Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 13

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Chapter 13: Thinkers by the Current[edit]

Horizon8A 327.jpg

What is this?

What could it mean?

Ooh, I know!

Point Allocation (You Be Quiet)


Mitotsudaira unfolded the letter they had received from Christina and found a string of characters within.

They were numbers. Double and triple digit numbers. And they were formatted like the letters in an ordinary text.

Mitotsudaira started to read them aloud, but she doubted anyone would be able to understand it.

So instead, she opened a sign frame and used a photography spell to read in the parchment’s text.

“Um, do any of you know what this means?”


Christina viewed the image of the parchment that had been sent to Tadaoki too.

She recognized the text displayed there.

“12 – 46 – 57 – 68.”

“You have this memorized?”

“I stared at it an awful lot, so I remember it pretty well.”

“That’s incredible.”

He seemed genuinely impressed, which made her a little happy. She was proud of her memory.

So she looked him in the eye and recited the proof of that pride.

“58 – 78 – 66 – 110 – 32 – 43.”

Then a blank line.

“96 – 26 – 94 – 115 – 79 – 90 – 26 – 42 – 106 – 43 – 82 – 115 – 91.”

And another blank line.

“90 – 92 – 42 – 23 – 79 – 81 – 104 – 83 – 42 – 105 – 11 – 87 – 84 – 85 – 86.”

“You really do have it memorized…”

Oops. I got carried away and now he’s a little creeped out by it.

“U-umm.”

She hesitated, but he seemed to mistake what that meant.

“Oh,” he said and moved his sign frame so she could see.

He must have thought that was as much as she had memorized and could not continue like this.

But in fact, she had the rest memorized too.

However, her husband’s misunderstanding and concern made her happy.

“Thank you.”

She made sure to state her appreciation before reading off the numbers again.

“31 – 24 – 84 – 73 – 100 – 64 – 43 – 18 – 75 – 90 – 26 – 42 – 83 – 84 – 85 – 86 – 55.”

She took a breath in preparation for the last line. That row of numbers was located further away from the rest.

“81 – 43 – 75 – 67 – 19 – 20 – 36 – 77 – 101 – 23 – 90 – 25.”

That was all.

She relaxed her shoulders and looked up.

Everyone around her had fallen silent.

But this silence did not contain the cautious and ominous sese the previous one had. They were all staring at their sign frames.

“Um.”

She had decoded this, so she was going to ask if they wanted any advice. However…

“Oh, go ahead and eat some udon, Swedish Chancellor. We’re busy making some initial thoughts on this matter. The silver chains will serve you, so don’t mind us.”

She looked up to see a chain holding a pair of chopsticks and looking down at her.

Will it understand this? she wondered while nodding at it. The chain wrapped a twisted hand towel around itself and began to serve the udon.


Vice President: “Okay, we have the letter now, so what are your initial impressions?”

Art-Ga: “Nerd, figure it out for us.”

Novice: “Wh-what kind of command is that!?”

Horizey: “Neshinbara-samaaa!!”

Novice: “So now you’re willing to come to me for help!? Only now!? …But I do know what this must be. Each number is either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ and by figuring out which is which and reading only the ‘yes’ ones, they form words!”

Four Eyes: “Didn’t the Hexagone Française President say it was using numbers in place of written characters? That would mean you are wrong.”

Horizey: “Mitotsudaira-samaaa!”

Silver Wolf: “My kiiing!”

Me: “Horizooon!”

Horizey: “I get the feeling this is a lost cause.”

Almost Everyone: “D-don’t give up already!”


Gin was watching the disastrous goings on from Kantou.

It looks even worse when you’re looking on from the outside.

She was on the beach at night. Fishing fires were burning out at sea and the fishing boats were casting their nets at the fish that approached them. Meanwhile, several stoves were being prepared here on the beach.

On Ookubo’s suggestion, everyone was going to eat out on the beach assuming the weather remained clear.

That would simplify the food distribution and storage and make it easier for everyone’s opinions to be heard.

“Master Muneshige, we did this sort of thing at Alcalá de Henares or at the public market back at Tres España, didn’t we?”

