Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 37
Chapter 37: Creators in a Hidden Place
I beg you
Not on the cover
Point Allocation (Good Luck With That)
Masazumi walked through the city at night while Tsukinowa was organizing her sign frame.
She was on Musashino, on her way to the Main Blue Thunder. She could already see it across the way at this point.
“I really want to discuss our plans, but all they seem to care about is finishing some doujinshi.”
…Shouldn’t they be relaxing more over summer break?
She thought to herself while slowly walking around in what little light remained in the night sky.
The Musashi was on its way to Mito and repairing the damage done during their exam.
That region north of Edo belonged to Mitotsudaira and acted as the entrance to Oushuu. The Ariake, a floating dock for the Musashi, could be found there, a location central to all the Kantou nations.
Most of the repairs were complete, but the plan was to do what they could with the Kantou nations during summer break and then do the final maintenance in the Ariake.
The Azuchi was working on its own repairs.
“And Mouri is returning from Kantou to Hexagone Française.”
She looked to the south.
She could see the horizon as a line of lights.
That was the Mouri fleet. The fleet was made of transport ships sent from Musashi and any ships still capable of flying at standard speed, but they still numbered enough to cover a decent chunk of the sky.
The bigger ships like the Pension Versailles were towing the transport ships that could remain afloat under their own power.
All of the ships had their lights on and would continue west throughout the night. They would be circling south of Mikawa Bay on the way, so she had heard they would be traveling over the ocean tomorrow.
…And then they make their triumphant return.
That isn’t something Musashi can do since our nation is our ship and our fighting force.
They could celebrate a victory, but they could never return home and be greeted with cheers. Except…
“I guess you could say Ariake is kind of like that.”
When she thought about it, Mikawa should have been like that for them. But a warm welcome from Lord Motonobu would have been…a bit much. Then again, it probably is from the Roi-Soleil too.
“Hey, Musashi Vice President…Honda.”
A sign frame appeared without warning. It showed Terumoto and was being relayed by Asama.
There was a decent back light to the image, probably because Terumoto was on that horizon of lights. Her face was enshrouded in shadow, but the lifted corners of her mouth were just barely visible. Or they seemed to be. So…
“I am pleased to see you are in a good mood, Mouri Terumoto.”
“And I’m pleased I look that way to you. Once we’re back, we have to drag out the reconciliation for Bitchu Takamatsu Castle. What about you?”
Trying to sound us out? she wondered, but that was part of how Terumoto showed she cared. So…
“I’m about to help finish up some doujinshis at a bakery.”
“Reading too much manga makes you stupid.”
…Did not expect that lecture from her.
“Don’t worry about it. I think there’s one about you.”
“Oh, a history manga? Sounds great.”
“Judge. I guess you could call it that if you really wanted to. I’ll let Naruze know she has your approval. Also,” continued Masazumi. “We’ll head there sometime around the 15th.”
“You’ve figured out a way of staying here?”
“Yes. A very stupid one.”
Terumoto glared at that.
“Are you talking in some kind of code here?”
“No, I’m just telling the truth. Like I always do. …But anyway, we do have some business with you then. Our 5th Special Duty Officer has suggested we investigate your Vice Chancellor’s home.”
Kasuya of the Hashiba Ten Spears had used a weapon that may have come from Joan of Arc. Mitotsudaira would want to know if that future enemy had any connection to her. If they knew what Loup-Garou family she came from, she would be easier to deal with.
So Mitotsudaira had said she could figure something out by checking the shed at the Loup des Garous’s house.
…And then we’ll probably all spend the night for fun.
Because the group going nuts at the Main Blue Thunder now would 100% be going with Mitotsudaira. So…
“We have a lot to do over summer break.”
“Same here. But…” Terumoto spat out a laugh. “This is the busyness of building on success, not the busyness of recovering from failure.”
“I’m hoping this doesn’t make us enemies.”
Masazumi felt a chill at that.
Terumoto’s words meant she saw Musashi as a possible enemy.
And the casual way she said it lacked any of her former vainglory.
If they wanted to wage war here, they could do it.
Masazumi could sense it so plainly from Terumoto.
…What do I say to that?
“So the next time we meet, we’re enemies?”
