Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 28
Study: Current Locations
Toori: Sis! Sis! What general locations are the Musashi and whatnot in!?
Kimi: Heh heh heh. General brother, they are in these general locations.
1: Musashi (Above Former Houjou Land)
2: Mouri, Yamagata Castle (Reine des Garous and Yoshiaki are on the Musashi)
3: Satomi (Yoshiyasu, Ookubo)
5: Kantou Clans to Oushuu
Toori: Um, so are we in Kantou or the eastern sea?
Kimi: The boundary is a little unclear with Houjou gone, isn’t it? But the Musashi is big, so these general descriptions are about right.
Toori: We’re really half-assing the Warring States period, aren’t we?
Chapter 28: The New and the Old at a Thoughtful Destination
I’ve gone so far
I’ve returned so close
And I had a dream
Of a nearby reality
Point Allocation (It’s All White!)
It had not been all that long since she last saw it, but the sky here still felt nostalgic.
Kani looked all around at the sky from a white field.
…Snow in the summer is wild!
This was a harmonic region on the northern border between P.A. Oda and Sviet Rus. There were usable roads and a land port here, so they used this year-round snowy region to keep an eye on Sviet Rus.
Kani was native to M.H.R.R., so snow was not new to her. Still…
“I never thought I’d go somewhere snowy for a summer vacation training camp!”
“P.A. Oda has more climate variety than you would think, Kani-kun.”
She looked back toward the voice to see someone in a red-dyed summer uniform standing in some conifer woods next to the field.
“Oh, Maeda-senpai! Are you supervising us today!?”
“Because Shibata-senpai left on a trip. But I know Hashiba-kun can trust an officer like me to do things right.”
“So you’ll be looking after us!? We already got everything set up yesterday and the day before that!”
“Michi helped you with that, didn’t she? Did you she give you any warnings?”
“Testament!” Kani pointed south, where several large aerial ships formed something like a city. “She said not to go out at night much and to make sure we could gather all our things in a single day since we’re moving once summer break is over! We have to carry our own blankets!”
But one thing puzzled Kani. If they had so many ships on the front line…
“Why are we moving the ships after summer break!?”
“Is that a problem?”
“Testament! We can’t do the history recreation during the break! If that formation is meant for use against Sviet Rus, it really only becomes useful after the break ends!”
“A reasonable interpretation.”
Maeda sat down and she looked down to see a leisure mat below him.
All of a sudden, she found a tall woman seated there.
She wore a black shirt and was opening a large bento. A closer look showed she was wrapped in faint light, just like Maeda. The glow was only noticeable in the shade of the conifer woods and it told Kani who this was.
…That must be Matsu-senpai!
She had seen Matsu’s small Mouse form in divine transmission images, but this was her first time seeing her true form. It had to be a rare experience.
Maeda accepted a teacup of something and sighed. And…
“This means the Shibata forces have something big planned for after summer break. So, Kani-kun, shortly after you return to Hashiba-kun, we will be paying you a visit.”
“Eh!? Shibata’s team is joining us?”
“No, only me.”
“We need to prepare for the Battle of Shizugatake.”
Toshiie viewed the snowy plain shining in the summer sun.
…This troublesome time really snuck up on me.
He probably had Musashi’s efforts to thank for that.
His school days of moving back and forth between P.A. Oda and M.H.R.R. had been a lot of fun, but autumn was fast approaching now.
It was only summer break, but the end of the break would mean entering the latter half of the school year. And…
“Well, I’ll be along for the ride almost all the way to Sekigahara.”
In a way, that made it easier for him. He didn’t have to worry anyone else.
But in another way…
…What am I supposed to do?
He was already dead, yet here he was worrying about the people whose lives were only getting started. Was this some kind of karmic retribution?
Still, he knew some of them would probably choose death and it could be hard to live the life you wanted while also responding to the events around you.
The Battle of Shizugatake was coming.
According to the Testament, after Hashiba killed Akechi Mitsuhide at the Battle of Yamazaki, the Oda clan split between an up-and-coming Hashiba faction and the established Shibata faction. Hashiba was the superior of the two and they ultimately parted ways and fought a decisive battle.
The battle was fought at the Shibata base of Kitanosho Castle and the nearby Shizugatake.
