Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 43

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Chapter 43: Vertically Separated Thinkers[edit]

Horizon8B 431.png

Kill the urge

Build up what you have

Prove that you can build up

What is needed to change the urge

Point Allocation (Harassment)


Nagaya-Stable: “There have been two bad results.”

Masazumi considered what Ookubo was saying about the Kantou Liberation.

She really loves her lists and collections of small things.

But the underclassman kept speaking.

Nagaya-Stable: “The first bad result was allowing P.A. Oda to concentrate on Europe since Hashiba has to withdraw from Kantou. They are no longer split in two and forced to divide their budget and personnel. Their greatest force will be back at their central HQ and can no longer ‘arrive too late’ because they were in Kantou.”

Masazumi’s group had mentioned that already, but Ookubo had more to say.

Nagaya-Stable: “And the other bad result.”

She continued.

Nagaya-Stable: “The Oushuu and Kantou forces are kept from doing much of anything during summer break.”


“She’s making me feel awfully self-conscious so soon after returning from the Musashi.”

A fox judged Ookubo’s words while wisps of smoke rose into the sky.

She was on the beach south of Satomi. Near the fishing harbor that had been turned into a scrap pile the other day, the locals had set up a space to eat and periodically exchange information with the Musashi warriors.

They rested below the sunshades or in the huts built on the beach.

They ate around the stoves and kitchens set up on the beach.

They all looked to the ocean, gazed out at the distant Azuchi or the Miura Peninsula on the opposite coast, and talked among themselves. Some snapped photos of the scene with their sign frames and others called home to their families.

Among them, the fox ate fish off a skewer after returning to Satomi aboard the Yamagata Castle.

She walked across the beach, watching the people and the cooking smoke and occasionally using a long-ended brush to sign her autograph on a coat or armor at the request of a female student.

“I thought I would visit since the talks with Hashiba are complete and Mouri has left, but they’re recovering faster than I expected.”

“Yoshiaki-sama! The bonito here is delish, mon!”

“I already had some.”

“I recommend trying it again with soy sauce mayo, mon!”

“That sounds nice.” Yoshiaki grabbed Shakenobe, stretched him, and released him.

“Yoshiaki-sama!” said the salmon Mouse. “I have a question, mon!”

“Is it about Musashi’s Representative Committee Head?”

Shakenobe shook his entire body up and down. Seeing that, Yoshiaki stuck a skewer of pacific saury in her mouth. She bit through it, bones and all, before finally wiping her mouth with a napkin.

“The girl is quite right. The meeting held after the Siege of Odawara and before the Kantou Liberation keeps the Kantou and Oushuu forces from doing anything. We have Date to thank for that.”

Had that been some nice foresight on Hashiba’s part?

“Date is stuck because they already used the history recreation of Masamune’s delay and apology. Thanks to their heavy gods of war and other aerial forces, Date is the greatest wild card in Kantou and Oushuu. That is why Hashiba rushed to the Kantou Liberation to hold Date in check.”

Yoshiaki narrowed her eyes and pressed the napkin to her mouth.

She wiped off her tongue as if licking the paper.

There had been a small bone there. She could have swallowed it, but it had stayed in her mouth.

She had decided to let it out and hid it in the napkin. And…

“The apology for Masamune’s delay requires her to be called to Kyoto. That means P.A. Oda can take Masamune hostage whenever they like.”

“How, mon!? Masamune is strong, mon! No one can make her a hostage, mon!”

“What makes you think she is so strong?”

“She is your niece, mon!”

“I never can be modest with you around.” Yoshiaki smiled bitterly. “Now, imagine that happens during summer break. The other nations can’t interfere, so they can’t come to her rescue. And what do you think Date alone can do against the core of P.A. Oda? Masamune’s apology requires her to cooperate with Hashiba, so they will have restrictions placed on them at that point. And even if they try to fight their way in and attack the history recreation itself, they will be hopelessly outmatched.” She sighed, folded the napkin with a bone in it, and stuck it in her pocket. “Even if they did win, it would only be a localized victory. Date, the greatest power in Oushuu and Kantou, would be unable to drive back P.A. Oda and would be destroyed. And P.A. Oda would use the Testament Union to punish them for violating the history recreation. In the end, Oushuu and Kantou would lose any influence in the rest of the world.”

