Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 16
Chapter 16: Decider at the Foothold of Agreement
Have you noticed
That someone is always watching
Where you stand
Point Allocation (Future)
Masazumi spoke to Ankokuji.
“I will now tear down everything you’ve set up here, Ankokuji Ekei.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I’ll start with this.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “I never thought of this discussion as hypothetical.”
Horizey: “You beat him to the punch, Masazumi-sama! That means you win, I hope!?”
Gold Mar: “Wow, not even I was expecting that one.”
Art-Ga: “Isn’t she just being argumentative because she was losing?”
Vice President: “Sh-shut up! I’m willing to use every means available to me!”
Laborer: “That’s a reaction I would expect from Neshinbara.”
Novice: “Wait! I’m not that painful to watch! Because I give up way sooner!”
Almost Everyone: “You’re not afraid to admit it either, are you!?”
That was a lot of background noise to tune out, but at least they were doing well. A little too well.
Anyway, she had a way to tear down what Ankokuji was doing here.
“I think Mouri is mistaken about something here.”
“You seem to think that clearly establishing our hostility with Hashiba will act as a bargaining chip here.”
“We were already enemies.”
“Listen,” said Masazumi. “We announced at Mikawa that we would let the world decide what to do with us at Westphalia. So our journey around the Far East to gather the Logismoi Oplo and stop the Apocalypse can also be seen as a pilgrimage meant to prove ourselves to the nations we visit.”
“On the way, we held a meeting with Hexagone Française’s previous Chancellor, current President, and more. There, we were presented with two conditions necessary for receiving the support of Europe’s nations and the Testament Union nations. We must restrain M.H.R.R. and Hashiba and we must complete Oda Nobunaga’s history recreation as a way to restrain P.A. Oda.”
She looked Ankokuji in the eye as she spoke.
When she saw his angled eyes staring back at her, she opened her mouth to continue.
“We have already announced Hashiba as our enemy. Hexagone Française, more of Europe, and the Testament Union demanded it and we have found our own reasons during our journey. So if Mouri insists we oppose Hashiba or becomes our enemy themselves, we will give you want you want.”
“And how will you do that?” he asked. “Terumoto-sama is closely connected with Hexagone Française. If Mouri will be your enemy once we join Hashiba-sama, then Terumoto-sama will also be your enemy. But she is also the Hexagone Française representative who asked you to oppose Hashiba. So,” he said. “How do you intend to resolve that contradiction?”
“That’s simple enough.” She already had an answer for this. “We follow the history recreation.”
AK very nearly gasped.
…This is not good.
If they followed the history recreation, Terumoto would be defeated at Sekigahara and lose so much.
They were prepared for that to happen. That was why Terumoto had been wed to Hexagone Française so she could rest easy without worrying about her decline.
But that decline was an unexpectedly heavy burden for those who had to bring it about.
Had he gone soft because he knew a powerful nation would take him in even as he accepted that future?
Or was there simply no way of preparing yourself to face something like this?
He did not know.
But he did breathe in.
…This is our duty!
If this opponent would lead Mouri to decline, they would have to build up as much prosperity as they could before that happened.
The time for action had arrived. So…
“I see,” he said. “So you are saying Musashi will follow the history recreation and become Terumoto-sama’s enemy?”
He received an answer right away.
“We will if that is what Terumoto and Hexagone Française want.”
That was the Musashi Vice President’s answer.
He just about agreed, but…
Something felt off about her answer.
He could not say what it was, but there was an odd – but not quite dangerous – sense to her statement.
…What is it?
AK tried to figure out what felt wrong to him about the Musashi Vice President’s answer.
What about it bothered him so much?
His intuition had spotted something.
His liaison’s intuition was warning him of something not quite dangerous about her wording.
What is it?
“Musashi Vice President.”
He called out to her while keeping his thoughts racing. That was a basic skill for a liaison.
He used that smidgen of extra time to consider what she had just said.
…She is making Terumoto-sama’s position as Musashi’s enemy reliant on Terumoto-sama and Hexagone Française.
She was leaving the choice in Terumoto’s hands.
That implicitly stated that Musashi had no hostile intentions.