…I switch to Hashiba’s side there, making an enemy of Shibata-senpai and the others.
Takigawa Ichimasu and others had sided with Shibata and the battle grew to a very large scale for a conflict within the Oda clan, but a group of newcomers made their debut there.
That group was known as the Seven Spears of Shizugatake, on which Hashiba’s Ten Spears were based.
Fukushima Masanori, Katou Kiyomasa, Katou Yoshiaki, Wakisaka Yasuharu, Katagiri Katsumoto, Kasuya Takenori, and Hirano Nagayasu.
Those seven made a name for themselves and some became the major players of the next age.
Toshiie saw it as the next generation taking over.
His generation’s glorious school life was coming to an end and they would be handing the reins over to their underclassmen.
The Battle of Shizugatake was like the ceremony for that.
So he understood why Shibata had called Fukushima here for a training camp. Fukushima had fought alongside them at Novgorod and lost to Musashi’s Vice Chancellor, but she had improved enough to defeat Celestial Dragon Katou Danzou at the Siege of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle the other day.
If she could defeat a Celestial Dragon on her own, then she was officer level and could even be Vice Chancellor of a smaller nation.
That was why Shibata had called for her.
“He’s telling her to get stronger,” commented Matsu with a smile. “He’s adorable.”
She had a tendency to openly speak her mind and that had only grown after spending so long as a Mouse. But…
“You think Shibata-senpai is adorable?”
“And Oichi-sama. They both are.”
Matsu then turned her smile toward Kani.
“What would you do if you had to battle your respected upperclassmen to the death?”
Now there’s a dangerous question, thought Toshiie, but Kani did not even need to think about it.
“Testament! I would do my best!”
Kani was happy Matsu had spoken to her.
But not because Matsu was a name inheritor or famous.
She was a ghost. Maeda was too, but Matsu generally stayed in her Mouse form.
Kani could tell the time Matsu spent in her original form was special to her.
So she found it incredible that Matsu had spared some interest for her.
Instead of worrying over what the correct answer was, she decided to just state what it was she could actually do.
“I would do my best to put up a good fight against those respected upperclassmen!”
“Then,” said Matsu. “What if you died or killed them?”
“Testament! If I died, I would leave everything with them! If I killed them, my hard work would be my way of honoring them!”
“You’re willing to kill if you do your best?”
“Testament! That is one possible result of doing your best in sports, academics, and work, so it would be unfair to not allow it on the battlefield!”
In other words…
“Every day of my life is a battle! Is it not for you!?”
That was why she always gave it her all. She could try to hide it, watch from a distance, or take a step back, but…
…Everyone around me is giving it their all!
“Please don’t get careless and die against me! If you ask me, that would be the worst outcome! And as long as it isn’t the worst outcome, then I can find something good about what happens!”
Once she said that, she noticed some movement. Maeda was hanging his head in laughter and tapping Matsu on the shoulder.
Matsu looked to him.
“Honestly.” She smiled a little and then slowly turned back toward Kani with a smile in her eyes. “You’re adorable.”
Kani bowed and found Maeda looking her way. He took a sip from his teacup before speaking.
“I’ll have to tell Shibata-senpai’s group not to let their guard down. Still, I was thinking of testing your skill with some quick training.”
She thought she knew what he meant.
And the next thing he said confirmed it.
“Is Fukushima-kun okay back there?”
Kani looked over her shoulder.
Fukushima stood about 8m back from her. She had her back turned and held Ichinotani, but her head was tilted limply back.
From behind, she looked like she was staring up into the distance.
Kani tried calling, but Fukushima did not respond. Instead of responding with silence, this was a lack of any response at all.
“Kani-kun, is she always like that?”
“N-no! She’s normally really sharp, but something changed when we left the Azuchi.”
She noticed some bugs flying around above Fukushima’s head, presumably drawn in by the summer sun.
“She even has flies swarming around her!!”
“I don’t think that’s related.”
“I was planning to have you run 10 laps around the training ground – oh, that’s what I’m calling this snowy plain, by the way. You look like you could run, but I get the feeling Fukushima-kun couldn’t. She looks dead.”
“N-no! She’s not dead! Are you, Fukushima-senpai!?”
