Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Separating Girl by the Flow
Let’s get down to business
Point Allocation (Manly)
Mitotsudaira saw everyone fall silent.
Horizon alone moved. She lightly punched her left palm with her right fist.
“I-is that really our only reaction, Horizon!?” asked Mitotsudaira. “Are you okay with that?”
“It would be pretty funny if it made me hate even being touched.”
“Nooooo! Are you trying to kill me with sorrow!?”
Horizon’s ruthlessness could be a problem at times. But…
Mitotsudaira realized something about her king’s comment.
“If not being able to touch her would make you sad, my king, does that mean you do in fact want to do that kind of thing with her?”
“Well, yeah. …Wait, what’s that look supposed to be, Horizon!? It’s new, I’ll give you that! But anyway.” He turned toward Mitotsudaira. “For example – and our relationships are different, so this isn’t meant as a comparison – when I’m with you or Asama, it helps me be the best version of me I can be. It’s like a big plus to my strength.”
“And it is the same for me. So…”
If I were to lose you, the sense of loss would be devastating.
But Mitotsudaira kept that last part unsaid. She sensed that this was not the time for that and that it would be best to let her king talk about himself for now.
Their relationship was the same in both directions, so…
“If I didn’t have you or Asama, it would be a pretty major minus to my strength, taking it down close to zero.”
“W-we aren’t going anywhere.”
“Judge, judge. I get that. And I’ve also got sis and the others, like that guy…was his name Tenzou? So I wouldn’t go all the way to zero even in that hypothetical.”
“D-did you have to insult me in the middle of that!?” asked Tenzou.
“Master Tenzou, that’s only a plea for your attention,” insisted Mary.
“Incredible,” they all muttered, but Mitotsudaira also understood what her king was trying to say.
He opened his mouth to respond to her thoughts.
The first thing he mentioned was something she too had experienced.
“If I lost Horizon, it wouldn’t just take me down close to zero – I’d probably have to change who I am. I’d have to change myself even if everything else stayed the same.”
Mitotsudaira nodded at her king’s words.
She had not forgotten back when he had shown signs suggesting he wanted to descend to the surface eventually. That plan had likely been a way of changing himself.
She had vaguely realized what he was planning, so she had planned to go with him and she must have been nervous about what he would decide about her once they were down there. That was why he had shown her the answer to that.
If he did something like that, she would actually be able to support him in something other than strength.
“That is not going to happen now.”
She needed to say this now.
She had a lot of thoughts on the matter, but that was all she could say.
Talking about a now-defunct hypothetical would only serve to show off her own loyalty, but this was her king and Horizon’s time. As a knight, she wanted to focus on guiding his words.
Plus, she wanted to hear this too.
Because she had once truly lost her king and changed herself because of it. So…
“If you lost Horizon, you would not just drop to zero, you would end up in the negative? Is that what you are trying to say?”
“So changing yourself while everything else remains the same would be a negative thing?” The Date Vice Chancellor thought about that for a bit before nodding. “You would be throwing out all the pluses you already had and starting again from zero, so I guess that would be negative when you focus on the difference.”
“You would need to assume you could never again gain the same kind of pluses again.”
Yeah, thought Toori.
He had thought about this a lot around the same time last year.
He had wondered what he would do if his future did not work out.
“In my case, I would be giving up on creating a kingdom Horizon could live in and figuring out what else I could do.”
They had discussed this last night as well.
He was standing on the stairs, so he walked firmly into those thoughts instead of letting them fade away.
He let his mouth say what it would while guessing this was probably what he needed to say.
“Becoming a king gets all of you involved too. So I may have gone for the looser goal of ‘creating a kingdom where Horizon could have lived if she were still with us’ and I bet we would’ve kept adding more onto that. Like creating a kingdom where my children could be happy.”
“Maybe I would have thrown all that out, apologized to all of you, and started working at the Main Blue Thunder. Or if I really didn’t want to apologize, maybe I would’ve gone down to the surface and looked for a job there.”
“My king. I do not like the sound of that option.”
“Then,” he said while turning Mitotsudaira’s way.