“If you tick all the right boxes for an enemy, then yes.”
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded. “Then let’s keep working together until it comes to that.”
“Sure thing,” said Terumoto with a raised hand.
Masazumi raised her hand in response. She was walking through the city at night and only Tsukinowa would know what the gesture meant. The scattering of other people around had their own interpretation of the raised hand.
“Eek! That’s her ‘go to war’ gesture!”
“Oh, no! She’s starting something!”
“She isn’t declaring war on Hashiba while no one’s around to stop her, is she!?”
How do people see me? she wondered, but once nothing came of this, they would learn they were wrong.
So she continued her conversation with Terumoto.
“Are you leaving soon? Then get home and get some sleep.”
“And you get out and have some fun over summer break.”
Terumoto knew how to hit where it hurt. But for now, they both lowered their hands and spoke in unison.
Terumoto gave a toothy grin as the sign frame vanished.
Masazumi knew she would have been as stony-faced as ever. That felt like a minor loss on her part.
But she took a breath.
She heard some ship’s horns in the distance.
That would be the Mouri fleet. The transport ships and warships blasted their horns like trumpets to play a short tune. They also shined their floodlight spells around.
“What are you, a bike gang?”
She smiled bitterly, but that was not the end of it.
A great noise rang from below her feet.
This time, it was the Musashi.
All eight ships blasted their horns to answer the call from the south.
All other sounds ceased as the doors, windows, and thatch and slate roofs of the nearby buildings shook and clouds of dust flew into the air.
“Musashi” had likely chosen to do this, so was this the way of aerial ships?
Once the noise faded away, Masazumi turned away from the south.
She saw the lights on in the idiot’s house, which doubled as the Main Blue Thunder. I’ve been coming here at night a lot recently, she noted.
“Hey, I’m here. What are you doing?”
She opened the door and stepped inside.
Naruze was supervising.
Their goal was getting Neshinbara to upload his manuscript, so they had to get him working on that manuscript by any means necessary – be it doping him, casting an automatic writing spell on him, or letting him blow off some steam ordering things off the divine network.
Naruze herself opened a Magie Figur while dangling from a ceiling beam by the back of her knees.
“Tenzou and Urquiaga, you work as assistants! Mary, you focus on making snacks for us. Asama, you focus on providing a late-night meal for us. Mitotsudaira, you complete odd jobs with your chains, which will mean anything from tidying up to shopping. Adele, you and Suzu wait for proofreading. Narumi and Gin, watch some videos to gain the basic knowledge needed to take over if need be. Tachibana Husband, you do the same. Everyone else can move over there and use the memos Neshinbara writes to set up some advertisement on the divine network and in the newspaper. Oh, I nearly forgot. Kimi, just do whatever. Horizon, make a late-night meal and snacks for the Chancellor’s group. Chancellor, you stay seated right there. Masazumi can talk about politics, I guess.”
“H-hold on, Black Mar! Why don’t I get to do anything to help!?”
“If you like, Toori-sama, I can whip you into shape so you might actually be able to help,” suggested Horizon.
“N-no thanks! I’m good with this!”
“Kiyonari, I just started this video but only the mouths are moving. What’s so entertaining about it?”
“Look more carefully! It features an elder sister!”
They were causing a racket already, but Naruze noticed Masazumi waving to her down below.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, Neshinbara said his novel wasn’t going to be ready in time, so he’s going to put out a reference book and pretend that was his plan all along.”
“I-it’s not a reference book! It’s a pen-and-paper RPG!”
“Oh, yeah.” Masazumi nodded. “Those are popular in the elementary school. That’s where you have to announce what actions you take based on a set of rules, right? I remember the kids using poison to contaminate the dungeon’s water supply before going in, redirecting a waterway into the dungeon and sending in the smithing guild’s heavy metal waste, setting long-term fires around the dungeon to eliminate all the oxygen inside, or otherwise slaughtering all of the enemies without taking any damage themselves. They could do pretty much anything they wanted since they didn’t have any war treaties with the enemy, so the enemy commander clearly should have focused more on negotiations before the fighting began. Connections are crucial.”
“I-it’s just a game! Stop taking it so seriously!”
“Says Mr. Seventh Fleet,” said Naruze.