Kani took a step toward Fukushima and slapped her on the back.
Fukushima immediately collapsed limply to the snow like her strings had been cut.
“A-are you okay!?”
She looked down to see an empty look in Fukushima’s eyes. She was not moving, but she was breathing.
“Ma-chan, don’t point and laugh when you say that.”
At any rate, Kani was unsure what to do about this.
“I imagine she’s in some kind of slump,” said Maeda behind her. “But I believe Hashiba-kun will be negotiating with Musashi today, so she should contact us once that’s over.”
“What to do? Or the real question: how will this turn out?”
…What am I supposed to do about this?
Masazumi was having trouble reaching a decision atop the bridge in front of the academy.
The automaton brought by “Musashi” stood in front of her.
The automaton’s demand was clear.
“Are you telling us to stay away from Kyou because Akechi Mitsuhide is there?”
She asked just to be sure and Ranmaru nodded once before speaking.
“Akechi-sama is in Kyou.” She spoke calmly with no emotion on her face. “I have just one request: Please do not approach that place until the Honnouji Incident is complete.”
She nodded again.
“That is what I said before.”
She held her head high.
“You asked if I told you to stay away from Kyou because Akechi Mitsuhide is there.”
She returned to her neutral stance.
“I did not say that.”
Gold Mar: “Is she trying to get on my nerves?”
Art-Ga: “Oh? Shouldn’t you be sleeping, Margot?”
Gold Mar: “Hm, looks like you didn’t eat any breakfast. Want me to fix some?”
Art-Ga: “Please. I’ll pick up something for lunch.”
Gold Mar: “That sounds great. See you then.”
Art-Ga: “Judge. See you later. Okay, now to the print shop.”
Almost Everyone: “Get back on topic!!”
“Hm,” thought Naito with a tilt of the head in the kitchen at the back of their room.
Their Technohexen cauldron was an extended pot-au-feu pot. She scooped some of the pot-au-feu into a smaller pot for breakfast when Naruze returned, broke an egg into it, and stirred it in. Then she chopped up some bacon, sprinkled that in, and brought it to a boil. After that…
Gold Mar: “So what’s this about, Seijun? Did someone stop by with a personal request?”
Vice President: “It would seem so. She isn’t an ambassador or someone’s representative, so she boarded the Musashi as a simple passenger.”
Asama: “That is how she’s registered with us. Her stated purpose was ‘travel’ and all of her weapons and such were loaded as cargo with conditional seals in place. Same as any other ordinary passenger.”
Me: “Hmm, but then why is she with ‘Musashi’?”
That’s the question, thought Naito.
…Oh, my brain still hasn’t woken up.
Had she been joining Naruze on too many all-nighters recently, or was she always like this? Still, she added.
Something about this bothered her.
“Quick question,” she began.
Gold Mar: “Why is that automaton telling us to stay away from Kyou?”
Masazumi thought of Naito’s question in a few different ways. First of all…
…P.A. Oda probably doesn’t want us messing with them right now.
That isn’t it, she decided. That assumes we can actually interfere.
…And that’s what our upcoming meeting with Hashiba is all about.
Since Ranmaru had come to her about this before the meeting…
“Is this not about what Hashiba wants?”
“You may interpret this as a personal request.”
That smooth response did not give Masazumi much to work with. No, she was an automaton. An older model in particular would determine the optimal response and cut out everything other than that.
…Just like Horizon used to.
Yeah, Horizon really has changed. And while it’s easy enough to just say she’s changed, explaining how she’s changed is trickier. She seems more mentally and physically active than before. Yeah, like with those arms.
“Just out of curiosity, do your arms move around with a mind of their own?”
“I am not sure what you mean.”
Oh, she’s surprisingly normal, thought Masazumi, but did that mean her own standards were skewed?
Either way, she had another question.
“ ‘Musashi’, why did you bring her to me?”
“Judge. It is a simple matter. I determined she has a connection to the matter you are considering.”
In other words…
“Mori Ranmaru-sama here is an old-style automaton. Her body has been replaced, but her base unit number is 0032 of the original 4-digit models. Over.”
“Wait, Crossdressing Honda-kun!”