Describing it all filled the pit of her stomach with displeasure. She knew something much like that would happen if things went that way, but at the same time…

“Mogami’s lack of any real history recreations involving Kinki or Kansai is a real pain at times like this.”

“You are the leader of Mogami, mon!”

“I never have to forget my place in the world with you around.”

She smiled and stopped walking.

The beach continued on ahead of her, but there was no longer anyone around her.

She stood on a deserted afternoon beach in the height of summer, but…

They still don’t have enough people to fill the beach this far.

The summer beach was a rare treat for someone from Mogami, so she found it a shame that such beauty was going unappreciated. And…

“Listen. Date’s position prevents any of the Kantou and Oushuu forces from acting. P.A. Oda and Hashiba hold enough power at the moment that we can’t stand up to them even with Musashi and Date’s help. If we did try, they would have no qualms about crushing Date to teach us a lesson.”

That was what Musashi’s Representative Committee Head was getting at.

This was all decided before the Kantou Liberation.

Those bonds had initially been meant to bring Houjou to Hashiba’s side and give them an advantage in the Kantou Liberation, but they held a different weight now that the nations were isolated by summer break.

“Hashiba is meticulous, I’ll give them that.”

The Kantou and Oushuu forces had breathed a sigh of relief with Kantou liberated, but…

“We’re forced to remain in this state of relief because we can’t fight the next battle.”

So, she thought.

Not even Date would return in one piece if they attacked P.A. Oda.

However…

“Musashi is prepared to do just that and call it an ‘intervention’.”


“So if Musashi does intervene in P.A. Oda’s business, we will likely be alone.”

Harassment as national policy is a real pain in the rear, thought Ookubo.

If P.A. Oda decided to focus on Europe during summer break, it would reduce the European nations’ opinion of Musashi. And if Musashi gave up on intervening…

We wouldn’t earn many points toward Westphalia.

Of course, that was all behind the scenes. Officially, those nations could not ignore the fact that they had asked Musashi to deter P.A. Oda. Ookubo figured that gave them an opening they could use.

If the other nations complained about Musashi’s actions, she could use that for her negotiations. She could say they had created the hook, so it was those nations’ turn to make use of it.

“So what do we do now? After liberating Kantou, Musashi can effectively do whatever we want.”

And every nation out there would have something they wanted Musashi to do.

Which is why I don’t consider this part a negative.

They might even manage to sell off their services and increase their standing.

“So,” she said to the others. “The bad results of the Kantou Liberation are as follows.”

She displayed them as a list.

1. P.A. Oda will now strengthen itself.

2. Oushuu and Kantou’s actions are restricted.

“This means Musashi has no allies, yet we must intervene with an even stronger P.A. Oda. That will not be easy.”

But anyway.

“Those are the bad results.”

She swept her gaze across the gathered crowd and raised one finger on her right hand.

Then a second and third.

“Now for the good results.”


Christina watched Musashi’s assessment with Tadaoki by her side.

I see.

Musashi’s Representative Committee Head had a lot of confidence. Not only in her information-gathering skills, but also in the way she chose her words carefully based on an internal interpretation and analysis of that information.

“Does everyone from Musashi enjoy viewing things in a negative light?” she muttered with a bitter smile.

“Huh?” Tadaoki looked over at her.

“Um, just talking to myself.”

“Oh,” he said before resting his head in his hand. Christina had a thought as she watched him.

He has such a skinny back.

He was a trained warrior and wouldn’t actually be as scrawny as he looked, but while she stared at his back, she began to wonder what he would do from now on.

He was currently with Musashi. The defection process would be underway, but he would have a hard time transferring to Sweden. Because…

Him joining Sweden would be far too great a burden on the nation.

Musashi had intervened in Nördlingen as a mercenary force. But that was only the official reason and it had secretly been related to some other nations’ plans.

Specifically, the European nations.

So if Tadaoki joined Sweden, the full responsibility for all of Europe would be placed solely on Sweden’s shoulders.

Whatever Musashi’s real reasons, they had only been mercenaries. Once Tadaoki left them, responsibility would fall outside of Musashi. And Hexagone Française would likely hold their tongue about their role as intermediary.

