Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 84

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Chapter 84: Tempter on the Stage

Horizon7C 0891.jpg

No one lives forever

No one remembers forever

No one, no one, no one

Point Allocation (In Far Eastern, please)


Niwa switched from defense to offense.

Her opponent was entirely specialized for attack. There was no defense there at all.

So it was best to go on the attack. But even if she did defend…

“We’re so different in stature and intent. She won’t even hear out my argument.

“But I’ve been so worried for her. And I still am, now more now than ever.”

The varying length of the enemy’s notes dragged a few of her strings section off beat. They ended up trying to play their own notes even longer to compete with her.

Worse, the enemy had perfectly matched her drums to theirs.

Instead of shifting off tempo, she followed along with the basic tempo while using the bass to mess with them. She must have realized that was more effective.

She really is a Technohexen!!

You suddenly realized the enemy had snuck up on you and they hit you with an unexpected attack.

It was a nasty method, but Niwa was sure she would have fought similarly if she was alone. You had to use every method available to you to win.

“What the hell am I supposed to do? What if my attempts bring nothing new?”

Such a young way of thinking, thought Niwa. Those lyrics were based on what the boy had said before.

Of course they were naïve.

Meanwhile, Niwa’s own lyrics felt horribly old.

But the local spirits were the very history of this region.

Age let you be less cautious. That was why her side could make use of them. And they made the perfect weapon for her 3000.

That was why her 3000 could create wind and represent the grass, stars, and all else using only sound.

““Because things change.”

They would steal away the world that their opponent could represent.

“There is no remembering them.”

Yes, we will steal it away to bring it all into harmony.


Damn that old lady!!

Just as the wind seemed to grow stronger and the night clearer, some of her strings stopped making music. It was the very bottom and very top one. And as she tried to correct for that…

“Ah.”

Shut up!

But that sung note sent wind blowing across the field where those twin trees grew.

Damn!

Hearing it was enough to tell the enemy’s music had turned this into the top of a hill.

The music made sure she could tell.

The sound pressure and variations produced by the 3000 constructed two large trees atop the nighttime hill. Countless lights fell from the branches and shined on a poet playing an instrument and singing below.

Animals gathered around and slowly nodded at the poet’s words. The rabbit rolled in front of him to make an offering of itself. If this were Neshinbara, saving the rabbit would make it turn into a bunny-eared girl that demanded to live with him, but this was a different sort of world.

It’s all so serious, thought Naruze. It was beautiful and clear, but it was also stiff and formal. You could probably stretch out and sleep below the lights on that hill, but you would also feel like it would be wrong to do so. She would have liked to lie down on the hill and open a Magie Figur to play a game or draw a porn doujin storyboard, but that would feel out of place. Which only made her want to do it more. Really, really made her want to.

“Yeah, I get it, cupid.”

She sang. She sent out a distorted and weeping sound to bring the music back to how it was.

It was hard to tell which side was the villain anymore. Artistically, she was the demon here. But what’s wrong with that? I’m a Technohexen, after all. But…

She looks like she’s focused on offense, but she’s started working on defense too!

Naruze’s strained and distorted roar was not having much effect.

That told her something.

Damage control!

“What am I, stupid?”

Niwa had instructed a few hundred of her 3000 to perform a certain task.

To self-destruct.


Niwa sang.

The enemy’s distorted attacks tried to slip their way in below her music, but she quickly reacted before that could happen.

She had about a fifth of each section intentionally start playing too early.

She kept the damage low enough that it would not upset the local spirits. That allowed them to focus on their own performance. It let them sense that the enemy was attacking so they could respond to it.

The enemy’s attacks still had an effect, but a far smaller one than before.

And Niwa was calculating out how much this would hurt them.

She was also using the wind to seal off the enemy’s musical expression.

It’s probably about time to use the ace up my sleeve, but first…

A powerful wind blew in. The gust shook the branches of the twin trees.

Those trees would eventually disappear as well. And while producing the deep notes meant to indicate that…

Time to fully disarm the enemy.


Now that is a nasty expression!

The wind was definitely too powerful.

This was the second verse, so the spirits must have grown accustomed to creating that forced wind.

That had taken out one of her lower strings.

“––––––”

Stop making winds with that groaning sound!!

