Horizon:Volume 8A Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Regretters on the Hill
Oh, yes, yes, yes.
Excuse me a moment
Point Allocation (Naked Eye Zoom)
“I see. So will the Musashi be returning to Kantou soon?” asked a female voice from unusually high above the ground.
This happened atop a hill on a field where transport ships were taking off and landing.
The M.H.R.R. Catholic warriors who had left for Nördlingen were now withdrawing.
The casual question was directed toward a Catholic lernen figur which displayed…
“Mitsunari-sama, what are we supposed to do? Onitakemaru-san’s battery could die at any moment and then he would pass on.”
That comment caused another image to appear next to the lernen figur showing Mitsunari. The image contained only the text “Image Coming Soon” and…
“My battery could die!? I’ll have you know I’ve already shifted over to my program! I don’t really get how it works myself, but I’ve moved from the mobile shell, so I won’t ‘pass on’, you fool!”
“My name isn’t ‘you fool’. It’s Shima Sakon.”
“Kohime is good enough for you, you fool!”
That’s a mean thing to say, thought Sakon while spreading her mouth horizontally.
…And I thought he was such a good partner back at Nördlingen.
But once they were back to their ordinary lives, they had trouble getting along, which made her a little blue. But…
“Anyway, do you two know the current situation?” asked Mitsunari.
“Testament. Onitakemaru-san’s mobile shell looks something like a dead cicada now that his soul has been removed from it, but it could also use some repairs because it’s pretty beat up. Also, he could use some lessons about hairstyling.”
“Shut up!” cut in Onitakemaru. “I don’t care how good your regeneration power is – your brain needs a thorough lookover by a doctor! And I don’t know if that regeneration uses Blessings or physical stamina, but it must use something. So make sure you always ask for either rest or food to make up for that!”
“Mitsunari-sama? This person on the lernen figur won’t stop complaining about everything.”
“Only because you won’t stop giving me reason for complaint!”
“Um.” Mitsunari held up both hands on the lernen figur and cleared her throat. “Look around you.”
Sakon did so and saw everyone else had stopped moving. Everyone moving through the landport and everyone loading up the ships had turned her way.
She panicked when she found so many eyes on her.
…I-I’m the center of attention?
Attention did not so much make her nervous as it made her assume she had done something wrong.
After all, her height had always drawn attention to her actions and people would at best take a step back and at worst try to avoid her altogether.
So had she done something wrong again?
I got careless.
I just got my superior’s approval…and maybe even affection? Anyway, I’ve gotten closer to her and I was relieved because I thought everyone else had accepted me too.
But I was wrong.
People move out of the way when I walk by. Even when I try to stay as far out of the way as possible, they still take an extra step away. So…
…I’m so sorry.
She had dragged Onitakemaru and Mitsunari into it as well.
She was so big she stood out when she got excited. And my voice is loud too.
They probably thought she was weird for being so excited after losing a battle.
But the loud voice and big body were hers, so it was not fair to include Mitsunari and Onitakemaru in it.
Well, Onitakemaru-san is pretty loud too. But I could make him quieter by messing with the lernen figur’s volume.
Regardless, she could hide those two behind her, but then what about herself?
Would she be less conspicuous if she ducked down? No, that much movement would stand out more.
Then could she lean forward and lower her head like she often did? Yes, that’s probably-
“You got a problem with us!?” shouted Onitakemaru without warning.
“We’re conferring with our superior here! But what about all of you!?” yelled Onitakemaru. “If you keep loafing around instead of working, you won’t get anything to eat today!”
…Things sure have changed since my time!
In his time, he had been constantly surrounded by enemies. The Testament could be handled with interpretations, but sometimes that was forbidden and people would often disappear even when they did not die.
That was why time was considered valuable and precious. In comparison…
…Kids these days!
“Get moving! You can watch and listen if you want, but stay on the move! We’re not doing or saying anything shameful. And if you’re going to laugh at that, then we should be ashamed of having put ourselves in harm’s way to protect you on the battlefield this morning! How about that, hm!?”
Everyone exchanged a glance.
The ones on the ground or decks got down on their knees and the ones on ladders or stairs turned this way and then they all bowed.
Onitakemaru gave a grunt of approval at their combined action.
It would have been a satisfied sigh if he had an actual body.
His approval was less about the specific action of bowing and more about reaching a common decision together. Anyone could bow without meaning it, but he saw true meaning in the coordination between them all.
To be honest, I don’t understand the modern trends. Do they call them ‘fashions’ now? Heh heh heh. I know my stuff, don’t I? Anyway, whatever the modern fashion is, this coordination is a wonderful thing. If everyone does things the same way, they can direct it at the enemy on the battlefield.
So Kohime really needs to be prouder of herself and-
“Why the hell are you bowing toward them, Kohime!?”