Someone rudely shouted down from above. Damn him, Masazumi thought, looking up to see Neshinbara leaning out from the Student Council rec room. He did not seem to notice the idiot next to him who seemed to think he was showing off by drinking milk in the nude.
“An original 4-digit model is exactly what we need!”
“What, did you think up another weird magic spell? I saw those notes you were taking with Aoi before. Tearing Slash Bullet – Capac Flash? Is it a slash, a bullet, or a flash?”
“Sh-shut up! I couldn’t decide which category of magic I wanted it to be!”
But Neshinbara was already getting to his point.
“The old-fashioned original 4-digit models were the initial automatons built in the Age of Dawn!”
“Most of them were kept at important locations around the world after the Harmonic World’s creation, but barely any of them survived this long due to deterioration as they aged and as they had their core’s salvaged. Some even refused to take on a new body. But there is one place that still has some! And listen carefully because this is really impor-”
“The Imperial Palace in Kyou. Over,” cut in “Musashi”.
Horizey: “Neshinbara-samaaaa! Oops, too late.”
Four Eyes: “Why are you so bad at keeping the initiative when you talk?”
Unturning: “Couldn’t he have explained everything in just a line or two?”
Novice: “D-dammit! I don’t care! I’m working hard at my manuscript! I’m serious, okay!? That’s all I have left now!”
Laborer: “That’s probably for the best.”
Art-Ga: “The receptionist asked me about your manuscript, so I told them you weren’t submitting one. I’m so tired.”
Novice: “Noooooooooooo! Why would you do that!?”
Would it qualify as a national disgrace if their Secretary couldn’t attend a major summer event? It was hard to say.
…Those things count as a history recreation of the printing press, book markets, and renga, don’t they?
A note in the Testament said fan works of famous works and markets for self-published books were already a thing by the time Matsudaira’s reign began. With the Far East, the other nations would use the provisional rule to demand they share the related technology. But anyway…
“The Imperial Palace?”
The conversation had taken a wild turn, but that helped it make a lot more sense. Because…
“Kyou is…the Emperor’s home.”
“Exactly, Masazumi-sama. Mori Ranmaru-sama is an automaton sent from the Imperial Palace by P.A. Oda. Over.”
“Does that make her something like your ancestor, ‘Musashi’?”
“Musashi” looked to Ranmaru, but both them of them shook a hand side to side.
“Ranmaru-sama was created spontaneously while I was created with a purpose in mind. When a spontaneously created automaton fulfills the duty they have personally assigned themselves, their soul will usually rapidly fade and disappear.
“Meanwhile, if an automaton like me has her mold damaged, our official purpose gives our soul itself a mold of its own, meaning we can usually be salvaged. That is the primary difference between the modern and old-style models. Over.”
“Old-style automatons are automatons in the sense that we spontaneously began to move,” added Ranmaru. “Whereas modern automatons are automatons in the sense that they can move without outside assistance. But once we are moving, there is little difference except for when we meet our end.”
Ranmaru waved her right hand, producing a Mlasi-style insha kotob.
It displayed a map of Kinki.
“Most of my relatives are in Kyou’s Imperial Palace.”
“I have reason to believe there is a considerable risk of harm coming to them if the Musashi approaches.”
Masazumi focused on the word “harm”. In other words…
“You think Musashi would end up fighting the Imperial Palace?” she asked. “Listen, it is true Musashi stated world domination as a goal at Mikawa, but that doesn’t mean we go around declaring war on everyone we meet.”
Me: “Why would you say that? Are you asking us to make jokes now?”
Horizey: “Sh. Sometimes politicians have to say things they don’t believe.”
Black Algae: “Gaffe? Gaffe?”
Don’t you start. But she had something else to say.
“Listen. What we want is peace and our first goal is stopping the Apocalypse. We plan to use Westphalia to ask whether or not our gathering the Logismoi Oplo is the correct way of doing that. So to earn the rest of the world’s trust, we’ve been going around fighting wars- no, let me rephase that. We have been going around seeking peaceful resolutions that – on occasion – end up causing a bit of excitement that some might classify as war-adjacent. My point is…”
Nagaya-Stable: “This is hopeless.”
Horizey: “Ookubo-sama, you mustn’t give up! Masazumi-sama is putting up a valiant (if doomed) effort to prove that you and the rest of Musashi are pacifi-gh.”’
