Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 49
Chapter 49: Visitor in the Heights
Some things can only be seen
When facing them head on
Point Allocation (U-underwear?)
Tomoe Gozen nodded in the evening sun shining on the stone stairs.
“Glad to see you’re doing well, Guericke.” She tapped her arm with a bottle of sunblock lotion. “A midair horizontal rotating prostration leading into a stairway prostration? That must have hurt your knees. For that, I will hear you out.”
“Testament! An open-front skirt is pushing it at your age, don’t you think?”
“Hey, someone get over here and execute this guy. Remember when he made a scene sucking things in the city? Split him in two like that.”
“You have a tendency to blurt things out, so do be more careful. Also, don’t get up from that prostration. …Now, someone record this and distribute it over the divine network.”
“Tomoe Gozen, why did you call us here today?” asked the local Saxony Representative Committee Head.
“There’s a lot I don’t understand, so I’m leaving all of you in charge, including planning for the post-Nördlingen celebration. I tend to rush through things too quickly when I do them myself.”
“With Nördlingen done, the Protestant and Catholic forces are where they’re supposed to be. Do you know what that means?”
“Testament,” replied Guericke, still prostrating. “We can release our own printed works without having to go through other nations! Sweden, the uncensored kingdom, is basically already celebrating and they’ve sent in so many event doujinshis based on their Chancellor!!”
“You don’t have to show them to me on your lernen figur. And I said to stay prostrated.”
“Testament!” he replied.
Tomoe Gozen sighed and spoke to them all.
“Christina will now be able to return to Sweden after summer break.”
“There’s a decent chance we’ll be seeing all-out war between the Protestants and Catholics after the break.”
Tomoe Gozen appreciated how everyone gasped.
They knew that meant them. She loved how the Protestant principalities were always ready for battle. With war a constant companion, they never cut corners in commerce or their everyday lives.
She had once held back and regretted it, but this meant they could get by without her. So…
“I bet all the major national representatives think P.A. Oda’s Honnouji Incident will be recreated near the end of summer break. The question is what to do about the Thirty Years’ War in response. It’s strange that the actions of an enemy like P.A. Oda have such an influence on our future decisions.”
“The first half of the break will be spent on preparations. As the Protestant Representative, I plan to travel around seeing how everyone is doing. Especially in the regions where important people have requested a meeting with me. I might be able to hitch a ride with the Musashi. And…”
Something Christina had said had caught her attention.
…The Imperial Palace.
Kyou was currently controlled by P.A. Oda’s Akechi Mitsuhide, but what were things like inside the palace?
She doubted she could get there from M.H.R.R., but it was still worth keeping an eye on.
“Whatever. My point is, I’m going to be busy. I’m sure each nation and principality will be using the first half for preparations and investigations, so do everything you can to respond to that and manage as much of it as you can on your own. The real fight begins once I return.”
Good, she thought while putting on her backpack. Unlike her usual combat one, this one only had a Protestant Testament copy on either side. The hammer pole had been lightened so it could be used as a staff.
…I also brought a fishing rod and a collapsible bow.
Makes it look like I’m planning to live in the mountains, she thought, but there was a chance she would be visiting places she could not openly visit or pass through. This equipment would come in handy then.
But, she thought. This isn’t going to last much longer.
…Either from the Apocalypse or the end of the Thirty Years’ War. Which, I can’t say.
“Now, Guericke, what is this report you have for me?”
“Testament! Look at this!”
He held up a lernen figur. She scanned through it, reread it, and smiled bitterly.
“Ha. Guericke, are you saying you want to do this?”
“Testament! It will be a great economic boon!”
“In that case,” she said, standing up.
She faced forward.
Looking down the stairs, she saw a city surrounded by a wall. That was Dresden, in eastern Saxony.
About 50km past that, beyond the vast forest east of Dresden, was an enemy city.
She viewed that Far Eastern city that had shimmering summer heat rising from it.
“Accept the deal, Guericke. It can run for three days starting on August 15. I will be back by then, so we can celebrate.”
“The Protestants are in a partying mood this year. And that includes me.”
