Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 10
Chapter 10: Worrier in a Closed Room
What does it mean to think?
To reach an answer?
Or to doubt your answer?
Point Allocation (Giving It Your All)
Fukushima awoke with a gasp.
She saw the white of the ceiling and had to briefly think about where she was.
…This is my room!
Her next question was the current time. Before she could even remember why it mattered, she grew curious and checked the clock on the wall instead of on a lernen figur.
It was 7 PM.
She doublechecked the location of the hour and minute hands before finally remembering why she was checking.
“I have to leave for M.H.R.R. early tomorrow morning.”
But she had to do something else first.
Her preparations for the trip were more or less complete, so she only had one other task to complete before leaving.
“I thought it was to get some sleep.”
But she had just been asleep.
Something was not right.
She was supposed to go to sleep later. That was why she had completed her preparations already. She would sleep until just before departure.
But something had happened earlier. Yes…
…I ordered a game for Hachisuka-dono in lieu of a parting gift.
No, not that. Why had she gone to Hachisuka’s room in the first place?
It all came back to her.
She felt her face going pale and then she stood up.
She had decided she needed to tell Kiyomasa how she felt.
And after rolling around in her bed thinking about that, she had suddenly felt weary.
“I must have fallen asleep.”
That was a close one. She had not set the alarm on the PC installed in the wall next to her bed. If she had overslept, it would have looked terribly irresponsible of her.
…That was far too close.
Since she was going to go to sleep again, she booted up the PC and set the alarm for just before departure.
“Testament. That is done then.”
But what was she supposed to do now?
…I decided I would tell Kiyo-dono how I feel.
But how was she supposed to tell her that?
She also felt like she had behaved somewhat cold during the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle.
She felt certain she would be unable to look Kiyomasa in the eye right now.
Then what could she do?
What if she went to meet her, failed to say anything, and came off as cold again?
And before that, there was the question of how Kiyomasa felt about her.
…Kiyo-dono is very popular.
Fukushima was aware she also had a lot of supporters among the girls. But the boys seem to see me more as an athletic upperclassman than anything.
She thought it was a good thing because it gave them bonds of mutual trust to handle things on the front line.
Kiyomasa, on the other hand, was popular among the girls and the boys. The boys seemed to put her up on a pedestal or exaggerate things when it came to her because they would even refer to her as a goddess.
I am overcomplicating this, thought Fukushima as she shook her head and sighed.
All she had accomplished was fill her breaths with heat.
But the main point was that everyone liked Kiyomasa more than her. They viewed her with a fondness and worship that was different than simple trust.
That is one tricky part of being a female name inheritor, thought Fukushima.
Since a name inheritor’s sex often differed from that of the original from the Age of the Gods, gay marriage was allowed as a form of interpretation. The M.H.R.R. Protestants had even developed a technique of creating a child between two people of the same sex and doing that outside the body was accepted as an interpretation for a virgin birth.
Fukushima opened a lernen figur and looked up information on that.
“So in the most extreme form, you only need a single hair to have a child with someone.”
…Then it can work for us!
She clenched her fist in excitement, but then gasped and shattered the lernen figur with that fist.
“Why am I looking up how to have her child!? Why am I already defiling her!?”
No, I was only looking up some knowledge, so it’s fine. No, it isn’t. Or is it?
Either way, she had confused herself.
Her mood kept shifting wildly and she could not relax.
What was she supposed to do?
She would never reach an answer if she only ever pondered theoretical scenarios in her head here.
I must take action. I am #1 of the Ten Spears. I am our forward.
She had made up her mind.
She only had one option here, even if it was an extreme one.
I do it and see how it plays out. If she shoots me down, then she shoots me down.
Two minutes later, Fukushima stepped out into the hallway wearing her track suit.
She was not emptyhanded. She held a pillow below her right arm. The pillow had a single word written on it.
She had hurriedly handwritten it on there, but it was well done. A splendid job.
Writing a word on a pillow and showing that to your partner was an ancient tradition.
A note in the Testament talked about pillows being used in place of letters:
<At the time, pillows were made of wood and the wife would write either “yea” or “nay” on one so she need not say anything for her husband to know whether she was willing to accept his love or not. And if their opinions on the matter differed, well, the woman already had what amounted to a wooden club with her, so she could take direct action to remedy that. That is why sturdy loquat wood was preferred and, starting in the middle period, they developed a hammer style that had a hole in the center to attach a handle. This refined tradition was later incorporated into poetry, which is why love poems began to use pillow words.>
Fukushima was satisfied after reading that on a divine network reference site.
