Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 38

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Chapter 38: Discussers at the Meeting Place[edit]

Horizon8B 273.png

When did I

Start looking up at

So many different ceilings?

Point Allocation (Most of Us Do)


“So I honestly think Sweden will wait until after Honnouji to decide whether or not to side with Musashi. They will want to see what Hexagone Française and the Protestants do about us first.”

Masazumi explained her thoughts while sitting cross-legged on a futon and holding her feet.

The futon was laid out atop the tatami mats in the “girls’ room” they had created in the Main Blue Thunder. They had all loosened their summer uniforms for comfort, taking the cleaning and purification charms prepared by Asama, and placing them in their collar or hip hard point parts.

They were taking a break and getting deeper into their work.

Compiling Neshinbara’s weird book was going to take all night, but Balfette and Mukai had already nodded off. The girls were primarily working as assistants, so once the late-night food was ready, Naruze had told them anyone without any work could get some sleep. She had warned them they might have to be woken up before the morning, but there was no point in staying awake for the time being. Thus, they were getting some rest or working on their own stuff in here.

Late-night work could be exhilarating, but the excitement did not last long.

According to Naruze, “Everyone wants to stay up all night, but they don’t actually prepare themselves for it. That’s why it’s best for beginners to ride the excitement and work to keep it from fading as the night wears on. Do that and you’ll have less of a rebound when you do get tired and need to rest.”

With the boys, Noriki had left early to get back home, but the others were apparently still working in the café space. Masazumi occasionally heard them hitting each other and Horizon’s arms would join in, but things were mostly peaceful. Their progress was automatically sent to Masazumi every 45 minutes, so she was in charge of organizing the changes and corrections.

Since the idiot could cook at any time, they wanted to make the most of what Asama, Mary, and the others could make.

“It all comes down to Neshinbara’s progress, doesn’t it?”

“We have two or three hours of leeway there,” said Naruze. “So Mary can go first.”

“Mary?”

“We can have her whip up something to wake everyone up. Asama’s Far Eastern food wouldn’t have the punch of the herbs Mary would put in.”

Mary was over in the Aoi Sister’s section, receiving a lecture on the best shops on the Musashi and what kind of swimsuit to choose. She had flowers constantly spilling from her hair.

“Her excitement is keeping her up now, but I get the feeling she’ll pass out once she’s cooked Tenzou’s portion.”

“Yeah, Ma-yan’s the type to let her excitement carry her through and then crash once she’s done,” said Naito. “Probably makes for a fulfilling life.”

“I see,” nodded the Tachibana Wife. With Balfette and Mukai out, she was checking over the completed manuscript pages. “We have a general idea of Sweden’s intentions now, but what will we do about Honnouji? We would have a hard time roping the Swedish Chancellor into this.”

“I have some thoughts regarding that,” said Masazumi. “I think we’ll be returning to Kansai no matter what, but instead of roping her into it, I imagine we will be discussing a way to reach a consensus with her.”

“Discussing? Do you have a meeting date set?”

“The 10th. The same day we arrive at the Ariake. …Which is also a school day.”

“Oh,” they all said, with Horizon raising her right hand. She was sweating. “Um, I thought we dealt with all that school nonsense with our final exams, so how can we possibly have another school day so soon? Our academy-run society is more oppressive than I thought.”

“It’s really just a day to check in with the name inheritors to make sure they aren’t doing any history recreations during the break. We can also rent out the school facilities that day, so I’ve submitted for us to use the pool. It’s not the ocean, but it still sounds summery to me.”

“Oh?” The Date Vice Chancellor turned her way. “You had arranged that before we decided to visit Musashi’s ocean earlier, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I did. I wasn’t going to work you throughout the break without any time to relax.” She crossed her arms, looked to everyone gathered here, and continued. “Listen. I am not obligated to provide worker benefits as Vice President, but I’m not a monster. It probably won’t seem like much since I don’t know what normal people enjoy, but I hope you can kick back and relax in the pool during our upcoming school day.”

Everyone exchanged a glance and nodded, so Naito raised a hand.

“Hey, Seijun?”

“What now?”

“Relaxing at the pool sounds great and all.”

“Yes, and?”

