Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Cancelers All Around
Getting what you want
Makes you happy
But what about when you’re choosing?
Point Allocation (Excited)
Masazumi heard the bell strike 4 PM from within the empty school building.
She was working with the others to tidy up the Student Council rec room.
Their afternoon exam had been replaced with a later practical exam, so they were using their newfound spare time to tidy up.
A thought occurred to her while she was stacking up the surprising number of books she had brought in.
…We can’t hold a practical exam without everyone present.
“We really do make everything a group effort, don’t we?”
She was reminded of that fact.
“But the Vice Chancellor, 5th Special Duty Officer, Vice Chancellor’s Aide, and Date Vice Chancellor all fight on their own.”
“And that’s part of what I was calling a group effort.”
The others must have been sick of tidying up already because they stopped working and turned toward Masazumi and Balfette’s conversation.
The audience made Masazumi more interested in pursuing the topic, so she continued with more energy in her voice.
“Listen,” she began. “A nation’s strength is not defined solely by its strongest individual fighters.”
In other words…
“The academy rules permit duels as a way of protecting smaller nations, but there’s more to it than just combat. There are many other factors, including negotiation.”
“In that case,” said Neshinbara while booting up the PC at his work desk to gather the data he wanted to bring home with him for summer break. He also changed the background to the full text of the Heart Sutra as a crime-prevention measure. “I have a question. Just out curiosity, mind you.”
“What is it?”
“Judge.” He nodded. “One of those ‘many other factors’ is money, but what ever happened to our experts in that field?”
Masazumi heard everyone fall silent.
…What happened to our male and female udons, huh?
Eventually, Naito spoke up.
“I completely forgot about them.”
“Sh,” shushed Naruze. “Say that and you’ll be dragged into this.”
No, I’m pretty sure no one but them will have udon coming from their butt, thought Masazumi.
Which may have been why the idiot raised his hand after the span of about 3 breaths.
“Aren’t Shiro and Auge-chan squatting over the udon bowl?”
“My king, true as that may be, you could phrase it more delicately,” said the wolf while crushing unnecessary paper boxes between her hands.
“If you must know, their divine punishment was set for 6 PM, so they still have about 2 more hours,” said Asama while changing the academy’s security spell settings for summer break.
“Oh. I got my pen ready for nothing.”
“Ga-chan, we have work at 6, remember?”
It was unclear what Naruze was expecting, but none of their class ever held back against their own.
Tsukinowa raised his front right paw and sign frames appeared next to everyone.
Circle Be: “Hey! You! You forgot all about us, didn’t you!? The tragic heroine is trying to cope over here, so how about showing your support by giving me money!?”
Their money expert was being a nuisance.
Masazumi looked to the others.
They were all looking back at her from the shadows of the unlit rec room.
Their eye contact plainly said “this is your job”, “you do the honors”, “shut her up already”, etc.
So she used voice input for her sign frame.
Vice President: “I think you sent this message to the wrong people. Were you really expecting any support from us? Cause you’re not getting it. You should have sent this to the Udon Kingdom academy down below. Show them you’ve got udon coming from the butt and they might just decide you’re a living god. Good luck.”
Circle Be: “How dare you! What gives the Vice President the right to talk back to the Treasurer’s Aide!! Do you have any idea what kind of pressure I’m under while I struggle in this holding cell!? You’re just dying to know, I bet!”
Vice President: “No, I’m good.”
Circle Be: “Don’t be silly, Masazumi! I’m offering all sorts of secrets like how some of it just about slipped out of my butt earlier! Act now and I’m willing to share such wonderful secrets for only 3000 yen each! Wow, I might as well be giving them away!”
Vice President: “That’s pretty steep. You can eat for a month with 3000 yen.”
Everyone froze and Noriki stopped smiling for the first time in a while.
“I’d rather not say it, but maybe I should.”
“Don’t bother. I’m aware what I said was weird.”
How much have you changed?
But 3000 yen for a month was completely doable. Especially because, a few times a month, her father would pay for the ingredients of a homecooked meal when he was home.
Naruze and the others began discussing it.
“Is that what you call a used book diet?”
“Yeah, she buys all the used books she wants at the start of the month and then has to figure out how to eat on what little money she has left.”
“Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her wearing anything other than her uniform.”
“Okay, that last one was new, but I know it’s not the best way to live! I really do, so leave me alone!”
Circle Be: “Hey, Masazumi? Are you going to negotiate with us or not?”
Vice President: “Negotiate? Why? It’s important you actually receive your udon punishment.”
Wise Sister: “Heh heh heh. But what will be coming out? Udon or poo!?”
