shout and moved her body around.
She was going to change the song from here on, but this was not a change to the tune.
She was adding further notes and controlling them. Instead of what she was doing before…
…I’ll move my arms and hands both!
So she played several strings at once for a rapid and changing tune.
“Yeah, you heard me. That’s right. It was love at first sight.”
She raised her voice to sing. She was still shouting the words, but…
“God, I can’t believe anyone can be so pretty. Yeah, it was looks at first, but I’m not trying to be witty.
“She was so pretty it was like being hit by a hex. Now I see why they call Sweden the capital of sex!”
The teenage boy turned back to glare at her, but she gestured with her chin for him to face forward.
She took a breath, lowered her hips, and played the bass.
“But please tell me why. She insists that she must die.
“I thought she might be no more than a pretty face. But on the inside, I find she’s nothing but wit and grace.
“How can we reach a compromise in this game of life? Tell me, god, what to do about my wife.
“But she’s Catholic and will have prayed to god first. I swear to that god I must have been cursed.”
Naruze shouted out into the city.
Her voice sent rattling ripples through the houses as she sang.
“We’re so different in stature and intent. She wouldn’t even listen to my lament.
“But I’ve been oh so worried for her. These thoughts fill my head over and over.
“What the hell am I supposed to do? How can I stop myself from feeling so blue?
“Yeah, I get it, cupid. What am I, stupid?
“But stupid as I am, I’m not beaten and I’m not cowed. Because I’ve fallen for her-”
She shouted even louder.
“Hey, don’t make me say that out loud!”
From there, she made all the more noise.
The notes linked together into phrases that drew out her shouting voice.
“Listen up, god, cause I’m about to do something dumb. I know I’m betraying my future and everything else to come.
“The game of life is like a game of roulette. The wheel only spins one way, so I’ll place my bet.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later. So now’s the time to be the traitor.”
She played the deep music while gathering strength in her fingernails to send the music out further and deeper.
“It’s time to be stupid, even if it’s lame. Laugh if you must, but I’m winning this game.
“I’m doing this, so don’t you worry. I’ll take it all back in a real hurry.
“God and the world may have given up on me and you. But the goal’s right there, so there’s only one thing to do.
“Don’t worry, what we’re doing ain’t wrong. And if being stupid is right and not wrong…”
She played and raised her voice to repeat the initial line.
“When you’re stupid, you’re stupid till the day you die!”
Naruze let out a long breath. She played a distorted bass note that reverberated out like a bowstring being drawn taut.
That was one verse.
She had gotten the hang of it and she was making a nice sound, so the real battle was about to begin.
With that first verse, she had learned how to adjust how far the sound spread and how to get it to reach her enemy, so she would bring the fight to them and destroy them with the second verse.
She would intervene in their sound and strike them.
But first, she took a breath. The interlude time before the second verse was the MC time.
She strummed the 12-string bass as if building up sound pressure while she spoke.
Niwa had finished with her hook and was preparing to enter her second verse.
Niwa also swayed a bit and shrugged.
“It was honestly a horrid song made up of distorted notes and a drumbeat. You must think too much of yourself.”
“Huh? Just so you know, that insistence on pure sounds is really outdated. And didn’t you say before that you were using your superior numbers to crush me? Although that doesn’t seem to have worked very well.”
Naruze gave a performative shrug.
“Well, I shouldn’t expect much from an old lady like you. So you’re a vocalist who can’t even play a spell instrument? And what kind of crazy vocalist needs 3000 backing musicians? Did you grow old waiting to recruit that many people? But, hey, I get it.”
She laughed while writing the word “ha” thrice in the air.
“An old lady like you can’t exactly dress up all cute and sing on the stage, so I do sympathize.”
This Technohexen is a true enemy, silently thought Niwa.
Insha kotobs appeared around her. They used divine transmissions to not interfere with the performance.
“I-I think you could dress up all cute, Niwa-sama! It’d be great!”
“H-he’s right! That ‘isn’t she a little old for this’ look is great! That Technohexen just has terrible taste!”
“Wait, you moron! Don’t phrase it like that or she won’t wear it!”
Hm, since when do people see me like this? wondered Niwa. Is the lack of comments from the girls because they’re trying to be nice?
Regardless, this enemy was quite good at this.
The 3000 musicians she had prepared were meant to perform well enough to convince the local spirits. In a direct confrontation, they were unwieldy and could only provide so much volume.
Besides, the 3000 were only useful when unified. And once unified, they became a “collection of instruments” playing behind her, so the actual number did not matter that much.
Meanwhile, the enemy had set things up to crush her.
