Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 41
Chapter 41: Meeters at School
What do we do about this?
Point Allocation (Something)
Adele took a look around while feeling the afternoon heat on her skin.
She sat at the edge of the pool on the port side of the academy building.
The entire class sat on the wooden poolside, looking at each other.
With the heat in the air and the water so close by, they were watching to see who would make the first move.
“Hey,” the 2nd Special Duty Officer suddenly said to the 1st. “Tenzou, since you lack an elder sister, I grant you the first swim. The water is nice and cold?”
“N-no, thank you! Besides, Mary-dono is an elder sister, so that condition doesn’t apply to me!”
“That would also rule out my king because of Kimi.”
The 5th Special Duty Officer’s comment earned a groan from the 2nd.
“Damn! My religion does not make things easy at times!”
“I thought you were Catholic,” said Adele.
Meanwhile, Oriotri spoke from where she stood on the poolside.
“Okay, today counts as a school day, so go do a quick 500m long-distance swim to get it over with.”
“Sensei, I have a question.” The 6th Special Duty Officer raised her right arm which had a float attached. Then she pointed into the pool. “How are we supposed to swim in this?”
Everyone glared over into the pool, which glittered in the summer sun. Specifically, the solid objects on the surface were glittering.
“I mean, there are huge chunks of ice floating in it.”
“Oh, that.” Tenzou heard Oriotri say. “Some 2nd-year girls just had their swimming class, but there was a lot of direct sunlight and the water temperature was rising fast, right? So the aquatic and plant nonhumans had to tap out pretty quick.”
“So they created this icy environment?” asked Tenzou.
“No. When they left, they all considerately casted a freezing spell ‘so the next people wouldn’t have the same problem’. And since it’s a spell, it’ll freeze you too if you carelessly touch it.”
“That just makes it worse!!”
“Um.” Mary raised her hand. “Shall I fix it with a spirit spell?”
“Really, Mary-dono? What kind of spell?”
“Restricting the power enough will be tricky, but it heats everything up all at once.”
Asama: “I think she’s saying her spirit spell is powerful enough to blow away a transport ship falling on England if she doesn’t restrict the power.”
Art-Ga: “So she’s suggesting property damage?”
Tenzou considered it. If Mary’s spell worked well, all was good. But if it didn’t…
…She could blow up the academy.
He decided to ask about it.
10ZO: “Everyone, you won’t…interfere, will you?”
Me: “No! Of course not! Don’t worry!”
Gold Mar: “Yeah, we wouldn’t mess with Ma-yan.”
Horizey: “In fact, we would need to cheer her on.”
That’s a yes then, concluded Tenzou. They won’t directly interfere, but they will cheer her on and tease me to get her too fired up.
And what would happen then?
…Our new home fund would undergo a forced class change to repair money.
He wanted to avoid that, so he placed a hand on Mary’s shoulder.
“Y-yes, what is it?”
He viewed her from head on, noticing that the way her curves bulged out from the school swimsuit made her the perfect object of worship.
He switched from his mental camera to his mental video camera as he spoke.
“This time, I believe you should trust that the others can find a solution to this. You are no longer a guest here, after all.”
In other words…
“Can anyone else here solve this?”
Unturning: “Why couldn’t he be this thoughtful when he was abducting the Nagabuto boy in Kantou?”
Uqui: “That is obvious, Narumi. Because Mary is an elder sister and Nagabuto is not.”
Bell: “H-how does that…make any…sense?”
Asama: “Suzu-san? Trying to understand the things they say will only drive you mad, so it’s best to ignore them. Yes.”
They had to remove some ice. It actually felt like a school assignment, which contrasted with the meeting they were actually here for.
But the 1st Special Duty Officer and Mary have already withdrawn, noted Mitotsudaira.
That would make the coming conflict a lot more difficult.
Masazumi knew no one was expecting anything from her here, so she scooted over to the poolside and placed Tsukinowa on one of the chunks of ice.
“See how cold it is? Never seen ice this big, have you?”
While she played with the Mouse, some black algae creatures emerged from the ditch and moved up next to her.
“Ice? Icy? Audience reception? After Masazumi joke?”
They were hitting her with some pretty hard truths.
But Mitotsudaira looked over to see their fighters exchanging a glance.
The first to speak was Futayo. She held a sign frame list of shaved ice syrups.
“I just had the best idea!”
“Um, Vice Chancellor?” said Adele. “Maybe close that sign frame before talking?”