Horizey: “If they were eating udon, you would expect poo to come out, but this time, udon is supposed to come out. A bit of a chicken or the egg situation.”
The idiot raised his hand.
“Maybe it’s both, making it poodon.”
Horizon expressionlessly clapped her hands.
“Okay, raise your hand if you thought Toori-sama’s joke was funny. …Asama-sama! Why would you betray me by turning your back to hide your laughter!?”
“My king, I really think you should prostrate yourself toward the Udon Kingdom for that one.”
The Udon Kingdom was below them, so the idiot performed a handstand prostration.
Meanwhile, Masazumi spoke to the female udon.
Vice President: “It feels like we can’t turn around without you two betraying us. You can’t do that.”
Circle Be: “But the Treasurer is supposed to do whatever it takes to make money! What does it matter if we betray you or turn on you as long as it leaves the national coffers full!?”
Vice President: “Your crime was embezzlement. That’s the exact opposite of leaving the national coffers full.”
Circle Be: “Um, but that was only because we had to make personal use of the money to make a profit in the end! If it had all worked out, we would have returned all that to the treasury and then some!”
The Date Vice Chancellor raised a hand.
“But it didn’t work out and they didn’t return it to the treasury. Hence the crime.”
“I agree wholeheartedly, but I don’t think she sees it that way,” said Masazumi.
Horizon raised a hand while facing the idiot.
“But the joke received no laughs. Hence it was a bad joke.”
“I agree wholeheartedly, but I don’t think Seijun sees it that way.”
“Well excuse me for trying! No one hits it out of the park every time!”
“Heh heh. You all need to follow my example and follow up your actions with results. If you’re going to do it, then really do it! That’s my motto. …Oh, and I don’t mean that in a dirty way, but it’s a good motto for that as well!”
A new sign frame appeared.
Nagaya-Stable: “Vice President, I’ve been monitoring this discussion, but I feel like you haven’t gotten to the real meat of this discussion.”
Vice President: “Meat? We’re talking about noodles.”
Ookubo immediately ended the divine transmission.
“Milady! Milady! This is our chance to prove our importance while stuck out here in Kantou! You shouldn’t hang up so quickly!”
“No, I can’t keep up with their nonsense.”
“Have fun, you two. I’m glad I don’t have an administrative job.”
“Yoshiyasu, why are you so willing to sacrifice other people like that?”
Ookubo eventually reestablished the divine transmission.
She sure has a short temper, thought Masazumi while asking the important question.
Vice President: “What do you mean I haven’t gotten to the real meat of the discussion?”
“Judge,” replied Ookubo.
Nagaya-Stable: “You are asking the Treasurer’s Aide to pay for her crime, but you are not searching for any other way for her to do that. She and the Treasurer do not have the luxury of choice like you do.”
Vice President: “We just have to wait until those thick noodles leave them, right? It’s over then, so why worry about it so much?”
“That’s the thing,” said Ookubo.
Nagaya-stable: “How can you expect the other nations to trust you if your Treasurer is a criminal?”
Vice President: “They were already arrested, so the ship has already sailed on that one. And this wasn’t a huge surprise coming from those two, so if this affects the other nations’ trust in us, they just weren’t paying attention before.”
Nagaya-Stable: “Why are you so used to having criminal classmates!?”
“Good question,” muttered Masazumi while glaring over at the idiot and Horizon.
No, idiot, don’t look behind you. I mean you.
And on that note…
Vice President: “Our leader is about the least trustworthy person there is. Of course, being useless has kind of been the job of the Far East’s Chancellor and President for a while now.”
Nagaya-Stable: “Then what are you going to do? Left to their own devices, the Treasurer and his Aide might search for another way of paying for their crimes, cause even more trouble in the process, and delay their punishment again.”
Mitotsudaira raised a hand.
“Could kishimen act as a deterrent there?”
“This is not a conversation I ever thought I would be having this time last year,” said Masazumi.
“Seijun, you need to keep a more positive view of your work,” said Naito.
“This is not what a Vice President is supposed to be doing.”
“No, no.” The others waved their hands side to side. “You’re the best one for the job.”
“That’s right. I think Masazumi’s combination of political power and common sense are perfect for this.”
“I mean, we certainly don’t want to do it.”
“If you’re going to lie to me, don’t blurt out the truth at the end like that!” she shouted.
Yet more proof that you gain nothing by taking things seriously.
At any rate, she had a question for Augesvarer.
Vice President: “Hey, do you have any intention of paying for your crime?”
Circle Be: “Of course not, you stupid girl! Who can trust a merchant who succumbed to the law and made udon with their butt!?”
Vice President: “You’re supposed to obey the law, not succumb to it.”
