Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 48
Chapter 48: Sweetheart at the Conclusion
When using the past as a foundation
And looking to the future
How can you
Reach that conclusion?
Point Allocation (Confounding)
“You see,” Christina heard the Musashi Vice President say. “That is our current policy. We want to keep it that way and we will do whatever we can to come up with measures to further that policy. …We want everything to follow it, but is it so wrong that we sometimes fall short of that?”
“Why do you think religious precepts and laws have existed since the Age of Dawn? No, since the Age of the Gods before that?”
“You are straying from the point, aren’t you?”
Christina was honestly not that great a negotiator. She had done everything in her power to never leave home. That allowed her to focus on the data and prevent her from being rattled emotionally, but that did not mean she knew how to negotiate.
“I am looking at this on a case-by-case basis and I want to know why Musashi made the decisions they did in the cases where it ended that way.”
“So you want to know if we think we won or lost in each of those cases?”
“Testament. You can look at it that way.”
“Judge,” replied the Vice President. “Then I have a question of my own. I don’t have a clear answer myself, but…”
She asked her question.
“What does it mean to live and to die?”
I believe that is two questions.
Horizon’s eyebrows moved in response to Masazumi’s question.
…That is similar to what I asked the Sanada Celestial Dragon.
She also asked herself that a lot and had found some answers in the actions of the nations and the decisions of the people.
She had arrived at some level of a conclusion. And…
“Swedish Chancellor, where is your embassy located?” asked Masazumi.
Christina tilted her head as she answered.
“It is on Tama, but why?”
“Then you must have passed through the nature district on Okutama’s port side on the way here.”
What was that place called?
“Do you know why it used to be known as Remorse Way until recently?”
“Long ago, Toori-sama failed to prevent me from kicking the bucket in an accident there and his remorse prevented him from visiting there again.” Horizon looked Christina in the eye. “But now that I think about, that feels like a form of group bullying against him. Naming a location after the worst mistake of his life is an awful thing to do.”
Me: “Yeah, but it really was my fault and the name told me that everyone understood how I felt about it, right? It also shows that none of them forget about you.”
Novice: “Looking back, I think I just thought it was cool to give it a name that hinted at some story behind it.”
Art-Ga: “And having a name is convenient even if it’s unofficial. Just calling it ‘the street’ would have been awkward, like we were tiptoeing around the subject, you know? And calling it Remorse Way let the Chancellor know we understood him. …Actually, did that message get through to you?”
Me: “Well, it did tell me you weren’t going to handle my issue with kid gloves.”
Gold Mar: “See, Ga-chan? Your kind unkindness worked!”
Horizey: “I knew he was stubborn, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.”
Asama: “Horizon! Horizon! Naruze was actually being nice for once, so let’s take this in a different direction now!”
Well, they all have their issues,'’ thought Masazumi.
“We are opposed to losing people, but we also consider how painful remorse can be.”
“Can’t you just work to get over that remorse?”
“Judge. That is an option and our idiot did just that. But I still think remorse is a tricky thing.”
“Remorse makes you want to die while you’re still alive.”
The idiot sister had corrected that very desire in the idiot’s past. And…
“So to help people through their remorse and to prevent any further remorse, we want to make sure people will seek life instead.”
Do you understand?
Nagaoka, I’m talking about you. As well as the idiot, Crossunite, Satomi Yoshiyori, Anne’s group, the Sanadas, and the Houjous.
The best way to overcome remorse and avoid further remorse was to choose life. But…
“Aren’t you just swapping out the word death for the word life?”
Me: “Hey. Someone should let Nagabuto’s wife know that antagonizing Seijun is a good way to get her to start a war with Sweden.”
Horizey: “A word replacement quiz can lead to war too? Masazumi-sama has an endless supply of variety, doesn’t she?”
Masazumi nearly responded to that but resisted the urge. She had a clear answer for the Swedish Chancellor’s question.
It was something they had all demonstrated already.
“My answer to that is no.”
“The people who seek life actually get to see what happens after they accomplish their goal.”
“No one sees that goal as the finish line. They’re thinking about their new self and the new world that awaits them afterwards and they think about how they can finally live without the remorse they have felt in the past. That is what drives them. …They are not looking to the literal dead end that is death.”