Her plan was perfect.
The end of the Testament note had said <Every era has its own traditions, but some of those mention “transforming robots” and “a color-coded team of five” along with everything else, so it is thought some of this may have been invented.> But she chose to ignore that.
Anyway, I will do it with this.
Kiyomasa’s room was not far away. If she handed Kiyomasa the pillow at the entrance, the girl was sure to know what she meant. And if she did not…
“If she does not…”
Fukushima gulped while standing in front of the room in question.
“It is time!”
Taking action cleared her mind. He thoughts were entirely focused on handing Kiyomasa the pillow.
She held her hand in front of the lernen figur on the wall and the Western-style door slid open in front of her. She initially thought that was careless of Kiyomasa, but she had only gotten in thanks to her Ten Spears authorization.
Not just anyone could get in. That special access felt like a good sign as she looked inside.
The room was deserted.
“There was no on else there, but when I woke up, someone – or something – had left me an offering.”
“An offering?” asked Kiyomasa in the steam rising from the bathwater.
She was speaking with Hachisuka. After leaving the rest of the work with the night shift and heading back to her room, she had found Hachisuka standing pale-faced out in the hallway.
It had looked like she was crying, so she had called out to her and the girl had rushed over and clung to her.
This side of her was not well known because she rarely let it show, but it was appropriate for her age. Kiyomasa noted that it was a rare experience even for her.
“It happened again.”
“Again? What happened again?”
“A mysterious phenomenon.”
According to Hachisuka, she had heard a strange banging sound and fainted. And when she came to…
“Some rice balls and some water had been placed in offering next to me. Some incense had been lit too.”
“That does sound an awful lot like a ritual to say farewell to the dead.”
Hachisuka said nothing and did not look over at Kiyomasa, but she nodded several times.
“I heard a banging sound like that before too.”
“The other night,” was all Hachisuka said. She must not have wanted to remember it.
“Did you get the room purified of mysterious phenomena?”
“I did. With Mlasi, Catholic, and Shinto. But…”
“The ending of the Shinto purification was…let’s say ‘too exciting’, so I called it off.”
“Yes, Shinto is a nature worshiping religion, so it is strongly indigenous.” Kiyomasa used what knowledge she had to converse with Hachisuka. “I have heard Shinto mythology requires you to dance in the nude when worshiping the morning sun.”
“Just for the morning sun!?”
“Testament. And, um, when the morning sun rises, they call it ‘a man opening the woman’s cave’. Now, I am fairly certain that is a euphemism, but Shinto is the type of religion to highlight that sort of thing in the center of their mythology.”
“So they give Sweden a run for their money, huh?”
“Testament. Sweden’s inappropriateness comes from their secular side, but with Shinto, it comes from the state religion. In that sense, I think Shinto may be more inappropriate. Maybe it has spread so far that no one thinks to question it anymore.”
“Now I see why the provisional rule is necessary.”
“Because they’re ‘too exciting’.”
“Much too exciting. Yes.”
“Then what am I supposed to do?” asked Hachisuka with her face pale again.
Kiyomasa raised her eyebrows and nodded. Then she took a breath, shook the bathwater, and stood up.
“How about this, Hachisuka-san? You can have a Shinto purification done while you are somewhere else. That way you will not have to see it no matter how exciting it might be.”
She moved to the washing area. She had already washed her hair, so she considered leaving the bath.
In truth, she wanted to be alone after this.
“You should check Fukushima’s room.”
That caught her off guard, so she felt her stomach leap up inside her.
“Wh-why should I do that?”
“Testament. The banging sound I heard came from the wall.”
“It might have happened in her room too.”
Kiyomasa could not tell her to go check on Fukushima herself.
She had already been planning to visit Fukushima’s room after this. And she wanted to do it alone.
“U-umm, what will you do, Hachisuka-san?”
“Hmm. Probably order a Shinto purification and then kill time somewhere. Maybe in the dining hall.”
“Will you be okay on your own?”