If that happened, it would all fall on Sweden.

But if he remained with Musashi, it would remain unclear where responsibility lay. That was the current state of things, but…

“–––––”

That is a problem, thought Christina.

Would Musashi use this in their negotiations with Sweden?

They could use her help thanks to her connection with Akechi Mitsuhide.

So would they use all of this as a condition to get her to do that for them?

She wasn’t sure, but more than that…

What am I supposed to do about this?

She had two thoughts on the matter. First, she felt pathetic for considering all this after they had saved her and given her a home here. And second…

Tadaoki-sama.

She was dying to know what he thought of her.


Christina had enjoyed the past few days.

She had conversed with him a lot and they had shown each other their preferences.

When she had learned their preferences differed while shopping, she had been glad they lived separately since that meant they didn’t have to bring those things back to the same home.

She hoped they could learn now how they were incompatible and figure out a way of handling that by the time they lived together.

So this is a valuable time for us.

But she was older than him. She was an adult. She saw it as her role to accept the selfish things he said.

But what he thought about her was a different matter. She had angered him by treating him like a child back at Kyoto’s Nijou Castle and she wanted to avoid doing that again.

So how did he see her when she made a coldhearted decision as an adult and as a Chancellor?

She had very little information to work with.

She sensed a chill in her heart separate from the summer heat.

I am so inexperienced.

Her thoughts were so scattered.

She had never planned for any of this. Every part of her life should have ended, yet now it was continuing.

She did not know what to do, but she had a knowledge of her surroundings and a position for herself. She wondered if the dead would feel similar if they were suddenly resurrected. However…

“…”

There was one important factor here.

She remained the Swedish Chancellor.

So…

There are decisions I must make, she thought while viewing the words from Kantou. Musashi’s Representative Committee Head’s lines arrived as text.

Nagaya-Stable: “Listen.”

The confidence in her words was palpable.

Nagaya-Stable: “Now I will go over the good results.”


Gin focused on the Representative Council Head’s words.

Of all the members of Class Plum, she had the most information on Europe’s current state.

The English Princess was keeping her distance from the European mainland just like England as a whole.

And the Swedish Chancellor…

It was unclear if she had really joined them yet. She probably didn’t know that herself. It had been the same for Gin and Muneshige at first.

She had not really felt like she belonged on the Musashi until around the Battle of Mikatagahara. The unity brought by combat had been even stronger with so much on the line during that battle.

The Swedish Chancellor was not at that point yet.

So Gin considered her job to be testing their advantages here.

So she looked back to the Representative Council Head’s words.

Nagaya-Stable: “The first good result is…our current situation, to be blunt.”


Ookubo first explained the reasoning that answer was built on.

Nagaya-Stable: “We’re bound to get complaints since we don’t know what the future holds for Europe or for P.A. Oda, but our answer is simple: would you prefer things went back to the way they were before? Would you really want Kantou to remain oppressed and P.A. Oda’s strength to remain untouched?”

“Listen,” she said before being interrupted.

Tachibana Wife: “I believe the European nations will tell you that would indeed be better than having P.A. Oda focused entirely on Europe.”

Tachibana Gin chose her words carefully.

Tachibana Wife: “Kantou is irrelevant to the majority of European nations. Tres España, Portugal, England, and Holland might trade with Kantou, but the Liberation is no more than a regime change for them. What do you have to say to that?”

“I would call it shortsighted,” said Ookubo using the audio input.

This was the starting point. The basic assumptions. If she screwed this up, no one would have any confidence in anything she said.

And confidence begins with self-confidence.

That was hard to convey through text, so she used her voice. And she took a breath before starting.

“If P.A. Oda still held Kantou, they would grow much more powerful over summer break.”


“Listen,” said Ookubo.

“P.A. Oda chose to hold Kantou in order to trap us there and restrict our movements. But they had other reasons for it as well.”

Namely…

“Trade. And resource acquisition.”


Masazumi listened to Ookubo’s explanation.

“You see,” she began. “P.A. Oda currently has very few trade partners in Europe. Not too surprising when they’re waging war all across Europe. When a large nation is consuming resources but can’t earn more, it leads to internal inflation.”

“What’s inflation?” asked the idiot.