“Oh? You don’t like shaved ice, Adele-dono?” asked Tenzou.
“I never said that,” she replied before realizing what she had said and gasping. She quickly looked back toward the others. “T-to be clear, I do have enough money to buy shaved ice!”
“Shaving your own ice with a pick and dumping sugar water on it doesn’t count as shaved ice, you know?” said Mitotsudaira’s king.
“I-I don’t do that! I use my leftover jam from breakfast!”
…Wouldn’t that be jam on ice instead of shaved ice?
It was a new form of dessert at any rate. But…
“This ice doesn’t seem to be melting.”
Mitotsudaira agreed that the ice filling the pool was unlikely to melt on its own.
Just out of curiosity, she asked a question.
“Sensei? What happens if we can’t swim during this school day?”
“You’d have to do a makeup class later. But that sounds like a huge pain for me, so please don’t.”
“Sensei, there’s such a thing as being too honest!” said her king. “I’ve heard of this! It’s called the dark underbelly of society!”
“Then do you have any ideas to shine some light on that darkness, my king?”
“Can’t you gather it all up with your silver chains?”
“They are currently stored at the Main Blue Thunder. I collected them from the rec room for summer break.”
Everyone had perked up when he made the suggestion and they slumped back down when she rejected it.
They really thought I could do that, she realized bashfully, but none of this was getting them any closer to a solution.
Then someone raised his hand: Muneshige. He spoke while doing his warmup exercises.
“You were all eager to play in the water during our study camp, but you seem a lot more hesitant now.”
“We can’t help it,” said Mitotsudaira. “Almost everything on the Musashi is artificial, so the depth of all water is carefully managed for safety. That means even the rivers are small and shallow, meaning we can only splash around instead of swim.”
“You don’t need to know how to swim when you live on the Musashi. We might enjoy the water, but actually swimming requires a bit of mental preparation.”
All of that was true. Gin must have been surprised because she asked a question about it.
“Does that mean the Musashi residents don’t know how to swim?”
Mitotsudaira shook her head.
“The Musashi or a transport ship could fall into the ocean in an accident, so we do know how to swim in case of emergencies. Anyone in high school can manage long-distance swimming. It’s just that we never learn how to do it for fun. If anything, we view swimming as something you do during a disaster or accident.”
“That is why swimming requires some mental preparation. Swimming for fun marks you as someone who can take time off on the mainland, so it acts as something of a status symbol.”
“I see,” said Gin. “Master Muneshige, we should go to the beach for some Musashi evacuation training.”
“Good idea, Gin. We can check on the emergency exits while we’re at it.”
“In that case,” said Mitotsudaira’s king. “Let’s all go to the beach, like we were talking about before. The one made on the outer edge of the Musashi.”
The Tachibana Couple had done a good job of drawing out that suggestion. And…
“I’ve finished checking over the artificial beach, so that would be fine, Toori-kun.”
Mitotsudaira and the others had assisted Asama’s approval checks since they could be viewed via sign frame. They had been working through a lot of Musashi matters that had been piling up while they were at war.
They were fully shifting over to summer mode right now.
…The seasons always change eventually.
Everything would have shifted over on the mainland as well. After all, no one could engage in politics or conflicts with the other nations.
…Will the Far East itself change?
And while Mitotsudaira considered that…
“Okay, that’s enough escapism. You need to get swimming now. You have a meeting coming up, don’t you?”
Their teacher demanded they get moving.
“If we must.”
Mary saw Tenzou get up and roll his shoulders.
“I have been busy ever since summer break started, but at least I have Mary-dono’s lunches. So I will provide an example of how we can work toward a solution here.”
“Master Tenzou! Are you sure you know how to do cold-water swimming!?”
“I will be fine, Mary-dono.”
She was fairly certain he had smiled just for her.
She felt like she was not worthy of that smile, which made her embarrassed.
No, I shouldn’t belittle myself like that, she scolded herself, but he was already speaking again.
“I mean, no matter how cold it is, anyone on Musashi has a body temperature regulation divine protection. So really it comes down to working up the nerve to take the plunge.”
He stood up on the diving board. And…
“Sensei! I have a question!”
“You said we were doing long-distance swimming, but could we possibly climb out on the other side and return here instead of swimming back and forth?”
…Good one, Master Tenzou!
Mary understood Tenzou’s plan here.
By swimming to the other side and leaving the water there, they would have a brief time to restore their strength. They could reset the chilling of their body.
No matter what he said, he was not overestimating himself. Mary nodded when she realized that.