Masazumi tilted her head and Naito pressed her lips together before answering.

“Didn’t you just say we would be having a meeting with Chrippe about Sweden? That’s just more work.”


“Hmm?”

Mitotsudaira saw Masazumi tilt her head, arms still crossed.

She went on to tilt her entire upper body to the side by about 90 degrees and place Tsukinowa on her head when he nearly slipped from her shoulder.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Deal with it.”

“Go to hell!”

Mitotsudaira joined the others’ complaint and even the arms pointed at Masazumi in protest.

“Masazumi?” she said. “Are you saying we’re having a meeting on the poolside, not in the pool while we swim?”

“I think I might pass out from the heat and die,” said Naito.

Mitotsudaira appreciated how Asama opened a sign frame and jotted down a note about getting them enough water.

But Masazumi’s plan led her to a realization.

“Masazumi, you are placing a lot of weight on Sweden.”

“Judge. Looking at the victors of Westphalia, they rival Hexagone Française and M.H.R.R.’s Protestant principalities. They grew powerful during Chancellor Gustav’s rule and they adopted pacifism during Christina’s rule, but her people continued to fight. Their pull during the first half of the Thirty Years’ War and their control during the second half forces us to focus on them as much as the Protestants and Catholics. Also,” said Masazumi. “Sweden is the west side of the Noto Peninsula. On the Far Eastern side of the Testament, that land originally belonged to Uesugi, aka Sviet Rus, but it was conquered by Shibata before Honnouji.”

Someone responded to Masazumi’s explanation in confusion.

It was Horizon and she was tilting her head.

“Oh? But the Shibata forces have not yet conquered that land, have they? When we dropped down onto Novgorod and went hog wild, I believe that battle counted as a few different history recreations, one of which was Shibata’s front line in Hokuriku being pushed back to the south.”

She was sharp.

Mitotsudaira knew what Horizon was asking.

“The Testament says Shibata is supposed to control Noto, but they were pushed back without taking it. And you want to know why that is.”

“Judge. It was an insightful question from the most brilliant and erudi- gah! Yes, I just bit my tongue, but it was on purpose to wake myself up.”

“Horizon! Your vainglory is getting better!”

Horizon gave Mitotsudaira two thumbs up.

Then she opened a sign frame, made a search, and nodded a few times.

“Now, according to my flawless memory…”

“You openly made a search just now…”

“You were imagining things, Naito-sama.”

But Horizon left the imagined search results in front of her as she continued.

“According to the Testament, the two history recreations held at Novgorod were the Siege of Nanao Castle and the Battle of Te…Tedorigawa? Uesugi Kenshin dies after those two, so Shibata tries again to invade No…Noto and conquers it.”

Everyone eventually gave a scattering of applause.

Horizon held out her hands and bowed to the left and to the right to accept their praise. And then…

“I am impressed you could all keep up with my brilliance.”

“W-we mostly experienced those events ourselves, so we can handle it, Horizon.”

Mitotsudaira nodded in agreement with Asama. And…

I know a fair amount about Shibata’s actions.

On the way to Sviet Rus to negotiate with the three nations, she had done her own research and checked on the Shibata forces’ actions after Novgorod.

“Look,” she said while opening a sign frame.

  • Siege of Nanao Castle: Uesugi and Oda join forces and attack Nanao Castle (Novgorod).
  • Battle of Tedorigawa: Oda attacks Uesugi, but is repelled.
  • Siege of Uozu Castle: After Kenshin’s death, Oda attacks Uesugi’s territory. But the Honnouji Incident occurs shortly thereafter.

She wrote out the three battles that Novgorod had stood in for.

“I believe I see Shibata’s strategy here.” Mitotsudaira tapped the sign frame. “First, they began the Siege of Nanao Castle to take Novgorod. But the Siege was complete once they arrived at Novgorod’s city hall, so Sviet Rus switched over to the Battle of Tedorigawa.”

Thinking back, that battle had been pretty reckless. She and the 1st Special Duty Officer had worked together to sever Shibata Katsuie’s right arm.

