Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 15
Chapter 15: Gatherer During the Discussion
That is another way of doing it
Attack without fleeing
Fall back without fleeing
Point Allocation (Resolve)
Ookubo’s tongue click echoed through the air.
Kanou glanced over at her, likely to say that was poor manners.
In fact, several people turned toward the noise.
This was the heart of the Satomi city being reconstructed. The walls had been removed from a teahouse so it could function as a town hall.
A landed Hashiba transport ship had functioned as the town hall while Hashiba was in control, but that had since been removed.
They still needed to reclaim the last few months of town hall work, but Ookubo had been tasked with getting the town hall running again and to manage the recovery data.
Night had already fallen, but she could hear the crashing waves in the distance, the groan of wooden structures being torn down around the city, and the occasional voices shouting.
Still, it was mostly quiet enough to notice the sounds of sign frame operation.
Similarly, her tongue click had gotten the Tachibana Couple to turn around from their work.
“Do you not like the sound of that, Representative Committee Head?” asked Tachibana Gin.
“No, I don’t,” she had to agree.
She was pissed off. But…
…What is the Vice President doing?
She had said they were not interested in selling the Mouri fleet. Because…
…Mouri still has to face M.H.R.R. as Hexagone Française.
That was probably true and Ookubo knew it was important.
But Ankokuji appeared to be pro-Hashiba, so saying that in front of him was dangerous.
“If the Musashi does come to Kantou, that opinion will act like a threat against the Azuchi.”
And that statement carried another problem too.
“Musashi is effectively pulling Mouri and Hexagone Française into the fight against Hashiba.”
AK felt that the Musashi Vice President had said too much.
Her statement was not a condition of their negotiation. It was no more than her own opinion.
…She wants Mouri and Hexagone Française to continue their opposition of Hashiba and M.H.R.R.
In other words, she wanted Mouri to remain an ally of Musashi.
Her statement had been dripping with that opinion.
And it also put the Musashi’s position at risk.
“Musashi Vice President.” AK spoke to the girl in front of him. “You are hoping for too much. The Mouri fleet belongs to Terumoto-sama. Only she can decide what will be done with it.”
“I see,” she said. “Then are you saying Mouri is taking a pro-Hashiba stance?”
That was a leading question.
She was trying to get him to confirm that.
But he knew exactly how to respond.
“Mouri siding with Hashiba is part of the history recreation.”
He did not say they would be “pro”-Hashiba, but they did know where they would stand in the future. The Testament was very clear on this.
She nodded once and raised her right hand.
“Then I guess we’ll give money to Satomi and have them buy the Mouri fleet.”
Masazumi saw Ankokuji look up.
He tilted his head and asked a question.
“And what would that accomplish?”
“Judge. It would let us carry you to Kantou with the Musashi.”
Mitotsudaira gave a snort of laughter at that.
“Excuse me,” she said and straightened up.
Ankokuji gave her a sharp look and Horizon raised her right hand.
A moment later, Asama hurriedly waved the menu to fan the idiot and Horizon.
“Ahh, it’s so hot. Isn’t it just blazing out tonight, everyone!?”
Horizey: “Ohh, nice excuse for fanning it away, Asama-sama.”
Silver Wolf: “T-to be clear, I was referring to my laughter!”
Me: “And Horizon? You can fake it with a vocal sound if you have to, but without some kind of noise, it’s hard to tell what the joke was.”
Horizey: “I had little time to prepare, so if I had forced it that quickly, I was afraid some so called ‘udon’ might come out.”
Flat Vassal: “Could you not say that!? I was late to get started, so I’m stilling eating some actual udon!”
Almost Everyone: “Excuse me!”
That excuse me move sure is convenient, thought Masazumi, but she understood why Mitotsudaira had laughed.
“This is how I see it,” she said to Ankokuji. “If you, Ankokuji Ekei, meeting with Terumoto after the Kantou Liberation will make Mouri pro-Hashiba, then we can’t support that.”
“Our best bet is to have the Mouri fleet sold cheaply to Satomi to eliminate a powerful naval force that would go to Hashiba.”
“Yes, of course,” said the Reine des Garous while walking along the beach toward the city.