Masazumi continued with a line she had used before.
“That is what makes this so frustrating.”
“Is assisting in that process really all we can do? If possible, we want to knock some sense into people and accompany them in their pursuit of life. Our past experiences have taught us we need to be a nation that can do just that.”
Asama watched the text scrolling along her sign frame while she listened to Masazumi.
Horizon was speaking to him.
Horizey: “Toori-sama, I believe I heard you mention before that, if you had never been reunited with me, you had planned to descend to the mainland and either renew yourself or continue on as you were.”
That could only mean one thing.
Horizey: “Were you thinking that it was time you moved on and actually lived your life?”
Me: “Yeah, but I didn’t put as much thought into it as Seijun has. Also…”
Also what? He answered her unspoken question.
Me: “After sis smacked some sense into me, I still had remorse, but I could separate that from my actual life, you know? So I was enjoying each new day and I had everyone to support me.”
“Judge,” replied Horizon.
Horizey: “That is excellent, Toori-sama. We have finally circled back to the topic at hand.”
Asama more or less understood too. She knew what Horizon had been trying to confirm with him.
…This is about his feelings for her.
Horizey: “So once you were reunited with me…well, you have already stated you could have moved on without me, so…”
Yes, agreed Asama, convinced she knew where Horizon was going with this.
Horizey: “Well, let us set aside whether the current hard-working Horizon is the same as the Horizon who used to screw up making breakfast. Those details aren’t as important here. …But when you saw me by your side working so studiously, diligently, and sagaci- geh! Ahem, working so hard, did it made you feel like you never would have to experience remorse like that again?”
Silver Wolf: “Horizon! Well done courageously marching on after tripping over your words!”
Horizon gave Mitotsudaira a double thumbs up.
Horizey: “This is important, so I had to get it all out.”
Horizey: “And if Toori-sama were to lose me now, he would again be forced to make the difficult decision to either find a new self or accept himself if he is.”
Gold Mar: “Um, is this a new form of dependence?”
Art-Ga: “Less a dependence and more like a switch to be thrown. Between a ‘Horizon’ and a ‘No Horizon’ state.”
It wasn’t that he was hopeless without her. Instead, he would live one life with her and another without her. That was what her presence meant for him.
…Oh, I get it.
After Horizon had settled in as a stable part of their lives, he had come to view Asama as important as well since she was a positive force in his life.
And Horizon had to similarly see Asama as necessary for supporting him and keeping his life from drifting in the negative direction. She feared that, on her own, she wouldn’t be enough to keep him out of the negative and push him in a positive direction.
That was why she had reached out to touch Asama’s tears. They had looked so strange to her because they appeared to be a negative thing but were actually a positive and the proof that she had made the right decision, so she had wanted to touch them.
Asama realized it had been the same for her, but the shock was a lot more powerful when she didn’t notice it until after the fact. Horizon was probably feeling the same way now.
They could see their conclusion in its current form, although that form could always change in the future. So…
“We will support you in that endeavor.”
“Well, this is an overly complicated way of putting it, but if that isn’t what Azuma wants or if he would be trying to sacrifice himself for us, then we would be using him as no more than a political tool, which would logically be the exact thing we have been working to prevent. Which would make it our loss.”
“Then,” said the Swedish Chancellor. “If you insist on viewing the former Crown Prince as an ordinary citizen…can you be so sure that one of Musashi’s warriors, or anyone else who ends up fighting for you, are not going along with the status quo against their will?”
“You can’t expect everything to work out exactly right. People are free to think and feel what they want. In fact, that’s why we fought some student body assembly duels at Mikawa. Everything surrounding the Armada battle was rough on the newer students and we had a lot of people leave after Mikatagahara, not to mention another student body assembly. We did receive an influx of new people after Houjou fell, but that doesn’t change that people are free to come and go as they please.”
“When you get down to it, there is a system in place to change the status quo if you don’t like it. If you aren’t willing to use that, then you’re either just complaining or just providing your opinion. I appreciate the latter, but if you only ever do the former, then you’re really nothing more than a tsundere.”
Me: “You’ve neve used that word before in your life, have you?”
Gold Mar: “Isn’t she basically saying they’re tsundere for war?”