Silver Wolf: “Horizon! Horizon! Did you just jam your finger typing an unfamiliar word!?”
Horizon really has changed, thought Masazumi as she faced Ranmaru again. And…
“Well, you get the picture.”
Ranmaru froze and “Musashi” raised her hand after a moment.
“How about you sum it up thusly: leave us alone and we will leave you alone. Over.”
“Hm, yeah, that sounds good.”
Masazumi accepted that compromise and asked a further question.
“We have no reason to attack the Imperial Palace. Do you still insist we stay away?”
“Testament. That was not the reason for my request.”
Ranmaru’s response carried one important meaning.
Masazumi held her palm out toward Ranmaru and nodded.
Vice President: “Did you hear that? If that wasn’t her reason, then she wasn’t assuming we were going to declare war against them. I told you people don’t see us that way.”
Tachibana Wife: “Sounds like she has a rude awakening coming.”
Tachibana Husband: “Almost certainly, yes.”
Worshiper: “Why did you all look so surprised when Ranmaru said that?”
Vice President: “Wh-what, did you want me to declare war!? Well, fine! Maybe I will!”
Asama: “Masazumi, you need to stop declaring war just to fit in.”
…Don’t imply I’ve ever done that before!
Part of her thought maybe she had done it before, but she decided she was imagining things. Anyway…
“Then what will attack the Imperial Palace?”
Just as Ranmaru began to answer, Masazumi saw something behind the automaton: a red light
She recognized the small red glow visible past Ranmaru’s left side.
The familiarity brought a certain memory to mind, but then another light appeared all around her and in the sky above.
That was a defense barrier. A powerful purification linked directly to a ley line had appeared all around them.
“Masazumi!” Asama shouted from the Student Council rec room. “It’s the Double Border Crest!”
“Musashino” ordered to have all the ships’ defenses boosted with the sensor systems.
The Double Border Crest was a mysterious phenomenon detected on the Musashi before, but they had never observed how it formed. The mysterious phenomenon itself was a ley line distortion, but it might not register as dangerous depending on the nature of the change.
…The information Asama-sama acquired at Novgorod came in handy here.
When the Double Border Crest had appeared behind a few of them below Novgorod, Asama had negated it with a defense spell she had prepared.
No, further testing was required to say if it had really been “negated”, but a spell had still managed to detect it. And…
“It is curious that it was an emotional suppression spell that did it. Over.”
Automatons like her had no emotions, so they noticed something was off when emotions rose to the surface. Those with plenty of experience working as a point of contact with non-automatons had created a detection spell based on that.
“It has arrived. Over.”
Automatons and the Musashi had high reaction speeds, so she made a call using a divine transmission directly linked to the Asama Shrine.
Musashino: “Asama-sama, a Double Border Crest has activated and we have completed preparations to resist it! Over.”
Asama: “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s already over. Thanks, though.”
She had planned to investigate, evaluate, and analyze the Double Border Crest in order to research how to oppose it. But…
Musashino: “It’s…over? Over.”
Asama: “Eh? Um, yes. As soon as it was detected, it seemed to disappear on its own before my resistance spell could even activate.”
Asama groaned in thought.
Asama: “And all’s well that ends well, right?”
Judge, thought “Musashino”. She knew what this meant.
…Why do humans always ignore the details!?
This mysterious phenomenon makes people disappear.
Several VIPs have already disappeared and it’s kind of been a big deal. And I thought we were trying to figure out what it is. And yet…
…All’s well that ends well?
“Kokubunji. Do you have time to accompany me as I complain? Over.”
“Umm, Nishi Kokubunji! Nishi Kokubunji! Over.”
“No, uh, Kunitachi! Kunitachi! Over.”
“Uhhh, next is Tachikawa. Tachikawa is the last stop. Over.”
“D-don’t declare me the last stop! I’m sending it right back to Mitaka! Over.”
The task was passed around in their thoughts for a few quadrillion rounds and “Musashino” worked to clean up that mental noise.
She noted that even automatons could find a task annoying.
Asama: “Anyway, thank you for getting every ship to respond. It goes so much faster with the bridge involved. …Please do the same thing if this happens again.”