Her right hand carried a paper bag full of seasoned and cooked meat while her left hand held her husband’s hand as they walked toward the lights of the city.
“The Testament tells us Mouri and Matsudaira will be enemies at Sekigahara. How that will be dealt with us up to later interpretations and the situation everyone finds themselves in, but you can’t forget that the two will be enemies.”
“Then what will Musashi do?”
“Testament,” she said to her husband. “If that liaison sees a future where Mouri and Musashi are enemies, the path she laid out is an option. In other words, they can work to weaken Mouri now.”
“And she has another move she can make that should come as a surprise for that liaison who is plotting to trap both sides – or trap Musashi at least.”
…This guy is not easy to work with.
He held some secrets in reserve so he could entangle Musashi and trap them no matter what happened.
So she had to show real resolve here.
“We will buy the Mouri fleet and give that funding to Terumoto.”
“Mouri must reorganize their fleet during summer break.”
“Are you saying Musashi is taking a hostile measure against Mouri?”
“Didn’t you just say that’s part of the history recreation, Mouri Liaison?”
Since he had said that himself, Ankokuji had to base everything on the history recreation.
Vice President: “Let’s see how deep his plans go.”
Silver Wolf: “He very nearly has us trapped, so are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“I am,” said Masazumi.
Vice President: “Some of this will be a pain to set up, but Ookubo will figure it out.”
“Milady! Milady! You can be mad about this! Don’t just sigh in resignation!”
“Lately, I’ve started to think I win as long as I figure out how to do these things for her.”
“Milady! If you have to invent your own definition of winning, it means you’re losing!”
“Anyway,” said AK. “If I understand you correctly, you are saying Musashi intends to oppose both Hashiba-sama and Mouri?”
That was the history recreation, so he could use this to his advantage.
“Musashi will take me to Kantou, where the Azuchi and Terumoto-sama happen to be. So…”
“I am willing to wait a week before making the trip.”
Gold Mar: “Huh? What’s the point of that delay?”
Smoking Girl: “We can tell you that from here in Kantou.”
Naomasa explained over the divine network.
Smoking Girl: “The Azuchi will be mostly functional again given a week. A name inheritor with a weird way of doing repairs has apparently arrived on the Azuchi. The main thrusters are covered by a shield. From the look of things, I’m guessing it will be moving again in a week.”
Bell: “Then would…the Azuchi and…the Musashi end up…fighting a war?”
Art-Ga: “No, Masazumi! Resist the temptation of war!”
Vice President: “I knew someone was going to say that!”
“One question,” Masazumi said to Ankokuji. “Have you forgotten that summer break prevents us from fighting a war in Kantou?”
“No one said anything about a war.” He shrugged. “However, every nation has a last resort. Mouri does, Hashiba-sama does…and Musashi does. Isn’t that right?”
“Would you be willing to repeat that if this discussion were being recorded?”
“I will say it as many times as you like.” He spread his arms and looked her straight in the eye. “The Musashi will go to Kantou for the history recreation. Hashiba-sama and Terumoto-sama are there and the Azuchi is repairing its damage, so anything could happen there.”
“In that case,” she said.
Vice President: “Time to see how deep his plans go.”
She enjoyed how tense everyone was around her.
“What will Mouri Terumoto do after the reconciliation at Bitchu Takamatsu Castle is complete?” she asked.
“That’s it,” said Ookubo after hearing the Vice President’s question.
Everyone was focused on her and the Vice President’s words did not move from the sign frame.
…After the reconciliation at Bitchu Takamatsu Castle, huh?
“Milady, why ask about Mouri Terumoto after the reconciliation?”
“Think about it, Kanou-kun.” Ookubo tried to focus on the sounds outside as much as she could while she spoke. “The Azuchi is recovering and the Musashi will be coming. That will be a dicey situation. But what will Mouri Terumoto do? Remember, she’ll have already sold her fleet.”
“She will have no choice but to follow the history recreation and ask Hashiba to shelter her aboard the Azuchi. Sigh.”
Narumi saw Ookubo’s opinion on the sign frame.
…That is true.
On a personal level, she wanted Musashi to protect Mouri, but based on the history recreation, that role would go to Hashiba.