Circle Be: “Th-that’s the problem with you politicians! You don’t understand the suffering of the downtrodden! I hope you have udon coming from your butt! Poodon poodon poodon poodon (cursed SFX)!”
Vice President: “The downtrodden don’t have udon coming from anywhere. Besides, you’re criminals, not the downtrodden.”
Circle Be: “How can you say that to your classmates!? Sensei! Masazumi is bullying us!”
Worshiper: “Sensei already went down to the Udon Kingdom for some food.”
Circle Be: “Dammit, Ohiroshiki-kun! I wish I could curse you so it came from your butt every time you saw a little girl!”
Worshiper: “Don’t shoot the messenger!”
This was getting hard to watch.
But Masazumi was reminded of what Ookubo had said.
…They might commit another crime.
“I guess it’s worth asking. Asama, is there any way to get Augesvarer’s charges dropped?”
Asama tilted her head and answered in a “this should be obvious” tone of voice.
“Yes, but it would have to start with them paying back the full sum.”
“Hmm,” groaned Masazumi.
Vice President: “Augesvarer, how much did you two embezzle?”
Circle Be: “Eh? O-only a little bit. It’s such a teensy amount it’s honestly messed up that you’re making udon come out our butts for it!”
Vice President: “How much?”
Circle Be: “You won’t be mad?”
Vice President: “You don’t have to give an exact amount, but about how much?”
“Well,” began Augesvarer.
Circle Be: “Enough to buy up all the surface property on all 8 ships?”
Ookubo was compiling some data on Satomi’s recovery work in a teahouse with a view of the ocean. Her response to the words arriving from Musashi was blunt.
“Just execute them.”
“An excellent decision, milady!” said Kanou. “If embezzlement is punishable by death, all of Musashi’s merchants are sure to donate healthy sums to you. You really thought that one through!”
The Reine des Garous smiled and nodded while eating some shaved ice with her husband at a nearby seat.
“Our academy could lend you our guillotine.”
“No, the Far East generally does it by seppuku followed by a beheading from a friend.”
Nagaya-Stable: “What now, Vice President? Not even we can cover for an amount like that.”
That’s true, thought Mitotsudaira.
There was something she had to check on.
The Treasurer pair were charged with a number of crimes, but…
“When you pay someone’s bail, where does that money go?”
“Well,” said Asama while looking up at the ceiling. “To be blunt, to our shrine. The Far East’s courts are a Shinto establishment and the laws established by the Shogunate, or whoever else, are based on the authority given them by the emperor, who is the Shinto leader. So ultimately, it goes back to Shinto. That’s why any money coming in will come to us for purification. Of course, how it’s used is jointly managed with Musashi and the academy, so it generally goes to pay for public works like infrastructure maintenance.”
“Really?” said Naito while pointing toward Mitotsudaira.
No, she was pointing toward Mitotsudaira’s king.
“Then when Asama-chi goes to bail the Chancellor out of jail, she’s just paying herself?”
“I’m not sure what you mean by that, but when I do it, I can skip past a lot of the divine contracts involved. It can take some time before the money is sent to me and processed, so it saves time when I go get him instead.”
Horizon raised her hand while sweating.
“Um, Asama-sama. I feel like you are being overprotective of this idiot.”
“N-no, it’s just that Toori-kun causes trouble while he’s in the holding cell! Isn’t that right, Tenzou-kun!?”
“Th-the time I was thrown in there with him, he did say ‘Check this out, Tenzou! This is how you do it!’ and caused everyone a lot of trouble, but why would you turn to me for this!?”
“Kiyonari,” said Narumi.
“It is honestly fairly amusing,” replied Urquiaga.
“He always behaves himself when I visit him there,” said Mitotsudaira.
Did that make it a newfound date spot?
At any rate, Mitotsudaira had another question.
“Then, Tomo, could you cancel the Asama Shrine’s request for bail?”
“No, Mito. We might store the money, but we aren’t the ones that set the bail.”
Asama must have considered this herself.
“And if I tried to remove bail this one time, we would never hear the end of it from the god of law. Because it would set a precedent for other similar cases.”
“Then,” said Ohiroshiki. “Won’t this solve itself if the Asama Shrine just pays the bail?”
“What would happen then?” asked Naito.
Asama shook her head.
“Our god checks over everything finance and contract related, so I couldn’t use our money for bail.” She showed them a sign frame. “Look.”
<Q: What happens if the shrine pays bail?>
<A: Not happening. By, god.>
The answer returned immediately.
“Shinto is so casual about everything.”
“Well, our gods had a tendency of descending to the human world, making long treks there, and playing with the animals.”
But Mitotsudaira still had a question.