Their relationship was built on the foundation of being king and knight, but…
“What would you do if I wasn’t a king anymore?”
“I-I would not let it happen a third time. Two is enough and I would not have actually lost you, so…”
“You would have made that option something you did like the sound of?”
“Wh-why are you just assuming I would go with you?”
“Isn’t that what you’ve recently decided to do?”
The wolf’s eyebrows shot up and she blushed.
“That is a separate issue.”
That response brought a question to Toori’s mind.
Her reaction suggested she had not expected this at all. But that would mean…
“Oh, right. You were asleep when we talked about this last night.”
“Eh!? When were you talking about this!?”
Horizon raised her hand.
“Logically speaking, wouldn’t it be while you were asleep?”
“That isn’t what I meant.”
With a smile of resignation, Mitotsudaira chose not to argue with Horizon and instead glared at Toori.
“My king, um…”
“Oh, Mito, this didn’t happen at Suzu-san’s place,” said Asama. “It was when you fell asleep during the withdrawal from Edo. And Toori-kun said he wanted to take some time to discuss it with you later.”
Me: “Asama, I did think that, but wasn’t it that led me in that direction last night?”
Asama: “What difference does that make? Now, hurry up. Mito is waiting.”
She’s a major plus for me, he thought.
…And I guess it doesn’t make a difference.
“Nate, I promised to let you show off your swimsuit, remember? So I was thinking of doing it then.”
“Then please do. I want to hear whatever you have to say that relates to me.”
“Sure. I mean, there’s a lot of this stuff that I can only talk to you about.”
He received his knight’s approval, so he took a breath and got back on topic.
“Anyway, setting aside any issues about doing lewd things with Horizon, I feel like I’ve managed to get a better grasp on myself, or like I’ve regained a part of myself.”
Suzu listened to Toori speak.
He was talking about it in a roundabout way, but he seemed to have already made up his mind on the inside.
He had never been the type to speak his heart. That was why he could inspire such surprise, joy, and even tears, but Suzu was impressed with his recent change that allowed him to talk about these things more often.
She felt like the things he said made her worried about him more than anything, but that was fine since they could all work through this together. Asama-san and Mitotsudaira-san should be able to handle it. I think. But Kimi-chan’s engine has been warming up lately, so that could be a threat too. And Horizon has been adding a turbocharger to it all. I hate that I can only give them a place to sleep and a bath to use, but I’ll do what I can.
“So, well, if I could do stuff like that with Horizon, outside of the lewdness of it all, it would be a huge relief, is I guess what I’m saying. Like I’ve been accepted by something I need in my life. Or maybe I’d feel more happy and proud that she wanted to do that kind of thing with me?”
That comment earned a response via divine transmission.
Tachibana Wife: “Um, Chancellor? This is a bit of a tricky issue and I am hoping you can see it in a different way, but…”
Suzu kind of got what Gin was trying to say.
…I-it is, isn’t it?
She gave her mental response in advance of Gin’s explanation.
Tachibana Wife: “If anything…isn’t that the heroine’s point of view?”
Art-Ga: “That is useful information. I don’t draw you often since your prosthetic arms are such a pain to draw, but I want to make up for that by doing it right when I do do it.”
Tachibana Wife: “I-I actually predicted you would say that! I really am gradually learning how this place works!”
Tonbokiri: “You do have strong feelings for Muneshige-dono, don’t you?”
Tachibana Husband: “Ha ha ha. Which is perfectly fine since I feel the same way, Gin.”
Tachibana Wife: “A-are you trying to kill me, Master Muneshige!?”
Smoking Girl: “Oh, damn. I really need a smoke, but I can’t out here in the forest.”
Kimi heard her brother speaking.
“Maybe I shouldn’t say this out in the open, but you’re all on my side, so I’ll say it anyway.”
“Do not worry, Toori-sama,” said Horizon. “I am on your side.”