Unturning: “Musashi is at a disadvantage here.”
Tachibana Wife: “Judge. After all, Hexagone Française is the biggest winner at Westphalia, so it would be best for Musashi to not oppose them or Mouri if at all possible.”
If the Mouri President had her power stripped from her with her fleet sold, she would have no choice but to ask someone for help.
But that would effectively make her a hostage of that group.
And there was an even worse aspect to this.
Unturning: “Once Hashiba has the Mouri President as a shield, they can safely do anything they want to us.”
Righteousness: “Then can’t Satomi take Mouri in instead?”
Me: “Eh!? Flatty’s adopting!? Way to go!”
Nagaya-Stable: “No, that would force Satomi to leave Kantou unguarded while taking Mouri back. Besides, Satomi isn’t an Hexagone Française mercenary, so you couldn’t go to Europe.”
Me: “Yayyy! Better luck next time, Flatty!”
Righteousness: “Damn you!”
They did not have many options here.
Narumi was reminded of the Siege of Odawara because the different forces were essentially laundering their mobility. There did seem to be a solution, but…
Unturning: “This is a pain, but we have seen how deep his plans go.”
In other words…
Unturning: “He wants to keep the Musashi in Kantou while forcing Mouri to submit to Hashiba. Looking at the history recreation, you could say he is working to help Mouri prosper in accordance with the Testament.”
…Help Mouri prosper?
Adele thought while eating her udon.
Mouri was a Far Eastern force under Hexagone Française’s provisional rule.
Her parents were from Hexagone Française, so she had done some research into this. I’ve forgotten most of what I learned, but it’s not my fault. There’s so much else to do in life.
But she did remember one thing.
Flat Vassal: “Mouri becomes the leader of the Western Army at the decisive Battle of Sekigahara.”
The Eastern Army was led by Matsudaira, but the Western Army’s collapse was partially due to betrayal. Mouri rapidly declined after that loss.
…That’s why the Roi-Soleil married the Mouri President.
Mouri’s defeat and decline would be a thorn in the side of Hexagone Française, conqueror of Europe.
Their marriage gave Mouri the support of Hexagone Française and made it harder for other nations to interfere with Mouri. But…
Flat Vassal: “What’s this about helping Mouri prosper? Don’t they only decline after this?”
Novice: “Not necessarily.”
Horizon’s voice suddenly echoed across the divine network.
Everyone immediately looked to the Secretary, but he inexplicably looked to the 5th Special Duty Officer.
Everyone gave him a “seriously?” look and he finally realized his mistake. He looked to his sign frame and did a triple take at the part where Horizon was calling for him.
Novice: “Eh? Ehh?”
Four Eyes: “What has you so rattled?”
Novice: “Th-this is a precious moment, so I have to savor it! I-I do apologize, Ariadust-kun, but once more!”
10ZO: “That sounds nothing like her and why the question mark?”
The left arm immediately grabbed the idiot’s collar and the right hand began slapping his face side to side, but everyone was used to seeing that by now. The Secretary continued over the idiot’s pathetic cries.
Novice: “Here’s the thing. The Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle occurs at the same time as another event.”
A comment from Kantou arrived in response.
Tachibana Wife: “You mean Oda Nobunaga’s assassination at the Honnouji Incident, don’t you?”
Novice: “Judge! So you see-”
Tachibana Wife: “Hashiba wanted to rush there, but since he did not want word of the assassination getting out, he wanted to end the Siege early. Right!?”
Novice: “Yes, that is correct. So-”
Tachibana Wife: “Ankokuji and the other Mouri negotiators picked up on what Hashiba wanted, so they worked at reconciliation to end the battle early. That allowed Hashiba to hurry back to Oda territory to hunt down Akechi Mitsuhide before anyone else could.”
Tachibana Husband: “Hashiba managed to take over the Oda clan after Honnouji in large part because he moved fast and managed to take revenge for his lord. He later gave Mouri an important position and a warm welcome for allowing such a quick reconciliation.”
Flat Vassal: “So are you saying Mouri prospers underneath Hashiba during the period between Honnouji and Sekigahara, Secretary!?”