Black Wolf: “So what are your plans after the Azuchi’s repairs are completed today?”
The lernen figur displaying that question illuminated the surrounding area.
That area was an underground passageway made of stone. Kasuya was walking down it, making intentionally loud footsteps.
She held up the lernen figur to check the stonework around her.
Black Wolf: “Musashi ordered the Azuchi to leave on the 10th. That’s today. They plan to attack the Azuchi if it’s still there when they leave the Ariake, don’t they?”
Black Wolf: “Wouldn’t it be safest to make your preparations to leave now?”
Her question was answered along with three footsteps from Kantou.
Kimee: “The Azuchi intends to leave tonight. And at the last possible moment.”
Kasuya turned a corner and tilted her head at Yoshiaki’s response.
Black Wolf: “Tonight? How is that supposed to work?”
“Testament,” replied Yoshiaki, displaying a schedule.
Kimee: “The repairs to the Azuchi’s rear thrusters were mostly completed three days ago, so we managed to clear out a lot of the personnel then. Since then, we’ve been selling the Azuchi’s unneeded supplies to Satomi and the Kantou nations. Konishi has been doing a really good job there.”
Kasuya honestly didn’t understand any of this stuff about commerce or trade, but if they were selling off their supplies…
Black Wolf: “Are you planning to hurry back?”
Kimee: “No. The thrusters were repaired, but if we fly back as fast as we can, it would look to Kantou like we ‘ran away’. So we’ll be taking it nice and slow in standard cruising mode, at least until we leave Kantou. The plan is to depart tonight at 23:59 PM.”
That really was cutting it close.
Black Wolf: “And the Musashi won’t attack?”
Kuro-Take: “In my opinion, we should be fine as long as we make it really obvious we’re preparing to leave. I mean, it would be a big risk on their part if they came and attacked when we were just about to leave anyway. The Kantou nations might criticize Musashi for chickening out even though they know full well how it would look if they did attack, but Musashi will know it isn’t worth starting an unnecessary battle with the Azuchi. After all, that would mean destroying their southern Kantou trade route and they don’t want to lose that again.”
What would happen then?
Kuro-Take: “If they don’t receive the food, marine products, and other resources that normally come from Satomi, Edo, and the Houjou region during the summer, the Kantou nations will have a hard time getting through the winter this year.”
Black Wolf: “And the Kantou nations would still criticize Musashi for not attacking?”
Kimee: “Because they know good and well the Musashi will let the Azuchi go.”
Takenaka interrupted before Yoshiaki could say more.
Kuro-Take: “But I’m sure Musashi has thought this through themselves. I bet they have something in the works to keep the Kantou nations from complaining, or to show them who’s boss. And in fact, there were reports of some largescale anti-ghost work using the Musashi’s spell field on the lower coast of Oushuu the other night.”
“Testament,” replied Kasuya as she turned a corner and saw a gentle downward slope leading to some stairs.
She knew intellectually where those led, but she had to wonder if it was true. She held those doubts in her head while Yoshiaki continued.
Kimee: “We’re starting to see a real hierarchy take shape for the forces distributed across the Far East. Those who have been looking outwards and fighting the other nations are finding themselves above those who did not. And that’s about to happen here in Kantou too.”
“Heidi and I intend to visit the most promising Kantou nations, making our final preparations.”
Hearing Shirojiro’s comment in the Ariake that night, Masazumi raised her right hand and replied.
“Good luck. And don’t forget to repay me.”
“Judge. We would never. Our honor depends on it.”
They held their conversation on the Musashi. Specifically, at the diplomatic port on Tama’s wing deck.
A few transport ships there bore the Musashi Student Council logo next to the Circle Be mark.
“Screw this up and you will look fondly back on the days when udon was all you had to worry about.”
“Horizon!” shouted Heidi. “We don’t need that kind of pressure! That brings back some bad memories!”
“Either way, make sure you do your job.” Masazumi glanced back toward the others seeing those two off. “We will depart for Kansai once the Azuchi leaves. Once you’re done making deals with the Kantou nations, meet up with us using the trade route south of Mikawa. Got that?”