“Y-you’re the worst enemy I’ve got!” After looking over at Horizon, he looked to all the others and scratched his head. “With Horizon, I feel so damn lucky that I can just be with her all the time. That really would be enough if it’s all I could get, but if I could also do lewd things with her, well, that would only deepen our relationship, which would bring a bunch more relief. I mean…I know relief and happiness aren’t a one-way street and it would make me happy to know Horizon feels the same way.”
“Asama-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama, this heroine is attempting to justify his desire to grope my boobs.”
“Well, um, uh.”
Kimi smiled as she watched their exchange.
“And what’s wrong with that?” she said. “It really does make it sound like the two of you are one in spirit. My foolish brother can avoid needing to become someone else and it proves to him he hasn’t drifted into the negative range…while Horizon can feel the same. And with Asama and Mitotsudaira, he can know he has someone to add to his strength no matter who he is, which can again be mutual.”
“C-could you not drag us into this?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“And what about you, Kimi?” asked Asama.
Kimi brought a hand to her mouth and thought about the shrine maiden’s counterattack.
“Good question,” she said. “Listen. He has the strongest relationship with me in both senses of the word.”
Suzu immediately nodded, so she must have known what she meant. Asama and Mitotsudaira spread their mouths horizontally in wonderful looks of displeasure.
Kimi herself decided to explain herself with a hand on her cheek.
“If my foolish brother is going to do lewd things with people, who do you think he will be most compatible with? Why me of course!”
“K-Kimi!” shouted Mitotsudaira. “What are you saying!?”
“Oh, but just think about it. The two of us came from the same place. That gives me an advantage that some stranger could never hope to match. You could say I am 1P and he is 2P!”
“Sis! Sis! But we’re very different people.”
“Heh heh heh. The adjustments they made for 2P seem to have been for the worse, foolish brother. But when it comes to hair, skin, blood, and tears, mine are the closest to yours. In fact, you feel so perfect in my arms because it almost feels like holding myself. Sometimes I even think maybe that is me in my arms.”
“Then what if I was your little sister, sis?”
“Why, that would be absolutely perfect as far as physical compatibility goes.”
Asama and the others frowned and Horizon hesitantly raised a hand.
“Kimi-sama, could you go easy on us in your assessment here?”
“My, my, if you insist. But remember this: If you even try to compete amongst yourselves, there is a part of me you can never hope to match.”
“Make sure to focus on what you yourself can do best.”
This is about what I would expect from them, thought Masazumi as the waiters brought over some large bamboo strainers.
“Hey, Balfette, the udon’s here.”
“Eh!? The Treasurer is!?”
“Not that udon!” everyone shouted back.
Meanwhile, Masazumi pointed at the four bamboo strainers placed at the top of the stepped terrace.
“So what do we do with those, Balfette?”
“Oh, judge! Um, you pour water in from the top like this…see how it’s flowing through the bamboo placed down the center there? You pour the water down there and then pour in the udon from the strainers.”
“Oh, so it’s like nagashi somen but with udon.”
Masazumi noticed everyone’s eyes on her.
They were all giving her curious looks, telling her to give it a try.
…Well, as Vice President, I suppose I can go first.
You just do it the same as nagashi somen, right? she wondered while readying her chopsticks. The water was already flowing down the bamboo. It was a little dirty, but she placed her chopsticks in the water to prevent any mistakes.
“Okay, Balfette, I’m ready when you are.”
“Judge! Here goes.”
Balfette grabbed the udon with bamboo tongs that resembled a fork and released them into the water. Masazumi moved her chopsticks forward to catch them.
The chopsticks easily broke on contact.
Before she could do anything, the udon had passed by everyone.
“The udon moves so fast!” said Mitotsudaira with a gasp. “Oh, but not that fast. I still saw everything that happened.”
Crossunite leaped into the air and side-flipped to land atop the flowing water. He prepared to catch the incoming udon on his chopsticks, but…
The current was too great for him and he was washed away.
“Toori-kun! Tenzou-kun was just swept away with the udon!” said Asama. “Toori-kun! Stop taking photos!”
“Are you sure you aren’t speaking some strange new language?” asked Masazumi.
In the end, Horizon’s arms held up a bamboo strainer at the final defensive line where the water fell away and caught it all.