“You don’t know?” asked Horizon. “It is hard to describe, but it is that white, charcoaly, sweet, crunchy, fish paste thing they serve before the main dish at Italian restaurants.”

“Y-you’re doing everything you can to trick me, aren’t you!?”

Mitotsudaira hung her head and raised her right hand.

“Inflation refers to an increase in prices due to limited supply or other reasons.”

Horizon placed a hand on the idiot’s shoulder.

“See, now you know the answer thanks to me. Personally, I think you should thank me.”

“D-damn you’re bold, Horizon! Oh, or is this your pride in action!? Thanks to you too, Nate!”

“Think nothing of it,” said Mitotsudaira and Horizon gave her a thumbs up.

They now had a basic explanation, but…

“This would be so much simpler if the udons were here.”

Circle Be: “The udon thing is over! I can enjoy my meals in peace today!”

The female former udon was complaining again.

Gold Mar: “Are there any lasting effects?”

Circle Be: “Yes, actually. This morning, I felt a…I guess you would call it a phantom udon trying to slip on out, so I ran to the bathroom as fast as I could. Maybe I should write and sell a book based on the experience!”

Not shy about selling out, huh? thought Masazumi. But…

Vice President: “Are there any economic sanctions or trade restrictions placed on P.A. Oda in Europe?”

Circle Be: “I’ll tell you if you pay me!”

Vice President: “How about 70?”

Circle Be: “70 grand!? Yay! You have a deal!”

Sorry, I meant 70 yen. So many books are coming out this summer, after all.

But the female former udon was already talking.

Circle Be: “Simply put, Europe hasn’t placed any economic sanctions on P.A. Oda.”

Novice: “Eh? But that doesn’t add up! By my estimation, all the European nations should have agents working together behind the scenes to prevent a P.A. Oda invasion.”

Four Eyes: “ ‘By my estimation’? ‘Agents’?”

Novice: “Y-yeah, agents! Like diplomats and whatnot!? See, I’m right!”

Four Eyes: “Those are called diplomats, not agents. And the summer event is coming up, so I would love some information from you.”

Damn, she’s strict, thought Masazumi while text rapidly filled up her sign frame. It was from the former udon girl.

Circle Be: “Simply put again, the European nations have had a hard time keeping trade routes with P.A. Oda ever since they decided to resist P.A. Oda. They might be able to separate their economy and the war, but the frontline is always on the move and their producing regions get caught in the fighting, so their trade with P.A. Oda is automatically cut off without the need for sanctions.”

“But,” said the former udon.

Circle Be: “But there are nations that need to preserve trade with P.A. Oda to survive, so every nation makes its own decision. And the ones fighting the wars will also use those other countries as intermediaries to trade with P.A. Oda behind the scenes. They could do that openly in Mikawa since it was neutral, though. …Anyway, based on all that, there aren’t any Testament Union demands for economic sanctions or anything like that. Now, there is pressure from larger nations on smaller ones to follow their lead and keep quiet about it.”

“True,” agreed Asama. Shinto was generally untouchable, but they would still get caught in the middle of battles when war broke out. “There will be times that a region’s economy or trade grinds to a halt. They can get by if they use their infrastructure to quickly use another nation as an intermediary, but there are times when the resources can’t get through all the fighting.”

Circle Be: “You can think of war itself as a type of economic sanction.”

“But,” said the female former udon.

Circle Be: “Thanks to all of this, the western nations have become pretty strict with each other. I suspect Hashiba joined with M.H.R.R. and reached toward the western nations at such an early stage because they wanted to use their Far Eastern position to perform intermediary trade between P.A. Oda and Europe.”

Vice President: “You only suspect it?”

“Yes,” she said.

Circle Be: “Hashiba’s efforts have led M.H.R.R. to begin the Thirty Years’ War in earnest and the European market is growing more isolated again, so we would have to ask Hashiba themselves to know for certain.”


That was fairly interesting, even if it is only expanding on a rumor.

Christina amused herself by rolling the information around in her head and polishing it.

Musashi’s Treasurer’s Aide had recently been in a fairly avant-garde situation where her illicit activities had earned her a divine punishment where udon came from her butt, but her opinion here was partially correct and partially insufficient.

It was true Europe had been unable to trade due to their caution concerning P.A. Oda.

