Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 12
Chapter 12: Partial Joiner in the Lamplight
I have something
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Point Allocation (Personality?)
Christina had brought the letter containing Carlos I’s question.
Everyone imagined what that letter given to her by the Prince of Orange would say, but first…
“We’ll be examining that next, but…what do we do with the udon?”
“This system of eating is not very compatible with a meeting, is it?” said Naruze while snatching up the launched udon at her own pace.
Masazumi gave Christina and Nagaoka an excuse (“Sorry. We only just now got started, so we aren’t ready yet.”), but Christina was excitedly holding the letter high and Masazumi felt like she had embarrassed her. At any rate…
“Adele, were you ever planning to eat any, or are you just going to keep sending it down the bamboo all night?”
“I want to eat! I do! But I can’t figure out when to head down while serving up enough for everyone!”
“You leave me with no choice then,” said Mitotsudaira while pulling out her silver chains.
The chains curved into a question mark, but once Mitotsudaira gave them their instructions, they headed toward Adele. I forgot they did this back at England, thought Naruze.
“Anyway, this allows Adele to join us too. The udon couple must be watching and I imagine we can get a link to the Kantou group, so now would be a great time to see Carlos I’s question.”
Asama responded by opening a sign frame.
It contained the memo they had received from Mouri Terumoto the night before.
<A wordplay question for Taikyou-sama.
- Can you take care of this, William?>
Naruze looked to Swedish Chancellor Christina while reading that text.
“This memo says Carlos I wanted Holland Chancellor William, Prince of Orange, to pass a question on to a ‘Taikyou-sama’,” Masazumi said to Christina. “And Mouri Terumoto told us you had the question he was referring to.”
That much was true since Christina now held the letter containing that question.
That would be for more than just history recreation accuracy. Words digitized on a sign frame had a way of spreading across the divine network.
Using a hard copy was a form of security.
If this parchment letter was the only copy, then this information only existed here.
What Masazumi said next suggested she understood that.
“Can you tell us what is written in that letter, Swedish Chancellor?”
Mitotsudaira observed Christina’s reaction.
She tilted her head and spoke.
“I thought my interactions with Musashi were based around your involvement in the Honnouji Incident.”
Mitotsudaira understood what she was getting at. So…
“Are you asking us to let you refuse any talks related to Honnouji if you help us with this letter?”
“This is an international negotiation, so Sweden would be at risk otherwise. Yes.”
That was true enough. And Christina’s expression was one of resignation.
She probably wanted to help Musashi out as much as she could.
…I doubt she is lying about this.
She would gain nothing by earning their sympathy and she probably was not that skilled a negotiator.
She excelled at maintaining a straight face.
When gathering and producing information, it was safest if she feigned indifference.
But she had a weak point.
She could feign indifference when it came to things beyond herself, such as other people and other nations. She could treat them as mere “things”. But she could not do so when it was directly related to herself.
Her emotions seeped through and her shell of indifference crumbled away.
You could say she excelled at being an observer but had trouble being part of the action.
This was a good example.
She probably saw herself as “on their side” after Nördlingen, but that made her current political position a challenge for her.
Sweden wanted to safely complete the Thirty Years’ War and name themselves as victors at Westphalia.
Her nation would not want her to get involved in Musashi’s affairs.
And she could not simply ignore her political position. So…
“Then what will we do, Masazumi?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded. “We will take that letter in exchange for rescuing you at Nördlingen.”
Narumi’s eyebrows rose at that and she lifted her chopsticks.
“Musashi isn’t going to get her help with intervening at Honnouji?”
“I have a few ideas on how we can do that, so like I said before, we will negotiate that out with the Swedish Chancellor starting with a clean slate.”
Narumi nodded in response.
“If you have options, then I will leave it with you. Sorry for the unnecessary question.”
“No, it’s important to make sure everything is on track. …Is this okay with you too, Swedish Chancellor?”
Christina relaxed her shoulders and nodded.
“Testament, that will make this easier for me as well. Yes.”
“I would prefer if the negotiations over any requests you have for Sweden concerning Honnouji wait until some other time.”
Mitotsudaira nodded at that. Asama recorded the statement and Neshinbara nodded as well.
Since Christina placed a hand on her chest and nodded as well…
…That statement has become “official”.
They would debate with her over Honnouji in the near future.
Silver Wolf: “This is a major step.”
Vice President: “It’s too soon to relax, but it does open up our possibilities. It’s a good thing.”
“Anyway,” said Masazumi as she turned back toward the Swedish Chancellor. “Let’s be careful about this handoff of the letter as well.”
And Masazumi asked one more thing.
“Swedish Chancellor, is your husband on your side?”
Christina was confused by the sudden question.
Her husband stood by her side. Well, Tadaoki was not yet of age, so they could not actually get married yet.
…So, um, I’m not sure what to say when they use that title…
She felt someone touch her fingers.