“Judge. Your business honestly sounds like a more entertaining way to make money, but this way will earn more. So wait for us. We’ll pay you back in full on the 15th,” said Heidi before tilting her head.
She was looking toward Masazumi and the others seeing them off.
But then she bowed her head and opened her mouth. While pointing.
“I appreciate the banner, but did it have to say ‘good luck, udons’? I would really rather it didn’t.”
Adele looked to the others.
Class Plum was joined by a lot of the warriors and the relevant committee members. Most of the banners had been made by those other groups.
“Yeah, if it said ‘keep fighting, kishimen!’, it would sound like some kishimen had formed a tokusatsu group of 5.”
“Wait, we never passed any kishimen! Right, Shiro-kun!?”
“Judge. We did not. Which means it could always have been worse. Perhaps we were too quick to judge you for your lack of kindness.”
Meanwhile, Asama opened a sign frame and frowned.
“Hmm,” she groaned. “The tree of variations includes thick and hard kishimen. It also contains just plain fried noodles and fried okoshi. Which would you prefer, Heidi?”
“You’re already planning to put us through that again, aren’t you, Asama-chi!? Fried noodles would tear our asses apart!”
Adele noticed some people commenting “what even is this conversation?”
But even if there was a tree for udon variations…
“Whether or not that happens is entirely up to you, right? So what is your plan, Treasurer and Aide?”
“Well.” The Treasurer’s Aide turned Adele’s way. “We’ve already set it in motion, but we’re starting by resetting the Kantou nations.”
“Judge,” confirmed the Treasurer. “We will be slapping them with a stack of cash.”
“I-isn’t that being too direct!?”
“Figuratively speaking, of course.” The Treasurer opened a sign frame. “Our most basic strategy is splitting up the Kantou nations, like we discussed in that meeting. Previously, those nations have formed a collusive trade zone similar to a territorial state. So we will provide priority trade for the nations that cooperate with us. And…”
He displayed some text on his sign frame.
“We will loan them transit tax rights.”
Mitotsudaira understood the treasurers’ plan.
But Horizon was sweating profusely. And not just because it was summer.
“Um, Horizon? Is something wrong?”
“Wh-what’s this, Mitotsudaira-sama? You wouldn’t be suggesting anything as silly as me not knowing what transit tax rights are, would you?”
…She doesn’t know, does she?
But explaining that would be a pain, so she decided to have someone else do it for her.
“Wh-what are transit tax rights, my king?”
She chose to ask her king because this could help earn him some points with Horizon. And I like it when he answers my questions.
She found her king sweating profusely as well.
Just because she understood did not mean her king did as well. So…
“Um, my king?”
“Huh? Wh-what is it, Nate? Surely you don’t think I of all people don’t know what transit tax rights are.”
“Then, um, can you tell me?”
“If you insist.” He shrugged. “You see, transit tax rights are…you see,” he repeated while pointing into the sky. “W-well, you get the basic idea, right!? It’s so intuitive!”
Horizon slapped him from behind.
It made an incredible sound and he doubled over, but she grabbed him by the collar.
“Why would you try to hide that you don’t know the answer? …Now, please explain it for him, Mitotsudaira-sama.”
This conversation sure took a turn, thought Mitotsudaira, but she needed to help settle this.
So she started by nodding.
“J-judge! Transit tax rights are the right to collect a tax on any trade goods that pass through a nation’s territory.”
“If a trade route is built from Oushuu to Kantou, then any nation granted that right can make money through transit taxes without even needing to buy or sell a thing.”
Gold Mar: “Wasn’t she the one who initially asked the question?”
Flat Vassal: “I feel like what happened before that was even more incredible.”
Horizey: “I knew the answer all along. I just wanted to give Mitotsudaira-sama a chance to show off. Yes.”
Me: “I-I knew too! I swear I did! …Hey, what are those looks for!?”
Suzu noted the usual process playing out, but she now understood what Shirojiro and Heidi were doing. Simply put…
“You’re going to…h-harass the Kantou…nations?”
A small stir ran through the others and Horizon rapidly approached her.