When their former Chancellor Suleiman had been ousted, the Testament Union nations had deemed it illegal and refused to recognize P.A. Oda’s new order. They had hoped to gain favorable political and trade conditions in exchange for recognizing P.A. Oda as a state.

But P.A. Oda had refused and left the Testament Union. That had left the Testament Union nations still not recognizing P.A. Oda as a state.

That was a problem since they could not trade with an unrecognized state. If they did, they would be forced to trade with other unrecognized states and territories.

That had automatically led to an embargo.

But P.A. Oda used their position in the Far East to develop themselves on their own and they continued strengthening themselves with an eye on Europe, but that ultimately led to the second economic crisis.

But someone spoke up before she could think any further.

Tachibana Husband: “The Treasurer’s Aide’s explanation requires an addendum related to the New World.”

It was Tachibana Muneshige.

I see.

He was from Tres España. His other inherited name of Garcia came from the family that began Spain’s first private postal service.

He had managed Tres España’s information and held connections to representatives in different regions. The New World would be one of those regions.

And Christina had heard he was deployed to the New World for a time.

Tachibana Gin continued for her husband.

Tachibana Wife: “Hashiba worked with M.H.R.R. in order to interfere with Europe, to give them passage through the area, and to swiftly complete Hashiba’s history recreation, but sending Hashiba into their territory had the effect of weakening the embargo between P.A. Oda and Europe. But just like the Treasurer’s Aide said, the Thirty Years’ War between M.H.R.R. and Hexagone Française heated up and the Catholics and Protestants within M.H.R.R. began to fight, allowing for only a limited opening of the markets. P.A. Oda was shut out once more. However…”

Silver Wolf: “Embargoes can be a double-edged sword.”

Everyone’s focus turned toward the Mito Lord.

She would indeed be the one to talk to about Europe and Hexagone Française.

Horizey: “Mitotsudaira-samaaaa!”

“Judge,” replied the silver wolf.

Silver Wolf: “Europe had a harder time accessing the larger market once P.A. Oda was out of the Testament Union. M.H.R.R. joining with P.A. Oda provided a similar economic blow. After all, the middle ages have passed and populations are on the rise. But if the resources can’t keep up with the rising population numbers, it leads to relative inflation. Hexagone Française in particular consumed a lot of resources to prepare their national military, so prices rapidly rose just like the Testament describes.”

“And,” someone else said.

Tachibana Wife: “That is where the New World comes in. After building their Grande y Felicísima Armada, Tres España used gold, silver, and other trade goods from the New World to repay their debts to the other nations. But…”

Gin shrugged.

Tachibana Wife: “Not even all that gold, silver, and other goods were enough to truly enrichen Europe. They were expanding their wartime materiel with prices rising, so it all went to compensation for those things. I suppose you could say their culture was growing, but improving their civilization required money.”

“That is partially why our home declared bankruptcy in the Testament.” The Vice Chancellor’s Aide sounded troubled. “But that might not happen here thanks to the efforts of Chancellor Segundo and Vice President Juana. Maybe I am biased with it being my former home, but I do think Tres España is an incredible nation.”


Gin narrowed her eyes at what Muneshige had said.

So it’s our “former” home now, is it?

It was no longer their home, but nor was it an unfamiliar land.

They had come from there. It was the land that had built the foundation of who they were.

So she nodded and added to what he had said.

Tachibana Wife: “When Hashiba invaded westward, they put off attacking Hexagone Française’s Mouri and instead sent their forces to Shikoku and to Kyushu’s coast. That was because there were Mlasi nations on Africa’s northern coast, but they had another reason.”

Which was…

Tachibana Wife: “By holding Africa’s northern coast, they can more easily trade with the New World. And since holding Kyushu before the Thirty Years’ War truly began allowed Ryuuzouji to join the fight, Hashiba’s plans seem to have paid off.”

She started to say more, but someone else took over: Musashi’s Representative Committee Head. She had an obvious smile in her voice.

Nagaya-Stable: “P.A. Oda did gain access to Europe’s market that way, but they’ve reached the limit there. They need to search out some other market.”

She tied this all back to the real topic at hand.