“The Tachibana home was situated a little higher than the rest of the city, so I would eat at the market’s open-air food stands on my way to and from there. The rumors I sometimes heard about you were fascinating.”

This was the first she had heard of that. She could not believe he was talking about it now, but it also told her he was enjoying things here.

“On the day of our final duel, they all saw me off with words of support, but I ended up staying at your place for a while afterwards since I cut off your arms and everything, so there was a rumor going around the city that you had finally killed me.”

“Does that mean they assumed you would lose? But regardless, I am glad to have heard about this.”

And…

“Don’t worry. You are plenty strong now, Master Muneshige. And you were back then as well.”

“And I’m going to get even stronger. I just know it now that I’ve seen this place and everyone in it,” he said quietly. “Winning a battle brings a sense of relief, but it also makes me feel like I’ve helped set history in motion.”

“Having history set you in motion is not a bad thing either.”

“That’s true too,” he said while they shared a smile as two who had lost in the past.

Then his face moved in towards her.

“–––––”

She felt indecent doing it here, but she allowed herself three seconds to celebrate their victory.

And after taking a breath…

“Master Muneshige, have you seen how everyone back on the Musashi is acting?”

“I have and I believe that letter contains complete sentences.”

That reminded her of Muneshige’s second inherited name. In addition to Tachibana Muneshige, he was also the head of the García family who had begun and run Spain’s postal service.

He had a decent amount of knowledge concerning letters and the text written therein. So…

“Master Muneshige! You can add this to your site!”

“I did not expect for my talents to come in handy here.”

He began to input his words to a sign frame.

Tachibana Husband: “Good evening! Tachibana Muneshige here!”


Flat Vassal: “This is weird. Why did the greeting tell me who it is more than him actually giving his name?”

Me: “Hey, that could’ve been Itoken too! Show her, Itoken!”

Obscene: “Hello and good evening! No one suspicious here! Only Itou Kenji the Incubus!”

Bell: “Oh, Itoken-kun said…um, ‘hello’ first.”


Me: “Hey, Muneo! You should say ‘hey’ or ‘hello’ first or it’s too sudden and surprises Bell-san.”

I see, thought Muneshige.

Tachibana Husband: “Hey, understood! Hey, I will be more careful from now on! Hey, just leave it to me!”


Horizey: “You lose again, Toori-sama.”

Me: “D-dammit! It wasn’t my fault! It wasn’t my faaaaaault!”

Asama: “It’s okay, Suzu-san. That wasn’t your fault, okay? …Um, that would get annoying fast, so I’ll tell Gin-san to fix it.”


Fix it she did. And after taking a breath…

Now, let’s see if we can get back on track.

“Master Muneshige, why do you say that letter contains complete sentences?”

“Judge,” he said into his sign frame.

Tachibana Husband: “First of all, the lines of numbers have empty lines between them. If this were a list of items, it would look more list-like, but it would also not leave any empty lines to more efficiently use the space. And if they were all the same sort of thing, they would all be lined up together with only commas or spaces to separate them.”

10ZO: “You wouldn’t need empty lines between complete sentences either, though.”

Four Eyes: “If I may interject, I think each sentence is an entirely separate thought.”

Novice: “Since when are you shy about interjecting!?”

Gin was a little irritated by the Secretary’s response and the English author must have been as well.

Four Eyes: “You expect me to interrupt another nation’s officer? How stupid are you?”

Art-Ga: “Fine, I’ll teach him a lesson.”

Novice: “Wait! Stop drawing that storyboard!”

Four Eyes: “Someone is awfully demanding.”

Novice: “Please stop drawing that storyboard?”

Art-Ga: “You expect me to do what you say when you won’t even look me in the eye?”

“That was a splendid diversion leading into an equally splendid finishing blow, Gin.”

“Judge. Musashi’s people are very skilled in such things, making them easy to converse with. But anyway,” said Gin. “Can you say anything else about the parchment’s contents?”

“Yes. As you can see by looking at the numerical strings, each sentence is longer than the last.”

In other words…

“They may be writing about something on a higher level with each sentence. There is also that final sentence after several blank lines, but that may be something like a PS.”