“Yeah, you would get pretty chilled otherwise,” said their teacher. “Sure, you can do that.”
“Judge! Thank you.”
Tenzou dove into the water. He dove far out into the pool to reduce how long he was in the water. But he managed to pierce down between the chunks of ice instead of bouncing up off the water.
“Excellent form, Master Tenzou!”
Asama heard Kimi speak about 10 seconds after Tenzou dived in.
“Yes, Kimi? If you need a drink, they’re in the break area over there.”
“Heh heh. Thanks, but that isn’t what I wanted.” Kimi tilted her head. “Did Tenzou have his hard point parts on just now?”
“I think he had the neck ones on.”
“That would give him the main functionality, but what about the divine protections?”
“The body temperature regulation probably counts as basic life support.”
“And what happens if he enters extremely cold water like this?”
Hm, thought Asama. It wasn’t a common scenario, but…
“I think he would enter a state of suspended animation.”
“Master Tenzou! Master Tenzou!!”
“Hm, he dove pretty far, so dragging him back out is going to be a pain,” said Toori.
“Th-then I just have to go in after him!”
Mary prepared to dive in, but Asama stopped her.
“Wait, Mary! I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Sensei said the freezing was caused by a nonhuman spell, so if it was a spirit spell, the environment’s mold may have been altered.”
“Wh-what would that mean?”
“If you dive in, your compatibility with spirits could get you ‘dragged in’, getting you stuck down there with Tenzou-kun.”
“Is this different than the Yomi from before?”
“That was a stagnant cold, but this is an active cold. With Yomi, the weight was greater after you were dragged in, but the ‘dragging in’ power is greater here.”
“Heh heh. Then what do we do, Asama?” asked Kimi.
“Waiting for it to melt on its own would be best.”
Mary reflexively started diving in when she heard that, so Adele had to pull her away from the poolside.
“C-calm down, Mary-san! Having you meet the same fate as the 1st Special Duty Officer would be a huge pain in the- I-I mean, it would be a tragedy we must avoid!”
“B-but I have to save Master Tenzou!”
“Mary-sama, why not calm down and have some tea?”
“Oh, thanks you.”
Mary obediently accepted the teacup from the arms and everyone froze.
After a while, Naito took a look around, and…
“Sh-shouldn’t we be discussing this now that you’ve calmed down, Ma-yan?”
“Y-you’re right. Um…” Mary set down the teacup and clasped her hands. “Wh-why didn’t you tell us it was so dangerous here!?”
Asama looked to the others just like Mary was. Mitotsudaira, Horizon, and he also exchanged glances with everyone.
“This reaction is new,” muttered Naruze.
That was true, but Asama chose to ignore it for fear of further complicating the issue.
While looking around, Naito tilted her head, turned toward Mary, and spoke with the ends of her eyebrows lowered.
“Tenzou just seemed so confident I thought maybe it would work out.”
“Right? He made it sound like he was a step away from a perfect solution,” said Toori.
“Judge. I thought maybe the ninja was going to accomplish something useful for once,” said Futayo.
“You thought the same thing, didn’t you, Mary-sama?”
Horizon’s question gave Mary pause.
That suggested she had felt the same. And then Narumi stood up.
“I have prosthetic limbs and Date is about as cold as an icy pool, so you can see polar bears riding on drift ice when you look out to sea and you could hammer a nail with the beef tongue you left outside. I can rescue him.”
“Not sure why you needed to go on about your home like that, but what do you think, Mary-san?”
Mary looked at Narumi, who tilted her head.
“Are you willing to let me do this?”
“N-no! I should do it!”
“W-wait, Mary! This isn’t the time to get emotional!” Asama stopped her and Mary turned her way with a gasp. “Listen. If you dive in, there is a decent chance you will be ‘dragged in’ to join Tenzou-kun at the bottom of the pool.”
“Y-yes, judge. But…”
“And while waiting for it to melt on its own would be best, it will be too late by then, right?”
“So…wait, what are we going to do?”
“Keep your mouth shut if you don’t have an answer!”
Everyone yelled at Asama, but that didn’t seem fair. C’mon, you usually come up with a good idea mid conversation. I just didn’t come up with one this time. So it’s all good.
Meanwhile, Toori spoke.
“Hm, what about Nenji?”
Everyone turned toward Nenji, who hopped up onto the poolside. He extended a portion of himself and stuck it into the water.
“Nenji-kun! You’re freezing from that end!”
