Horizon:Volume 8B Chapter 54
Chapter 54: Nest Makers at Home
It feels more awkward
Wearing something below
Point Allocation (Fairly Common)
Asama tried saying “I’m home” and was a little bothered by how natural it felt.
Horizon stepped into the Main Blue Thunder ahead of her and…
“Maaaaaaaake wayyyyyyyyyy forrrrrr Horiiiiiiiizon!”
Maybe it was that, maybe it was how the arms carried her slippers to her, maybe it was how he said “welcome home”, maybe it was how Mitotsudaira said “we are back, my king”, and it probably wasn’t how Kimi said “Look, foolish brother! Slippers! I was warming them in my pockets!” But regardless…
…It feels like forever since we were last here.
She had been so busy with the Musashi joining the Ariake and with managing the ether pathways for the Musashi’s repairs. Mitotsudaira had always been involved in everything, perhaps because she thought an officer should take a visible role in things, and he had actively joined in this time to get in the way- No, let’s say he was helping things run smoothly. Sort of.
For several days now, they had generally only been at Suzu’s bathhouse, the student council rec room, and their work sites, with the occasional other destinations for Musashi duties or for fun.
But they could finally rest tonight. The Ariake would be handling most everything until they arrived in M.H.R.R. Protestant territory.
Thus, they were back at the Main Blue Thunder, but…
“The place seems a little different.”
Since she needed it for purification, Asama saw preparing the bath as her job, so she checked that room to find an IZUMO shrine water heater. Her father must have arranged things so she could get purification water here. She recalled Naomasa mentioning some kind of construction work.
It felt awkward taking the first bath since she needed to purify and inspect the equipment. She usually used the shrine’s spring, so she wasn’t used to having people waiting for her to finish. And Horizon had established an order for them all while they ate a light late-night meal beforehand.
“Asama-sama goes first, then Kimi-sama, Toori-sama, myself, and Mitotsudaira-sama.”
“Um, is that from most Shinto to least Shinto?”
“No, it is by volume. That way there will always be enough bathwater even when some overflows.”
Mitotsudaira spat out what she was drinking, but Kimi asked him for some tea.
“Heh heh. Mitotsudaira’s hair soaks up the water like a sponge, so she does need to go last. And she can enjoy soaking in my foolish brother’s used bathwater.”
“Wouldn’t it be a mix of all of us, though?” asked Asama. “She wouldn’t be able to tell.”
“I-I can tell with my king.”
You can? she thought, weirdly impressed.
But then Horizon opened a sign frame and raised both arms.
“Tah dahhhhhhhhhh! It is now time to add up the Blue Thunder Girls’ expenses!”
“In other words, you’re going to calculate the cost of the food and whatever else we need to see who is the biggest burden?”
“Judge. Very perceptive of you, Mitotsudaira-sama. We are all living here now, but we cannot expect to live according to that boy’s standards. For example, Mitotsudaira-sama eats meat, meat, and more meat for every single meal and Asama-sama needs to be chugging booze all day long if she hopes to stand out.”
“Um, I doubt even drinking would help me stand out compared to the rest of you.”
Horizon gave her a double thumbs up.
At any rate, they discussed things with him and calculated out their individual needs for food and other necessities.
“If you are ever wondering if you should earn some money to help out, this can help you make that decision,” said Horizon. “On the other hand, Asama-sama has enough money to pay off two udon’s worth of debt, but she has the good sense to not waste it.”
“Yeah…not even I’m going to spend money unnecessarily when it comes to Toori-kun.”
Mitotsudaira and Kimi both gave her emotionless smiles and nodded.
…Th-they don’t trust me at all, do they!?”
But Horizon turned toward Mitotsudaira.
“And if Toori-sama were to ask Mitotsudaira-sama to do some task he should really just do himself, she would bark and pant while pulling out her silver chains to oblige him.”
“I-I do not react like that.”
Asama discovered exactly the feeling that led to one of those emotionless smiles.