Mitotsudaira saw everyone thinking about that.

If the Vice Chancellor’s Aide is correct, this must have some important meaning.

It was not just a quick memo or a list. So…

“Then how do we decode these numbers?”

“The most basic method would be to give each of the kana a number and then apply some other formula to that,” said the Secretary with a hand on his chin. “First, you would convert the kana into numbers and then you would add in some extra noise by applying some other code or formula that only your people knew.”

“Such us?”

“Since this is from Carlos I, you could add 1 for ‘the first’. I doubt it’s actually that simple and it’s probably something else entirely, but we’ll just have to do some searching to reach the right answer.”

Can we reach the right answer?”

“We know someone here can read it.”

He gestured toward the Swedish Chancellor.

She, however, grabbed some udon without providing a real response. That suggested her having read it was to remain unsaid here.

But they received a fragment of a hint from somewhere else.

It came from Asama. She frowned and tilted her head, but…

“I can see what look like something familiar in this.”

The Secretary turned her way.

“Really!? P-please tell me what you see, Asama-kun! I guess your work with prayers helps here, doesn’t it!?”

“Um, Neshinbara-kun? Is it just me or have you been especially shameless lately?”

“Only because the rest of you work to destroy any pride I might have! Anyway, please tell me! I have to think up a major project for the upcoming summer event, so I don’t have much time!”

Art-Ga: “Your official duties come second to the summer event?”

Four Eyes: “You should set your priorities better.”

Novice: “I-I don’t want to hear that from either of you!”

“Calm down,” said Asama while opening a sign frame and holding it up to show off the end of the string of numbers.

Then she turned toward the king.

“Um.”

Before she could call his name, Horizon grabbed his head and yanked it around toward Asama.

That would be Horizon’s way of helping, but it must have been a little too sudden.

“Gweh.”

A weird noise escaped the king, but that was just Horizon’s idea of (physical) affection.

It took him about five seconds to recover.

Once he was back up, he noticed Asama looking at him with a bitter smile.

Asama: “Toori-kun, I would like to test something.”

Test?

The king responded by first looking to Mitotsudaira and the others.

He was checking with them before answering.

Me: “Okay, Nate, Bell-san, and…Tenzou too. You three help out Asama.”


Mitotsudaira gasped when she heard her king’s instructions and selection of people.

She knew what they were to do and there was no need to look to Suzu and the 1st Special Duty Officer to ensure they did as well.

Unturning: “What is this about?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. There is only one thing the three of us would be needed to ‘test’.”

Me: “Yup. So get to it, Asama.”

They did not need to be told twice, so the three of them listened to Asama while holding their breaths.

Asama stood up and showed her sign frame to everyone. It was zoomed in on some of the numbers.

“Umm, will you please look at this?”


Christina listened to the Asama Shrine Representative.

It was adorable how Tadaoki was so focused on the nagashi udon like he was at a waterpark, but she also focused on the voice she could hear.

“Here and here. The final numbers are the same. Just take a look. The last two of the longer lines have ’84! 85! 86!’ at the end. And those three numbers are in order! That must be pretty rare! And that’s not all!”

Christina realized something while listening in.

That’s how they talk on the Shinto Net Asama late-night shopping show!

There were recent rumors that the Asama Shrine’s primary representative would be retiring from that show. If he had been training his daughter to take on that role, those rumors might just be true.

Christina hated that she was not set up to record this. However…

“Take a look here!” said the Asama Shrine Representative. “84! 85! 86! The three are all in a row, right!? And near the end of the line! That suggests to me that they might be one of the polite sentence enders that are common in Far Eastern!”


Suzu immediately typed out a response.

Bell: “No.”

A moment later, another response supported her decision.

Silver Wolf: “Judge! That is incorrect.”

Gold Mar: “Eh? What is? Asama-chi’s guess?”

Yes, but that was not what they were focused on.

Toori had chosen Suzu, Mitotsudaira, and Tenzou for a reason.

10ZO: “We were focusing on what kind of response the Swedish Chancellor gave to Asama-dono’s suggestion.”

