Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 25
Chapter 25: Audience at the Goal Line
The world changes
Maybe by a step
Maybe for everyone
Point Allocation (Feeling Liberated)
Asama arrived at the schoolyard a little after the rest of the middle group.
She had been slow up the stairs due to Umetsubaki and its support equipment. Toori and Horizon were also slower, but only because they did not bother rushing.
They really have changed, she thought, remembering what had happened on Remorse Way. She had thought they would keep the past in the past, but they had instead commented on the stone memorial.
“Oh, crap. That memorial’s still there.”
“It gives the sense that Horizon Classic is buried there, so I would like to do something about it.”
“Like what? Take it with you?”
“Would I earn any points for hitting Sensei with it?”
They had discussed the issue with hands on their chins, so Asama had kindly guided them toward the school. And if they were going to deal with it over the break…
…Mito can carry it and I can handle the land purification after it’s removed and the ley line adjustments wherever they put it.
Memorials tended to become a local symbol. People had left flowers at that one, so it carried a lot of emotion. So…
“How about we place it in front of the Blue Thunder to commemorate my return, Asama-sama?”
That would prove difficult.
They used that discussion to relaxed at the finish line. By the time the rear group arrived, Futayo, Masazumi, and Neshinbara had caught up too. Neshinbara arrived last while biting a food charm, presumably for emergency nutrients.
“So what happens now, Sensei?”
“You commanded that strategy, didn’t you, Neshinbara? I’m a little surprised.”
Musashino: “In other words, we can blame all of this on him. Over.”
Okutama: “If only I could ban him from ever boarding me. Over.”
Me: “Neshinbara, try not to be such a nuisance, okay?”
Kunitachi: “ ‘Musashino’-sama! ‘Musashino’-sama! As infuriating as the Chancellor’s comment was, a physical attack is an inappropriate response from the bridge crew! Over.”
…I feel bad for the bridge crew.
Meanwhile, Masazumi raised her right hand.
“Asama, can you give me a list of the foreign VIPs on the Musashi? This turned into a really big deal.”
“Shinto-wise, they’re automatically given a temporary contract unless they do something wrong or ask me for something else.”
“Hm. Then can you just give me a list of names and nations for everyone foreign onboard?”
“Oh, that I can do.” Asama opened a sign frame. “The shrine has a list of contracts to be used as ID when participating in festivals and such. You can view that if you want.”
“It’s a long list.”
“Milady! Musashi is yet again oppressing us by sending an extensive list of names and demanding you ‘find the suspicious people on this list’!”
“Stop making such a fuss, Kanou-kun. Now, I’m not going through the whole list, so narrow it down to anyone who arrived after Musashi left for Nördlingen. I’m sure that’s what she wants.”
“Milady! You shouldn’t have to read her mind!”
“Okay, she should give me what I want.”
Mitotsudaira heard Masazumi’s comment while seated in the schoolyard.
…She’s troubling the underclassmen again, isn’t she?
But that division of labor was something they had developed over the past few months, so why not use it?
“Here, Nate. You did great.”
Something cold pressed against her cheek. It was a paper cup with a lid and bamboo straw.
“A sports drink, my king?”
“It’s from Asama, so it should be safe to drink. Also, lift your butt.”
She did so, wondering why, and her king placed a handkerchief below her. She had sat directly on the ground out of exhaustion, but…
“Y-you don’t have to do that.”
“I had it, so I decided to use it. That’s all.”
She could not argue with that. I need to wash it and return it later, she decided while he moved his face in close.
“W-wait, my king. I’m all sweaty.”
“But what’s this smell? It’s nice.”
“Really?” said Horizon, approaching and sniffing at Mitotsudaira’s hair. Asama, Kimi, Adele, and more also walked over to see what this was about.
“Is this creme?”
“No, I think it must be vanilla essence.”
“M-making me smell something so tasty after so much exercise is torture!”
If it’s received this well, I need to make it an official product, she decided while a sign frame appeared next to Masazumi.
“What’s that?” asked Oriotri when she noticed. “Worried about what happens next?”
“Judge. We’re about to enter Kantou and there are signs of Hashiba personnel coming aboard with the supplies. Now, Musashi is a trade ship, so that is allowed.”
“Yes,” agreed Asama. “Ever since the Sanada group and the Celestial Dragons boarded us, I’ve been checking for that and making sure we can respond if need be. They’re free to come aboard, but if they try to cause trouble…well, I don’t think they’ll like what happens.”
What did you set up? wondered Masazumi, but it was possible that was the work of her god instead. Those things must be tricky, she thought before asking something.
“Anyway, Masazumi, you said we are about to enter Kantou?”
“Yes. We’re currently right in front of Houjou.”
The Battle of Mikatagahara and the Battle of Nagashino had happened a little further north of here.
A lot has changed since then, thought Mitotsudaira as she looked at the group gathered here. And…
“Then how about we take a break in the Student Council rec room or the dining hall while Sensei grades our performance?”