“What happens to the bail if someone working for a shrine commits a crime?”
“In that case, it goes either to the higher-level shrine above theirs or it goes to IZUMO. If it goes to IZUMO, it goes to a mutual aid fund paid into by all the Shinto shrines.” Asama felt the need to add one more thing. “Oh, you were just thinking that bringing Heidi and Shirojiro-kun under the Asama Shrine’s jurisdiction would lessen the required bail, weren’t you?”
“No, I was assuming there were rules preventing us from abusing that kind of loophole.”
“Hmm,” they all groaned while crossing their arms.
Mitotsudaira thought about their current situation.
Musashi was the Far East’s representative and it was independent territory. However…
“Are you sure we can let this happen? Won’t a Treasurer with udon coming from his butt be an obstacle to our plans for Westphalia?”
“Yeah, but I was thinking we would just have to deal with it. I mean, remember who our leader is.”
Mitotsudaira had accepted that leader as her king, so it was true she could forget how other people viewed him.
“That idiot said he would take care of our troubles, so he’s in charge of this kind of trouble too, right?” Masazumi sighed. “You might think all trouble is as bad as this, but it can be good at times. For example, there was Crossunite bringing Mary back with him. And the idiot helped with that too.”
“Then,” said Mitotsudaira.
Silver Wolf: “Heidi, have you learned your lesson?”
Circle Be: “Oh? Just so you know, there are many different ways of showing you have learned your lesson.”
Novice: “Such as a prostration?”
Circle B: “No, that’s a petition used when you absolutely must have it your way. It can be hard for amateurs to tell, but prostrations are an offensive technique, not a defensive one.”
Someone cut in there.
Asama: “Um, then if not a prostration, how do you intend to show you’ve learned your lesson, Heidi?”
It was Asama.
Heidi replied with a “judge”.
Circle B: “A merchant does it by gathering the necessary money no matter what it takes. Actually feeling you were wrong is not necessary. Apologies are worthless to a merchant, so why waste your time apologizing when you could be making money? But we can’t make money right now since we have no money to work with and we’re stuck in holding cells. There’s nothing we can do, so asking us to prove we’ve learned our lesson is just cruel!”
She doesn’t do anything halfway, does she? thought Mitotsudaira.
It could be summed up as a money obsession, but everything she did in life and every decision she made was centered on gathering and using money.
It was never about life, death, food, sleep, fun, activity, reading, seeing, or hearing.
She lived for making money.
Vice President: “How did she end up like this?”
Smoking Girl: “Everyone has their own past. I imagine you would end up like this if you encountered a problem that money solved better than good will, kindness, or hard work.”
Mitotsudaira had learned that lesson too, but it was not something you talked about openly.
And if money would solve everything…
“Can’t the Student Council pay their bail?”
“That would be a great idea if they hadn’t embezzled our entire budget for the year.” Masazumi opened a sign frame. “But I guess I’ll try asking.”
Ookubo saw a divine transmission arrive from the Vice President.
Everyone looked over curiously when the sign frame popped up. With the Reine des Garous and other foreigners around, she honestly wanted to avoid any possibly sensitive conversations. But…
…It’s not like she ever bothers being discreet.
You could even call her lazy, but that only made a conversation here all the more dangerous.
Nagaya-Stable: “What is it? Can any detailed discussion wait until later?”
Vice President: “Don’t worry, Ookubo. This is a simple question.”
“Oh?” responded Ookubo.
Nagaya-Stable: “Ask away.”
Vice President: “Could I borrow some money from next year’s budget?”
Nagaya-Stable: “G-go to hell!”
Masazumi let Tsukinowa handle the opening sign frames while she relaxed her shoulders. Then she turned toward the others.
“I think we can manage it.”
“I am amazed that was your takeaway from her response, Seijun,” said Naito.
“No, that was a solid ‘maybe’ from her.”
She had learned to read the underclassmen a lot better recently.
“They might complain, but they always pull through in the end.”
“I would not want you as a boss,” said Balfette, but Masazumi chose to ignore that.
“Anyway, I doubt the others will accept it if we just pay their bail. We would be complete laughingstocks if we used an advance on the national budget to prevent our Treasurer from udon-ing.”
“Which is why the Student Council pays it for them but then bills those two for it. Everyone should accept it if we demand monthly payments plus interest.”
“But who guarantees that happens? It can’t be us when we were the ones who wanted to pay their bail.”
An unexpected hand rose.
It was Asama’s as she sat down next to the idiot and Horizon.
“Then how about this?” She raised her eyebrows somewhat. “The Asama Shrine will start a business, so you use your authority as Vice President to give us the necessary funding.”
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