“Impressive work, Suzu-sama. A perfect example of how to view everything through the lens of Masazumi-sama’s policy. I had completely forgotten that Musashi’s primarily political policy was to harass everyone everywhere.”
“For the record, that’s not quite accurate.” Masazumi pointed at Shirojiro and Heidi. “These two will be setting up trade and all that, but they will also clear a road for the future by granting temporary transit tax rights to the nations that take a friendly stance with us.”
“C-clear a road…for the future?”
“Suzu-sama, she means anyone who stands in our way will be blasted by the Musashi’s Kanesada.”
“Oh, I-I see.”
“No, you don’t see,” said Masazumi. “That’s not what I meant!”
Toori raised his hand.
“This wouldn’t happen so much if you said things more simply.”
“Yeah, I suppose.” Masazumi crossed her arms. “Simply put, we will be slapping them with a stack of cash.”
“We’re right back where we started!!”
Suzu joined the others for that retort.
“Wait, hold on.” Masazumi held out her hands to stop them. “Calm down, all of you. Rights aren’t the only form of money. The introduction of currency means you can generally buy anything using money. Or to put it another way, money is transformed into other things inside each nation. Even fuel can be bought with money, so it is effectively the most powerful bargaining chip.”
In other words…
“Do you know what it means to receive money from other nations?”
The answer was simple.
“You also receive purchasable goods from those other nations. Do you know that means?”
The idiot raised his hand and she nodded.
“What do you want? Oh, I get it. All this serious talk has you starved for some laughs. Fine. If you insist, I will tell this one joke I jotted down in my notes three days ago.”
“Masazumi! Please don’t! The damage would be too great!”
What’s that supposed to mean, Naruze?
But she was curious about the idiot’s question.
“You still have your hand up? What is it?”
“Well, uh, this is a bit of a change of subject, but how are we getting to Kansai? You keep saying we’ll be going, so I was wondering how we would do that.”
Oh, is that all? she thought and nearly said out loud. Because…
“I’ve already discussed that with those in charge. We only have to wait here.”
“Really? We aren’t going to do anything?”
“No, not this time. We should get to sit back and relax until we arrive at Kansai.”
Were the responses of understanding and appreciation a sign of their trust in her? Either way…
“That is also why I have left the Treasurer pair in charge of the Kantou nations. If they can get those nations on our side during the break, we can still receive supplies and repairs in Kantou even if we find ourselves in a largescale battle after Honnouji.”
Horizon raised her hand.
“To backtrack a little, why does that tax stuff clear a road for the future? Please tell me that, Masazumi-sama.”
“That’s simple. Like I said, if a nation receives money from other nations, they can also accept things other than money.”
“Things other than money?”
“Yes,” said Masazumi with a nod. “We are not loaning them money. We are only lending them transit tax rights. Which means…”
She raised her right hand and a diagram appeared.
It displayed two different circles side by side.
The right circle was labeled “Kantou Nations” and the left one “Transit Tax Right Nations”.
A line labeled “Foreign Trade Goods” pierced the left circle from top to bottom.
“If Oushuu to the north and Kantou to the south are linked by trade, traders will have to pay transit taxes to the nations in the center who have transit tax rights.” She swung her right hand to the side and Tsukinowa traced its movement to draw a line from the left circle to the right one. “The Kantou nations are like a territorial state. They form a single whole, but they are divided in between, which gets in the way of transportation. That is why goods from Oushuu and Edo have only ever traded with the border Kantou nations. But in the future, the nations in charge of the transit taxes will take control and hold the right to trade with the interior Kantou nations. And that will come with the protection of not just Musashi, but Oushuu and Sviet Rus as well. So what happens then?”
She ran her finger left to right along the previous horizontal line.
“The transit tax nations will be able to monopolize intermediary trade with the interior Kantou nations. Only they will be able to purchase trade goods from Oushuu and Kantou and then sell them.”
This was all very basic stuff. But…
“That will prevent the Kantou nations from using their original foreign trade network. Because that was a tiny regional network when compared to the major commerce pipeline we’re creating with the alliance between Date, Mogami, Sviet Rus, and Kantou.”
“But the transit tax nations have no real experience with foreign trade, so they might screw up their inventory management or investments. What happens then? How do we keep them from failing?”