All the fighting had ultimately repelled the Shibata forces, but…

“They decided to call their retreat the Siege of Uozu Castle. Instead of using it as the history recreation of a victory, they focused on their withdrawal to arrive at Honnouji. That might force P.A. Oda’s hand on Honnouji, but it does allow the Shibata forces to rush there right away.”

“In that case.” Horizon raised her right hand. “The Shibata forces left Joetsu before conquering Noto, didn’t they?”

“Judge. The Testament says Shibata only held Noto between the Battle of Tedorigawa and the Siege of Uozu Castle. That was only a short time, so…”

Mitotsudaira added information to her list.

  • Siege of Nanao Castle: Uesugi and Oda join forces and attack Nanao Castle (Novgorod).
  • Battle of Tedorigawa: Oda attacks Uesugi, but is repelled.

(After Kenshin’s death, the Shibata forces attack and conquer Noto.)

  • Siege of Uozu Castle: After Kenshin’s death, Oda attacks Uesugi’s territory. But the Honnouji Incident occurs shortly thereafter.

“This is what happened in between there, but they moved right past that gap at Novgorod.”

“Why would they do that?” asked Horizon.

“As we have said before, to fight back against Honnouji,” answered Mitotsudaira with a smile. “The Siege of Uozu Castle ends in a victory for Shibata, but since Honnouji happens immediately afterwards, its history recreation is also one of the triggers for Nobunaga’s assassination. By completing it in advance, the Shibata forces prepare themselves for Honnouji and prevent other countries from intervening. It also lets the other nations know that the Shibata forces are ready to take action during Honnouji if need be.”

Everyone fell silent there.

She knew that was the correct response.

They had been thinking about intervening in Honnouji since before summer break even began, but P.A. Oda’s leaders had been thinking of ways to fight that intervention since well before even that.

This was no half-hearted effort.

But Mitotsudaira also smiled on the inside. Masazumi, Horizon, Narumi, Gin, and everyone else were looking silently over at her. And…

“Mitotsudaira-samaaaaa!!!!!”

“D-do you need something, Horizon!?”

“No, not really. I just couldn’t stand the silence and you had been in control of the conversation for so long I thought it was about time I shouted.”

“I see,” said Mitotsudaira while noticing everyone’s gazes.

The expectation in their eyes set off warning bells in her mind.

“I-I only know this because I researched it on the way to Sviet Rus.”

“I’ll let their Chancellor know that,” said Naruze.

“Eh?” thought Mitotsudaira while Naruze wrote something on her Magie Figur and sent it.

Masazumi looked her way and tried to help by giving an explanation.

“This involves them, so we have to let them know. We’re recording the relevant pieces of information.”

“We don’t want to interrupt their work too much,” agreed Narumi with a quiet snort. “But Sweden’s situation sounds like trouble.”


“It does,” agreed Gin.

She was from Kansai, so her knowledge of the area around Sviet Rus was limited to what she had looked up on her own. But…

“Sweden was assuming the Shibata forces’ control would reach them.”

Their treatment of Christina implied as much.

“By keeping their Chancellor outside, the Shibata invasion would have less of an impact. It’s the opposite of the usual situation with a provisional ruler like Chancellor Christina. And if Shibata controlled Sweden from the Far East side, it would make intervention after the Thirty Years’ War easier, which would have benefitted both sides.”

“But didn’t the Shibata forces withdraw instead?” asked the Asama Shrine Representative.

Gin nodded.

Some of this doesn’t sit well with me.

Shibata’s actions suggested the Honnouji Incident was more important than intervention in the Thirty Years’ War.

There was only one thing she could say given the current situation.

“Shibata strikes back at Hashiba after Honnouji and is defeated in the Battle of Shizugatake. The Shibata forces are wiped out and Hashiba inherits Noto from them, so Shibata probably saw no real reason to intervene in Sweden at this point.”

So…

“When Musashi intervened in Sviet Rus’s affairs and carried out Shibata’s history recreations at Novgorod, Sweden found its plans falling apart. They had hoped to work with Shibata, but now they have to choose to side with Hashiba, with Europe, or with us.”

That was followed by the sound of a disembodied right arm slapping the Vice President’s shoulder from behind.

Eventually, the arm’s owner spoke up.

“Your harassment is now affecting more than just P.A. Oda, Masazumi-sama.”