But once everyone was busy at work, Naruze had to supervise.
“Ga-chan, aren’t you going to draw some illustrations?”
“That wouldn’t be fair to Shakespeare.”
“But Shake doesn’t do illustrations.”
“My point exactly.”
“I know what you mean.” Kimi opened an acoustic spell along with personal headphone-style acoustic sign frames and a public speaker-style one. “There isn’t much you can do when a rival does something you can’t.”
Exactly. So Naruze turned to someone else.
“Asama, Mitotsudaira. What do you think?”
“A-are you ever going to stop teasing us every chance you get, don’t you!?” asked Asama.
“I’ve been doing it since before Nördlingen and it’s still funny, so probably not.”
Mitotsudaira turned her way while using her silver chains to adjust everyone’s seats to keep a walkway clear. She was currently adjusting the idiot’s seat.
“If you need something done you can’t do yourself, just tell me. …But I will not try to do everything myself. I would only burn myself out.”
“But what if someone else does something the Chancellor loves? Then he would be focused on them and not you.”
The wolf looked to her king.
He mimed taking something from the desk and setting it down out of the way.
He likely meant “don’t worry about that”. And…
“Whenever Nate’s with me, we’re always focused on each other.”
“We are. And I have not forgotten how important that is.”
“Wow.” Naruze looked daunted. “It’s getting a lot harder to tease you.”
“I was well trained.”
They had settled nicely into their roles as knight and king. They were like two clenched fists shown to each other as a sign of agreement.
They had become connected differently from what Naruze had hoped to see.
But she didn’t mind, maybe because it gave her more material to draw.
She knew it had to be the same with Asama and Horizon too.
…No, Horizon got there first and encompasses all of them.
She looked over to see Horizon placing a lid on a frying pan in the kitchen. The Chancellor froze in place.
“Wait, what did you just hide?” he asked.
“My, my. Mighty suspicious, aren’t we? I have hidden nothing, unless you count a secret ingredient as ‘hidden’. All will be revealed in three minutes’ time, so you three boys over there can play rock-paper-scissors while you wait.”
“C-could you at least tell us if the winner or the loser has to eat whatever that is!?”
“Tenzou, you fool. You have no elder sister, so you obviously go first.”
Chaos was already setting in, but Mitotsudaira smiled a little.
“To answer your question, I would rejoice with everyone else. And when my king was focused on me, I would rejoice in whatever I could do for him.”
“I see.” Naruze nodded. “Chancellor, don’t you dare die.”
“Asama’s dad was worried about the same thing,” he said. “Oh, but everyone except Horizon has some healing skills, so I’m good.”
“So you’re saying Horizon wears down your stamina and you go to the other two to recuperate.”
“Wh-why are you jotting down notes, Naruze!?”
It was called an on-site investigation.
At any rate, things were underway and she appreciated the ample material she was bound to get from all this. And…
“Masazumi, got anything to say as our politics expert?”
Mary felt some slight excitement and enthusiasm. Because…
…They have two stovetops and a stone oven here!
It made sense for a bakery. The kitchen had a worktable in the center, as well as a sink and ice room. With this much to work with, she could easily fix everything she had enjoyed back in England.
This was simply not possible in the small room she shared with Tenzou.
But she could not be picky. She had defected and the two of them were working to support themselves. Also, this was a café/bakery, not an ordinary residence.
She was just happy to know that it was possible to build a kitchen like this. Also…
“Anyway, that’s the general path we’ll take. We’ll mostly be visiting the Kantou nations.”
Masazumi was here. She had a sign frame open to show their plans until they arrived at the Ariake.
After seeing some extra jam and milk in the ice room, Mary was planning to make a simple pudding. But she also needed something that would be done sooner, so she rolled out some kneaded dough, cut it into sheets, added some jam and such on top, rolled it into tubes, and stuck them in the oven. The large worktable let her lay out several sheets at once, speeding up the process considerably. She could make so much more this way.
That just left the pudding. It was easy enough to make, so while she was focusing on it…
“Lady Masazumi, are you saying we will not be going to the Ariake right away?”
“Judge. It turns out we can complete most of the repairs with materials inside the Musashi, so we’ll start with that.”