But that was not what bothered him.
There was something in her statement that would be so easy to overlook.
But what is it?
It irritated him that he could not see it right away. He tried repeating the important terms in his head.
…Terumoto, Hexagone Française, want.
No, he realized. A negotiation has more than just one side. The meaning of a statement can change considerably when combined with the other side’s statements.
So what had he said beforehand?
“Musashi will follow the history recreation and become Terumoto-sama’s enemy.”
He spoke the words under his breath to confirm them for himself.
He was confirming the flow of the conversation, so he then repeated her words to himself.
…They will if that is what Terumoto and Hexagone Française want.
Then it hit him.
His eyes were opened.
The instant it came to him, something like a chill or a tremor ran along his spine and he just barely got his voice out.
“Musashi Vice President!”
He felt like he would lose if he did not say this.
No, he had spent all this time fighting against what he was about to say.
It was the source of the odd sense he had noticed.
“You just said you would if that is what Terumoto-sama and Hexagone Française want, didn’t you!?”
That was definitely what he had heard. Which would mean…
“But Terumoto-sama and Musashi’s hostility is required by the history recreation! Yet you claimed it was up to her and Hexagone Française’s discretion!!”
In other words…
“You are saying she and Hexagone Française are free to decide how they want the history recreation to go!!”
What did that mean? To put it simply…
“You see yourselves as superior to the Testament and think you can do what you want with the history recreation!”
The Musashi Vice President did not look remotely concerned.
She simply pointed at him and replied.
“You are the ones trying to make us do that, Ankokuji Ekei.”
“There’s one thing I know. No, one thing I’ve figured out here,” said Masazumi. “I now know why Anne and the others entrusted everything to us and departed.”
That had bothered her and she felt like she had gradually come to understand it recently.
It was as much an understanding as it was an excuse for herself, but it was the best answer she had.
“They recognized our ability to take care of what they were leaving with us.”
Ankokuji tensed with eyebrows raised.
“You think you can be a replacement for Anne-sama!?”
“No one can replace her. Her departure was a net loss for us all.”
“Which is why it was a tragedy.”
She admitted it.
It was a tragedy.
She had recently started to think that from time to time.
Hexagone Française’s previous Chancellor had been such a remarkable person that she had set Hexagone Française and Europe in motion and protected them all from her sickbed below Magdeburg.
At Magdeburg, Masazumi had tried to be considerate and had barely managed to speak with her because she failed to realize just how valuable that opportunity was.
But looking back, she wished she had spoken with her more.
Anne had truly faced the world, so what kind of person was she really?
Masazumi wished she could have chatted with her about everyday things like books, the scenery, and her hometown. She wished she had asked to hear some old stories, asked where she had come from, and asked what she had done. She could have learned so much from her.
…I would have had someone else I could enjoy spending time with.
Yeah, and I bet time with her would be relaxing in a way our class doesn’t know how to do.
But that possibility had been forever lost. She had to say goodbye to all of that. So…
“It was a tragedy.”
“But we have Terumoto and the Roi-Soleil.” She recalled the silly way she had described it as a net loss before. “We can get by with Terumoto, the Roi-Soleil, and all the others.”
“It’s simple. Since Anne and the others entrusted this with us, we just have to surpass them and set foot in a new era,” she said. “Interpretations are assumed when dealing with the Testament and history recreation these days. That’s because the Warring States period and the Thirty Years’ War have everyone fighting everyone else, but we’ve all gotten closer as we develop new ways to avoid fighting.”
The world could change and it was changing.
“If someone tries to die, someone will stop them. If someone tries to force someone to die, someone will stop that too. Even a small nation can influence a powerful nation with the support of the other nations. The other nations can band together to decry and oppose the oppression of a powerful nation. …That is the new era we will bring about.”
Ankokuji frowned at that.
“You think the bonds between nations will allow small nations to restrict powerful nations?” he asked. “Once that happens, everyone would restrict each other to the point that no one can do anything. Aren’t you only ushering in an age of deadlock?”