Novice: “Yes…that’s it…that’s exactly it…”
Four Eyes: “To sum up, Toussaint, you like to talk a lot, but you have no confidence and let others talk over you.”
Novice: “Is that really what we needed to sum up here!?”
But Adele more or less understood now. Basically…
Flat Vassal: “Mouri has a chance for prosperity between Ankokuji-san’s reconciliation and Sekigahara.”
That’s right, silently agreed Masazumi.
…We’ve finally done it.
She could see what Ankokuji Ekei was really after.
“This is about Mouri, isn’t it?”
“What do you mean?”
“You aren’t working for Hexagone Française. You’re working only for the Far Eastern power of Mouri.”
“I misunderstood, Ankokuji Ekei.”
“You aren’t pro-Hashiba.” She took a breath. “You’re with the Far East. And you always put Mouri first.”
Masazumi found the words leaving her mouth felt oddly refreshing.
…How should I put it?
Why did it feel so refreshing to say someone was simply with “the Far East”?
She knew why.
“The Mouri clan is under Hexagone Française’s provisional rule, but Mouri’s history recreation is about conflicts with other local powers. The great commander Mouri Motonari turned Mouri into a great power that dominated the Chugoku region, but he never found peace. He formed an alliance with the surrounding nations and he had enemies beyond that. And Hexagone Française was no different. The other nations were hoping that Mouri’s history of decline would drag them down.”
“On the guidance of Chancellor Anne and due to the circumstances of the individuals involved, Hexagone Française was bound to Mouri through marriage and promised to support them. Mouri had an unfortunate history recreation for the Warring States period, but they managed to make their decline no more than an interpretation.”
Ankokuji tilted his head and narrowed his eyes at that.
“What is your point?”
The look on his face said he was hiding something, but it was Masazumi’s turn to throw this back in his face.
“Hide your true intentions and you can’t blame us for making assumptions.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh. That’s the worst thing you can say when escorting someone.”
Vice President: “I don’t mind. Defining who we’re dealing with here is an important step for later.”
Bell: “What do you…mean?”
Novice: “After joining Hashiba, Ankokuji Ekei will work as their liaison with other nations. The odds are good we will be dealing with him again. It will mean a lot then if we’ve reached a consensus on his stance. We will have records of this meeting, so we are essentially introducing ourselves and demonstrating our stances for each other.”
Masazumi had known that, so… “Mouri is promised peace and prosperity under Hexagone Française’s rule. But we still have a problem. What happened to the prosperity Mouri was meant to receive when they join Hashiba?” She took a breath. “Before Terumoto’s marriage to the Roi-Soleil, the leaders of Mouri must have been planning for when they joined Hashiba. It might not last long, but Mouri is guaranteed prosperity then. Various interests will be tied up in that, but I bet they had one major objective.”
Ankokuji began to say something with the corners of his lips bending upwards, but Masazumi cut in before she could see if the next word was “incorrect”.
“I said we’re making assumptions, remember?”
“During their short time with Hashiba, the Mouri clan can achieve more prosperity for them and them alone than at any other time. Thy can use the history recreation as the perfect shield to resist any interference from the more powerful nations and they can use it all to support Mouri when it does decline later on. So you’re willing to trap Terumoto and force her to receive Hashiba’s protection to achieve that.”
“That sounds a little idealistic to me.”
“Which is why you’re hiding it. You do the dirty work, so you have to hide the pretty ideals.” Masazumi argued back. “Mouri will decline, but only the pure Mouri that provided this prosperity needs to vanish from history. Terumoto and the next generation can remain with Hexagone Française.”
“Ankokuji Ekei. Your history recreation is meant to give the old Mouri one last hurrah that you can use to see the new Mouri off into the future.”
“You’re getting carried away,” said Ookubo with a hand on her forehead.
She knew exactly why everyone was glancing her way. After hearing what the Vice President had to say…
…They’re thinking it sounds plausible.
But while she complained, Ookubo had learned something from this.
…That must be why Terumoto can’t do anything despite the gravity of the situation.
She had spoken to them through the Reine des Garous earlier, but this had to do with her own history recreation. Shouldn’t she give Ankokuji clearer instructions or approval?