Kiyomasa was glad she had managed to ask that. She could not allow herself to prioritize her own feelings for Fukushima and put off helping with Hachisuka’s troubles.
But Hachisuka must have had her own thoughts on the matter because she nodded.
“I just needed to get this off my chest.”
So she would do the rest on her own.
Kiyomasa smiled at the fact that the girl trusted her enough to confide in her like this.
She took her time leaving the bath so Hachisuka would have plenty of time to change her mind.
After entering the dressing room and shutting the door to the bath, Kiyomasa breathed a sigh.
She silently dashed over to the shelves of clothing baskets.
She had to get dressed and visit Fukushima in a hurry. Because…
…She has a tendency to fall asleep quickly!
What if she was already asleep? If she was, her room would probably be locked and Kiyomasa would be unable to get in. But if she could get in…
“I need to be prepared!”
Fukushima would be leaving for M.H.R.R. early tomorrow morning. It was for training, so she was taking Kani with her and joining Shibata’s team, but that training would last until the end of summer break.
Kiyomasa would similarly be taking some underclassmen to Sanada, so they would not see each other for about a month.
That was a problem.
Why was it a problem? First of all, the thought put her in a bad mood.
If only she had not seen Fukushima making a man out of Katagiri in the bath the other night. There had been some concerning developments before that, but she had thought those two were simply a normal amount of friendly.
But seeing that had triggered some kind of feeling inside her.
She could not explain it well, but that had provoked something inside her that she had been subconsciously suppressing.
There was a side of her that feared Fukushima would be taken from her or leave her if she was not careful.
If she grew flustered every time anything happened, she could not fight on the front line with Fukushima. If she panicked on the inside every time anything happened, she could not look Fukushima in the eye and speak with her. If she lost control of her emotions every time something happened, Fukushima would think she was weird.
…Oh, no! Every single one is about Fukushima-sama!
She was shocked all over again by that realization, but she also could not help but notice how much trouble she was being.
She was confident that she could assist Fukushima better than anyone else and she had proven it, so she had a tendency to prevent anyone else from getting close to Fukushima. She could only view Kani in such a positive light because her position as an underclassman put some distance between those two.
And after that incident in the bath, she had also realized she wanted Fukushima to look at her and only her.
She was such a terrible person.
She knew it was wrong.
Especially that dream I had after the bath incident. What even was that? I know it was indecent, impure, and harmful, even if I can’t remember the details. Perhaps I should find a way to recall it in hi-res to further investigate just how wrong it- no, no. I mustn’t do that.
Anyway, that had broken something inside her.
And she was not confident she could hide it. If she tried to do that, she would be plagued by legit sex dreams and she would be a risk on the battlefield if she grew flustered every time she remembered those dreams.
She only saw one answer here.
“I must tell her how I feel, give up on her if I must, and build a new relationship with her based on the result.”
Would she cry if Fukushima rejected her?
But they would be separated for a month after tonight. That much of a cooling-off period would allow her to recover no matter how badly this went.
Hopefully Fukushima would accept her feelings.
But if she would not, that was acceptable too.
In that case, she thought while dressing in a hurry. She put on her track suit. On her upper body, she only wore the shirt, keeping the jacket draped over her shoulders. Her hair was still damp, but that could wait.
She was going to head straight there, so she needed a weapon to help express her feelings.
Her jacket had been hiding something inside her clothing basket.
It was a pillow.
“This traditional ‘Testament’ pillow is sure to get through to her.”
…I did my research!
This should work perfectly, she thought while leaving the dressing room. She opened the door, stepped out into the hallway, and found Kasuya and Kani there.
“Oh? Kiyomasa?” asked Kasuya with eyebrows raised.
“Massive Katou-senpai! Where are you headed!?”
“Excuse me, but I have something somewhat important to take care of with a friend, so I need to be going. Oh, and I imagine ‘Massive Katou’ was Takenaka-sama’s idea, but you can simply call me Kiyomasa.”
She quickly responded to Kani and Kasuya, but then she turned around again where those two were giving her a puzzled look.
“Hachisuka-san is inside there, so make sure you say hello.”
“Oh, we’re about to do some bath karaoke, so we’ll ask her to join us.”
“Setting up a rotation with the three of you would probably be lots of fun!”
That would also give Hachisuka something to kill the time. But…
“I must be going!”