“If that happens, conflict will spread across the world once more. I don’t know if it would be armed conflicts like we see now, political battles, or trade wars, but someone will try to use the stagnation to get ahead, dragging us back into conflict.”
“That will create and spread a new way of life we can’t even imagine right now.”
She finally understood what someone had once said.
It was all about destruction and creation.
In the current age, P.A. Oda’s Oda clan got ahead with the breakthrough of overthrowing your master. Musashi was constantly faced with the question of how to fight against that and create something new, but…
…The answer is relationships.
“Anne and the others showed us how to resist Hashiba. Instead of strengthening ourselves, we need to build close relationships with the other nations.”
“Musashi will earn the greatest understanding and the greatest relationships at Westphalia. That is the new era we will create. …That era will one day grow old and then we and the others like us will entrust everything with the next generation. Just like your generation is doing now.”
“Then.” Ankokuji spread his arms, breathed in, and asked his question. “What will Musashi do now? My history recreation is very much at a standstill. But if you travel to Kantou, your opposition of Terumoto-sama and Hashiba-sama will be made plain for all to see and you will be unable to intervene in the Honnouji Incident! But stay here and you must take responsibility for delaying my history recreation!”
“Didn’t I say I was going to tear down everything you’ve set up here?” She pointed at him. “Ankokuji Ekei, you will obey the history recreation, correct?”
“Of course I will!”
That settled it.
“Then let’s do this.” She pulled her pointer finger back toward her neck and then slid it to the side while Tsukinowa mimicked the action. “Ankokuji Ekei. We will now carry out your final history recreation – your beheading as a loser at Sekigahara. Then we can ignore everything else you ask of us.”
AK gasped while he listened to the Musashi Vice President.
“Listen, Ankokuji Ekei. To be clear, you don’t actually have to die. We can settle it with an interpretation. But if you do want to die, watch out because you’ll have to convince that idiot and Horizon. Not to mention me and the others. In the unlikely event you can manage that, then you are free to die. But don’t worry if you can’t. When a name inheritor’s death is assured and they have no future, they have no interests left.”
That was true.
Doing his death early would mean the end of his history recreation was already in view. As soon as his history recreation was complete and he was considered “dead”, there would be no point in negotiating with him.
And if that happened…
…We lose everything Mouri has been working toward!
“You chose the wrong opponent here, Ankokuji Ekei.” The Musashi Vice President opened a sign frame. “Who is it that beheads you for supporting the Western Army’s main force? That’s right: Matsudaira of the Eastern Army. That means us. And your crime is convincing Terumoto to lead the Western Army and supporting that position.”
In other words…
“Your attempt to build hostility between us and Terumoto fits those conditions. We’re willing to do this early, but what about you?”
I cannot believe this, he thought.
…I pushed too far.
He could have maneuvered his way out of this if he had not been so insistent on the history recreation. He may have managed if he had not answered that final question about obeying the history recreation.
But their position required that.
“How strange,” he said while feeling the tension leave his shoulders. “I thought everything was already over for me, but here I am hoping for more of a future.”
He could not accept death here.
He still had something to do.
In that case, he thought while uncrossing his arms and placing them on his lap.
He lowered his head in a bow.
“I would like us to forget this entire meeting ever happened.”
And in exchange…
“You are free to do with me as you wish.”
Art-Ga: “Oh, were we not supposed to be doing that already? I was drawing up a doujinshi.”
Vice President: “Is that why I haven’t heard much from you recently?”
Unturning: “Anyway, Vice President, what are we going to do with him?”
“Good question,” said Masazumi while putting a hand on her hip with Tsukinowa mimicking the action. “Yes.”
She made up her mind and raised her right forearm.
“Let’s take the Musashi to Kantou.”
AK did not so much gasp as he continued inhaling for too long.
Everyone around him was dumbfounded, but there was one thing still moving.
It was a pair of arms.
The black and white arms slid down the bamboo waterway starting at the top of the stepped terrace.
They picked up a fair amount of speed and the wrists and elbows moved in a synchronized fashion as they passed between everyone and then took a certain action.
The wrists lowered once, bobbed in a count to three, and then lifted up again as a signal to the others.
“Why even have this discussion!?”