Tenzou sensed a change in the mood as the clock struck 3 in the morning.

He thought he could feel tension coming from the door next to the kitchen, which led to where the girls were gathered.

They were apparently going over some Sweden information and the end result had been sent to him.

All of this history-related information would distract Neshinbara-dono.

The boy was liable to join the conversation, which explained why the girls were doing this in another room.

Here, Neshinbara was silently typing away at a sign frame and Urquiaga was using his half-dragon knowledge of the climate and atmosphere to type in the worldbuilding sign frame.

Toori had finished his rough illustrations for the monsters, passed them off to Persona-kun and the others to clean them up, and was now in the kitchen preparing some drinks and checking on what Mary had made for them.

Tenzou could not help but notice how he was pacing a lot.

“Toori-dono, if you have nothing to do, you can always get some sleep.”

“Tenzou, be blunt with him. Tell him he needs to get to bed because he’s a nuisance!”

“Y-you tell him, Uqui-dono!”

“How about telling Uqui that isn’t what you meant!?”

But the idiot opened a sign frame, turned it toward them, and began to speak.

“You see, it’s summer, right? And late at night? The café’s air conditioning and other stuff need to be turned on, but only sis, Asama, and I have control privileges there.”

“Yeah, keeping that sorted out sounds like a pain,” said Tenzou.

He decided to take a break and something occurred to him, so he commented while Toori handed him a paper glass of barley tea.

“I can’t believe Horizon-dono and the others agreed to all this.”

“Hm. If anything, it’s more like they came to me. Wasn’t it the same for you?”

Tenzou thought back. A lot had happened in England, but it had all been necessary.

“I guess you’re right. What about you, Uqui-dono?”

“I only did what anyone would have done.”

I should have expected that answer from him, thought Tenzou, but then Toori said more.

“I’ve said it before, but I think you’re way more impressive, Tenzou. All of my relationships came from inside Musashi, but yours came from outside.”

“Toori-dono, you are well on your way to becoming king of the world.”

“Horizon might just say she prefers being a bakery worker, though. Honestly, she’d probably be stronger that way, but, well, that too might change.” He smiled. “But I never imagined I’d have so many people to share my life with.”

“What did you expect?”

“I had vaguely hoped for something like this…but looking back, I think it’s always been like this. When I’m with Horizon and the others, I feel like I don’t have to hold anything back.”

“Is that so?” said Tenzou.

“Ask, and it shall be given you,” said Urquiaga.

“That doesn’t apply to sex though, does it?” asked Tenzou.

Urquiaga gave a snort of laughter.

“Toori and the girls are Shinto. While I view everything through the lens of Tsirhc’s teachings, I also respect other religions. And Shinto’s motto is be fruitful and multiply.”


“But the real problem is Westphalia. If we intervene at Honnouji, we can use all of our results to get a seat at the table, but that’s when we can finally discuss the Logismoi Oplo and the Apocalypse.”

Mitotsudaira nodded in agreement with Masazumi.

“If only we had the power to demand a gathering of the nations so we could hold a public meeting on our own terms. Unfortunately, there isn’t a nation or an organization out there with that kind of power.”

“Right,” said Masazumi, but Mitotsudaira was not done talking.

“But, Masazumi? Do you remember what you said in your negotiation with Ankokuji Ekei the other day? You said the world would eventually be unified or equalized in a way we can’t even imagine now.”

“I don’t think I said it quite like that…”

“No,” said Gin, glaring down at Futayo who was sleeping face up on the tatami mats. “Is it rude or impressive that she can sleep literally anywhere?”

“Gin, Gin. Try not to respond to every little thing you see. Didn’t you have something more relevant to say?”

“Judge.” Gin nodded and looked to Masazumi instead. “When discussing anything, it is useful to keep in mind that the current system is not perfect and it should be further modified to suit the current age. Also…”

Also…

“You have given some thought to what kind of system will be used in the future, haven’t you?”

Oh?

Mitotsudaira and everyone else turned to look at Masazumi.

Their Vice President scratched her head in response.