Nagaya-Stable: “When they hit their limit in Europe, P.A. Oda reached east – to Kantou. Hashiba had the perfect history recreation for that: the Keichou and Bunroku Campaigns. So they followed Musashi into Kantou and took over.”


“Listen,” said Ookubo.

Nagaya-Stable: “We know Hashiba treated the locals fairly well and permitted economic activity after invading. They wanted to preserve Kantou’s ability to function as a market. And, well, there is one thing I’d like to say about that. …Vice President?”

Vice President: “Yes, I think I know what you’re getting at.”

“Very good,” said Ookubo, taking that as permission to proceed.

Nagaya-Stable: “When the Azuchi Castle flooded Paris, they apparently used materials aboard the ship. That means the Azuchi was already carrying those materials, but that raises a question, doesn’t it?”

This was something she had learned while negotiating with the Azuchi.

Nagaya-Stable: “What was the Azuchi planning to do with those materials in Kantou?”


Yoshiyasu was repairing Righteousness in a forest clearing.

She of course had a sign frame open next to her to watch the discussion between the Kantou group and the Musashi group.

She made an assessment of Ookubo’s information-gathering and comprehension abilities.

She’s far better than me.

But that did not mean she had to belittle herself. She simply had a different role. But…

“The materials the Azuchi was carrying?”

There was an obvious answer.

“Weren’t they to rebuild Satomi and Edo?”

After losing the landport and their homes, the locals needed as many materials as they could get for residences and such. However…

Rebuild, huh?

She thought about that word and what Hashiba had done.

Based on Satomi’s current state and what Tokishige had said, Hashiba had not simply ruled over Kantou.

They had not plundered the place or set exorbitant taxes.

But Yoshiyasu doubted Hashiba had done that out of the goodness of their hearts.

It wasn’t pleasant, but there was a more selfish way of looking at it.

“Avoiding trouble and remaining more hands-off helps things run more smoothly.”

That explained Satomi’s situation perfectly.

In that case, thought Yoshiyasu. Hashiba was planning to use Kantou for something.

They could use the idea of rebuilding to incite the Kantou residents to action. In other words…

It was all about business.

Is there more to this? she wondered before having a realization.

Righteousness: “Musashi Vice President.”

There was more to it. There was a type of business they could get Kantou working on by rebuilding.

Righteousness: “They had the same idea as you.”


It was not Masazumi who answered Yoshiyasu with a “judge”.

It was Ookubo. She spoke through her sign frame.

“Hashiba likely intended to begin a certain business by transporting in a large quantity of materials. They intended to rebuild and thus remake Kantou. In other words…”

In other words…

“They planned to build a major commercial city and a primary road connecting Edo, Satomi, and the rest of south Kantou with Oushuu and Houjou.”


That’s the same thing the Vice President proposed at the three nation meeting with Oushuu, noted Ookubo with a sigh.

Also…

“With P.A. Oda’s connection to Houjou and their use of former Takeda land, they could build something on a larger scale than the Vice President had in mind. P.A. Oda and its allied nations would not form a western boundary, so it would have become the eastern end of P.A. Oda’s trade routes. I can’t say how many years it would have taken in all, but they could start right away if they began by constructing a center for air routes. They even have builders like Ikeda Terumasa at their disposal. And,” said Ookubo. “Through these largescale expansions, P.A. Oda could transform Kantou and Oushuu into their own New World. It isn’t all that great as far as market sizes go, but it is enough to easily outdo Europe. Once the population increased and they began making money, they would be able to place their own embargo on Europe.”

Novice: “But we prevented that, didn’t we?”

You’re getting ahead of yourself, thought Ookubo with a bitter smile.

So she said more.

Nagaya-Stable: “Judge, we did. By liberating Kantou, we preserved the embargo on P.A. Oda. Listen, P.A. Oda is trapped. If Europe plays their part, P.A. Oda will decline from within.”

So…

Nagaya-Stable: “They can’t go on the way things are. When people look back on it all in the future, I bet they will pinpoint the Kantou Liberation as the beginning of their decline. We have to keep all of this in mind as we proceed. No matter what anyone says, we have to remember that we already snatched up a path to victory and handed it over to Europe.”


Suzu focused on Christina’s behavior while listening to the others.

It feels like…she really, really wants to join…the conversation? She’s restless?