He scolded her and she straightened up after bowing. She looked to him and everyone else before pointing at them.
“Y-you scared them by yelling like that! You really shouldn’t do that or you’ll get assassinated again.”
“How are they supposed to do that to me now, you fool!?”
Then he noticed something about her.
“What are you smirking about?”
“I-I am not smirking!”
Despite her insistence, she did have a relaxed smile on her face. And in his opinion…
“Why can’t you be this up front with people more often?”
“Yes, yes, yes.”
She grabbed the lernen figurs and lifted them up. Mitsunari was on the right and Onitakemaru on the left. Fine with me. I was the Minister of the Left after all.
But then she stood up and turned toward the others.
“Okay, everyone, um, you can get back to your work. I’ll keep this scary person occupied.”
“Oh, um, uh.”
While the others stood up and got moving, one female student raised her hand.
She took a step forward and bowed.
“Thank you so much for what you did at Nördlingen. We had to start withdrawing so quickly I never got a chance to thank you. …I was at the rear of that unit as part of the sniper team.”
“The group in the back when you were hit by those shells!” shouted Onitakemaru. “When you let them hit you for no good reason, I might add!”
“I-it was not for no good reason! That was your fault for not reading your instructions properly!”
The female students smiled a little.
Those smiles were so much like Kohime’s smile.
Then he realized they all had those small smiles.
…Kids these days will just smile and show off their teeth in front of their superiors.
But he could not bring himself to tell them not to smile, so he remained silent while Kohime bowed her head to say they could leave.
They all nodded, resumed their work, and opened several new lernen figurs.
“Yes, thank you all.”
That was all.
Kohime was smiling too, so Onitakemaru decided to just accept this.
A long pause formed where he would have sighed and then he decided to take a look at their surroundings.
…It’s getting dark.
The light of the lernen figurs started to stand out at this time of day. He had been outside all day today. The sky above was changing from scarlet to purple and as he looked into the sky…
“That ship over Shikoku to the west must be the Musashi.”
Sakon looked to the southwest sky while still holding up the two lernen figurs.
They were in somewhat southern M.H.R.R. There was no major mountain range in the south, but…
“It looks like a series of mountains, or like several castles.”
“I have determined that is due to the curvature of the planet hiding the area below them,” said Mitsunari.
“Is the Musashi larger than the Azuchi?”
“Testament. It has three ships on the port and starboard, so it is that much longer.”
“Hm,” said Sakon while considering that opponent.
They had piloted their ships pretty wildly at Nördlingen and caused a huge atmospheric explosion that might have caught the M.H.R.R. transport ships in the blast, so it was pretty dangerous.
But it simply looked big when viewed from such a distance.
“How many people live on there?”
“Nearly 100,000. The current number may be more than that now, or it may have fallen. I have determined the number fluctuates a lot.”
“Wow, my hometown claims to be a pretty big city with 20,000, so that’s hard for me to imagine. I did visit Kyou for a school trip, so maybe it’s like that.”
At any rate, she understood better now.
When it was not moving, it was a city. That was nothing to fear.
But if it was going to move…
“Is Hashiba-sama going to make it return to Kantou?”
“No, the Azuchi is in Kantou, so a clash would be unavoidable. We cannot have it return right away, so they should return on August 10. Also, there is a problem with having Hashiba-sama herself act here.”
“Because it would look like she is flustered,” said Onitakemaru.
“Testament,” confirmed Mitsunari. “You could say we tried to intervene in the Keichou Campaign because Musashi acted hastily and worked to prevent Hashiba-sama from intervening. She did not arrive in time due to interference, but we can still see that Musashi and the Kantou nations view her as a threat.”
“If Hashiba-sama now demands Musashi return to Kantou, it would show that she views Musashi as a threat. Musashi is probably working to clean up after Nördlingen and deciding what to do about the Swedish Chancellor, but they are currently in Shikoku which has no direct connection to Europe. If Hashiba-sama demands the Musashi return now, a lot of people will assume her position of power is slipping since the Azuchi was damaged and we lost the Keichou Campaign.”
“We were beaten pretty bad,” said Sakon.
“Next time,” insisted Onitakemaru. “We just have to win next time.”
“I thought the usual phrase was ‘we just have to win in the end’. You’re pretty shortsighted, Onitakemaru-san.”
“What, are you planning to lose next time!? And what about me is shortsighted!?”
“The part of you that makes you yell at people for calling you shortsighted!”
“Calm down,” cut in Mitsunari. “For now, most everything we do will be preparing for the Honnouji Incident.”
“Ohh. Did you hear that, Onitakemaru-san? You love assassinations, right? Got any pointers as someone who’s been on the receiving end of one?”
Mitsunari had to cut in again.