She lost one of the middle strings. That left 4 unusable. Her 12 strings were down to 8.

What was she supposed to do?

The tides were turning against her.

How useful would it be to retake those strings from here?

They were both headed for the hook in the second verse.

They would reach the end of the song after repeating that twice.

In that case, thought Naruze. Retaking the strings wouldn’t matter much.

It would all be over while she was working at the strings.

Once the second verse ended, the enemy would probably immediately restart their song from the beginning. That would be the end of it. The enemy would have to make some adjustments for all this, but…

I’m honestly not sure I can keep this up much longer.

She was up against 3000 people. Even if they were exhausted, they had the morale boost of working in a group.

She, meanwhile, would have to play the same song again with just as much energy. And do it while alone.

Even if the enemy had to make adjustments, her strings would still be unusable as part of Nördlingen’s “performance”. Just as the city would remain at night, the strings would not recover.

She would be in poor shape during the second run-through of the song.

So she had to end this before this first run-through reached the end of the second verse.

Which meant…

I have to go on the attack with everything I have.

She was about to reach the hook. She checked what strings she still had. She could create a deep note with any one of them, but it hurt to have one of the strings in the middle taken out. If she was not careful…

“––––”

Whoops, she thought. I was late on that one. So…

“But stupid as I am, I’m not beaten and I’m not cowed. Because I’ve fallen for her-”

She rushed her singing to catch up and the words were caught in the shadow of the branches. In the shadows cast by those lights.

Another of her strings was taken.

Damn!

I can’t stand it, but fine. That helped wake me up, so I’ll just have to take them out in the next spurt.

I swear I’ll win this. So…

“Hey, don’t make me say that out loud!”


Naruze constructed her offensive. She focused on the strings section because they were creating the air and wind. That meant they were the central heart linked to the night sky.

They pointed to that vast space with their musical expression.

That would also be what Niwa was using to take out Naruze’s strings by raising her voice.

So attacking them would help defend her.

So I’ve gotta take them out!

With her mind made up, Naruze decided to begin with the hook.

Just then, Niwa did something atop the north gate.

She added another musical expression.

The number of those musical expressions increased her control of this place and she had just added another to her battlefield.

She began to dance.


Niwa shook her body.

In Mlasi culture, dancing was used to express emotion.

That was of course possible using music as well. Not to mention poetry. But if you wanted to express the movement of emotion with clear motions, you had to go with dance.

“Every one of you.”

She held a thin blue and yellow cloth in each hand and let them flutter as she twirled.

She stood up on her toes and spun her entire body.

“I am so sorry.”


Tadaoki sensed something while staring straight ahead at the north gate.

What is this weight?

He did not understand, but the wind, sound, light, and everything else seemed to have grown heavier.

This was not about the physical weight; it was a presence. It was the sense in the air that made things seem alive. Just as a slight breeze could reveal the presence of someone passing by.

“If it will all end, then there is no reason to stay here.”

It was Niwa.

She twirled, extended her arms, and stretched her legs to turn around and around while placing herself within the wind and sound.

She was tempo itself. Her limbs, body, and head spun and swayed before popping back up at the last second. Then she would pull them back, slowly catch them in her gut, swing her upper body, and then spin back the other way.

When viewed from a distance, the motions performed just with her hands seemed so much bigger than that.

There was power there. She was not just swinging her arms and legs through the air. She was gathering her strength to send it to the entire space around her, but she made it look like such light movements.

That allowed the dance to send out power on such light noises.

Wow.

For a moment, Tadaoki could have sworn he saw the movement of her arms in the blowing wind, so he shook his head.

He could not fall for the enemy’s tricks. But…

“Hey!”

He realized he could no longer hear the Technohexen singing behind him.

Her song had been destroyed.


Naruze was hit by Niwa’s attack.

Damn!

They had been using music here in Nördlingen. That expressive technique had used the notes produced by instruments and the song produced by people.

Now Niwa had added in the expressive technique of dance.

That would not have been too difficult to deal with if she was only dancing. She could have crushed it the same as the instruments or singing.

But Niwa was different. She placed her dance on top of the instruments and singing.

She applied further pressure.

Her sound pressure and depth of expression were growing.

