Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 46
Chapter 46: Deciders Near the Flirting
I have no idea
What I’m supposed to do
Point Allocation (Put Out the Fire)
Naito thought to herself while watching Naruze sketch everyone in their swimsuits.
…So the flirting has begun.
She could hear their voices.
“I-I have shamed myself, so I must die! I must be blown to smithereens!”
The presence of live explosives meant those two had reached quite an advanced level of flirting for so early in the day.
Naito had no intention of stopping it, but she did want to know more to help Naruze with her storyboard.
“Um, Nagabuto, what did you say to her?”
“Nothing really.” Nagabuto turned back with his eyebrows raised. “She was fidgeting a lot and she just had something cold to drink, right? So, um, do I have to explain the rest!?”
“Wh-what did I do to deserve this!?”
“N-nothing at all! Tadaoki-sama did nothing wrong! All the fault lies with me!” insisted Christina.
The girls responded by waving at her in a way meant to ask her to calm down.
Meanwhile, Naruze turned toward them, scratching her hair with the head of her pen.
“Hey, Nagabuto, try expanding your imagination next time. If you wife is fidgeting next to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s into watersports. She might be pissing herself in joy as part of some doggy roleplaying like Mitotsudaira does.”
“I-I do not do that! I don’t!”
For some reason, Christina gasped and looked over at Mitotsudaira, but it was best not to ask any more questions there. There’s so much we don’t know about how wolves like her live.
Ignoring how Mitotsudaira shattered a sign frame displaying her mom that popped up, Nagabuto crossed his arms and spoke to his wife.
“Don’t kill yourself over that!!”
“B-but…I have shamed myself!” she retorted.
Tadaoki pointed toward the pool.
The nudist was on the poolside contorting himself into a C shape to try and press his hips against the ice.
“Nwohhhh! Almost there! My Excalibur is so close to reachiiiiiiing!”
“I’m not sure I want that to melt it, Toori!”
They were up to their usual antics, but Tadaoki sighed.
“If he doesn’t feel the need to kill himself in shame, you sure as hell don’t need to.”
“B-but I would never do that!”
Tadaoki’s eyes flitted back over to the horror on display there and blushed.
“Yeah, I should think not.”
“Hey, Nagabuto, buddy! You just imagined what that would look like, didn’t you?”
Christina blushed and everyone looked her way again.
When they all said “oh”, she pulled out twice as many explosives.
“I-I’m going to kill myself even harder! I’ll blow myself to smithereens right here!”
Gold Mar: “Hey, this is getting interesting.”
Art-Ga: “It certainly is giving me some good material in ways I never expected.”
Asama: “I’ll have you know some of us are busy managing bomb-restriction spells right now!”
Meanwhile, a voice shouted over from the other side of the pool.
“Hey, Nagabuto’s wife! Those things are pretty sweet!”
The Chancellor pointed at her and ran over in the nude. Before Christina could recoil in horror, he pulled two paper glasses and two swizzle sticks from the drink station.
“Asama, can I get some ice? The stuff from the portable ice room, not from the pool. Yeah, that stuff. Thanks. …Anyway, here you go.”
With impressive speed, he swapped out the explosives in her hands for the paper glasses.
They contained crushed ice and…
“That’s matcha milk. Enjoy them with Nagabuto while listening to Seijun talk.”
His speed and intensity left Christina too dazed to do anything but nod and accept. Nagabuto looked more exasperated, but…
…He isn’t going to say anything about it.
He was even willing to talk back to his wife, but he only frowned and fell silent with the Chancellor here.
He must have accepted the other boy’s actions in this instance. And…
Art-Ga: “Hm, would that pairing be called Nagabutoori? It’s a common enough dynamic in this age, but not one you see often in the Musashi genre.”
Gold Mar: “Including Chrippe could cause trouble with Sweden, so try to think this through, okay?”
Meanwhile, Naito noticed a chance in Christina.
She was looking up at Nagabuto while he glared at the Chancellor.
His attention had been diverted elsewhere.
And she had noticed it.
She held out one of the paper glasses and he took it. He sat next to her and sighed, just like everyone had expected. But…
“Hey, do you understand anything they’ve been talking about in Kantou?”