The arms carried over the strainer of udon and Masazumi accepted it.
“There, that’s how it’s done,” she said.
“Liar!!” they all replied.
She had to frown at that one.
“Yeah, well what else am I supposed to do when trying to scoop it up normally breaks the chopsticks?”
“Um, Vice President, the menu does list metal chopsticks!” said Balfette. “But they cost 300 yen each!”
“I’m not paying for that.”
But what am I supposed to do? she wondered while grabbing a new set of chopsticks. Next to her, Futayo spoke up while sharpening her chopsticks with a rubbing motion.
“Shall I cut it for you?”
“I’m not sure what you mean, but I’m pretty sure doing it would leave us on the run just like Sensei.”
“Then,” said Mitotsudaira. “I think what happened was due to your poor technique.” The wolf swung her right hand. “When you stick your chopsticks into flowing water and move them against the current, the weight of the water works against you. Masazumi, you seem to hold your chopsticks toward the top, so yours were probably already bent a bit above the water’s surface. And then you add the weight of the udon on top of that.”
“Yes, they were broken by an udon counterattack,” added Futayo.
How is this a conversation I’m actually having? wondered Masazumi as Mitotsudaira readied her chopsticks and called out to Balfette.
“Adele, could you send some down?”
“Judge!” replied Balfette before some udon was launched from above.
Now that it’s not me doing it, I can see just how fast it is, realized Masazumi while the udon sent water spraying into the air on its approach to Mitotsudaira. The spray clearly passed her by and continued on down.
“There, that is how it is done.”
At some point, Mitotsudaira’s chopsticks had scooped up the udon.
“Huh?” Masazumi realized her voice had escaped her mouth. “How did you do that? Didn’t it pass you by?”
“Judge. And I scooped it up from behind. From behind, the udon has already parted the water, so it barely affects your chopsticks at all.”
“But can anyone but you actually pull that off?” asked Urquiaga.
Futayo and Crossunite both raised their hands.
“Hm,” said Crossunite. “It would seem the three of us need to be on udon scooping duty.”
“Th-that completely defeats the purpose of this!” protested Mitotsudaira. “It’s supposed to be a party!”
“Narumi, I know you can do that, so why did you not raise your hand?”
“I’m too hungry to bother.”
Yeah, that sounds like Narumi, thought Masazumi before hearing a voice from above.
“U-um, I feel like I’m stuck on launch duty up here,” said Balfette.
“Is that a problem?’
“I-I made the reservation, but I won’t get to eat any of it like this!”
“Hm,” said Toori. “Okay, Adele, you can eat straight from the strainers up there.”
“How sad would that look!? Besides, why don’t you do it instead!?”
“Adele, provoke Toori-kun too much and he really will do it, so please stop before this gets much worse.”
“Asama-san, I’m having a hard time figuring out whose side you’re on!”
“I have an idea.” Horizon raised her hand. “This sounds like a pain, so how about you bring those large strainers down here so we can all eat it normally?”
“B-but that rejects my identity as the one who made the reservation!”
“You’ve built your entire identity around that?”
“You don’t have to ask that out loud.”
“If we eat it normally, what do we do about this water flowing down the middle?” asked Toori.
“Can’t we think of this as an udon shop with a constant supply of drinking water flowing down the center?” suggested Mitotsudaira.
“Wh-why did I even bother making us a reservation here!?”
Their director was never satisfied. But then an unexpected hand rose into the air: Mary’s. She already had ether light floating around her like a scarf.
“This water is connected to the river, so I can summon water spirits here. I hate to act as a replacement for Master Tenzou, but shall I weaken the water’s current?”
Masazumi saw everyone respond with hopeful nods. Then Balfette spoke from up above.
“Oh, now that you mention it, you can set the current strength up here! It’s on ‘artillery’ right now, so I’ll lower that to ‘training’!”
“Go at least three levels below that!!”
Everyone yelled back up at Balfette while Masazumi separated her new chopsticks.
“This is a nice change of pace.”