“Musashino” felt the others’ eyes on her.
Musashino: “We plan to return to Kansai, meet Akechi Mitsuhide-sama, and intervene in the Honnouji Incident. If all of that succeeds, we will have a lot of trouble to deal with. The Musashino bridge is always at your service as the Musashi’s primary bridge. Over.”
Masazumi only now realized how rapidly she was breathing.
…Just like at Novgorod.
“The Double Border Crest can take automatons too?”
No light remained behind Ranmaru. The Double Border Crest had disappeared prematurely.
Torii-style ether detection spells remained on alert around the ship. The lights she could see here and there would be the ether forms of Musashi’s local gods.
She had heard the thought of losing their followers made them feel ashamed for failing to protect those followers.
Asama: “Sakuya is a water god and Mount Fuji itself, so she is sensitive to ley line activity. Musashi’s help allowed us to detect this quickly.”
Unturning: “So you can defend against it?”
Asama: “I wouldn’t go that far. This was more like the trigger was never fully pulled or it disappeared before it was complete.”
Asama was up front about what had happened.
Asama: “But I think this time and the time at Novgorod were both triggered by us talking about something. In other words, the Double Border Crest was ‘summoned’ as a mysterious phenomenon. In this case, it was a low power version, like it was only keeping an eye on things.”
10ZO: “But something could have triggered a high power version?”
Asama did not deny the possibility.
Asama: “Yes. And when it comes to us, I think it uses the high power version. I need to figure out how to fight it if that happens. But…”
Vice President: “But what?”
“Well,” began Asama.
Asama: “The Double Border Crest is a mysterious phenomenon. It is not a spell, a trick, a trap, or a combination thereof. It is a single mysterious phenomenon.”
“I see,” said Masazumi. “Understood.”
…Does that mean Mori Ranmaru is in a tricky situation here?
She had not expected Ranmaru to show off something so dangerous.
“So if I ask what will attack the Imperial Palace, you get attacked by the Double Border Crest?”
“Testament. I do apologize. We could fight it to an extent while I was inside the Imperial Palace, but that seems to have made me a target. It had been a while, so I got careless.”
Ranmaru opened an insha kotob and checked some of her divine protection settings.
“I have a detection spell in place, but yours was faster.”
Asama: “Oh, Masazumi. Can you ask her what kind of spell it is?”
“Out of curiosity, what kind of detection spell is it?”
“A will-sensing spell. It is very similar to your emotion-sensing one. You appear to be on the right track there.”
“I’m just glad it let us avoid disaster here.”
“Testament,” agreed Ranmaru, but there was not much she could say.
Asama sent a word of thanks on the sign frame.
But based on what had happened…
“Could we solve the mystery of the Double Border Crest and the Princess if we visited the Imperial Palace?”
“I cannot say anything, but I am here to ask that you do not attempt that.”
Asking why would just bring them back to square one.
Or it could summon the Double Border Crest again.
…This is a lot of pressure.
Masazumi had been one of those attacked below Novgorod. She was pretty sure the disappearance of the Prince of Orange had triggered it and they had been targeted for being nearby, but…
“I’m glad this is only a personal request.”
“Are you going?”
“I have a personal request of my own,” Masazumi said to Ranmaru. “Will you let us in during the Honnouji Incident?”
Ranmaru swallowed the word “cannot”.
Instead, she nodded, still expressionless.
“I can only say the same thing you did.”
“Do you resent me for it?”
“Do you resent me?”
They really were in the same position.
Ranmaru bowed her head.
“I am pleased to have learned you have your own circumstances to consider.”
“If it does happen, don’t think it’s because we don’t care.”
“Do not worry.” Ranmaru raised her head and spoke without taking a breath. “You will be on the side trying to stop it.”
“Huh?” said Masazumi.
…We’ll be stopping it?
She wanted to ask “stopping what”, but she could not.
“Excuse me. I believe you have a meeting with Hashiba-sama soon.”
Ranmaru turned around and a few people appeared in the windows of the Student Council rec room behind Masazumi.
With the encounter complete, Crossunite and Mitotsudaira must have wanted to get a look at Ranmaru.
Masazumi nodded and spoke to the departing automaton.
“Until we meet again.”
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