But…

10ZO: “She continued eating her food just the same afterwards.”

“Yes,” agreed Suzu.

That response and everything else they were saying were confined to the divine chat. Christina was here with them and she might notice any outward movements they made.

They had a single task here.

Monitor Christina’s responses to see if Asama’s reasoning was correct and how important it was.

Only Suzu, Mitotsudaira, and Tenzou were so sensitive to sound and motion.

If Asama had been right…

Bell: “That would have…changed if it…was right.”

Her desire to confirm it would have shown itself somehow.

They did not know how well Christina could hide her inner thoughts, but she had shown no reaction whatsoever.

That would have meant nothing if she had not heard the suggestion, but…

Horizey: “Asama-sama was using her loud sales talk voice, which is guaranteed to have reached her and grabbed her attention.”

Asama: “Oh, no. What if she thinks I always talk like that?”

Gold Mar: “Asama-chi, you lose if you let it bother you.”

But not letting it bother her at all seemed like surrendering.

At any rate, Christina had ignored it.

Bell: “She ignored…Asama-san’s…performance.”

Asama: “Um, Suzu-san? Do you have to call it a performance?”

Unturning: “But isn’t it possible that the Swedish Chancellor specifically did not react because the Asama Shrine Representative’s performance was accurate?”

Kimi placed a hand on Asama’s shoulder and Asama brushed it off, but Suzu chose to ignore that.

Because…

Art-Ga: “There’s no chance of that and Suzu knows why.”

That was a lot of trust there, but she did know.

Bell: “Because Tadaoki-kun…is with her.”

Suzu explained the odd sense she had noticed in how Christina ignored them.

Bell: “She isn’t…alone.”


Scarred: “Hm? What does that mean, Master Tenzou?”

Tenzou nodded at Mary’s comment made while they viewed the udon side menu on a sign frame.

10ZO: “Simply put…oh, they have tempura, which is basically Far Eastern fritters. If you want something chewy, go with maitake or a root vegetable. For a different flavor, go with shiso. If you’re feeling like something wilder, you can go with a more chopped-up vegetable. And if you want it to go with something else, you could get the whiting tempura.”

Scarred: “I-I’ll do my best.”

Do your best at what? he wondered, but then a sign frame appeared over Mary’s somewhat lowered head.

Wise Sister: “Heh heh. Hoping she ‘feels like something wilder’ tonight, are you?”

Gold Mar: “Was all of that supposed to be innuendo somehow?”

Horizey: “He has to make his move eventually.”

That is none of your business, he thought, but Mary had already made her order.

He also answered her question about what was happening.

10ZO: “She is not alone, Mary-dono.”

In other words…

10ZO: “It does not matter if Christina-dono reacts in some way because she has Tadaoki-dono with her. In fact, she can use him to camouflage any secret information by making it unclear if her reaction was to him or not. But she chose to provide no reaction at all, suggesting she is not used to this sort of thing.”

He got the full answer out there. But…

Asama: “No, um, that’s not quite right, Tenzou-kun.”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. The 1st Special Duty Officer’s view isn’t quite correct.”

10ZO: “Eh? But…”

“Um,” said Mary as she opened her sign frame again.

Scarred: “Would Lady Christina really be able to use Master Nagaoka as camouflage like that?”


I screwed this one up, sighed Tenzou.

10ZO: “So without using Nagaoka-dono as an option, Christina-dono’s only options were to react or not react on her own?”

Silver Wolf: “Judge. But she already views the Nagaoka boy as on her side, so if Tomo had been right, she would have shown some hesitation because she was not sure if she could get him involved or not. After all, they only just concluded that they would not have just one or the other decide for both of them.”

However, she had not shown any hesitation and she had not checked with Tadaoki about anything.

10ZO: “Then Asama-dono’s suggestion really must have been wrong.”

The similar endings to the two sentences were not polite Far Eastern sentence enders. Which meant…

Tachibana Husband: “The letter is not written in a polite or formal way. It simply states what must be said.”

Gold Mar: “The memo we received before said ‘Can you take care of this, William?’, right? So could those three numbers be a question phrase?”

Asama: “No, I don’t think that’s it.”