Naruze heard a snapping from her instrument as one of her drawn-on strings broke.

This did more than just seal off that sound. She was losing the source of any sounds that the two of them shared.

The sealed strings had already broken, so she was down to 8.

Damn, she thought while opening her throat. Then another one snapped.

This is bad, she thought with some panic in her heart, which caused her breath to catch in her throat.

“There is no present and future. Everything we have will end.”

Another one snapped.

“There is no present and future. Everything we have will be forgotten.”

Another string bent and began to hop up.

Oh, no!

If that one snapped, she would be down to 5. She wanted at least 4 to maintain her bass.

She wanted to protect that at all costs, but how could she do that?

She considered dancing, but she had never really done that. She had done stage choreography, but she had never done anything that could be called an independent dance. And…

“And it will not end.”

That line reminded Naruze of something unrelated to this battle.

It won’t end!?


To end the world but not to let it end.

Wait!

Niwa was a top-ranking member of P.A. Oda. She would know a lot about the Genesis Project. So what was this song really about?

That was when a further movement was added in. It came from the chorus of 500 behind Niwa.

“And we will not let it end!”

They danced, providing 500 people’s worth of additional pressure.

Oh, no!

The pressure from Niwa was problem enough, but they had added this for good measure.

Now was not the time to be thinking up a countermeasure, but when she tried to play her music…

“…!”

It snapped, leaving her with 5.

“But,” groaned Naruze. She held Weiss Fräulein with all its snapped strings, but she still viewed the enemy.

And she took action. She aimed Weiss Fräulein as if stabbing it into herself and she tossed up a 500-yen coin she had pulled from her pocket.

Then she activated an acceleration spell.

“Herrlich!”


Naruze felt more of an impact than actual pain.

Her legs briefly refused to support her, but a pain control spell she had strengthened for her own purposes kicked in a moment later.

“Ahhhhh!”

She kept her trembling body upright and got Weiss Fräulein’s trembling strings under control.

“That woke me up!”

This was the same thing the adolescent boy had done. It would probably count as part of the performance leading up to the hook, so she raised her voice with all the momentum she had just built for herself.

“Listen up, god, cause I’m about to do something dumb!”

She yelled. She could not dance and the enemy’s attack was hitting her like a solid bombing, but…

I feel like a winner!

She would do everything she could. Because…

“And when you’re dumb, you absolutely, positively never give up hope! Not when you fail, not when it’s hopeless, and not when the world says nope!”

That line was followed by another string snapping. She was down to 4, but that was fine. She stood Weiss Fräulein up on end and played the music to shake the entire city while she roared.

“So like I said, I’m about to do something dumb. Even though I’m betraying my future and everything else to come!”

As soon as those words left her mouth…

“Heh heh. I really like this new sound from you, Naruze.”

Two people stood next to her now. One was a crossdresser, and the other was…

“Kimi!?”


“H-how come you can move too!?”

Kimi narrowed her eyes and smiled at Naruze’s question.

“The – night – life.”

She mouthed the words “silly girl”, she was already swaying her body, and she had a sign frame open. It was from the Ootsubaki Shrine.

“This is Nightlife Temptation, the Ootsubaki Shrine’s night activity wakeup spell. Ootsubaki is Uzume whose song and dance saved the world from darkness while Amaterasu was hiding in the rock cave. The song and dance that saved the Far East while bringing it to laughter is most powerful at night.”

So…

“Ootsubaki’s role is to purify the night. So if Nördlingen is trapped in the night, it is my time to shine.”

Naruze raised her eyebrows and smiled a little at that.

“What a coincidence. It’s the same for Technohexen.”

“Then,” replied Kimi with a smile. “You are a real woman, Naruze. Whether staying up till the dawn or pulling an all-nighter, a real woman can make the world her playground at any time of day or night. She can embrace the things she likes at whatever time and place she likes and surround herself with the scents she likes as she drifts off to sleep. She smiles as she sleeps. A real woman lives in luxury. After all, time is what matters more than all else, yet we know the luxury of wasting it. We can be there and laugh at all times.”

Do you understand?

“That is what it means to be a flower. To blossom and surround yourself in your favorite scent at all times.”