“Mhh! As I suspected, this is a threat even to me!”
“Eh?” said Adele as she viewed the scene. “Why does Nenji-san freeze when the water doesn’t?”
“Balfette-kun. For the same reason hot water freezes faster.”
“Th-the Secretary actually said something convincing for once!”
That’s not the issue here, Adele. At any rate…
“Um, how are we going to save Tenzou-kun?”
“Hey, over here. They say they can do it,” called Masazumi.
She had a group of black algae creatures gathered at her feet.
“Will work.” “Fine with cold.” “Easy easy peasy?”
They’re right, realized Asama. Those things were known to live in the ditches, but they actually lived in the sewers and plumbing. Since they could live in hot water or near-freezing locations, they were in charge of purifying it all. However…
“Um, if they dive in while so filthy, won’t they contaminate the water?”
But washing them with pure water flushes the nutrients from them, killing them.”
“Oh, yeah. I had heard about that before.”
“Judge,” replied Naruze. “If they dive in, they’ll probably break apart before they even reach Tenzou. Besides, how many of them do we have here? It would take a lot to carry Tenzou.”
“Won’t work?” asked one of the creatures.
Masazumi was forced to say yes.
“Drat, and I really thought that would work.”
Masazumi was probably speaking on the creatures’ behalf with that. Then she said something frightening.
“Sorry. The rest of my class says they want to do this themselves, so they get to try first.”
Worshiper: “D-did that old hag just casually shove this task onto us while keeping herself out of it!?”
Flat Vassal: “Hey, the black algae creatures are saying ‘too bad, so sad…Muneshige?’ ”
Tachibana Wife: “Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! They remember you!”
Asama: “Um, Gin-san? I know you’re excited, but try to calm down.”
Uqui: “They live close to the ground, so they would mostly remember him from when he falls to his knees or collapses in despair. The association does make sense.”
Vice President: “Don’t just sit around analyzing it!”
Almost Everyone: “This is your fault to begin with!!”
Asama noticed everyone looking to either side.
But instead of defensively keeping an eye on each other, it was more like they were circling around to go on the attack.
“Hm.” Toori raised a hand. “Muneo, could you do it on pure momentum?”
“I-I find it hard to imagine Master Muneshige carelessly diving into a spirit field and getting caught! But on that note…how did the 1st Special Duty Officer get caught?”
“You switched from talking about Mune-san to dissing Tenzou-kun so fast I barely noticed.”
“It came naturally.” Gin shook her head. “Anyway, Master Muneshige has trained himself to have twice the lung capacity of most people, so he should be able to resist even if he was dragged in.”
She doesn’t hold back the praise with him, does she? thought Asama, but she left it unsaid.
Gold Mar: “Gin-chan assumes Muneo can survive just about anything, doesn’t she?”
Flat Vassal: “Based on what I’ve heard about their training in Tres España, that’s probably because she’s used to hitting him with wooden swords and metal poles.”
Asama was not sure what that was about, but it sounded like that couple had some different ideas about health maintenance.
“Well, he does have a lot of strength,” commented Asama before realizing Mary had to be worried sick right now.
…We can’t just stand around talking much longer.
“Understood.” Asama readied a sign frame. “This might count as abusing my position in the shrine, but I will reset all of the spells cast on the pool.”
“A-are you sure about that, Asama-sama!?”
“Yes. We have to look at this from Mary’s point of view after all.”
Hearing that, they all exchanged a glance.
And she received scattered applause.
“I-I don’t think I’ve ever heard such insincere applause!”
“No, I mean it.” Mary bowed. “I knew you would understand my situation here.”
She expected that much from me? wondered Asama.
“Judge. Because you experienced something similar during the Siege of Kanie Castle.”
“Oh, that,” said Asama as the memories came rushing back.
Yes. During the Siege of Kanie Castle at Houjou, someone she cared deeply about had sunk to the bottom of Yomi and what had she done then?
“Lady Asama!? Lady Asama!? Why have you stopped moving!?”
Mitotsudaira saw Asama frozen in place with her blushing head lowered.
It was impressive she had not run away or crouched down to curl up in a ball, but she was only answering Mary’s questions with meaningless monosyllabic responses.
…Well, that did happen pretty recently.
She had gotten used to it, but these surprise attacks still got to her. Mitotsudaira could at least get a retort back when someone teased her about such things, so she felt she was at a somewhat higher skill level.
On a curious whim, she turned to look at her king.
He was groaning in thought while scratching his chin and narrowing his eyes toward Asama.