But she also had a thought about Horizon’s suggestions here.
…She feels the need to lay out some ground rules.
Really, it could all be summed up as “don’t get carried away”.
Now that they were living together, if any of them got carried away in how they lived their everyday life, it would place a burden on the others. So…
…Try to solve things on your own if you can.
“As long as we do that, we can keep that boy from pushing his luck.”
“Now wait just a minute. This was sounding real nice, so why do you have to turn it all against me in the very end?”
After Asama finished her bath and put on a shrine maiden swimsuit in lieu of underwear, she really did feel like she was beginning a new life.
This new life had actually already started, but she had been too busy to really notice.
…We’re going to see what this new life is really like over the next few days.
During their study camp to Sanada, Mitotsudaira’s mother had said she was being offered his everyday life as a present. So…
Kimi would take the next bath, but since he would go after that, she made sure to adjust the temperature setting.
And before putting on her pajamas, she checked the mirror to see what she looked like in her swimsuit.
…It’s no different from when we were at the beach or the study camp.
The lack of shrine maiden underwear was the real problem here. Not to mention how she had recently learned it was dangerous to leave herself exposed in front of people. So if she was going to be
wearing something underneath, she had to take possible emergencies into account. Since she would need something with decent divine protection and spell functionality, this was the better choice than simple underwear. But…
“Next time I’m at the Shinto shop, I need to look at the supporters and other options they have.”
She was still a shrine maiden, but she was no longer just that. She had left the shrine to live alongside some others.
She kept that in mind while she returned to her room partition and found the space felt unusually large.
Would it eventually feel cramped?
“That was a long bath. Did you enjoy it?” asked Horizon, from beyond a partition.
“Yes, I wanted to make sure I started off this new life on the right foot.”
Asama suddenly realized there were plenty of others who had undergone changes much like this one.
…I wonder how they’re doing.
Did they also put a lid on their feelings, wait for the right moment, and occasionally stubbornly refuse to admit how they felt?
How am I supposed to explain how I feel? wondered Tenzou.
He stood in front of his room on Tama. Mary stood by his side, but that much was normal.
However, something concerned him.
…Come to think of it, we haven’t slept in the same room ever since I started being so suave with her.
Ever since the Siege of Odawara, they had kept their things here and returned for meals, but they had always spent the night elsewhere.
He had thought they could return earlier than this, but then he had spent the night at the Main Blue Thunder to help complete Neshinbara’s doujinshi. He honestly felt that like that had helped give Mary and him some more time to prepare for this.
…Is she nervous?
Mary stood next to him blushing and staring at the floor.
Her clenched fists suggested she was very focused on something. But the flower petals scattering from the back of her hair suggested it wasn’t a negative thing for her. In fact, didn’t it mean she considered it a positive thing? Hopefully.
But he understood why she was nervous. They would be living together with no distractions for the next few days.
Their trip to M.H.R.R. Protestant territory would be almost entirely handled by the Ariake, so the rush to repair the Musashi and make various preparations was over.
That meant he and Mary would be all alone in their own private room for several days.
Yeah, I’m definitely excited, realized Tenzou.
Just then, Mary grabbed his hand.
He turned toward her to find she had angled herself a bit toward him.
“Judge, what is it?”
“U-um, I will clean and tidy up in here, so give me a moment!”
He was about to say he would help, but he swallowed the words when he saw the pursed lips below her bangs.
So what could he do?
…I must mentally record Mary-dono’s actions.
With that settled, he took her hand in both of his.
“Judge. You know how to do that better than me, so I will let you handle it this time. But if there is anything you need help with, feel free to ask.”
“J-judge, I will! A-also…”
By the time he asked, she had already turned around like she was preparing to dash toward the sliding door.
“Do you mind if I do some minor remodeling!?”
Their room was small, which limited the possible layouts, but if they were going to change anything, it would be easiest now while it was still mostly empty. As a ninja, he could eat and sleep in any environment, so he was fine with anything she might want.