Art-Ga: “N-no! I’m not fighting for your sake or anything! I don’t like doing this at all! But…no, I love war! I love it so much! (echo effect)”
Vice President: “Shut up, all of you.”
The Swedish Chancellor must have been thinking much the same thing because she smiled bitterly.
“You’re quite the tyrant, aren’t you?”
“Well, the other people aren’t a former crown prince. That changes things. And I do work hard to keep that from happening.”
“If they don’t want to get caught in the nations’ fight, they can either vote us out in the next election or hold another student body assembly. We’ve gotten the hang of those after two of them. But if you have some better method in mind, I’d love to hear it. Anyway,” said Masazumi. “If we truly have no other option and we must force someone to assist our intervention, it means we have lost as a nation. In that case, I think we should start considering making a last-ditch charge with all our fighters. And if it comes to that, I will be carrying the happiness of all Musashi’s people on my shoulders.”
“It won’t be you,” said the Chancellor.
“Yes, it will. I’ll just pass that burden onto you afterwards. No one would want to leave this in your hands.”
“Um, Masazumi?” chimed in Mitotsudaira. “While I do agree with you, maybe you should watch what you say in front of people?”
That idiot has been gaining more allies recently, grumbled Masazumi while glaring over at Mitotsudaira.
“In that case,” said a voice – the Swedish Chancellor’s. She turned back toward Masazumi. “Why won’t you use me? I am not a Musashi resident and I am a Chancellor. I wouldn’t hold that position if I wasn’t willing to get involved in politics. Do you still refuse to use me because you are applying your own ideas of life and death to me?”
“No, it’s not that.” Masazumi raised her right hand. “Like I said before, you don’t have to do a thing.”
Masazumi repeated what she had said earlier.
And then she swung her right hand.
Nothing appeared in front of it.
She looked down in confusion to find Tsukinowa playing with a black algae creature. The anteater was rolling the algae creature around to clean the poolside, but they both seemed to be having fun.
…Tsukinowa is growing up.
“Masazumi! Masazumi! You need to focus!”
“Oh, right. Hey, Tsukinowa, give me a sign frame real quick.”
No, you don’t need to come back. Seeing this is all I need.
The Swedish Chancellor was glaring back and forth between her and Tsukinowa. Yeah, he is cute, isn’t he? No, you can’t have him.
The politician laughed, letting her animal-loving nature show while she operated the sign frame with her right hand. After doing it wrong twice in a row, she asked Asama for help and finally managed to access what she was looking for.
She tossed it toward the Swedish Chancellor.
“This grants you the right to go wherever you like aboard the Musashi. It will also prove your passenger paperwork is in order once authorization from Sweden is attached, but I imagine your signature would suffice there.”
“Wh-what is the meaning of this? It has nothing at all to do with our discussion.”
“Oh, but it does.” Masazumi spoke softly. “It means we want you to remain aboard the Musashi for as long as possible.” She took a breath. “Preferably, until after the Honnouji Incident is complete. I ask nothing more of you.”
Christina now understood what the Musashi Vice President meant.
Why didn’t she need to do anything?
Why was she given permission to move around the Musashi?
…Because Musashi is searching for an independent intervention method.
“I will act as a deterrent against P.A. Oda, won’t I?”
“Right up until our Honnouji intervention, yes,” said the Musashi Vice President. “Your presence will make that intervention much easier.”
That is true, thought Christina, aware of her position all over again.
As Akechi Mitsuhide’s daughter, she could intervene whenever she wanted. So…
“It is true that my identity as Lady Nagaoka is all I need to intervene if I wanted to.”
“Judge. So the rest is simple. Actively using you would create friction with Sweden, so instead you’ll be supporting our actions by giving the illusion that you’re working in the background.”
“You intend to deceive the other nations?”
“Your presence on the Musashi provides really does give us a chance at intervention.”
“Whether the other nations suspect we’re up to something or try to capitalize on our actions is an entirely political issue. Also, Swedish Chancellor, other people can’t bear to stare straight at the data quite as much as you can. They tend to twist the facts into something more or less convenient for themselves.” She shrugged. “Which is why I just want you to enjoy your summer break on the Musashi.”
“That sounds a lot like a form of house arrest to me.”