Smoking Girl: “You have to remember that the Ariake belongs to Kantou IZUMO. The Musashi was built by IZUMO, so they’re affiliated but not the same. We have to pay for any repairs done at the Ariake. We set up a joint-work deal to expedite the repairs after we were so badly damaged that last time, but that isn’t normally how it works.”
Vice President: “Our analysis shows most of the repairs this time are on Musashino. Most of the damage was to the basic hull and the bridge, so the 1st port and starboard ships’ stock parts for residential blocks will be enough. The bridge is going to require some adjustments to its internals though, so that will have to be done at the Ariake.”
Mary nodded at their explanations.
“So we want to do whatever we can on our own?” asked Asama while cutting up some fried foods and eggplant.
Ookubo: “Hiring out work is sometimes cheaper, but with the Ariake, we have to buy the materials as well. But that lets us get rid of some dead stock, so whatever.”
“Besides,” continued Ookubo.
Ookubo: “That isn’t the only reason to wait on sending the Musashi to the Ariake.”
“Judge.” Masazumi nodded and gestured for them to continue cooking without worrying about all this. “For a few days, we’ll be visiting the Kantou nations while doing our repairs and inspections. We’ll mostly be dealing with some odds and ends and greeting those nations, but we also have to purify our course, don’t we?”
“Yes, that is one of the Musashi’s standard tasks that has nothing to do with the history recreation.”
“Then we can use that to go around showing off the Musashi’s presence.”
Hearing that, Adele raised her hand. When Masazumi looked over, she tilted her head.
“Why did you say that part just to us and not to Ookubo?”
“Judge. Because she already knows since she’s the one I put in charge of all that work.”
“Masazumi-sama! Are you saying we get to focus on summer break while shoving all the tiresome work on our underclassmen!?” asked Horizon as she shook her lidded frying pan over the stove.
“Then I would love to use some spare time to set up the usual artificial beach next to the ship,” said Asama while walking toward the ice room.
“Oh, we should be free, so we’ll go help you get it set up right,” said Naruze, dangling from the ceiling.
Everyone raised their hands in agreement.
Mary was unsure what to do herself.
…I did say I would make lunches for Master Tenzou, didn’t I?
Then the idiot spoke.
“Okay, once it’s all set up, let’s go to Musashi’s beach together. …Seijun, there’s gotta be one day you aren’t working Tenzou to death, right?”
Narumi heard the Vice President respond with a “judge”.
…One day to kick back and relax might not be a bad idea.
She was planning to rethink Unturning Centipede’s design over summer break. That way she could focus on making any changes she wanted once they arrived at the Ariake. But…
“Will that be after we arrive at the Ariake? I want to get some things done before then.”
“You’ll have to ask Asama about that one,” said the Chancellor.
She looked over to see the Asama Shrine Representative carrying bottles of soy sauce and sesame oil over to the worktable.
“No, something fried would be too heavy, so I’m only going to boil it. By including some grated ginger, I thought it could help warm us up while still being light. …Would you fry it back in Date?”
“They just like fried foods since it’s so cold. But with ginger in it, it should be good boiled.”
She was at the point where she used “they” in reference to Date. But the Asama Shrine Representative smiled.
“Well, the tuning of the artificial beach will be done before we reach the Ariake, but we can wait until we arrive to visit. Masazumi can decided on a date since she’s the one working Tenzou-kun to-”
She stopped speaking when she noticed white flowers spilling from the English Princess’s hair and shoulders where she had been rolling something up on the kitchen worktable.
That girl never hid anything. Or maybe she was just bad at hiding it. Musashi’s princess was scooping up the white flowers from the floor and tossing them around, so what had happened to her frying pan? That was a bit worrying. But…
“I like how you can tell what she’s thinking without her having to say anything,” said Narumi.
“I can tell what you are thinking without you having to say anything,” he said.
“If I don’t say a word, am I in a good or a bad mood?”
“It depends. But like I said, I do not need your words to tell.”
“I see. Then maybe I should start talking more.”
It amused her that she followed that up by shutting her mouth and saying nothing more. But no one took issue with it and it wasn’t really worth taking issue with anyway.
So what does it matter? she decided. I like who I am, she added with a smile.