It was Tadaoki. He was trying to hold her hand.
He pulled his hand back once and she made the mistake of reaching out without thinking what that meant.
Just as he reached out again, she did the same.
He ended up reaching too far and grabbing her wrist.
But he still squeezed and looked over at the Musashi Vice President.
“You want to know if I’m on her side? Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be? I’m not a stranger. What else would I be?”
Christina gasped when she heard it.
…What can I even say?
They were trying to define their own relationship instead of leaving it up to the laws, traditions, or customs.
This is so refreshing.
Once she accepted what this meant, she responded. Oh, dear. I think I’m smiling.
“Testament, that is correct. Tadaoki-sama is on my side.”
She said it with confidence.
“Ohh,” said Musashi’s 3rd Special Duty Officer while their Vice President nodded.
“Then we can share that letter of yours with the Nagaoka boy?”
Christina realized what that question meant.
Musashi was trying to accomplish something through this conversation.
She understood the implications. And since she could fully agree with it, she nodded back at the Vice President. And…
“Tadaoki-sama, can you take a look at this?”
Christina passed the parchment letter to Tadaoki. He casually accepted it and opened it with a flick of his wrist.
He let it hang down from his hand as he viewed it.
Then he held it sideways and muttered “oh”. He did not notice that everyone was focused on him.
He moved his face in close to the parchment and squinted before finally tilting his head.
“Here, you can have it back. …What the heck is it?”
After taking it back, Christina asked him a question.
“What did you think?”
“What could I think?” He looked to the side and spread his mouth horizontally. “It was just a bunch of numbers. Don’t look at me if you want some math done. I couldn’t make any sense of it.”
The person who responded to him in a troubled tone of voice was not Christina.
“Judge,” said the Musashi Vice President. “I see. Then we will take that letter, Lady Nagaoka. Horizon, can you send out your arms? Please accept it ‘in secret’.”
“Oh.” The Musashi Chancellor raised a hand. “Horizon, can you pass it to Nate? I think that would be best.”
Tadaoki did not understand what was going on.
He did not know why it was happening this way, but it seemed like Christina was giving the letter to Musashi because he had failed to read it. Although he was not entirely certain of that either.
…What is this?
He watched as the arms crawled under the table and Christina handed them the letter.
“Hey, wait. Should you really give them that? It’s yours, isn’t it?”
“Tadaoki-sama, you are not supposed to say that out loud here.”
When she gave him that troubled look, he could not just back down.
He felt like he had caused a problem just now, but he hated feeling like the only person who did not know what was going on.
He was younger than everyone else, so he did not want them to make fun of him or use his ignorance to manipulate him.
The Musashi Vice President must have realized how he felt because she spoke to him.
“We aren’t making fun of you, Nagaoka. Your opinion of that letter is the same as Lady Nagaoka’s.”
“Huh? You mean she can’t read it either?”
“Not quite.” His wife smiled. “I can no longer read it.”
He could tell that was a lie, but…
…She’s using my answer, but not out of pity. That must mean…
“Um, so does my opinion become our opinion?”
“It already did. Right, Swedish Chancellor?”
“Testament. I have never said a word about whether or not I could read it.”
That would mean the same thing about whether she could read it now.
…So she never said if she can or can’t read it.
And once he said he could not, it was assumed that she could not either.
“So whether or not she can read it was up to me?”
No, that was not it. Not quite.
…It wasn’t up to me. They made it up to me.
He wanted to understand all this, so he groaned in thought. And…
“Heh heh. Foolish brother, Nagabuto is having trouble.”
“Fine, I’ll help him out. …Hey, Nagabuto and his wife, c’mon over here next to us. There’s an open spot upstream of us, so pull up some chairs.”
“Hey, you can’t just cut into this conversa-”
Tadaoki felt a tug on his hand and looked up to see his wife lifting his wrist.
“Let’s go, Tadaoki-sama.”
He did not like this. It made him feel like he was being used and he could not at all understand why. But…
…Well, that just means I’ve gotta grow up so much they can’t take me so lightly.
He still had enough confidence left to think “just you wait until next year” at them. So…
“Fine, then. But tell me this, Vice President. What would you have done if I could read it?”
“I’d have let this idiot read it.”
The girl’s immediate respond caused everyone to freeze, but she spread her arms and explained.
“You all know more or less what would happen then, don’t you? He might have even lost the letter or had it taken by the guards as circumstantial evidence. But one thing’s for sure: he wouldn’t be able to read it. He’d make terrible excuses that ruined our meal and might even haunt us for the rest of our lives. I’m sure of it.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask, but what would you do then?” he asked.
The 3rd and 4th Special Duty Officers covered their ears.
“Okay, Masazumi, you can tell him now.”