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded and crossed her arms. “We’re done with our exams now, but we need to be ready for everything that’s bound to happen once we’re in Kantou. Before long, I want to speak with the Swedish Chancellor about where our relationship stands and then we need to discuss how we will intervene in the Honnouji Incident, which could include her.”
Everyone tensed at this topic and Suzu looked up.
“W-we can…go back…there?”
“We need to make sure we’re safe first.”
“We can go back to Kansai, but we will pave our path to Honnouji while in Kantou. And to do that…”
Masazumi looked to the east – to Kantou. Houjou’s land was there and Edo and Satomi were past that. And even further than that, a shadow was visible in the ocean sky.
“The Azuchi,” said Masazumi. “We’ll be picking a fight with that.”
But at that very moment, Mitotsudaira noticed Oriotri make a sudden move. She had received her sword from Adele, but…
She suddenly raised that sword next to Masazumi. And…
A metal clang reverberated out.
Masazumi had no idea what had happened. She simply felt the wind blowing and saw their teacher move.
…To protect me?
That was certainly what it felt like, but given their positioning, the attack must have come from…
“The academy building!?”
That confused her further.
Vice President: “Why would anyone from the school want to attack me?”
“Milady! Break a sign frame if you want, but not the one you’re working on! Here, I will open as many as you like, so break them to your heart’s content!”
“No, Kanou-kun. It’s an impulsive act. You lose interest if you have to prepare.”
“I see, so you are an anger connoisseur!”
What did I do to deserve this? wondered Masazumi after needing protection from an attack.
But she could definitely hear a metallic scraping coming from down by Oriotri’s hands. Whatever had been meant for her was still being pushed forward.
She saw it now.
There was a line of metal on the other side of Oriotri’s scabbard. The red line was…
That meant the attacker and defender had locked sheathed blades. And that attacker stood there in front of Oriotri.
“I cannot overlook what I heard here, Makiko Oriotri.”
It was a woman.
An unfamiliar tall woman spoke with a deeper female voice with long black hair blowing in the wind.
She looked older than Oriotri and she wore M.H.R.R. clothing modified into men’s clothing.
Masazumi was familiar with the concept of women wearing men’s clothing and she had a more pressing question anyway.
“Who are you?”
The woman narrowed her sharp eyes, but the first thing from her mouth was a bitter laugh.
“So five years away and no one even remembers me anymore?”
“Well, I only arrived two years ago.”
“Then forget I said anything.”
Masazumi felt even more certain than before that this was not something she should get involved in, but the situation was still awkward. Which may have explained what happened next.
Oriotri pushed out her scabbard to repel her opponent. But…
Her opponent pushed her scabbard back to resist.
Art-Ga: “What, is she telling Sensei to yield?”
Gold Mar: “Why does everyone have to make everything so difficult recently?”
Asama: “W-why are you looking my way!? I’ve gotten over that!”
No, you haven’t, thought Masazumi, but then Oriotri pulled back and looked over her shoulder.
“Sorry, Masazumi. She’s after me, not you, so stand back.”
She had an unusual look in her eyes – one of caution.
Everyone must have picked up on it because when Masazumi and Oriotri stepped away from the mystery woman, Mitotsudaira got up and readied her hands.
“She’s after Sensei? Who is she?”
“I’m glad you asked.” The woman glanced over at Masazumi and Oriotri before resting her scabbard on her right shoulder. “I am a former Musashi Ariadust teacher.” She introduced herself with a thin smile. “And a current P.A. Oda teacher. My name is Ishikawa Kazumasa.”
Horizey: “Who is that?”
Four Eyes: “Calling yourself now? That’s new, at least.”
Novice: “Let me do this one! Ishikawa Kazumasa originally served the Matsudaira clan, managed Matsudaira’s administrative work with Sakai Tadatsugu, and proved himself in combat. But…”
Horizey: “But what? Ready, go!”
Novice: “Judge. But after the Battle of Komaki Nagakute, the only real direct battle between Matsudaira and Hashiba, he suddenly ran off to Hashiba. Why is unknown. There are plenty of theories, but since someone in charge of Matsudaira affairs joined the enemy, there were a lot of personnel changes and processing of classified information.”
Unturning: “And for us, she went to P.A. Oda as a teacher.”
Kazumasa felt a slight tickle of satisfaction when she noticed everyone’s reactions.
“This is a tad awkward. If things had played out differently, our positions would have been reversed.”
“What do you mean?” asked the Musashi Vice President.
She had to nod in response.
“I was in charge of the Plum series of students. In other words…”
In other words…
“If not for a certain someone’s interference, I would have been your teacher.”
Asama hurriedly checked the woman’s identification.
She claimed to be Ishikawa Kazumasa.
And sure enough…
Asama: “It’s true! She’s still registered with Musashi, but marked as a runaway!”
That explained why the ship’s divine protections had barely responded to the attack on Oriotri just now.