He got back on topic. Good on him for doing that all on his own. But Christina nodded while everyone watched.
“Testament. I do. Yes.”
“That’s incredible,” he said, but he didn’t stop with just that. “Could you explain it for me?”
Christina resisted the urge to leap at this opportunity. I need to show self-control. Yes.
For an instant, terms like “teacher”, “tutor”, and “hands-on lesson” came to mind. Stop being so indecent. Yes. I might be Chancellor for the so-called Uncensored Kingdom, but that doesn’t mean I’m shameless.
But she did respond to him.
“I can do that. But not in the middle of their meeting. You can ask about anything you don’t understand afterwards.”
“Sure,” he said in obvious relief and she felt just as much relief herself.
She hoped that relief would eventually be unnecessary, but then she heard a voice from across the pool.
“Foolish brother! You brought the explosives, right!? Then it’s time: bombs awayyyyyy!”
Mitotsudaira cursed that her mother speaking in Kantou kept her from moving away from Masazumi.
…My king is over there having fun!
Technically he was problem solving, but the end result was the same. As his knight, she wanted to prevent him from touching or otherwise playing with the ice. And outside of that, she also wanted to play with him.
But right now he was waving around the two explosives while he goofed off with Kimi and the others.
“Okay, let’s blow up this pool!”
“Wait, Toori. I would assume this goes without saying, but if you just throw the explosives into the pool, they will float on the surface and the blast will be directed skyward.”
“For real, Noriki!? How do you know this stuff!?”
“Explosions are the foundation of civil engineering.”
I’m not sure they’re the foundation, thought Mitotsudaira, but he was the expert so she decided it wasn’t her place to disagree with him. And…
“Hey, foolish brother? How do you intend to get them to blow up underwater?”
“Hey, Tenzou. Can you dive into the pool again holding these? You said you wanted to try blowing up sometime, right?”
“I-I said nothing of the sort! Even Masazumi-dono’s terrible jokes are better than that!”
“Hey, leave me out of this!” protested Masazumi.
“That’s right,” said the king. “Don’t even think about comparing my brilliant jokes with Seijun’s.”
Horizon suddenly filled her mouth with water and turned toward the pool.
“Akhhh, peh! Did you say something, Toori-sama?”
“Do all your responses have to be so damn hard to respond to!?”
That was all par for the course with them, so Mitotsudaira checked to see what Asama was doing.
“Mito, why not go join Toori-kun and the others? I have to manage the break area over here.”
“I-I can’t just go play. You could though, Tomo.”
“I have to manage the drinks, as well as prepare Toori-kun’s tea and Horizon’s matcha. …And Kimi asked me to ‘surprise her’.”
“And,” said Mitotsudaira. “I have to deal with my mother.”
Just then, a new sign frame appeared. From her mother.
Christina was looking her way, but she understood why.
“If Musashi tries to act as some other nation’s mercenary, Hexagone Française can intervene because you used that same logic at Nördlingen. So you were discussing which country you could work for, correct?”
Gin reached a certain deduction from what the Reine des Garous said.
…It would be dangerous to intervene in Honnouji as Hexagone Française’s mercenary.
It came down to the geography.
Hexagone Française was located west of M.H.R.R. If Musashi attempted to visit Kyou with the Protestants while working as their mercenary, it would introduce the risk of an attack from both sides.
Kyou and Kansai’s P.A. Oda were to the east and Hexagone Française was to the west.
They were enemies from a European perspective, but they were allies from a Hashiba perspective.
And the M.H.R.R. Catholics might join in from the south.
Musashi would be entirely outnumbered. They had broken free of and escaped a similar situation at the Battle of Mikatagahara, but they wanted to avoid being left in that state again.
Of course, this might just be overthinking the problem. But…
…The Testament Union is our enemy.
The enemy could force a history recreation or forcibly punish them for being in violation of the recreation. Especially if they tried anything during summer break.
The Reine des Garous appeared to know that.
Still Got It: “I think Hexagone Française might just stop by to play.”
Tachibana Wife: “So it seems.”