“W-wait a second, Aoi-kun! What do you think you’re doing!?”
I saw this coming a mile away, thought Naruze, still dangling from the ceiling. So just out of curiosity…
“What did he do? Keep it simple.”
“Well, you see, since it’s a game, I let Aoi-kun design the monsters! I thought that was safer than letting him come up with the story or the main characters! And then this!”
Neshinbara held up a sign frame displaying a monster drawing. It looked like a bare-chested macho man with a hairy flower in place of a face and a single giant eye in the center.
“Whaddya think, Black Mar!? Looks strong, right!?”
“Is that an original design? What’s its name?”
“Anus Eye! He’s called Anus Eye!!”
That one she had not seen coming, so Naruze fell from the ceiling.
“Th-this is supposed to be all-ages, so why would you make this so much more difficult for us, Aoi-kun!?” demanded Neshinbara.
“Huh!? You’re the one that said to make something original so copyright wouldn’t be an issue!” protested Toori.
“Ga-chan, Ga-chan, you shouldn’t be laughing at this,” said Naito.
“I-I’m not, Margot! Bring on the next one! I refuse to lose to this!” shouted Naruze.
“Tomo? Tomo? Why are you looking the other way with your shoulders shaking?” asked Mitotsudaira.
Well, this is a disaster, thought Masazumi.
In the kitchen, Horizon was pouring water in her frying pan to steam whatever was inside.
“Toori-sama, isn’t that name a little too on the nose?”
“But if it’s for the general public, you need to keep things simple, right!? And the eye is the weak point, so it’s perfect. Okay, for my next one…”
“Please no morrrrrrrrrrrre!”
Neshinbara grabbed the idiot by the collar and shook him. Meanwhile, Crossunite and Urquiaga placed Anus Eye on the cover of Neshinbara’s manuscript and drew on the “adults only” symbol.
“We should probably compile all the images now,” said Crossunite.
“Yes, and delete the backup data,” said Urquiaga.
Masazumi did not entirely understand, but it sounded like Neshinbara had no escape now.
“You must stop this, Aoi-kun! I created such a beautiful world of light and dark, but now it has an Anus Eye in it! How are you going to fix this!?”
“Eh, what’s wrong with them living there?”
“What kind of ecosystem is something like that supposed to live in!?”
“Well, let’s say they descend from the clouds every so often.”
“You’re ruining my brilliant worldbuilding!”
“Tomo, Tomo. Get back to the kitchen before your broth boils over,” said Mitotsudaira.
Speaking of Mitotsudaira, wasn’t this a job for her since she was doing odd jobs? But anyway…
“We’ve been so busy lately, but with Mouri leaving and everything with Hashiba settling down, it finally feels like summer break.”
“You poor naïve girl.” Naruze got up from the floor. “We don’t get a break until the festival is over.” She pulled a pen from her pocket and pointed it toward Masazumi. “Also, we still have to deal with those two who haven’t joined us here: Nagabuto and his wife.”
Self-Destruct Girl: “As you can see, we have some exciting days in store for us. Yes.”
Christina heard the response of “I see” carried by the gentle breeze.
She was on the port side of Tama, Musashi’s 2nd starboard ship. She looked down on the city from a 2nd floor balcony of the Swedish embassy in the diplomatic district.
She had already memorized the layout of Musashi’s surface cities, even if her information was not entirely up to date.
Based on her memorized information…
Self-Destruct Girl: “The Musashi has changed a lot since Mikawa.”
“Testament,” came the reply.
Lady AM: “All the foreign officials left back then and then they had major improvements done after Mikatagahara. But I believe most of the embassies remained staffed.”
Self-Destruct Girl: “Probably so those nations would have an excuse to take what they could get if the Musashi did sink.”
Christina could tell she had a smile on her face.
Self-Destruct Girl: “But that never happened, so I get to be here now.”
Lady AM: “What is that on your plate?”
“Testament,” replied Christina, looking to the side.
Next to a glass of wine were five skewers of grilled chicken on a long white plate. There were also some empty skewers.
Self-Destruct Girl: “When Tadaoki-sama and I took a look around the repair sites for the recent damage, we happened across a popular yakitori place that had already been repaired, so we each bought some dinner there.”