That rapid but deep music was utilizing the local terrain and it was full of energy.
“How experienced are you?” asked Niwa.
“Every night with Margot.”
A few of the musicians stopped playing, so she glared over at them until they started again.
“Not what I meant.”
“I’m aware of that. To be honest, I’m in such a good mood I’d probably latch onto anything,” said the girl. “After all, I’m really tired right now.”
What were they to do with someone like this?
Naruze smiled a little. I’m glad I found some time at night to practice with this 12-string bass at home. But that was because…
“We more or less won the band competition at last year’s Spring School Festival. We’ve done plenty of similar things too. I mean, Musashi had nothing to do, so we had all the time in the world.”
But, she thought. We never got a chance to face off against our strongest opponent during that Spring School Festival. Well, they tried to make an appearance, but there was some trouble and the festival’s closing event was canceled partway through.
They had faced off a few times since then, but never at such a largescale event.
She had chosen to play the instrument to keep her awake during all-nighters and to preserve her fighting spirit.
“To be blunt, I’m not about to lose to the likes of you.”
“So you say.”
“Judge,” replied Naruze, “Testament,” said her opponent. And at the same time…
They both resumed singing.
Niwa formed lyrics with the performance of 3000 pushing her onward.
“I travel through the field without knowing what once blossomed there.”
The wind blew. A gentle night breeze blew through the field.
“The ringing of the bell does not bring back the long lost memories.”
A bell rang and the wind instruments played the sounds of memories. But…
“So,” came a sudden voice. “Let’s get the show on the road. This idiot is shifting into full stupid mode.”
Deep notes stabbed horizontally into them.
Naruze sent out deep notes. She pictured them like flat blades.
The chords progressed along with the drumbeat. She played simple notes with the 12 strings.
“But what do I do and what do I say? I met her and she wouldn’t give me the time of day.
“What’s going on here? How is this fair? Why won’t she listen? Does she just not care?”
She directed the notes toward the drum players of those 3000.
After all, Niwa’s orchestra had no conductor, so it was the drums that led the way.
How to attack them was simple.
She played a somewhat shifted beat louder than their own.
Their rhythm never changed since they were playing a surprisingly slow song.
Naruze instead played a rough beat with some changes and adlibs thrown in. And…
She threw in some shouts to draw their rhythm toward that of her bass and drums.
“I don’t have a choice, I just don’t. I have to do this cause everyone else won’t.”
She added a beat to match each word. These notes were even louder than the enemy drums. And hers was four-and-a-half beats off from theirs.
Niwa could tell her orchestra had taken a direct auditory attack.
The enemy had used a simple method of interference. She locked her side’s ears with loud noise and confused their timing.
Their orchestra had no conductor. After all, a conductor would make the music more managed and artificial. This music was an offering for the spirits and the spirits tended to see a conductor’s management as a restraint.
So the musicians were all timing their performance themselves. They generally kept a timeline on an insha kotob, but there were still individual differences.
Some had grown puzzled from the deep notes coming from the Weiss Hexen.
They had apparently confused the Technohexen’s music for that of the others around them. They looked around and realized the others were not playing yet.
So they panicked.
…She got us.
The drumbeat was a little off. They would fix it soon enough, but the mistake could not be hidden. And that mistake propagated through the others nearby.
They were growing cautious.
That was the right thing to do, but it was also a mistake.
Their performance was an offering to the spirits and the spirits would not like a cautious sound.
The enemy’s attack was effective due to its simplicity. So…
…Two can play at that game.
The song offering played by the 3000 might seem predetermined, but it was not.
Niwa used her voice as an attack of their own.
Naruze listened to Niwa’s song.
“I look back, but there is nothing there.”
It was still a depressing song. Her voice was a little stronger than before, but…
…She’s aged in a bad way.
Naruze knew why someone might like to look back, but what did it mean for nothing to be there?
“It ends. It all ends.”
Yeah, things tend to end, thought Naruze. And…
Something was off about her 12 strings. The lowest sub string did not sound right.
She noticed something else too.
The wind was blowing gently across the city below.
The wind was of course created by Niwa’s theatre spell. Specifically, by the strings section of her orchestra. That was the deeper notes.
In that case, thought Naruze. They’re trying to interfere with me.
Niwa had raised her voice to get the wind-producing strings to play louder so they could be heard over her. And the powerful strings caused the local Nördlingen spirits to accept those deeper notes more than before.
Unless it was an ensemble, a specific note was only needed once.
That meant her lower notes were partially swallowed up within Nördlingen.
She had thought Niwa was simply relying on numbers, but apparently not.
She was not directly attacking with the sound like Naruze was, but she was limiting Naruze’s music using the local spirits.