The situation was in flux, so even the Reine des Garous would have a hard time knowing what would actually happen.
Hence why she said they would “stop by to play” and decide what to do after checking on the situation.
…And if that happens…
Gin looked over to see Muneshige looking down at the pool from the diving platform. He raised a hand toward her.
“Gin, I think we should move on from the idea of using Hexagone Française.”
“Judge,” she replied and moved her thoughts to the next plan.
Tachibana Wife: “Next we can discuss the idea of having K.P.A. Italia hire us.”
Righteousness: “Is that even possible? Aren’t they pretty much the Testament Union itself?”
The Satomi Student Council President provided a near immediate reply.
But she had an answer to that…
Tachibana Husband: “It is very possible.”
Muneshige answered for her. With a smile.
Tachibana Husband: “Did you forget that we fought at Mikawa as part of the K.P.A. Italian forces?”
Righteousness: “Well, I wasn’t actually there.”
Tachibana Husband: “You weren’t, were you?”
…Way to shrug that off, Master Muneshige!
Gold Mar: “Did he just…?”
Almost Everyone: “Rare Persona-kun reaction!”
Well done, Master Muneshige. And the Satomi Student Council President has said she was listening on the divine radio, so this one is a draw. If anything, Master Muneshige wins for shrugging off his mistake.
Tachibana Wife: “Now, Master Muneshige, enlighten us as to how Musashi can work as K.P.A. Italia’s mercenary.”
Tachibana Husband: “Judge. K.P.A. Italia has direct control over Rome and the surrounding areas as the Papal States, but the Tsirhc religion forbids the possession of a personal military force. Thus, they generally hire mercenaries as warriors and guards.”
“And,” continued Muneshige.
Tachibana Husband: “With M.H.R.R. in control of K.P.A. Italia, Tres España has been putting off lending their forces to the Papal States. Tres España has decided they need to recover from the Armada battle and focus on national politics instead.”
Vice President: “So you’re saying the Papal States are in need of a mercenary force?”
“Judge,” confirmed Muneshige.
But the Reine des Garous tilted her head.
Still Got It: “Testament. I see how you could get yourself hired by K.P.A. Italia, but how would that let you intervene in Honnouji?”
Tachibana Wife: “Judge. P.A. Oda will need to hold all the necessary internal meetings before Honnouji. Did you forget they had their VIPs meet at Kyou before Nördlingen? So they should hold something similar for all the relevant national representatives. I can’t imagine them announcing the replacement of their leader in a divine mail.”
Still Got It: “Should? Can’t imagine? Those are dangerous words.”
Tachibana Wife: “We just have to make sure they do it that way.”
Gin felt confident as she turned toward the Vice President.
Tachibana Wife: “And that sort of harassment is Musashi’s specialty.”
“Indeed it is!” shouted Futayo. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! So the answer is to start a fire! I am impressed with Gin-dono’s brilliant suggestion! And this is the age of starting devastating fires! …What is wrong, Masazumi? You can play with your Mouse later.”
“Well, um, I was just wondering if that’s what comes to mind when people think about me.”
“That aside, is Gin’s idea workable, Masazumi?”
Masazumi answered Mitotsudaira with a nod.
“We could do it if we wanted to. It would mean bowing down to Sanada or Sviet Rus, though.”
She saw nothing but question marks on everyone’s faces.
“C’mon, I’m talking about addition and subtraction. …Hey, idiot.”
“What do you want, Seijun?”
“No one wants a serious response out of you. Got that?”
“N-now I’m feeling left out.”
Horizon threw a kick behind him with her toes jabbing up at him from below.
Christina cried out in surprise. Oh, yeah. She might be the Uncensored Kingdom’s Chancellor, but she was still raised in a Kansai city.
…So she’s got class, huh?
Not something you’ll find around here, decided Masazumi, opting not to think about it anymore. The idiot had fallen to his knees, so she addressed the girl behind him instead.
“Horizon, are you listening?”
“You I do want a serious response from.”
“Is that so, Masazumi-sama? Yes, you would expect better from me. Heh.”
“Absolutely! Absolutely!” excitedly parroted the black algae creatures.
Anyway, she had a question to ask.