Lady AM: “Why not eat together?”
Self-Destruct Girl: “I didn’t know what he would think of a woman who can eat yakitori as well as I can.”
Lady AM: “He’d probably find it less of a pain than you’re being now.”
That would be nice, said Christina, her hand on her cheek to feel the smile on her face.
And she sighed.
Self-Destruct Girl: “Is it wrong to feel happy when the Apocalypse is so close?”
Lady AM: “It’s better than trying to blow yourself up when the Apocalypse is close. Because you aren’t being a nuisance to everyone else this way. But more than that…”
Self-Destruct Girl: “It seems that Sweden wants to provide the bare minimum of cooperation with Musashi.”
Lady AM: “That would make sense.”
Christina nodded at Tomoe Gozen’s response.
Self-Destruct Girl: “Looking at Europe’s history, the Catholics don’t have any real history recreation victories left now that Nördlingen is complete.”
Lady AM: “But they still have interpretations, so M.H.R.R. will be aiming for ‘de facto victories’. Just like how we ‘lost’ at Nördlingen. …The Testament says the Thirty Years’ War is on the decline, but people are not that easily controlled anymore. Which is why I asked Musashi to keep Hashiba and Oda in check.”
“Testament,” replied Christina.
To change her train of thought, she stuck a skewer in her mouth and pulled off two pieces of chicken.
When she bit into them, the soy sauce and salt flavor soaked in between her teeth. She chewed the greasy meat and then took a sip of wine. She held the astringent and sour flavor in her cheek, swallowed it, and let out a faintly heated breath.
When she inhaled, she felt a mixture of the wine’s scent and the chill of the air. Maybe that was due to the alcohol in the drink. She then nodded once and spoke.
Self-Destruct Girl: “But it’s summer break now. Every nation out there will be searching for a favorable compromise concerning the Thirty Years’ War while also gathering domestic opinions on the matter. And…”
Self-Destruct Girl: “Those compromises will be greatly influenced by Hashiba’s actions. Hexagone Française is closer to Hashiba thanks to the reconciliation of Bitchu Takamatsu Castle and such, so you could say they have a slight lead on the race to conquer Europe. But Hexagone Française and Hashiba also have a problem they must face.”
Lady AM: “The Honnouji Incident, you mean?”
“Testament,” replied Christina.
Self-Destruct Girl: “That incident brings great change to P.A. Oda and, if it throws off the balance of power in Europe, it could mean trouble for the European nations that are looking forward to finally ending the Thirty Years’ War they have fought for so long. If Musashi can keep P.A. Oda in check, great. But if Musashi’s attempts instead spur P.A. Oda to action, Hashiba could do to the other European nations what they did to K.P.A. Italia.”
Self-Destruct Girl: “The European nations want a quiet end to the Thirty Years’ War, but they also want to avoid any responsibility if something does happen.”
Lady AM: “Then what about us Protestants and Hexagone Française who have asked Musashi to keep P.A. Oda in check and have worked closely with them?”
Self-Destruct Girl: “If you learn things are not going well for Musashi, you will assist them, won’t you?”
I already know you will, thought Christina as she continued.
Self-Destruct Girl: “That is when the powerful nations, smaller nations, smaller forces, and territories taking a ‘wait and see’ stance will finally act.”
Self-Destruct Girl: “If the powerful nations and forces are going to act, it can be useful to support them. After all, they will be named the victors at Westphalia, so take their side and you can share that victory with them.”
Lady AM: “I already knew that, but I kind of hate it. It seems cheap to me. Is that because I’m from the Far East?”
Self-Destruct Girl: “Opinions there are so influenced by national character that it can be a boon to your nation’s people even if you personally think it is cheap or opportunist. Also…”
Christina smiled bitterly.
Self-Destruct Girl: “Tsirhc teaches us we should share our excess wealth with the poor.”
Lady AM: “Then treat me to some yakitori next time we meet.”
Christina smiled a little at that.
Self-Destruct Girl: “No, I don’t think so. Because…”
She did not need to reach up and check what this smile felt like.
This was a natural one that she did not have to create.
Self-Destruct Girl: “This is not wealth. It is the result of my date, so it belongs to me.”
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