“Well, I do have a father on the Provisional Council and I understand that Musashi is being oppressed. And I get that the Testament prevents the nations from just holding a public meeting whenever they want. But,” she said. “Authority over the Testament is held by the Testament Union, but Hashiba has taken control of that from K.P.A. Italia and the Tsirhc Catholic Pope-Chancellor. So I think we need to take another look at how we do things.”

“Seijun, is that why you said interpretations could take precedence over the Testament?”

“It’s a huge pain otherwise, don’t you think? People use it to force death on others and they use it to kill themselves or others. When someone has given up on the world and people are being hurt, there aren’t many people you can rely on when those doing harm have such a widely-accepted justification for their actions.”

It was clear Masazumi was choosing her words carefully. Statements like this could easily get you expelled from the current Testament Union. Because…

She’s openly advocating a system where we place ourselves above the Testament and only use it for reference.

But how well would that actually work?

“If we ignore all of those standards, some might work toward their own self-interest,” pointed out Mitotsudaira.

“Yes, almost certainly.” Masazumi nodded. “And if someone powerful does that, it can be hard to stop them or it could lead us all to destruction. We don’t really know for sure, but I imagine that was the cause of most wars during the Age of the Gods. Same for the war in the Divine States during the Age of Dawn.”

“Probably so.” Naruze sounded somber as she moved her pen along her Magie Figur. “The world was once as strict as Masazumi used to be and then some reformers like the current Masazumi advocated greater freedom, but as people used that freedom to pursue their own self-interest, it led to wars like the ones Masazumi always starts, and they eventually learned their lesson and reverted to an era of the strict Masazumi. And it loops from there.”

“I might have agreed with you if you didn’t insult me every step of the way.”

But Mitotsudaira thought there were some accurate points in what Naruze said.

“We just have to steer things in a positive direction during that cycle of conservatism and reform, don’t we?”

She too was a provisional name inheritor. She had been left with the land of Mito, but in the current time period, that did not grant her much power.

But she was here, she was thinking, she was seeing things, and she was touching things. She could be absolutely certain that she was indeed here.

But how certain was that from a historical perspective? All of the people on the Musashi, in the other nations, and in the Far East as a whole were definitely “here”, but most of them would not go down in history.

Existing and being remembered were two different things, as were not existing and not being remembered. The difference was obvious, but it was also a funny thing to think on.

“How many people are born and die as time flows from one era to the next?”

“Getting kinda poetic there, Mito-tsan.”

“I won’t deny it. I was trying to get a grasp of something abstract within me. But,” she added. “That flow of time might be ended by the Apocalypse.”


The Apocalypse.

The weight of the word only hit Mitotsudaira after she had already said it.

While camping in Sanada, they had discussed what the Apocalypse was and made some educated guesses.

The world thins out until it is destroyed.

Just like your consciousness fading away, the entire world would fade away into nothingness. Nothing would be entirely missing, so they would fail to notice the thinning process while it happened all around them.

And at some point, the world would end.

It might be happening already for all they knew. But…

“Shinto is measuring the amount of ether at important points in the ley lines, but the levels are not dropping off at this point.”

Everything in the world was made from ether, so it was assumed a thinning of the ether would signal the beginning of the Apocalypse.

“You mean the density of ether isn’t dropping?”

“The ether density fluctuates a lot due to the flow of the ley lines and we have to use an average value, but wars and big explodey events can also affect it. The approach of a ship like the Musashi can also cause a lot of fluctuation.”

“This sounds like a real pain, Asama-sama,” commented Horizon.

“It is. I do think long-term comparative readings can give us the answer we want, but it might be difficult to get an accurate value for the period starting with the Testament ceasing to update.”

“So all you can say is ‘it looks fine-ish for now, we guess’?” asked Mitotsudaira.

But if the Apocalypse really had yet to start…

“The Testament stops at the end of October this year. Do you think the Peace of Westphalia will be the trigger?”

“That would make the Apocalypse look awfully intentional, wouldn’t it?”

Narumi was right. What from that time could trigger this?

“There’s so much that we think we understand but don’t really.”

Horizon suddenly raised her hand.

“I just had a thought. Is there anything we can do to combat the world’s big diet?”


I didn’t even consider that, thought Masazumi concerning Horizon’s question.

A way to combat the Apocalypse.

They had discussed what the Apocalypse was, but never how they might combat it.