He was probably wondering if he should help her out or not. But…
“Unsure what to do, my king?”
“Yeah…what do you think I should do?”
“P-please do not ask me.”
At any rate, it was unusual to see her king like this. It was kind of cute. So…
“In the past…did you ever ask other people’s opinion…when it came to me?” she asked.
“No.” He replied quickly but casually, with a clear “why do you ask?” in his voice. “Because I’m your king.”
“Judge,” she replied, feeling relieved. This further proved his relationship with her was different than his one with Asama. In that case, she decided.
“Tomo will get used to it too. And once she does, she will be able think back on all this and smile.”
It was a knight’s duty to help her king, so she answered his question. And…
“C’mere, Nate,” he beckoned.
Puzzled, she approached. And…
He pressed his lips against her forehead. And he clearly sucked in a bit before pulling away.
She became entirely useless for a brief moment.
…Th-that was way too close!
The wolf was impressed with herself for not instantly backing away.
She could feel heat rising in her head, but…
…I-I guess I have trouble with the surprise attacks too!
She could see her king giving her a toothy grin.
“That’s for giving me an answer.”
“Y-you shouldn’t give those away for almost nothing.”
She could not say much when it had nearly made her brain crash. But…
“Set that kind of precedent and I might start expecting that and more.”
“I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations, so you play your part, okay?”
She wished that proposition did not make her so eager to do things for him. She wanted him to give her his first order right away.
But for now…
“W-well, it’s summer break and a lot is going on at the Main Blue Thunder,” she said.
She then turned to Asama to avoid discussing that any longer. The girl was still in a state of confused silence.
“My king, I think Tomo took a lot of damage.”
“Hm, if this keeps ups, maybe you should call me in.”
“Yes.” Horizon nodded by his side. “But Asama-sama clearly needs more training if the mere memory of a kiss is enough to break her.”
“I seem to remember you kissing me in a moving scene where you were in tears.”
“Oh? And what makes you think I am stupid enough to forget something like that?”
“I believe that there are even greater levels of happiness out there, so fondly thinking back on those old memories is fine, but getting trapped in them seems like a waste to me. Indulge in the happiness of the past too much and you will neglect the present. Toori-sama, I am counting on you to provide me with more and more happy events.”
“Man, you’re demanding.”
“No,” said Horizon. “It just means I am determined to find happiness. As is Mitotsudaira-sama, I am sure.”
Mitotsudaira thought about it and realized Horizon was right.
How had she felt when she arrived in front of the Main Blue Thunder with her luggage the other day?
…I never would have done that if I didn’t think I would find happiness there.
That settled it. But…
“What do we do here? Tomo isn’t much use like this.”
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Mitotsudaira spotted a powerful ally at Mary’s feet.
Mary noticed as well, gasping and looking down.
She named the ally aloud.
“The Vicereine’s arms!”
Seventeen seconds later, Naito saw Tenzou resume breathing after being dragged up onto the poolside.
“Thank you so much!”
She also saw the English Princess prostrate herself to thank the arms that were crossing themselves.
Gold Mar: “I have a feeling no one has ever seen anything like this before.”
The arms gave a triumphant pose and then a pose of unclear meaning, but they finally took Mary’s hands.
“Y-you want me to raise my head!?”
Such gentlemen, thought Naito as the arms gave a light wave to say “don’t worry about it” and then returned to their owner.
Once Mary breathed a sigh of relief, someone emerged from the locker room on the aft end of the pool.
Did someone else need to take an exam?
Naito looked over curiously and found a familiar face.
It was Swedish Chancellor Christina. She wore a black track suit over a school swimsuit.
“I heard the meeting was being held here, so here I am. Yes.”
“Oh,” said Masazumi who had been playing with Tsukinowa and the black algae creatures. She first looked up at Oriotri. “Um, Sensei?”
“You had better solve the ice problem later, but you can have your meeting first.”
“Ohh,” said Naito.
Asama opened a large parasol spell in the air and Christina smiled over at them.
“The meeting is to discuss Musashi’s relationship with Sweden, but from what I have heard, you are considering intervening in P.A. Oda’s affairs, aren’t you?”
“Judge,” confirmed Naito and the others just before seeing something else.
A blushing Nagabuto walked through the pool entrance wearing a swimsuit and a vest.
“What’s that vest? It’s not part of the school-approved swimsuit, is it?” noted Naruze disinterestedly. “He is going to get eaten alive here.”
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