“Um.” Their superior raised her right index finger. “As I was saying, I doubt Hashiba-sama will officially use the Testament Union to summon Musashi back to Kantou. They are probably making their own preparations over there, but we have other business to attend to and you two need to prepare for that.”
“Prepare how?” asked Sakon.
“Training?” asked Onitakemaru.
“Testament,” replied Mitsunari.
“So it’ll be a training camp!? Just like for a school club!?”
“Combat training and extracurricular activities are not the same thing!” yelled Onitakemaru.
“But where will we be going?”
“We are still working on some preparations for that. The people who will be accompanying you need to travel here too, so you should know by tonight. We lost a lot of ships, so we should start moving only after Niwa-sama’s warriors return. The two of you should get some rest on the transport ship you arrived on.”
“Testament,” replied Sakon before realizing something. “Oh. Is there anywhere that sells pillows around here? A down one if possible!”
“Hm, there should be in Nördlingen. The gates are still open now and my unit is already there for supplies, so you should be able to speak with them.”
“Then I’m on my way.”
“Don’t drag me into this!” shouted Onitakemaru.
He could not move on his own as a lernen figur, so she made sure to carry him with her as she set off.
The surrounding people turned her way, but they no longer tried to avoid her. They were not yet friends, but they understood there was a give-and-take relationship here and she knew someone would correct her if she did anything wrong.
…So it’s fine.
She really was happy.
“What are you smirking about?” asked Onitakemaru.
She began walking with longer strides than everyone else. But this has to be a good place for that.
She looked to the southeastern sky while descending the hill toward the walled city below.
The Musashi towered up on the night’s horizon and several small lights surrounded it.
Some people there were preparing for the future just like they were. She had fought some of them, but she had learned through experience – and through her flesh and bone – that they were pretty crazy people.
But at the same time…
“They must be in a good place for themselves.”
…I never imagined I would find it awkward to return to my own home.
Asama came to a stop in front of the torii leading to the Asama Shrine.
They had a party later today, but she had a problem to deal with first.
They were probably going to spend the night at Suzu’s place tonight, but where was she supposed to “go home” to after that?
Horizon and Mitotsudaira already planned to “go home” to the Main Blue Thunder. Mitotsudaira did not actually have a choice since her own mansion was being reconstructed thanks to a plot by her mother.
But what was Asama supposed to do?
She had told her father the general situation before the Siege of Odawara, but she had only said she would be “staying at Toori-kun’s place more often for a bit”. He had probably understood what she meant and he had told her to “leave everything here to me”.
But this was different. She had thought she was ready for all this, but…
…It means more now.
She felt like she had stepped through the entrance and discovered what it really meant.
Before, she had been prepared to make that step, but now she was looking out from the inside. And that made all the difference.
“Go, Asama-sama, what’s life without a little challenge!? So go and tell him what’s what!”
“No, no, no. He more or less already knows, so stop making a big deal out of it, Horizon.”
But Horizon was right in a way. “I’ll be staying at Toori-kun’s place more often for a bit” and “I’ll be staying at Toori-kun’s place” were very different.
She wanted to be open with her father about this. She was nervous as could be about it, but…
She took a deep breath.
…Let’s do this.
She started to walk briskly through the Asama Shrine’s torii, but…
She stopped and clapped once before continuing. The locking barrier was not yet in effect at this hour, but she still needed to inform the Asama Shrine’s management divine protections and spells that she was here.
The others also clapped their hands and walked in after her, but…
“Um, you can stay here. You can really just stay here.”
“We would look awfully suspicious loitering around here, so we’ll go to the main building and pretend to be praying at the shrine. So try to keep it quick.”
“Pretend…” muttered Asama, but if anyone could turn a serious attempt at praying into a disaster, it was this group. Still…
“How bout I go with you?” he asked.
“Eh? No, um, that would be too sudden, so let’s just have it be me and dad this time. We can do it with you, Horizon, and the others some other time.”
“If you say so,” he said while linking arms with Horizon and nodding. Next to him, Mitotsudaira lowered her eyebrows and stared at her.
“Are you sure about this, Tomo?”
“Well, given how my family does things, it would be best if I spoke with him a bit now. I mean, the heir to the Asama Shrine constantly visiting the Chancellor and President’s home without telling her father sounds like something Naruze would get excited about.”
Art-Ga: “Just so you know, I like to get all that setup exposition done in the first two pages.”
The scary part was the lack of any reassurance she was not writing a doujinshi about this.
“Anyway,” said Asama as she turned back toward the others in front of the temple residence. “Wait, why do you all look so curious?”
Tenzou raised his hand.
“I take issue with that question after you watched my confession from beginning to end.”
…H-he has a point!
“Besides,” said Tenzou while looking to the others. “Not many of us get to experience a scene like this.”