There were two main reasons for that: Musashi and the other nations still were not sure what the Apocalypse was at this point and they were not openly exchanging what information they did have.

Well, the other nations might individually be considering ways to combat it, but…

“It’s a good question.”

Musashi’s own Apocalypse theory was mostly guesswork. But…

“If we know what it does, we might be able to deduce a way to combat that effect.” Masazumi and the others turned toward Asama. “What would you do I the ether density dropped?”

“Eh? I think we would figure out why it had dropped and fix that problem.” Asama lowered her eyebrows and tilted her head in thought. “But if the Apocalypse is ‘something that just does that’, that won’t be so easy. For example, if it somehow destines the ley lines to deteriorate beyond repair.”

“What would you do in that case?”

“Well.” Asama nodded and held out her open palms. “I think Shinto would suggest global cutbacks and restrictions on ether-consuming technology.”


Asama continued after seeing the others fall silent.

“When a spell consumes ether, it doesn’t actually go away – it’s only converted into another form. But like I said earlier, spells and machines that consume large quantities of ether – such as the Musashi – will distort and place a heavy burden on the ley lines. So if the ether density drops, that burden will be even greater and some restrictions will be necessary.”

“Will those restrictions allow the density to recover?”

“No. The extra burden would mean more mysterious phenomena, so the restrictions would be meant to prevent those. I can’t say for sure the density wouldn’t recover, but the reduced burden would mean greater stability and I think the drop in density would slow.”

“Is that how it works?” asked Masazumi.

Who else here knows a lot about ether?

Naito and Naruze knew a lot as Technohexen, but their techniques were about processing ether and had little to do with the ley lines themselves. That just left…

“Mary, what do you think?”

“Eh? Oh, um, my understanding is more about intuition, so I have trouble explaining the theories behind it. I’m sorry.”

Asama couldn’t say much more when Mary sounded so apologetic, but Mitotsudaira raised her hand instead.

“My mother has that move where she directly taps into the ley lines, so she might know.”

“Is that so?” said almost everyone, turning toward Mitotsudaira as she opened a sign frame. She turned it toward them all so they could see the Reine des Garous on the divine transmission.

Huh? There would have been more of a lag if she was on Terumoto-san’s ship. Is she still on the Musashi?

Asama realized she had yet to receive notification of the woman’s departure.

Perhaps this transmission was her way of saying she was staying here.

“Um, mother? We have a question about ether concerning the Apocalypse discussion we had the other day.”

“Nate… Didn’t we just establish a new rule demanding you call me maman? But that can wait. So what did you want to know about ether?”

“Judge. If the ether density has dropped due to a decrease in the absolute quantity, is there a way to fix it?”

“There is.”

“Eh?” said Asama. A few others tilted their heads to ask “really?”, but…

It isn’t supposed to be possible for the absolute quantity of ether to change.

Was there some special method for it?

Asama nodded to the others and looked to Mitotsudaira, who pointed at the sign frame and made eye contact with the others.

“Um, mother? How are you supposed to fix the ether density?”

“Simple. Just wait about half a day and it will be good as new.”

“H-half a day!?” shouted Asama because she had never heard anything like this.

Mitotsudaira must have picked up on her frantic tone because she raised her voice.

“Mother! The ether density will really recover in just half a day!?”

“Yes, that’s what I did and now it’s thick and plentiful again. …Oh, you did mean ether as a euphemism, right? You are in your king’s bedroom, after all.”

Mitotsudaira smashed the sign frame with a karate chop.


Asama saw Naito looking her way.

“It’ll be good as new in half a day?”

“The ley lines won’t. And that is all anyone was ever talking about here.”

How did they get on this topic?

I shouldn’t have let Mito talk.

Was that a failure on her part, or had it been inevitable?

“Okayyyy, moving along. Let’s say the world’s ether density has dropped.”

“Yes, and let’s say it didn’t get better after half a day. Please, continue.”

Shut up, Naruze.

But from a Shinto perspective, it was obvious what they would do then.

“We would hold an emergency international meeting and have every nation agree to a non-aggression pact.”

“So a ban on war,” said Masazumi.

That was one way of putting it.