“You two sure are quick to defend yourselves. …Anyway, Nagaoka, if the idiot couldn’t read it, the rest is simple.” The Vice President lifted her chopsticks and moved them as if grabbing at the air. “That would make the letter worthless trash, so I would have kindly taken it off your hands.”
Nagaoka tilted his head because he again did not understand what the Vice President meant.
“But that letter is valuable, isn’t it? Why would it be worthless if that idiot couldn’t read it? Is he a god or something?”
He protested, but…
He felt like what he had just said was connected to all this.
The idiot shouted over as if to help him understand.
“What would you do if that happened?”
“Well, I’d say it wasn’t true. I’d say I could read it and it had value since I knew what it said.”
“But I wouldn’t be able to read it.”
“Then I’d just have to tell you what-”
It finally clicked for him.
…Oh, so that’s it.
He understood now. If the idiot could not read it but he could and wanted to prove its worth…
“You couldn’t determine its worth unless I told you what it said.”
“Exactly,” said the Vice President. “We would demand to ‘see the product’ you were trying to sell us.”
“You would have to read the letter to us.”
Yes. If he could read it but that idiot could not and he wanted to prove its worth, he would have no other choice.
Musashi would never accept its value unless he let them know what it said.
That would make for a safe negotiation, but it carried another problem.
…It would put Sweden in a bad position.
They would have essentially given up on negotiating after revealing their bargaining chip to Musashi.
His wife must have realized he understood now because she spoke up too.
“Yes. In that case, I would have demanded you keep the contents of the letter to yourself.”
I suppose so, he thought while thinking about her circumstances.
“Don’t you intend to side with Musashi?”
“As Swedish Chancellor, I cannot answer that question.”
Then, he thought. What about as my wife?
He was holding her wrist. If that was her palm, she could have squeezed his hand in response. But…
“I’m on Musashi’s side.”
At Nördlingen, he had confessed, been accepted, and joined Musashi. He had known what that meant when he accepted it, so his wife must have as well. He trusted her.
So what would that mean in this case?
“You don’t have to demand I keep the contents of the letter to myself.”
“Judge. Because I saw the letter and I’m willing to say it was worthless. So…”
He pointed at the parchment he had accepted from his wife earlier.
I know that thing’s super valuable politically speaking. I get that it’s so important that Musashi wants it in exchange for winning that battle.
But if I say that, my wife will have a harder time giving it to them. Sweden doesn’t want anything to do with Musashi and she would have to act as their Chancellor.
So I have to say this since I’m on her side and I can speak on her behalf.
“We don’t need that letter. I read it and it’s a bunch of nonsense. But,” he said while tugging on his wife’s hand and walking toward the seats they had been offered. “Give us some dinner to eat. It’s worth that much.”
“Are you done now?” Naruze asked with her hands still over her ears.
Mitotsudaira nodded in response.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, thought the wolf as she accepted the letter from the arms.
“That worked out thanks to my king’s assistance and Horizon’s arms.”
“Ariadust-kun’s arms were treated as an unidentified mysterious phenomenon back at Nördlingen, so could we pass that letter off as a gift from a mysterious phenomenon?”
It scared her how plausible that sounded. But anyway…
“This does mean none of us directly accepted it. …Now, Masazumi.”
“Hey, idiot, why did you have it sent to Mitotsudaira?” Masazumi asked the king.
But the king and Horizon were fully focused on eating udon.
“Eh? What? Gah! Th-that’s gross, Horizon! Don’t use your arms after they’ve been crawling around on the ground!”
“Heh heh heh. The tears of the vanquished are the sweetest of nectars to the victorious.”
“Um, Horizon? Your nose is running…”
After Asama’s warning, Horizon slowly turned around, held one side of her nose, and produced a sniffling sound.
After a bit, she turned back around like nothing had happened.
“Did you say something, Asama-sama?”
“No, um, if you’re fine with that, then never mind.”
Apparently she was fine with it.
“Um, my king? What am I supposed to do with this letter?”
“Eh? Oh, nothing really. It’s just that you got us the original memo too, so I thought it might help Hexagone Française and your maman save face if that letter belongs to you.”
“You’re overthinking this,” replied Mitotsudaira with a bitter smile.
She stood up and looked over to see Christina shrugging with a bitter smile of her own.
“International relations are a tricky thing, aren’t they?”
“Only at first. Once Musashi gets used to you, we get way lazier about these things.”
“That sounds much nicer, actually.”
Mitotsudaira held up the letter that woman had given them.
Everyone was watching her, but she started by bowing. And then…
“Um, I present this to you, my king.”
She took her chair over and sat behind the king and princess.
…I need to show this letter to my king first.
She tried to block Horizon and her king’s gazes from herself with the opened letter. She held that parchment while thinking she was acting like a child who had just been bought a new toy.
And when she finally looked at the brown parchment in the light of the illumination spells…
“What is this?”
It was nothing but a long string of numbers.
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