Every time someone said something, she would either nod a little or move like she wanted to interject.

For her, this was a review or reassessment of information she had already gathered for herself. But…

Sh-she’s…stopping herself?

As Swedish Chancellor, she was a guest. She was not allowed to give them advice. Suzu understood that, as did the others.

Gold Mar: “Man, Chrippe wants to join in so bad.”

Unturning: “Just like we do when we see someone else fighting. But her position complicates matters.”

Advice to another nation was too valuable to provide for free.

Then Ookubo said even more.

Nagaya-Stable: “Now for the second good result.”

It was….

Nagaya-Stable: “We have revealed and reduced P.A. Oda’s personnel and equipment.”


Masazumi knew what Ookubo was trying to say.

She tended to measure combat equipment as simple numbers, but that was why Ookubo’s statement worked here.

Vice President: “An extra aerial fleet was sent in from eastern P.A. Oda for the Kantou Liberation and we eliminated Takigawa and the Sanada Ten Braves at the Siege of Odawara.”

Nagaya-Stable: “Judge. If we hadn’t done anything, that equipment and personnel would still be out there once summer break ends. Along with the additional fighting force they built up during the break.”

“Listen,” said Ookubo.

Nagaya-Stable: “The third good result is a combination of the previous two. Equipment and personnel can be replenished, but only if you have the money and the people. However, P.A. Oda as a whole has had a reduction in their total amount of equipment and personnel. And with their troubles earning foreign currency, they will only be able to replenish so much.”

Vice President: “When do you think their recovery will be complete?”

Nagaya-Stable: “The first week after the break.”

Ookubo had an immediate answer.

Nagaya-Stable: “They can work on recovery during the break, but they still need to work with the other nations to do so. If they put in orders with the related nations during the break and receive the shipments after the break, then their recovery ends about a week after the break does.”

“But,” said Mitotsudaira.

Silver Wolf: “P.A. Oda’s new order is, in a way, a cornered P.A. Oda. Won’t they be at their most dangerous?”

“They will,” agreed Masazumi.

That went without saying. Ookubo’s good results were all accurate, but because they were accurate…

“P.A. Oda understands all of this and will go on the offensive to turn it all around. They will not let their guard down anymore. Instead of sending representatives to different places and attacking at specific ‘points’, they will likely concentrate all of their forces on the M.H.R.R. front. And,” said Masazumi, “Europe’s smaller nations and stronger principalities can’t survive that. They will blame us for their predicament, so we need to take action now. We need to intervene in P.A. Oda’s affairs just before they manage to get back on their feet.”

Specifically…

“We need to involve ourselves in the history recreation that gives them a new leader: the Honnouji Incident.”


That would indeed mean the Honnouji Incident.

Christina admitted this part of the conversation was complete.

They understood the significance of the Kantou Liberation and Nördlingen, they understood what had been happening in Europe and Kantou before that, and they had tied that all back in toward the big unknown that was the Honnouji Incident.

The rest of this was about the unknown – the future.

There was a lot she had wanted to say and comment on.

She concluded that Musashi’s overall grasp of the information was sufficient.

They did not all understand everything, but they could discuss the big picture when they gathered like this.

Perhaps that was the perfect method of understanding for Musashi.

But from her perspective…

They don’t seem to be looking in one dangerous direction.

There was one major factor missing from everything they had just discussed.

A factor they needed to include in the discussion.

Something important.

But, she said to herself. I can’t get any more involved.

Information was her weapon, so she could not give it away for free. Especially when she hadn’t even been asked.

I must resist, she decided just as Tadaoki turned her way.

“Hey.”

“Yes?”

“Do you get all this confusing crap they’re talking about?”

“I…do?”

“That’s incredible.”

Then he faced forward again. And…

Oh.

She realized she had just created a gap between them.


Christina sensed a change inside her.

In an instant, Tadaoki’s attitude had entirely changed. Simply put…

This is bad.

She was back to who she had been before Nördlingen.

She had intended to continue being who she had become after Nördlingen.

She had thrown her life away, so she had given it to the person who had wanted to treat it with greater care.

So she could be someone other than who she had been before.