“And a temporary pause on the history recreation. That would be the first step. And…”

And…

“The divine transmission infrastructure would be left in place while all wartime ether consumption was stopped. Then I think every nation would exchange what information they had to help avoid any wars caused by confusion or misunderstanding. There would have to be an international police agency to enforce it, so not everything could be dismantled. But…”

With the world the way it was, a lack of enforcement would lead to mutual suspicion and ultimately more conflict.

So everyone had to be stripped of their weapons so they could not consume any fuel with them.

“You’re sounding like more of a politician than me, Asama.”

“No, um, this is all based on guidelines introduced back in the Age of Dawn.”

Asama opened a sign frame and displayed a few images depicting events from the Age of Dawn. She had gathered them as material for their meeting with Yasuhira and for investigating the area below Novgorod, but…

“Back then, people were so intent on war they nearly wiped themselves out, so they gathered everyone together, gathered up everyone’s weapons, and tried to talk things out going forward.”

“But not every force could speak with every other force at all times. What happened when your representative returned home?”

Narumi’s question was easily answered.

Anyone closely involved with a religion would know the basic response there.

“That is why they created the Testament. The representatives sent out to the other regions were given a manual to follow. That allowed them to remain organized even when they were apart.”

“But…oh, I do apologize for asking so many questions, but just one more,” said Narumi. “What did they do if the Testament said something that worked against them?”

Oh, thought Asama. We talked about this when discussing the Anti-Decline Pro-Tuning Project.

But Narumi-san wasn’t at our meeting with Yasuhira-san, was she?

And the Date clan knew what it was like for the Testament to work against them. Narumi had already found her own solution to that problem, so now she had to be furious that this was a reoccurring problem and not just something that happened to her. However…

“In that early period, they still remembered the fear of utter destruction, either from experiencing it directly or hearing about it from a relative, so they apparently used interpretations to deftly avoid any loss of life. At that point, I think they peacefully talked things out.”

It wasn’t a bad way of doing things. At the very least, they were working to avoid losing anyone.

Then someone spoke up to assist her explanation: Mary.

She rolled one of her ether flowers around in her hand as she spoke.

“The Testament helped there, but I have heard that religions also played a role. The explanation I heard focused on the Tsirhc side, of course. …Simply put, they created standards for the people to follow through the religious precepts of the Testament and god instead of basing it on a system of laws.”

In other words…

“They showed people how to cooperate through faith instead of resorting to self-interest.”


Narumi sensed a theory behind what Mary said.

It probably helped that she emphasized how this was from the Tsirhc perspective. She felt like she understood what the Asama Shrine Representative was saying now.

Simply put…

“Back then, they used interpretations of the Testament when necessary and avoided harming each other whenever possible”

It wasn’t a bad idea, so Narumi tried testing it on herself. She knew it was forceful, but she did it anyway.

If we did things that way now, would I be feeling this anger?

Couldn’t that system have saved some people?

But Narumi also remembered that the fox had been married just before Novgorod was destroyed. So…

“Yes.” She nodded, stopped leaning forward quite so much, and smiled bitterly at how she had just tested herself. “It’s ironic that they created a pacifistic era when facing near certain doom.”

She managed to get it out without pouring any of her personal feelings into it.

I’m so dumb.

She knew he would rebuke her if he knew. But then she would make an excuse, saying the late-night mood had gotten the better of her.

Musashi’s princess turned her way.

“With all the warring they did before, that later peace averages out to normal, don’t you think? Almost makes you want to ask them why they think they deserve to call themselves peaceful.”

Narumi’s eyebrows rose, but…

“True.” She smiled a little. “But I think it would help if we were equally shameless.”

Is this the future I want?

The Vice President must have thought the same thing because she nodded, crossed her arms, and spoke.

“Sounds like they wanted about the same thing we want now.”

“Because the foundation of crisis management hasn’t changed much since then”, said Asama. “If anything, I think they were in an even greater crisis during the Age of Dawn. After all, they had little infrastructure, the different groups couldn’t meet very often, and the population had dropped considerably.”

“True,” agreed Narumi.