You don’t have to shout, thought Masazumi while flinching back.
“Hold on. Calm down, everyone.”
“H-how are we supposed to stay calm!?” Balfette stood up and turned her way. She was still holding a bowl of udon and a pair of chopsticks and her eyebrows were raised. “You can’t just do this! Do you have any idea why I’m so mad, Vice President!?”
“Because you wanted access to cheap and delicious udon every day.”
Balfette immediately turned back toward Naruze and the smiling Weiss Hexen smacked her on the forehead.
Trembling, Balfette turned back toward Masazumi.
“H-how can you all read my mind!? Are you psychic!?”
“I think you’re just far too expressive.”
Balfette fell to her knees just as Mitotsudaira returned after rescuing the arms before they were swept away down the river.
She released the arms near Horizon and turned to speak.
“Masazumi? Are you sure it’s a good idea to send the Musashi back to Kantou?”
“It’ll be fine.” Masazumi nodded. “I’m sure Ookubo will figure something out.”
“Milady! Milady! Now is the time to fight back, not to slump down on the table! Hurry! Hurry and start your rebellion!”
“Ughhhh. It’d be faster to fix that girl’s personality. That would solve everything.”
“That was a very curious conclusion, don’t you think?”
Gin responded to Muneshige with a nod in front of the teahouse.
…The Musashi will be returning to Kantou?
She honestly did not know what this meant. There were several problems there, including the conflict with Hashiba and their relationship with Mouri. Besides, how would they intervene in the Honnouji Incident if they did that?
“Well, she’s asking for a lot, but I’ll figure something out.”
Ookubo got up with a sigh only to find someone standing in front of her.
“The Reine des Garous?”
“My, my. Patrolling outside is helpful, but would you care to join me for a snack?”
She unwrapped a paper wrapping on a table to reveal some roast lamb skewers flavored with soy sauce and miso. She held a skewer out toward Gin with her husband by her side.
“I’m glad we don’t have to be enemies.”
“Judge. Let’s leave it at that,” said Gin while finally relaxing.
The Reine des Garous had appeared earlier.
It had not happened out of the blue. She had emerged from the chill of the forest and sat down in the teahouse before anyone could stop her.
They had let her through because she had seemed relaxed and void of hostility. Also…
A wolf made of fog was seated next to Gin and Muneshige. It was breathing and looking curiously up at them and it was probably the same as the ones seen in that forest from the night before.
It was not an enemy. If anything, it was a guard dog. So…
“Did you take advantage of the divine transmission vulnerability to search out the pure Mouri members of Mouri?”
“I have no real issue with them since their convictions will benefit Hexagone Française.” The Reine des Garous smiled. “But since they were only going to complicate things here, I decided to hold them in check just this once.”
Several signe cadres appeared around her and disappeared again. They came from the Pension Versailles and the Belle de Marionnettes in the local area.
“Their passion means they must make a show of Mouri being on Hashiba’s side. That way Hashiba won’t have to criticize us for not properly taking their side.”
“They won’t do anything. If they fought here, it could bring conflict back to Kantou. While they did make a show of it, but did not actually take Hashiba’s side. They are smart enough to make that distinction. However…”
A voice seemed to respond to the Reine des Garous.
It was a distant howl.
A wolf’s howl reached them through the night sky.
“That’s all of them captured. When I report back to Hexagone Française, I will tell them I briefly brought down the local infrastructure because I sensed some stress after the Kantou Liberation.”
Then a sign frame appeared in front of Gin.
<Divine transmissions are back up – confirmed>
<I let him off with only a punch. By, god.>
She was curious what that report looked like from the Mouri side of things, but she chose not to ask lest she hurt them by doing so. But she did sigh.
“This was a useful opportunity.” She nodded and spoke to the Reine des Garous. “But it looks like we won’t have a chance to be enemies until later on.”
“Hmm. It is mostly up to Terumoto’s mood when Sekigahara happens.”
“Be that as it may.” Gin watched the wolf next to her tilt its head. “I have now seen what you can do. Be careful.”
“Testament. I appreciate the warning.”
That woman sure was confident.