“Judge. If a change would make you more comfortable here, then by all means make it.”
“Judge. Thank you!”
He caught a glimpse of her face past her bangs, but why did he see raised eyebrows instead of a smile?
Whatever the reason, her hair vanished beyond the sliding door.
Through the closed door, he clearly heard her hit her shin while trying to step up onto the tatami mats.
…Th-that would be due to staying at Suzu-dono’s bathhouse and the Blue Thunder where they don’t have a dirt entranceway.
“Do you need something?”
“Judge,” she replied. “Th-this is going to take some time, so please be patient.”
He could guess what the issue was, but he did not mind in the slightest.
The Azuchi and the Ariake’s movement was visible from the roof of Sanada Academy.
Both ships seemed to be moving awfully slow to Unno. The Azuchi was probably intentionally keeping its speed down to avoid looking impatient to leave. That probably doubled as a way of delaying the Ariake’s arrival in M.H.R.R. Protestant territory.
“Glad I don’t have to keep up appearances like that.”
“But their slow movement allows us to inspect the Ariake’s side. And we should be able to inspect its stern tomorrow morning.”
“What, you aren’t going to sleep?”
“Oh, I will. I’ll just be using a compressed sleep spell.”
“Never mind then,” said Unno before something occurred to her. Shortening sleep time was a common skill for ninjas, yet here she was worrying about someone else getting enough sleep.
Or had she just settled down more?
“Anyway,” she said to Kiyomasa who had stood up to aim a recording lernen figur toward the Ariake. “How should I put this?”
This is probably my own personal issue, but…
“We’ve learned to just casually chat with each other now, haven’t we?”
Kiyomasa’s shoulders jumped in response. And after a moment, she nodded.
“Huh? For what?”
“Oh, nothing really.” Kiyomasa smiled a little. “I had a falling out with someone…so it’s nice to be able to have a normal conversation again.”
“Huh? So you had a fight with someone?”
She didn’t respond, but after a while…
Kiyomasa suddenly hung her head while operating her lernen figur. It looked an awful lot like…
“You made her cry!!”
The Terrestrial Dragons stood from the forest nearby, sending leaves and branches soaring.
“Did you see that!? That brute Unno-san has no tact at all!”
“If you ask me, she could really stand to learn some manners. She can be so thoughtless.”
“Yet she has the gall to always order a dessert at the dining hall. A dessert with fries if you can imagine it!”
“Oh, shut up, all of you! You don’t have to point. And why are you spying on us anyway!?”
She raised her fan sword and they immediately ducked back down into the forest. And…
Kiyomasa wiped away her tears and turned around.
She inhaled and spoke in a shaky voice.
“You have such good friends.”
“Their ears and eyes are good, but it only causes me trouble.” Unno gave a dismissive wave. “Anyway, I won’t tell your underclassmen about this. We’ve gotten to know each other well enough for that.”
“Testament. Thank you again.”
Kiyomasa bowed and Unno smiled bitterly.
“Don’t worry about it. I know what it’s like to have your feelings get the better of you.”
…What is going on inside our room?
Five minutes had passed since Mary locked him out.
Tenzou was gathering attention standing in front of his door.
It was getting late at night, so everyone was heading home for some sleep after helping the Ariake take over their tasks and preparing for the following days. That meant a lot of students were passing by behind him.
“Oh, what’s this? Did Mary finally kick him out?”
“Oh, dear. That ninja finally pushed his luck too far with Mary.”
“Hey, check that out. Yeah, that!”
…Hey, that last one might not be about me!
Art-Ga: “Hey, Tenzou. There’s a new ‘what did the 1st Special Duty Officer do this time’ discussion thread up. Do you mind if I have some fun getting them even more worked up?”
10ZO: “In what world would I say no!?”
But salvation arrived in the form of Mary’s voice from inside.
“Master Tenzou. W-would you mind coming in now!?”