Kiyomasa knew she was breathing heavily through her nose, but she could not help it.
I wonder what Fukushima-sama is doing right now, she thought.
What do I do now? wondered Fukushima with her head in her hands.
She had worked up the courage to pay a visit with the pillow, but Kiyomasa was not there.
Stepping inside the room had been a mistake because now she heard several voices out in the hallway.
They were coming from Hachisuka’s room.
A heavily-equipped group had come running in and lined up out in the hallway.
“We are the Azuchi’s Purification Emergency Necessary Intervention Squad! Or PENIS for short!”
“Captain! It really doesn’t seem fair that keep using that abbreviation!”
“You fool! Why do you think I only ever do it when no one else is around!?”
…Someone is around.
Well, if they have not noticed me, then that is fine. Actually, no, it isn’t. And regardless…
…I can’t be here when Kiyo-dono gets back!
She had broken into the girl’s room.
What would Kiyomasa think of her then?
But it sounded like Hachisuka’s room was being purified. So…
“Did she have a mysterious phenomenon in her room?”
How did that end up happening?
Come to think of it, she does seem to be passed out every time I see her in there. That is not normal and you could even call it mysterious. I was so distracted by Kiyo-dono that I failed to notice Hachisuka-dono was suffering from a curse.
At any rate, the purification of the room appeared to have begun.
Once the hallway grew quiet, she wondered what she should do now.
She held the pillow in her hands.
The best option would be to return to her own room and wait for Kiyomasa to return.
But what if someone was out in the hallway when she left this room? What if she ran into Kiyomasa herself?
And if she did make it back to her own room…
…Will I be able to return here once Kiyo-dono is back?
She still had 5 hours before she had to leave. Kiyomasa would likely return at some point during that time, but she doubted she could maintain her own resolve that long. She was worried she would find an excuse to avoid returning to this room.
In that case, she decided while breathing in.
“I can wait here instead.”
She was prepared to do that. She sat on Kiyomasa’s bed and placed the pillow at the head of the bed. It was important she made sure the “Testament” part was visible.
“Waiting is a valid tactic. There is no point in losing my nerve after coming this far.”
She relaxed her shoulders and waited for Kiyomasa while wondering what that other girl was doing right now.
…I wonder what Fukushima-sama is doing right now.
Kiyomasa stood blankly inside a dark room.
Fukushima’s room had been sitting open with no one inside.
That seemed careless, but it had also looked like the girl intended to return soon. After all, the luggage for her trip was sitting out.
While Kiyomasa tried to figure out what to do next, the neighboring room grew noisy. The Shinto purification team that Hachisuka had called in was starting their work. She could hear them via the hallway.
“Okay, you and you strike a pose there! Don’t be embarrassed! Take this seriously!”
“Captain, you’re the one that isn’t trembling enough!”
“Tingle, tingle, tingle, tingle!”
What she heard made her wonder if this was some underground evil cult instead of Shinto, but at least they were pouring their hearts and souls into their work.
Regardless, this made it hard for her to leave.
“I can’t believe this.”
She was not sure if that comment was directed at herself, at the current situation, or at Fukushima, but she sat down on Fukushima’s bed all the same.
Fukushima would be back soon.
There were still 5 hours until she left, but she had left her door wide open.
…That honestly is just like her.
Kiyomasa smiled, placed her pillow on the bucket she had carried from the bath, and held that in her arms while she sighed.
“I’m so nervous.”
Carrying that pillow with her was enough to be confident in her own feelings. But…
“Will Fukushima-sama accept my feelings?”
“Sensei! The Udon Kingdom just about refused us entry thanks to you!”
“Yeah, sorry about that. I ended up destroying several of their punching udon machines.”
They heard their teacher laugh over the divine transmission and they also heard Sanyou yelling “Senpai! Senpai! They’re catching up!”, but they decided to ignore that part.
They were at a riverside restaurant on the Udon Kingdom’s central road. They were seated at the table Adele had reserved on the stepped terrace continuing down toward the river.
“Master Tenzou, what is a punching…whatever that was?” asked Mary.
“Judge. It is a game where the amount of udon you get to eat is based on the cumulative amount of force after three hits to a punching machine! It is very popular with the military commanders in this region.”
Art-Ga: “This ninja is trying to show off by regurgitating what he read on the tourism site.”