Asama was quick to respond.

Asama: “The end of the 3rd and 4th sentences look similar with the ‘84 – 85 – 86’, but the 4th sentence has a 55 after that. A question phrase would come at the very end of the sentence, so it would be weird to have one more character after that.”

Art-Ga: “Maybe the 4th one has a question mark at the end.”

Novice: “I know what this is…! He added an ellipsis or exclamation point to his sentence to make it sound more important…!”

Almost Everyone: “Only you do that!”

“About that,” said someone from Kantou.

It was Naomasa.

She had not spoken up in a while and the rest of her statement came after a short pause.

Smoking Girl: “If it simply states what must be said, it’s probably a list of instructions. And with growing intensity.”

Everyone exchanged a glance.

Flat Vassal: “With growing intensity?”

What did that mean?

Horizey: “Um, Naomasa-sama, if you could tell just me the answer and not tell everyone else you told me, then I could act like I had figured it out on my own.”

Everyone shuddered in fear at the audacity it took to ask that out loud.

Smoking Girl: “That request was enough, Horizon.”

And…

Smoking Girl: “This is a special trait of Far Eastern. You can increase the intensity of a command by adding just one more character to the end.”

Novice: “That would suggest this is a very businesslike and high-pressure letter.”

Neshinbara leaned back in his chair and scooted his butt forward. It was a lot like someone who had eaten too much, but he gave it a more somber look.

Novice: “Carlos I may have initially intended to simply ‘ask’ a question, but while he was writing it, it turned into some kind of command. That would mean his real question is here.”

He drew an arrow made of red lines on his sign frame.

Novice: “The PS at the very bottom would be his actual question and the 4th line just before it is probably some other command pointing to a pressing situation.”

Vice President: “Make some wild guesses here, Neshinbara. I’ll allow it.”

“Judge,” said Neshinbara while picking up his chopsticks and using that as camouflage to rapidly type at his sign frame.

Novice: “We know Carlos I was pursuing the Princess Disappearances. And we began to notice something irritating while pursuing those disappearances ourselves.”

Namely…

Novice: “Recall what we have seen in the mysterious facilities at Novgorod and the Sanada ruins and in the underground ruins at Houjou. It seems the Princess is connected to something from the Age of Dawn.”


Neshinbara spoke while breaking apart his chopsticks.

Novice: “We know there was a ‘nonexistent academy’ and we have recently come to realize it must have been around quite recently. Most likely, during Carlos I’s generation – about 30 years ago. Most of the people there have probably fallen victim to the Princess Disappearances. But what were they doing there? And at Novgorod, we heard that they were trying to befriend the Princess. Now, this next part is a guess.”

He took a breath, stuck his chopsticks in the water running down the bamboo, and scooped up some udon as he said more.

Novice: “Lord Motonobu created the Logismoi Oplo as a means of stopping the Apocalypse. We know from Mikawa that the Genesis Project was his work as well. And at the ‘nonexistent academy’, he tried and failed to befriend the Princess. So here is my conclusion: Carlos I and the others were working on a solution to the Apocalypse at their ‘nonexistent academy’. Or to put it another way, the ‘nonexistent academy’ was a Testament Cross-Borders Unit meant to stop the Apocalypse.”

And…

Novice: “There, they came up with two different ways of saving the world from the Apocalypse: the Genesis Project and the Logismoi Oplo.”


Four Eyes: “And? What question did Carlos I ask in that letter?”

Novice: “Eh?”

Vice President: “Hey, I asked you to make wild guesses about Carlos I’s letter, not about other random crap.”

Novice: “Eh? Hold on. I was getting to that! Give me another chance!”


Everyone saw Neshinbara splash at the water with his chopsticks to camouflage his conversation.

Almost Everyone: “Stop playing around!”

Novice: “I couldn’t think of any other motion to disguise my typing!”

But he did answer the question.

Novice: “We don’t know when this letter was written, but I imagine it must have been before P.A. Oda proposed the Genesis Project. Then it’s simple.”