In that case, thought Naruze while continuing to play. She shook Weiss Fräulein to adjust her grip on it.
She sang as if aiming and firing.
“That settles it.”
Niwa bolstered her defenses against the Weiss Hexen’s attack.
She raised her voice to make the strings play louder. She was in trouble otherwise. The Technohexen’s weapon was producing the same wind sound as her strings section but somewhat distorted.
…That was close!
She was glad she had gotten her music out first. Otherwise, many on her side would have confused the enemy’s music for the proper sound and self-destructed. But…
…This isn’t pushing her back!?
A few on her side had gotten their timing off.
She could see the Technohexen shaking her 12-string bass side to side.
She was adding a time lag into the notes she was distorting, extending, and swinging around to attack.
Niwa’s instruction had been a single louder word, so a lot of her side been confused by the “gap” in what they heard. And…
“I’m not enough on my own, I’m just not. But I’ll do it alone since that’s all I’ve got.
“I know all too well this won’t be enough. I’m really stupid, so it’s gonna be rough.
“I’m not looking back not even a glance. But my wife said goodbye and won’t join the dance.”
The string Niwa had sealed off before was back.
Defeating her strings section had freed the enemy from the spirits’ restraint.
…You’re pretty good at this.
This was an exchange of blows. The enemy was bombing Niwa with sound and Niwa was restraining her with sound.
“On my own, I’m helpless and look like a clown. So I’ll go find some help and bow my head down.
“I know it makes me look pretty lame. But really it’s my circumstances that are to blame.
“I don’t care if everyone thinks I’m some dumb child. This is my dream, so I’m ready to go wild!”
Here it comes, thought Niwa as the enemy put a slight pause in her shouted lyrics.
A big attack was coming, so she pushed out her own breath.
…I still have an option left.
She pulled out the ace up her sleeve. She used hand gestures to have the others prepare it as she sang.
Tadaoki walked down the main street while watching the cataclysm falling upon the city of Nördlingen.
Everything was led by the music and voices of the two singers.
When the Technohexen struck the air with deep notes, the 3000 would correct those notes and push them out into the night.
But the Technohexen kept attacking in the gaps between.
“Everyone’s got something they regret. Something you remember at night and fret.
“So no matter what it might cost. Tell me to take back what I lost.”
The deep notes raced through the city as if stomping through the rows of houses. They were distorted notes, but…
“I’ve got regrets, of course I do. That make me tremble and feel blue.
“But that’s when I heard a reassuring voice. Saying to leave it with them cause I made the right choice.”
They crashed into the 3000 on the northern wall. The theatre space clearly shook and ether light sprayed upwards. But the music and voices of the 3000 were suddenly released into the “night”.
“Because things change, there is no remembering them.”
When he heard that voice, Tadaoki noticed something about the two lyrics.
He noticed the difference between them.
He felt a difference in how they viewed regret.
…Is this what I think it is?”
Tadaoki realized the clash of songs was showing him something.
He was only imagining it was meant for him.
He had once heard that thoughts inspired by songs and stories were not the songs and stories teaching you something; they were emotions and thoughts within yourself that had been shaken awake.
That was why people came away from the same songs and stories with different feelings.
Was it an elementary school teacher that taught him this?
He could not remember, but he was pretty sure the lesson had come from Buddhism:
“When you see or hear something, do not speak of the things that already exist outside of you. Trust in what you find inside yourself. And then strive to find more such things. That leads to the irritatingly important concept that ‘form is emptiness’.”
Had he remembered that lesson because he was thinking about regrets?
6 years had passed since then and answering his questions from back then would solve nothing.
…And that doesn’t just apply to the present.
There was the future too. Like 6 years from now. And 6 years from then and so on. He was sure he would be looking back at a point in his past countless times from now on.
But what was he to do about the regrets he could see right in front of him right now?
Some would struggle and reclaim everything to carry their regrets with them.
Some would let everything change so their regrets lost all meaning and faded from memory.
He felt like both were acceptable answers.
He was also certain there had to be plenty of other equally acceptable answers.
He had simply chosen one option out of many. So…
“I’m not doing the wrong thing.”
He kept walking with thanks in his heart. He bowed his head to the idiot who had taught him he was not wrong, to the two singers here, and to his past bonds.
“Mom and dad, I’m more thankful than you know. Thank you for making me someone who refuses to let go.
“In this life here, I don’t have enough heads to bow. So wait till the next life and I’ll give you all the thanks you deserve now.”
Yeah, that’s right.
He nodded and kept walking. The wind blew and shaking bass notes raced through the city as he continued ever onward.
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