Tadaoki cleared his throat next to Christina, which reminded her of something.
…I had put myself under house arrest until recently.
He must have known what that meant because he spoke up with exasperation in his voice.
“I think you’ll be safe here for now. But if you don’t feel like you’re being taken care of properly, you can always go somewhere else.”
Christina found herself gasping.
As a 28-year-old, she didn’t want to cause any more trouble for this 14-year-old and she saw the Asama Shrine Representative speaking with the 3rd Special Duty Officer.
“See, Asama-chi? That’s how you indulge in your partner’s kindness. You can learn a thing or two from her.”
“But wasn’t she just lashing out?”
…Oh, I really am a pain in the rear, aren’t I?
I’m so ashamed. I need to do better.
But she also wanted to ask about something.
“How will you work this out with my home nation of Sweden?”
“Oh,” said the Asama Shrine Representative. She opened a sign frame and pointed it toward Christina. “Remember your servant, Maria? She has returned to Sweden and says she will do everything in her power to work this out over summer break. She says the Swedish Student Council, Chancellor’s Officers, and even the citizens are excited about your eventual return as well as your marriage plans. And since Shinto is so lax about these things and because the Asama Shrine helped out at Nördlingen, I do hope you will use our services when it comes to that.”
“Tomo! Tomo! You slipped into a sales talk toward the end there!”
But for Christina…
In the era described in the Testament, she was well past prime marrying age.
Of course her nation would be celebrating her survival and her marriage plans. Plus, any kind of party boosted the student council’s approval rating. So instead of sneaking back home during summer break…
“It sounds like they don’t want to receive word of your return until morning assembly on the first day of the second term.”
The Musashi Vice President was right. And Tadaoki tilted his head next to her.
“I’ll be going too, right?”
“Judge. You will probably be expected to take a second inherited name for your time in Sweden. We will train you here during summer break, so I hope you’re thankful.”
The Musashi Vice President pointed across the pool to the ninja, the half-dragon, and the idiot who was holding an explosive at his crotch. They started doing squats to show they meant business, but somehow the arms giving thumbs up seemed the most reliable. This would all be a nuisance for Tadaoki, though.
But when Christina looked to him again…
“Can I really just do that?”
She noticed the relief on his face and realized she had been mistaken about something.
He always took a positive view of being with her.
He didn’t feel apologetic or think it was a nuisance.
He was 14, he had been hopelessly outmatched, and he had cried.
Compared to that, a chance to train must have looked like bliss. As for the idiot offering the training…
“Hey, Nagabuto! The hero bubble in Sweden doesn’t last long, so you’d better train up while you can!”
“You don’t even have a bubble here, so shut up!!”
That was exactly it.
Christina sighed and shut her eyes for a few seconds. She gathered up the information presented to her here and she faced it directly. Some of it was a nuisance, some of it was dangerous, and some of it felt downright unfair, but all of that was a small price to pay for gaining her own happiness. If her home nation was rejoicing, then her own shame and embarrassment was worth it.
I didn’t realize I could accept so much change.
So she opened her eyes and responded.
“Testament. I will agree to that on the assumption that we can negotiate changes at a later date if need be.”
Everyone looked to her, but she no longer cowered from their gazes. After all…
“I have Tadaoki-sama with me, so now all I need to do is get used to life here.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”
Tadaoki turned toward her with his gaze lowered.
In only his swimming trunks, there was no hiding that he was only a middle school boy, but she asked him a question.
“Is it okay if I do that?”
“If you’re willing to, then of course it is.”
She nodded and thought of someone else.
That woman had chided her about many things before the Battle of Nördlingen at the end of last month, and it had all come true.
Would she be surprised to see Christina now?
Christina held her right hand out toward the Musashi Vice President.
In Europe, a handshake symbolized agreement between two parties.
She did not hesitate to offer her hand.
“I have accepted your proposed relationship with Sweden. Musashi will attempt its own intervention into the Honnouji Incident and I will simply enjoy my time on the Musashi with Tadaoki-sama so that my home nation can celebrate my return at a later date. This is the first step toward a greater relationship between our two nations. But,” continued Christina while the Musashi Vice President raised her eyebrows but still took her hand. “I plan to prioritize life from now on. I can count on Musashi’s support in that endeavor, I hope?”