Vice President: “Let’s say we work as a mercenary force for K.P.A. Italia. But we are also K.P.A. Italia’s enemy. Do you know how K.P.A. Italia could benefit from that arrangement?”
Horizey: “Aaaaaabsoluuuuuuuuuuutelyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! Oh, pardon me, Masazumi-sama. That was more fun than I had expected. I will restrain myself in the future. …Anyway, to be blunt, their best option would be to work Musashi to the bone.”
Horizon pulled out bamboo sticks bearing an O and an X to indicate right and wrong answers and Masazumi nodded twice before asking another question.
Vice President: “And what could they do to benefit even more?”
Horizey: “Judge. What if they had us attack another Musashi force or some of our allies while we worked for them? That super cannibalism would be of an ugliness rarely seen in the history of the world.”
“Yes, it would,” groaned Mitotsudaira and some others as they hung their heads at how plausible that sounded.
Which meant that was a good answer. And Masazumi could see something more.
Vice President: “We could split the Musashi forces into two groups – a Musashi group and a Kantou group. We kind of already have with that unit still in Satomi.”
Vice President: “If necessary, we could maintain and increase that split. And after K.P.A. Italia hires the Musashi group, we would have the Kantou group ask Sanada or Sviet Rus to hire them.”
The rest was simple.
Vice President: “At some point before Honnouji, the Kantou group is sent to P.A. Oda. Anywhere close to Kyou would do. They could claim it is to prepare for an invasion once summer break ends. P.A. Oda would likely have K.P.A. Italia send us in to oppose it.”
Silver Wolf: “That would require our two groups to battle, wouldn’t it?”
Vice President: “You mean the super cannibalism? That’s for the rest of you to figure out. Leave me out of it.”
Why did they all turn her way, smile, and nod?
At any rate, she had to keep talking.
Vice President: “While that cannibal war rages on, some of us would intervene in Honnouji. We would claim the Oda defenses looked shorthanded, so we decided to help protect Honnouji from the Musashi battle.”
“That would be a hard sell, Masazumi-sama.”
“Yeah, well, I only just now thought it up. I’m sure I can come up with something better for the political stuff later,” she said. “But…”
Vice President: “It might be a hard sell, but it isn’t impossible.”
Tachibana Wife: “As you can see, it is possible, Reine des Garous.”
Still Got It: “You never do anything the easy way, do you?”
The Reine des Garous was smiling, which Gin took to mean she had passed.
She had demonstrated some other ideas and possibilities. So now…
Tachibana Wife: “My primary suggestion is that Tres España could hire Musashi.”
The Satomi Student Council President gave her a skeptical look.
Righteousness: “Can you do that? I mean…”
Gin knew what she was getting at.
Tachibana Wife: “Judge. Tres España is located west of Hexagone Française, so it would seem difficult for them to play a role in Honnouji.”
“But,” she said.
Tachibana Wife: “Have you forgotten what the Testament says? During the Thirty Years’ War, Tres España occasionally sent troops and fought political battles to prevent Holland from declaring independence.”
Righteousness: “I’m from a Far Eastern force in Kantou, so I don’t know much about all that.”
Tachibana Wife: “You are, aren’t you?”
Now I’m shrugging it off like a pro. And that toothy grin from Master Muneshige makes it all worth it.
The others were saying “Did she just…?”, but she shrugged that off as well and continued. Because that was how the daughter of a samurai family does things.
Tachibana Wife: “Listen. In the days of Carlos I, who was known as the Emperor Chancellor, M.H.R.R. and Tres España were a single unified state. They eventually broke apart, but they still hold a strong connection as fellow Catholics and they reserve the right to intervene in each other’s affairs in times of emergency. The current situation could apply. So…”
Tachibana Wife: “If we arrived at Holland as Tres Españan mercenaries and then intervened in M.H.R.R., we could intervene at Honnouji. If a representative of an ally like Tres España entered M.H.R.R., Hashiba would have to respond appropriately. So we could work to participate in their meeting with national representatives before Honnouji.”
“Testament,” said the Reine des Garous.
But she was only expressing her comprehension. Because…
Still Got It: “But would Tres España really hire Musashi?”