Balfette’s question already had an answer.
“We clear a road.”
Masazumi placed her finger on the sign frame again and drew a line from the left circle to the right circle.
But this time, she added a second, third, and fourth line.
“Well, I’d be here all day drawing all of them, but you get the picture.”
The left circle and right circle were connected by multiple lines.
“Do you know what this means?”
Naruze raised her hand.
“A trade gangbang.”
“What’s that supposed to mean!?”
Sadly, that was enough to know they had understood her.
“With more goods being traded, a single market would be overwhelmed. We learned at Mikawa that a single tax checkpoint causes congestion.”
Thinking back, this had all started with Principal Sakai being sent to Mikawa while viewing that congestion.
…Things sure change fast.
That only worked because Mikawa acted as the Musashi’s home port and it would stay there longer than it did elsewhere.
But if the trade goods required quick “transit”…
“We need enough markets sufficiently spread out to trade with all of the Kantou nations without leaving any inventory behind.”
What would that mean?
“That requires constructing a trade road infrastructure from the transit tax nations to the interior nations. And…”
“The transit tax nations need to hurry through that construction. We will only be lending them the transit tax rights, so those rights will go away eventually. For the most part, they will use the tax income to construct the infrastructure and, once they lose their transit tax rights, they will use the infrastructure they built to focus on intermediary trade.”
“Flat Honda-kun, may I ask one thing?”
Ohiroshiki raised a hand, so she turned his way and he nodded once before asking.
“You said they will be constructing largescale infrastructure for intermediary trade and that the primary trade will be on a much larger scale than the local-level trade they engaged in before this, correct?”
What would that mean?
“The transit tax nations will grow into powerful trade nations and the other Kantou nations will be forced to join in on the trade to preserve their place in the power balance. …That will change how those nations interact.”
“Judge. Our plan is built around that.” She took a breath before stating this quite clearly. “By building Kantou and Oushuu into a single alliance centered on this economic bloc, they will gain the power needed to influence Europe.”
“Listen,” began Masazumi. “This is all about Westphalia,” she said. “Kantou, Oushuu, and their individual nations are powerful, but they are still no more than the lords of a small region. And of a region that only exists on the Far Eastern map. But the nations that will be participate in Westphalia are the world powers with the European conqueror at the top. The amount of land held might be similar, but looking at the Testament tells us they are historical world powers and the nations here are only regional lords of the Far East.”
That led to a certain question. Mitotsudaira held a hand to her chest and got right to the point.
“Are you suggesting that the Kantou nations’ opinions will not be heard at Westphalia?”
“Judge. I am. Of course, the Peace of Westphalia is a European history recreation, so I doubt any nations east of the Middle East can participate. Sviet Rus can use their Russian side to get in, but Mogami and Date won’t be so lucky.”
She opened a map of the Far East. Of the entire Far East. The area from Oushuu to Kantou was rapidly filled in with white.
“But what if we brought together everything from Oushuu to Kantou? That’s more than 2/5 of the Far East.”
Everyone gasped a little.
But she wasn’t done yet. She colored in Sviet Rus and the M.H.H.R. Protestants with gray.
“If our national power and our right to speak are ignored, any attempt to manage the Far East is doomed from the start. If we can convince them of that, I’m sure we can get them to join in as observers or even join the Kantou-Oushuu Alliance itself. And if we pull that off…”
What would happen?
She indicated what she guessed most of them could easily imagine on their own.
“We will have created a solid ally for ourselves at Westphalia.”
“I see,” said Heidi.
…A single absolute ally.
After being saved herself, she knew very well what that meant.
A single person’s efforts could make all the difference.
This would not just be a pawn of the majority rule. They would have one other person with the same intentions. In that sense…
“We would have double the odds of success at Westphalia.”
“Judge. That’s right. So we need you two to do this right.”
“You just want us to make money, correct?” asked Shirojiro.
“Exactly. But look far to the future. This isn’t a short-term game. Guide us toward an even greatest victory down the line.”