“What kind of scene do you mean?”
“A family scene where you report back to your parents.”
“Judge.” Mary raised her hand. “Because we e-eloped!”
“Same,” said Narumi with a blank expression.
“My mother is so aggressive that conversation would never go well,” said Mitotsudaira in all seriousness.
“We are already married, so I doubt we would have another chance for a scene like this,” said Gin via sign frame.
“Not really something I see myself doing,” said Masazumi.
“My father went kablooey along with Mikawa,” added Futayo next to her.
They all nodded and then turned toward Adele.
“Oh, yeah. The dogs.”
“Wh-what about the dogs!? I am not marrying a dog!”
Art-Ga: “We don’t have any parents either. Oh, but I guess there’s Suzu.”
Gold Mar: “But we shouldn’t bother Bell-rin with that kind of thing.”
Asama: “And you’re fine bothering me about it!?”
Bell: “I-I would feel…more comfortable with all of you…nearby.”
Everyone fell silent and Itoken eventually broke the silence.
“She is a true goddess.”
“But I know all of you would say things even more inappropriate than I can imagine,” said Tenzou. “So make sure you stay away from Suzu-dono if she does have to do this.”
They all nodded again when Horizon raised her hand.
“I prefer to be free and unrestrained.”
“Horizon! That is not a good motto for life!”
“Heh. Mitotsudaira-sama, I am like the wind sweeping across the wasteland.”
Asama had no idea what that meant, but it sounded manly.
“A-anyway, I’m not going to be saying much and we need to head on down to get some udon, right? I’ll be back before long, so just wait right here! Any weird noises you make can be shrugged off as ‘more of the same’, but please refrain from actually doing anything, okay!?”
Art-Ga: “Does she think you people are animals?”
Responding to that would be dangerous, so Asama hurried into the temple residence.
“I’m back,” she said, but her voice sounded really flat.
She stepped out of the dimly-lit entranceway, removed her shoes, and made sure they were perfectly lined up even though she was going to leave again soon. For better or for worse, that was a habit of hers.
She looked down the hallway, and…
The first room to the right was hers and the one in front of it was her father’s.
The light was on, so he would be in there.
She took a breath and straightened her summer uniform’s collar.
“Dad, there’s something I want to discuss with you. Do you have a moment?”
“Now, everyone, let us go eavesdrop,” said Horizon.
“Has your personality changed since Nördlingen?” asked Toori.
“Heh,” she laughed while brushing her hair out from behind her head. “Gaining pride and vainglory has equipped me with an arrogance engine and a stubborn argument reactor. Simply put, I will have my say no matter what.”
“Hey, Horizon, could you at least not cause us any problems when we’re dealing with other nations?” asked Masazumi. “You are aware when you’re doing that, I hope?”
“Such shocking accusations, Masazumi-sama. When have I ever caused any problems when dealing with another nation?” Horizon immediately gave a thumbs up. “How was that for pride, everyone!?”
“I’m not sure how that was any different from normal.”
“Heh.” She shrugged. “You really couldn’t tell the difference? You get more pathetic by the day, Toori-sama.” She immediately gave a thumbs up. “How was that for vainglory, everyone!?”
“Horizon? You couldn’t tell the difference either, could you?”
“Judge. Knowing how strict Musashi is about jokes, I need to work hard over summer break to ensure I display my pride at all times.”
“Oh, sure, yes,” they all said with quiet smiles.
“Everyone,” whispered Adele. “You do know you’ll probably fall victim to that yourself, don’t you?”
“Yes, so stop making us think about it.”
Horizon turned toward them all and pointed at the door to the shrine residence.
“Can any of you break through this door?”
Mary tilted her head, looked to the door, and narrowed her eyes once before speaking.
“This has a spell in place, but Lady Asama also used the physical lock.”
Horizon growled in annoyance and clenched her right fist so hard it trembled.
“I thought we would be free to eavesdrop all we want since Toori-sama, Kimi-sama, Mitotsudaira-sama, and myself can all pass freely through the Asama Shrine’s locking spells. …Asama-sama is truly an impressively responsible wife character to have shut us out so we will not worry. So much better than that careless Crane Wife that said not to look and then worked the loom without even locking the door!”
“Hey, it isn’t time for that history recreation yet, so stop badmouthing her,” said Toori. “If the name inheritor hears about it, they might do something crazy.”
“But how are we supposed to eavesdrop now, Vicereine Horizon?” asked Adele.
Just then, two shapes stood up at Adele’s feet.
They were a right and left arm.
“Ohh,” said Adele as the forearms rose up to look around. “Are you going to have them sneak in below the floor and unlock the door from the inside!?”
“Heh. Once they sneak in, we can know everything going on inside. Now, everyone, let us listen in on the kind of ordinary family that none of us were blessed with.”
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