Horizey: “It may have just been ‘Let’s do the Genesis Project and the Logismoi Oplo!’ ”

Horizon’s casual comment caused Neshinbara to freeze in place for a few seconds before Horizon spoke up again as if something had just occurred to her.

Horizey: “Oops. I should have let Neshinbara-sama say that himself. How careless of me to not read the room there. My apologies. …Now, go ahead.”

Novice: “You intentionally screwed up my timing, didn’t you!? Didn’t you!?”

But he did continue while soaking some udon in his bowl.

Novice: “I think this must have been some form of verification or command regarding that. This should be evidence to what Lord Motonobu and the others were up to and much, much more as well. So while I do have the summer event coming up, I will work hard to decode this.”


I guess there’s a first time for everything, thought Masazumi concerning Neshinbara.

Their Secretary was usually extremely self-centered and honestly a lot like their Treasurer in that sense, but here he actually wanted to do his job.

Does that mean he’s found a personal interest in it?

Masazumi herself had gotten so engrossed in a book that she forgot to eat or sleep on more than just a few occasions. So…

Vice President: “Go for it, Neshinbara. You have until our Honnouji intervention. That is probably when we will make contact with Akechi Mitsuhide, so it would mean a lot if we knew by then what the Prince of Orange was trying to tell us at Novgorod.”

“Judge,” said Neshinbara and the others responded too.

Unturning: “Yes, and the Secretary’s girlfriend is skilled at decoding things.”

Gold Mar: “Judge. We should be fine with Shakespeare working on it.”

10ZO: “Indeed. Shakespeare-dono should be more than enough. Right, Mary-dono?”

Tonbokiri: “I see. So the glasses boy will act as our intermediary. Then there is nothing to worry about!”

Novice: “Waiiiiit! Do you really want to see my power that badly!? You’ll regret it.”

Laborer: “Shut up now if you don’t want to make this worse.”

Masazumi took a breath as the others devolved into their usual cannibalism.

But what came next was what really mattered.

“Okay, that solves our problem for the time being. So…”

The Swedish Chancellor turned toward her.

“You remembered?”

“Judge. You think I didn’t notice? When you got here, you said that ‘we would love to join you’, but that ‘we’ meant more than just you and Tadaoki, didn’t it?”

In other words…

“Who else is with you? And what is it they want?”

As soon as she asked…

“That is a simple matter!”

A deep voice boomed from overhead.


Masazumi gasped and looked up to the top of the bamboo waterway at the top of the stepped terrace.

The angle put the night sky in the background.

But she could not see anyone standing there. She could simply hear the sound of a chain rattling and a male voice.

“Ah! Hey, s-stop that! Eek, no! My legs do not spread that far!”

“Mitotsudaira, the silver chain.”

The wolf wordlessly tugged on the silver chain. And…

“Oh, qu-quitting already!? Tighter! Bind me tighter!”

“Hey…Mitotsudaira?”

The wolf gave another wordless tug. There was no response at first, but about three breaths later, something came into view at the top of the stepped terrace.

A student was dangling down from the chain.

It was a chubby middle-aged man.

His head was shaved and he wore a kasaya-style Far Eastern uniform even though it was summer.

But one person reacted to the man illuminated in the light spells: Neshinbara.

He had been retyping the contents of the parchment, but now he looked up.

“I-is that who I think it is!?”

“Oh, do you know him, Neshinbara?”

“You don’t!? That’s Ankokuji Ekei, leader of the major Kansai doujin group Ankoku-G Risho-To!”

“Wrooooong! Dead wrooooong!”

Once the silver chains let him down, he pulled a hand mirror from his pocket.

He used his fingers to skillfully reapply the makeup around the corners of his eyes and elsewhere.

“I am currently a monk diplomat for the Mouri clan and will soon transfer to M.H.H.R. Hashiba’s command! You must not use that old, boring name for someone of such foresight and skill!”

He crossed his arms then spread them again and twirled around on the spot, his kasaya flipping up as he did so.

“People call me Ankoku-G…”

He suddenly planted his feet firmly down, struck a pose, and shouted at the top of his lungs.

“A! K! …Do not forget it.”

Everyone who saw it wordlessly elbowed their neighbor in the side.