This time, he did not mind in the slightest, so he stepped inside while the crowd watched and commented.
“It feels good to be back home.”
“Yes, welcome home,” said a voice from the floor.
Mary’s bed and living space were located below the raised loft he used as a bed.
The lower area was made of four tatami mats arranged with two lengthwise rows of two mats.
However, the entrance and the kitchen were smaller areas with dirt floors. Looking from the door, the dirt entrance was immediately on the left side and the kitchen was on the back right. That forced the lower area’s tatami mat rows to be shifted enough to accommodate the dirt areas.
Tenzou first noticed a curtain surrounding the kitchen in the back.
Mary sat on the futon she had laid out in front of the door. She always had excellent posture, but he did notice one difference from usual pre-bedtime routine.
She was wearing kosode-style pajamas.
She normally slept in the nude, but now she fixed her collar and blushed.
“U-um, Master Tenzou. I plan to dress like this at night from now on.”
That was a disappointment.
…Now when am I going to get those lucky glimpses at night or after waking up early in the morning!?
But on the other hand…
…I did dislike how I couldn’t look directly at her after she went to bed and before she dressed in the morning.
Both options had their pros and cons, so if this was what Mary wanted…
“Judge. That sounds like a good idea. You were still going by the habits you picked up in England, so were you thinking of doing things the Musashi way now?”
“Eh? Oh, yes. …I got used to wearing pajamas at the Blue Thunder and the other places we have been spending the night recently.”
“I started to feel like it would be better to keep doing that.”
Tenzou nodded and stepped up onto the tatami mat floor.
Mary’s shoulders briefly rose, but he didn’t let it bother him. He kneeled in front of her.
“I need to do everything I can to ensure we can support a lifestyle that requires pajamas even if you eventually return to England.”
She lowered her head.
“Should I really be doing this? I was trying to match the lifestyles of the people who lived on the third and fourth levels.”
“It is arrogant to think you can understand someone just because you live the way they do.”
“But do you think I can understand them if I don’t live the way they do?”
Tenzou did not attempt a suave response.
He only touched the scar on her nose and then took her hand. The back of that had was covered in sword scars and the front had calluses and scars from a daily life working at the beach and on the farms.
“Listen,” he said. “You have gained all of this from the people there, so I doubt any of them would let anyone say you don’t understand them.”
“And if anyone does say that to you, I will touch your scars to remind you.”
She glanced up at him and then took both his hands.
She placed his hands on her chest and pushed them up from below to have him hold her breasts.
“M-my scars are not the only thing I want you to remind me of, Master Tenzou.”
Sensing the heat from her pajamas, he sucked in a breath and…
“A blonde! With! Giant breasts!”
Mary was initially surprised because it had been so long since she heard him say that.
She couldn’t believe it had taken her so long, but she remembered what had happened in England.
She had completely forgotten, even though she was the one who had just said she wanted him to remind her.
That had helped her remember where the two of them had begun their relationship.
A few gentle laughs escaped her while her shoulders and head shook.
She had been so happy recently it had slipped her mind. She had forgotten how she had hoped the two of them could be happier.
And the happiness she had found had lasted so long she had lost sight of that.
But the point wasn’t just to be happy.
“I want to be happier. I always want to find even greater happiness on the horizon.”
That same thought had occurred to her a lot recently as she saw the others interacting and experienced so much herself. She felt certain the people she had spoken with in Suzu’s bathhouse and the Main Blue Thunder hoped for the same thing.
She had grown so flustered and not known what to do, but…
…It’s okay to change.
She carried England’s history with her, but she didn’t have to do everything the English way. Because when she left England, she had decided to be happy.
If she had found even more happiness here and if she was going to find more in the future, she should accept it all.
So she took his hands again and gave them a squeeze. And…
“Master Tenzou, that half is yours.”
Her futon sat on the entrance half of the somewhat crooked tatami mat floor.