No. She should not.
This was not about her or the younger generation that had chosen to continue on with Hexagone Française.
This was about the older generation that had chosen to act as the purely Far Eastern Mouri clan.
That explained something from earlier.
“It explains why he was so picky about the history recreation.”
Because he was Far Eastern.
The Mouri that had joined with Hexagone Française had the protection of a major nation, so they had more leeway with the history recreation. They had Europe’s conqueror on their side, so they could use interpretations.
But the Far Eastern Mouri could not.
They were ruled by a powerful nation, so the only way to fight back against that great force was to use the academy rules or use…
…The history recreation.
Ankokuji and the others like him were trying to bring prosperity to Mouri while acting as an independent Far Eastern power. They must have been planning this for a long time.
He sided with Hashiba to the point of seeming pro-Hashiba because that position would protect Mouri.
He would act like an enemy, but that would protect his lord.
It was a very Mouri thing to do.
The great commander Mouri Motonari had once sent one of his own children to a neighboring nation to indirectly rule them and thus bring stability to Mouri.
Selflessness was more powerful the greater the objective it was used for.
In this case, it was used to preserve Mouri.
Terumoto and her group had to be aware of this plan and these efforts. Chancellor Anne would have been aware of them in her time.
That would be why Terumoto married the Roi-Soleil to free everyone from that form of selflessness.
…I’ve really gone soft.
When dealing with, fighting against, or deceiving another nation, there was no need to reach an understanding of your opponent. But…
“Milady,” said Kanou out of the blue. “Sympathy, tolerance, and understanding are unnecessary when striking down an enemy, but all those things are necessary when gaining allies.”
“Where did you learn that saying?”
“I merely reversed the original statement. But…the comparison here is clear.”
“It is,” sighed Ookubo. “I didn’t expect to run across a purely Far Eastern force that does not conform to its ruling nation and does not use the provisional rule. And I definitely didn’t expect to find it in one as major as Mouri. You could say Musashi has found its first real neighbor.”
“Their history recreation makes them Musashi’s enemy. What now, Vice President? Sympathy and understanding here will put Musashi in danger.”
Asama realized the situation was not improving as she showed her recording sign frame to Toori and Horizon when they peered in from the side.
…We know what he wants now, but this means he really is Mouri.
Even if they would not accept a major nation’s support, Mouri and Matsudaira were still enemies.
That was unavoidable when this man was working based off of the history recreation.
She turned toward him, wondering what he was thinking.
He appeared to be thinking. She doubted it was anything good, but since Horizon did not hit him, she was apparently wrong about that. Probably anyway.
However, it was Horizon who actually asked the next question.
“Asama-sama, I have a question.”
“What is it, Horizon?”
“Judge. Why is he not satisfied with happiness given to him by someone else?”
That was a tough one.
It would be simple enough to just call him greedy, but she doubted that was the real answer.
“Well,” she said while choosing her words carefully. “Horizon, do you remember what Toori-kun said when he came to save you? He said he would go to you and asked you to come to him. This is the same.”
“What do you mean?”
“It isn’t that he isn’t satisfied with happiness given to him, that he’s greedy, or that he’s insane. Someone might be giving him happiness, but he still isn’t going to stop trying to grasp happiness for himself.”
Asama raised her hands with the palms facing each other.
“When you clap your hands – well, there are tricks to it like shifting them a bit, but you get a better sound when you hit them both together instead of hitting just one against the other.”
“That is true,” said Horizon. “When I slap him, I get a better sound when I grab his collar and pull him toward my swinging hand instead of just holding him still. An excellent insight, Asama-sama!”
That seemed a lot more violent than what she was talking about, but it worked out in the end. And to supplement…
“In other words, it’s important to do things yourself and not just let other people do them for you.”
Art-Ga: “Got it. You’ll embody that motto in my next manuscript.”
Gold Mar: “Wow, this is looking great, Asama-chi.”
But the others were still talking. Ankokuji was glaring at Masazumi with his arms crossed.
“Now,” he said. “What will you do now that you are aware what I want? Will you carry me to Kantou and thus make an enemy of Terumoto-sama by bringing her together with Hashiba, or will you remain here and make Terumoto-sama and the others responsible for neglecting my history recreation? You must choose one or the other.”