“Ha ha. That makes this so much simpler, Masazumi.” But Heidi needed to check on something. “You more or less know which nations will be the transit tax nations, don’t you? So we only have to focus on making sure all those nations can make plenty of money. The others might eat the losses and end up in financial trouble, but a loss like that is the perfect opening for the next deal. …We can make even more money that way!”
She could feel herself smiling.
The transit tax nations would be making out like bandits, so she and Shirojiro could make so much off of bribes, insider deals, and collusion. But…
“I think we’ll try to keep it clean this time.” She did not want to risk a second round of udon, so she made that announcement up front. “But try to look the other way when we jack up the prices to help make deals or host trade deals to help repay our debt. Do that and everything else will be legit and above board.”
“Heidi, are you prepared to prostrate?”
“A girl’s prostrations are a pricey thing, Shiro-kun.”
“The one at Odawara was a joint task between us. I do not owe you anything.”
“That’s my Shiro-kun,” laughed Heidi.
It had been so long since she had smiled like this.
They had to pay back their debt with legit, above-board work, but that also made the perfect cover.
“Money makes the world go round,” said Shirojiro. “So our work in Kantou will reach you all in Kansai. We would never hold back when it comes to preparing to earn money. And we can ignore any national worries or personal feelings. …But we will repay our debt. Because that debt reduces any money we earn. So the rest of you can do the things we do not understand or have no interest in. But when dealing with the Azuchi and whatnot, do not do anything that would lose us money.”
“Judge. You don’t have to worry about that. Besides, they should be about ready to move.”
Just as Masazumi said that, an announcement played throughout the Ariake.
“This is ‘Ariake’. Light has been detected coming from the Azuchi’s stern to the south. I have determined they are running a test activation of their main thrusters. Over.”
“Ether output detected. The Azuchi’s usual pattern confirmed. The power has increased somewhat – by about 2% maybe? ‘Azuchi’, you can simulate how much of a margin of error we’re looking at once we get moving.”
“Shaja. Thank you very much, Yoshiaki-sama. I have determined that this test activation will have informed the Kantou region we are up and running once more. Over.”
Yoshiaki released a deep breath into the night breeze while listening to “Azuchi”.
She then inhaled, filling her lungs with the unique chilly but damp air of a summer night.
…The wind is so clear.
She could see the Azuchi below her. The repairs to its exterior were still underway, so even this high in the air, she could detect the scent of metal and the aroma of ether-related processes.
But this was very different from the skies of M.H.R.R. or the winds of Kansai with its inland sea.
The night breeze blowing freely in from the Pacific barely had a scent.
That direction felt entirely deserted and it mostly was. Far out in the Pacific, there was a rapid current known as the Devil’s Current where dragons were said to live. Also, the ships that humanity had used to descend onto this planet in the Age of Dawn were abandoned out there, sticking up from the ocean surface like gravestones.
She thought the Azuchi or the Musashi would be able to fly that far out to sea, but most of the outside world was undeveloped.
She felt it would be reckless to try to travel there, but that may have been M.H.R.R.’s strict nature rubbing off on her. Also…
“The Apocalypse is coming,” she muttered, her eyes turned to the northern sky.
Far in the distance, a massive roof shined bluish-white in the moonlight.
That was the Ariake. The Musashi was inside there and had yet to emerge. Takenaka predicted it would leave late at night, around when the Azuchi departed.
…But will it really?
Whatever the Musashi did, Yoshiaki knew what they had to do.
“End it but not let it end.”
“Kime-chan, want me to take over?”
The unexpected transmission from Angie made Yoshiaki smile bitterly. She spun her broom and butt around to look the other way, but she didn’t stop there.
“You can take over once you get up here.”
“Okay! I’ll be up in a flash! Half a flash even!”
The rear of her circling broom drew out a circle of scattering ether light. She knew Angie would use that as a guide and fly to her.
“It’s so strange, but I do it, Angie does it, and all the others do it.”
She breathed in the night air, telling herself this was probably the last time, and then spoke some more.
“We’ll eventually forget any of this ever happened, so why do we seek out meaning in the present?”
“Why would she call me here at this hour?”
Kasuya was two short turns away from the end of the stone hallway.