As a teacher, she used her scabbard to provide instructions just like Oriotri. In that case, it was not too unusual for her to interrupt a class. But Asama was confused about one part of the data in the system.
“Ishikawa-sensei? This says you left Musashi 5 years ago.”
That was the same year someone else had arrived on the Musashi.
Kazumasa answered the implied question with eyes narrowed.
“Testament. A new teacher arrived 5 years ago, but there were no open spots at Ariadust. I dueled her, hoping she would give up on the idea once she lost.” She laughed. “Maybe I got careless and maybe I was simply outmatched, but I lost despite being known as Ariadust’s strongest at the time.”
She pointed the end of her scabbard at someone.
“Makiko Oriotri. That teacher was you.”
Art-Ga: “Does that mean our teacher unintentionally played a role in the history recreation? By accidentally forcing someone to follow it?”
Unturning: “That explains why her students keep forcing themselves to play a role there.”
Uqui: “Do not forget that you are one of her students now.”
Well, thought Masazumi. She’s causing trouble, so it figures she would have Musashi origins.
But she needed to ask something else right now.
“Ishikawa-sensei, could you tell us one thing?”
“Who…do you teach now?”
“Hashiba students. Primarily, the Ten Spears.”
Mitotsudaira gasped and Kazumasa sighed.
“That said, there is not much I have to teach them, so you could say I am mostly helping them develop the skills they already had. Still, one of them did suffer a painful defeat recently, even if she is a year younger than all of you.”
“I thought they could stand to train during summer break.”
She swung her left arm, opening a lernen figur. It displayed IZUMO’s emblem and the text “Teacher’s League”.
“This is a teacher’s command. The Musashi must not enter Kantou. Doing so risks conflict with the Azuchi and interference with its airspace would influence the surface as well. Besides,” she said. “Didn’t the Testament Union order you to arrive no sooner than August 10? Why are you here now? This sounds like a violation of the Testament Union’s instructions to me.”
Silver Wolf: “Well…we’re doing it to harass them, right?”
Gold Mar: “Yup. And since it’s harassment, there’s no reason to wait.”
Horizey: “We are the bad guys here, aren’t we!? The bad guys!”
Vice President: “Well, excuse me! If anyone knows a more tactful way to put it, I’d like to hear it!”
Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! You don’t have to put a suggestion box for that on our site!”
“Could you wait a moment, Ishikawa-sensei?”
Kazumasa heard a voice from directly ahead.
It was Oriotri, who shrugged toward her.
“Our movement here is part of the history recreation since we are assisting the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle’s reconciliation. And when you ask us to stay out of Kantou, you’re speaking as a P.A. Oda teacher, aren’t you? That leaves me little choice but to say ‘no’ as a Musashi teacher.”
Behind Oriotri, a silly-looking boy and a gaudy girl were shouting “Noooooooo!” in as bizarre a fashion as they could manage. Wait, isn’t that their Chancellor?
But she understood what Oriotri was saying.
Teachers were sent by the Teacher’s League to instruct the students of each nation. They would of course also support the nation they were sent to, but…
“There can be no rules between nations for teachers. Isn’t that right?”
“In that case…”
Oriotri did not hesitate to prepare for a fight.
Before, Kazumasa had failed to judge just how far the woman was willing to go. She had gone to lengths that Kazumasa had assumed she would never dare go. But…
“We can do this here.” Kazumasa did not hesitate either. “While you were having fun with your beloved students in that sorry excuse for training, I was neglecting my students to train myself.”
The students exchanged glances and the gaudy girl lowered her hands and then raised them to signal their timing.
“What kind of teacher are you!?”
“Not to worry. I have excellent students who are capable of learning on their own.”
Kazumasa turned toward Oriotri again.
“My students are not like yours. Can yours learn on their own?”
Oriotri turned to look at her students.
They all sat down and turned their backs. Some even covered their ears.
Kazumasa gave a snort of laughter.
“You’ve been teaching them for how long and they still can’t teach themselves?”
“Hey, I respect my students’ freedom.”
“That is the entire problem!” Kazumasa raised her right hand to point at Oriotri. “But what else should I expect from someone who wrote ‘Life is so much fun!’ in the comment field of her first resume!?”
“And life is still fun. I’d write the same thing if I made a resume now.” Oriotri turned to her students. “Hey, I’ve never taught any of you how to make your life boring, have I?”
“In that case,” continued Kazumasa. “How about I bring an end to that fun?” She raised her sheathed sword. “Losing is never fun.”
“Says you.” Oriotri gestured for the students to stand back and reached for the hilt of her sword. “I still found life to be fun no matter how many times I lost.”
“I’m enjoying it even more now.”
“Is that so?” replied Kazumasa. All she had to do was lean forward and begin the fight without hesitation.
“Okay, that’s enough.”
A sudden voice interrupted the two women.
It belonged to Sakai.
|Back to Chapter 24||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 26|