And something else sat on the other half by the kitchen.
“Doesn’t that seem like a good place for your futon?”
Tenzou took a deep breath.
…So that’s where she was going with this!
How very bold of her! Actually, she can get surprisingly bold in the most wonderful way when she gets fired up about something, but this is a lot even for her!
But, he thought, squeezing her hands back.
“Judge. That does seem like a good place.”
There was a good reason to do this.
“I intend to get us a larger room soon. Then there will be no column in the middle and we can place our futons right next to each other, so this will make good practice for that.”
“Now that you are not sleeping in the nude, I no longer have to worry about where I am looking.”
“Oh, um, that decision had nothing to do with this.” She shrank down a little. “And it was fun.”
“Judge.” She nodded and intertwined their fingers. “I can control spirits, right? Well, in England, I would call the spirits of sleep in with a song to help put the children to sleep.”
“At Lady Suzu’s bathhouse, the student council rec room, and the Main Blue Thunder, I have been able to chat with the others my age about things we enjoy and about our future plans while we fall asleep.” She squeezed again. “It was a lot of fun.”
“I don’t think I can go back. And…”
Tenzou realized where she was going with this. It would be fine for him to say it, but…
…She needs to say this for herself.
So he held his tongue and let her speak.
“I can’t go back, so I have decided this will be my new normal. Because that will bring me even greater happiness.”
“Judge,” he said and embraced her.
She smelled nice, she was soft, and she was warm. He found it hard to believe someone so wonderful cared so much about him. And…
“You did well.”
She had made some friends. He knew she would have been worried if she was allowed to do things the way the others did. That was not something he could solve for her. It was her problem.
But if there was anything he could feel full of himself about, it would be what she might have said if the girls ever discussed the genre of boys they liked. Is that really a genre? I guess it is. Yes, it’s a genre!
And in the end, Mary had reached her own decision.
Instead of asking if she was allowed to, she had accepted it as normal. So…
…I should be proud of her.
She had once hoped to be imprisoned and executed, but now she was the same as the others. Wait, do I really want her to be the same as the girls in our class? Well, that aside, this means she has found the kind of freedom everyone hopes for.
So from now on, they would place their pillows side to side and go to sleep while discussing their days, their plans, pointless things, things they had noticed about the people they cared for, and so on.
“You did well.”
“Judge.” She nodded. “And I have you to thank for that.”
“Judge.” He nodded too and hugged her tighter. A muffled cry reached his chest. “But I will probably be away on work a lot from now on.”
Mary sounded uneasy about being alone again, so he gave his response.
“So I need to make sure our class’s girls don’t rub off on you too much while I am gone.”
The Ariake passed through south Mikawa the following afternoon. Its path diverged with the Azuchi’s there.
They both continued observing each other for a while after that, but by the time they rounded the Kii Peninsula, the Azuchi activated its stealth and disappeared. By the time they passed through Osaka Bay the next day, they could not detect any readings from it at all.
And on the afternoon of the third day, the Ariake arrived at its destination in M.H.R.R. Protestant territory.
“Ha ha! I thought this would take you longer, so none of our preparations are complete. I’m still busy greeting the different nations, you see. You had better be ready to party by the time the event begins.”
They were greeted and joined by a Protestant fleet that relayed that message from Tomoe Gozen.
They completed their final preparations starting on the fourth day and the Ariake finally opened its diplomatic port on August 15.
The ship was located on the far east of M.H.R.R.’s Protestant territory. They had carefully adjusted their position so they were tucked just inside the provisional border of the region adjacent to Kyoto.
Fireworks burst in the sky first thing in the morning, the early morning preparatory period went by quickly, and the bell rang for 10 AM.
That loud, carrying tone indicated the beginning.
Guericke and Mishina Shouichi each raised a hand to announce the start of the Summer Exchange of Immaculate Morals in Manga Form.
Or Summer ImMoral Manga for short.
|Back to Chapter 53||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 55|