Gold Mar: “Ohhh, you’re showing incredible restraint, Ga-chan. You would normally give him that look to his face.”
10ZO: “A-a little more restraint than that would be nice!!”
Anyway, it sounded like their homeroom teacher was enjoying the first night of her summer break too.
“Okay,” said Masazumi while facing the others. “Did you all receive your tentative report cards?”
Those came as sign frames and she held up her own while it was only displaying the cover. The others nodded in response.
They opened theirs and showed them off to the people they were comfortable doing so with.
“Ho ho. Exactly the excellent grades we all expected of me,” said Horizon. “Toori-sama, is that that supposed to be your ranking? And here I thought the people at the top were supposed to have good grades.”
“D-dammit! What is wrong with you!? A double digits ranking is pretty good!”
“My king, you did above average in the subjects you came to us for help in, so I don’t think you need to worry.”
“Then Toori is on the borderline between idiot and average,” said Urquiaga.
Balfette and Crossunite immediately moved their eyes or head to keep an eye on their surroundings, Horizon and Asama remained calm, Noriki raised his hand to go ahead and announce his ranking, and the Date Vice Chancellor watched it all play out with narrowed eyes. The various reactions were pretty amusing. But…
“Heh heh,” laughed the idiot sister. “I challenge you, foolish brother! Let’s see who has the better ‘teacher’s comment’! Mine is, ‘I guess this’ll have to do. It’s a little late to expect you to start studying in your senior year.’ How about that!?”
“Incredible, sis! All I got was ‘make sure to build up your stamina during summer break or you’ll regret it later’!”
Asama spat out the water she was drinking and Horizon raised her right hand.
“I am the candid type,” she said. “And I think the standard thing here would be to have a big emotional scene before the final battle – in this case, before the Honnouji Incident. So I was thinking I could give everyone what they wanted there.”
“Hey,” said Toori. “So you’re willing to do that, but you aren’t willing to let me touch your boobs?”
“This is very different from having my boobs touched. In what world are they the same, Toori-sama?”
After a pause, the girls (even those at other tables at the restaurant) applauded Horizon’s comment.
After she raised her hands toward them all and bowed, Balfette hesitantly raised a hand.
“Bringing up something like that out of the blue is a lot like you, Vicereine Horizon, but is that really something you want to do?”
“It seems like a good idea,” readily replied Horizon. Because, “I am the kind of person who will join in just because I am excited with how you have made breakfast. In fact, I feel like I must join in to prove myself. And on top of that…”
She tapped on the idiot’s head a few times.
“I am also trying to become a new me. This allows me to do both at once. So, well…”
She gave Asama and Mitotsudaira a nod and then looked to everyone else.
“I am aware that it would be best if we could deepen our relationship through shared experiences. They might be intangible, they might crumble if you try to touch them, and they might be lost if you are not careful, but if there are indeed things that you can gain through death, contradictory thought that may seem…”
“I will try to seek out the forms of happiness that extend beyond just myself. I have recently come to think such things may be where true happiness is found.”
Masazumi listened to Horizon.
“Toori-sama has shown me such things, brought me to them, and given them to me as a part of my world, so I am truly thank- gweh!”
“Horizon! Don’t bite your tongue quite yet! Try to get at least this much out first, okay!?”
“Calm down,” said Horizon while holding out a hand to stop Mitotsudaira.
Then she tapped on the idiot’s head again.
“How about you, Toori-sama?”
“Me? Hmm.” He looked up into the sky. “I would love to do some sexy things with you, but you haven’t got all your emotions yet, right?”
Masazumi tilted her head at that.
“Just a second, idiot.”
“H-hey, only idiots call people idiots! Heh heh, so you’re an idiot! Bet you hate being called that!”
“Shut up, idiot. Now, are you listening?”
“Don’t tell me to shut up and then ask me a question!”
He really needed to shut up. But there was something she had to check on.
“The other night, we learned that Horizon’s Logismoi Oplo are essentially sermon weapons. Isn’t that right, Asama? In other words, their activation suppresses the corresponding emotion by filling her with a hatred or dislike of them.”
“Yes, that is my current theory,” said Asama.
“Then,” said Masazumi. “When Horizon gets Porneia, won’t it make her dislike sexual things?”
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