But Gin had seen it. She had seen how those wolves moved and the “relaxed” way the Reine des Garous moved. If the others had seen her “active” fighting style last night, then Gin had seen her “passive” fighting style here. That was bound to be useful.
…Thinking these things is probably rude.
But she was a Tachibana, so this was who she was. And…
Tachibana Wife: “Satomi President. Are things okay over there?”
The wolves were following Yoshiyasu around.
She had wanted to see how Righteousness was doing while also inspecting the public square with Tokishige who had begun repairs on Integrity. Then several of the Reine des Garous’s wolves had shown up. They kept disappearing, combining, and splitting apart, but…
“Why do they like you so much?” asked Tokishige.
“Don’t ask me! I thought my genre was dogs.”
Oh. Yoshiyasu crossed her arms. Tokishige isn’t familiar with that way of talking.
“It’s Musashi slang.”
“What does it mean?”
“What type of character you are?”
Tokishige frowned and tilted her head for a while before finally responding.
She removed the wrench from her hip hard point part and turned her back.
“Just ignore the wolves. You won’t be able to sleep otherwise. Oh, and if the Musashi does decide to come here, make sure to report everything to me. You have a tendency to do things without telling us anything.”
“Wait! What do I do about these things!? They keep touching me even when I ignore them!”
“They’re your ‘genre’, aren’t they?”
Yoshiyasu was pretty sure Tokishige had not grasped the meaning of that term.
But when she looked to the other side of the public square, she saw Yoshiaki throwing a stick to play fetch with the wolves.
…Did she secretly protect us from something?
She had not received word about Yoshiaki’s presence or anything else. However…
“Yoshiaki, how are things progressing?”
“Hm? Oh, they ended the one thing and are starting on the next. The Musashi is returning to Kantou.”
“I see.” She sat there for about seven seconds before opening a sign frame and shouting into it. “What is the meaning of this, Musashi Vice President!?”
God, what a pain, thought Masazumi.
“Listen, everyone. I will now explain what we gain by retuning to Kantou.”
First of all…
“I want to establish more of a connection with the Kantou nations after the Kantou Liberation. And when you get down to it, it’s kind of awkward to have the Musashi at the Udon Kingdom. Once Hashiba finally returns, I just know they’re going to protest it.”
“Then what will we do?” asked Mitotsudaira.
“That’s simple enough,” said Masazumi. She looked over to see Asama nod and activate a voice barrier. They could now speak privately. “We’ll head back to Kantou, pretend to be nice and obedient, and then officially return here.”
There is a way of doing that, thought Masazumi She had thought it up earlier. Setting it up would not be easy, but…
“We’ll return right away. My goal is to be back in Kantou in three days’ time since that’s the perfect way to harass Hashiba. Because if we get back quickly enough, we can be all, ‘What, you losers are still doing repairs? Scram already.’ ”
“Masazumi-sama! Musashi is the obvious bad guy in that scenario!”
“Don’t let it bother you. Besides, we all know that’s how our class does things.” Masazumi got back on topic. “Then we get back here in mid-August. Or at least by the 20th. That is going to take a lot of setting up, so I hope you’re ready. And that begins tonight.”
She observed them all.
She thought they might protest and say it was not possible, ask if she had actually thought this through, or say they wanted to eat more udon in Sanuki.
But they all exchanged a glance and nodded.
She knew that agreement was to be expected, but she also felt some surprise.
They were learning how to respond to fast-moving international situations.
She nodded in satisfaction, but then they began whispering to each other over the bamboo waterway.
“Judge. Coming back here would indeed be some largescale harassment,” said Mitotsudaira.
“Judge. That sounds like some splendid harassment of Hashiba, Masazumi,” said Tenzou.
“Judge. Harassment as national policy sounds kind of exciting to me!” said Futayo.
“Can we stop using that word please?”
Masazumi lowered her gaze, sighed, and looked forward again to see Ankokuji kneeling before her.
She nodded back at him.
“That’s our plan, Ankokuji Ekei. Now, can I ask something of you?”
“What is it?”
“Judge,” she responded. “You have a role to play in this.”
|Back to Chapter 15||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 17|