Gin responded by looking to the others.
Everyone except Muneshige had the same question in their eyes.
…I need to give this a real answer.
In order to gain a clear answer, she opened a divine transmission sign frame.
“Asama Shrine Representative, do you have a moment?”
The summer sunshine had grown to its midafternoon heat.
Intersecting green and yellow spread out below the burning color of that light.
This was a cornfield.
Partway up the tall stalks, the ears pointed skyward with some of the yellow kernels showing.
The field was located on the gentle slope of a hill with a town situated at the top.
People from the town tended to the field and more people would arrive from another nearby town to buy and transport the corn.
The hilltop residents would carry the long stalks back to the town’s square where they would chop them up into smaller pieces and carry them to a storehouse. And then…
“They extract the fibers and make animal feed out of it, Lady Juana? They have so many uses for it, don’t they?”
“Yes.” A tall woman in a white summer uniform nodded, making her black hair sway. She was replying to a girl in a baseball cap. “If you don’t actually eat the corncob, you can use it for animal feed, which cuts down on farm feeding costs by quite a lot. Food crops with secondary benefits like that will expand what we can cultivate in our environment. This is another form of cost-cutting, Flores.”
Juana sighed as she received a report on the field’s status and recorded various statistics.
She fixed her straw hat and turned toward Flores Valdes who was accompanying her as a bodyguard.
“Flores, this corn is showing a lot of promise. Although when we prepared the hill for planting, the merchants were very insistent that we make a vineyard.”
“A local wine would have the merchants fighting over some imaginary profits in their head, but only tourists would ever buy it. Hexagone Française is right next door after all.” Flores pointed at the rows of corn. “Which is why I like this better. And you can eat it raw off the plant.”
“Raw…” muttered Juana before smiling bitterly and lifting her hat. “This hat is actually made from corn straw.”
“Was it a gift from the Chancellor?”
“He was worried the direct sunlight would be too strong.”
“I see.” Flores grinned and straightened her baseball cap. She could not see the hilltop town from here, but she could see the town at the bottom of the hill. “There’s a lot more green in the towns lately.”
“I didn’t expect the potted plants to be so effective, but it has added some natural beauty to those cramped towns of earth walls and dried bricks.”
Pottery was one of Tres España’s specialties and it was primarily used for tableware.
“The Chancellor was staring at the flower beds in the academy when he wondered if the stone frameworks used to keep water in could be used to grow plants in people’s homes.”
He had gone on to order the production of large planters. They had deep bottoms and were hung up with strings on either side.
They were attached at the windowsills and below the eaves of people’s homes so they could grow their own food crops.
“I looked into it and you only need a 1-are field to grow a year’s worth of vegetables for a single person. The planters are a meter wide and 30cm across and the average Tres Españan middle-class home is 6m across, so surrounding it with planters can provide more than an are of arable land. That allows a family of four to grow a quarter of the vegetables they will consume in a year.”
“The Chancellor asked you to re-crunch those numbers when you forgot to take the width of the planters’ edges into account, right?”
“I just finished doing that.”
Juana hated that she blushed at the reminder of her mistake.
A cadena firma appeared without warning and the glowing frame displayed a single word.
Juana soon realized why. Flores was still tilting her head, so Juana explained in a quiet enough voice that no one else would overhear.
“This is from Gin on the Musashi, Flores.”
“From Gin? What does she want?”
Juana thought about that question.
…Could Gin be unhappy with her life over there?
An aerial city ship that flew around the Far East was very different from her birthplace of Tres España.
That would take a lot of getting used to and Juana had heard she had just fought in the Kantou Liberation at the end of last month. Whatever role Gin and Muneshige had played in that, contacting Juana now meant this was urgent.
“Could it have to do with her inherited name?”
If so, Juana would need to ask the Testament Union and the Chancellor for their opinions.
Juana stopped speculating.
Whatever this was about, Gin and Muneshige had to be worried about something. So…
“This is Juana. What is it, Tachibana Gin? Are you in some kind of trouble?”
“I will get straight to the point: Is Tres España willing to hire Musashi as a mercenary force?”
She was asking for a job.
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