The meeting was complete and they were approaching a solution on another problem as well.
They were making progress with the ice floating in the pool.
First, Futayo had offered to slice it apart with her cutting power, but they had concluded that would slice through the bottom of the pool as well. The idiot’s “blow it up” plan, the idiot’s “push Tenzou in” plan, and the idiot’s “make it part of my crotch” plan had all failed.
“Then what are we supposed to do?”
Suzu raised her hand.
She pointed at the lane ropes. They were not currently in use, so they were hanging over the fence on the poolside. However…
“You mean divide the pool up with the lane ropes and push the ice toward the outside?”
“Wouldn’t the water still be ice cold?”
“No…not that. You can…weave them together? With three each way.”
“Oh,” said Mitotsudaira, realizing what Suzu meant. “You mean make a net?”
They crisscrossed the lane ropes with three vertical and three horizontal, tangling them together where they intersected. That created a simple net with large holes, but…
“Could we add the excess length in diagonally?”
“Do too much extra stuff and untying the whole thing will be a pain.”
With an exchange of ideas and corrections, they had the net complete in around five minutes. After scooping the ice out with that, the ice covered one end of the poolside, but there was now room in the pool.
The “weaving” idea probably came from Mukai’s experience with sewing, but…
“Just add in a bit of creativity and you can do just about anything.”
“We also had plenty of time to think. If only we always had that luxury.”
After they got in the pool, the swimmers saw a structure in the sky.
Massive walls jutted up from below the Musashi on either side. And they knew what those were.
“The Ariake’s upper armor!”
The Ariake had opened its top surface to the left and right and the Musashi was descending inside.
Several sign frames appeared outside the ship and the high-speed guide ships floated up between the Ariake and the Musashi. The transport ships outside the ship hurried back to the Musashi.
“Okay, the Musashi will be docked inside the Ariake for a while now,” said Masazumi.
Christina looked back.
“But when will you be returning to Kansai?”
“You’ll find that out shortly. We’ve already made the arrangements. Because this is going to be tricky for them as well.”
Another wall became visible behind Masazumi. They were now surrounded by walls instead of just the ones on the left and right.
The Musashi was descending into the Ariake itself.
Asama added “confirmed” or “approved” to all the sign frames popping up around her and then closed them while everyone viewed the Ariake’s interior from the Musashi.
“I don’t believe it!”
“See, I told you it would happen shortly.” Masazumi indicated the Ariake’s interior with a gesture like she was whipping up the wind. “We’re coming, Kansai. But who will we ask to be our herald?”
“I see. Testament, testament. So Christina is finally settling in.”
Someone spoke while seated on a stone stairway in the evening.
It was Tomoe Gozen.
She was in the M.H.R.R. Protestant principality of Saxony. That region was essentially her home base and this eastern city of Dresden had a large forest to the east and bordered P.A. Oda territory.
It was a front line city, but…
“Summer break has given us so much freedom. …The Kyou region is just on the other side of that forest, so I should probably nab some Middle Eastern goods through their limited-time trade deals.”
Instead of her summer uniform, she wore a black inner suit with a skirt and she leaned over to tighten the laces of her special ghost shoes.
“We just had a major battle, so I think I will spend the next 5 days traveling around hunting, fishing, and eating wild animals. If any problems crop up, you can deal with them as you see fit. Do not use my name. As long as you leave that as a final piece of insurance, you are free to use your own discretion. And make sure to send a report to Saxony if anything happens. I asked the other principalities to do the same, so…well, your job is to deal with everyone’s complaints.”
“Testament!” replied the scattered group around her.
But a new set of footsteps approached that group.
It came from the top of the stairs behind her. The footsteps were rushed and skipped every other step on the way down.
“What do you want, Kappa? Running down the stairs is a good way to break your neck.”
“My name is not Kappa, Tomoe Gozen! It is Guericke and I have a report!”
Guericke leaped from the stairs.
He soared over Tomoe Gozen’s head and took a prostration pose in midair. He also used a standby boost from his right arm’s hemisphere to spin around in the air.
The kappa completed the spin and nailed the perfect prostration landing.
“I come bearing an urgent report!”
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