It came down to those two options.
…This guy is a pain.
Ookubo could guess that his negotiation style was the opposite of hers.
They both prepared in advance and made sure to have some tricks up their sleeves, but while she would make sure all those tricks were leading toward a single answer, he would give his answer first and then start pulling out all the tricks he had.
Ideally, his opponent would accept his answer before he had used all of this tricks.
But if they did not, he would use those tricks to rhetorically dodge out of the way while aiming for victory.
Neither one revealed their hand in advance, but…
“He uses more negative methods.”
She was a little surprised to find herself describing someone in that way, but then she realized something else.
…The sign frame.
The sign frame displaying the situation in the Udon Kingdom had frozen.
The one by her hands was operating and it responded to her commands, but the data from the Udon Kingdom had frozen and stopped arriving.
…What is this?
Two other things happened at the same time.
Tachibana Gin and Muneshige stood up.
“Everyone, please move to the wall of the teahouse.”
And Kanou quickly spoke to her.
“Milady,” she said while the others obeyed the Tachibana Couple in obvious confusion. “We can use the local divine network, but anything beyond that is locked down. The lock was applied by the Mishima Shrine. That is the shrine that the Asama Shrine Representative placed in charge of the Mouri divine network for this region.”
“I do not know why, but Mouri has taken control of the infrastructure outside Satomi territory.”
Gin and Muneshige stepped outside of the teahouse.
The teahouse had a single wall on the kitchen side of things, so they could gain a full view of their surroundings by standing its two corners instead of standing at opposite corners of the entire building. However…
…This is incredible.
An oddly cool sensation rose up from her feet. Not even coastal land should have felt this chilly on a summer night.
This was not the wind and not a fog.
She knew exactly what it was.
“This is a forest.”
She had seen the same thing last night.
It was the Reine des Garous’s power. Her “forest” was trying to manifest here.
She was suppressing it. She was waiting. Just like a predator patiently waiting for a chance to pounce on its prey. That was the sense Gin got from the chill rising from the ground.
…Does this mean what I think it does?
Tachibana Husband: “Are they saying they will take Satomi and us hostage if need be?”
CAN: “I do not know. It could also be divine transmission trouble. With the Kantou Liberation complete, the local shrines have been released from their previous stress.”
In other words, it was impossible to know how the gods felt about all this. However…
Tachibana Wife: “They may be taking advantage of that.”
“Yes,” said Gin about her own statement. “It is possible the true Mouri force participated in the Kantou Liberation and is doing something the Mouri President and her group knows nothing about.”
“What happens here depends on the decision made in the Udon Kingdom.”
Asama took a breath to calm herself.
She had already informed Masazumi and the others of the situation in Kantou.
Asama: “With the Kantou Liberation, the authority of the Mishima Shrine’s god removed their shrine from the Asama Shrine’s authority.”
10ZO: “Um, isn’t the Mishima Shrine’s god the father of the Asama Shrine’s Sakuya?”
“Yes,” confirmed Asama over the divine transmission.
Asama: “The Shinto infrastructure is built from contracts with the gods, but the gods are living beings and they have their own interests. The Mishima land took a fair amount of damage during the Kantou Liberation, so I think their god, Oyamatsumi, wants to bring this all to end as soon as possible and begin repairing his land.”
Horizey: “So the father had held back all this time since it was his daughter’s job, but he finally got fed up and decided to do it himself?”
Asama: “If this was the work of their god, then probably so.”
“But,” began Mitotsudaira.
Silver Wolf: “The divine transmission settings there were changed to give Mishima priority, right? Normally, you would have free use of divine transmissions in the Mishima territory because your daughter god is more important.”
Asama:' “It feels like Oyamatsumi worked a little too hard this time. Or maybe he wanted to show how upset he was that his daughter keeps putting her work over him.”
Silver Wolf: “So something like ‘daddy isn’t going to put up with this much longer’? But what is Sakuya doing right now?”
Asama sent that question to the Asama Shrine. She went through the official process, including repeated use of the divine network clapping clicker.