I’m being awfully open here. This late-night mood is an odd thing. However…

“But what were those standards? And how did they convince people to follow them?” asked the 3rd Special Duty Officer, the Schwarz Hexen. “I’m curious what kind of standards could be used to control a world in crisis.”


Naito was a Technohexen. She had been born one, or born into a family of them, so it was what it was.

She had briefly tried to distance herself from it after seeing the Tsirhc history of the Technohexen hunts and it had scared her to find how Shinto was even more lax than Technomagie, but…

“What kind of standards did the religions create outside of the Testament? I mean, I mostly know the answer already, but I was wondering if there were any common elements between the different religions.”

Mary, Gin, and Asama all turned her way.

“To be open and accepting,” said all three of them at once.

That wasn’t just in stereo – it was 3D audio!

“Oh,” said the three after noticing. Asama gestured for Mary to go first and Mary did the same to Gin.

Gin looked around and saw Adele, the other Catholic, was asleep, so she took a breath and explained.

“It is all a gift from god.”

In other words…

“Everything is part of god’s plan and comes from him. It is crucial that faith makes you open to and accepting of the reality around you – as opposed to simply obeying.”

Naito could tell this was something profound.

The way Naruze stopped moving her pen made that clear enough. But Naito could only see it one way:

“So just give up and accept your fate?”

“No,” immediately replied Gin. “You must be open and accepting first and foremost, but then you can decide what to do about it. Why does every religion divide a land into administrative regions that can provide mutual aid? Because they need a process for accepting reality before they can work together on solving whatever problem they might be facing.”

So…

“Denying a problem exists does not make it go away, so the point is to place that problem in the box labeled ‘gifts from god’ to let yourself relax enough to actually face that problem and deal with it.”

“Oh, I get it,” said Naito. She also had the sudden urge to ask something else. “And Muneo was that for you, Gin-chan?”

Gin gasped, but after a moment, she pointed to the space next to Naito.

Naito looked over to see Naruze staring dead ahead with pen at the ready. She was even holding her breath.

“Ga-chan, Ga-chan. Can you give me that pen?”

“You are the only person in the world I would do that for, Margot. And I can just record the audio anyway.”

“Thanks,” she said while taking the pen. The tension left Gin’s shoulders and she continued.

“Master Muneshige was not a gift from god. Our relationship is the result of our hard work together.”

“Ohhh…” gasped the entire group.

But this was a rare opportunity for a Technohexen.

“Not everyday I get to hear from Shinto and Tsirhc at the same time.”

“The Technohexen are all about independence, but even we divide into regions for the Sabbat and have a mutual aid system in place,” said Naruze.

“You do?”

Naito was mildly pleased by Asama’s surprise, but she decided to sum up what they had discussed.

“So the traditional solution is to get everyone to face reality and work together instead of everyone going into hiding and growing paranoid.”

“When you think about it, that’s what we’re doing here for Neshinbara’s manuscript.”

“That almost sounds sweet, but there’s nothing sweet about what we’re doing here.”

“No, there isn’t,” said Naito, smiling bitterly.

“I see,” said Masazumi, sprawling her legs out on the tatami mats.

“What has you all lost in thought?”

“We just discussed so much about the different religions and history, but I was noticing how people came up with their own response to a crisis way back when and that still lives on today in a number of ways.”

So…

“I think I understand what Lord Motonobu meant when he likened all that to a ‘class’. And how we’re straying from the path he laid out, like we mentioned before.”

Asama nodded.

“We are paving a new path here, but that doesn’t mean we are alone. I just hope we can join with some likeminded people at Westphalia.”

“Agreed,” said Masazumi just before Naruze raised her pen.

Everyone’s eyes gathered on her as she spoke and drew out a rough illustration on her Magie Figur at the same time.

“We’re just lucky we have Asama who knows so much of this from the Shinto side. And there is one important factor to all the measures they took back in the Age of Dawn.”

The corners of Naruze’s mouth curled up, but Naito was unsure what she meant.

“Was there something related to Shinto in all that, Ga-chan?”

“It isn’t exclusive to Shinto. But it sounds like Shinto had the most solid position at the time, which was carried over from the Age of the Gods. And…” Naruze raised her pen. “They needed a way to increase the population. …You’re the expert there, aren’t you, Asama? How about you explain it for us?”