Narumi held her chopsticks between her teeth and pulled with her prosthetic arm to separate them. She had a bowl of udon sauce in front of her, but…
“In Date, we always ate hot udon, but they have a lot of iced varieties here.”
“I’ve never heard udon described as ‘hot’ and ‘iced’ before.”
“Come to think of it, what is the opposite of ‘chilled’ called?”
“Udon is ordinarily eaten warm,” said the Secretary seated across the bamboo waterway. “So it doesn’t require a qualifier like chilled udon does.”
“Maybe, but I have my doubts.”
“Come to think of it,” said the Asama Shrine Representative while scooping up some udon. “The Far East has a strong culture of washing things in cold water, so we see value in chilling things. I think that is why we emphasize that something is ‘chilled’ to make it sound nicer.”
“Coming from you, I see no reason to doubt it.”
“Wh-why do you doubt me but not her!?”
“Probably because you’ve given her reason to doubt you,” said a voice from the sky.
Narumi looked up to see the 3rd and 4th Special Duty Officers descending along a spiraling path. They already held their brooms under one arm, so they were using their wings to glide down.
They’re pretty quiet when they do that, she realized before the Weiss Hexen spoke up.
“We’ve finally caught up with you. …There isn’t an entrance fee, is there?”
“Judge! We have two empty seats set up for you, so go ahead!”
The Schwarz Hexen spun around in midair. It was a vertical spin that began with the head.
The full rotation was made to allow a more compact landing. Their thrust came from the wings on their backs, so they leaned forward by default. When trying to descend onto their heels, they could not move their hips forward until they had decelerated enough.
Hence the full rotation that forcibly slowed them while also throwing their legs forward first.
Landing right behind the seats with just enough space between them for their wings was impressive.
It was a blessing to see technique like that displayed on an everyday basis. Narumi was briefly reminded of Sendai Castle’s landing zone and her everyday life there. And once those two were standing there with their brooms pressed together…
“Is everyone here now?”
“No, Margot. The Udon Couple isn’t here.”
Circle Be: “Why would we be there, dammit!”
“Tomo? Were those two released?”
“Eh? Yes, Masazumi and I arranged that on the way here.”
I see, thought Narumi.
She had fought the Treasurer during the Siege of Odawara. He had guts taking on a Vice Chancellor, but she appreciated that. And with everything based on money, the loss and compensation of his defeat was very simply calculated out.
…Of course, this is only my opinion as someone who does not know the Treasurer pair’s temperament.
“Kiyonari, what kind of people are the Treasurer pair?”
“They base everything on money, so their losses and compensations are very simply calculated out.”
I see, thought Narumi while deciding not to think on this any further.
But more did arrive via divine transmission.
Circle Be: “Anyway, we’re arranging for some upkeep to our shop and ship. If you like, we could send a ship to pick all of you up. For a fee!”
Vice President: “If it’s a reasonable fee, that is acceptable. And you can pay us back by the 14th, can’t you? If it isn’t looking good, you can come to me for help, so don’t try running away, got that?”
Circle Be: “We’ll be fine! We’ll double the money and pay it back!”
…Why do I get the feeling they won’t manage it?
Narumi cut that line of thought short because some udon was coming, but while they were enjoying their time there…
“Someone is coming. Someone we were waiting for.”
She heard some footsteps. Everyone was here and there were other customers further away, but…
…One set of footsteps is from someone untrained in combat and the other is from someone still early in their training. Also…
Narumi looked to their surroundings.
Everyone was waiting for the udon, readying themselves to scoop some up, or giving warning looks to those downstream of them, but they were all silent.
That meant they were focused on the other sounds surrounding them.
“Oh? You’re all already here? We would absolutely love to join you.”
The new visitors were Christina and Nagaoka Tadaoki.
The former wore a white shirt and long tights. The latter wore a kariginu shirt and shorts.
“Now,” said Christina while holding up a hand with a smile.
She had pulled something from her pocket.
“Carlos I left a memo in Rudolf II’s tower, remember? This letter explains what he was asking about. It was given to me by the Prince of Orange.”
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