So…

“Art, literature, storytelling, music, and all such things are external to the flower. So, Naruze, you did the right thing. Your lyrics were coming from inside you. …You smell nice.”

Kimi brought her nose to Naruze’s neck, gave a sniff, and smiled a little.

“Donuts?”

“Marzipan.”

“I see,” said Kimi with a smile before glancing over at the enemy.

That name inheritor had 500 backup singers. She was a dancer who could also sing.

And on the other side…

“Heh heh. Naruze, you cheered the adolescent boy on, gave him a kick in the rear, and even paid respect to my foolish brother. You had a good thing going there, so now it’s my turn to help you.”

“I don’t need your help, nor did I ask for it.”

“Oh, dear. Does this girl really think I would help her if she had asked for it? She must think highly of herself. I am the kind of girl who never nods her head when someone bows down to the ground before me. Yes, my defenses are ironclad – they are giant breasts level!”

“Hey, sis? Could you put together an acoustic spell for me too?”

“If you insist. You can have this one I made if you promise me tea in the morning for a week.”

Naruze stared in utter disbelief, but Kimi’s foolish brother was an exception. That was just how it was.

“Silly girl,” said Kimi as she pulled some lipstick from her skirt and drew two lines on Naruze’s Weiss Fräulein.

“Hey! Wh-what are you doing!?”

“I gave you two more strings. You were having trouble with your bass notes taken from you, weren’t you? This is only half the original 12, but that narrower range is perfect for a last spurt.”

She turned to face the enemy again. That twirling woman had 500 backup singers, but…

“Let’s do this, foolish brother.”

“You ain’t gonna greet her?”

“If you insist. …Hey, you over there!”

Kimi bowed with her entire body, moved her feet together, and raised her right hand.

“Hey! Hey, hey, you! Hello!”


Naruze could not believe what she was seeing.

Most of the 3000 on the other side had lost their balance all at once.

What!?

Their music fell apart and their dancing staggered.

Me: “Oh, don’t let that bother you, Black Mar. Just keep getting ready, okay? Think of her move as a type of boke that made them all fall over for the tsukkomi. Y’know, that classic gag.”

She got that much, but “low key” was not a part of that other girl’s dictionary. It helped that she had gathered attention while speaking with Naruze beforehand. Then she made a greeting following the Chancellor’s setup, so of course the enemy had been focused on her. And…

Me: “Calling out to ‘you over there’ is pretty common at concerts, right? It isn’t meant to address anyone in particular, but she did it following that setup and with a greeting to follow it up.”

Mar-Ga: “But you were stepping with your feet beforehand, weren’t you?”

Wise Sister: “Oh, you noticed that? I’ve been doing that since climbing up here. I was swaying in time with their breathing and adding in some dance steps before that greeting.”

She had synced herself with them before doing the “you over there”. They did the same during concerts. Everyone in the direction of “over there” would gather attention and they would all bring their hands to their mouths and shout.

“Now,” said Kimi while viewing the enemy. “3000? You seem a little shorthanded. The four of us can handle that easy.”

Four?

Naruze counted herself, Kimi, and the crossdresser, but then she noticed the two arms looking up at her from the rooftop.

This has got to be a first in concert history.

“Actually, how did the arms wake up?”

“Can they even fall asleep in the first place?” asked the Chancellor.

That naturally elicited a snort of bitter laughter from her. That was nice. I feel more relaxed.

And what the hell, she decided while raising Weiss Fräulein again. She held it nearly vertically with its 6 strings – the 4 she had drawn and the 2 in lipstick.

“–––––!”

She sang.


Mitotsudaira ran alongside Nördlingen’s wall while looking up into the night sky to the east.

What was happening inside there? She was worried about everyone in there, but…

My king!

It pained her that she could not burst inside there to help.

But then an impact hit.

“…!?”

It came from Nördlingen. The city walls and even the night sky above it were violently shaken.

A tremor ran through the nearby area while the 1km city very clearly hopped up.

“What in the world are they doing in there!?”

“Wouldn’t you normally ask ‘what is happening’ there?”

Mitotsudaira shook her head at Tomoe Gozen’s question. She was absolutely confident of this one.

“This was definitely Kimi’s doing. There is not a doubt in my mind that she just kicked the ley lines or something.”