The underground passageway felt somewhat chilly even during the summer and a metal door awaited her at the end.
She slowed her pace and approached the three people gathered in front of the door.
Her step faltered when she saw the three people illuminated by the spell lights. Two were somewhat indistinct figures made of ether light and the third…
She was tall, she wore a black mobile shell, and she removed the helmet to look back, her white hair rippling.
The simple turn displayed great strength and nimbleness. The movement itself was rough, but the application and positioning of the strength showed polish.
She would be a formidable foe in battle. Kasuya’s step had faltered while looking up at her.
So after coming to a stop…
“Mitsunari, who is that?”
“Testament! I am Ootani Yoshitsugu, a virus created by Hashiba-sama herself!”
No, not you, thought Kasuya, swallowing the words. But the tall figure was facing Mitsunari, not Kasuya.
Mitsunari was looking to Kasuya and failed to notice the tall figure’s gaze.
…The tall one is waiting for Mitsunari to introduce her, but Mitsunari doesn’t realize it?
Mitsunari probably expected her subordinates to handle such things on their own. She was a relatively young data entity and she had yet to learn that everyone handled things differently. So Kasuya tried to help out by asking again.
“Um, Mitsunari? Who is-?”
She had a pretty good guess already, but she was interrupted by a voice from the mobile shell helmet held in the tall figure’s arms.
“Hey! What makes you think you can ignore a question from a superior like this!?”
Sakon was honestly unsure what to do.
She knew who this had to be. This was someone who could speak on a friendly basis with Mitsunari.
…And those eyes mean she’s a Loup-Garou, don’t they?
She had also heard that Kasuya Takenori of the Ten Spears would be joining them for their training camp.
But Sakon was Mitsunari’s subordinate, so she felt it would be wrong of her to go over Mitsunari’s head and introduce herself. But then there was her mobile shell’s voice.
“When someone asks who you are, you introduce yourself! Is even that beyond you, Kohime!?”
It was a male voice and a thundering one at that.
It didn’t help that it echoed a lot off the stone hallway’s walls.
…Y-you’re too loud!
She cried out and started beating on Onitakemaru’s helmet.
“Wh-what is the meaning of this, Kohime!?”
“U-um, you’re too loud, so I’m trying to find the volume controls or the sleep button. Oh, I won’t shut you off completely, so don’t worry about that. I don’t want you passing on.”
“Oh. You are the Shima Sakon and Onitakemaru I’ve heard so much about.”
“Eh?” Sakon was so taken aback she stopped beating on Onitakemaru. “Y-you know of me?”
“Because I’m going to be working with Mitsunari.”
“Makes sense. But who the hell are you!?”
Sakon slammed an accelerated karate chop into Onitakemaru’s head. It made a nice noise and the lights indicating he was functioning wavered for a moment.
“Y-you fool! I had to go through an adjustment for that one!”
“You’re being rude, Onitakemaru-san.”
“Huh? I’m the Shogun! I outrank Mitsunari and even Hashiba! You got a problem with me demanding the respect I deserve!?”
“I’m so sorry. He’s always like this. Just think of him as starved for attention, if you don’t mind.”
“If you say so,” said the other girl, pursing her lips together. Then she turned toward Mitsunari. “Mitsunari, why did you call me here?”
“Testament. To introduce you to what you will actually be doing for your training camp here.” Mitsunari raised her hand and indicated the metal door behind her. “Sakon-san, would you please open that? Your training task lies within.”
“Of course, of course. Here I go!”
Sakon donned Onitakemaru’s head and grabbed the doorknob.
It was located low enough that it was faster to get down on her knees than it was to crouch down.
And she pushed. I should put some real force into it, right? she thought, but since she had her knees for support, she just pushed straight forward.
The door moved far easier than she had anticipated.
…No resistance at all?
She found that odd, but she also looked through the opening door. Ootani, Mitsunari, Kasuya, and Onitakemaru had to be doing the same.
Her long arms pushed the door open enough for them to see inside.
She was curious what this training camp would entail.
What she found was the bared fangs of a Terrestrial Dragon too large to fully see through the door.
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