Asama: “How are things going?”
<I’m going to rush over there to set him straight, so wait just a bit. 5 minutes max. By, god.>
She was taking this seriously.
“Princess, the Mishima Shrine has sent you a divine transmission from…god?”
<I might be in trouble. By, god.>
“I don’t know what this is about, but why is our god so useless!?”
Asama made a few arrangements.
Sakuya had gone to let her father have it, so she installed a temporary divinity sent by IZUMO.
But the various privileges were determined by the god’s upper limits, so there was nothing much for her to do herself.
She only had to watch, but she made sure to check who the temporary replacement was.
…Oh, I got Iwanaga? I should make a deal for a peace and longevity divine protection while I can.
She has a lot of crazy spells too, thought Asama before speaking aloud to Masazumi.
In 5 minutes, Sakuya would have beaten up her father and returned everything to normal. So…
“Can you wait 5 minutes, Masazumi?”
“No, if this was set up, everyone in Kantou is in trouble.”
Unturning: “Especially if it was set up by the Mouri forces and the Reine des Garous.”
She appreciated how Narumi would state things so plainly. And…
“Now, let’s settle this, Ankokuji Ekei,” said Masazumi. “My general policy for Musashi this summer break is to stay out of Kantou.”
“Oh?” Naito heard Ankoku say.
…Wow, he really is an enemy.
Masazumi had chosen not to bring Ankokuji back to Kantou. That would prevent the reconciliation for the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle and it would place responsibility for that on Musashi and Terumoto.
Was that choice her way of telling Mouri to stop involving Terumoto in all this?
Or to put it another way…
That worried Naito, but Musashi did still have a trick up their sleeves.
She had set up the first step for it.
It was powerful enough to overturn this entire discussion, but…
“Now,” said Ankokuji. “I would like to confirm something.”
What was this about?
“Now that we have revealed our hands to this extent, I have no intention of keeping it hypothetical. Are you prepared for that?”
He nullified their trick.
Gold Mar: “Wow, this is just not my day.”
Scarred: “Eh? Why not?”
Uqui: “Before we began, Naito’s refusal to admit we were mercenaries allowed Masazumi to claim this entire discussion had been hypothetical. So if we were ever in a bind, she could shout ‘this was all hypothetical!’ to turn it all round.”
Silver Wolf: “We would have gotten a fair amount of flak for it, but it would still work as insurance. And it would also let both sides safely reveal their hands.”
Flat Vassal: “But aren’t we in trouble now that we can’t use that?”
Horizey: “Things are heating up at the Udon Kingdom Debate Club, so let’s check in with our reporter on the scene.”
Vice President: “None of you are really all that worried, are you!?”
This no longer hypothetical, thought AK.
He had shown off a lot of his hand and they understood him now.
So what decision would they reach?
“No matter what you choose, responsibility will fall on Musashi and your opposition of Hashiba-sama will begin. And you claim you wish to drag Terumoto-sama into it as well?”
“That will mean making an enemy of Mouri.”
Were they okay with that?
The Mouri forces were fine with it.
After all, the history recreation said Matsudaira and Mouri were enemies.
That decision would lead to Mouri’s prosperity.
They would prove it.
They would prove that Mouri could find prosperity as a Far Eastern nation without the protection of Hexagone Française.
Their only chance to prove it was when Terumoto’s generation was inheriting everything from his.
Her generation onward would be working with Hexagone Française.
His generation was the last one where Mouri could act alone.
So they had to use this chance to prove just how much Mouri could do on its own.
Hexagone Française had its own issues to deal with. Chancellor Anne had had her own reasons too, but she had also understood their hardship.
That was part of why she had set up the Roi-Soleil and Terumoto’s marriage.
They owed her a debt of gratitude
And they might be betraying that gratitude with their choice here. However…
“Mouri is not reliant on Hexagone Française for protection, so are you really prepared to make an enemy of Mouri and Hexagone Française both?”
“That wouldn’t be much of a problem.” The Musashi Vice President relaxed her shoulders, raised her right forearm, and opened her mouth. “Listen.”
Masazumi made a pronouncement to Ankokuji.
“I will now tear down everything you’ve set up here.”
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