Hadn’t she just recently made that decision? So…

“–––––”

She was Sweden’s Chancellor. She could not change her viewpoint or position. But…

“May I say something as the wife of Tadaoki-sama, who eventually joins Matsudaira?”

He turned to her with a “huh?”, so her heart leaped in her chest.

He was looking at her.

Yes. If I make him look away from me, he won’t take good care of me.

So she was glad she had said it.

A few days before, this love had been an impossible fantasy, but now she was his wife. And she had said it herself.

I actually said I’m his wife.

Did love require a self-confession like that? Did she just have to put up with the embarrassment?

She didn’t know.

But she swore to herself she would let her feelings show in her actions.

Calm down. Act like an adult. Everyone already knows you are his wife. Yes.

And…

“Here.”

Tadaoki couldn’t look her in the eye as he slapped the floor next to him.

He audibly slapped the wood a few times.

When she realized what he meant, she felt heat rising from her neck.

Oh.

She suddenly started trembling.


“You made her cry!”

Tadaoki had no idea what was going on, but he could tell everyone here was his enemy.

And from his point of view…

I don’t get it!!

The woman he loved had called herself his wife, so he had told her she could sit by his side.

But once she sat there, while extremely tense for some reason, she had started crying.

Did I do something wrong!?

He didn’t think she was sad. Probably, anyway. But he didn’t understand why she would be so happy either. Things like this had already happened several times, so why would it make her cry this time?

But when the two arms appeared in front of him, they each gave a thumbs up.

“Well played, Nagabuto-sama!” said the arms’ body.

“That’s one way to get involved, I guess.”

“Nagaoka, I’m not sure I entirely understand this, but prepare yourself. This might become an international incident.”

How am I supposed to react to any of this!?

He wanted to protest, telling them he was a beginner here, but he knew that was a bad idea. That would be like telling the crying woman she was a nuisance to him.

I brought her here.

She knows that much. I think.

So this is fine. I can live with this.

“Have your fun if you must, you weirdos, but there’s nothing wrong with crying.”

There, he said it. Next to him, she sucked in a breath, looked to him for just a moment, started to smile, and…

“–––––”

It fell apart.

Even more tears spilled down her cheeks, but she wasn’t crying out loud anymore.

I really don’t get it.

But as he placed a hand on the crying 28-year-old’s cheek, he gave it further thought: This probably isn’t anything I did. It’s probably something with her. Telling her to sit next to me was only the trigger.

He felt like it would be crass to ask her why. It felt like demanding she evaluate herself.

So he remained silent, but then he realized all the others had fallen silent too.

Eh? he thought as he looked out and saw the gold-winged girl raise her hand.

“Nagabuto.”

“Yeah?”

“Can you say that again?”

He wasn’t sure what she meant. But these people were like noisy oddities in clothing, so he just repeated himself.

“I told you to have your fun if you must, you weirdos.”

They all exchanged glances at that.

“We’ve got permission! But you restrain yourself, Chancellor!”

“Huh!? But I was only gonna make some sushi! Some black inari or mint blue inari would be perfect for Nagabuto!”

“Then I shall create a thread for the poor boy who lacks an elder sister. It is only polite.”

“For official business!? You mean for official business, right, Uqui-dono!?”

“Waiiiiit!”

Tadaoki protested, but the arms’ body blew a whistle she had pulled out of thin air.

“Nagabuto-sama, protesting after granting permission earns you a yellow card. Do it again and you get a red card.”

“What happens then?”

“Yerrrrr outta here! Just kidding. It will be far worse than that.”

She’s aware how awful they are!? he thought, but there was nothing he could do about it. But then he noticed something.

“Ha.”

It was more a tearful laugh than anything, but his wife had stopped crying. And…

“T-Tadaoki-sama.” Her voice grew more relaxed. “It is official between us now, isn’t it?”

He wasn’t sure, but he got the feeling their information had just been spread all over the divine network.


Christina took a breath.

That was not how she wanted to be seen. But only by everyone else.

She was now okay with him seeing her like that.

She could cry, laugh, and live how she liked around him.

She was the Swedish Chancellor and Lady Nagaoka. She had overcome death. She was a pacifist. So she knew what to say here.

“I would like to ask you a question, Musashi.”

Specifically…

“Do you think P.A. Oda is your only enemy?”